TOUCHLINEUI: WHY DIDIER DROGBA’S RETURN TO CHELSEA MAKES PERFECT SENSE

19th May, 2012 (UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL)

Commentator: “Didier Drogba steps up to take what would surely be his last kick in a Chelsea Jersey”.

His subsequent winning penalty kick not only meant the “Big Ears” headed to Chelsea and London for the first time, Didier’s legacy was sealed and that successful kick ended what was a fruitful 8 year spell at the Bridge;157 goals in 341 appearances which includes 9 goals in 9 Cup Finals.  A perfect Valedictory Service and the end of an era for the Ivorian, it seemed.

 

 

 

 

However, on the 25th of July, 2013, Chelsea announced the return of the DROG, not as the Ambassador or Coach that many envisaged but as a Player or in Mourinho’s words, “a squad player”.

The move has raised several eyebrows and has also left many questioning the wisdom of the Special, Only and Happy One (Someone said Chosen) and to a lesser extent Roman Abramovich in bringing a Player who is 36 years, lost yards of pace and well past his best.

Didier Drogba

 

 

 

 

 

The fact Chelsea has three established Forwards in Fernando Torres, Romelu Lukaku and newly signed, Diego Costa has also left a few baffled as to the second coming of the Father of Four.

Others say the move is purely emotional and that he’s at the risk of ruining his legacy with a return to his famous home. Shevchenko, Kaka and to a lesser extent, Henry are examples of players who didn’t enjoy a glamorous second coming.

For some, the Club has run counter to its youth development policy where the focus should be on developing the likes of Andre Schurrle, Patrick Bamford and Drogba’s protégé, Romelu Lukaku who are just about to enter the battlefront.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While this writer perfectly understands the concern of most fans, especially the Chelsea Faithful, He nevertheless believes Mourinho’s re-signing of Didier Drogba is a masterstroke and ticks every box, one you’ll agree with after reading my carefully constructed reasons.

LEADERSHIP IN THE TEAM

Chelsea is in a period of transition; the likes of Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard who were instrumental to the Club’s success in the last decade have been ushered out of Stamford Bridge while the future of the London Team’s Greatest Goalkeeper, Petr Cech is far from secure. Mikel, another who has been there for 8 years, is far from a Club Leader and the future of the Nigerian is very bleak leaving Captain John Terry as the only possible player from Jose Mourinho’s successful first era team.

 

 

 

 

 

Their exits have left a huge void in terms of leadership, experience and winning mentality as the club charts a new course of bringing younger guys with lots of prospect. The likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, André Schurrle, Salah, Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku have all been touted as the future of the London Side and while that position is not in doubt, there’s still the present which still has to be dealt with as most of these players still lack the mental strength and the winning mentality required to last through the whole season and not a part. Oscar faded off from January downwards and Hazard though exciting, was not particularly brilliant throughout the last campaign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having a figure like Didier Drogba in the dressing room will be a huge boost and an inspiration for the likes of Hazard, Oscar, Schurrle, Willian, Lukaku, and Felipe Luis and of course Diego Costa who are still in the early stages of their Professional and Chelsea careers. Having Didier in the club would be fundamental as these players hope to make that leap from potentials to World beaters.

felipe luis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At a time when Mourinho has released the Old Guard to make room for the New Guard, the lure to seek the favor of an old friend is something even the Special One can’t resist.

Mourinho might have got Diego Costa to solve the goal-scoring conundrum, Fabregas to replace club scoring Legend, Frank Lampard and Felipe Luis to replace another club legend, Ashley Cole but in Didier Drogba, he’s got someone who will bring the spirit and character to the dressing room, something the team badly lacked last season.

 

 

 

 

A PERFECT MENTOR FOR ROMELU LUKAKU

When Lukaku joined Chelsea from Anderlecht, he was tipped as the long term successor of Didier Drogba and the reasons given by fans and pundits were not far-fetched. They are big, powerful, got superb body structure, carry enormous aerial threat, pacey and can score loads of goals.

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, that’s where the comparison stops as it has not quite happened for the 21 year old at Chelsea. He has shown promise in his loan spells at the Hawthorns and Goodison but has not quite developed into the kind of forward Chelsea had hopes of when they paid that huge sum for.

 

 

 

 

At the age of 21, he’s far from the finished article, and should he stay, there’s no one who would be better placed to teach the protégé than the teacher himself, Didier Drogba. The Ivorian would take him under his wings and nurture him into the fearsome forward that Chelsea fans really dream of seeing.

HE’S LOVED AT THE BRIDGE AND THE FEAR FACTOR

Didier Drogba is held in the highest regard by most Chelsea fans and even a couple of rival fans. In his 8 year spell at the club, he was simply the Man for the big occasion; scored the most important goal in the Chelsea’s illustrious history, scored 9 Cup Final goals in 9 matches and loads of big game goals especially against Arsenal, whom he developed the knack of scoring against (14 in 13 games).

 

 

 

 

Even when he didn’t score he always wore his heart on his sleeve (Playing as an auxiliary defender against Reading in 2006 and NOU Camp 2012) which further endeared him to the fans and drove fear into the opposition.

This time around, it is highly unlikely that he’ll have performances that would fill the headlines of the dailies but you get the feeling that anytime he is introduced, it will be a massive boost on the fans, the players and drive fear into the opposition. He’ll take so much of the attention and will allow those around to thrive on that.

 

 

 

 

 

His history from his first spell means that regardless of how much pace he has lost, his mere physical presence alone on the pitch would be enough to unsettle the opposition and galvanize his teammates into action.

AN ALLY OF JOSE MOURINHO

Wherever Mourinho has succeeded, he has had the full control of the dressing room. That control was down to the fact he had loyal lieutenants in his army who comprised the key cog of the team.

 

 

 

 

At Porto, he had Victor Baia, Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira, Tiago and Deco as his allies and it was no surprise that FC Porto won the treble in the 2003/04 season which included an unlikely Premier League. These key players influenced the likes of Maniche, Benni Mc McCarthy who would play out their hearts for the then 40 year old Portuguese.

 

 

 

 

 

In his first spell as Manager of Chelsea, he developed close bonds with the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech, Claude Makalele, and Ashley Cole and Didier Drogba who famously wept after the Special One departed in 2007.You remember the untouchables that included the likes of Michael Essien and the Portuguese duo of Carvalho and Ferreira.

 

 

 

 

Moving over to Lo Stivale, in his two year spell at Inter, the Portuguese had the strong backing of then Captain, Javier Zanetti, Wesley Sneidjer, Diego Milito, Julio Cesar, Maicon and Marco Materazzi who sobbed on the shoulder of his manager after the 2010UEFA Champions League Final. This shows how emotionally attached his players can become to Him.

The Happy One has a way of making sure his players are not just tactically drilled but also committed to Him.

One of the major reasons why Mourinho’s final season with Real Madrid ended in a disaster is because he fell out with the Key Players in the dressing room. The likes of Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo fell out with the 51 year old and it was no surprise that he was eventually booted out of the Bernabeu.

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at this Chelsea Side, there’s no denying the fact that the two-time Champions League Winner has lost key friends in Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole and he needs allies which is almost central to his coaching philosophy. John Terry, another key player of his has signed a new one-year deal but the re-signing of Didier Drogba means there’ll be another who’ll bring the players in line with Mourinho’s thinking and philosophy.

