Soccer Tricks For Dummies

What’s that one moment in a football match that makes you sit up and take notice. Is it a long range goal, or a team goal coming at the end of 20 odd passes. Or is it some stunning piece of skill that leaves the opposition player for dead. Or should I say a dribble. Throughout the years, the most succesful players have also been the ones who are good dribblers. After all, if you can create space for yourself by fooling your opponent and then have considerable time and space to pick a pass, you are always going to be better than the ones who can’t do it. This article focusses on the different dribbling techniques, which enable these players to be called  genius. The below techniques are one of the most basic techniques used by footballers and does not take into account bizzare trickery from the likes of Ronaldinho or Henry.

1.) The Stepover – This is one of the most common dribbling techniques. In fact, it is so common now that defenders aren’t even fooled by this one. Still, if done at a quick pace, can leave a defender unsure as to which way the ball is going to end up. Basically the technique involves stepping over the ball multiple times without actually touching it. Over the years, players such as Robinho and Cristiano Ronaldo have perfected the technique, causing headaches for the defenders.

2.) The Roulette – Perhaps the most difficult trick amongst all. The player performing the trick stops the ball with one foot, puts the other foot over it, turns his body a full circle against the ball and uses the placed foot to turn the ball back into his way, all this within a couple of seconds. Zinedine Zidane and Juan Roman Riquelme were the players who could do it with effortless ease, sometimes performing a double roulette in one fluid motion.

3.) The Shoulder Feint – Perhaps the easiest trick to do. Drop your shoulder to one direction pretending that you are going to go that way, and when the defender is committed to that direction, swiftly change your direction to the other. It is a simple trick used by most players with varying degree of success.

4.) The Cryuff Turn – Invented by the inventor of Total Football, the Dutch master Johann Cryuff, it is a simple but extremely effective trick. This is perhaps the only trick which can be done either while running with the ball, or while receiving it. Fake a shot, but instead of shooting the ball, turn the ball the other way using the inside of your foot.

5.)  The Nutmeg – This is one technique which looks extremely simple, but at the same time, is extremely hard to master. Timing is everything in this technique as the player has to put the ball through the opposition player’s legs.

6.) The Elastico/Flip Flap – The coolest trick of them all. This one is bound to fool the opponent. In one single motion, the player takes a faint touch to one direction, puts the foot outside the ball and drags it to the opposite side. Ronaldinho and Zidane were the ones who could do it with unerring consistency and style.


Honorable mentions : The Rabona, Backheel pass


Is Wayne Rooney the Answer to United’s Midfield Conundrum

Ever since Paul Scholes decided to hang up his boots, questions about his successor have surrounded Sir Alex and Manchester United. Having tried Cleverly, Anderson, Giggs, Carrick and Fletcher in central midfield, Sir Alex is clearly not very confident in the choices he has in the middle of the park.  The latest name to be used in the much talked about position is Wayne Rooney. Rooney has started three matches in central midfield in a row for United now, with United winning all three of them. But Sir Alex can not rely upon Rooney to carry on in midfield for the rest of the season as it is clearly not his most favoured position.

Under Sir Alex, Rooney has transformed from being a child prodigy at Everton, to one of the most talented and most feared forwards in the world. And that is where he should be used

As such Rooney is not a typical number 9 in the mould of someone like Fernando Torres. He often drops deep in search for the ball and is not afraid to put in a shift every single match.  He has the ability to play quick one-twos with accompanying players,as on display in this goal.

He is also perhaps one of the top five long passers in the league at the moment. All these points suggest that he can play in central midfield and in Scholes’ position to be more specific. A player of Rooney’s calibre and commitment can certainly do so and he will do it, but shouldn’t.

One of the reasons is that it disturbs the balance of the team. No other player in the team, except Dimitar Berbatov is capable of playing as a lone frontman. However, with Sir Alex turning a blind eye towards the Bulgarian, he is left with Welbeck, Chicharito, Macheda, Owen and Mame Biram Diouf, in that order. None of these players has displayed the ability to play as a lone striker so far this season. The above point has been on display in the past three matches where United have scored just four goals with two of them being penalties and one being an own goal. Welbeck is a tireless runner but also looks a little out of ideas in tight situations. Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez has world class movement and poaching abilities but his link up play in and around the box leaves a lot to be desired. Macheda, Owen and Diouf have hardly featured this season in the league and would find their chances limited against such a stacked forward line.

