Best Universities To Watch A College Football Game

Best Universities To Watch A College Football Game

Best Universities To Watch A College Football Game

There are some beautiful campus’ across the country. From the warm climate schools on the west coast to the east coast schools that have a crisp feel to them in the fall. There are so many great campus’. But to have a great college football atmosphere on Saturday there has to be more than just beautiful scenery. You have to have a special energy around the campus that is contagious. The school has to have a loyal group of fans that are always there and cheer for their team through the good times and the bad. I’m going to go through what I think are the best Universities across the country to enjoy a college football game at.

Ole Miss (Mississippi) Rebels – Ole Miss which is located in Oxford, MS is one of the coolest places in the country to enjoy the college football gameday experience. Ole Miss has a loyal and passionate fan base that is always showing up with energy and making the most of their fall Saturdays. The special thing that they do at Ole Miss is that they have a huge tailgate before every home game at what they call the Grove. The Grove is a huge area on campus where everyone sets up their tailgates and has a big party before the game. I personally have never had the chance to experience it but I have friends who go to Ole Miss and they say that it is unlike anything else. The energy and great atmosphere are unrivaled and everyone always looks to be having a great time. Those Rebel fans sure know how to tailgate the right way.

University of Wisconsin – The University of Wisconsin which is located in Madison, WI and is another school with a great tailgate atmosphere. This is one of those schools that have a loyal fan base down to the core. Those fans will show up in numbers no matter if the team is having a good or bad year, they will be there. They also don’t complain about the weather up there. It gets pretty frigid there in the winter (sub zero temperatures) but the fans always show and make the most of the experience. The tailgating experience in Madison is a little different from some other schools due to the fact that they do tailgate outdoors and grill, but the bar scene is also a big part of the experience.

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Manchester: The Free Spirit City in Northwest England

Manchester: The Free Spirit City in Northwest England

Manchester: The Free Spirit City in Northwest England

Of all the cities of Europe, Manchester is the most progressive, and after London the most important city in England. Socially, there is an motivational energy in Manchester that is a driving force socially and culturally. Manchester has embraced the realities of the social changes of the 21st century in an open manner. This is so for two reasons. There are five universities and five colleges in Manchester, and the resulting youthful dynamic this provides has considerable influence. Yet this influence is in complete harmony with and magnifies the long tradition of the Mancunian propensity to challenge the status quo, to be the vanguard of social change, and in being pro-active in civil liberties and civil rights. This has created a very different English city in tone, demeanor, and appearance than what Americans may expect.

The Rebuilding

Because of extensive bombing during World War II, there was a considerable amount of rebuilding, and with the Mancunian penchant for innovation, instead of rebuilding the old they constructed buildings of contemporary design. So the look and feel of Manchester is that of a dynamic city that is definitely quirky, but also modern and impressive.

Madchester

This dynamicism has been a magnet for creative young artists and musicians from across Britain, and this has created a very active cultural climate in the fine arts and in the performing arts. Manchester is home of the ‘musical revolution’ that brought about the Hallé symphony orchestra and progressive music groups such as The Stone Roses, Oasis, Happy Mondays, the Inspiral Carpets, James, and hundreds more. Manchester’s music revolution was even dramatised in the 2002 film, «24 Hour Party People», a 3½ star digital-video depicting the punk era through the late-’80s «Madchester» era. The music scene in Manchester is a source of local pride and is representative of the spirit of this great city.

Youthful Adventures

With such a large and vibrant uni student population in Manchester, that means a lot of uni student life, and nightlife. If you want a night out on any night of the week, that’s no problem. There is always a cheap club to get in with no dress code, packed pubs with happy hours, lots of cheap food including ‘takeaway’ (takeout food), and places to meet girls, places to meet guys, places to meet girls and guys, whatever you want.

First, head on down to the section of the city called Studentville. It’s the Oxford Road area and it is packed with pubs, bars less picky about dress style, and it’s active most of the time.

The Northern Quarter is in Manchester City Centre between Shudehill and Victoria Station. This is a bohemian and offbeat alternative lifestyle area with a lot of cafés, pubs, bars, music shops, art galleries, clothes boutiques, and emporiums. In the Northern Quarter you can find all sorts of weird, delightful, and wonderful stuff. The pubs and bars are located mostly on High Street and Oldham Street. There is also a bazaar in Affleck’s Palace, which use to be a department store. Some cafés morph into nightlife with various music venues.

