Another major international tournament is upon us, with Euro 2016 kicking off next Friday for a month of delightful football to-be in France.
This year boasts the 15th edition of the UEFA European Championship, and no less than twenty-four nations will be on show, with six groups of four teams each initiating the event. Spain are on a roll, having won the last two iterations of the competition… But who will be crowned Champions come the 10th July 2016 at Saint-Denis?
Here are the Top 8 teams in Europe according to the Bartolo Bros:
Euro 2016: Sam’s Predictions
Euro 2016: Quarter-final Eliminations
Croatia finished second in their qualifying group, and face a tough start to Euro 2016 having been drawn in the same group as Spain, Czech Republic and Turkey. Despite this, I believe that they will make it out of their group in second place, and I also have them down to eliminate a really strong Belgium side on the 27th June 2016 in the Round of 16! Unfortunately, their wonderful midfield composed of Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić and Mateo Kovačić, besides other stars, will not be enough to match Germany in the Quarters. Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Maltese National Team player Zach Muscat.
Zach Muscat playing for SS Akragas
(Image source: Giuseppe Alletto)
Malta’s brightest defensive talent took time off his busy schedule to answer a few questions that we posed to him regarding his first experience overseas in professional football. Zach signed for SS Akragas, who play in the LegaPro Girone C, at the beginning of the 2016 calendar year, and has been a peripheral figure for his team over the last five months, helping them to end the season in a respectable 12th place despite a five-point deduction.
With Zach in the side, SS Akragas climbed from the penultimate position in the league to mid-table security, registering seven clean-sheets in the process, in which the Maltese defender played every minute. During his few months in Italy, Zach was listed in both the LegaPro Girone C ‘top 11’ players of the week, as well as Tutto LegaPro’s ‘top 11’ of the week. He has also recently been named as one of the top 11 hot prospects off contract in LegaPro.
Born in 1993, the young star formed part of the Malta Football Academy at every competitive level – captaining the U/21 side in the process – and has already featured for the Senior National Team on numerous occasions. I had the pleasure of playing alongside Zach for many years – and he always had that something special about him. His infectious determination, hard work and discipline have clearly paid off, and his ability to get through every moment in life with that large grin across his face is just admirable.
Take a look at Zach’s exclusive interview with Bartolo Bros!
- Zach! Thank you for accepting my invitation so shortly after returning to Malta. Your first experience in a foreign league. How have the past five months treated you?
- You signed for SS Akragas a few weeks after a move to Pisa broke down. Was that on your mind at all in the past few months?
- Your season finished on Saturday, with a 1-1 draw against league leaders Benevento. What can you tell me about that match, and how would you compare it to your debut?
- SS Akragas finished in 12th position out of 18 teams in its first season in the division. What were the club’s initial objectives when you joined, and have they been met?
- Nicola Legrottaglie resigned from his role as manager just two weeks after you signed for the club, and was replaced by Pino Rigoli. Did this have any effect on you at all, and how is your relationship with the new boss?
- Who, from your teammates, have you ‘clicked’ with the most?
- How has the experience of playing in Italy developed you, both as a person and as a footballer? How much have you missed home, and did the move overseas provide a culture shock, or did you find it easy to settle in?
- Can you give us a bit of a heads up on the overall experience of playing for a foreign professional club? What would the week leading up to a match look like in terms of meeting teammates, training, match analysis of the previous game, preparation for the next game, diet, and so on?
- You have previously made your intentions clear in terms of wanting to play overseas for years to come. What does your future hold?
- What are your personal objectives, and what would be your ultimate achievement in football?
- What was the best advice you were ever given?
- Do you have a saying or motto that you live by?
- If you had to give one word of advice to young kids who dream of becoming professional footballers, what would it be?
- Finally… I just have to ask… Messi or Ronaldo?
Thank you for your time Zach, and good luck for a great (and well-deserved) future!
Over the last ten years, football has been Spanish.
Whether it’s the National Team excelling in international tournaments, the performances of La Liga sides in European competitions, or the quality of players and managers that are being attracted to its league, Spain is victorious.
Here are the reasons why Spanish football, with its tiki-taka system, has been so dominant over the past decade:
Just a few days after Valletta F.C. were crowned Champions of Malta, keen nationwide football fans will now turn their attention to this Friday (6th May), as debuting BOV Premier League side St. Andrews F.C. fight to retain their place in the highest division of Maltese football for a second season.
The Pembroke-based club takes on Senglea Athletic F.C., who have enjoyed a fantastic first season in the BOV First Division, in an all-important play-off match which will be played at 19:30 (CET).
The final match in the BOV Premier League 2015/16 Season will be played on Friday, 6th May 2016 – a match which is that little bit more magical than the rest. (Image source: TVM Official Website)
The rise of both these clubs in recent years has been inspiring, and their fate for the 2016/2017 season will be decided in front of a passionate crowd at the Hibernians Stadium in Paola. This is due to a new league competition system, introduced as from the 2015/16 campaign, in which the tenth placed Premier League club (the division contains 12 teams) goes head-to-head in a play-off against the third placed club from the First Division.
“The rules are simple: the winning team will ply its trade in the Premier League next season, with the defeated side having to settle for First Division status. If the match is draw after extra-time, a normal penalty shootout will settle the score.”
Let’s take a look at the two clubs, and what each will offer to this enthralling fixture:
Álvaro Morata baffles me. He’s good on so many fronts, yet I’m concerned that he will never be great.
Born in Madrid on the 23rd October 1992, the Spanish international joined Real Madrid’s academy at the age of fifteen following stints at Atlético Madrid and Getafe. The attacking player represented Spain on a number of occasions at youth level, and debuted for Real Madrid Castilla in August of 2010. It took just four months for his efforts to be recognised by a certain José Mourinho, who handed him his debut for the first team on the 12th December 2010. For the next three seasons, Morata was a key figure in Real’s Castilla side, averaging almost a goal every other game in nearly 100 appearances. Continue reading