The second reason being Rooney’s temperament. Although he wears his heart on his sleeve whenever he steps on the field for United, he has also had a bad behavioural streak throughout the years. It wouldn’t take much to flip his mood and Rooney in a bad frame of mind can be a menace for both the opposition and United as well. Can it turn out to be the latter, likely because over the years Rooney has shown inability to handle off field pressures and his performances have dipped whenever he has been involved in a controversy.
It can ultimately turn out to be a stop-gap solution by Sir Alex, but isn’t proving to be a master stroke at present. United probably should have signed a proper central midfielder during the summer transfer window and probably will do it during the winter window. But Sir Alex, being the keen team builder that he is should have thought and considered this situation before rolling the dice. With Wesley Sneijder looking out of reach now, it is perhaps up to Sir Alex and Rooney to sort out the situation.

With Manchester Clubs leading the pack, who will qualify for the other Champions League Places

Why they will

  • Arsene Wenger – The Frenchman is currently his 15th year as the manager of Arsenal, securing them Champion’s League qualification in 14 consecutive seasons, a feat unachievable for most of his contemporary managers. Even though Wenger does not have the same quality of players that he has had over the years, the Frenchman has enough experience to guide the ship through.
  • Robin Van Persie – RvP, as the fans call him, has been in breathtaking form for the Gunners this season and possibly the only truly World Class player left in the squad. If Arsenal aspire to win any kind of silverware this season they need to keep Van Persie fit throughout the season, which is a big task in itself, given the injury record of the Dutchman.
  • Team spirit – Arsenal are showing signs that they are finally through the tumultuous period of negativity that encapsulated the team at the start of the season. It is said that a man comes out stronger from times of adversity and Arsenal seem to be an example of that. The team looks far more closely knit than the previous season and it seems like the players have taken it upon themselves to prove the doubters wrong.
Why they won’t
  • Inexperience – Although Arsene Wenger went against his policy to sign older and experienced players this summer, Arsenal are still far from the finished product. Of the latest recruits Andre Santos has barely played in the Champions league while he was at Fenerbahce, while similar things can be pointed out against Yossi Benayoun and Per Mertesacker. Mikel Arteta has never had any experience in the competition. The rest of the squad has matured as compared to the previous seasons but still have an element of naivety in them.
  • Lack of quality – No matter how good the manager or the team spirit is, this Arsenal team clearly lacks the quality that has been Arsenal’s symbol over the years. The team boasts of only one name that can walk into any team in the world and that person is Robin Van Persie. Rest of the players, although talented, are not in the same bracket.
Why they will
  • Experienced squad – The current Chelsea team boasts of players such as John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole etc. who can be regarded as stalwarts of the competition. Add to that list Juan Mata, Fernando Torres, Alex and Essien and on paper they look like World Beaters.
  • Andre Villas Boas – Though Chelsea have faced a few torrid weeks over the past month, there can be no doubt that they are playing some of the best football in recent years. This is because of the new style of play introduced by their young manager Andre Villas-Boas. He has brought back a sort of dynamism to the Chelsea sidelines that was missing since the Mourinho era. His passion alone  is enough to spur players to perform better on the field.
  • Juan Mata – To single out one player is a bit of a hyperbole, but Juan Mata has proved to be the player that they had been missing since Gianfranco Zola. The Spaniard is capable of playing anywhere in midfield and has single handedly changed the way Chelsea pass the ball around the box. Chelsea need him to continue playing this way to ensure safe passage to the qualification round.
Why they won’t
  • Aging squad – This is somewhat contradictory to the above point, but the players pointed out above are all in their  early thirties. While there is no supplement for experience, there also isn’t one for speed. All these players have lost a yard of pace over the years and the midfield and defense looks terribly out of sorts against counter attacks. This was evident against Arsenal recently when they were defeated 5-3.
  • Fernando Torres – Roman Abramovich signed the Spaniard for 50 million pounds last season who has flattered to deceive so far. What proved to be the tipping point for Carlo Ancelotti, might prove to be the same for Villas-Boas as well.
  • Problems in defense – John Terry is susceptible to counter attacks, Bosingwa is a winger rather than a full back, Ivanovic has one customary dozing period per game, Petr Cech is no longer impenetrable, David Luiz has the style but not the game. Do I need to say more.
