Thursday, May 04, 2006

Remember the Name(s) - Defenders/Goalkeepers
By Imtiaz Mussa

Keep it here at Sportszilla as in the coming months, we will get you prepared for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The first match takes place on June 9th.

And now with the World Cup a little over a month away, it’s time for Sportszilla’a preview to pick up steam. But first a few things.

Steve McClaren will take over as England manager after the World Cup. I called it back in January and he is the right man for the job. The players are very familiar with him and the FA thinks he’s one of the best younger managers in the game today. He will be leaving Middlesbrough after the UEFA Cup final against Sevilla.

If Wayne Rooney can’t play for England, you can cross them off the list of favorites. Michael Owen is getting himself back to full health after a broken foot but England needs Rooney. Rooney suffered two breaks in the same metatarsal in Manchester United’s loss to Premiership champions Chelsea.

Just a day after naming his squad for the World Cup, Bruce Arena has already had to make a switch. Frankie Hejduk has a torn ACL and will be replaced by LA Galaxy defender Chris Albright. Albright will bring some versatility to the side.

Speaking of defenders, it’s time to take a look at some as well as some goalkeepers...

Defenders

Gabriel Heinze
Country: Argentina
Club Team: Manchester United

Heinze has built a reputation as a powerful, no-nonsense defender. He is also renowned for his tenacity and leadership qualities and is dominant in the air. He arrived in England with a reputation as a 'hardman'. One newspaper in France ran a poll to discover which player fans thought was the roughest defender in French football - Heinze was the clear winner. The signing of the Argentinian brought to an end a long search for a much needed new left-back for Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United. Heinze suffered a knee injury in a UEFA Champions League match with Villarreal on 13 September and is currently making his way back. He should be ready for the World Cup.

Nemenja Vidic
Country: Serbia and Montenegro
Club Team: Manchester United

Vidić is part of the Serbian and Montenegrin national team's "Famous Four" defence, which conceded just one goal during qualifying for the 2006 World Cup, which will be their 10th World Cup appearance (formerly as Yugoslavia). Vidić played a major part in their 1-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina to qualify, despite picking up a red card five minutes from the end. Vidić signed for Manchester United for a fee of £7 million on January 5, 2006, following his request to leave Spartak.

Cicinho
Country: Brazil
Club Team: Real Madrid

Cicinho is known for his combative tackling, darting runs and attacking play which made him the perfect fit in Real Madrid’s Let’s Forget About Defense Attack. In 2005 he won the Confederations Cup with the Brazilian National Team, where he is known as a good replacement for Cafu. Look for him to play some critical minutes off the bench or even on the other side of Cafu.

Kolo Toure
Country: Ivory Coast
Club Team: Arsenal

Kolo Touré is listed at six feet tall. He makes up for a lack of size with an impressive vertical leap, making him strong in the air. He is also blessed with blistering speed. He is regarded as the third fastest player at Arsenal, outpaced only by Thierry Henry and Theo Walcott. Touré is also considered very consistent and very durable, with few long term injuries. He quickly established himself as one of the best center backs in the Premiership. He is now a first-choice member of the team, part of a solid defensive partnership with Sol Campbell. Since Campbell's injury, he played alongside Philippe Senderos.

Phillipe Senderos
Country: Switzerland
Club Team: Arsenal

The imposing defender was signed from home-town club Servette of Geneva in July 2003. Born of Spanish parents in Switzerland, the centre half chose to represent the Swiss when his rare football talent emerged. Senderos made his name as captain of the side which became European champions at Under-17 level in 2002 and was fast-tracked into the Under-21 set up. He was brought to Arsenal to learn under one of the best defences in the business; much is expected of the skilful, giant stopper. In an interview with The Guardian, he said, amongst other things, that he speaks 5 languages.

Hatem Trabelsi
Country: Tunisia
Club Team: Ajax

Trabelsi made his name as a fleet-of-foot winger and although he subsequently became a full-back, he continues to offer a threat down the flank, providing a steady source of crosses from the by-line. A solid player in a solid defense, the 28-year-old is looking for a move away from Amsterdam so will want a good tournament to attract suitors.

Giovany Espinoza
Country: Ecuador
Club Team: L.D.U. de Quito

Centre-half Giovany Espinoza was the only player in South America to play in all 18 qualifiers. He holds the defence together, is commanding in the air and has shown great improvement on the ground.

Tsuneyasu Miyamoto
Country: Japan
Club Team: Gamba Osaka

Not a particularly large or powerful defender to begin with, Japanese captain Miyamoto depends on good reflexes, cretitable technique and ball control skills, as well as excellent ability to distribute the ball from the back line to teammates downfield. He has a combative attitude and a hard-working dedication that has served him well both for Gamba Osaka and for the national team.

Goalkeepers

Paul Robinson
Country: England
Club Team: Tottenham Hotspur

He is currently considered England's "Number One", preferred to Manchester City goalkeeper David James. His exceptional shot stopping ability and reaction saves allied with size make Robinson one of the finest keepers in Europe if not the World. Robinson has recently signed a seven year contract extension, showing his loyalty to the club, after turning down offers from Manchester United.

Andreas Isaksson
Country: Sweden
Club Team: Rennes

Isaksson started his career with his home-town team Trelleborg, where he played two seasons 1998 and 1999. He became known as a great goalkeeping prospect and was thus bought by Italian giants Juventus in 1999 but he never played a first-team game. In 2001 he signed with Swedish team Djurgården. In his first two full seasons, 2002 and 2003, Djurgården won two straight Swedish titles. While at Djurgården, Isaksson established himself as the second-choice goalkeeper after Magnus Hedman for the Swedish national team. By the Euro 2004 championship, however, Hedman's problems at Celtic gave Isaksson the opportunity to become the first choice. He played all Sweden's matches at Euro 2004. In acknowledgement of his good performance, Rennes signed him where he is now the starting goalkeeper.

Petr Cech
Country: Czech Republic
Club Team: Chelsea

Cech is one of the brightest goalkeeping prospects in Europe and his superb form for Rennes earned him a move to Chelsea. Tall and imposing, Cech starred for the Czech Republic during the Euro 2004 as they reached the semi-finals. He broke a long-standing Peter Schmeichel record when he kept 10 consecutive Premiership clean sheets between December 2004 and February 2005.

Gregory Coupet
Country: France
Club Team: Olympique Lyonnais

An experienced and consistent performer with good reflexes and a cool temperament, Grégory Coupet has matured into one of the best goalkeepers in France. After being for a long time the second goalkeeper in France, after Fabien Barthez, he alternates with Barthez in the France national team and has a good chance to be the regular goalkeeper during the coming World Cup, due to his excellent performances with Olympique Lyonnais.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Jakob Kerr said...

Few names you left out that people should keep an eye on:
Kaebi - DF/M - Iran. Stud of a young side back.
Puyol - DF - Spain. One of the best DFs in the world.
Johnny Heitinga & Nigel De Jong - DFs - Holland. Versatile young Dutch defenders.
Ivan Hurtado - DF - Ecuador. Captain of the Ecuador side and one of the most valuable players to their team in the entire tournament.

11:43 PM  

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