Spanish Basketball: An Overview

Spain is a country often associated with a number of sports, no more so than football thanks to the continued global success and popularity of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as the national team’s World and European Cup victories in recent years.

One sport that appears to fly under the radar of those from outwith the country is the game of basketball. This week we will take a closer look at the nation’s game and provide an insight into Spain’s second most popular sport.

Within Spain there are a number of competitive leagues run by the Spanish Basketball Federation, with a range of teams from across the country competing regularly for the chance of silverware. The nation’s top division, the Liga ACB, also currently known as Liga Endesa is widely regarded as one of the most competitive and highest quality national leagues across Europe.

Liga ACB is also one of the most well supported professional indoor sports leagues in the world, with an average attendance of 6,500 for league matches in the 2016/17 season, the ninth-highest of any domestic professional indoor sports league and the fourth-highest of any professional basketball league in the world.

The competition consists of 18 teams and follows the usual double round robin format, with each team playing one another both home and away during the course of the season from October to May each year.

Teams are ranked by total points, receiving one point for a win, and no points for a loss, with the eight highest-ranked clubs at the end of the season competing in a seeded playoff, with the winner’s crowned league champion. Sides who finish as one of the two lowest-placed teams are then relegated to the LEB Oro division and replaced by the top team in the second tier plus the winner of the playoff.

In addition to club level success, Spain’s national sides have also enjoyed success on the court themselves, with their last major title win in 2015 at the European championships. Currently, the men’s side are second in the FIBA World Rankings, bettered only by the USA.

 

FC Barcelona Lassa

FC Barcelona Lassa, part of the FC Barcelona multi sports club, was founded on 24 August 1926, and is the oldest member of the Liga ACB. The team plays its home games at Palau Blaugrana, located at the famous Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona. The arena, opened in 1971, also plays host to the club’s roller hockey, futsal, and handball sides.

The club competes domestically in the Liga ACB and is an ever present in the prestigious EuroLeague. Barca have won several accolades in its time, including seven of the last thirteen ACB championships, and in 2003, completed a Liga ACB, Copa del Rey (Spanish Cup) and EuroLeague triple crown.

FC Barcelona has played in a total of seven EuroLeague Finals, with the last one being their 2010 win. In 2017/18, they finished third in the domestic league and won the Copa Del Rey.

Real Madrid Baloncesto

Real Madrid Baloncesto is a Spanish professional basketball team that was founded in 1931, as a division of the Real Madrid C.F. multi sports club. Like Real Madrid’s football side, the basketball team has been the most successful club in both Spain and Europe.

Madrid have won a record 34 Liga ACB championships, including in both a 7-in-a-row and 10-in-a-row sequence. They have also won a record 27 Spanish Cup titles, 10 EuroLeague Championships, and 4 Saporta Cups.

The side play their games at WiZink Center, an indoor sporting arena located in Madrid, with a capacity is 15,000 people. The 2017/18 season was another year filled with success, with the team winning the domestic league and EuroLeague double and finished runners up in the Copa Del Rey.

 

Club Deportivo Saski-Baskonia

Baskonia are a side based in Vitoria-Gasteiz, in the North of Spain. Historically, Baskonia are another team who have experienced domestic success over the years, winning three ACB championships, six Spanish Cups and four Spanish Supercups in its time.

On a European level, Baskonia are one of the most recognisable teams with an ever presence since the 2000/01 season. Although Baskonia are yet to win a EuroLeague title, the club has been runners up on two occasions, in 2001 and 2005. In 2016, they returned the EuroLeague semi-finals for the first time in eight years but were defeated after overtime by Turkish side Fenerbahce.

Baskonia’s last major achievement came in the 2009/10 season, defeating FC Barcelona to win the Liga ACB title. In 2017/18, the team finished second in the Liga ACB, and got to the quarterfinal of the Copa Del Rey and EuroLeague.

 

For more information on Trans World’s Basketball Development Tours, visit our dedicated basketball page here or enquire now!

 

La Liga Preview 2018/19

With the new La Liga season kicking off last weekend, today we will be taking a closer look at Spain’s big three; Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid and what we can expect from each side in the campaign ahead.

 

BARCELONA

Current league champions Barca will be looking for another successful season, with trophies targeted in all competitions. The Catalan club have already bagged the Spanish Super Cup defeating Sevilla 2-1 earlier in the month and opened their title defence with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Alaves at the Camp Nou over the weekend.

Newly appointed club captain and star man Lionel Messi has already vowed that his side will do everything possible to return the Champions League trophy to the club, the first time since 2014-15 season. Last year’s shock exit at the hands of Italian side Roma slightly over shadowed an otherwise successful domestic campaign.

New Signings:

In order to achieve their desired goals, Barca have made a couple of high profile signings to boost an already illustrious first team squad.

Brazilian attacker Malcom arrived in rather controversial circumstances in a £40 million move from French side Bordeaux. The player had been set to sign for last year’s nemesis Roma and had flown to the Italian capital, however a last second hijack bid from the Spaniards was enough to secure the signing. Malcom, 21, is seen as a top prospect, with his pace, trickery and eye for goal sure to make him a successful addition.

Arturo Vidal is another player sure to play a key role this season. The ex-Bayern Munich midfielder had seemingly fallen out of favour at the Allianz Arena and has thus sought a new challenge. Vidal, who has the ability to control a game with his wide range of passing, box to box running and tough tackling, could be a real steal for the Catalan’s with a transfer fee of just £18 million.

