Leicester Can Take Many Positives From First Leg Defeat

Despite falling 1-0 to Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie, Leicester City still should have a positive outlook heading into the second leg to played back in England on Tuesday.

Heavy underdogs, Leicester were dealt a blow before the match even started when it was announced that captain Wes Morgan would miss yesterday’s match in Madrid. Despite being pressed against the wall for ninety minutes, it took a questionable penalty call and ensuing Antoine Griezmann finish to break what would have been a scoreless draw.

Although an away goal would have been nice, Leicester know how to make up one goal deficits. They advanced past Sevilla with a 1-0 win at home in the second leg. A same result on Tuesday would force extra time and potentially penalties.

Leicester have proven very difficult to beat in the confines of their own stadium. Behind what is sure to be a raucous crowd, exoect Craig Shakespeare’s men to come at Atleti with full force.

Leicester Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel will need to repeat his round of 16 heroics against Atletico Madrid.

It will be vital that midfielders Wilfred Ndidi and Danny Drinkwater win the battle in the midfield and set up Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, and others for scoring chances. Kasper Schmeichel, who came up huge against Sevilla, will need to cope with the absence of a suspended Robert Huth.

While taking down last years finalist would truly be a monumental feat. These Foxes, with this coach, at this stadium, are the ones to do the job.

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Alec!

“From Our Haus to Yours”

One Signing Each Premier League Contender Should Make in January

 

We are just past the halfway point in this Premier League season. As it stands, six teams are within ten points of the top. January is the final chance for these sides to polish their team as the final dash for the title is in sight.

Chelsea: Tiemoue Bakayoko, Monaco

Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko could help stabilize Chelsea’s midfield.

The Blues have been tearing through the league this season. New manager Antonio Conte has instilled his 3-4-3 formation into the side and Chelsea has rocketed to the top of the league. The brilliant play of summer signing N’Golo Kante has been a large reason behind Chelsea’s turnaround season. The ability to win the ball in the midfield has allowed the Blues to feed their very talented attacking players. Eden Hazard and Diego Costa have each enjoyed bounce-back seasons.

If a side is going to run the 3-4-3 effectively, they need excellent defensive midfield play to make up for the one less defender at the back. While Kante and Nemanja Matic have done well thus far, Chelsea is still thin at the position. Bakayoko is just 22 years old and is enjoying a breakout season for Monaco. His dribbling ability through the middle would allow Hazard and Willian to play more wide. From there they can whip in crosses to Costa, one of the best in the air in all of England. Bakayoko’s youth is enticing as Matic is 28 and has been inconsistent at times this season. Although his playing time could be limited initially, Bakayoko will undoubtedly be a big part of the future at Stamford Bridge if Conte is able to acquire his services.

Liverpool: Quincy Promes, Spartak Moscow

Liverpool target Quincy Promes has helped Spartak Moscow to the top of the Russian Premier League

In Jurgen Klopp’s second season at Anfield, Liverpool have arisen as serious title contenders at this point in the season. Their plethora of attacking players, including Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho, and Roberto Firmino have been very efficient in the attacking third.

However, Klopp will be without Mane for a large part of the next month. The Senegal international will be participating in the Africa Cup of Nations. The tournament comes at a critical time in Liverpool’s season with matches against Manchester United and Chelsea on there horizon. Promes has had a great season at Spartak. He has netted six goals and also has six assists in the Russian Premier League as Spartak have surprised by leading at this point in the season. It may be tough to coax Promes from Spartak, but Klopp should try. Promes will give Liverpool some width while Mane is away. He can play opposite Mane, which will benefit the Reds when Mane returns from international duty.

Tottenham: Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace

Wilfried Zaha would bring creativity on the wing to White Hart Lane

Once again, Mauricio Pochettino has put Spurs squarely in the title conversation. Tottenham sit third in the table at the turn of the calendar year. Young players have stepped up this season, including 20-year-old midfielder Dele Alli. Spurs are fighting off Real Madrid for his services.

