The Top 10 Most Capped Players in World Football

The last count shows that 237 players have reached 100 caps for their country. Here I run down the top 10, but be warned, this list is not full of world famous footballing superstars, but they have all earned their positions on this list.

10. Martin Reim. Estonia. 157 Caps

The central midfielder holds his own record in being the highest capped player to have never played in the finals of a major national tournament. Having played the majority of his football in his homeland (and a brief spell in Finland), he’s not the most recognisable name on this list, however, he is something of a legend in his own country. Reim spent the majority of his career at the most successful club in Estonia, FC Flora Tallinn, and in 2010 he became their manager, leading them to back-to-back titles in his first two seasons in charge.

9. Sami Al-Jaber. Saudi Arabia. 163 Caps

Sami Al-Jaber has appeared in four World Cups and although Saudi Arabia never qualified from the group stage he managed to score 3 World Cup Finals goals. He was also the first Saudi Arabian player to appear in the Premier League when in the 2000-2001 season he joined Wolves on loan. Unfortunately, he made only the five appearances for Wolves due to a variety of reasons, including injury, the Asian Cup and international clearance issues and returned back to Al-Hilal where in total he spent the best part of 20 years.

8. Adnan Al-Talyani. UAE. 164 Caps

When Al-Talyani retired from international football in 1997 he was the record holder for most caps, and 15 years later he has only moved down to 8th. A one club man, he spent his whole 19 year professional career at the Emirati club, Al-Shaab, and has since been voted the United Arab Emirates’ player of the century.

7. Cobi Jones. USA. 164 Caps

Many of the older readers will remember the dreadlocked midfielder playing for Coventry City during the early years of the Premier League, whilst hardly anyone will recall his short spell in Brazil with Vasco de Gama. However, it was the 11 years he spent at LA Galaxy which he will be most remembered for, and his shirt number of 13 has been officially retired by the club.

6. Vitālijs Astafjevs. Latvia. 167 Caps

The highest European on the list, and another midfielder, Astafjevs career high point would have to be captaining his country at the 2004 European Championships. An 8 time Latvian League Champion, he tried his luck throughout the continent playing for 8 different clubs (with 4 spells at Latvia’s most successful club, Skonto Riga), including spells in Russia, Austria, and also over 100 games for Bristol Rovers (during which Rovers finished in their lowest ever league position, 23rd out of 24 in what is now League 2!).

5. Ivan Hurtado. Ecuador. 167 Caps

The only South American on the list, and still actively playing club football with Barcelona (of Ecuador), he has a chance of climbing this list, however, he was last selected for the national team back in 2010 when he himself admitted that after some poor performances others now deserved their chance. Hurtado is a centre-back who has played all over the world with spells in Mexico, Colombia, Qatar and Spain, and was linked to the Premier League after impressive performances in the 2006 World Cup. He also holds a couple of extra records, including the youngest player to be capped for Ecuador, and has appeared in more World Cup qualifying matches than any other player. [Read more…]


Fifa World Cup – Brazil

The 20th running of the Fifa World Cup takes place in Brazil, due to kick off on 12th June 2014 with the final scheduled to take place on Sunday 13th July 2014. The match schedule was announced in Zurich on 20th October 2011, with all eyes on Brazil endeavouring to take the showpiece when they kick off the tournament in Sao Paulo on Thursday 12th June. The qualifying groups have yet to be finalized and their opponents still to be confirmed. Brazil gain automatic qualification as the host nation and enjoy a trouble free run up to the tournament hand picking friendlies to boost moral ahead of the biggest tournament the country has ever seen.

Brazil have been installed as the 7/2 favourites with most bookmakers however some bookies are going as short as 3/1 with home court advantage. The bookies are already throwing the free bets at punters in anticipation of one of the biggest betting events of all time. It’s worth shopping around if you are going to have a bet and get some free betting cash to boost your returns.

Fifa World Cup

For UK punters the group matches are scheduled to kick off at 5pm, 9pm or 11pm with one group match pencilled in for 2am, so the majority of football fans will be able watch the games live after a hard day’s work.

