Saturday, 20 October 2012

TN5 and @Futsal Leeds Exclusive 5 A-Side Tournaments


Try Futsal - No experience necessary!


Take advantage of an excellent opportunity to try out Futsal - the only FIFA recognised game of small sided football! Futsal is the game that the likes of Lionel Messi grew up playing, so why not give it a go yourself?
On Wednesday 24th October 2012, www.tnfive.com and @Futsal are offering an hour’s pitch hire for the fantastic price of only £30 – a saving of over 35% on usual prices! The offer is available at the Leeds International @Futsal Arena near the White Rose Centre. Staff will be on hand to provide pre-match guidance and a run-down of the rules, so no previous playing experience is necessary.
All you need to do is email enquiries@tnfive.comwith your preferred pitch time and you and up to 15 mates can play each other in your own mini tournament!

(Pitch hire is payable on the night to @Futsal). Hurry! Availability is limited so book now to avoid disappointment! *

*Remaining available pitch times are: 6pm; 7pm; 8pm and 9pm.

Monday, 8 October 2012

I Tried The New 5 A-Side And I Liked It!

Read how TN5 made this player's casual 5 a-side football game a whole lot more interesting.....

By Wayne Spratt


Booting up for TN5

Casual 5 a-side. It's a bit like Marmite. You either love it, or you think it's a total waste of space. Fair enough, after all there are plenty of reasons for hating it. You turn out every week in the wind and rain to be faced with the same scenario: run around non-stop for an hour until you've practically dissolved into a wheezing, panting pool of sweat; watch in horror as your side desperately try to claw back goals as the opposing team steam to a 15-nil victory; and to top it off, you're a man down because one of your so-called 'teammates' dropped out at the last minute to 'babysit' (cheers mate!). Yes, we've all been there, done that and bought the t-shirt.

So, I think I can be forgiven for hesitating at the chance to try out TN5, 'The New 5 A-Side'. I mean, how can it be any different to the 'old 5 a-side'? Surely you can't reinvent the wheel as it were? Well, not one to shy away from a challenge, this season I threw caution to the wind and accepted the invitation to sign up to www.tnfive.com with 15 of my mates and colleagues. Together we formed a 'pool' of players going by the name of TNF (Thursday Night Football).

Unlike 'normal' 5 a-side, TN5 uses a 3-team format - and no, that's not 3 teams on the pitch at once! There are 2 teams on and one off (hooray for the chance of a rest, that's what I say). Games are short and sharp, only 6 minutes in length, or first to 2 goals, then the winning team stay on the pitch to play the team that was resting, erm I mean, spectating. At the end of the night, the team who had the most wins are that match day's winners.



Yes that's me in the background, looking forward to my next chance to rest.....I mean spectate.


The bit I like best is the fact that each week, all the available players from the 'pool' are randomly placed into one of 3 teams by the 'randomiser' on the website. This means that one week I can be on Col's team (no offence mate but you're a bit crap) and the next I could be on Stu's team - yes that's Stu who was separated at birth from Lionel Messi. All this swapping and changing means that not only do I get to play alongside a different bunch of mates each week, but I also stand a good chance of being on the winning team!


Whites v Blues




Which brings me nicely on to the league table. Each match day the individual players on the overall winning team are given points which then build up over the season to create an overall TN5 Champion. It's early days yet but I've been on the winning team 3 times so far so I'd like to think I'm still in the running. It does give me the incentive to turn up to every match so that I don't fall behind in the league. However, if my company CEO does insist on my presence at dinner at 8pm one Thursday night I know that one of my mates  from the 'pool' of 15 of us will fill in for me. Great for the team, not so great for me. Joking! I love you really boss!

Seriously though, the 'pool' of players does generally mean that you can get a meaningful competitive game, even if you're a couple of players short. This week for example, we had 3 lads drop out at the last minute for 'babysitting' duties (yeah right, it was raining and probably minus 10 degrees out there!) but the 12 of us who did turn up had a cracking game of 5 a-side using 2 'guest' players from the team who were off the pitch. If that had been a traditional 5 a-side scenario, we would have been completely snookered with 3 men down. With TN5 you can still get a good game even if there's only 9 of you - a 4v4 format with the 9th man acting as ref/guest player - thus eliminating the need for that magic number 10.

