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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Valencia CF

Official Website : VCF

Valencia Club de Fútbol (also known as Valencia or Los Che) is a Spanish professional football club based in Valencia. They play in La Liga and are one of the most successful and biggest clubs in Spanish football. Valencia have won six La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey trophies, one UEFA Cup, two Fairs Cups, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, two UEFA Super Cups and two Spanish Super Cups. They have also reached two UEFA Champions League finals in a row, losing to La Liga rivals Real Madrid in 2000 and German club Bayern Munich in 2001. Valencia are also members of the G-14 group of leading European football clubs.

In the all-time La Liga table, Valencia is in 4th position behind Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao. In terms of international titles, Valencia is 3rd behind Real Madrid and Barcelona, these three being the only Spanish clubs to have won more than five international trophies.

Valencia were founded in 1919, and have played their home games at the 55,000-seater Estadio Mestalla since 1923. They are soon to move into the 75,000-seater Nou Mestalla in the north-west of the city in 2009. Valencia have a long-standing rivalry with Levante, also located in Valencia, and with another club in the Valencian Community region, Villarreal.

Valencia is the third most popular football team in Spain, only behind Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. It is also one of the biggest clubs in the world in terms of number of associates (registered paying supporters), with more than 50,000 season ticket holders and another 20,000+ season ticket holders on the waiting list, which will come into effect once the new 75,000-seater stadium is built.

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ronaldinho: The One Man Show

Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (born March 21, 1980 in Porto Alegre), commonly known as Ronaldinho or Ronaldinho Gaúcho,[3] is a Brazilian footballer who plays for Italian Serie A club A.C. Milan and the Brazil national team.

Ronaldinho, Portuguese for "little Ronaldo", is known in Brazil by the nickname Ronaldinho Gaúcho, in order to distinguish him from Ronaldo, who was already called "Ronaldinho" in Brazil. Ronaldo simply went by his first name upon his move to Europe, thereby allowing Ronaldinho to drop the "Gaúcho" and remain simply as Ronaldinho.

He has played for Paris Saint-Germain, and FC Barcelona, with whom he won his first Champions League in 2006. He became a Spanish citizen in January 2007.[4]

Born into a footballing family (his late father Joao played for Cruzeiro and his brother, now his manager, Roberto played for Gremio), the young Ronaldinho found more enjoyment in futsal and beach football before graduating to playing the standard game.

He began his football career at his brother's old club Gremio in the youth team under future Brazil World Cup winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari and progressed to the first team aged 18 in 1998 and had made his Brazilian national team debut a year later in 1999.

His goalscoring exploits and sublime skill on the ball drew much attention from Europe and in 2001 Ronaldinho left Gremio to move to France and Paris St. Germain. His time in Paris was littered with fallings out with then PSG coach Luis Fernandez who disapproved of Ronaldinho's love of Parisian nightlife and after two mildly successful years in France he again packed his bags and headed for Barcelona.

In his first season at Barcelona Ronaldinho more than justified his reputed £18m price tag as he helped coax the Catalan giants into second place in La Liga and earnt himself the title of 2004 World Player of the Year.

Having caught the eye of big spending Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, Ronaldinho was the subject of a failed £60m bid from the West London club and despite the resignation of his friend Sandor Rosell as Barcelona's vice president of sports, he signed a new contract in late 2005 with the Catalan club.

As well as helping Barcelona to back to back La Liga titles in 2004/2005 and 2005/2006 and the European Champion's League in 2006, Ronaldinho has also won a host of personal awards including:

FIFA World Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005
FIFPro World Player of the Year in 2005 and 2006
European Footballer of the Year in 2005
UEFA Champions League Best Forward in 2004-05
World Soccer Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005
and UEFA Champions League Most Valuable Player in 2005-06.

Ronaldinho also became a World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002.

FC Barcelona

Official Website : Barcelona

Fútbol Club Barcelona (Catalan IPA: [fudˈbɔɫ ˌklup bəɾsəˈlonə], Spanish IPA: [ˈfutβol ˌkluβ baɾθeˈlona]), known familiarly as Barça (Spanish IPA: [ˈbaɾsa], Catalan IPA: [ˈbaɾsə]), is a sports club based in Barcelona, Spain. It is best known for its football team, which was founded in 1899 by a group of Swiss, English, and Spanish men led by Joan Gamper. The club has become a Catalan institution, hence the motto Més que un club (More than a club).