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has a wealth of talent at his mercy with new and exciting youngsters coming through the ranks such as Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, commonly known as Neymar, who was voted the 2011 South American Footballer of the Year at the tender age of 19. Currently plying his trade with Santos, Neymar is on everybody’s watch list from Real Madrid to Chelsea and Manchester City.

Brazil are a big game team, their international form has been typically uninspiring as they rotate the squad, the recent 4 – 0 thumping of Bolivia on 6th April 2013 comes as a welcome boost after drawing against both Russia and Italy, prior to that failing to overcome both England and Argentina slumping to 2 – 1 defeats.

The attacking options are endless with the Highly regards Hulk, Fred, Leandro Costa, Osvaldo and the 19 years Leandro all fighting for first team places. The spine of the team is full of attack minded midfielders, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Ramires and Paulinho. Defensively they look a little light, however that’s generally never been much of a concern as the modus operandi is to attack.

With the weight of a nation behind them Brazil look good to carry the flag and reach the final, any backers should be handsomely rewarded. It may be worth playing on the betting exchanges and laying off your stake prior to the final as they will certainly be odds on to lift the trophy if they make it that far.


The ‘Not-the-best’ Team of the Premier League

Now, I didn’t want to call this the ‘worst’ team that could currently be selected in the Premier League as all these players are far better than I am and have achieved more in football than I ever will, however, they are performing in the top league in the world, and I just don’t think they are good enough. The selection below are players who I think are either past it, don’t have it, or never will have it at this level. This is what I think is the weakest selection of players that have played in the Premier League this season.

Goalkeeper – Kelvin Davis

Now, there are a few goalkeepers who haven’t had the best of starts in goal, Green, Federici and Given have all lost their starting positions this season, however, it’s Kelvin Davis who currently gets my vote. For Southampton to stay up, they will need a better goalkeeper and they will hope that Gazzaniga will be an improvement on the distinctly average Davis.

Right Back – Andy Wilkinson

Now, Gary Neville (and to a lesser extent Tony Hibbert) have proven that even if you aren’t technically the best player, if you work hard and put the effort in you can carve out a very successful career at right back. Unfortunately, Wilkinson has the same limitations as these players, he just decides to make up for what he lacks in thuggery. Wilkinson is a player who we just don’t need gracing the Premier League.

Centre Back – Clint Hill

On the same theme as Andy Wilkinson is Clint Hill, another player who just isn’t good enough for this level and performs more than his share of the dark arts to make up for his lack of ability. If QPR are to improve then they need him out of the starting 11 as soon as possible. What must Julio Cesar think? A couple of years ago he could look up and see Lucio and Walter Samuel helping Inter to knock Barcelona out of the Champions League… now he looks out and sees Clint Hill!

Centre Back – Jos Hooiveld

Hooiveld just looks like a Championship defender. He looks like this may be a step too far and having been injured during the drubbing at Arsenal he was replaced by Yoshida and the Saints got their first win of the season. A coincidence?

Left Back – Danny Rose

Now at Sunderland, Rose has a chance to show what he can do. He could quite quickly remove himself from this team, and he’s obviously quite highly rated, however, I can’t see why. As a left winger he doesn’t offer anything going forward, and as a left back he has never impressed. Add to this the fact that he asked to be substituted for Great Britain in the Euro’s because he felt tired it’s not exactly the type of attitude you want in a player. [Read more…]


Are Everton a stronger outfit than rivals Liverpool?

Liverpool and Everton has both always been huge clubs in English football history. Liverpool can always boast about the amount of success they have in terms of trophies, including five Champions League titles, but Everton have won their fair share of domestic trophies and are currently the longest reigning team in the Premier League. Liverpool last won the league title in 1990 and that seems a very long time ago now, but have come a close 2nd on a couple of occasions in the last decade.

The most recent was in the 2008/2009 season where Liverpool finished four points behind Manchester United. Since then, Liverpool has been on a decline and finds themselves further and further behind first place. Last season they finished in 8th position, even behind rivals Everton.