One player who will not be gracing the hallowed turf this season however is Andreas Iniesta. The midfielder leaves Barcelona after 22 magical years, following his progression through the academy to club captain and international icon. Iniesta, a World Cup winner with Spain, won nine La Liga titles, four Champions League’s six Copa del Rey crowns during his time.

 

REAL MADRID

Real Madrid begin the new season with many questions still looming following a summer of high profile exits. Ex-player and manager Zinedine Zidane’s decision to step down from his role at the club despite leading Madrid to a record third-successive UEFA Champions League was a shock. This news was overshadowed, however, by the news that star forward Cristiano Ronaldo would also be leaving the Santiago Bernabéu. The five-time Ballon D’or winner moved to Juventus in a £105 million deal, leaving many Madrid fans fearing the worst after losing arguably the world’s best player over the past decade. The Portuguese captain departs following nine years in the Spanish capital and an array of on-field success including four Champion’s League successes, leaving very big boots to fill.

New Signings:

While Madrid have so far failed to sign a recognised replacement for Ronaldo, they have made a few additions to the side.

Their hunt for a new first choice goalkeeper was finally completed with the arrival of Chelsea shot stopper Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian, previously of rivals Atletico Madrid, signed a six-year deal following a fee of around £35 million. Madrid, who had previously been linked with Manchester United keeper De Gea, turned their attention to Courtois once it was made clear the Spaniard would not be allowed to leave Old Trafford.

Another player who has arrived at Madrid this summer is Vinicius Junior. The young Brazilian forward will finally link up with his team mates after agreeing to join the club last season in a delayed £40 million transfer from Flamengo. Perceived as a potential long-term replacement for the departing Ronaldo, the youngster may have to step up to the plate quicker than anticipated to fill the vacant void. With stars such as Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio and Isco around him however, Vinicius should have the perfect platform to develop into a top talent.

 

ATLETICO MADRID

Another team hoping to compete for silverware this season is Atletico Madrid. Often overshadowed by rivals Real, Atleti will hope to pounce on the uncertainty surrounding the Bernabéu. Unlike Real though, Diego Simeone has been able to keep hold of his star men, something as valuable as any new signing. Frenchman Antoine Griezmann has been subject of continuous speculation over the past few years with some of the worlds biggest clubs including Barcelona and Manchester United interested in the forward. Defender Diego Godin was another key member of the team also heavily linked with a move away from the Wanda Metropolitano however, along with Griezmann, both have committed their futures to the club with the signing of new contracts.

New Signings:

As well as retaining current players, Atletico Madrid have also strengthened in key areas with the aim of competing with both Spain, and Europe’s best.

One area clearly identified by Simeone requiring improvement was on the wings, with two of Europe’s highest rated wide men joining the club over the summer break. Firstly, Thomas Lemar joined from Monaco, fresh of the back of winning the world cup with France. Another graduate of the highly established Monaco development system, Lemar had been linked with moves to most of the continents biggest sides. However, it was Atleti’s offer of £70 million that secured his services on a five-year deal.

The second winger to arrive was Portuguese midfielder Gelson Martins Following a club incident last season, Martins became on of a number of high-profile Sporting Lisbon players to have their contracts terminated upon request. Alert to the situation, Atletico were quick to pounce, signing the pacey international on a free transfer.

Premier League Preview 2018/19

With the 2018 World Cup over, attention once again returns to the new domestic campaigns and the hotly anticipated English Premier League, with some big results in week one of the new season.

In what will surely be the most competitive season in recent years, many teams have strengthened significantly to achieve their desired goals. Here we will provide a predicted final table, with an insight into each team, key men and new signings:

  1. Manchester City

Last year’s champions, City took the league by storm with their free-flowing attacking football leading to many asking whether they are the greatest team to have played in the Premier League era. Pep Guardiola’s side possess quality throughout the pitch with great strength in depth which should stand them in good stead for the long season competing across four competitions.

New Signing: Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City – £60mil)

Mahrez finally completed his much-anticipated move to City. The Algerian winger was key to former club Leicester’s fairy tale league winning campaign collecting the PFA Player’s Player of the Year along the way and will add greater competition in the wide areas providing goals and assists.

Key Men: Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero

  1. Liverpool

Another team who received great plaudits for their attacking style, Jurgen Klopp’s men came agonisingly close to winning last season’s Champions League, beaten by Real Madrid in the final. Forward Mo Salah will be looking to continue his hot form, finishing as last season’s top scorer with 32 goals, 44 in all competitions. Elsewhere, the playing squad has been strengthened significantly over the summer with a number of key signings including Allison (GK), Fabinho (Midfield), Keita (Midfield) and Shaqiri (Attack) in the hope of ending the club’s trophy drought.

New Signing: Allison (Roma – £67mil)

Liverpool finally addressed the goalkeeping dilemma at the club with the arrival of Allison following shaky performances from pair Mignolet and Karius. The Brazilian international arrived from Italian giants Roma in a world record deal for a goalkeeper with the hope of shutting out opposition teams.

Key Men: Virgil van Dijk, Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino.