The Portuguese influence in Drogba’s decision to rejoin Chelsea is summed up in his statement on the Club’s website

“It was an easy decision.I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to work with Jose again”

A PERFECT BACKUP FOR DIEGO COSTA

Despite Chelsea’s acquisition of Diego Costa, many still felt the attack was the weak link particularly with the likes of Fernando Torres and Romelu Lukaku as backups; the former still flattering to deceive since his move from Liverpool and the latter not looking like a player ready for a big club. A Quality Backup was urgently needed and Mourinho’s insistence that he was done with transfer signing was the last thing most Blues wanted to hear.

Britain Soccer Emirates Cup

 

 

 

 

 

Fast-Forward and on the 25th of July, the Special One and the Silent One (Abramovich) reacted by bringing one of the Club’s favorite sons back to Bridge.

I don’t expect him to be the one to lead the line next season but I’m sure most Chelsea fans would rather see a 36 year old man on the dugout than a 21 year old (with all due respect).

 

 

 

 

He may not be the force he used to be as his pace has been on the wane but what he lacks with his legs, he makes up for it with his evergreen head and on any given day, he’s still a nightmare for any defence.

The 36 year old won’t have to adapt to a very demanding Premier League as his game is perfectly suited to a demanding Division.

He doesn’t  have to play the whole 90 minutes but there’s no denying that the former Marseille can change the game on its head in 20 minutes.

Drogba now provides the perfect back-up to kick up the backside of Diego Costa. With Torres around, possibly Lukaku and also Patrick Bamford the attack setup has youth, experience, talent and quality. There won’t be any risk of last season’s striker issues rearing its ugly head.

 

 

 

 

Drogba would not be the star man of next season but he has a part to play and as for his legendary status, that is long secured in the hearts of Chelsea Fans.

 

 

 

 

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TOUCHLINEUI: 200+AWESOME STATS FROM THE 2014 WORLD CUP

 

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0 – Argentina have failed to get a single shot on target in their last two World Cup finals – both 1-0 defeats to Germany.

0 – No Confederations Cup winner has ever gone on to win the World Cup the following year. Brazil won the Confederations Cup last year.

0 – Argentina and Netherlands played out the first ever 0-0 in a World Cup semi-final.

0 – Belgium did not score a single goal in the first-half of any of their five matches.

0 – All four of Mexico’s matches were 0-0 at half-time.

0 – None of the nations from the AFC section of qualifying mustered a single win in their 12 matches at the 2014 World Cup. South Korea, Japan and Iran all picked up one point, whilst Australia lost all three matches.

0 – Australia, Honduras and Cameroon all finished with 0 points.

0 – For the third time in the last five editions of the World Cup, an Asian nation has failed to reach it past the group stage. Four years ago in South Africa both South Korea and Japan made it to the round of 16, which is where their tournament ended.

0 – None of the three Italian head coaches managed to progress past the group stage, winning just one game combined. This was Cesare Prandelli’s Italy beating England, whilst Fabio Capello’s Russia and Alberto Zaccheroni’s Japan went home winless.

0 – Cameroon, England and Iran were the only nations not to take the lead at any point in their three games during this World Cup.

1 – Mario Götze became the first substitute to score in a World Cup final.

1 – Germany became the first nation outside of South America to win a World Cup in South America.

1 – This was the first World Cup in which both Brazil and Argentina reached the semi-finals.

1 – Brazil was eliminated at the semi-final of a World Cup for the first time. They had previously qualified from all six of their previous semi-finals.

1 – The Netherlands ended a World Cup campaign on a winning note for the first time.

1 – Netherlands versus Mexico saw the only cooling break of the tournament with the referee stopping the game for three minutes after half hour in each half.

robin-van-persie

 

 

 

 

 

1 – Didier Deschamps suffered his first defeat in 11 World Cup matches as player and manager combined in France’s quarter-final defeat to Germany (8 wins, 2 draws).

1 – Greece kept their first clean sheet at a World Cup by drawing 0-0 with Japan. This is their only clean sheet in ten World Cup matches.

1 – Portugal has won exactly one match in each of their four World Cup campaigns outside of Europe. These came in Mexico ’86, South Korea/Japan 2002 and 2010 South Africa prior to this year’s tournament. They have finished 3rd and 4th in the two tournaments they have qualified for in Europe.

1 – Cristiano Ronaldo has scored exactly one goal in each of his three World Cups; 2006, 2010 and 2014. He has scored Portugal’s last goal in each of their last two World Cups.

1 – Ecuador’s 0-0 with France was their first-ever draw at a World Cup in their 10th match.

1 – Cameroon, Honduras and Iran managed only one goal each.

1 – Honduras has scored one goal in their last seven World Cup matches.

1 – Toni Kroos became the first player born in East Germany to win the World Cup. The Bayern Munich playmaker was born in Greifswald, East Germany – 9 months before the East and West reunited.

1 – Brazil’s Oscar picked up the only yellow card for diving in this World Cup. It came in the penultimate match – the third-place playoff defeat to the Netherlands.

1 – There was at least one card show in every match at the 2014 World Cup.

2 – Costa Rica conceded the fewest goals at the 2014 World Cup.

2 – Algeria and Greece reached the knockout rounds of the World Cup for the first time in their history. Both took their round of 16 matches to extra-time with Algeria losing 2-1 to Germany and Greece going out on penalties to Costa Rica.

2 – For the first time in World Cup history two African nations made it to the second round. There had been exactly one African nation in each of the last seven World Cups reach the second round. Nigeria were then beaten 2-0 by France and Algeria 2-1 by Germany, both in the second round.

2 – France became the first nation to benefit from two own goals in a single World Cup. Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares and Nigeria defender Joseph Yobo aided Didier Deschamps’ side.

2 – Mario Mandžukić became the first Croatian to score two goals in a single game at a World Cup.

2 – Croatia have won only two of their last nine matches at World Cups since winning five of seven in finishing third in their World Cup debut at France ’98.

2 – Uruguay won both matches at Brazil 2014 when Luis Suárez played and lost both matches when he didn’t.

2 – Neymar was the only player to score more than one goal in a single game twice.  He scored a brace in Brazil’s 3-1 win over Croatia and 4-1 win over Cameroon.

2 – Jasper Cillesen became the first goalkeeper to be subbed off two times in the history of the World Cup.

2.4 – France allowed the fewest shots on target per game against them.

3 – The 2014 World Cup saw Argentina face Germany in a World Cup final for a record third time.

3 – Argentina has been eliminated by Germany in each of their last three World Cups. In 2006 they went out on penalties in the quarter-final, in 2010 they were thumped 4-0 in the quarter-finals and in 2014 they lost 1-0 in the final.

3 – The Netherlands came from behind to win three of their matches at the 2014 World Cup.

3 – There were 3 CONCACAF nations to qualify for the second round for the first time in World Cup history. Costa Rica, Mexico and USA all qualified whilst Honduras were the only ones to fall at the group stage.

3 – Colombia had won a total of three games at the four previous World Cups combined before winning their first four matches at Brazil 2014.

3 – Ivory Coast have failed to get past the group stage of all three World Cups they have qualified for; 2006, 2010 and now 2014.

3 – There were more German head coaches in the last 16 than any other nation. Ottmar Hitzfeld (Switzerland), Joachim Löw (Germany) and Jürgen Klinsmann (USA). Volker Finke (Cameroon) was the only one eliminated in the group stage.