Going into this season, Liverpool first hopes and perhaps even remaining hopes was to finish in the top four, and reach Champions League football once again. In their first 5 matches, they have yet to find a win. They have had three home games, albeit against top sides, they have picked up just one point. In their two away games, they have picked up another point, as they sit in the relegation zone one month after the Premier League has started. Everton on the other hand have had a flying start to the season.

If you ignore their recent exit in the Capital One Cup to Leeds, they have been almost flawless in the league. They started their campaign by beating Manchester United, before cruising to victory at Aston Villa one week later. They had lost to West Brom, but bounced back with two decent performances and find themselves on 10 points, 8 more than Liverpool, and sit 3rd place in the table.

Who will finish higher between these two clubs this season then? Liverpool can’t buy a win at the moment, and struggling to find goals at the moment. Suarez is their only out and out forward, so they have no back up if he was to get injured. Everton have always had little funds, and even more so in recent seasons. David Moyes has done a splendid task but assembling a great squad at Everton this year. Jelavic starts his first full season, and has Belgium players Fellaini, one of the players of the season so far, and new signing Mirallas to support a dangerous looking front line. Stephen Pienarr’s return to Goodison Park looks a great one for the fans, as he continues to look impressive with fantastic vision and passion, and the ability to carry the ball. Everton have been solid defensively, and Baines at left back looks a top player at the moment.

It’s hard to say they have a better squad than Liverpool, but there seems a lot more positive energy in the Everton side than there is in the Liverpool side. Everton lost to Liverpool in all three matches last season, including the FA Cup semi, but it’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top in the head to head this year, and who will be leading the biggest challenge for the European places in the league this year.


Wayne Rooney’s back! A problem for United?

One of the biggest names in world football makes his return soon, how can that be a problem? If Rooney was missing for any of the season’s since Ronaldo left Manchester United then you’d have been right in thinking that the majority of United fans would be desperate for his return. He was top scorer in two of the last three seasons for the club with 34 goals each time and a key figure in the year in between. As of now though, there isn’t that sense of relief that he’s coming back, even his injury and layoff was met with a ‘oh well’ reaction.

Of course, the reason for this is that Rooney just doesn’t seem to be as needed as much as he has been in previous seasons. Even in the year where Dimitar Berbatov outscored him, it was Rooney who would play the big games with the Bulgarian normally watching from the bench. The reason for this current indifference to his return? Robin van Persie of course. Since the Dutchman’s introduction and Rooney’s injury caused by the studs of Hugo Rodallega, the Red Devils have won all four league games with Van Persie topping the Premier League scoring charts.

So what happens now? There are a few options for Ferguson. He can continue his one up front system, with Kagawa playing behind either Rooney or Van Persie or he can try them together. My personal opinion is that this is going to be a frustrating season for the English striker. With Van Persie already settled I can’t see Ferguson dropping him any time soon, and in the big games when Ferguson prefers his 4-5-1 formation, it’s going to be Van Persie leading the line, with Rooney either reverting to the wing like he did during Ronaldo’s last season (especially with Nani’s recent regression to the frustrating force he was before a couple of seasons ago), or, even finding himself on the bench.

Ferguson can quite happily play Rooney up front on his own, or pair him with Van Persie in the games United expect to win. However, when the blue half come visiting or they face a trip to the Emirates, I’d fully expect Van Persie to be the striker with his name at the point of United’s attack. Where does this leave Rooney? He is still an excellent player and 30+ goals last season is not to be sniffed at.

Ferguson can’t really leave one of the highest paid players in world football to kick his heels on the bench, but unless Van Persie gets injured, or they hit off such a partnership that Ferguson is happy to employ a 4-4-2 away at Stamford Bridge, then Rooney runs the risk of missing out on the big games. Hernandez and Welbeck may be reasonably happy to play bit-part roles from the bench and against the lesser teams, but Rooney happy with that? I don’t think so. Intriguing times ahead at Old Trafford.