They were founding members of La Liga in 1928, and, together with Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, they have never been relegated from the top division. The club were also the first La Liga champions, winning a total of 18 La Liga, 24 Copa del Rey, 7 Supercopa de España, 2 UEFA Champions League, 4 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, 3 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and 2 European Super Cup trophies.

The club's main stadium is the Camp Nou and the fans of FC Barcelona are known as culers or culés. In Spain, about 25% of the population are said to be Barça supporters[1]. In June 2007, the number of socis (club members/owners) reached 156,366, while in June 2006 the number of penyes (officially-registered supporter clubs) reached 1782 worldwide.

The club also operates a reserve team, FC Barcelona Atlètic, and four other professional sports teams, Regal FC Barcelona, FC Barcelona, FC Barcelona Futsal and FC Barcelona Sorli Discau that compete at basketball, handball, futsal and rink hockey respectively. Until 2007 there was also a youth team, FC Barcelona C.

There are also a number of prominent amateur sports teams that compete at rugby union, women's football and wheelchair basketball. These include FCB Rugby and FC Barcelona-Institut Guttman. Other amateur teams represent the club at ice hockey, athletics, baseball, cycling, field hockey, figure skating, and volleyball.

During the 2006-07 season, FC Barcelona was the third richest club in the world with a revenue of €291.1 million.

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Real Madrid C.F.

Official Website : Real Madrid

Real Madrid Club de Fútbol (also known as Real Madrid, Los Blancos, Los Merengues) is a professional football club based in Madrid, Spain. It holds the record as the most successful club in Spanish football and was voted by FIFA as the most successful one of the 20th century,[7] having won a record thirty-one La Liga titles, seventeen Spanish Cups, a record nine European Cups and two UEFA Cups.[8][9] Real was a founding member of The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)[10] and the now-defunct G-14 group of Europe's leading football clubs as well as its replacement, the European Club Association.[11]

Founded in 1902, Real Madrid has since spent all of its history in the top flight of Spanish football. In the 1940s, the club, the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium and the Ciudad Deportiva were rebuilt following the Spanish Civil War. During the 1950s, Real Madrid established itself as a major force in both Spanish and European football. During the second half of the 1980s, the club had one of the best teams in Spain and Europe (known as La Quinta del Buitre), winning two UEFA Cups, five Spanish championships in a row, one Spanish cup and three Spanish Super Cups.

The club's traditional kit colours are all white. It has played its home professional games in the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in downtown Madrid since 1947. Unlike most European football clubs, the club members (socios) have owned and operated Real Madrid since its foundation.

Real Madrid maintains a large fanbase and holds numerous long-standing rivalries with several other clubs, the most notable with FC Barcelona with whom they biannually contest the El Clásico. The club is the world's richest football club (€351m) in terms of revenue and the second most valuable (worth over €950m as of 2008).

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Friday, November 7, 2008

West Bromwich Albion F.C.

Official Website : WBA

West Bromwich Albion Football Club (also known as West Brom, The Baggies, Albion, The Albion, The Throstles or WBA) are an English professional football club based in West Bromwich, West Midlands. The club was formed in 1878 by workers from Salter's Spring Works in West Bromwich, and have played their home games at The Hawthorns since 1900.

Albion were one of the founding members of The Football League in 1888 and have spent the majority of their existence in the top tier of English football. They have been champions of England only once, in 1919–20, but have had more success in the FA Cup, with five wins. The first came in 1888, the year the league was founded, and the most recent in 1968, their last major trophy. They also won the Football League Cup at the first attempt in 1966. Since the early 1980s the club has been less successful. From 1986 to 2002 they spent their longest ever period out of the top division, although there has been something of a revival in recent years: 2008–09 will be the club's fourth season in the Premier League since 2002.

The team have played in blue and white stripes for most of their history. They have a number of long-standing rivalries with other Midlands clubs; their traditional rivals were Aston Villa, but more recently their major rivalry is with Wolverhampton Wanderers, with whom they contest the Black Country derby.

