Posts Tagged Lionel Messi

Football skills of a different kind

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. So when painting footballers, use footballs. Sounds impossible, but that is exactly what Polish artist Andrew Lenard has done. Taking contemporary art a step further, he ditched the paintbrush for footballs and a few litres of black paint, to portray the faces of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Lenard felt that there was no better way to honor the two top footballers than painting them by kicking footballs doused in paint onto a wall-mounted 2-metre long canvas.

After making the initial marks on the canvas, Lenard picks the ball up to capture the finer details of his subjects.

Although it takes a while to figure out what the football mad artist is painting, he eventually shows that he is no slouch with the football as amazing sketches of the footballers emerge on the canvas.

“I make many types of art and these projects are just my experiments. I make because it’s fun and I like to check out all the new possibilities in art using new media,” says Lenard

Of his unique tribute to the Spanish league stars, Lenard says, “Athletes like Ronaldo and Messi are known worldwide, modern heroes and role models, so it was an obvious choice for me.”

Andrew Lenard’s amazing portrait of Lionel Messi

 

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World Cup: Golden Ball Nominees

The adidas Golden Ball is the official FIFA trophy for the “Best Player of the Tournament”. The ten nominees are selected by the Technical Study Group (TSG), a FIFA-appointed group of top football coaches and analysts. After which accredited media representatives vote to determine the winners of the adidas Golden, Silver and Bronze ball awards. The winners will be announced after the final on 11 July.

The coveted award was won by Ronaldo in 1998, Oliver Kahn in 2002 and Zinedine Zidane in 2006. The nominees for this year are:

Diego Forlan (Uruguay)

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Asamoah Gyan (Ghana)

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Andres Iniesta (Spain)

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Lionel Messi (Argentina)

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Mesut Oezil (Germany)

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Arjen Robben (Netherlands)

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Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)

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Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands)

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David Villa (Spain)

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Xavi Hernanzez (Spain)

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Strangely, in a World Cup which was dominated by teams with very good defenses, no real defenders or goal-keepers have made it to this list.

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World Cup Preview: Argentina vs Germany

The quarter-final clash between Argentina and Germany promises to make up for the lack of goals in this World Cup since both the teams have a somewhat weak defence and very good attacking line-up. Both teams are very strong in their attack and relatively weak in their defence which hold promise of some exciting and entertaining footballing moments. Add to that the history of rivalry between the two giants in World Cup and we can be sure of some vintage football today. In 2006 Germany beat Argentina on penalties in the quarter-finals, results which lead to a scuffle between some players and the coaching staff of the two teams making the fixture the most eagerly awaited contest of the World Cup2010.

Both teams, Germany because of their young and inexperienced players and Argentina, mainly due to their mercurial manager were not considered great threats coming in to the World Cup. Both teams have gotten to this stage of the tournament having overcome major challenges to reach the World Cup. So, will Diego Maradona’s men self-destruct or will Joachim Loew’s team find South American football too hot to handle?

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Argentina

Ranking: 7

Argentina have an exceptionally talented team going forward. Diego Maradona was criticized for some of his tactical decisions and team selections during Argentina’s qualification run to the World Cup but Maradona has got everything in the World Cup. Argentina’s performance against Mexico in the Round of 16 showed that the Albiceleste are growing stronger as we move into the business end of the tournament.  Maradona will most likely go with a 4-3-1-2 formation with Romero in goal. Otamendi, Demichelis, Burdisso and Heinze will need to keep calm at the back and control the midfield so that Angel Di Maria and Maxi Rodriguez can make their runs on the flanks and pass the ball to Messi.  Messi will then look to create chances for Higuain and Tevez who’ll play up front for Argentina.

Argentina have a better attacking force and superior players than Germany. They have the current World Player of the Year in Messi who is yet to open his scoring account at the World Cup.  Argentina’s  however do need to be extra focused and keep their formation, or else they will get caught out by Germany on the counter. Argentina’s defence is yet to be tested in this World Cup and Germany can be counted upon to test it. Argentina defender Demicheles will need to stop his Bayern Munich teammate Miroslav Klose who is in great form for Germany from scoring. Argentina will also need their captain Javier Mascherano who will have to play his part as defensive midfielder perfectly apart from shielding his back four, Mascherano will also need to keep Germany’s Mesut Ozil out.

