Archive for December, 2007

Great individual goals footage

Posted on December 29, 2007. Filed under: Players, Video | Tags: , , , , |

Just found a really good video compilation on ballhype of various solo goals (not limited to recent ones either). Not too sure about the backing track but maybe that’s just me… enjoy!

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Inter signings for January

Posted on December 29, 2007. Filed under: Inter, Players, serie a, Transfers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

After initially suggesting that Inter would not be spending much in January for transfers, Moratti and Mancini have been forced to look at some options, possibly in midfield and definitely in defense. Inter confirmed that Samuel has damaged the ACL in his left knee and will probably be out for the rest of the season. It happened in the Milan derby when Kaka’s turning and twisting proved too much for him to follow. Watch the highlights at the bottom of the match wrap-up posted earlier.

Inter continues to have a lot of injuries in midfield, it hasn’t effected then much but it’s unknown when Viera and Figo will be back and both Stankovic and Dacourt could be out for a while. Inter have been linked with Jeremy Menez, Maniche, Elano and Enzo Maresca to name a few. Moratti has denied most rumours but it makes sense to keep things under wraps and reduce the pressure on transfer fees. It’s clear that whoever the player is, they must be able to play in the Champions League.

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Adidas Europass ball

Posted on December 26, 2007. Filed under: Technology, Video |

I found a really cool clip on the onion bag blog about the production of the Adidas Europass ball that will be in use in the 2008 Euro competition (although there vid seems to be gone now for some reason?). It fits in nicely with the post I wrote a couple of months ago on soccer ball technology. So amazing the way they create and test these balls.

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Soccer strength training

Posted on December 25, 2007. Filed under: General | Tags: , , , |

So recently I started hitting the gym again as my form, injuries, pace and strength started to drop. I knew it was time to go back to the gym because a few years ago I was having a bad run of injuries and the thing that got me out of it was a few months in the gym plus a rigorous stretching routine. After that I was in the best form of my life!

Strength training can make a big difference to pace and the ability to hold players off and hang on to the ball. As for preventing injuries, it can also help by strengthening the muscles around joints but the big advantage is in reducing imbalances which can result in injuries. Soccer players tend to prefer one side. One side for shooting, one side to push off from, one side for jumping, one side for performing step-overs, one side for just about any move. Over time, repeating the same actions over and over leads to imbalances with one side or one opposing muscle group getting more of a workout, becoming stronger and hence creating an imbalance. The gym is great for sorting out these imbalances because you can use equipment on one side at a time or at the very least perform the exercises in a more symmetrical manner.

The problem is that a lot of gym work tends to make muscles tighter and reduce flexibility. This is bad for soccer players as good flexibility plays a huge role in preventing injuries. So although we want the extra strength, we’re also working to lengthen our muscles. This requires a good amount of stretching and I don’t mean just before or after a game. You should perform stretches daily and try to spend around 5 minutes on each individual stretch to improve your flexibility (you can spend less time once you only need to maintain your flexibility). It’s quite hard to get into a routine and stick to it but once you do you’ll notice the results very quickly (within a couple of weeks).

Strength training is different for soccer players to body builders. Most body builders are doing low reps to get a great deal of strength and they end up with a lot of fast-twitch muscle fibres. These fibres give you a lot of strength but fatigue very quickly, so although you may be able to accelerate quickly, you won’t be able to do it that many times. Soccer players need a good balance of fast and slow-twitch muscle fibres because games are 90 minutes (or more) and it’s not just explosive power like sprinting and shooting, there’s a lot of jogging and repeated actions.

This all means that you need a workout with a moderate number of reps. Somewhere around 12-15 times for each exercise and 3 sets is fine. As for the exercises, you’ll need some to work those hamstrings, quads and calves. If you can, you should perform free-weight exercises rather than using machines. Things like squats with barbells or dead-lifts, etc. The reason for this is that free-weights not only work the large muscle groups that you’re targeting, they also work all the little stabiliser muscle groups that you need to keep the movement steady. Think joint protection here! Machine exercises are still valuable though as you can target one leg at a time. Try to focus on the free-weights first and make sure there is someone to show you the proper technique so you don’t do yourself any damage!

As for the upper body, it’s not as vital in soccer but don’t leave it out! I tend to perform lower rep exercises to give more strength as you don’t use the upper body as much but when you do, you need all of it’s strength. The difference is quite noticeable when you’re able to hold a defender off much easier.

Almost as vital as the lower body is your core, or your abdominal and back muscles more specifically. You may not think it, but all of your power and pace comes from the core. When you kick or accelerate it starts with the core and you need it for your balance as strength. Again your hamstring flexibility is important here as tight hamstrings will affect your back too as they apply pressure to it. Try to target your lower abs more than the upper as they are more important.

Finally, nutrition is important as well while you’re training (in fact all the time). If you’re like me and you struggle to put on weight but would like a few more kilos to help then you’ll need to increase your intake. Adding an extra meal or two will usually do it fairly quickly, and you only need a good protein shake for these meals. Go for a whey-based protein and around 90%+ protein (unless you find it really hard to put on weight, in which case you’ll need a lot of good carbs too). Try to increase the amount of good oils you take in also, these are your omega 3s and 6s.

All of this stuff I’ve learnt over the years through my own experience and research. The real message is at the very least, stay flexible. As you get older (25+) you’ll lose flexibility and won’t be as impervious to injury as you once thought you would always be. Another important age is around 16, you’re usually going through growth spurts and this can be a risky time also because your muscle lengths still haven’t caught up to the rapidly growing bone. Try to stretch a lot around this time also.