However, Spurs could use an outside threat to compliment their plethora of middle attacking players. Alli, Harry Kane, and Christian Eriksen have combined to score 25 goals in the league this season. All of those players are under the age of 25. 24-year-old Zaha could add to this “young core” that Pochettino has built at White Hart Lane. Zaha, who plays on the left wing at Crystal Palace, would compliment Kane, Eriksen, and Alli in the middle. Zaha is extremely skilled with the ball at his feet and has a tremendous ability to get crosses in from tough angles. Erik Lamela has been underwhelming again this season and Zaha could fill the void for Spurs.

Manchester City: Holger Badstuber, Bayern Munich

Holger Badstuber’s experience at the back could prove invaluable for Guardiola’s Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola’s highly anticipated first year at the Etihad has been up and down. A victory against Barcelona in the Champions League showed City’s potential under Pep. However, they have been very inconsistent at times domestically. Their inconsistency, especially at the back, is the primary reason why they find themselves seven points adrift at this juncture.

Man City payed quite a bit to sign promising young English center back John Stones from Everton over the summer. Stones, while very talented and promising, is still raw. There has been more than one occasion where he has looked lost this season. Captain Vincent Kompany’s injury woes have continued and it is difficult to rely on him for an extended period of time. Eliaquim Mangala consistently underperforms when given a chance in the starting XI. Badstuber is very experienced at just 27 years of age. He has 119 caps for Bayern and 31 for the German National Team. While a permanent deal is unlikely, Pep could explore a six-month loan deal for Badstuber. This would give City added security and depth at the center back for the remainder of the season while Stones continues to develop.

 

 

 

Arsenal: Ricardo Pereira, Porto (on loan at Nice)

Ricardo Pereira is a perfect solution to Arsenal’s right-back injury crisis.

Arsene Wenger is notorious for not making moves in the January transfer window, even when his team could really use them. Fifth place Arsenal have been by no means bad this season, but there is always room for improvement at the Emirates.

Promising young right back Hector Bellerin will be out for an extended period of time with an injury and his predecessor Mathieu Debuchy is rumored to be at odds with Wenger and on his way out of North London. This leaves the underwhelming Carl Jenkinson as the only right back on the Gunners’ roster. Ricardo, who is on loan at Ligue 1 leaders Nice from Porto has exploded this season. His 7.6 match rating on WhoScored.com has him placed in their Ligue XI team of the season. He provides sound defending and security at the back. Pereira is also a threat going forward, with a goal and three assists this season. He could be a perfect solution in the interim while Bellerin is injured. And his ability going forward could see him utilized as a wing-back or midfielder when the Spaniard returns.

Manchester United: Antoine Griezmann, Atletico Madrid

Antoine Griezmann would be an expensive, but worthwhile signing for Manchester United.

After a disastrous start to the season, Jose Mourinho has begun to right the ship at Old Trafford. Despite being ten points back of Chelsea, things are looking up at Old Trafford. Manchester United have played well throughout the season, but have failed to convert the many chances they create. 31 goals in the League is significantly less than the other five “contenders”.

Griezmann is widely considered one of the best players in the world and would not come cheap. However is precision in the final third is exactly what United need. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a pure striker who doesn’t create, and while Paul Pogba is one of the most creative midfielders in the world, he is limited going forward to do the teams reliance on him from a defensive standpoint. Griezmann would fit right into Mourinho’s 4-2-3-1 as an attacking midfielder. He played this role brilliantly for France in this summer’s European Championships where he scored a tournament-high six goals. It also doesn’t hurt that Griezmann is close friends with fellow Frenchman Pogba. The two could do lots of damage if they play together under Mourinho.

You can “Like” The Game Haus on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles written by other great TGH writers like Alec! 

European Championship Recap

Superlatives of Euro 2016

 

At the close, there are questions answered as well as questions asked. There are winners and losers, overachievers and underachievers, overrated and underrated teams, players that showed up for their country and those who didn’t. Let’s get right into it:

Individual Winners

Gareth Bale (Wales). Leads his country to their first ever semifinal appearance and, if not for an Aaron Ramsey suspension, might’ve made it to the final to face France.