  1. Manchester United

Last season’s runners up, United will be looking to go one better this season and regain Premier League title they have won 13 times previously. Failure to do so may result in huge pressure on boss Jose Mourinho position, following large financial backing from the club’s owners in recent seasons. Fan’s will be hoping World Cup winner Paul Pogba can replicate the form shown for France at this summer’s tournament to fire his side to glory.

New Signing: Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk – £50mil)

Brazilian midfielder Fred made a big money move to Old Trafford as Jose Mourinho’s key signing. A box-to-box midfielder, Fred will aim to conduct the transition between defence and attack using his pace, passing ability and aggressive nature to dominate the centre of the park.

Key Men: David De Gea, Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez

  1. Tottenham Hotspur

Another season finishing in a Champions League spot, Spurs were expected to push on further to a possible league title challenge. However, Spurs became the first team in Premier League history to fail to sign a player during the summer transfer window. Despite this, one positive for manager Mauricio Pochettino is that the club were able to hold on to players such as Deli Alli and prolific striker Harry Kane who were linked with big money moves away from the club. The team are currently playing home matches at Wembley Stadium, with work ongoing to complete their new 62,000 capacity stadium, set to open later this year.

Key Men: Deli Alli, Christian Eriksen, Harry Kane

  1. Chelsea

Current FA Cup holders, Chelsea make a fresh start following the appointment of coach Maurizio Sarri. Previously of Napoli, the Italian gained a strong reputation with his side playing attractive attacking football which he will aim to emulate with the Londoners. Sarri himself however, has admitted that it could take time for the players to adapt to his style and so a league challenge this season could be a step too far. With players such as mercurial Belgian Eden Hazard, Chelsea are sure to still be one of the top forces this season.

New Signing: Jorginho (Napoli – £55mil)

Heavily linked to rivals Manchester City, Chelsea won the race for the midfielder’s signature, who follows the path of his manager arriving from Napoli. A deep-lying midfielder, Jorginho will look to pull the strings in the heart of the Blue’s side and should have no problem adapting to boss Sarri’s style.

Key Men: Cesar Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kante, Eden Hazard

  1. Everton

Following a slightly disappointing campaign, Everton have recruited significantly over the summer in an attempt to break into the top 6. As well as 6 new first-team players – including 4 on deadline day, Everton also appointed former Watford manager Marco Silva. Everton fans will be hoping their club can follow suit of neighbours Liverpool in once again challenging for domestic trophies as well as the return of European nights on the blue side of Merseyside.

New Signing: Richarlison (Watford – £40mil)

Brazilian attacker Richarlison took the Premier League by storm when he first arrived last season at Watford under coach Silva. Full of energy, pace and trickery, as well as a keen eye for goal, the wide man cause havoc for opposition defences and was crucial to Watford’s survival campaign.

Key Men: Jordan Pickford, Gylfie Sigurdsson, Cenk Tosun

  1. Arsenal

Life after Arsene Wenger begins at Arsenal following the Frenchman’s exit. Former PSG boss Unai Emery is the man tasked with rebuilding the side following a few years of disappointment and failure to qualify for the Champions League. Despite this, Arsenal failed to make a marquee signing during the window with Emery perhaps preferring to take a closer look at the players already at his disposal.

New Signing: Bernd Leno (Bayern Leverkusen – £22mil)

Highly rated German goalkeeping Leno arrived on a deal to provide much needed competition for number one Petr Cech after more than 300 club appearances in his homeland. With Cech coming towards the end of his career it is hoped that Leno can be the man to succeed for many years to come.

Key Men: Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

  1. Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace could cause a few upsets this season as they look to build of last year’s 11th place finish following several close relegation battles in previous seasons. A team full of pace, Palace can be particularly dangerous on the counter attack with the likes of Wilfred Zaha and Andros Townsend in the side.

New Signing: Max Meyer (Schalke – Free)

Highly rated German midfielder Meyer was available on a free following the expiry of his contract at Schalke. Once linked with moves to some of the world’s biggest clubs, Meyer has always aspired of playing in the Premier League and hopes to provide the Eagles with the creativity and goals from an advanced midfield role.

Key Men: Mamadou Sakho, Luka Milivojevic, Wilfred Zaha

  1. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Premier League new boys Wolves retuned to the top flight following their Championship success last season. The Wanderers have made a statement of intent with some eye-opening transfer signings as they look to cement their place amongst England’s elite. Midfielder Ruben Neves is a player to watch with some astonishing strikes last season.

New Signing: Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon – Free)

Portuguese international goalkeeper was one of a number of native recruits by manager Nuno Espírito Santo. The highly rated goalie arrived on a free transfer from Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon as one of a number of players who requested the termination of their contract following a club incident and should provide much needed solidarity at the back.

Key Men: Rui Patricio, Ruben Neves, Raul Jimenez

  1. West Ham United

Another club with high ambitions who have invested heavily in the playing squad over the off-season. Now Settled in their new stadium, fans expect the club to push on and aim for those much-coveted European places. Former Manchester City boss and Premier League winner, Manuel Pellegrini has been appointed to try and take the club to the next level.

New Signing: Felipe Anderson (Lazio – £35mil)

Brazilian attacker Anderson arrived at the London Stadium in a big money from Italian club Lazio following a 5-year spell. The attacker can both create and score goals with his versatile attacking talents and should excite the Hammers crowd.