Reds v Blues with a 'guest' player from the whites. I'm refereeing and spectating on the sidelines




The guy who runs our pool of players reckons it's been much easier to organise us lot using the free TN5 website. Luckily for him, the site allows the Manager to post the time, date and venue of the next match day and then it emails all the players in the pool with those details. Then, it's down to us lot to set our availability status for the game so that he knows who's coming down on the night. After that, all he has to do is randomise the teams with the click of a button, and Bob's yer uncle the website automatically emails us to let us know which team we're on and what colour top or bib to wear. Easy.

So, my journey to the top of our 'pool' league table has begun and come the end of the season I fully anticipate being crowned my pool's overall TN5 Champion, and I will plan to celebrate accordingly. Not sure what the rest of them will have to say about that seeing as I'm sure they all reckon they'll be top man too. Well, I'm prepared to fight them for the TN5 crown, so bring it on!

Dreams of being TN5 Champion

Thursday, 4 October 2012

TN5 Teams Up With Leeds International @Futsal Arena To Bring You A Discount Of Over 35%

Fantastic opportunity to try out Futsal using the TN5 match format

Come down to this brand new arena equipped with Hi-Tech Futsal flooring, electronic scoreboards, changing rooms,  showers and bar area, and try Futsal with your mates or colleagues. Staff will be on hand to explain the rules and get you started, so what are you waiting for? Invite your mates today. Places are limited for the exclusive launch night so act quickly to secure your pitch and benefit from the great discount offer!


Friday, 14 September 2012

Try The New 5 A-Side For Just £16 This October!

Love 5 A-Side and live in and around the Leeds area? Then hurry and take advantage of this great TN5 weekend at the John Charles Centre for Sport.



On 13/14th October 2012 TN5 and Leeds City Council are offering you the chance to come and experience a footballing format that is revolutionising the game. You can come and enjoy discounted pitch hire and your own hour-long mini tournament played with and against your  own mates using 'The New 5 A-Side' match format. 

You and up to 15 mates can take advantage of this Olympic training venue's excellent facilities at a reduced rate of only £21 per hour. Furthermore, if you join us for a drink in the Dug Out Bar after your game you will receive £5 CASH BACK, reducing your pitch hire cost to just £16!

All you need to do is get together a group of between 9 and 15 mates and contact the www.tnfive.com website to book your preferred pitch time. On the day you will enjoy an hour's mini tournament with and against friends, organised and refereed by TN5 - bibs and footballs will be provided.

Pitches will be available on the hour and half past the hour from 11am to 8pm but numbers are strictly limited, so book soon to avoid disappointment.* To secure a pitch simply email sarah@tnfive.com or richard@tnfive.com with your name, telephone number and preferred pitch time and you will be sent a confirmation email with further details on the venue and game format.

So what are you waiting for? Come and experience The New 5 A-Side for yourself and join The 5 A-Side Revolution today!

*Pitches will be allocated on a first come first served basis, so hurry!



Friday, 17 August 2012

Premier League Football 2012/13


TN5's view on how the football season will pan out




After the drama of last season, the new Premier League season is eagerly awaited. Here TN5 look at the likely contenders for the title, those who might exceed expectations, and the players to look out for.

Tip for the Title


Genuinely too close to call. Anyone who picks out their ‘favourite’ is purely guessing. In our view, there is little to suggest that anything other than Man City, Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal will be contesting the top 4 places. As much as we enjoyed it, the drama of last seasons’ chase for the top 4 places is unlikely to be repeated – these 4 will take them comfortably.

As for the winners, that is impossible to predict. Many believe Van Persie’s move to Man United has given them the edge. We’re still not sure. Their midfield still looks too fragile and the weak point of the team. So will Man City retain their title? Their lack of recruits has put a question mark against that, but the return of Tevez on form is almost like a new signing. If they can add De Rossi to their ranks it might be enough to tip the title their way again.

After a disappointing league campaign, Chelsea will be back in the mix. Their midfield is full of creative flair, with Hazard looking very lively pre-season. But, the lack of a top quality striker will be their downfall as we believe Torres is not yet over his crisis of confidence. Which leaves Arsenal: The loss of Van Persie is big, but not insurmountable. In fact, as in the past, it will galvanise the team. Podolski is the signing of the summer. His work rate down the left and especially his shooting power and goals will take Arsenal on to the next level, even without Van Persie.