Antoine Greizmann (France). Despite France losing in the Final, Antoine was the best player of the whole tournament, even if the coach didn’t put him in the starting eleven. He proved to us why he is so valued at Atletico Madrid.

Eder (Portugal). Had an awful year at the club level and came on as a substitute in the final to be the lone striker for a Portugal team hanging on for a penalty shootout, and scores the game winning goal in extra time to give Portugal its first major title. He won it for Portugal, he’s a winner.

Antonio Conte (Italy). The coach taught the soccer world a lesson in why no one should ever ignore the Italians. Even though they lost to Germany in penalties, Italy never looked out of it throughout the tournament.

Individual Disappointments

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden). Known as the “Super Swede” and probably the greatest Swede to ever play soccer, went goalless in the 3 games Sweden played in group play in which they didn’t make it out of the group. This tournament would be his last with the national team as he focuses the last years of his career at the club level with his new club Manchester United.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal). Going into the tournament as the best player, he had a rough tournament by his standards (3 goals and 1 assist in 7 games). This tournament made me question whether or not 31 year old Ronaldo was showing signs of being on the decline and for that reason alone was disappointing.

Wayne Rooney (England). I could pick many English players, but I have to go with the captain as the most disappointing; chosen to lead this young and talented group into a new era of English football. Well, he did just that. Rooney lead England to rock bottom after losing to Iceland in humiliating fashion.

Thomas Muller (Germany). Another Euro gone, another Euro where Muller has gone without a goal, which is crazy considering the rate at which he scores in World Cups.

Overachieving Teams

Iceland. Everyone loves an underdog and Iceland was definitely an underdog at the beginning of the tournament. They made it all the way to the final 8, putting the English FA in disarray, before losing to the hosts. They were fun to watch.

Wales. On the back of Gareth Bale was how this team was going to have a chance to advance… or maybe not entirely the case. While Bale was the leader, Wales played like a team and shocked the world by making it to the semifinal after upsetting tournament dark horse or favorite (depending who you ask), and “golden generation”, Belgium.

Underachiever

Belgium. Disappointing only begins to describe how this tournament went for Belgium. This team had so much talent even without injured captain and defender Vincent Kompany, it was surprising that the team, even though they made it to the round of eight, was not meshing well under coach Wilmots.

Most Overrated

England. So much talent, so much promise, and so much… nothing. England was easily one of the more talented teams in the competition, but they didn’t have any mental toughness to come with that talent. They lacked a will to win and it showed when tournament sweethearts Iceland sent them home at the beginning of the knockout rounds.

Most Underrated

Croatia. If not for the hard-to-watch style that Portugal played with and the late extra time goal from Quaresma in the round of 16, Croatia was my pick to get to the final to face either Germany or France. This team played very well and did not like being taken lightly as Spain found out when they lost the group to Croatia in the final game of group play. The team worked well, communicated, and proved to be very formidable, especially in the midfield.

Champion’s Summary

The European Championship is held every 4 years. This year, it was hosted by France. And this year, it introduced a new 24 team format, which allowed for the best of four teams that placed 3rd in their group to advance to the knockout rounds in the tournament. One of the teams that made it to the knockout round was Portugal, the eventual champions. Portugal had drawn in all 3 of their group play games, culminating in 3 points. Under the previous rules, Portugal would not have even made the knockout rounds. They played a boring style of soccer; interrupting the flow of play by fouling, hopefully not too dangerous to earn a card, and dare the opposing team to break them down. They didn’t want any sort of counter attack to unload on them and put pressure on defenders like Pepe to be perfect on the closeout. Portugal did not look like the champions of Europe, yet they are. They failed to win any of their matches in under 90 min until the semifinal against Wales. These Euros are comparable to when Greece won in 2004; they just looked like they shouldn’t have been champions, but they raised the trophy after the final whistle. I am not downplaying Portugal’s run, but I will say the quality teams were on the other side of the bracket (Germany, France, Italy, etc.) so they did have a kind run having to not face Belgium. But they won. They beat the host nation. With the Euros now over, Portugal as champion, France in heartbreak, myself and soccer fans worldwide can now look seriously at the transfer rumor mill.