Key Men: Manuel Lanzini, Mark Noble, Marko Arnautovic

  1. Watford

Watford began last year’s campaign with such promise but with reports linking then manager Silva with a move away from the club, the teams on field performances suffered and Silva was eventually sacked as the Hornets plummeted down the table. With the new season upon us however there is once again reason for optimism under manager Javi Garcia’s guidance.

New Signing: Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona – £11mil)

Watford completed the permanent signing of Deulofeu following a previous loan spell to provide some much-needed attacking quality, particularly following the sale of Richalison to Everton. The Spaniard will look to start the campaign with the type of form he showed on his last spell with the club.

Key Men: Abdoulaye Doucoure, Roberto Pereyra, Andre Gray

  1. Newcastle United

Following a long relegation battle last season, a remarkable run in resulted in Rafa Benitez’s side finishing in a impressive 10th place for their first season back in the Premier League. Off-field politics have threatened to derail the Magpies however with manager Benitez desperate for investment in order to push the club on.

New Signing: Salomon Rondon (West Brom – Loan)

Newcastle have been crying out for a striker since returning to the top flight and Benitez has finally been able to bring one in. Despite being relegated with West Brom last season, Rondon impressed proving to be a real handful for defenders. Wearing the famous Newcastle number 9, Rondon will be aiming to become a local hero.

Key Men: Jamaal Lascelles, Jonjo Shelvey, Ayoze Perez

  1. Leicester City

Leicester recent season is always going to struggle to live up to that magical campaign in 2015/16 where they won the league against all odds. Realistically, the club should be aiming to finish between around 6th and 10th place. However, with star player Riyad Mahrez joining champions Manchester City fans may be anxious about the upcoming season.

New Signing: James Maddison (Norwich – £22mil)

The youngster’s reputation continues to grow, rising from League 1 to the Premier League within 2 seasons. Big pressure will be on the midfielder’s shoulders to step up and produce the goals and assists left void by the exit of Mahrez.

Key Men: Kasper Schmeichel, Harry Maguire, Jamie Vardy

  1. Bournemouth

Bournemouth continue to defy expectations as they play their 4th straight season in the Premier League. The Cherries, under manager Eddie Howe, have adopted a footballing style that has led to him being tipped to become manager of some of the country’s biggest clubs as well as the national side in the future.

New Signing: Jefferson Lerma (Levante – £25mil)

Columbia midfielder Lerma joined the cherries from Spanish side Levante, becoming the clubs record transfer. The powerful midfielder will add a new dimension to Bournemouth’s midfield as they look to avoid getting dragged into a relegation battle.

Key Men: Nathan Ake, Ryan Fraser, Callum Wilson

  1. Fulham

Fulham are another of the teams returning to the Premier League after a few season’s in the Championship. Slaviša Jokanović’s side gained a reputation as one of the best footballing teams in the second tier scoring plenty goals and conceding few. Similarly, to other new boys Wolves, Fulham too have spent plenty money and time will tell on how far they can go this season.

New Signing: Alexander Mitrovic (Newcastle – £22mil)

Fulham completed the full signing of Serbian forward Mitrovic following a successful loan spell in the second half of the season. The strikers 12 goals in 17 games were crucial in Fulham achieving promotion and fans will be delighted to see him back at the club as they prepare for an exciting season.

Key Men: Jean Michael Seri, Tom Cairney, Ryan Sessegnon

  1. Burnley

Manchester City aside, Burnley were probably last season’s stand out team surprising everyone with their physical and direct approach as they finished in 7th position and qualified for the Europa League. Sean Dyche’s side have struggled to recruit though and with 4 competitions to compete in, their squad is looking a little light.

New Signing: Matej Vydra (Derby – £10mil)

Last season’s Championship top scorer, Burnley will be banking on Vydra to step up in the Premier League and fire in the goals required for a successful season. The Czech striker has previously spent time at Watford and Reading.

Key Men: James Tarkowski, Steven Defour, Chris Wood

  1. Brighton & Hove Albion

The Seagulls were tipped by many to be relegated last season, however narrowly avoided relegation mainly thanks to their ability to defend as a unit. Chris Hughton’s side will be hoping to be more competitive this year following the arrival of 10 new signings to the Amex stadium.

New Signing: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar – £17mil)

The attacking midfielder netted an impressive 21 goals in 27 appearances in last season’s Eredivisie scooping the golden boot award. Brighton fan’s will hope that he can provide the side with some much-needed attacking threat after scoring the 4th fewest goals in last year’s campaign.

Key Men: Glenn Murray, Pascal GroßDavy Pröpper

  1. Southampton

The saints flirted with relegation last season, narrowly managing to survive. However, it appears it may be another difficult year for the south coast club. Low expectations might work in their favor on the other hand and they are a team that could sneak under the radar.

New Signing: Mohammed Elyounoussi (Basel – £16mil)

Saint’s fans will be hoping they have a new cult hero in Elyounoussi. The attacker, who can play on either wing or through the middle scored 22 goals for swiss side Basel last season catching the eye of manager Mark Hughes who moved quick to bring him to St Mary’s.

Key Men: Ryan Bertrand, Nathan Redmond, Charlie Austin

  1. Huddersfield Town

Last season’s favourites for relegation, the Terriers defied all odds to survive in their first ever Premier League campaign. David Wagner is under no illusions that his side face a tough battle once again this season, with a good start is crucial to avoid playing catch-up later on.