The Gay Village is a unique centre for the large and flourishing gay community. The Gay Village is in the Canal Street and Chorlton Street area and includes Sackville, Whitworth, and Princess Streets. Across the canal is Sackville Gardens and Manchester College. Canal street is a pedestrian street lined with is lined with gay bars and restaurants.

Manchester Pride is a yearly ten-day LGBT event that takes place in mid-to-late August. It includes a Pride Fringe festival, film showings, a colorful parade that makes their way across the city and ending in the Gay Village, and a weekend celebration called ‘The Big Weekend’. This is a ticketed three-day program of outdoor entertainment in the Gay Village during the August bank holiday weekend. It all ends with a Candlelit Vigil in Sackville Gardens.

Free Things to Do

Here is a partial list of free things to do around Manchester.

  • The John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester at 150 Deansgate, south of Bridge Street, is unusual and beautiful on the inside. It is a masterwork of Victorian Gothic (or Neo-Gothic) architecture. There is a collection in the library of magnificent medieval manuscripts.
  • Museum of Science and Industry or MOSI, on Liverpool Road aims to make science and industry inspirational and enjoyable. Well, that depends what part of this huge museum you are in. However, there are trains you can actually ride, a Planetarium, and a 4D cinema (you do pay for a fairly old short film, about £5.50, which is generally rated as fair). The airplane display is near the end of the entire exhibit area and since the place is really big, don’t wear out too early because the planes are rather cool. Just quickly walk pass the boring story-board exhibits. Some people be delirious about this place. I don’t know why, but the planes, planetarium, and trains are def. There is a decent restaurant and coffee shop in the museum.
  • Heaton Park, four miles north of the city centre in Prestwich, offers huge green lawns with good views of Manchester, row boats on the lake, footpaths to walk through the woods, cycle paths as well, a beautiful and quirky 18th century mansion, Smithy Lodge, open to the public with period furniture, and a farm with farm animals and beekeeping to see.
  • Whitworth Art Gallery on Oxford Road next to Whitworth Park at Manchester University is especially known for their collection of British watercolours and modern and historic prints. Of course there are also drawings, paintings and sculptures. There is a summer program of events to check out.
  • City Airport & Heliport‘s Art Deco control tower is open to the public, free, and you can observe the planes and helicopters landing and taking off. City Airport is on Liverpool Road in Eccles and is not to be confused with the Manchester International Airport on the other side of town.

Other places to visit include the Manchester Art Gallery, The Lowry, National Football Museum, Peoples History Museum, Manchester Museum, and Manchester Cathedral.

Like the rest of England, there are a list of festivals as well as local events in Manchester that occur during the warm months. These include such things as the Manchester Picnic, various displays and «thought provoking experiences» at Tatton Park, the Float-In Movie, Harry Potter Day, and Canal Festival. Check the local tourist office for details on festivals the occur during your visit.

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Football Betting – End-of-Season Games

Football Betting – End-of-Season Games

Football Betting – End-of-Season Games

Everyone loves a trier, especially when it comes to putting down your readies. There’s nothing more galling for punters than to realise that your selection was ‘not off’ and that you’ve not even had a fair run for your money.

Blanket television coverage and the greater transparency of the betting exchanges have raised awareness of the ‘non-trier’ issue in horse racing, but football punters need to be on their guard too. It’s clear that all is not well in the world of football, judging by the recent match-fixing scandal in Germany involving referee Robert Hoyzer, ongoing investigations into some Italian results and irregular betting patterns on obscure European and international matches.

Thankfully, the consistency of results in the bigger leagues (and especially in England) indicates that there is no reason for lack of punter confidence. The main problem – as in horse racing – lies around the margins, in those matches (or races) not subject to the full glare of the media spotlight and where skulduggery is less likely to arouse suspicion.

All very trying

However, my research suggests the ‘non-trier’ issue does rear its ugly head towards the end of the season, even in the major leagues. Most leagues are competitive enough to ensure they go right to the wire in the battles for championships, places in Europe and safety from relegation.

But, inevitably, some teams have nothing left to play for in the final weeks of the season, which is where problems can arise.

