Xavi opens up on the possibility of managing Barcelona in the future

Barcelona legend Xavi has said that he has the vision of managing Barcelona at some point in the future. The former Spain international has recently called time on his playing career with Al-Sadd and he is looking forward to gaining valuable managerial experience in Qatar before making the comeback with the Blaugrana in some coaching capacity.

Speaking to Efe, Xavi revealed that he has the ambition of making the highest level of management at the Catalan giants but he would prefer to start from the grass roots to build his coaching reputation, he said: “Now I start my career at zero, I can’t start with a Ferrari or a transatlantic ship, I have to start with a small boat, a small car, test myself, gain experience, and yes, it’s true that the objective is to return to Barcelona, but I’m calm. The idea is to start as a coach in Qatar, where there is not as much pressure, to test myself and to gain experience, and the objective is to return to Europe and most of all to Barcelona.”
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Crystal Palace plot move for Thomas Vermaelen

Crystal Palace manager Frank de Boer is prepared to offer an escape route to Thomas Vermaelen, who has had a miserable spell at Barcelona.

The Belgium international joined the Catalan giants from Arsenal back in the summer of 2014 and has since missed large spells of first-team football through injuries.

Vermaelen has been absent for 65 games in total over the past three seasons including 17 in a season-long loan with AS Roma last term. In spite of this, he has performed efficiently whenever on the playing field, and he has the desire to return to England during this summer’s transfer window.

According to The Sun, the Eagles could lodge a transfer attempt to sign the former Gunners centre-back with de Boer keen on adding more options in the central defensive department. Mamadou Sakho proved a huge hit during his short-term loan from Liverpool last season, but a permanent deal looks a long way off the cards with the Reds having placed a hefty £30m price tag. Continue reading Crystal Palace plot move for Thomas Vermaelen

Marc Wilmots laid the blame on the makeshift defence

Belgian manager Marc Wilmots laid the blame on the makeshift defence for the loss against Wales in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals.

Belgium had a great opportunity to reach the semifinals of the competition and that this golden generation can perform when it matters the most. Questions have been raised about the mental strength of the golden generation, which features the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, and Thomas Vermaelen. The latter has missed majority of the campaign and it was not surprising to see him unable to feature at the Euro 2016 due to injury.

Wilmots was sceptical about the availability of Vermaelen for the tournament, but Belgium were handed major injury blows just prior to the Euro 2016. The likes of Manchester City captain and defender Vincent Kompany’s failed to make it to the tournament was one of the biggest blows. Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen was yet another injury casualty but midway through the campaign. All these injuries – especially in the defence – forced Wilmots to field a makeshift defence against one of the surprising teams of Euro 2016 – Wales. A 3-1 defeat – despite taking an early lead through Nainggolan – saw Belgium exit the tournament with Wilmots blaming the defence as a major reason.
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Vermaelen talks about what makes Barcelona so dominant

Thomas Vermaelen underwent surgery in December of 2014 as he wanted to resolve his repetitive hamstring injuries and the Belgian appears to be fully fit with no injuries but even after managing to recover from his string of physical problems, he is struggling to land a spot in the starting lineup of Barcelona’s Luis Enrique.

The Belgian is mostly being utilized as a substitute player with limited playing time. Even though Vermaelen is clearly not one of the main stars of Barcelona, the experienced defender has played and trained enough with the Spanish club that he knows what are a few of the things that makes his team so strong and dominant in the world of football and Vermaelen said: ‘’The first thing I noticed here was the intensity of the pressing. The pressure is on straight away when we lose the ball. We do a lot of positioning games, focusing on getting the ball back. The pressure the players put on you is incredible, you have no time on the ball. We always do it at the start of training, it doesn’t only warm you up but it’s a training session in itself, you try to keep the ball in possession and make the guys in the middle do the pressing.’’ Continue reading Vermaelen talks about what makes Barcelona so dominant

Can Arsenal resurrect their Champions League campaign?

You would have felt confident upon looking at who the Champions League group stage draw had pitted Arsenal again, but although there is no such thing as easy games in football, the Gunners have made a real mess of what should have been a safe progression to the knock-out phases. Back-to-back defeats against Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos have left us with a mountain to climb, especially when you consider Arsene Wenger has to prepare his team for a double-header against the formidable force of Bayern Munich.

Pep Guardiola’s side appear more ruthless than ever before, with Robert Lewandowski’s astonishing goal-scoring form for club and country, including five in just nine minutes in Bayern’s 5-1 rout of Wolfsburg, making him Europe’s leading striker. We should try hard not to take a downbeat attitude into the first meeting at the Emirates, but with Arsenal’s European hopes hanging by a thread, it could require a monumental effort to overturn the Bundesliga champions in our own back yard. Continue reading Can Arsenal resurrect their Champions League campaign?