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Germany

Ranking: 6

Joachim Loew’s German side is what many a football associations dream of; a team. Germany have managed to put together a bunch of footballers who aren’t stars as individuals but are absolutely sparkling as a team. The new German side is made up of a mix of youth and experience with a never-say-die attitude. Germany most certainly will be a force to reckon with come next World Cup. Joachim Loew’s side showed that they were masters of counter-attacks in their game against England. However, Argentina are no England and will pose a much tougher challenge for them. Loew will most likely play 4-2-3-1 formation with Miroslav Klose as the lone striker. Mueller, Oezil, Podolski will play just behind him with Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger playing as holding midfielders. Friedrich, Mertesacker, and Boateng will be at the back for Germany with Nuer in goal.

Germany are quite well organized and have a good defence. However, their defence has not been truly tested so far. They launch blinding, breathtaking counter-attacks and will look to do the same against Argentina.

Argentina have quality in their attack and hopefully in defence to win this match. Germany have probably been judged to be a little better than they are after they beat England. They were great against England, but the England team (under Fabio Capello) wasn’t a ‘real’ World Cup favourite. England was more of a ‘very well supported team’ rather than a very ‘likely to win the World Cup’ team.  Germany’s real test against a real top-class team will be today. I see Diego Maradona celebrating at the end of this fixture.

Manager Speak

“This time we will not need the Hand of God, because it is the will of God.” – Diego Maradona, Argentina manager

“They will definitely be extremely dangerous. I’m sure they will try and get a goal very soon. I don’t think they’ll come onto the pitch with any extra fear or respect.” – Joachim Loew, Germany manager

Players to Watch Out For

Argentina: Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez. Angel Di Maria

Germany: Miroslav Klose, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muellar, Bastian Schweinsteiger

Go Figure!

Diego Maradona is yet to draw a match as Argentina manager

Germany have only ever failed to score with one of their 18 shots in penalty shoot-outs at the World Cup

Miroslav Klose’s goal against England was the 12th of his World Cup career. Only Just Fontaine (13), Gerd Müller (14) and Ronaldo (15) have scored more at the tournament

Lionel Messi has attempted more shots (23) without scoring in this World Cup than any other player


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World Cup Preview: Argentina vs. South Korea

The last time Argentina and South Korea played each other, a defender Huh Jung-Moo had been given the very tough task of marking Diego Maradona. The year was 1986 and Argentina went on to beat the South Koreans 3-1 on their way to becoming World Cup winners. Now, 24-years on, the two men meet again, this time as managers of their respective national teams. Maradona  would like it very much if Argentina can replicate the success of 1986 and Huh Jung-Moo sees it as his one and possibly his last shot, at  trying to stop Diego. Diego Maradona doesn’t remember his last encounter with Huh Jung-Moo as being a very pleasant one accusing the South Korea manager of having played Taekowondo instead of football against him. “”Oh yes, I remember Huh Jung-Moo very well,” says the Argentine wryly.

Huh Jung-Moo is quick to counter the accusation saying, “If I had done taekwondo then I’m sure the referee would have pulled out a yellow card.”  He obviously has forgotten that he had gone in the referee’s book. The game just like the manager’s battle is sure to be full of attacks and counter-attacks.

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Argentina

Ranking: 2

Argentina opened their World Cup campaign against Nigeria and won 1-0.  The scoreline however, does not do justice to the South Americans who controlled the game and had many chances. They could have won by 3 or 4 goals, had luck favoured them. Lionel Messi who has often been criticized for not turning up for his national team looked good in their last game and can be expected to put his name on the score sheet tonight. Maradona had gone with a very attacking line-up against Nigeria but today, he might be looking to tighten his defense with a 4-3-1-2  formation to keep out  the South Koreans. Argentina will be without their veteran midfielder Juan Veron, who will be replaced by Maxi Rodriguez. Messi will most likely play in the space behind the two strikers Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain. It is tough to see this Argentina side lose today, albeit South Korea might make this game a much closer contest than many anticipate it to be.  Argentina go into the game with 3 points and are sitting in second position in Group B. A win will almost assure them a place in the last 16, while a draw wouldn’t be completely terrible either, especially if the other two teams in the group draw their game.

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South Korea

Ranking: 47

South Korea at the moment sit top of the Group B,  level on points with Argentina but with a better goal difference courtesy their 2-0 win over Greece. They are an extremely organised team who exhibited their class and quality against the Europeans in a game where only one team actually played football. The South Korean’s played a 4-4-2 formation against Greece and impressed with their quick, midfield counter attacks. Today, however, Huh Jung-Moo might opt to play a bit more defensive 4-5-1 to keep the incredibly talented Argentina at bay. South Korea’s winning or more realistically drawing this match is dependent on their defenders led by Oh Beom Seok, Kim Hyung Il, Cho Yong  Hyung and Lee Jung Soo. They will be looking to Park Ji-Sung to score another marvelous goal, which should the Manchester United player score, will make him the highest scoring Asian at the World Cup with 4 goals. Although, a win for South Korea will be very special, a draw wouldn’t be completely unacceptable. After all, Argentina are a more talented side while South Korea is definitely more organised.