3 – Costa Rica, Germany and the Netherlands all remained unbeaten. New Zealand were the only undefeated side four years ago.

3 – The three highest paid head coaches at the World Cup all dropped out of the group stage (Fabio Capello – Russia, Roy Hodgson – England and Cesare Prandelli – Italy).

3 – Germany’s André Schürrle scored more goals than the England national team (3 vs 2) yet all six of his appearances came from the substitutes bench, total 244 minutes.

– Brazil’s Thiago Silva was the only player to receive as many as three cards (all yellow).

3 – Portugal became the first nation to use three goalkeepers in a single World Cup since Greece at USA ‘94. Rui Patrício, Beto and Eduardo all made an appearance in Brazil. The Netherlands matched this with Jasper Cillessen, Tim Krul and Michel Vorm all making an appearance.

3 – Brazil joined Haiti and Zaire as the only three nations to concede five goals in the first-half at a World Cup during their 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Germany.

3 – Bosnia and Herzeogvina, Nigeria, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland received the fewest cards – three each.  Each of these were three yellow cards except Portugal who collected two yellows and one red.

3 – Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben became the first Dutch players to score at three different World Cups.

3 – Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan became the first African player to score at three different World Cups.

asamoah-gyan

 

 

 

 

 

3 – Steven Gerrard received his third yellow card in a World Cup match, tying Jamie Carragher and Terry Fenwick as England players with most.

4 – Germany became the first nation to reach the semi-finals in four successive World Cups.

4 – Germany joined Italy on four World Cup wins; both nations one behind record winners Brazil.

4 – Including the 1982 second group stage, Germany have now eliminated the World Cup hosts on more occasions than any other nation (Spain 1982, Mexico 1986, South Korea 2002 & Brazil 2014).

4 – Argentina has progressed from all four semi-finals they have reached at World Cups.

4 – Belgium won four matches at a World Cup for the first time in their history.

4 – Algeria became the first African nation to score four goals in a single World Cup match in beating South Korea 4-2.

4 – The last four World Cups in which Chile made it out of the group stage they were eliminated by Brazil (1962, 1998, 2010 and 2014) – the last three in the round of 16.

4 – Portugal’s 4-0 defeat the hands of Germany was their biggest-ever World Cup defeat.

4 – Cameroon had just four shots on target in their three matches, the fewest of any nation.

4 – Four of the top ten nations in the FIFA World Rankings were eliminated at the group stage – Spain (1), Portugal (4), Italy (9) and England (10).

4 – Miroslav Klose became the first player to play in four World Cup semi-finals, winning two and losing two.

4 – Mexico’s Rafael Márquez became the first player to captain his team in four different World Cups

4 – Colombia’s Juan Cuadrado recorded the most assists.

5 – For the second successive World Cup, 5 CONMEBOL nations reached the second round. Four years ago all five nations made it, this year South America had six entrants, with Ecuador the only side to drop out at the group stage. Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia all made it past the group stage this year.

5 – Nigeria has won five of their 18 matches at World Cups. All five of these came against European nations.

5 – Brazil’s Fred managed just five shots on target in his six starts for Brazil.

5 – Colombia’s James Rodríguez was the only player to score in all of his country’s matches (5).

5 – England has only scored five goals in their last eight World Cup matches.

5 – Ghana are winless in their last five World Cup group stage matches after picking up just one point in Brazil 2014.

5 – Thomas Müller (2010 and 2014) and Miroslav Klose (2002 and 2006) are the only players to have scored 5+ goals in consecutive World Cup tournaments.

5 – There were five own goals scored at this World Cup – Marcelo (Brazil), Noel Valladares (Honduras), Sead Kolašinac (Bosnia and Herzegovina), John Boye (Ghana) and Joseph Yobo (Nigeria)

5 – Roy Hodgson is winless in his last 5 matches at World Cups, drawing one and losing four during spells with Switzerland and England.

5 – Gianluigi Buffon attended his fifth World Cup but was an unused substitute in 1998.

6 – Germany has reached six of the last 11 World Cup finals, winning three of them (1974, 1990 and 2014).

6 – The Netherlands have now failed to score in all six of their World Cup matches to go to extra-time after being held 0-0 by both Costa Rica and Argentina.

6 – Brazil suffered their biggest defeat in World Cup history.

6 – Algeria became only the 6th African nation to reach the second round of a World Cup, after Morocco, Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana.

6 – For the second successive World Cup, only six European nations reached the second round. The six tournaments prior to South Africa 2010 since the second round began back in 1982, had seen 9-10 European nations reach the second round. Despite this, Germany won the competition and the Netherlands finished third.

6 – Brazil has qualified for the quarter-finals in each of the last six World Cups.

6 – Belgium has reached the knockout rounds in six of the last seven World Cups they have qualified for.

6 – Asamoah Gyan became the first African player to score six goals in his career at the World Cup.

6% – Cameroon have won just one of 18 World Cup matches outside of Italy. The Indomitable Lions won three of their five matches at Italia ’90, losing in the quarter-finals to England.

7 – Germany have reached at least one World Cup final in each of the last seven decades.

7 – Germany have won their group at each of the last seven World Cups.

7 – Germany became the first team to score seven goals in a World Cup semi-final.

7 – Argentina only trailed for seven minutes at the 2014 World Cup.  Those were the final seven minutes of the final.

7 – For the first time in their history, the Netherlands were undefeated in a World Cup campaign (W5 D2). Matches tied after 120 minutes are counted as draws.

7 – Mexico have progressed past the group stage of the last seven World Cups they have participated in. They have been eliminated at the round of 16 at the last six following their 2-1 loss to the Netherlands.

7 – Algeria scored more goals at this tournament than in their previous three World Cups combined (six).

7 – Spain conceded six goals in winning Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 (19 games) combined. They conceded seven goals in at the 2014 World Cup (3 games).

7 – Ghana has failed to keep a clean sheet in their last seven World Cup matches.

7 – Cameroon has lost their last seven World Cup matches, scoring just three goals and conceding 16 during this run.

7 – Thomas Müller scored Germany’s seventh World Cup hat-trick – the most of any nation.

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7 – Lionel Messi has failed to score in all seven of his knock-out round matches at World Cups.

7 – All seven of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s World Cup apps have been as a substitute. No player of has made more without starting a game.

8 – Germany reached a record eighth World Cup final.

8 – All eight group winners won their second round matches.

8′ – Germany were only behind for eight minutes in total during the 2014 World Cup. This was in their second group game versus Ghana.

8 – England has won only one of their last eight matches at the World Cup.

8 – Portugal are unbeaten in their last eight World Cup matches against nations outside of Europe, winning five and drawing three. They are winless in their last five World Cup matches versus fellow European nations, drawing one and losing four.

8% – South Korea have only won two of their 24 World Cup matches outside of their own country.

9 – Four nations picked up maximum points in the group stage – the Netherlands, Colombia, Argentina and Belgium. This is the same number as in South Africa four years ago. This is twice as many as 1998 and 2002, the only other tournaments to contain eight groups of four nations (32 teams).

9 – Brazil have finished top of their group for each of the last nine World Cups.

9 – Argentina and Netherlands picked up the maximum nine points in the group stage at each of the last two World Cups. In 2006 they both picked up seven points after drawing with each other in the same group.

9 – Belgium have now gone undefeated in nine consecutive World Cup group stage matches, winning four and drawing five.

