Saturday, December 28, 2013

Realistic Possibilities for the January Transfer Window

Why this guy won't be leaving anytime soon
With the January transfer window just a few days away, it seems almost natural to hear media speculation of the leagues biggest superstars changing clubs until said superstar signs a new contract with the club as if nothing ever happened (ex. Luis Suarez). While it was very possible for Suarez to make a move from Anfield, he even wanted to move himself. Now that Liverpool is within a fighting chance with Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, there is no reason he would leave unless a super club like Bayern Munich came calling and even then you might have to pay Cavani money if you want to get him.

Diego Costa is also another superstar who is being pegged to move to (insert your favorite club here) and what is crazy about it is he has not said a word about leaving Atletico Madrid. Although there is every reason for a soccer fan to want Costa on their team, the recently declared Spanish international has scored 23 goals in as many games this season and has clearly replaced Radamel Falcao who transferred to Monaco in the summer. The difference between Costa's situation and Falcao's is his predecessor was not tied with Barcelona for first place in La Liga. Why would Costa want to leave to a team who's 7th place (Manchester United) or to other teams in the Premier League which he has to face major competition at striker. Only realistic option in my opinion is Chelsea with their problems at striker but if there is any chance of Diego Costa leaving it will be in the summer.

Now let's get to the players who have a chance of leaving in the transfer window starting with this guy down here:

Angel Di Maria, Midfielder - Real Madrid / Argentina
Playing for Real Madrid might be one of the toughest things to do in sports. No matter how good you are, you always have a chance of getting replaced, ask Iker Casillas. Angel Di Maria has saw his playing time reduce with the record breaking arrival of Welshman Gareth Bale and in a World Cup year might have to take drastic measures in finding a new club just like Mesut Ozil, Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Callejon before him. Di Maria is an good dribbler and excellent crosser of the ball, he is extremely versatile; can play on both wings as well as centrally which he does for Argentina. Real Madrid would love to keep him and although Di Maria denied rumors of moving to different clubs, a transfer for him would make a lot more sense.

Julio Cesar, Goalkeeper - Queens Park Rangers / Brazil
Moving to QPR might have been the worst career move in Julio Cesar's life. After getting relegated to the Championship, Julio Cesar's only appearances this season have been for Brazil. His club manager Harry Redknapp has given Julio Cesar permission to leave QPR with rumors of him heading back home in Brazil. I can be 99 percent certain that Julio Cesar is leaving January and he has to for Brazil manager Felipao to pick him in the World Cup squad.

Kevin De Bruyne, Midfielder- Chelsea / Belgium
After having a nice early season run for Chelsea, Kevin De Bruyne has been in the doghouse at Stamford Bridge and has been frustrated with his lack of first team appearances and might be on the move January to secure a World Cup place for Belgium. After having a successful loan at Werder Bremen last season, De Bryune might see a move back to the Bundesliga, permanently this time.

Jackson Martinez, Forward - FC Porto / Colombia
Since joining Porto, Jackson Martinez has scored 38 goals in 40 appearances for the Portuguese club. With Porto's elimination for the Champions League and a couple of teams needing strikers, Martinez has a chance to cash in and move to a bigger club. This Colombian is Falcao's strike partner in International play and boasts similar traits, he knows how to sniff out chances and turn them into goals and also is a threat in the air. Borussia Dortmund might be an option here trying to adjust to a future without Robert Lewandowski as well as clubs; Arsenal, Chelsea and Inter among others.
Marc Andre ter Stergen, Goalkeeper - Gladbach / Germany
Some of you might know Marc Andre ter Stergen from this, others might know him as one of the best goalkeepers in the world at just 21 years old. He has been linked to Barcelona forever now, but with Victor Valdes set to leave Barcelona in the summer, the young German international looks certain to head to Camp Nou and be their first choice goalkeeper. Barcelona has also been linked to Thibaut Courtois but there is no chance Jose Mourinho is letting him leave. Barcelona might go for Marc Andre te Stergen in the summer but could land him as early as January.
Ivan Rakitic, Midfielder - Sevilla / Croatia
His name has been circulating through nearly every team in the Premier League and rightfully so as he has been excellent this season for Sevilla creating 7 goals and 6 assists in 15 appearances for the Spanish side. However Sevilla is dealing with a financial crisis and may have to offload players to get out of debt. Sevilla is also sixth in the La Liga a way off from the top four, in order to further progress his career, Rakitic has to move to a bigger club. Because of these reasons, this might be another likely transfer and will provide mutual benefit for both parties. Sevilla sold Alvaro Negredo to Manchester City in the summer, Ivan Rakitic may be on the move as well.