A South Korean win  however should not  be completely ruled out, as they do have a history of out playing  big sides, as they did in 2002 on their way to the World Cup Semi-Final. Their win against Greece, former European champions in their last game, must also have done wonders for the confidence of the South Korean players. One thing is for sure, South Korea definitely will not let Argentina over-awe them.

Manager Speak

“They should be respected but we are going to win.” – Diego Maradona, Argentina manager

“In my experience, if you are too intimidated and focused on the opposition, you can’t really reach your potential, which is why I told my players to enjoy the game.” – Huh Jung-Moo, South Korea manager

Stars to Watch Out For

Argentina: Lionel Messi, Gabriel Heinze, Gonzalo Higuain

South Korea: Park Ji-Sung, Park Chu Young, Lee-Dong Gook

Go Figure!

Argentina have won both their encounters against South Korea, including a 3-1 victory during the 1986 World Cup first round.

Only the current manager Diego Maradona (9) has delivered more assists than Juan Sebastián Verón (5), who is out injured for today’s match, for Argentina in the World Cup since 1966.

Only two of South Korea’s 24 World Cup finals goals have come before the 25th minute, with the second of those coming against Greece in their opening game of this tournament.

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David Beckham Dethroned as Top Earner In Football

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Lionel Messi scored his second hatrick in a row in  Barcelona’s 4-2 win over Zaragoza on Sunday. The little Argentine’s sensational form has drawn comparisons to the world’s greatest player with many arguing that he in fact is the greatest player to ever play the beautiful game. So it isn’t very surprising that he has replaced David Beckham to become the best-paid footballer in the world according, to France Football magazine’s annual “rich list“. The Argentina forward is said to have made £29.6m (sum of salaries, bonuses and sponsorships) last year making him the 4th highest paid athlete in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and LeBron James.

Messi , who helped Barcelona win the treble last season was paid a £3.6 million bonus which is what helped him de-throne David Beckham who has held the top spot on the rich list for the last 2 years. The falling value of the dollar is another factor working in favour of the magnificent Messi.

David Beckham came in at number 2 with an annual income £27.3 million followed closely by Messi’s predecessor as the World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo  raking in £27 million.

France’s Football Magazine’s Rich List

1.Lionel Messi (Barcelona) £29.6m
2. David Beckham (LA Galaxy/Milan) £27.3m
3. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) £27m
4. Kaka (Real Madrid) £16.9m
5. Thierry Henry (Barcelona) £16.1m
6. Ronaldinho (AC Milan) £15.5m
7. Carlos Tevez (Manchester City) £13.8m
8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Barcelona) £13m
9. Frank Lampard (Chelsea) £12.8m
10. Samuel Eto’o (Inter Milan) £12.4m

It is interesting to note that only two of the players in the top-ten highest paid footballers, Frank Lampard of Chelsea and Carlos Tevez of Manchester City ply their trade in the English Premier League. This strange statistic probably because of  the big earners wanting to escape the large hike in taxes for high income earners in the UK.

It is also interesting to see, that although the reported incomes are very high, they are not even close to the kind of money that is made by boxers or Formula 1 racers. Of course, the difference in the salaries could be justified by  pointing out that footballer don’t literally put their life at risk like racers or boxers do. Footballers incomes have increased many fold in the last few years but it is very surprising indeed to not that they are still very far-off from the incomes earned in American sports by NFL, NBA or MLB sportsman.

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FIFA World Player of the Year Award Shortlist 2009 : Will it be Michael Essien?

John TerryFernando TorresSamuel Eto'oFranck RiberyKaka Real MadridDavid VillaCristiano Ronaldo Real MadridWayne RooneyGianluigi BuffonAndreas IniestaMichael EssienFabianoDeigoXavi HernandesLionel MessiPuyol Zlatan IbrahimovicThierry HenryIker CasillasSteven GerrardMichael BallackDidier DrogbaFrank Lampard

Congratulations to all True Blues out there. Aren’t we having a great year so far?  8 goals in total against Bolton this week, top of the Premier League table and now we have the 5 players on the FIFA World Player Award shortlist. The 23 men (in a completely biased Chelsea first, order) who are in contention for the title of the FIFA World Player2009 are:

Chelsea

John Terry (England),  Frank Lampard (England),  Michael Ballack (German)

Didier Drogba (Côte d’Ivoire) Michael Essien (Ghana)