9 – Honduras are winless in all nine of their games at World Cup finals, losing six. No team are winless having played as many games.

10 – The 2014 World Cup saw the fewest red cards since 1986.

10 – Thomas Müller has scored ten goals in 13 World Cup matches including a hat-trick in Germany’s opener against Portugal at this World Cup, and their winner versus the USA. He is only 24-years old.

10 – Sami Khedira became the 10th player to win both the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA World Cup in the same season. The nine previous were Franz Beckenbauer, Paul Breitner, Uli Hoeneß, Jupp Kapellmann, Sepp Maier, Gerd Müller, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, in 1974, Christian Karembeu in 1998 and Roberto Carlos in 2002.

10 – The Netherlands have now scored all ten of their regular time penalties.

11 – European nations have now won 11 of the 20 World Cups with South America winning the other nine.

11 – Wayne Rooney has scored once in his 11 matches at World Cup finals. This came in England’s second game at this tournament, against Uruguay.

11 – England extended their record to a World Cup high 11 0-0 draws.

11 – Luiz Felipe Scolari won his first 11 matches at World Cups.  He has won only three of ten since, losing four.

12 – Iran’s 0-0 draw with Nigeria at this World Cup is the only time they have kept a clean sheet in 12 games at the finals.

13 – Thomas Müller became the 13th player to reach double figures in World Cup goals. In the process he became the 5th German to do so.

14 – Brazil became the first nation to concede 14 goals in any World Cup under the current format of 32 nations which has been going since France ’98 and the most since Belgium conceded 15 in 1986.

14 – Brazil received the most cards in this tournament, all of them yellow.

14 – Luiz Felipe Scolari has won 14 times as head coach at the World Cup.  Only Helmut Schön has more wins (16).

14% – Fabio Capello has now won only one of seven matches at a World Cup with spells in charge of England and Russia.

15 – Italy extending their scoring streak to a national record 15 consecutive World Cup matches in their 2-1 win over England, before failing to score in their next two matches.

15 – Iran used the fewest players at the 2014 World Cup.

15 – Tim Howard’s 15 saves against Belgium was the most in any game at this tournament.

16 – Germany has reached the last eight in each of the last 16 World Cups since being banned from the 1950 tournament.

16 – Miroslav Klose broke Ronaldo’s record to become the all-time World Cup scorer with his goal against Brazil in the semi-final. He tied the record in Germany’s second group stage game, equalising in a 2-2 draw with Ghana.

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18 – Germany were the top scorers at the 2014 World Cup.

17% – The Netherlands have won only one of six World Cup matches that have gone to extra-time. That was their quarter-final victory over Costa Rica on penalties.

17 – England lost the fewest games in World Cup history amongst the eight nations to have previously won the competition.

17% – Steven Gerrard has won just one of six World Cup matches as England captain. England was the bookmakers’ favorites in each of these matches. He has won three of the other six matches he has played, which includes the 0-0 draw with Costa Rica where he only came on to take the captain’s armband late on.

17 – England has scored 17 goals at their last four World Cups combined. Miroslav Klose has scored 16 alone.

17 – Wesley Sneijder has played more World Cup games than any other Netherlands player. The midfielder missed their third-place play-off with a hamstring injury picked up during the warm up.

18 – Luke Shaw was the youngest player to make an appearance at the 2014 World Cup.

19 – Cameroon has kept only one clean sheet in their last 19 World Cup matches.

19% – Jürgen Klinsmann has lost only five of 27 World Cup finals matches as a player and head coach combined. Two of those came in this tournament when his USA went down to Germany and Belgium in back-to-back matches.

19% – German head coaches made up three of the last 16 in the second round – more than any other nation. Ottmar Hitzfeld (Switzerland), Joachim Löw (Germany) and Jürgen Klinsmann (USA).

22 – Thibaut Courtois lost his first international match in his 22nd international during Belgium’s 1-0 loss to Argentina. The 22-year old has kept 12 clean sheets.

20% – Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal have won just two of their last ten matches at World Cups.

20% – The three Portuguese head coaches at this World Cup combined to win two in their ten matches. Greece won one under Fernando Santos, Iran 0 under Carlos Queiroz and Portugal one under Paulo Bento.

20% – England’s Joe Hart had the lowest save percentage in the World Cup, making only one save and conceding four goals in two matches.

21 – Germany have now lost only one of their last 21 group stage matches at the World Cup. Four years ago they were beaten 1-0 by Serbia. They have won 16 and drawn the other five.

21 – All 21 of Argentina’s substitutions at this World Cup failed to score.

21 – Brazil’s 3-1 win over Croatia means the host nation has never lost their opening match at a World Cup.

22% – Russia have only won two of nine matches at the World Cup since the USSR split.

23 – The Netherlands were the only nation to use all 23 members of their squad – the most ever used by a single nation at a World Cup.

24 – All three nations to have won the World Cup more than three times all secured their fourth title 24 years after winning their third (Brazil, Italy and Germany).

24 – Only Lothar Matthäus (25) has played more World Cup matches than Miroslav Klose.

24 – Iran had the fewest attempts on goal.

24 – Of the 12 stadiums used, the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador saw the most goals with 24 in 6 matches.

25 – The Netherlands were caught offside on the most occasions.

25 – Mexico has lost the most matches in the history of the World Cup.

26 – England officially finished 26th out of 32 nations at the 2014 World Cup – their lowest ever finish.

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27 – USA have only kept two clean sheets in their last 27 games at the World Cup.

27 – USA’s Tim Howard made the most saves.

29′ – Germany were the first team to score 5 goals within 29 minutes at a World Cup when they beat Brazil 7-1 in their semi-final.

30 – Clint Dempsey’s goal for USA against Ghana after only 30 seconds was the quickest scored at this World Cup.

30% – Iran averaged the least possession.

31 – Brazil’s 31 fouls against Colombia was the most by any nation in a single game at this tournament.

32 – Cameroon officially finished bottom of the tournament, picking up 0 points and with a goal difference of -8. The Indomitable Lions finished 31st four years ago.

32 – Belgium scored the opening goal of their second round game with their 32nd attempt at goal versus USA.

35 – 22-year old Neymar became Brazil’s sixth-highest goalscorer of all-time during this World Cup by adding 4 goals to take his tally up to 35 in 54 caps.

36 – Miroslav Klose is the oldest German to score at a World Cup, at 36 years and 29 days.

37′ – Pepe’s 37th minute dismissal against Germany in Portugal’s opening game was the earliest sending off at the 2014 World Cup.

38 – Brazil was undefeated in competitive home matches for 38 years until they lost back-to-back games against Germany and the Netherlands in this tournament.

38% – European nations have now won only five of 13 penalty shootouts against nations from other continents following Greece’s loss to Costa Rica and the Netherlands losing to Argentina.

39% – Italy have now been eliminated at the group stage of seven of the 18 World Cups they have qualified for.

43 – Brazil has kept 43 clean sheets – the most of any nation in World Cup history.

43 – At 43 years and 3 days, Colombia goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón became the oldest player in World Cup history when he made a cameo appearance at the end of their 4-1 victory over Japan.

44 – Nigeria was the lowest-ranked team in the FIFA World Rankings to reach the second round.

44% – Seven of the 16 knockout round matches went to extra-time – one less than the record eight set at Italia’ 90.

45% – Tim Cahill has scored five of Australia’s 11 goals in their World Cup history.