Why they will
  • Steven Gerrard – Liverpool’s talisman has been missing for the best part of the last one year, but is slated to make a return to the field within 2-3 week’s time. Gerrard’s presence brings a sort of flair to the midfield that is sorely missed in his absence. His ability to inspire his team to wins from unthinkable positions has contributed to cult status among the fans, who also seem to be at their best when their hero is playing for them.
  • Luis Suarez – The Uruguayan striker has arguably the best off-the-ball movement in the entire league. His ability to stretch play and drag defenders out of position has led to numerous chances for Liverpool this season. Gerrard’s return can help create a fruitful fulcrum for Liverpool ala the Torres days. If only Suarez could avoid unnecessary attention for his on field antics.
  • The Itch – Liverpool haven’t been part of the Champions League for three seasons now which is really uncharacteristic for the Merseyside club. The 2005 champions were one of the ever-present teams of the league till 2008, but have taken steps backwards since. The players and fans are desperate to return to the competition after their 3 year hiatus.
Why they won’t
  • Poor signings – While Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam, Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson all came with hefty price tags, none of them have so far fulfilled the promise that was expected of them. Andy Carroll moves like a wooden toy on the field while Henderson is being played out of position on the right flank. Frankly, more was expected of these players and they need to deliver fast.
  • Over reliance on Luis Suarez – The Uruguayan is comfortable either playing as the lone striker or as a second striker,  but  too much of Liverpool’s play seems to go through him. Mark him tightly and you have a fair chance that you can obtain a result out of the game.
  • King Kenny – Kenny Dalglish may be a legend at the club but that also has lent an air of complacency to the Scotsman’s demeanor. It is imperative that Kenny doesn’t take his position for granted and continues to better the team.
Why they will
  • Super fast football – Tottenham are arguably playing the best football in the league at the moment. The combination of quick passing and super fast wingers is proving to be too much for opposition teams to handle. Add to that the movement and guile of Rafael Van der Vaart upfront and you have a lethal mixture of pace and creativity.
  • Solid defense – For all that Spurs have going forward, the players upfront have the assurances that they have a solid defense at the back. Ledley King maybe a medical marvel but his game is good enough to add an air of calm and assurance to the Spurs rearguard. Willliam Gallas, Benoit Assou-Ekkotto and Younes Kaboul are more than able backups. Kyle Walker is one of the brightest young full backs in the game.
  • Hunger – Having tasted the sweet taste of Champions League in the previous season, the Tottenham players are eager to impress on the bigger stage once again. But they have to be cautious this time as over ambitiousness can only lead to downfall.
Why they won’t
  • Egos – Emmanuel Adebayor maybe one of the most moody players in the game, but he does have an ever-present ego. The Togolese international has had a history of tussles at his former clubs and is a whisker away from controversy all the time. Recently, Gareth Bale has also started showing Cristiano Ronaldo-esque tantrums on pitch, something never admired in the locker room.
  • Chelsea and Luka Modric – Luka Modric’s performances have attracted the likes of Chelsea, where Villas-Boas considers him as the alternative to Frank Lampard. The Blues have had a bid turned down during the summer transfer window but can certainly come knocking back during the winter. The summer saga affected the Croatian’s performance at the start of the season, something which Spurs can not afford during mid-season.
Why they can
  • Sticking to a plan – Alan Pardew has sensibly inculcated a system at Newcastle this season, that sees them play a very fluid 4-4-2 formation. Their first 11 had remained unchanged through the first 10 matches of the  season, giving them a consistency, missed by most teams.
  • Mean defense – Fabricio Coloccini and company have let in only 8 goals so far this season, lesser than top ranked Manchester City. Between the posts, Tim Krul is pulling off super human saves one after the other.
Why they won’t
  • Its just a bubble – While Newcastle deserve praise for their performance so far, even the most ardent fans will accept that it can prove no more than a bubble. The club is punching above its weight at the moment, but doesn’t have enough players of experience and quality to sustain the momentum.
  • African Cup Of Nations – The African Cup of Nations is scheduled to be held between December-January, a period when most of the teams lose their African players due to national commitments. Newcastle’s most effective players this season have been Demba Ba and Cheik Tiote, both of whom will be unavailable during this period.