As I said, I’m currently hitting the gym again and although I’ve gone in with a few niggling injuries, after 3 months, a lot of pace has returned as well as strength and good form again. I’d probably be in even better shape if I could just stop playing for at least a little while to recover fully but I just can’t stop playing every week!

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Inter vs AC Milan 2-1

Posted on December 24, 2007. Filed under: Inter, serie a, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

A quick post to summarise the result between Inter and Milan in the classic Milan derby.

The game ended 2-1 in Inter’s favour with goals from Julio Cruz and Cambiasso on either side of half-time. Adrea Pirlo opened the scoring to put Milan up 1-0 from a trademark free-kick just outside the box around 17 mins although Ibrahimovic was unlucky not to score early on with a powerful volley just above the bar from a Maicon cross.

Dida saved Milan on 19 minutes by tipping away a cross that was about to hit the feet of an Inter player. He took a knock from one of his players for his trouble and almost conceded as the ball was shot into the bar from the deflection. Around 32 minutes, Kaka’ went on a blazing run that had Samuel not knowing which way to turn, in fact it looked like he twisted his knee on the final turn. On 35 minutes, Julio Cruz leveled the score with a pin-point accurate shot, slotting the ball through defenders, legs and the near post.

There were signs a second goal was coming and on 62 minutes, Cambiasso took a shot that wrong-footed Dida who could only helplessly wave his legs aroung in a futile attempt to deflect the ball away, 2-1 Inter. Finally towards the end of the game Kaka’ had a volley saved by his fellow country-man, Julio Cesar. He was also unlucky not to score and could very well have tied the match.

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Liverpool vs Manchester United

Posted on December 15, 2007. Filed under: EPL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

In one of the many mouth-watering clashes of this weekend, Liverpool will play host as they square off with Manchester United on Sunday. Liverpool are coming off the back of a 4-0 thrashing of Marseille which should definitely boost their confidence but I don’t think you can compare Manchester United to Marseille at the moment.

Manchester are sitting in second place with 48 points while Liverpool are only two places behind with 45 points. A win for Liverpool will tie them on points while Man U has a good chance to open up a 6 point gap and claim the top of the table (depending on the outcome of the Arsenal/Chelsea match).

Ferdinand and Vidic are expected to start in the heart of Manchester United’s defence and Hargreaves and Anderson will probably run the midfield. Torres will probably start for Liverpool as he’s in blazing form right now (interestingly Ferguson has admitted that he tried to sign Torres for years before Rafa was able to snap him up, perhaps due to the Spanish connection). Mascherano is apparently fully fit and ready to go after some doubts as to whether he would start (he was limping about during the UEFA CL match after taking a knock). Hyypia and Carragher will most likely have to content with Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo. A job that I don’t envy at all, especially considering the latter may walk away with world player of the year the next day.

Things that may unsettle the Liverpool camp include Sissoko’s dissatisfaction with the coach for giving him very little playing time recently. He has found himself always behind Steven Gerard, Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso. He seems to be fed up and will more that likely leave during the summer. Rafa is also under great pressure to produce the results after altercations with the club owners. Apparently he has a meeting following the game which could decide his fate. That’s a whole lotta pressure.

It’s alway tough to play Liverpool at home and neither Arsenal, nor Chelsea have been able to crack them this season. But I have a feeling the Manchester are up to the task.

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Adidas Predator Pulse

Posted on December 12, 2007. Filed under: Shoes, Technology | Tags: , , , , |

Adidas Predator PulseTo go with the release of the new Predators, the Adidas Predator Swerve as discussed on footy boots and to follow up my post about the Nike Mercurial Vapors, I thought I’d post about a pair of Predators that I’ve owned (well, in fact still use on occasion), the Predator Pulse.

These were released in 2004 about the time of the Euro cup (although so were the F50s, I had the white ones for a brief period, don’t mention wet pitches with those shoes!). I grabbed a pair of blue ones in mid-2005, the ones that Kaka’ was using for a while on the national team (I think these were the Pulse 2 as they received a minor update). I fell in love with the look and colour.

They are quite a different boot to the light, synthetic nikes that I also own. Not that they’re heavy but you can feel that they are a more robust, powerful, striking boot. The pulse built on top of a pedigree of an aggressive boot that has left it’s mark on the modern game. The predator has always been about ball-control. Being able to strike, spin and trap the ball effortlessly.

With these boots Adidas introduced the “PowerPulse” technology. They carefully and precisely distributed weight towards the forefoot of the boot to create a high amount of power as the player strikes the ball. The technology was heavily based around the same developments in the golf and tennis industry. The simple formula of mass (the boot) times speed (your kick) is what generates power.

The extra weight is noticeable but not to the point where it adversely affects other areas. Ball control is great but you can still run at someone at pace (not quite like the vapors though). Shooting with these boots is where it’s at. I’ve hit a few from distance that have turned out to be amazing shots. In the newer predators they’ve move the weight to the insole which allows you to customise the boot for speed or power. A nice touch even though the difference will never be huge.

While Nike has developed it’s synthetic to near perfection, Adidas has focused on it’s amazing K-leather. Based on Kangaroo leather (as a side note: I read that Kangaroo leather products were banned for a time in the US, odd because they are actually a pest, no matter how cute they are), the end product is softer that traditional cow leather but still quite durable. Because it is leather, there is a wearing in period but it’s rarely more than a couple of weeks and once worn in they are very comfortable. The boots also used “power” and “swerve” elements which are just the different polymer materials on the instep/top of the boot to help grip the ball and deliver either more power or spin respectively. Interestingly the new boot is called just that, PowerSwerve…

I’ll have to try the new Predators out sometime soon and post a review but I’ll probably look further into the history of the predators later.

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