48 – Germany had the most shots on target during the 2014 World Cup.

50 – Xherdan Shaqiri’s hat-trick for Switzerland against Honduras was the 50th scored at a World Cup. Thomas Müller had earlier scored the 49th – these were the only two hat-tricks at the 2014 World Cup.

52′ – Despite winning four matches, Belgium only led for 52 minutes at the 2014 World Cup.

54% – David Villa has scored seven of Spain’s last 13 World Cup goals.

64% – Brazil conceded nine of their fourteen goals in the opening half hour of matches.

65% – The Netherlands have won 17 of their 26 World Cup matches outside of Europe, compared to only 42% of World Cup matches in Europe.

67% – Four of Belgium’s six goals at this World Cup were scored by substitutes.

73% – Germany have won eight of their last 11 World Cup matches versus South American, drawing two and losing only one.

73% – 11 of the Netherlands’ 15 goals at the 2014 World Cup came after half-time.

75% – Three of Lionel Messi’s four goals at the 2014 World Cup came from outside the penalty area. They were all scored in the group stage.

 

lionel-messi1

 

 

 

 

 

 

80% – Argentina have won 12 of their last 15 World Cup group matches, drawing two and losing only one. That defeat came courtesy of a David Beckham penalty against England in 2002.

80% – Argentina’s penalty shootout victory over the Netherlands in their semi-final means that South American countries have won eight of ten penalty shootouts against nations from other continents in World Cup history.

83% – Five of Chile’s six goals at this World Cup came in the first-half.

88% – The bookmakers’ favorites won 14 of the 16 knockout round matches. Germany beating Brazil and the Netherlands beating Brazil were the only times the ‘underdog’ won. These were the two biggest margins of victory in the knockout rounds too.

91% – Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas had the highest save percentage amongst goalkeepers to play at least two games, saving 21 shots and conceding only two goals in five matches.

 

keylor-navas

 

 

 

 

 

92% – 12 of the 13 penalties in regular time were scored during this World Cup with Karim Benzema the only player to miss with Switzerland’s Diego Benaglio denying him.

94 – Klass-Jan Huntelaar’s 94th minute penalty for Netherlands was the first time Mexico fell behind at the 2014 World Cup. Three minutes later the final whistle went at they were eliminated.

95% – Brazil’s progression from the group stage means that 20 of the 21 nations to have hosted the World Cup have progressed past the opening group stage with South Africa the only nation who failed to do so, four years ago.

98 – Brazil’s Thiago Silva received the earliest yellow card at the 2014 World Cup, just 98 seconds into their third-place playoff match against the Netherlands.

100 – Olivier Giroud scored France’s 100th goal at World Cups by opening the scoring against Switzerland in their second match at the 2014 World Cup.

102 – Germany was the first nation to reach 100 games at a World Cup, moving onto 106 by the end of the tournament. Brazil’s final group stage match was their 100th, finishing the 2014 World Cup on 104.

102 – Brazil became the second nation to concede a century of goals in World Cup history. They joined Germany who ends the competition with 121 goals against.

106 – France became the fifth nation to score over a century of goals – behind Brazil (217), Germany (213), Argentina (129) and Italy (128).

117 – Argentina was fouled the most times during the 2014 World Cup.

126′ – Spain’s Diego Costa failed to get a single shot on target from 5 attempts in his 126 minutes at this World Cup in his country of birth.

156 – Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas took his international caps up to 156 during this tournament – the most amongst any player at the 2014 World Cup.

171 – There were 171 goals scored at the 2014 World Cup, the joint-highest scoring tournament with 1998.

179 – There were only 179 seconds between Germany’s second and fourth goals in their 7-1 thrashing of Brazil.

185 – Costa Rica went three hours and five minutes without a shot on target between Bryan Ruiz’s goal versus Greece and late in their quarter-final defeat to the Netherlands.

187 – There were a total of 187 yellow cards in Brazil 2014.

224 – Germany overtook Brazil to become the highest-scoring nation in World Cup history.

246′ – Argentina have now gone 2467 minutes since they last scored in a World Cup final.

372′ – The Netherlands finished their tournament going 372 minutes without conceding a goal.

485′ – Argentina went the longest without conceding a single goal at any point during the 2014 World Cup.

sergio-romero

 

 

 

 

 

1958 – England were eliminated from the first round/opening group stage of a World Cup for the first time since Sweden 1958.

1990 – This was the first World Cup Argentina had made it past the quarter-finals since 1990. Back at Italia ’90 they also lost 1-0 to (West) Germany in the final.

Source: http://www.barriesview.com/

 

TOUCHLINEUI: 2014 WORLD CUP FINAL PREVIEW: THE BEST TEAM V THE BEST PLAYER

INTRODUCTION

 

 

 

 

 

62 games played, 167 goals scored, 30 teams fallen by the wayside, two finalists, one winner. It’s the World Cup final and it doesn’t get bigger than this; a battle between the tournament’s most prolific attack and one of the most disciplined defences, it is Germany V Argentina.

 

 

 

 

 

Although the prediction business has taken heavy blows in this edition of the tournament, we at TOUCHLINEUI are prepared to stick out our necks and lose them (not literally though!).

HISTORY

Germany and Argentina would contest in a record third World Cup Final on the 13th of July 2014.These two sides met previously in the deciding fixtures in Mexico 1986(Argentina won 3-2) and in the Italy 1990 (Germany won 1-0).

1990 world cup final

 

 

 

 

To get to this all-important match of the tournament, Germany steamrolled Hosts and Pre-Tournament Favorites Brazil 7-1 while for the La Albiceleste, it was a hard fought 4-2 Penalty shootout success over the Louis Van Gaal Dutch side.

Germany VBrazil

 

 

 

 

The manner of both sides contrasting triumph in the penultimate fixture has left fans, pundits and critics wondering if the Maracana showdown would be a mismatch or better still a David-Goliath showdown with this Goliath, unlike the Biblical one, tipped to win her fourth World Cup Crown.

 

 

 

 

 

However, South America has been a jinxed Ground for European sides as we still await the first European World Cup Winners on South American soil. The previous five finals between teams from these continents on Latin American Soil have ended in victories in favor of the South Americans. Would the strongest economy in Europe become the first European side to win on South America soil; this time in the strongest Economy in South America or will Argentina triumph for the third time on the World Stage on the soil of their biggest rivals?

ARGENTINA WILL WIN!

By Umeike, Tiolu Chike

 

messi

 

 

 

 

There’s no doubt about the fact that the Germans would start as favorites on Sunday based on their superior team quality and unlike Argentina they don’t need to rely on an individual to win their games, I  however strongly believe that Sabella’s men can and will hoist the Cup for a third time on the 13th of July. My reasons are certainly not far-fetched.

TACTICAL APPROACH

Unlike Brazil who were open, reckless and tactically naïve in the semi-final, the Argentines won’t repeat Brazil’s ill-thought tactic of trying to play open or wide with no defence cover.

 

 

 

 

 

The South Americans would be cagey, compact and patient knowing full well that a goal could be enough to win the game and the Cup. Sabella’s men won’t go gung-ho as that would leave space for the likes of Kroos, Muller, Lahm and Khedira to exploit to devastating effect. They’ll concede possession to Low’s men but what they won’t concede is position. This is where Mascherano’s importance comes into play. He’ll do the dirty job and ensure that those around him maintain their cohesive structure.