New Signing: Adama Diakhaby (Monaco – £10mil)

Promising French under-21 international Diakhaby singed from Monaco to provide the spark going forward. Comfortable with both feet and possessing natural pace, Diakhaby could develop into a real talent but will need to adapt quickly to the Premier League.

Key Men: Christopher Schindler, Aaron Mooy, Elias Kachunga

  1. Cardiff City

A bit of a surprise in last season’s championship, Cardiff were tipped by very few as a promotion candidate. Definitely one of the favourites to return to the second tier, Cardiff appear to be lacking in Premier League quality and barring a big surprise, will probably go down.

New Signing: Josh Murphy (Norwich – £11mil)

A young prospect who has featured at England youth level, Murphy is an exciting and pacey player who manager Warnock will be looking to develop into a key member of the Cardiff side and will be crucial in an undoubted survival battle.

Key Men: Sol Bamba, Aron Gunnarsson, Bobby Reid

World Cup Final Preview

The summer of football is set to close in style as France take on Croatia in the World Cup final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Sunday afternoon.

Russia 2018 has been full of upsets, brilliant goals, counter-attacks and VAR debate over the last four weeks, as 32 nations from all four corners of the globe came together for the biggest World Cup ever.

It has been all of that and more as we have been treated to a tournament which was as exciting and enjoyable as anyone could have predicted.

There have been plenty of firsts in Russia: Panama scored their first ever World Cup goals, Manuel Neuer was punished for playing sweeper-keeper for the first time in the dying moments against Japan, Kieran Trippier picked the biggest game of his career to score his first England goal and Ally McCoist gave the British public a history lesson they never thought they’d get in his first stint as a World Cup commentator.

Panama celebrate their first ever World Cup goal.

As many of the big names fell by the wayside, France became the only pre-tournament favourite to deliver on the promise showed by the strength and depth of their star-studded squad.

Holders Germany fell at the first hurdle as Sweden and Mexico progressed from their group, Spain were edged out on penalties in the last 16 by Russia after a shambolic series of events left them scrambling for a new manager just days before their first game, while Brazil were defeated at the quarter final stage by a brilliant Belgium side in full flow.

With household names such as Anthony Martial, Alexandre Lacazette and Dimitri Payet left at home – proving just how strong French national football is at the moment – Les Bleus were tipped by many to build on their positive exploits at Euro 2016.

It is one thing to be tipped before a ball has been kicked and another to be lining up as World Cup finalists though. France deserve huge credit for the way they brushed aside Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium after emerging from the group stages.

Traditionally, to win the World Cup you need to get the better of at least two world class sides on the way to the final – France have achieved that and more with the scalps of three of the most talented teams on the planet.

Kylian Mbappe celebrates against Argentina.

In Kylian Mbappe France have the most exciting prospect in the world and he has not failed to deliver on the biggest stage of all. The big favourite to be crowned Player of the Tournament, Mbappe will top off an incredible year if he is on the winning side on Sunday.

At the centre of most of what France do going forward, Mbappe’s pace, power and skill has left pundits and viewers awestruck with the maturity and ability of a player who is still to celebrate his 20th birthday.

A man of the match performance in the game of the tournament so far, France’s 4-3 victory over Argentina in the quarter-finals, was followed up by a brilliant showing in the semi-final against Belgium. Whatever happens on Sunday, Mbappe is sure to be at the centre of the world game for years to come.

Croatia’s route to the final has been markedly different to their opponents. A strong start to the tournament saw them take three wins from three group games, including a 3-0 hammering of Argentina on a night that nothing could go wrong for Zlatko Dalić’s team.

Since then the Croats have had their work cut out to keep the World Cup dream alive as their side of the draw seemed to open up favourably for one of the ‘lesser’ nations to make their mark on the tournament.

Victories in the last 16 and quarter final against Denmark and Russia required extra time and penalties to set up a semi-final meeting with England. After 240 minutes of football there were doubts over Croatia’s ability to go the distance in the country’s first World Cup semi-final since defeat to Sunday’s opponents France in the semi-finals of the 1998 competition.

Croatia captain Luka Modric in full voice.

Inspired second half performances from Luka Modrić and Ivan Perišić took the game to extra time once more, with Croatia only the second team in World Cup history to have played 120 minutes in three consecutive matches at a single tournament – England in 1990 the only other to have done the same.

Talismanic striker Mario Mandžukić delivered the winner when it mattered in the second period of extra time to break English hearts and send Croatia to their first ever World Cup final.

An achievement that will undoubtedly go down as the greatest in Croatian sporting history, regardless of the outcome against France, the Croats have showed smaller countries around the world exactly what is possible in football.

With a population of just 4 million, the odds were stacked heavily against Croatia going into the tournament. However a combination of determination, ability and just the right amount of luck means they have a straight fight to be crowned world champions this weekend.

There is little doubt that France go into the final as favourites – their run to get there gives them this title deservedly – but Croatia have done more than enough to prove their worth. If the Croats can get Modrić, Perišić and Rakitić firing alongside Mandžukić we are in for a hugely entertaining game.

In a tournament which has been full of scalps and surprises, Croatia will be hopeful that there is one last upset on the cards in Moscow on Sunday afternoon.

Enjoy the game!

 

Top Five Champions League Group Stage Goals 2017/18

With the last 16 stage of the UEFA Champions League nearing its conclusion, we take a look back at some of the best goals from of this year’s group stage:

5. MARLOS vs. Feyenoord (01.11.17)

Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian-born Ukrainian attacking midfielder Marlos capped off a brilliant 3-1 win over Dutch side Feyenoord with a delightful finish on Matchday 4.