Are long contracts the way forward for managers?

This week Alan Pardew, manager of Newcastle United, and his management team have joined chief scout Graham Carr in signing contracts with the club until 2020. That is a massive eight-year contract. Is that the way forward? Newcastle’s thoughts behind this are that Manchester United and Arsenal, arguably the two most successful clubs of the Premier League era, have been able to achieve what they have due to the stability gained by keeping a manager and his back-room staff for significant periods of time.

Ferguson has been at the Old Trafford club for nearly 26 years, during this time Newcastle United have had 23 managers (including caretaker managers), nearly one for each year. In this period Newcastle have won nothing, well, they have won the Championship (or First Division) twice, but to have done that, they’ve needed to be relegated, and a club of Newcastle’s size should not be playing outside of the top league in English football. So you can see the logic behind the decision. Newcastle have not been the most stable club, and you can applaud Mike Ashley and his board for trying to provide the continuity for success.

However, is this going to work? Or is it just going to result in Newcastle having to give Pardew a massive pay-off when Newcastle aren’t doing as well as expected in a couple of years time?

The average length of tenure for a manager is around two years, so arguably Pardew is almost at the time when other managers are beginning to lose their jobs, yet, he has just been given a contract four times the length of this average. Surely just giving a manager a long contract is not enough to guarantee success? If Newcastle were to tie me to an 8 year contract, then I’m pretty sure it’d end in disaster. Now, admittedly, they have more hope with Pardew and based on his previous season in which Newcastle finished a very credible 5th they will be hopeful of improvement.

However, just a quick look through the history books sees that George Burley achieved this with Ipswich Town. Would an 8 year contract have made Ipswich a force to be reckoned with? It’s hard to say, but it’s doubtful. Admittedly, Newcastle are a bigger club with more money, but my point is that for success, you don’t only need to have belief and faith in a manager, but you also need a very talented guy in charge. Ferguson is arguably the greatest manager of all time and before he came to Old Trafford he’d already won the Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup with Aberdeen and beaten Celtic and Rangers to three Scottish Premier Division titles. Alan Pardew has won the F.A. Trophy with Southampton. Is he the right man for the job?

The key here is not to be too quick to judge. Ferguson was in charge for nearly four years before he won anything, and nearly seven years before his first league title. Pardew has yet to be in charge for 2 full years, and just a season (albeit a successful season) and a half prior to this one. This means Pardew should be given until at least the end of the 2013-2014 season until he can start to be judged, and probably longer. Whether he is the man for the job remains to be seen, but he needs Ashley and Llambias et al to give him the support such a large contract warrants. If they do, Pardew could surprise us and rival Ferguson and Wenger with a Newcastle United dynasty, or, he could be sacked in a year or two with the Magpies mid-table. Interesting times ahead in the North-East.


Premier League Betting Tips – Saturday 29th September

Premier League has some fantastic games this upcoming Saturday. We start with Arsenal against Chelsea, finish off with Manchester United hosting Tottenham, and the games in between are not bad either! I will go over some of the key matches on Saturday and give you some betting tips along the way.

Arsenal v Chelsea – 12:45pm

This has always been one of the best Premier League fixtures in a calendar season, and these two teams have been challenging for honours. Since 1997 these two teams have won 6 Premier League titles between them. The rivalry has always been fierce, and there has been some classic matches in between the two sides, most recently when Arsenal won at Stamford Bridge 5-3 last October.

This game promises to be a classic too, as both teams go into this game undefeated, after both having solid starts to the league. Chelsea lead the Premier League pile at the moment, having only dropped two points in five matches. It’s fair to say though, that this will definitely be their toughest test of the campaign so far. Arsenal have drew three matches, and won two, sitting four points behind Chelsea. Their recent games saw them dismantle Southampton, win 2-0 at Liverpool and claim a deserved point at Manchester City. They are also the hosts to this match, and home support will make them slight favourites in this encounter.