 

 

 

 

Javier Mascherano against the Netherlands

  • 84% pass accuracy,
  • 4 Tackles won, 75% Aerial duels won
  •  3 Interceptions and 2 Blocks Source-(Squawka Football)

Germany has struggled against compact and defensively sound sides; USA and Algeria come to mind. They only thrived in the semis simply because Brazil gave them space.

germany v usa

 

 

 

 

 

The Counter-attacking shape will enable the likes of Lavezzi, Di Maria (should he recover from a thigh Injury) and Lionel Messi exploit whatever space left by the galloping Germans.

DEFENSIVE STRENGTH OF THE ALBICELESTE

The Argentine attack might not have set the Tournament alight with goals but they are yet to concede a World Cup in over 340 minutes of play which includes extra time matches against the Swiss and The Dutch. The last time Romero picked the ball from the back of net was Ahmed Musa’s second half strike in their 3-2 over African Champions, Nigeria.

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t see the Germans coming back should they go behind as they’ll struggle to break the South Americans down and should Miroslav Klose start for the Germans, they’ll find it hard to get passes through to the 36 year old who only comes to live inside the six-yard box.

higuain against Belgium

 

 

 

 

 

They might also have scored 8 goals in the Tournament but a couple have been timely and heartbreaking; a late winner against Iran, a second-half extra time goal by Angel Di Maria against Switzerland in the Second Round and an early strike by Gonzalo Higuain against the Red Devils in the Quarter-Final.

di maria

 

 

 

 

 

Should they manage to hold their hold against the Germans, they’ll fashion out that one chance or the genius himself, Lionel Messi would find that space and punish Low and his troop.

 

Argentina v Switzerland: Round of 16 - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

 

 

 

 

 

ABILITY TO EXPOSE GERMANY’S DEFENCE

What if the South Americans concede first? Looks I’ve shot myself in the leg? No! That would not be game over as Argentina has what it takes to hurt the Germans.  Despite Germany’s improvement in the rearguard, the Europeans are still prone to being caught out on the break by teams with lightning and direct attack due to the highline defence usually employed by Joachim Low.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Against Algeria, this highline was exposed to the extent that Neuer had to bail his teammates several times by playing the Sweeper Keeper.

Against the likes of Aguero and Lionel Messi who drop back and draw the defence line higher, the German defence would have their hands full especially with the likes of Lavezzi, Angel Di Maria (should he recover in time) and Gonzalo Higuain exploiting space.

Also, despite Howedes performing admirably at the left-back despite not being familiar there, it still nevertheless remains the weakest link of the team. The Schalke man is not the fastest of fullbacks and his lack of pace would be exploited by Di Maria (should he recover in time) who is full of flair, pace and tricky and is equally adept at winning the penalties.

ARROGANT GERMANS!

Unlike the Netherlands, the Germans would take the game to the guys from the West Banks of the Atlantic Ocean with the likes of Kroos, Ozil and Muller playing the attacking roles as well as Khedira and Schweinsteiger having the licence to go forward.

This would leave them prone to the danger of being caught on the break. Unlike teams like Switzerland and Holland that set out to stop Messi, the Germans would be arrogant in not man-marking the 4-Time World Player of the Year and we all know what happens when Messi has the smallest of spaces to toy with.

messi

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fact Germany mauled Brazil could also make them overconfident in approaching the final. Unfortunately for them, any form of complacency would be ruthlessly dealt with by the Argentines led by Lionel Messi who would not in any way need a second invitation. One is enough and that could be it!

Should Messi win the FIFA World Cup, it would also end any debate as to who is greater between him and Cristiano Ronaldo and elevate his status to that of Pele and Maradona. Big Motivation for the Barcelona Forward!

Germany might have the better players but Argentina has the best Player in the World who needs just a touch to ruin the German Party and win the Cup for the LA ALBICELESTE!

 

  • Lionel Messi has created more chances (19) than any other player at the 2014 World Cup

–  Squawka Football

 

HISTORY

No European Country has won the World Cup on South American soil and Sunday’s final would be the sixth time an European team will face a South American team in the Final of the World Cup on Latin America soil. The previous five encounters hardly offer any hope for Germany; the previous five were won by South American Sides and with the way the script is playing out, Lionel Messi and his teammates are just days from etching their Names in the annals of the Argentine Soccer History.

PREVIOUS FINALS BETWEEN EUROPEAN AND SOUTH AMERICAN COUNTRIES IN LATIN AMERICA COUNTRIES

  • YEAR         RESULT                                                  HOST
  • 1962    Brazil 3 V Czechoslovakia 1           CHILE
  • 1970    Brazil 4 V Italy 1                                      MEXICO
  • 1978    Argentina 3 V Holland 1                     ARGENTINA
  • 1986    Argentina 3 V West Germany 2   MEXICO
  • 1994    Brazil  V Italy   (3-2 Penalties           USA

1986 world cup final

 

 

 

 

It’s the South American Party and I don’t see the Germans coming to town to ruin it. Thank You!

GERMANY WILL WIN!

By Omisakin Ayobami

A lot of predictions here and there, even the windows app and the Toronto Zoo sloth have made theirs. And I’m making mine with a bold statement- the Germans will defeat the Argentines. I state this not because of the wins against Portugal and Brazil, rather, I take this stand because I believe that 22 legs are better than just 2!

GOALKEEPING DEPARTMENT

Manuel+Neuer+Germany+v+Algeria+ZbZ8bGR-1xZl

 

 

 

 

 

In Manuel Neuer, the Germans have a solid platform from which to propel into greatness. The goalie has an excellent decision making system (at least better than Casillas), he knows when to punch or catch, when to race out or otherwise, and from evidence from the Champions League, not shy from saving penalties. Due to him, the Germans can rest assured that when Messi proves too smart for the defence (which is very likely), they still have a rock behind the defence.

DEFENCE

Considering the fact that the Argentines’ main threat is the attack, one would expect that the German defence would be stronger than it is. Unfortunately, it is not so.  However, all hope is not lost. The return of Lahm to right back position has added more stability to the defence.

hummels

 

 

 

 

The presence of Hummels is another glimmer of hope, but the weakest link in this defence is in Howedes on the left- a natural right footed centre back. His lack of speed will make him prone to fast runs that will be made by Zabaleta and Perez (Di Maria’s replacement) on the right. The defence will play deep and resist temptations from Messi and Aguero to play a high line. As the German midfield will maintain an attacking tempo, Zabaleta’s trademark darting runs on the flank will be limited. Also, since Argentina plays with 3 men in the middle of the park, Perez may not get the opportunity to attack from the flank considering Germany’s heavy presence in the middle.

 

 

 

 

 

 STRENGTH IN MIDFIELD

This is the engine room of the German Machines. Bastian, Khedira, Kroos, Ozil, Gotze, Podolski Muller; a plethora of talents and options. The trio of Bastian, Khedira and Kroos will be key to a German win. Their performances will have a direct effect on either team’s chances. Bastian might be given the unenviable task of marking Messi while Khedira and Kroos will be expected to bring in the tackles with Kroos particularly expected to link up play with the attack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All 3 are established passers of the ball and the Argentines will be wary of this. The trio will limit the space behind them as well, preventing Messi and Aguero from drawing out the defence; it is quite safe to state that the World Cup could be won at this point. The inability of the midfield to provide cover for this defence that seemingly lacks pace will prove fatal for the Germans. But one can trust Bastian to shadow Messi throughout the match and at the times he gets away (he surely will), the defence shall be on hand to mop up. If De Jong could do it, then Bastian can. Kroos’ long range shots and ability to pick up any teammate on the pitch with an accurate pass is a plus and might just make the difference against a stubborn Argentine defence.