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day NBA Preview

Before I get started on this, what is up with the short sleeve shirts? NBA Jerseys suppose to be JERSEYS not v-neck colored T-Shirts with a team logo on them being sold for 109.95. I don't know but that is just me, so while we have this T-shirt festive NBA Christmas there are a load of games to get underway some games are probably not gonna be good as advertised due to injuries(Bulls vs Nets) while others are a showcase of the top western teams (sans Portland) that will most likely be challenging the Heat or Pacers in the NBA Finals. Notice I didn't mention any other Eastern Conference team, notice that. Nonetheless this NBA Christmas T-Shirt Fashion showcase will give you a progress report on how these ten teams are faring. Oh and Merry Christmas.

Chicago Bulls(10-16) vs. Brooklyn Nets(9-18) 12:00 PM EST Barclays Center
This season is not going as advertised for both teams.
Probable Lineups
PG: D.J. Augustin SG: Mike Dunleavy SF: Jimmy Butler PF: Carlos Boozer C: Joakim Noah
Key Backups: Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson, Tony Snell
Notable Injuries: Derrick Rose (Torn Meniscus), Luol Deng (Achilles)

PG: Deron Williams SG: Joe Johnson SF: Paul Pierce PF: Kevin Garnett C: Andray Blatche
Key Backups: Jason Terry, Mirza Teletovic, Shaun Livingston, Reggie Evans, Alan Anderson
Notable Injuries: Brook Lopez (Broken Foot)

This playoff rematch was suppose to be better than advertised, unfortunately with a few key injuries it is only fitting this happens to be the first game of the holiday. Chicago will be lucky to have back both Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich as they practiced Tuesday after battling injuries of their own.
The Nets despite losing their leading scorer Brook Lopez for the season is surprisingly in better health than usual with Deron Williams' ankle injuries hopefully behind him as well as Paul Pierce and KG back to a full bill of health. The problem still is the huge decline of Kevin Garnett as he is really looking like a shell of his former self even compared to last year and life would not be made easier going against his former assistant coach Tom Thibodeau and his stifling defense. Paul Pierce had some much needed rest coming off an ejection for a clothesline on Pacers guard George Hill. He will also face a tough task as Jimmy Butler is one of the better perimeter defenders in the NBA. 
Although D.J. Augustin has been solid for the Bulls during the last two games, but at 6'0 183, he is too small to handle the 6'3 210 pound Deron Williams who might be too much to ask Kirk Hinrich to guard coming back from injury. Add to that more depth and home-court advantage, I don't think Jason Kidd wants to be embarrassed in the Barclays Center

Key Matchup: D.J Augustin vs. Deron Williams
Prediction: Nets

Oklahoma City Thunder(22-5) vs. New York Knicks(9-18) 2:30 PM EST Madison Square Garden
This guy will have to step up if New York is to stand a chance.
Probable Lineups
PG: Russell Westbrook SG: Thabo Sefolosha SF: Kevin Durant PF: Serge Ibaka C: Kendrick Perkins
Key Backups: Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, Nick Collison
Notable Injuries: Steven Adams (ankle)

PG: Beno Udrih SG: Iman Shumpert SF: Carmelo Anthony* PF:Andrea Bargnani C: Tyson Chandler
Key Backups: J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr., Cole Aldrich
Notable Injuries: Raymond Felton (Groin), Kenyon Martin (Abdomen), Metta World Peace (Knee), Pablo Prigioni (Broken Toe)
*Game Time Decision (Ankle, may not play)

When Cole Aldrich is labeled as a "key backup" you know you are in trouble. The Knicks injury list is as long as the yellow pages and star player Carmelo Anthony may not play due to popping his ankle against the Orlando Magic on Monday. 
After watching Melo play with a torn labrum in last season's NBA Playoffs I expect him to toughen up and play against OKC, but even a hundred percent Melo won't be enough to stop the 2nd best team in the Western Conference. 
Kevin Durant just keeps getting better as that gap between him and LeBron is getting tighter, Russell Westbrook will cause huge problems for New York's depleted backcourt and Mike Woodson would be crazy if he were to let Beno Udrih get the duties to guard him, but he might not have a choice. Andrea Bargnani hopefully will not make any more mistakes as the Knicks will have to rely on him as he can take Ibaka out of his comfort zone with his shooting range. 
Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb are young athletic guards coming off the bench that would cause more problems for that Knicks defense. This will be an easy win for Oklahoma City in Madison Square Garden.

