The 3rd of March 2009 it was a simpler time, it was a happier time. Around 2pm on what could have been any other Tuesday I began my own football blog. “Gib Football Anorak” was born. There was no agenda for the site just a place to slap down my thoughts on the game we all love.

The first post had quite a few decent points, regardless of how bad the actual writing was. In one post I questioned whether Arsene Wenger should step upstairs from the dugout. Wondered why Aaron Lennon isn’t constantly practicing his crossing, and how good a keeper Ben Foster is while playing for Man United.

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Andrew Gibney is joined by Scott Johnston, David Bevan and Eliot Rothwell as they dicuss this weeks four Champions League games – Chelsea v Man United, Barcelona v Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter v Schalke and Real Madrid v Tottenham.

Eliot gives us an excellent insight into the two remaining eastern european teams left in the Europa League – Dynamo Kiev and Spartak Moscow, we talk about how well Aiden McGeady has settle in Moscow and who the other players are to watch.

Finally we get David’s feelings on the new TV deal that will see English Championship clubs lose out on some well needed revenue.

Download directly – HERE

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Download the RSS feed – HERE

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Welcome to the start of the gibfootballshow Champions League previews. Instead of listening to me waffle on, who better to tell you all about each teams chances in the tournament than from the fans themselves. So over the eight games you will read the thoughts of sixteen talented bloggers.

In Tottenhams first ever foray into Europe’s elite club competition they have impressed everyone. Now they face a side top of Serie A, could Tottenham reach the Quarter-Finals. Jack McInroy from You’ll Win Nothing With Yids looks at their chances.

So much for winning the group! We beat the Italian (and European) champions Inter only to be drawn against the current Serie A leaders. It could be worse. While we’ll be underdogs against AC Milan, Arsenal play Barcelona with the sole aim of keeping the aggregate score down to a respectable level.

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Part 2 of my pick of 32 players to watch out for in the next 4 weeks.

GROUP C

Aaron Lennon – England – 17 caps (0 goals)

Most people will know of Aaron’s abilities, super fast, loves to take on players, his final ball has always been a question mark however it is getting better, the first half of the season Aaron was on fire, then a couple of injuries sidelined him, I am glad for him he is fit and raring to go, and hope he plays well, I will be looking out for him.

Edson Buddle – USA – 3 caps (2 goals)

One of the more unknown quantaties in this World Cup, before this year Edson’s career had been very quiet, until he scored 9 goals in 9 games for the LA Galaxy this season, catapulting into the USA national team, a powerful and strong forward has shown the ability to score under pressure, made a case to start against England with his 2 goals against Austrailia in a recent friendly, definitely one to watch.

Ryad Boudebouz – Algeria – 1 cap (0 goals)

Ryad plays for French club Sochaux, a player I really want to learn more about, seems to have a mixture of pace and skill and can pick a pass, A real exciting youngster, only 20 years old, he has played U-19 football for France and they wanted him to move up to their U-21 team but he has decided to play for his parents country of birth instead.

Rene Krhin – Slovenia – 3 caps (0 goals)

This Inter Milan youngster is being hailed as the next big thing, reported not to be a starter in the Slovenia team, however could provide a spark off the bench in any of the group matches, I’m sure new Inter boss Rafa Benitez will be tuning in to his matches.

Rene was captain of Slovenia’s U-19 team that made the 2009 European Championships but he couldn’t take part due to his club commitments, has only played a handful of games for Inter in Serie A but is though of very highly.

GROUP D

 

Dennis Aogo – Germany – 1 cap (0 goals)

A star in Hamburg’s Europa League run this year the 23 year old has turned down his father’s homeland of Nigeria to play for the country of his birth and was rewarded with a call up in Germany’s World Cup squad, able to play in both defence and midfield, he has had a very impressive season and a important part of Hamburg’s team, only 1 caps shows he is not a first pick, but I would like to see how he copes if given the chance.

Brett Holman – Austrailia – 31 caps (2 goals)

Easily could become a star of this Austrailia team, the attacking midfield/left winger, he played for AZ Alkmaar last season but has been told he is surplus to requirements so this World Cup is a place for Brett to show what qualities he has.

I am looking forward to seeing what he can produce, 6 goals for AZ last year he has the ability to get forward and score or set up goals.

Neven Subotic – Serbia – 13 caps (1 goal)

Myself along with numerous Premier League clubs will be watching Neven’s every move with a keen eye, Solid performer in Dortmunds great season, great in the air, a great presence to any defence, could easily step up to any of the big name clubs looking at him, how much he plays depends on where Ivanovic plays, if he is picked at full-back Neven would be hoping to partner Nemanja Vidic in central defence, A good tournament would see his stock rise rapidly.

Prince Tagoe – Ghana – 17 caps (4 goals)

A player I am quite interested to see play, Prince plays for Hoffenheim in Germany, scored 2 goals in 11 games last season, had an excellent record in Saudi Arabia and the UAE 39 goals in 50 games, Ghana have struggled for a striker in recent times, and Prince could be the answer to their goal problems if given the chance to start in South Africa.

Part 3 is coming tomorrow…..

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Thought I’d post my thoughts on the big name teams trying to win the World Cup.