Following a slick passing team move, Marlos received the ball on the edge of the box with space ahead. The skilful midfielder then faked to shoot with his left before dragging the ball onto his right foot, leaving the opposition defender twisted and stumbling.

With the keeper fast approaching and the goal angle narrowing, Marlos kept his composure to produce an exquisite chipped shot that floated into the back of the net and sent the fans wild.

 

4. TOSUN vs. Porto (13.09.17)

In the opening game of group G, Turkish giants Besiktas travelled to play Porto at the Estádio do Dragão in what was to be an exciting match with the visitors winning 3-1.

The pick of the goals on that evening would come courtesy of Cenk Tosun. The Besiktas forward – now of Everton following a £27 million January move – received a pass around 30 yards from goal, opening his body and taking the ball on the turn.

With one touch to set himself, Tosun then unleashed a thunderous dipping effort at goal, rocketing into the top of the net leaving the keeper no chance.

3. EL SHAARAWY vs. Chelsea (31.10.17)

As two of Europe’s big hitters met in the Italian capital, many expected a close and intense affair. However, an outstanding individual performance from Stephan El Shaarawy compiled with 2 goals, sent the hosts on their way to a comfortable 3-0 victory.

A player renowned for his trickery, pace and moments of magic, the Italian forward opened the scoring with a beauty of a strike after just 38 seconds. A long ball forward towards Dzeko was knocked back to the edge of the box, where El Shaarawy was quickest to react.

Arriving at speed, he produced a wonderful piece of technique to strike the ball on the half volley with the outside of his foot, sending the ball spinning towards the top corner of the Chelsea goal.

 

2. BALE vs. Borussia Dortmund (26.09.17)

Plagued with injury since his move to Real Madrid in 2013, Bale has struggled to show his best form for the ‘Galacticos’, Bale proved he is still full of quality with an impressive finish in the match against Dortmund.

A highly anticipated clash in the so called group of death, containing three potential champions, the meeting at the Signal Iduna Park would be a crucial fixture for both. With the game poised at 0-0, Bale opened up the scoring in the 17th minute of his sides 3-1 victory.

Peeling away from his marker at the far post, the Welshman was found by an excellent cross from full-back Carvajal, Bale watched as the ball dropped over his shoulder before producing a magnificent side foot volley across the goal into the roof of the net.

1. GRIEZMANN vs. Roma (22.11.17)

In what was a must win game for his side, Frenchman Antoine Griezmann produced the goal of the group stages with an acrobatic overhead kicked to send his side to 2-0 victory to keep Atletico’s champions league dreams alive.

As the game ran on scoreless, both teams pushed for a breakthrough, however it was Griezmann’s moment of magic that put the Spanish side ahead. A break down the left found teammate Correa in a crossing position, who in turn lobbed a ball in towards the back post. Griezmann peeling off into acres of space found the cross slightly behind him. Brimming with confidence and undoubted technique the striker swivelled and produced an outrageous over head kick into the net.

 

 

Top Five Tips for a Fitter 2018

With a new year often comes resolutions and promises to get more active and to do more sport. If you’re struggling for motivation or needs some tips to help get you started, you’ve come to the right place – we take a look at our Top Five Tips for a Fitter 2018 in this week’s blog!

1. Do Manageable Amounts Each Day

The UK Government recommends that young people between 5 and 18 should take part in 60 minutes of moderate exercise every day – but it is important to remember that this is across an entire day! For instance, a brisk walk to school in the morning could count as 10-15 minutes of your daily exercise. Trying to do one hour of continuous exercise each day may not only tire you out more than it needs to, it could also become a chore every time you come to put your trainers on – so think about splitting your daily exercise up into smaller, manageable chunks to keep you motivated throughout 2018!

 

2. Exercise With a Friend

Exercising on your own can be lonely and demotivating at times, so why not try working out with a friend or classmate? By exercising in pairs or in a group you can share ideas and best-practise and keep each other on track throughout the year. A competitive edge when exercising will also help you reach your potential each day – why not set up a leader board between friends to see who can jump the highest, run the fastest or throw the longest?

 

3. Track Your Progress

In order to have an accurate idea of how well you’re doing from month to month it is helpful to keep a track of how you’re performing and feeling during exercise. How many minutes did it take you to run a mile on the treadmill in January compared to July? Are you getting quicker or slower? It is important to also track how you’re feeling physically and emotionally each time you exercise. Did you feel breathless after a game of football with your friends? Were you already feeling tired before you started because of a long day at school? It’s important to keep a note of these less numbers-focused in order to give some context to your fitness and performance from one week to the next.

 

4. Vary Your Routine

Everyone is likely to get bored doing the same things every day for a whole year, so it is helpful to mix up your exercise routine. A day of exercise doesn’t have to be spent in the gym all the time or in the park running for miles. A game of badminton with your friends, swimming with your family and a fitness lesson during PE are all very different forms of exercise but all count towards your daily goals – it’s important to keep this in mind when trying to keep fit in 2018!