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Fulham FC

Official Website : FFC

Fulham Football Club is an English football team based in Fulham, in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. Founded in 1879, they celebrated their 125th anniversary in 2004, and they are in the top tier of English football, the FA Premier League. Fulham are the oldest professional football team in London, usually considered to have been founded in 1879 (though the semi-professional Cray Wanderers F.C. are the oldest team in London still in existence).[3]

They spent much time in the old First Division through the 1960s, but are yet to gain any major honours. In 1975, as a Second Division team, they contested the FA Cup final for the only time in their history, losing 2-0 to West Ham United. Fulham qualified for the UEFA Cup in 2002 by winning the Intertoto Cup, beating Bologna 5-3 in the final over two legs. In the UEFA Cup, they won through two rounds before being defeated by Hertha Berlin. In the mid-1990s they had a brief spell in the former Fourth Division, but they recovered spectacularly by the early 2000s.

They currently play at Craven Cottage, their famous home since 1896, a riverside ground on the banks of the River Thames in Fulham, having spent two years at Loftus Road while Craven Cottage was undergoing renovations to bring it up to Premier League standards. The club's training ground is located near Motspur Park (and was where Chariots of Fire among others was filmed), where Fulham's Academy is also situated, including a mini-stadium where the reserves play. The Fulham Ladies' team also played the majority of their games here prior to being dissolved in the summer of 2006.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bolton Wanderers FC

Official Website : BWFC

Bolton Wanderers Football Club is an English professional football club based in Horwich, in the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton, Greater Manchester, England. They are currently in the Premier League.

Founder members of the Football League, Bolton were a successful cup side in the 1920s, winning the FA Cup three times. The club won the cup a fourth time in 1958 thanks to two Nat Lofthouse goals. A leaner spell followed, reaching a nadir in 1987 when the club spent a season in the Fourth Division. The club regained top-flight status in 1995 after a 15 year absence; their current spell in the top division started in 2001. In 2005–06 they participated in European competition for the first time, reaching the last 32 of the UEFA Cup. Bolton qualified for the 2007–08 tournament by finishing 7th in the 2006–07 Premier League season and this time they managed to reach the last 16 of the competition. Bolton Wanderers moved to the Reebok Stadium in 1997. Their former home was Burnden Park.

Bolton have spent the highest number of seasons in the top flight without winning the title (69, as of 2007-08)

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Blackburn Rovers

Official Website : rovers

Blackburn Rovers Football Club is an English Premier League football club based in the town of Blackburn, Lancashire. It is one of only three teams to be founder members of both the Football League and the Premier League, the others being Aston Villa and Everton.

Blackburn Rovers Football Club was established in 1875, and in 1888 became a founding member of The Football League. In 1890 Rovers moved to its permanent home at Ewood Park. Until the formation of the Premier League in 1992, the majority of the club's success was pre-1930 when they won the league and FA Cup on several occasions. Their relegation in 1966 was followed by 26 successive seasons of football outside the top flight.

In 1992, Blackburn were promoted to the new Premier League a year after being taken over by local steel baron Jack Walker, who installed Kenny Dalglish as manager. In 1995, Blackburn became league champions, having spent millions of pounds on players like Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton. However, the title-winning team was quickly split up and, in 1999, the club were relegated. They were promoted back to the Premiership two years later, just after Walker's death, and have been in the top flight ever since. During this time they have qualified for the UEFA Cup four times: once as League Cup winners, twice as the Premiership's sixth-placed team and once via the Intertoto Cup.

The club's Latin motto "Arte et labore", which was used by the town council before the club were formed, literally translated means "by art and by labour".

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Stoke City FC

Official Website : Stoke City FC

Stoke City Football Club is a football club based in Stoke-on-Trent, England. Founded in 1863, Stoke is the oldest club in the Premier League, and the second oldest professional football club after Notts County.

Stoke play their home fixtures at the Britannia Stadium, a 28,000 all-seater stadium. The stadium was opened in 1997; prior to this date Stoke had played at the Victoria Ground, which had been their home ground since 1878 (a record of 119 years currently shared with Wolverhampton Wanderers). The club's nickname is The Potters (after the pottery industry in Stoke-on-Trent) and its home kit consists of a red & white vertical-striped shirt with white shorts and white socks.

