Euro 2016 – Wales and Chris Coleman have shown anything is possible when you dare to dream

“Don’t be afraid to have dreams”

Speaking in the aftermath of Wales’ remarkable 3-1 win over Belgium, Chris Coleman found the words to sum up the mood of a nation on the brink of history. Wales, a country of 3 million, a country where rugby is king and football a very distant second, has become the smallest population to ever reach the semi-finals of the European Championship.

They are the paupers of British football; where England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have a history to speak of, be it tinged by years of disappointment, hurt and regret, Wales have none. Constantly the laughing stock they are defined by near misses, failures and rank embarrassment, while recent memories are laced with tragedy.

A narrow defeat to Yugoslavia denied them a place at the Euros in 1980, and Mike England’s side missed out on two World Cup appearances later that decade thanks to goal difference.

Full Article Here.

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The 10 moments which won Leicester City the Premier League title

4 April 2015 – Andy King sparks relegation fight 

Eight games without a win, four victories all season and staring relegation square in the face. Nigel Pearson’s Leicester were in free fall ahead of the visit of West Ham. They sat three points adrift of QPR and seven points off 17th placed Sunderland. A dismal first campaign back in the Premier League for a decade looked doomed, before Welsh midfielder Andy King fired a winner four minutes from time at the King Power Stadium to gift the Foxes a vital three points, and a springboard for the rest of the season.

13 July 2015 – Claudio Ranieri drafted in

Pearson masterminded Leicester’s escape, but the club’s owners decided to dispense with his services to widespread bemusement. The final two months of the season had masked, however, a season where their manager had looked out of his depth. In came, to widespread incredulity, Claudio Ranieri. Not seen since guiding Greece to a disastrous home defeat by the Faroe Islands, the Italian’s appointment was largely derided. Famous for finishing second and labelled the ‘Tinkerman’ after his four-year spell in charge of Chelsea, many tipped the Italian to be a disaster.

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5,000-1?? Seven things more likely than Leicester’s incredible title win

Leicester were 5,000/1 to win the league at the start of the season, but the Loch Ness monster, alien life and an Oscar for Dean Gaffney were all more likely…

500-1 – Prime Minister Simon Cowell

The X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent supremo has never, to our knowledge, recorded an interest in switching entertainment for politics. And if he did, it would have been a more likely outcome than Claudio Ranieri getting his hands on the league title.

Not just more likely, but 10 times more likely. Ladrokes had the 56-year-old down as 500/1 to become Prime Minister.

500-1 – Loch Ness monster discovered

The fabled Scottish monster has had its existence scrutinised at every turn over the centuries. Society has come to terms with the idea that the legend is little more than that. But if its existence were to be proven, Paddy Power have it at only 500/1.

Full Article Here.

Why is retaining the Champions League more difficult than ever?

Barcelona ran into a brick wall on Wednesday as Atletico Madrid dumped the holders out of the Champions League.

A 3-2 aggregate defeat condemned Luis Enrique’s side to a quarter-final exit in their quest of retaining Europe’s flagship cup competition.

No side has ever retained the Champions League – the great AC Milan side were the last to win back-to-back European Cups in 1990 – and you’d be forgiven for thinking that if a side with Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar can’t do it then no-one can.

Full Article Here.

Wales face trial run of doomsday scenario: Can they cope without Bale?

Chris Coleman is fine-tuning Wales’s preparations for Euro 2016 in this week’s friendlies, but he’s doing so without star player Gareth Bale.

Bale has only just returned from a lengthy injury absence, and was left out of the squad for the friendlies against Northern Ireland and Ukraine.

Coleman explained that both he and Real Madrid thought a little bit of extra rest would help the player – as well as giving him the chance to spend some time with his newborn daughter, who arrived this week.

Full Article Here.

Sponsors deserting, a career at stake – what next for Maria Sharapova after doping scandal?

In-depth: After Maria Sharapova admitted to failing a drugs test at the Australian Open, what future in the game awaits the 29-year-old?

Sharapova fails drugs test – the background

Why Tottenham should embrace treble challenge

Tottenham host Crystal Palace in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Sunday, sandwiched in between their Europa League last-32 tie with Fiorentina.

A credible 1-1 draw in Italy puts Spurs in the driving seat for the return leg at White Hart Lane next Thursday before the bread-and-butter of the league campaign resumes against Swansea three days later.

Pep Guardiola may have gone by the time Manchester City’s academy flourishes

With Manchester City fighting for silverware on all four fronts this season, Manuel Pellegrini is set to take the unprecedented step of playing a weakened side in the FA Cup fifth round tie against Chelsea.

City face the Premier League champions at Stamford Bridge on Sunday before travelling to Dynamo Kiev for a Champions League Last 16 tie on Wednesday.

The schedule doesn’t let up as Pellegrini then takes his injury-hit side to face Liverpool in the final of the Capital One Cup on February 28, before a league game at Anfield on March 2.

Breaking down the title run-in: do Premier League favourites Leicester have the advantage?

A 3-1 win at Manchester City made Leicester favourites for the Premier League title for the first time this season, but does the run-in favour their chances?

With Leicester now five points clear at the top of the table as the final third of the season approaches, Claudio Ranieri’s men have become the team to beat.

Instead of Jamie Vardy, it was the unlikely figure of Robert Huth who bagged the goals that fired the Foxes to their biggest win of the season yet at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

With momentum now firmly in their favour, can Leicester keep it together for the final 13 games of the most unpredictable Premier League campaign in memory? Or will the pressure of the situation derail what should be a fairly straightforward final straight? Let’s take a look at the run-in for each of the top four clubs.

Full Article Here.

Which of the new generation of managers has the best chance of success?

After revealing the qualities Zinedine Zidane possesses to become a top-class manager, how does Carlo Ancelotti’s formula fare for young, up-and-coming coaches?

Speaking about his former assistant at Real Madrid, the Italian identified the four key ingredients of the coaching recipe.

“The best thing you can say about Zidane is that he doesn’t have experience, just like when I started coaching or my professional playing career,” the 56-year-old said.

“Zidane has everything you need to be a great coach. He has the ability, charisma, personality and knows football inside-out. He has the profile of a Real Madrid coach.”

Full Article Here.