 

5. Exercise With Music

Music is a great aid when it comes to exercise. From making a playlist of your favourite motivational songs to putting your headphones on in the gym or out in the park and running, jumping or diving to the beat, it’s a brilliant way to keep you in the right frame of mind. Whether you’re playing a game of basketball in a gym hall with the speakers booming or out on a run on your own, a musical accompaniment is the ideal catalyst to you achieving your exercising goals in 2018.

Trans World Become Greater Manchester Schools FA Headline Sponsor

Trans World Educational Experiences are excited to announce a new partnership with Greater Manchester County Schools Football Association, which will see TWEDEX become Headline Sponsor.

The new partnership will mean a percentage of every Trans World school trip fee is given back to the Manchester County Schools FA Development Fund, ensuring meaningful long-term support for the schools’ game in Greater Manchester.

The deal also sees members of the Greater Manchester County Schools FA benefit from exclusive offers and opportunities through Trans World, including an exciting Strips4Trips campaign which will entitle schools to a free set of strips when they sign up for any overseas development tour before 28th February 2018.

Trans World Educational Experiences creates sports journeys that excite, empower and inspire young minds. Our tailor-made sports-education experiences provide a global-perspective, complement and enrich the curriculum, and leave a lasting impact on participants’ future development.

Each Trans World trip combines professional training, challenge matches and live sport with educational elements such as team building and media education, enabling students to develop their character and enhance their physical and mental skillset through a range of bespoke activities.

All trips are organised in collaboration with some of the world’s most established sporting clubs and institutions from football and basketball to rugby, netball and dance.

To date, Trans World has successfully delivered more than 2,500 trips for 600 schools across the United Kingdom, Europe, United States and the Middle East, giving over 70,000 children and young adults the experience of a lifetime.

Michael Pentland, regional manager at Trans World, said: “Everyone who has played sport at school knows how important it is for the continued development of young people throughout their education. We are really pleased to be able to give back to school sport and this partnership secures our commitment to that.”

“The Greater Manchester County Schools FA does a brilliant job each year on a voluntary basis, and we’re delighted to be working with the GMCSFA and their partner schools to give something back to the grassroots game in Manchester and the north-west.”

Mark Shackleton, of the Greater Manchester County Schools FA, is pleased to have joined forces with Trans World. He feels there are a number of synergies between both organisations and he is enthusiastic about the “unique and memorable experiences” Trans World will offer students and staff.

He said: “By combining our proven expertise in creating an experience beyond the classroom, extra curriculum service operations with Trans World – the leading provider within this area – we can deliver additional value for our schools’ programme.”

“We believe that this partnership will create a unique and memorable experience and enable our players to experience world football through domestic or international competition.”

Premier League Summer Signings Reviewed

With the Premier League nearing one of its most crucial stages – the busy Christmas period – we’ve taken a look at how some of the league’s high-profile summer additions are settling in at their new clubs.

Alexandre Lacazette

A staggering £52 million signing from Ligue 1 side Lyon in the summer, Alexandre Lacazette was the big money singing that Arsenal fans had been crying out for in recent years. The striker appears to have moved ahead of countryman Olivier Giroud as Arsenal’s first choice striker this season and he will be of huge importance in the Gunners’ fight for a place in the Champions League next term.

Interestingly, Lacazette has only completed 90 minutes on one occasion in the Premier League this season – arguably to be expected with the strength of Arsenal’s forward players – but with the price tag Lacazette commanded you could say he should be given the chance to complete matches in full.

When he has played, the Frenchman has made a commendable impact – with six goals in 12 league appearances so far in 2017/18 and he will be looking to continue his goal scoring form as the season progresses.

A modern-day centre forward, Lacazette can hold the ball up for midfield runners, link play with his feet and head, run in behind when needed and apply the finishing touch to a trademark Arsenal move when called upon.

Ederson

The plight of Manchester City’s goalkeepers was grabbing more headlines than the rest of the side combined during parts of the 2016/17 season. With Joe Hart, Willy Caballero and Claudio Bravo all staking a less-than-convincing claim for the number one jersey over the course of Pep Guardiola’s first year in charge there was heavy pressure on £34.7 million signing Ederson to do the business between the sticks.

Much of the talk has been about the free-flowing attacking football which has seen Manchester City stride to the top of the Premier League this season and it is easy to overlook the good work being done by Ederson at the other end of the pitch. With seven clean sheets in City’s opening 12 games, the Brazilian – alongside his defensive colleagues – is giving the side’s attacking players a very solid base to work from.

In comparison, last season Manchester City claimed only three clean sheets in their opening 12 Premier League fixtures. Levels of trust in a defensive unit are key to the success of the creative players in any side and it is clear that the addition of Ederson has been pivotal in Manchester City’s levels of success so far this season.

Alvaro Morata

A player who thrives off playing on the shoulder of the last defender, Alvaro Morata has already shown this season that he has the quality to fire Chelsea towards the top of the league.

With the high standard of delivery from Marcos Alonso and César Azpilicueta to rely on, Morata is reaping the rewards of his excellent movement in and around the box – most notably against Stoke City and Manchester United, where the Spaniard notched a hattrick and scored an impressive headed winner respectively.

Eight goals and four assists in 11 Premier League games makes it clear that his move from Real Madrid has been a masterstroke from Antonio Conte and one which Chelsea fans will be hoping helps them on their way to reclaiming their domestic title. Morata is likely to be an instrumental part of the plans for both Chelsea and Spain over the next seven months.