Arsenal are at 5/4 to win this match, with Chelsea at 7/4, so there really isn’t a lot in it. When these two teams met last year in this fixture, it was a dull 0-0 affair, but the game came in a busy period for both teams, I expect a lot more fireworks in this one.

Whoever has scored the first goal in this fixture, doesn’t usually lose, in fact it hasn’t happened since the Premier League started back in1992. The team who has scored first hasn’t lost, so maybe it may change in this fixture? Arsenal are 9/1 to come from behind and win, whilst Chelsea are 10/1. Eden Hazard has been a danger to any team so far this season, and he is 7/1 to score first.

However, in these big matches, anyone across the pitch can score first, and can often be defenders so it’ll be best to see who is starting, and get money on a centre back. In terms of a result, I think this will be a score draw.

Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea – 6/1

Fulham v Manchester City – 3:00pm

It’s not going totally rosy for Manchester City so far this season. Eliminated from the Capital One Cup, lost their opening Champions League game cruelly to Real Madrid, and have drew 3 of their 5 Premier League games, conceding 7 in the progress, not one clean sheet. That would suggest that this perhaps is a bad time to visit Fulham, who sit one place above them in the Premier League.

Fulham have won three out of five so far, and look a solid team to beat, especially on home soil. They have won both games at home this season, scoring 8 and conceding none. This fixture was played last year, and nearly the same time. Fulham got a 2-2 draw with Manchester City, which was City’s first dropped points of the season. For Fulham to get a draw this time, the odds are at 23/10, and for them to go one better it’s at 7/2.

Manchester City are quite strong favourites in most games they play, but the bookies only see them at 4/6 to win this rather tricky fixture. I do expect a City win here after their recent disappointing performances, but only a narrow one. Tevez started midweek but so not sure whether he will start. He has a brilliant record scoring at this ground, and is 5/1 to get on the score sheet first, I’ll go with him for first goal scorer.

Fulham 0-2 Manchester City – 15/2

Manchester United v Tottenham – 5:30pm

Always a cracking game to watch, with both sides best defence is to go out and attack. I expect an end to end affair here. This fixture never fails to amaze me, and for one reason is that Tottenham never get any luck in this fixture. If you would back Manchester United not to lose a match against Tottenham, since 2001, (27 matches) then you would be a very rich man!

Tottenham haven’t beaten Manchester United home or away, league or cup, since May in 2001, when they beat a Manchester United side who had already won the title. Tottenham have been unlucky in some fixtures, with some crazy incidents not going their way, but also they seem to fear playing against Manchester United, and we never see the best of them. Manchester United, since losing at Everton, have won four in a row in the Premier League, with the most recent win coming at Anfield.

Tottenham started slowly, mustering up two points in their first three league games, but have won back to back games since. Manchester United are 1/2 to win the match, with Tottenham at an underdog 9/2. I keep saying to myself every year that Tottenham are due a win against United, but I don’t think so this time. I think Manchester United will edge it. Rooney is expected to return and play up front with Van Persie, as both are 3/1 to score first. For a bit more value though, I’d go for Valencia at 8/1.

Manchester United 3-2 Tottenham – 20/1

Overall this Saturday there is 8 matches, and the five I haven’t mentioned are just as important and key to the ones above. I am going to give an accumulator on the other five matches, and calculate how much you can win from a £1 stake.

Everton host Southampton, and the formbook would suggest a routine home win here, but I think Southampton may surprise a few, and get a draw here. Liverpool will look for their first win of the season away at Norwich, who are also looking for their first three points, I’d back an away win there, but won’t be easy for Liverpool. Sunderland will get their first win of the season against Wigan. I think Swansea may surprise a few and get a draw at Stoke. Bottom of the pile Reading, will struggle to get a result from Newcastle. Here is my accumulator below, the more you bet the more you win of course, but remember all Premier League games are getting harder and harder to predict!

£1 stake will win you: £86

Everton v Southampton (Draw)

Norwich v Liverpool (Away Win)

Reading v Newcastle (Away Win)

Stoke v Swansea (Draw)

Sunderland v Wigan (Home Win)