Key Matchup: Kevin Durant vs. Carmelo Anthony
Prediction: Thunder

Miami Heat (21-6) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (13-15) 5:00 PM EST Staples Center
Kobe Bryant will miss Christmas Day for the first time since 1997.
Probable Lineups
PG: Mario Chalmers SG: Dwayne Wade SF: LeBron James PF: Shane Battier C: Chris Bosh
Key Backups: Michael Beasley, Norris Cole, Ray Allen, Chris "Birdman" Andersen
Notable Injuries: None

PG: Jordan Farmar SG: Jodie Meeks SF: Wesley Johnson PF: Shawne Williams C: Pau Gasol
Key Backups: Xavier Henry, Nick Young, Chris Kaman, Jordan Hill
Notable Injuries: Kobe Bryant (Knee), Steve Blake (Elbow), Steve Nash (back)

If only Kobe decided to make his comeback for Christmas.Some can argue that the Lakers have been better off without Kobe with coach Mike D'Antoni seemingly to finally have this Los Angeles team to play the way he wants to. 
For any non-Kobe obsesser, you have to love this team, its full of former NBA rejects and underachievers forming a squad that is just only three games away from playoff contention (over .500 before Kobe came back). Jodie Meeks, Xavier Henry and Nick Young can flat out score and if Lakers are to keep this game close they will have to provide most of the perimeter scoring. While declining Pau Gasol is still the best player on this team and needs to play that way. Jordan Farmar comes back for Christmas after nursing a torn hamstring but will be used in limited minutes. 
Wesley Johnson should be starting solely for the purpose of guarding LeBron, Dwayne Wade rested against the Atlanta Hawks and should be fully fit for Christmas. Chris Bosh will of course be a big factor as well. Heat will win this one although I have the Lakers making this game closer than we think.

Key Matchup: Chris Bosh vs. Pau Gasol
Prediction: Heat

Houston Rockets (18-11) vs. San Antonio Spurs (22-6) 8:00 PM EST AT&T Center
Is The Beard going to play?
Probable Lineups
PG: Jeremy Lin SG: James Harden* SF: Chandler Parsons PF: Terrance Jones C: Dwight Howard
Key Backups: Aaron Brooks, Francisco Garcia, Omri Casspi
Notable Injuries: Omer Asik (thigh), Patrick Beverley (hand), Greg Smith (knee)
*Game Time Decision (ankle)

PG: Tony Parker SG: Danny Green SF: Kawhi Leonard PF: Boris Diaw C: Tim Duncan
Key Backups: Manu Ginobili, Tiago Splitter, Marco Belinelli, Patty Mills
Notable Injuries: None

The state of Texas is not big enough for the two of them and this can be a possible Western Conference Final preview. Ankle injuries are spreading around like a disease and James Harden is hoping to play battling with one. James Harden would make a huge difference but his ankle will limit one of his biggest strengths and that is his dribble penetration.
 Have no fear Houston Jeremy Lin can provide that coming off a 20 point game against Dallas. All eyes will be on Dwight Howard if James Harden is limited and how would he perform against the NBA Finals runner ups with everyone watching? 
A clean bill of health for San Antonio and a plethora of three point shooters would be too much for Houston to handle. The key match-up will come down to utility men Chandler Parsons and Kawhi Leonard and what extra work would these two up and coming players will provide for their respective teams.

Key Match-up Chandler Parsons vs. Kawhi Leonard
Prediction: Spurs

Los Angeles Clippers (20-9) vs. Golden State Warriors (16-13) 10:30 PM EST ORACLE Arena
Who will win this brawl?
Probable Lineups
PG: Chris Paul SG: Jamal Crawford SF: Jared Dudley PF: Blake Griffin C: DeAndre Jordan
Key Backups: Darren Collison, Matt Barnes, Willie Green
Notable Injuries: J.J. Redick (wrist)

PG: Stephen Curry SG: Klay Thompson SF: Andre Igoudala PF: David Lee C: Andrew Bogut
Key Backups: Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Marresse Speights, Toney Douglas
Notable Injuries: Jermaine O'Neal (wrist)

Last time these two teams fought, Chris Paul put the team on his back and scored 42 points while also dishing 15 assists in a 126-115 win. 
Now these two teams meet in Oakland at the ORACLE Arena and the crazed Golden State crowd will not allow the Clips to steal one on the road. Oh and let me introduce you if you have not met them already, meet the Splash Brothers; Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson both of whom combined for 175 threes so far and is possibly the best shooting backcourt in NBA history. 
Clippers will be missing their hit-man J.J Redick for this three point shooting party and with Jamal Crawford starting at the two guard makes them thinner in the second team. 
The match-up of David Lee and Blake Griffin is interesting and don't be surprised if a flagrant foul or two is called. How much will defensive anchors DeAndre Jordan and Andrew Bogut affect this game. 
So many intriguing match-ups in this game but ultimately it comes down to Chris Paul and Steph Curry. The Warriors are one of the strongest home teams at 9-4 and will have a chip on their shoulder for what I feel would be the game of Christmas. 

Key Match-up Chris Paul vs. Steph Curry
Prediction: Warriors