Euro 2016: Who’s in the Shop Window?

Euro 2016: Who’s in the Shop Window?

All eyes will be on France this summer as Europe’s best players touch down for Euro 2016. The 24 competing nations have just announced the squads they hope will lead them to victory in what looks set to be one of the most fiercely competitive tournaments in recent years. The Euros are likely to play a major role in the summer transfer window, with clubs all over Europe keeping a beady eye on proceedings in a bid to bolster their squads. More money is changing hands than ever before between Europe’s top clubs. Last season Premier League spending on transfers topped £1 billion for the first time. This may have been fuelled by the record £5.14 billion Premier League TV rights deal signed by Sky and BT last year. With this in mind, some players will be vying to put themselves in the shop window in the hope of a big money move to a new club. We’ve taken a look at some of the players to watch out for at Euro 2016. Álvaro Morata   The 23-year-old Spanish striker moved to Juventus from Real Madrid in 2014, and has noticeably matured in Italy. Whilst Morata’s overall scoring record is modest, in the past year he’s scored in both legs of a Champions League semi-final, a Champions League final and a Coppa Italia final. Few doubt he has the talent and potential to to be a top-class striker, and he’s already had ‘tempting’ offers from Premier League clubs. From June 1 Real Madrid have the option to buy Morata back for €30million. This is expected to start a bidding...
Who Will Be in England’s Test Squad? The Men to Watch

Who Will Be in England’s Test Squad? The Men to Watch

English cricket suffered a devastating loss last month when batsman James Taylor was forced to retire after the discovery of an incurable heart condition. Luckily the condition was diagnosed before it claimed Taylor’s life – but the sad news has left a spot open in England’s line-up. With several others under scrutiny, Taylor’s might not be the only spot up for grabs. With England’s first Test against Sri Lanka just around the corner, we look at the names and faces to watch out for at Headingley and beyond. Batsmen – who’s under scrutiny? It won’t come as any surprise to see skipper Alastair Cook opening – but who will be walking out alongside him? It’s been nearly four years since former skipper Andrew Strauss retired and England are still looking for a reliable long-term partner for Cook. As the more eagle-eyed of you will have already noticed, Alex Hales made his debut as a Test opener on England’s tour of South Africa at the end of last year. Four consecutive fifties and a century suggests Man-of-the-Series Hales is as prolific as ever in the one-day arena. The early evidence is not so compelling in the five-day format, with his technique outside off stump seriously exposed. Ring any bells Adam Lyth? The jury is out on whether Hales deserves another chance at Test match level but we’ve got our doubts about his ability to go big against top-class attacks on seaming English pitches. Sorry Alex – we’d love you to prove us wrong! Next up is Nick Compton. After coming to the fore as a late bloomer in 2012-2013, he...
England’s Six Nations squad announcement: Our thoughts

England’s Six Nations squad announcement: Our thoughts

Awaiting the announcement of England’s Six Nations squad is always an exciting time. But Wednesday’s press conference carried with it a media furore and sense of anticipation that hadn’t been felt in the hallowed corridors of Twickenham since before England embarked on their ill-fated WRC campaign last September. The reason? A new man in the driving seat: England’s first ever foreign coach, Australian Eddie Jones. And with a new boss comes a new culture, coaching team, and most crucially, personnel. There were a lot of talking points raised by England’s Six Nations squad, so we thought we’d chip in with a few of our own thoughts too. Giving youth a chance – one eye on Japan There are seven uncapped players in England’s Six Nations squad – with the eldest, Elliot Daly, only 23 years old. All seven have played big roles in the successful England age-group sides of late, with both Jack Clifford and Mario Itoje captaining England to Junior World Championship titles in 2013 and 2014. Will the new faces go straight into the side? Jerry Guscott thinks so, stating: “I would not be surprised if he puts a lot of these young guys straight in to face Scotland.” Indeed, now does seem the time to make a clean break from the World Cup debacle, and give fresh blood a chance. Former England fly-half Stuart Barnes has singled out Jack Clifford as the key new man in the squad – regarding him as a potential solution to the persistent questions that have surrounded England’s open-side since the retirement of Neil Back. Six foot four, and well over 17...
Why the BBC Sports Personality Award is still relevant

Why the BBC Sports Personality Award is still relevant

Andy Murray was crowned the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for a second time on Sunday 20th December 2015. Taking over the crown from 2014’s winner Lewis Hamilton, the Scotsman was rewarded for the role he played in the historic Davis Cup win for Great Britain. It is a remarkable achievement for Murray to win the award twice in three years and it’s hard to argue with the public’s choice. However, is the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award still an important accolade, or is it just a meaningless celebrity showcase? We thought we’d chuck our oar in… Today’s sportsmen face different pressures to their predecessors Few would deny that sport in the 21st Century is a completely different phenomenon when compared to the past. Nowadays, virtually everything a sportsperson does is analysed, scrutinised and released to the mass media. News breaks across a variety of sources 24 hours a day. No act or comment can go unnoticed. Social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram mean that our sporting idols can speak directly to the public, removing the previously imposed filters that official interviews entailed. It is commonly believed that sports stars, particularly footballers, are more badly behaved nowadays than they were 30 years ago. But is this really the case? One could argue that whilst undoubtedly the “lad culture” within English football encourages a certain level of indecent behaviour, the only reason footballers nowadays have such a bad reputation is that all their antics are recorded. Whether it’s a camera phone, the glare of the paparazzi’s lenses or the constant spotlight of social media,...
What were the highlights from the Euro 2016 draw?

What were the highlights from the Euro 2016 draw?

It’s been an autumn of ups and downs for international football. The repercussions of the FIFA bribery scandal continue to emerge, casting a long shadow over the sport’s reputation and damaging public faith in the beautiful game. However, the conclusion of the Euro 2016 qualifiers saw four home-nation sides heading to France – the largest contingent of teams from the British Isles since 1958 – and gave cause for real optimism. As last Saturday’s draw came to a close we could stop pinching ourselves, and start looking forward to the tournament – and it looks set to be an absolute cracker, too. Read on for our main highlights from the Euro 2016 draw. England vs Wales: A battle of Britain The group stage clash that has gained the most attention in the media is the Group B grudge match between England and Wales in Lens on 16th June. Wales’ meteoric rise over the last few years has been staggering. In just four years they have risen from well outside the world’s top 100 to inside the top ten earlier this year, and above England. No mean feat. The likes of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey have galvanised a Welsh side that are riding a wave of confidence going into next summer’s tournament. Before the draw, Wales manager Chris Coleman stated he’d prefer to avoid England in the groups, regarding the “Battle of Britain” game as a possible “distraction” to his preparations. He reasserted this on Saturday evening, saying “We would have wanted to avoid it, but we look forward to it.” However, his view isn’t shared by either Ramsey...