SPAIN - Most people’s favourites no doubt influenced by winning Euro 2008, very strong team, Villa and Torres upfront, Silva, Xavi, Iniesta in the middle, surprised that Marcos Senna wasn’t picked; he gave that defensive solidity to the midfield. The problem Spain could face is if players get suspended or injured, but they are surely a lock on for the Semi-Finals.

 

PLAYER TO WATCH: Although he won’t start I feel if JESUS NAVAS gets a chance he could terrify defences in South Africa, really good player, great impact player.

 

BRAZIL - “too defensive” “weak squad” I’ve heard those quotes load in the last week, sometimes from myself, although I don’t agree with Dunga’s selections or tactics, he is getting the job done. Robinho has been a better player for Brazil than club, Solid midfield, problem seems to be if his 4-4-2 doesn’t work there’s no Plan B, and the substitute strikers don’t strike fear the way Ronaldo does. They will advance through the Group Stage but Quarter Finals may be the furthest they will go.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Not a natural defender but MICHEL BASTOS seems to be Dunga’s pick for Brazil’s left back, superb for Lille in France last season, then moved to Lyon, played well in the League and Champions League, amazing left foot, very powerful shot, good crosser, could be a surprise in store for some teams.

 

ARGENTINA - All the talent to win the world cup but the management casts doubts over their chances, with players of Messi, Tevez, Higuain, Milito and Aguero, Argentina boost probably the most talented forward that will be in South Africa, Maradona has struggled to bring the best out of probably the best player in the world just now in Leo Messi, maybe the big stage will magnify his greatness, how do keep 5 talented forwards happy.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Everyone will concentrate on the forwards but I will be interested to see how NICOLAS OTAMENDI will perform in SA, great for Estudiantes can play at Right Back but more comfortable in the centre, capable of providing the defensive cover to help Argentina attack freely.

FRANCE - Never a team to underestimate, I will be very interested to see how they line up in their first match, Will Ribery be fit, surely Henry can’t start, Gignac has underperformed, maybe Cisse, he is the striker on form. Rumours that for the first time Domenech won’t play with 2 Defensive mids, Interesting reading, I can’t make a call on them, my thoughts are they will be great or rubbish, Quarter-Finals at least, if Ribery can perform like he does for Bayern they could do some damage.

PLAYER TO WATCH: I am not sure how well know YOAN GOURCUFF is outside of people who follow French football, he has played in the Champions League so people will know the name, but this guy is a superb football, He has magic in those boots, passing, dribbling, and he can score, probably the closest France will have to a Zidane, Yoan has the ability to pick teams apart, quality player.

 

GERMANY - As everyone always says, “never count out the Germans” I however think they will struggle this time, the top strikers aren’t as good as they used to be, the form strikers are Cacau and Muller and they are untested, no Ballack and other midfield injuries weakens them, I don’t think they will get past the Quarter-Finals, watch them win it all now.

PLAYER TO WATCH: With Ballack out the squad the responsibility will be on SAMI KHEDIRA to boss the midfield for Germany, a player with great potential who has come through the ranks of Stuttgart and shown leadership qualities for his club, a name people won’t know but come the end of the 2010 World Cup I would hope more people will.

 

ITALY - There has been very little talk of the Holders retaining their title, I don’t think one person I have asked/spoke to/read about, has picked the Italians, Solid midfield and defence, my question is Who is going to step up and put the ball in the net, Di Natale not proven at this level although a fantastic record for Udinese, Pazzini could be a star, Goals will be the problem

PLAYER TO WATCH: Very underrated in the UK but loved in Italy DANIELE DE ROSSI is a midfield powerhouse, can do everything, works tirelessly for his club and country, and he could be the force that drives Italy to the Semi Finals

 

HOLLAND – Always good to watch and will of course entertain, such a great attacking side, how do you fit – Van Persie, Kuyt, Robben, Sneijder, and van der Vaart in the same team, solid midfield anchors in de Jong and van Bommel, the one thing for me that will be their downfall is the defence, not up to the same standard as the front line, van der Wiel is exciting but untested at this level, and van Bronckhorst isn’t getting any older.

PLAYER TO WATCH: One player I really am excited to see is GREGORY VAN DER WIEL very talented Ajax right back, started at CB but van Basten changed him to a full back, has suspect behaviour issues, but he is one of the brightest talents in Dutch football

 

ENGLAND – Always hard for me to give an unbiased view being Scottish, I will try though, if Capello can get the best players playing at their potential, England could go all the way, however there is issues e.g.: can Gerrard and Lampard play effectively together, Glen Johnson is weak defensively, how can anyone justify a starting spot for Emile Heskey apart from that Rooney likes him, personally 4-5-1 suits them better, with Gerrard off Rooney, on their day they can beat anyone, once past the group stages they need 4 of those days, minimum will be the Semi-Finals

PLAYER TO WATCH: Although the left side has always been a problem for England the right-side has not, AARON LENNON is one of the most talented wingers in the EPL, superb pace, final ball is improving and with Rooney’s new found ability to head the ball, and this could cause endless problems to England’s opponents.

There we go 8 teams that will make up the majority of everyone’s favourites, I would be shocked if the winner was not one of those team, there will be a few shocks here and there as there always is, but surely one of the minnows can’t go all the way…..can they!

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