The last few weekends of a league season feature three types of match:

1. Matches between two teams with nothing to play for.

2. Matches between two teams with something to play for.

3. Matches between one team with something to play for and one team with nothing to play for.

Out of focus

The commitment of either team cannot be taken for granted in the first category, so the most sensible betting strategy towards the end of the season is to focus on categories two and three.

Matches in the second category should be assessed using your usual techniques. (Anybody who doesn’t know needs to read our football betting articles on inside-edge-mag.co.uk – Ed), but the best betting opportunities often lie in category three, where there’s always the potential for a ‘non-trier’.

This isn’t to suggest that anything underhand takes place in these games, merely that a slight drop in focus by one team can make all the difference in a competitive league such as the English Premiership.

There may be many reasons for this drop in focus – including the widely held view that some players are ‘on their holidays’ before the end of the season. It’s equally likely that, given the demands of modern football, a player who has been carrying an injury will be rested once his team has nothing left to play for, or that there may be some easing off in training sessions. Whatever the reasons, our results at the bottom of this article show a team with something to play for is more likely to win a match against a team with nothing to play for.

Across the top three English divisions and the major European leagues that we analysed (Spanish Liga, German Bundesliga and French Ligue 1), these matches usually produce a win rate of 50-60% for the team with something to play for, and a win rate of 20-30% for the team with nothing to play for. The stats vary a bit from year to year and league to league, but overall are pretty consistent.

It’s a bone of some contention that such figures offer conclusive proof of the non-trier effect, but there’s one crucial piece of supporting evidence that swings the issue for me. If there was no link between the results and one team’s urgent need for points in such matches, we’d expect a higher win rate among higher-placed teams than those struggling near the bottom, since that’s what has been happening during the rest of the season. In fact, the win rate of teams battling to avoid relegation is abnormally high in such matches at the end of the season – virtually on a par with the win rate achieved by teams at the top of the table who are chasing titles, places in Europe or play-off slots.

Fight for survival

For example, the last five seasons of the English Premiership have produced a win rate of 55% for teams with something to play for. That figure does not vary, no matter whether the team is in the top six or the bottom six.

It’s a similar story in other leagues, though the win rate of relegation-threatened teams in such matches does tend to be slightly lower overall than that achieved by teams near the top of the table.

So, do these stats alone offer a good betting opportunity? The simple answer is no, but there are some refining touches that can put these figures to good advantage.

Let’s look at the overall picture first. A 55% win rate would give a tidy profit margin if the average odds available were evens, but that’s unlikely to be the case in matches where one team has something to play for and the other team doesn’t.

Taking the games that fell into this category last season in our featured leagues, a level-stakes bet on all the teams with something to play for would have brought a small loss. This was due, in part, to last season’s lower-than-average win rate by these teams, but a more significant factor is the reduced odds that punters are asked to accept on such teams.

How to beat the odds

The bookmakers generally factor in the ‘nothing to play for’ syndrome when pricing up end-of-season matches, though a few do slip through the net. If you’re good at making your own book on matches, you can spot these matches – otherwise, you will find it difficult to make a profit backing blind on the teams with something to play for.

The counter argument, of course, is that the value lies in backing against these sides, given that teams with nothing to play for will be available at artificially inflated odds in such matches. This doesn’t hold water, though, due to the lower win rate of these teams. The problem for punters, as outlined earlier, is to know whether these teams will be trying hard enough – the evidence suggests that, on the whole, they won’t be.

How, then, can we beat the odds? Well, a little more delving into the statistics puts more flesh on the general assumptions often made about end-of-season matches.

Starting at the top, the late-season records of league champions are very revealing. There’s clear evidence that, once a title has been secured arithmetically, there’s a widespread tendency for champions to take their foot off the gas. Last season, for instance, the Spanish and German champions were confirmed with two games to play – Valencia and Werder Bremen, the respective winners, then promptly lost their last two games.

This is far from an isolated example. In 2001, Manchester United lost their last three games, having run away with the title, though it has to be said that they had finished with four straight wins when in the same position the previous season.

Overall, however, the record of already-crowned champions suggests they’re prone to easing up once the race is won. In the leagues analysed here, the win rate of champions over the course of the season usually exceeds 60%.

