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Bartolo Bros Predictions: What to Expect from Euro 2016

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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

ZACH MUSCAT: My first overseas adventure!

Zach Muscat

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Maltese National Team player Zach Muscat.

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!

Interview Questions:

  • 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!

What makes a great football club?

Emirates Stadium

How do you separate a big club from a small club? A giant from a minnow? Is it the financial resources? Sponsorship deals? Historic achievements and legacy? Stadium capacity or global following? League position and performance on the pitch?

Here are the 5 factors I believe separate the greatest football clubs from the rest:

1. Total Generated Revenue

It doesn’t matter how profitable a club is, what affects it’s size is the amount of income the club is able to generate. This is the best measure of supporter perception we can take. The greater the club’s value in a supporter’s eyes, the more time and money they are willing to invest. This investment goes into purchase of merchandise, match-day tickets, higher television viewing and it also affects sponsor decisions.

Deloitte Football Money League 2014-2015
(Image source: www.deloitte.com)

Supporter perception therefore directly affects commercial, broadcasting and match-day revenue, the three largest sources of a football club’s income. Generated revenues are a clear indication of what fans think of their club, and there is no such thing as a club without fans.

2. Performance in the UEFA Champions League

Calm down, I know this is a European competition and this excludes some decently sized clubs, but the fact remains that the biggest clubs in the world are European. And the UEFA Champions League trophy is the ultimate achievement a European club can obtain. A good run in the Champion’s League can also put a club back on people’s radars. Despite convincingly winning the Serie A title, 17 points clear of nearest rivals Roma, it was Juventus’ journey to the UEFA Champions League final which put the club’s name on everyone’s lips.

3. History and Legacy

Take clubs like SL Benfica, AC Milan and Ajax which haven’t ranked among the very best in Europe for a few years. They have amassed a massive dynasty over the years and while their performances of late may have suffered, many would still consider them greater clubs that this year’s finalists, Atletico Madrid.

4. Consistent Success

Consistency is key. Some clubs come into the limelight for a few years, are unable to sustain their success and quickly fall back into the abyss. To be considered great, you have to perform and win titles, year after year. A few years without any major titles can see a club’s status slowly sink lower and lower. Take Liverpool who haven’t won any major titles since their 2004-2005 UEFA Champion`s League and 2005-2006 FA Cup (except for a 2011-2012 League Cup, with a penalty shoot-out against Cardiff deciding the final). Leicester have just won the English Premier League, only time will tell whether they’ll consistently grow towards greatness or simply fall off everyone’s radars within a couple of years.

5. Passion

Passion on the pitch, passion on the stands. The emotion the club and players can instill, the stories they create and the joy they give. It becomes not just about the club, but about a cause. These are the reasons that football is one of the greatest sports on the planet. Would you be ready to die for your club? Some fans would, and it is that level of dedication and commitment which propel a club to greatness.

What do you think? Do you agree with our list? Tell us what you think really makes a club great in the comments section below…

A Generation of Spanish Football dominance

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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:

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Who is the best Juventus player ever?

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By Anthony Bartolo

Juventus… the greatest club in the history of Italian football and one of the top clubs in the world.

The Bianconeri have won numerous prestigious national as well as international titles. The club is also known as the place where dozens, even hundreds of great footballers were born. Amongst all the Juve players, the following are my favourites – in no particular order except for the number 1 spot…. Pinturicchio Alex!

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Individualism… or the Lack of it!

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By Andrea Vella

I am no Mourinho or Guardiola; but after undergoing the Level 1 and Level 2 Coach Education courses, together with the Licence Holders Course, organised by Premier Skills, I look back at my first three years as a football educator and realise how false my sessions used to be! Premier Skills have also opened my eyes to the problems I see with coaching in Malta today.

Andrea Vella

Andrea in his role as Academy Director of Swieqi United F.C. Image source: Jeffrick Cachia

I see many ‘know­-it-­alls’ and ex-­footballers who talk, talk and talk, believing they can coach purely because of their position or playing reputation, but who quite frankly, can’t! I see a lot of coaches who focus on their personal success and results when they should be focusing on developing players – it’s all about how many games they’ve won! I also see a lot of coaches who coach as a hobby or as a side job to earn some pocket money, without realising how delicate their role is.

“What most of the coaches have in common is that they don’t understand that coaching isn’t easy!” Andrea Vella

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