Romelu Lukaku

One of the most talked about signings of the summer window, on his move from Goodison Park to Old Trafford Romelu Lukaku was dubbed as a replacement for the outgoing Zlatan Ibrahimovic by many across the country. As the situation would eventually unfold, the Swede is back under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho after recovering from a knee injury and could partner Lukaku up front for United this season.

In Ibra’s absence, Lukaku has made a strong start to his Manchester United career with eight goals in 12 Premier League starts – making him an instant hit with the United fans.

Some of Lukaku’s critics would say that he doesn’t work hard enough at times and this is understandable when things aren’t going to plan during matches, he can be an easy player to scapegoat given the hype that has surrounded his arrival since the summer.

However, the Belgian is an undoubted goal scorer and could be the difference between Mourinho’s side putting up a meaningful challenge for the league title this season and another scrap for a third and fourth place finish.

Mo Salah

A signing which excited the majority of Liverpool supporters during the summer, Mo Salah has contributed an impressive nine goals in 12 Premier League games as well as four in four in the Champions League so far this season.

As the club’s record signing, the Egyptian is making waves at Anfield at a rate not seen since Luis Suarez’s departure for Barcelona in 2014. Left-footed Salah operates mostly on the right-hand side of Jurgen Klopp’s frontline – with Roberto Firminio and Sadio Mane joining him in an exciting attacking trio.

Salah has pace to burn and a directness which puts defenders instantly on the backfoot. With the skill and technical ability to match Salah has contributed heavily towards the side’s success the season.

With Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane alongside him as the first names on the team sheet this season it isn’t an exaggeration to suggest that Salah has been the Premier League signing of the season so far.

Trans World Team Up With Kent Schools FA

Trans World Educational Experiences are delighted to announce our position as the official Sports Development Tour Partner of the Kent Schools FA.

The new partnership will see a percentage of every Trans World school trip fee given back to the Kent Schools FA Development Fund, ensuring important lasting support for the schools game in Kent, Medway, Bexley and Bromley.

The deal will also allow members of the Kent Schools FA to benefit from exclusive offers and opportunities through Trans World, including an exciting Strips4Trips campaign which will entitle schools to a free set of strips when they sign up for any overseas development tour.

Trans World Educational Experiences creates sports journeys that excite, empower and inspire young minds. Our tailor-made sports-education experiences provide a global-perspective, complement and enrich the curriculum, and leave a lasting impact on participants’ future development.

Each Trans World trip combines professional training, challenge matches and live sport with educational elements such as team building and media education, enabling students to develop their character and enhance their physical and mental skill set through a range of bespoke activities.

All trips are organised in collaboration with some of the world’s most established sporting clubs and institutions from football and basketball to rugby, netball and dance.

To date, Trans World has successfully delivered more than 2500 trips for 600 schools across the United Kingdom, Europe and the Middle East, giving over 70,000 children and young adults the experience of a lifetime.

Scott Macfarlane, co-founder of Trans World, said: “At Trans World we are committed to the continuous development of young people through sport. We are aware of the importance of school sports to the growth of students throughout their education.”

“The Kent Schools FA does a great job each year on a voluntary basis, and we’re delighted to be working in partnership with this great organisation and their partner schools to give something back to the grassroots game across Kent in the surrounding areas.”

To find out more about Kent Schools FA and the work they do across the area, visit their website here.

Adidas Reveal World Cup 2018 Shirts

Adidas have revealed the much-anticipated World Cup kits for a number of their national teams this week. At Trans World we’ve taken a look at some of the best ones.

Germany

World Cup holders Germany have revealed a showstopper of a kit for the defence of their crown in Russia next summer. A monotone take on West Germany’s Italia 90 strip, the black and white shirt features the gold World Cup winners badge in the centre of the iconic silhouette design. The likes of Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller are set to don the shirt as they defend their World Cup crown.

Trans World rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Colombia

Undoubtedly one of the shirts which catches the eye the most in Adidas’ latest release, Colombia shirt is sure to be popular with fans from across the world in Russia next year. Their trademark yellow shirt is supplemented by red and blue stripes coming inwards from the shoulders to create a dramatic finish to the front of the shirt. The Colombia kit also pays homage to a bygone era, with the 2018 release very similar to their 1990 World Cup shirt.

Trans World rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Spain

Spain’s new kit includes a striking pattern down the right-hand side of the shirt, a homage to their 1994 World Cup kit worn by the likes of Pep Guardiola and Fernando Hierro. The rest of the shirt remains classically and recognisably Spanish. Kit designers Adidas have said that the diamonds on the shirt represent the ‘speed, energy and style of football that’s become so associated with the national team.’

Trans World rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Japan

Japan’s national team are set to make their sixth appearance at the World Cup finals in Russia next summer, and they will be decked out in a very impressive kit when they do so. An iconic dark blue shirt is complemented by a series of white vertical stitch marks across the body, with white Adidas stripes running along the shoulders of block colour navy blue sleeves. The shirt is undoubtedly one of the most stylish designs to come from Adidas’ latest release.

Trans World rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Belgium

Another shirt inspired by a retro design, the Red Devils’ World Cup 2018 kit resembles that worn in the 1984 European Championships in France. The red and yellow colourway makes the Belgium kit instantly recognisable, with the national team badge in the centre of a diamond pattern. The iconic Adidas stripes are subtly included under the arms of the shirt in darker shade of red.

Trans World rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️