Prior to their 2008 promotion, Stoke had not participated in top flight football since the 1984-85 season, in which they were relegated with a total of 17 points, a record low total for twenty-one years. Stoke's first major trophy was won in the 1972 League Cup Final, when they beat Chelsea 2-1. The club have won the Football League Trophy on two occasions, firstly in 1992 and most recently in 2000.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wigan Athletics FC

Official Website : Wigan Athletics

Wigan Athletic Football Club is a professional football team based in Wigan, Greater Manchester, England. They compete in the Premier League, the highest division of football in England, in which they have been playing since their promotion from the Football League in 2005. Wigan's current spell in the Premier League is the only top flight run in the club's history. They play at the JJB Stadium, which they share with the rugby league club Wigan Warriors. The club is the youngest in its division, being only 76 years old.

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Middlesbrough FC

Official Website : Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough Football Club, also known as 'The Boro', are an English football club based in Middlesbrough, who play in the Premier League. Formed in 1876, they have played at the 35,100 capacity Riverside Stadium since August 1995,[1] their third ground since turning professional in 1889. They were founding members of the Premier League in 1992.[2] The club's main rivals are Newcastle United, and Sunderland.[3]

The club's highest league finish to date was third in the 1913–14 season and they have only spent two seasons outside of the Football League's top two divisions.[4] The club came close to folding in 1986 after experiencing severe financial difficulties before the club was saved by a consortium led by then board member and current chairman Steve Gibson.[2] Middlesbrough were controversially deducted three points for failing to fulfil a fixture against Blackburn Rovers during the 1996–97 Premier League season and were subsequently relegated.[5] They were promoted the following season and are now in their eleventh consecutive season in the top division.[2] Middlesbrough won the League Cup in 2004, the club's first and only major trophy.[6] The manager is former captain Gareth Southgate who was appointed on 7 June 2006.[7]

The club's traditional kit is red with white detailing. A white band across the chest, initially introduced in the 1970s,[8] has returned following a vote by the fans.[9] The various crests throughout the club history, the most recent of which was adopted in May 2007,[10] incorporate a lion rampant.

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Portsmouth FC

Official Website : portsmouth

Portsmouth Football Club is an English football club based in the south coast city of Portsmouth. The club is nicknamed Pompey , sometimes called 'The Blues' and their fans known as 'The Blue Army'. They play in the Premier League. The club is currently owned by the Franco-Russian-Israeli Alexandre Gaydamak. They are the current holders of the Barclays Asia Trophy and the FA Cup.

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Hull City A.F.C

Official Website : Hull City

Hull City Association Football Club are an English football club based in Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire. They play in the Premier League, with the 2008–09 season being the first time in their history participating in the top tier of English football. Founded in 1904, the highest position Hull City have finished in the English Football League was 3rd in the old second division in 1909–10, a feat they repeated in 2007–08 when they gained promotion from The Championship by beating Bristol City 1–0 in the play-off final at Wembley Stadium. Their greatest achievement in cup competitions came in 1930, when the team reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

The club play their home games at the KC Stadium in Hull. They previously played at Boothferry Park, but moved to their current home in 2002, with Boothferry Park set for demolition. They traditionally play in black and amber, often with a striped shirt design, hence their nickname The Tigers. The club's mascot is Roary the Tiger.
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Sunderland A.F.C.

Official Website : Sunderland

Sunderland Association Football Club is a professional association football team based in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, England, which plays in the Premier League. Sunderland have won six First Division titles and two FA Cups, seven of which being won before the Second World War, making them one of the most successful clubs in English football.

Prior to the Second World War, Sunderland were league champions six times: in 1892, 1893, 1895, 1902, 1913, and most recently in 1936, when they became the last team wearing striped shirts to win the league. They were elected into The Football League in 1890, becoming the first team to join after the league's birth in 1888. Sunderland stayed in the top flight until 1958, a record which only Arsenal, in 1992, surpassed. The club won their first FA Cup in 1937 with a 3–1 victory over Preston North End. Sunderland's only major triumph after the Second World War was the club's second FA Cup victory in 1973, when the club secured a 1–0 victory over Leeds United thanks to Ian Porterfield goal. They have a long-standing rivalry with local team Newcastle United, and the Tyne-Wear derby has been contested since 1898.

The club's home stadium is the Stadium of Light, an all-seater stadium with a capacity of 49,000 into which they moved in 1997 after leaving Roker Park in order to increase ground attendances. It is commonly likened to Benfica's Estádio da Luz, which translates into English as "Stadium of Light". The stadium originally held 42,000, but the capacity increased to 49,000 after redevolopment in 2000. It has hosted two England international matches, a friendly against Belgium in 1999 and its first competitive match against Turkey in 2003.

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