 

khedira

 

 

 

 

Mascherano is another pivot in the Argentine midfield. He would be expected to provide adequate cover for the defence as he has done in the past. His shadowing of Robben is a testament to Mascherano’s qualities but it remains to be seen who he would man-mark because the Germans do not have a main man. Either one of the German midfielders could do the damage.

ATTACK

Muller or Klose or Podolski, not the classic no. 9s but capable of doing the damage; Klose will only do damage in the 6-yard and Muller’s reaction rate to loose balls is alarmingly fast. Either one of them is not the best for the job but is more than enough.

 

 

muller

 

 

 

 

 

FANS SUPPORT?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World Cup is in South America and Argentina will obviously have a lot of support. But wait a minute; the Germans just obliterated the team with the highest support! Yeah, now you get the picture.

GERMANY’S CUTTING EDGE

As stated earlier, Germany is a stronger side on paper. The main strength of this team lies in the fact that it can boast of several key players, thus, making it impossible for their opponents to focus on a particular player.

schurrle

 

 

 

 

 

Having stated this, it is also essential to note that the Germans are gifted with very technical players who have the ability to exploit the tiniest of spaces to devastating effects. In addition to that is the creative prowess inherent in the team. The ability to dominate the park and create chances is another edge the Germans have over Argentines. Surely the Argentines will look to defend in numbers and wait for counter attacking opportunities but no matter how well a team defends, there will be lapses in concentration and the Germans have already shown how ruthless they can be.

 

 

 

 

 

Furthermore, it is worthy of note that this German team is the highest scoring team at the World Cup. Finding the net should not be a problem against Argentina.

IN SUMMARY

Germany will win. That’s all.

PREDICT AND WIN!

Predict the scoreline and winners of the 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP

Predict your answer as a comment on the Blog Site. E.g. 2-1 Germany

 If you feel it would go the distance (Penalties), indicate by stating who would win the 6 yard test (E.g. Germany5-3 on Penalties)

The first correct answer stands a chance of winning airtime of the following network providers (MTN, Etisalat, Airtel and GLO)

Kindly drop your choice number mobile number alongside your comment

Answers should be provided on or before 8pm tomorrow the 13th of July, 2014.

Only comments on the Blog would stand a chance of walking away with our gift

IT’S ONLY OPEN TO NIGERIANS!!!!

Thank You Very Much!

2014 WIMBLEDON MEN’S SINGLES FINAL PREVIEW: NOVAK DJOKOVIC V. ROGER FEDERER

By Soladoye Samuel

The “Mecca” of tennis sport is ready for the crowning of its “KING” and this year, the men’s singles title remains in familiar hands.

Wimbledon

 

 

 

 

Prior to the semi-final clashes, each between a man representing the “”PRESENT” and  the other, a younger racquet dubbed the “FUTURE”, Miss S. Clarke would have been forgiven if she had attempted to invite Future to perform a version of The Offspring’s “The Future is Now”  but it was far from necessary; THE FUTURE MUST WAIT.

The final of the men’s singles will be contested by two men who know what it feels like to be pronounced KING at the All England Club and sip some champagne from the trophy; it’s NOVAK DJOKOVIC against ROGER FEDERER.

Roger and Djokovic

 

 

 

 

 

 

This piece offers you an analysis on their different paths to the finals, stats relevant to their cause as well as a succinct statement in respect of the rivalry between these two greats among many other interesting details.

All England Club

 

 

 

 

Wimbledon, the Championships, is the oldest tournament in the history of the tennis sport and remains the only grand slam played on the sport’s original surface; grass. The fast nature of the surface as well as the low bounce encourages aggressive attacking play and reduces, though recently to a little extent, the importance attached to the modern tennis’ need for a great level of efficiency from the baseline.

Note: R round, i.e.1R= 1st round, QF= quarter-finals. SF= semi-finals, F= final

 

ROUTE TO THE FINAL:

NOVAK DJOKOVIC

Djokovic

 

 

 

 

The Nole who is No. 2 on the ATP World rankings, thanks to the special seeding procedure at Wimbledon, came into the tournament seeded no. 1. The Serb saw off the challenges of Andrey Golubev, (1R; 6-0, 6-1, 6-4) Gilles Simon (3R; 6-4, 6-2, 6-4) and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga (4R; 6-3, 6-4, 7-6)in straight sets.

Djokovic against Dimitrov

 

 

 

 

 

 

He came through in four sets against Radek Stepanek (2R; 6-4, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6) and Grigor Dimitrov (SF; 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6) while he was stretched to five sets by Marin Cilic (QF; 6-1, 3-6, 6-7, 6-2, 6-2)

ROGER FEDERER

federer

 

 

 

 

 

The Swiss ranked No. 4 in the world and seeded fourth is another beneficiary of the special seeding procedure which saw him seeded ahead of countryman and friend, Stan Wawrinka, who is currently ranked as No. 3 on the ATP World rankings.

Roger Federer

 

 

 

 

The greatest champion at the All England Club overcame the challenges of Paolo Lorenzi (1R; 6-1, 6-1, 6-3), Gilles Muller (2R, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3), Santiago Giraldo (3R, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3), Tommy Robredo (4R, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4) as well as Milos Raonic (SF; 6-4, 6-4, 6-4) in straight sets. The sternest test thus far came in form of a four-set triumph over Stan Wawrinka (QF; 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4)

THE RIVALRY

Federer V Djokovic

 

 

 

 

 

The imminent clash on Centre Court on Sunday is the 35th meeting between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic and the Swiss holds a slim advantage going into Sunday’s final. He leads 18-16. It is however closer if their match record at majors is put into consideration. The Swiss still leads though; 6-5. The two have met just once on grass and it came in form of a semi-final clash on Centre court in 2012 with Federer triumphing in four sets. Their record at Wimbledon therefore stands at 1-0 in favour of the Basel native.

Roger-Federer-shakes-hand-swith-Serbias-Novak-Djokovic-after-his-mens-singles-semi-final-victory

 

 

 

 

 

The two have only faced each other in the final of just one grand slam event and this was at the US Open in 2007 which Roger Federer won in straight sets. However, it should be noted that that final marked Novak Djokovic’s first appearance in the final of a grand slam and it is manifestly clear that it’s a different Novak Djokovic. In 2014, the two have net on three occasions. On the 28th of February, Roger Federer defeated Novak Djokovic at the semi-finals in Dubai on his way to being the eventual champion. Vengeance came in sweeter fashion for Novak Djokovic as beat Federer to the crown at Indian Wells on the 16th of March. The duo met again at the Monte Carlo Masters in the semi-finals with Federer winning in three sets; Roger Federer leads 2-1.