Once the title has been secured, however, this dropped to an average of 57% over the past five seasons. And the fall is even more dramatic in games where they face a team with something to play for – their win rate then averages just 45%.

A ton of profit

In general, then, it’s worth opposing already-crowned champions. Last season, in the leagues featured here, this approach would have yielded a 24% profit to level stakes. If you had concentrated only on games where the opposing team still had something to play for, the strike rate in opposing the champions would have been 100% and the profit a whopping 125% to level stakes.

The only caveat is to be wary of any factor that may cause the champions to keep the pressure on – one example is Arsenal last season, when they were Premiership champions with four games to go but were keen to maintain their unbeaten record. They did so, but with only a 50% win rate in their last four games (two wins, two draws).

Another factor might be when a lower-division side is chasing a landmark such as 100 points – that was the case with Wigan Athletic in the old Division Two in 2003, when they reached three figures with two wins and a draw, even though they were already champions.

Knowing that champions ease off once they’ve nothing to play for, it’s easy to assume already-relegated sides must be even more prone to this. Again, the reality is more complicated.

Bottoming out

Overall, in the leagues analysed here, relegated teams have a 23% win rate once they’re mathematically doomed – pretty close to the average expected from relegation-zone teams over the course of the season. In other words, they don’t fall apart once all hope is gone.

In fact, relegated teams actually have a surprisingly good home record in the final weeks of the season. On average, they manage a fairly even split of wins, draws and losses at home and in none of the leagues does their number of home defeats outweigh the combined number of wins and draws – making relegated teams always worth a look on the Asian handicap at home, as they’ll rarely, if ever, be giving up a start to their opponents.

Where they perform very badly is away from home. Even more markedly, they’re usually lambs to the slaughter (home or away) versus teams still with something to play for. Their loss rate in such matches is 70% and, in the past five seasons, no relegated team recorded a single win in this type of fixture in the top leagues in France, England and Germany.

That 70% loss rate is equivalent to the odds on their opponents being around the 2/5 or 4/9 mark. The bookies are stingy about such teams, though you could still have made a profit last season backing against the relegated teams in such matches. With extra selectivity about the odds you’re prepared to take (no less than 1/2, say), the potential exists to make money on these games.

Middle-of-the-table teams is an area to tread warily. While the stats show punters generally can rely on sides scrapping for top places or battling against relegation, this isn’t the case with teams marooned in mid-table for the last few games of the season, with no incentive to move up and no fear of dropping down a few places.

The final word

In the leagues analysed here, the win rate of mid-table teams in their final games doesn’t appear too bad, averaging 33%, which is broadly in line with their overall seasonal record.

The picture isn’t so rosy, however, when the figures are narrowed down to games against teams with something still to play for. The win rate of safe mid-table teams dips to 26% and their loss rate goes up to 49% (from 41% overall).

In the end, end-of-season betting all comes down to the odds available. Pricing up these games is a difficult process, and it’s impossible to come up with hard-and-fast rules about when to bet or what odds to accept. An appreciation of the underlying stats is important, however, because end-of-season games aren’t governed by the normal rules of form and are a law unto themselves in many instances. The one golden rule is: be sure you know your selection will be trying.

More Football Betting Articles

Submitted By Q

Dennis Publishing

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Is the Premiership Really That Good, or Just Part of BSkyB’s Successful Marketing?

Is the Premiership Really That Good, or Just Part of BSkyB’s Successful Marketing?

Is the Premiership Really That Good, or Just Part of BSkyB’s Successful Marketing?

To British subscribers of BSkyB, and in particular Sky Sports, you might have noticed that the message that the Premiership is the place to be has been hammered down your throat on more than one occasion. Is the Premiership really that good, or is this just part of BSkyB’s attempt at successfully marketing their brand?

The Premiership is arguably one of the wealthiest leagues in the world, in part thanks to BSkyB’s massive TV deal, which eclipses any other league in the world. BSkyB recently agreed a new three year deal with the Premier League, and Sky will pay £1.314 billion for 92 games. Other revenue comes from Setanta, who are paying £392 million for 46 games, and foreign TV rights have been sold for £625 million (even Internet and Mobile Phone revenue will generate £400 million). This new deal will mean that the clubs in the Premiership will receive £50m (which includes prize money and TV revenue).