Barcelona

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden),  Andrés Iniesta (Spain),

Thierry Henry (France),  Lionel Messi (Argentina), Carles Puyol (Spain),

Xavi Hernandez (Spain)

Real Madrid

Iker Casillas (Spain),  Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal),  Kaká (Brazil)

Liverpool

Fernando Torres (Spain),  Steven Gerrard (England)

Juventus

Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Diego (Brazil)

Inter Milan

Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon)

Sevilla

Luis Fabiano (Brazil)

Bayern Munich

Franck Ribéry (France)

Valencia

David Villa (Spain)

Manchester United

Wayne Rooney (England)

According to me, the FIFA World Player should go to  Michael Kojo Essien and its not because he is a Chelsea player but because he is an incredible player. A player whose contribution to Chelsea’s success is often overlooked because of the presence of such superstars in the Chelsea line-up. Essien is a very talented midfielder who creates great chances for the team and is  also very strong in defence. The stunner he scored in the Chelsea-Blackburn game is yet another reminder of what a powerful footballer he is, something which is somtimes  overlooked by the starry-eyed fans mesmerised by the glamour of Michael Ballack,  Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, John Terry and Nicholas Anelka.  An all-rounder and a handful for any team, Essien is the quintessential talented, hard-working, focused player who is an asset to any team that he plays for. While he might not have won the title of Chelsea’s top pin-up boy, which is proudly held by Michael Ballack, Michael Essien has definitely  won the respect of all as Mr. Dependable. He is admired by opposition players and absolutely adored by his Chelsea and Ghana teammates who recognise just how important a part he plays in the team’s success. I know he probably isn’t going to win and  everyone senses that this year is finally going to be  Lionel Messi’s  turn to win it but I think one of these year’s someone is going to have to give Essien this award. Messi is marvelous and it will be great to see him crowned the Best Player in the World but then who knows maybe FIFA will surprise us all.

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Messi, Ronaldo may miss WC – Bane, Bliss or Blah?

Isn’t football wonderful? Players with incredible talent, clubs with fanatical fans, rivalries and histories, and some truly inspirational stories. There never really is a dull moment in the footballing world, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when what I was considering to be a dull, dull week with only a handful of ‘International Friendlies’ and ‘World Cup Qualifiers’ to look forward to turned out to be quite a dramatic, thought provoking, intriguing and dare I say – entertaining week. I guess I was living in the past when football was only a weekend thing and not the 7 day, 24 hour entertainment fest and way of life for many around the world, that it has become today. While I missed seeing players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry and Kaka play over the weekend, a menacing headline jumped out at me “Messi, Ronaldo may miss WC”…. A zillion questions raced through my head as I stared dumbfounded at that terrible headline that refused to go away, despite my insanely rapid blinking… What kind of a horrible, mean person would write such a thing? What would the World Cup be without the ‘Sultan of Stepovers’ Ronaldo or the infamous ‘Winker’ if that is how you choose to remember him? Would it still be as exciting? Wouldn’t this undervalue the World Cup? Would it effect the tickets beings sold? Did I still want to go?
The last of the questions was the easiest to answer. Hell yea! I was going. So I guess if most people are like me and just love football, they were going too. And that answered the tickets question and the other hidden question… nope, the tickets weren’t going to get cheaper. Oh well, I’d rather have packed stadiums with screaming supporters around me than a cheap ticket with the echo of my own screams scaring me and making me jump! 
However would it undervalue the World Cup if they greatest player in the world right now, Lionel Messi and the official greatest player in the world weren’t on show? I still remember how excited I was to see ’em play against each other in the Champions League, Manchester United – Barcelona was probably the most anticipated game of all. Of course, now that Ronaldo has moved to the ‘La Liga’ we get to see them pitted against each other more often (oh thank you Mr. Perez). But what about Ronaldo against Kaka? Not having such a well-know team as Portugal who almost always have reached the quarter-finals in the last few campaigns would be very disappointing indeed. But when a team can’t even ‘qualify’ to play, do we really need them where all the big boys are? I mean, doesn’t not qualifying imply that they simply weren’t good enough at that time to compete on the big stage? Remember, how much we missed England at the Euros? As England fan I was heartbroken, miserable, irritable, mean, ‘on the brink of rage and tears’ every time the 
‘E-word’ was uttered but in all honesty, when the competition got underway, I was hooked and didn’t really miss them all that much. So I guess if Portugal and France don’t make it to the world cup, it will be disappointing and yes, we’ll miss some of the phenomenal players (sincerely hope that they do qualify) but thats about it. The competition will still be exciting, entertaining, nail-biting, intense, and memorable… and the show will go on.  

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