2014

ROGER FEDERERRoger Federer             Players NOVAK DJOKOVICNovak Djokovic
2; Dubai and Halle Titles 3; Indian Wells, Miami and Rome
          40-7          Match record             36-4
             4; Brisbane, Dubai Monte Carlo and Halle Finals 4; Indian Wells, Miami, Rome and French Open
Aussie open(SF),French Open (4R) Grand slams Aussie open(QF),French Open (F)

 

THE PREVIEW

The semi-final victory for Roger Federer over Canadian Milos Raonic avails him the opportunity to contest his 25th grand slam final while Novak Djokovic is into his 14th grand slam final.federer against Wawrinka in the Quarter-Final

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most pundits out there will tell you that Federer’s chance of winning another major is higher at SW19 than any other major and maybe the man himself knows it. He is regarded by many as the greatest player on grass and his haul of a record 14 grass-court titles says it all.  Federer holds a 17-7 record in grand slam finals while the Serbian holds a 6-7 record in finals of majors.

Federer with the 2012 Wimbledon Title

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both men have had to wait for a while in the bid to add to their tally of grand slam titles. Since his triumph at the 2013 Australian Open, Novak Djokovic has contested in 5 majors without a win even though he made to the final of 3 of these 5 majors.

novak-djokovic-wimbledon

 

 

 

 

 

His opponent on Sunday has had to wait a lot longer though for this opportunity. Since his win at Wimbledon in 2012, not only has Federer failed to win a major, he has not made the final of a grand slam. This final presents the opportunity for Roger Federer to add to his tally of 17 grand slam titles. It is worthy to note that Rafael Nadal is close to Federer’s tally; the Spaniard is on 14.

 

 

 

 

 

The 32-year old Swiss is a 7-time champion at Wimbledon (2003-2007, 2009 & 2012) while Novak Djokovic was champion at this same event in 2011 where he dethroned Rafael Nadal who was the 2010 champion. Roger Federer has been to the final on eight occasions with his only loss coming in a five-set loss to Rafael Nadal in 2008.

Djokovic with the 2011 Wimbledon Title

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, it is Novak Djokovic’s third Wimbledon final; the third in four years. His record in the final at Wimbledon stands at 1-1.  He contested last year’s final losing out to Andy Murray in straight sets. This final also represents the opportunity for the Serb to take one-step leap on the ATP World rankings as a win will see him leapfrog Rafael Nadal unto the No. 1 spot. Roger Federer, on the other hand, bidding for an unprecedented 8th Wimbledon title, has a 73-8 record at the All England Club.  Novak Djokovic holds a match record of 44-8 at the event.

Roger Federer

 

 

 

 

 

I am not superstitious but if you are, this might be an interesting fact for you. Gilles Muller, Federer’s 2nd round opponent might just be Roger Federer’s lucky charm. In every tournament that Roger Federer has faced the German, he has gone ahead to win the title. It happened in 2005 at Indian Wells, Bangkok in 2005 and the US Open in 2008. If it happened again, I might as well consider my viewpoint on superstition.

The table below represent the stats of the players thus far at this year’s event.

ROGER FEDERERRoger Federer                    PLAYERS   NOVAK DJOKOVICNovak Djokovic
69                      ACES 73
5             DOUBLE FAULTS 9
1              TIMES BROKEN 8
13         BREAK POINTS FACED 29
127MPH              FASTEST SERVE 136MPH
24            BREAK OF SERVE 27
84             UNFORCED ERRORS 130
230                   WINNERS 240
1                   SETS LOST 4
177                 TOTAL GAMES 218
606                 TOTAL POINTS 746
1             TIE BREAKS PLAYED 6
1             TIE BREAKS WON 4
83% AVERAGE % OF 1ST SERVE WON 77%
68% AVERAGE % OF 2ND SERVE WON 58%

 

WHAT IS KEY FOR EACH PLAYER?

 The nature of the surface necessitates the need for a player to have, not just a working serve, but an incredibly effective one to be crowned champion at the All England Club; this explains the recent struggle of Rafael Nadal in Wimbledon.

novak and fed

 

 

 

 

 

The two finalists must be aware of the need to make the most of their serves while biding their time to see what can be done on the opponent’s service game. From the table of stats above, it is evident that both players have done a good job with their serves in the tournament.

novak djokovic

 

 

 

 

 

As a matter of fact, Roger Federer can be said to have delivered a serving master-class through the course of the tournament. It is yet to be seen though how Federer will cope against the player referred to by many as possessing the best returning prowess the sport has seen.

 

 

 

 

 

This ability of Djokovic as well as his backhand, his greatest weapon, will be key factors in the determination of Sunday’s final. Novak Djokovic will have to be cautious of Federer’s aggressive attacking tendencies seen to have been furthered strengthened by the input of Stefan Edberg.

 

 

 

 

 

The Serb will have to hit his shots wide and deeper towards the baseline to curtail Federer’s frequent adventure to the net. The aggressiveness hurt the Nole during their clash earlier in the year at Dubai and failure to deal with it on Sunday will do damage to Novak Djokovic’s chances.

roger 2nd Round

 

 

 

 

 

As for Roger Federer, it is to be admitted that apart from the efficacy of his serves, he has done a great job with his return and has cut out a large chunk of the errors that characterised his play recently. As the stats show, he has been broken just once and has been engaged in a tie-break on just one occasion. He will need to keep this up as well as ensure that there is variety on his elegant one-handed backhand as opposed to going for just the slice. It is no secret that the longer a rally goes, the fewer the chances of Roger Federer winning that point. This was exploited to great effect by Stan Wawrinka in the 1st set of their quarter–final clash. It follows that Roger Federer needs to make Djokovic play according to his own terms; he needs to dictate the match and keep the points short.

 

 

 

 

 

It is worthy to note that the longer the match, the more likely it is for Novak Djokovic to emerge victorious. However, a positive for Federer is that he has spent less time on the courts than his opponent.

The mental state of the two players will be crucial as well. The fact that Federer is a 7-time winner at the All England club endears him to the crowd and this could work as an advantage as last year’s final shows that there is a high tendency for Novak Djokovic to get irritated when there is a hostile crowd. However, the Serb will be threading on familiar grounds as well and with the doggedness he has shown over the years mentally, he might as well be up for this mental battle.

WHAT THEY SAY

Novak Djokovic

 

 

 

 

 

“This is where he has most success in his career, winning many titles. He’s been looking very good throughout the whole tournament, very dominant with his matches. I’m sure that he wants to win this title as much as I do. Most of the matches we played against each other went the distance, so I am going to be physically ready and fit to go the distance. But it’s a good chance for me to try to win against him on his favourite surface on his favourite court”

Roger Federer

 

 

 

 

 

“I’m extremely happy to be in another final. We always play good matches against each other. We’ve played each other a lot in the past six months and it has gone back and forth a bit. Novak is a great champion; he’s used to these occasions. He’s won here before and knows how to get it done. It is really important for me to stay aggressive against him, and especially here at Wimbledon. Novak can hurt you down the line or cross-court on both sides. I hope it’s going to be a good match”

 

It’s a big final to look up to and based on the pedigree of the two finalists, it is difficult to stick out one’s neck as to who would eventually come out on top.

VERDICT

It’s not my call. IT’S YOURS!!!!!!!!!

PREDICT AND WIN!

Who would win the 2014 Wimbledon Men’s Single Final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer and in how many sets?

Predict as a comment ONLY on the Blog and the first correct answer stands a chance of winning airtime of the following network providers (MTN, Etisalat, Airtel and GLO). 

Your Phone Number of any of the above network providers should be part of the answer  to enable us send the airtime to you.

Answer should be given on or before 2pm tomorrow the 6th of July, 2014.

IT’S OPEN ONLY TO NIGERIANS!!!!