With such lucrative sponsorship deals, the Premier League has been able to attract some of the finest players in the world, mainly due to the high wages on offer. In turn better player enables clubs to compete more in the various European competitions, like the UEFA Champions League, and UEFA Cup. If the Dutch Eredivisie had such lucrative sponsorship deals, would the leagues various clubs see an exodus of talent each year? The question is undoubtedly no, as it would be able to compete with La Liga, the Premier League, and Serie A, in terms of attracting players, and offering them financial incentives.

More finance in the top tier of England’s league pyramid, is steadily creating a gulf (in financial terms) between teams from the Premier League, and teams in the lower divisions. This means that when a club is promoted from the Championship, they will generally struggle (with a few exceptions), and end up relegated back to the division where they have just come from. This statement seems a bit absurd, but you only need to look at the past few seasons in the Premiership to see the facts for yourself.

The gulf in finances is gradually seeing the rich get richer, and it is also seeing them pull more and more away from the rest of the pack, who are trying to keep up (and is some cases some have gone into administration as a result). If you think this is another absurd statement, just have a look at which clubs have finished in the top four (Champions League qualification places) over the past four seasons. Only one club (Everton in 2004/05) has managed to break into the top four, from outside the so called Big Four (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United).

Sky’s argument and constant marketing that the Premier League is the best league in the world, to me seems a bit far fetched. Clubs which gain promotion into the Promised Land generally struggle, as they can not compete financially, and generally end up relegated within a season or two of promotion. The gulf between the rich and poor is getting bigger each season, and clubs outside the so called Big Four, are finding it harder and harder to gain a top four finish. At the start of each season, clubs outside the Big Four have their own mini league, and compete amongst each other for a UEFA Cup place, and trying to avoid the relegation places. Sound like an exciting league?

If you listen to the constant advertisements on BSkyB regarding the Premier League and also to their football commentators, you will get a different story. Towards the end of the 2006/07 season, each week the matches involving Manchester United and Chelsea (the two teams competing for the league title) were hyped up to an unbelievable level. The fact that there were only two clubs competing for the title after Christmas, was brushed conveniently under the carpet. The clash between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge (towards the end of the season), was being billed as the match of the season, and one you just could not afford to miss. Unfortunately I wished I missed that match, as by that point the title was already at Old Trafford, and both teams played their reserve sides in a drab 0-0.

In contrast the Bundesliga, Eredivisie, and Portuguese Liga titles went down to the last match of the season, and proved to be more entertaining then the Premiership title race. Going into the last round of fixtures in the 2006/07 Eredivisie, AZ, Ajax, and PSV were all tied on 72 points; and their goal differences were +53, +47, and +46 respectively. During the course of the last matchday, the fate of the title swung between all three clubs, as the scores changed constantly. AZ only needed to win to clinch their first Eredivisie title since 1981, but they surprisingly lost 3-2 away at lowly Excelsior. Ajax beat Willem II away 2-0, but they lost out on the title due to goal difference. PSV thumped Vitesse 5-1 at home, to finish level on points with their fierece rivals Ajax, but clinched the title courtesy of a goal difference of +50, compared to Ajax’s +49.

The 2006/07 Portuguese Liga also proved to be just as entertaining, with Portugal’s Big Three (FC Porto, Sporting, and Benfica) all within two points of each other going into the last matchday. They all duefully obliged with wins on the last day, and the title was retained by FC Porto. A similar story to the end of 2006/07 season in the German Bundesliga was also unfolding, with VFB Stuttgart, SV Werder Bremen, and FC Schalke all battling for the title heading into the last rounds of the championship. Werder slipped up in their penultimate match losing in a shock 2-1 home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, knocking them out of the title race. On the last matchday, there were only two points separating VFB Stuttgart, and FC Schalke, and they both obliged with wins, meaning the title returned to VFB Stuttgart for the first time in 15 years.

BSkyB failed to mention in any of its programmes the exciting climaxes of the Dutch Eredivisie, German Bundesliga, and Portuguese Liga championships. This is understandable as BSkyB are solely interested in marketing their own brand – the Premiership; and to mention how entertaining other leagues are, could be seen as damaging to their product.

One of the most entertaining, and competitive leagues in the world is the Spanish La Liga. La Liga is similar to the Premiership, in terms of big clubs, and star players, but the main difference is how competitive the league is, and recent history has shown this. Unlike the predictable Premier League, were you find the usual suspects claiming a top four finish each season, La Liga have had eight different teams claim a top four finish in the past few seasons (compared to five from the Premiership).

La Liga had four clubs competing for the title with three matches to go (at time of writing) towards the end of the 2006/07 season. Valencia suffered a home defeat at the hands of Villarreal which knocked them out of the title race going into the penultimate match. Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Sevilla (with 72 points, 72 points, and 70 points respectively) are all still gunning for the title, and La Liga looks set for one of the most exciting climaxes in recent years.

La Ligas strength is also shown in the UEFA Cup, were mid table clubs fair well in the competition. At the 1/2 final stage of the 2006/07 competition, Spain provided three of the four clubs (Sevilla, Espanyol, and Osasuna). You can argue that England provided three of the four clubs at the 1/2 final stage of the UEFA Champions League during the same season (Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United); but they all failed to claim the trophy (in comparison to the Spanish clubs who claimed the trophy for the third time in the past four seasons).

There is no arguing that the Premier League is a good league, and it is a joy to watch, but it is not the place to be. The league is becoming very predicable, with the same clubs competing for the same honours each season (in reference to the league and FA & League Cups), and some fans are starting to become restless due to this. This is evident in the drop in attendances for some clubs during the 2006/07 season (and some had to even slash ticket prices to attract fans).

Part of the Premier Leagues success worldwide is down to BSKyB’s successful marketing, and not solely down to football. You will find numerous people who will argue this point, but a leagues true strength should be judged on how well their teams perform on the European stage. Sadly since the formation of the Premiership, English clubs have failed to perform on the European stage, claiming only two European Cups, and one UEFA Cup. In comparison Spain has claimed five European Cups, and three UFEA Cups, whilst Italy has claimed four European Cups, and five UEFA Cups during the same period.

For BSkB to claim that the Premiership is the place, first the gulf between the Big Four and the rest of the league needs to close, and English clubs need to start performing on the European stage more regularly – once this is done, then BSkbyB can truly claim the Premier League is the place to be.

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The Most Surprising Soccer Transfer of the Season

The Most Surprising Soccer Transfer of the Season

The Most Surprising Soccer Transfer of the Season

Twice a year when the transfer window opens, the soccer world goes crazy with players changing clubs and newspapers and soccer websites all over the world speculating on the latest superstars playing the game of musical chairs.

While some big name transfers such as Cristiano Ronaldo’s move from Manchester United to Real Madrid finally came to their expected conclusions, one transfer caught my eye this season. That of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s move from Italian champions Inter Milan to Spanish and Champions League winners Barcelona, with Samuel Eto’o going the opposite direction.

Now, Ibrahimovic is not a bad player and on his day can be one of the best players on the planet. But he has failed to live up to his massive hype in my opinion. Who can forget the 2 Champions League matches against Manchester United last season where he was virtually anonymous?

Samuel Eto’o on the other hand has proven himself to be one of the most lethal strikers in the world. Only 28, he has his best years ahead of him and unlike Ibrahimovic, doesn’t choke on the big stage. Don’t forget, it was his goal in last season’s Champions League final that started Barcelona on the road to victory.

On top of the player exchange, Inter Milan also received a transfer fee of 45 million Euros. I have no idea how it was done, but Inter manager Jose Mourinho must surely have negotiated the best deal of the season. Or does Barcelona know something that we don’t? Only time will tell.

Is Every Soccer (Football) Player Unique?

Is Every Soccer (Football) Player Unique?

1960’s – 2011 comparison (Pele)

There is no doubt that Brazilian striker Pele was the best player of the 1960’s. Pele and Maradona are the two players who are always mentioned when the common question is asked, ‘Who was the best player to have ever lived?’ Pele will often be the answer. So what was Pele like? Pele was a natural goal scorer, the Santos striker was incredibly athletic and his dribbling/balance combination was unstoppable for defenders. His ability to go past defenders at such speed and maintain such balance credited him with many goal scoring opportunities, which more likely than not Pele would score emphatically. Pele had technique, the passing ability of a central midfield maestro, the engine of a Marathon runner and the power of a steam train. His statistics are sensational, 1281 goals in 1363 games.

No one can live up to Pele’s name; Manchester United’s George Best in the 70’s was a similar type of player to Pele but was more a winger than a forward. In the modern era, few have been compared to Pele but none have lived up to the reputation that Brazilian Pele possessed. Alexandre Pato of AC Milan was tipped to be the Pele of this era, but he has to yet to show any phenomenal form to even label him the one of the best strikers today let alone ever lived. Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney is the closest of this decade that we have compared to Pele. Rooney possesses the same power and physique that Pele does, the same ability to pick out a 70 yard cross field ball and the same vision and technique. England striker Rooney just doesn’t have same amount of pace that Pele did which combines with the factor that Rooney doesn’t particularly go past players with skill and flair.

Wayne Rooney has scored goals that you wouldn’t think were possible with the stunning volley against Newcastle and the recent potential goal of the season overhead against rivals Manchester City. Pele scored stunning goals in the 60’s and 70’s for Santos and Brazil, one ‘nearly’ goal that would’ve been one of the greatest goals of all time. His dummy against Uruguay that left the keeper for dead when the ball went one way and Pele went around the other way, but his shot off balance and on a tight angle just went wide.

1970’s – 2011 comparison (Johann Cruyff)

Johann Cruyff was part of the Ajax side that inherited the ‘total football’ philosophy introduced by Dutch coach Rinul Michels. Former Barcelona and Ajax front man Johann Cruyff’s style of play was influenced by the total football approach he conducted to his game. His natural position was centre forward but because of the tactical way the Ajax side played the game, he roamed around and ended up playing on the wing and central midfield more often than not. The Holland striker spent half of the 1970’s at Barcelona for Rinus Michels, where he was crowned European Footballer of the Year at his time at Barcelona in consecutive years.

Cruyff was dubbed the ‘Pythagoras in boots’ because of his ability to pick out passes from angles that looked impossible. Not only did he have an eye for a pass but he had tremendous speed and his ability to accelerate away from defenders which was helped by the ‘Cruyff turn’ named after the Dutch maestro is still a turn associated with football 40 years later.

I don’t think any striker could grace Cruyff’s ability to play in multiple positions to maximum effect so I’ve chosen a playmaker and speed merchant who would grace Cruyff’s technical and physical attributes to his game, Ryan Giggs. Both players in their prime had the ability to go past players with flair and tremendous pace creating goal scoring opportunities. Giggs isn’t as prolific as Cruyff as a finisher but Giggs certainly lives up to the playmaking abilities that Cruyff possessed. Ryan Giggs in his prime was lightening over 5-10 yards and could maintain such frightening pace for 40-50 yards which he shared with Cruyff.

However as football has changed much over the years since Cruyff’s successful days at Ajax and Barcelona, the style of play has changed and there aren’t many similar type of players of Cruyff’s calibre that could play naturally upfront and drop back deeper and still be extremely effective.

1980’s – 2011 comparison (Diego Maradona)

Maradona or Messi? There is no doubt that of today’s game, Lionel Messi is the nearest if not potential candidate to surpass Maradona’s ability as a footballer. Former Barcelona striker Diego Maradona along with Pele is one of the best players to have ever graced this planet. He wasn’t as clinical as Pele but taking nothing away from Maradona he still had a very good goal scoring record for club and country. The style of play on the ball for Maradona and Messi is identical. They both dribble with extreme pace and a very low centre of gravity; they both possess extreme dribbling skills with the ability to have 5-10 touches in the space of seconds to make it impossible for defenders to tackle. Many have questioned whether Lionel Messi could do what Maradona did at Napoli. Maradona won what is now the Italian ‘serie A’ with Napoli with what was a very average squad, Maradona being the pivotal part of the Napoli side and no doubt wouldn’t have been title winners if Maradona wasn’t on their books. Could Messi do a similar fate at Blackburn of the English Premiership, Udinese of the Italian Serie A? Many doubt whether Messi could.

In contrast Messi has achieved a lot more than Maradona at this age having already won the Spanish La Liga 4 times and Champions League 2 times. Messi is only 23, Maradona at 23 won the treble with Barcelona in 1983 and an Argentine title with Boca Juniors in 1981 but that was it. So Messi so far has had a better career on silverware success but Maradona’s achievements at Napoli and on the international arena set him aside to Messi. Infamously, Maradona also has a World Cup to his name in 1986 which Maradona made his name.

There is no doubt that Barcelona winger Messi scores goals from all sorts of angles and all sorts of scintillating runs but Maradona’s second goal against England in the 1986 World Cup has been regarded as the goal of the century by many people. Maradona travelled with the ball 60 metres and took on six English players in the process, rounded England goalkeeper Peter Shilton and scored from a tight angle to beat England 2-1 in the quarter finals of the 1986 World Cup which they went on to win. The ex-Napoli striker also scored the very controversial ‘hand of god’ goal in the same game which has been spoken about ever since. Messi hasn’t really shined on the international stage and if he does, it might be what takes him past his boyhood hero’s status.

1990’s – 2011 comparison (Ronaldo)

He was a natural goal scorer of his era and by far the best striker in his generation for simply scoring goal after goal. Ronaldo played at the highest level through the 90’s and early 00’s, he represented PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and AC Milan in an illustrious career that was disrupted by serious knee injuries.

Brazilian striker Ronaldo was a born goal scorer, he had the ability to go past players with his skill and power but defiantly his threat was in the box. He scored 62 goals in just under 100 appearances for Brazil and has been voted Brazil’s best ever striker since Pele by numerous judging panels. Former Real Madrid striker Ronaldo was indestructible, if he got in the box it was inevitable he was going to score.

As Ronaldo has still being playing till quite recent, there hasn’t been long for anyone to potentially replace Ronaldo’s prowess for being a known goal scorer. However, there a few players that this season in world Football has started to develop their reputation. Javier Hernandez of Manchester United is one striker that could have the potential to live up to Ronaldo’s abilities in front of goal. He already has 16 goals for Manchester United in his first season and is a predator in the box similarly to Ronaldo. It’s doubtful whether Mexican forward Hernandez will have the impact on world football that Ronaldo did, but the Mexican is a very similar striker to what Ronaldo was in his prime.

Barcelona’s David Villa is another striker who is known for his potential in the box. Spanish hit man David Villa has earned his trade at Valencia for several years and finally sealed a move to Barcelona where he already has 21 goals to his name. Villa has also lived up to Ronaldo’s international reputation, having already won the European Championships in 2008 and the World Cup in 2010 with Spain being a key member of the winning side in both tournaments with his contribution of goals.

2000’s – 2011 comparison (Zidane)

One of the most gifted players of this century was French midfielder and former Juventus/Bordeaux midfielder Zidane. One of the most natural players at playing the game, Zidane glided through the game in a nonchalant manner that saw him one of footballs most composed players ever to have graced the game. An out and out central midfielder, Zidane possessed a goal scoring ability from midfield and also the ability to craft out magic in midfield to launch attacks for his side.

Zidane joined Real Madrid from Juventus in 2001 for a world record fee at the time of around 50 million pounds. Zidane enjoyed success in Real Madrid, winning the Champions League and the Spanish La Liga in his 6 years at the club. Not to mention becoming a World cup winner with France in 1998 and a runner up in 2006. Zidane was a tall, strong midfielder at 6’1 he was no fool at defending and wasn’t afraid to challenge for an aerial battle but Zidane came alive in the attacking half and his deft touches on the ball and he seemed to have eyes in the back of his head at times with his awareness of space around him.

Not many footballers have composure as a skill to their game because of the extreme amounts of pressure footballers are put under and now with all the money at stake. However, Manchester United’s Dimitar Berbatov is one of very few footballers that possess superb composure on the ball which is a very gracious skill to have. Bulgarian striker Berbatov and French midfielder Zidane also share the same style of control and first touch, with Berbatov having one of the greatest techniques in the world today similarly to Zidane in his prime. Although ex-Tottenham striker Berbatov is an out and out forward and Zidane never played upfront, the abilities they both have are very similar. Even their mental approaches are very alike, both are very quiet and don’t particularly talk much when competing competitively. Both have tremendous control on the ball, both have the ability to go past players with the skill on the ball rather than speed or strength.

Great players are easy to come by; it’s the magical players that are hard to come by. Who’s going to replace Barcelona’s Messi’s or Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo’s of today’s game in a few years? Football has the ability to produce stars to show on the world stage which is what makes football such an amazing sport to watch.

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