All of which means it’s anyone’s guess! Arsenal will improve, but probably come up short at the last – as usual. Chelsea will be better but will struggle without a top goalscorer, whilst the Manchester teams both have their strengths and weaknesses. This means we’re putting our money……right back in our wallets and see how things look at the end of October!

The Also-Rans


Tottenham are weakened after a summer of unrest. They will be up there, but not as close as in the last few seasons. The changes at Liverpool won’t  see an improvement in their league position, 6th or 7th is the best they will manage. Newcastle have retained most of their star players and will be high up the table again. Expect a big season from Cabaye.

Of the rest, we think QPR will see a big improvement and may challenge the European places. After just avoiding relegation, they have bought well in the summer and Hoilett could give them something extra to see them as the surprise package this term. Everton, Villa, Fulham and the like will have the usual steady seasons.

Those who will really struggle are Reading and Southampton on their return to the top flight (West Ham should be safe), West Brom , Wigan, Norwich and Swansea. The three for the drop? Southampton, Norwich and Reading – with Swansea perhaps taking the place of one of these if they get off to a poor start.

So, watch this space and let the season commence!
   

Friday, 27 July 2012

TN5’s Day Out At The Olympic Football


UAE v Uraguay and Great Britain v Senegal

Yesterday Mr and Mrs Tnfive and the the little Tnfivers were lucky enough to go to The Olympics at Old Trafford to watch (among others) Team GB’s first match. We packed an array of GB supporters gear from flags to Union Jack earrings and set off for Manchester. It was a balmy 25 degrees as we crossed the Pennines and headed for the Olympic ‘Park and Ride’ near to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium. After being greeted by the friendly and enthusiastic volunteers we boarded the bus with all the other excited families and headed off to Old Trafford.

Mr Tnfive at Old Trafford

On arrival at Manchester United’s home ground, we quickly unfurled the flags (yes ok, you may have noticed there was a bit of shameless TN5 promotion going on!) and snapped some pre-match pictures of Mr Tnfive. It was great to see so many supporters from all around the globe coming together for a few hours of footballing entertainment. The sounds of different languages filled the air, German, Spanish, Arabic, French, this truly was an international event. People of all different nationalities queued up to have their photos taken in front of the Manchester United Trinity statue of George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton, before joining the lines for the bag searches.


The United Trinity 

Once through security we made our way to our seats in the Family Stand. They were absolutely fantastic – right above the tunnel for a cracking view of the players coming on to the pitch. Considering we only paid £57 for all four of us it was quite possibly the bargain of the century!

The opening game was UAE Vs Uruguay. Considering it wasn’t the main reason for going, the atmosphere was great and the two teams served up a treat of football. UAE played with flair and inventiveness, getting their reward midway through the first half when a great through ball was calmly finished. Cue the comeback! Just before half time Uruguay equalised with a great free kick and went ahead just after the break with another good goal. Both teams continued to search for more goals, but UAE couldn’t quite get back on level terms despite the support of the crowd. Suarez got some stick - booed EVERY time he went near the ball. It was like a pantomime!

Suarez playing Pantomime villain

A great opening game, and GB up next – superb! Or so we thought. The teams emerged to raucous applause with the national anthem belted out by 75,000 supporters. 

Enter Team GB and Senegal


The display on the pitch however didn’t quite match the enthusiasm from the terraces and, even when GB went 1-0 up, the crowd were subdued by the performance of the team. As the game toiled on, Senegal came more and more into a game only sparked into flickers of life by some robust challenges. In the end, Senegal got their equaliser which they thoroughly deserved, to take a little of the shine off a great days football.   

Captain Ryan Giggs heads for the tunnel

So our one and only experience of an Olympic event has passed and overall we have to take our hats off to the London 2012 organisers. However, on a totally non-sport related note, we would have to complain about the lack of refreshments on offer. Maybe this was unique to Old Trafford, but we were told in a leaflet from the Olympic organisers that we would be able to fill empty water bottles once inside the ground, and that there would be an array of healthy food on offer to fill our hungry bellies. 

Well, there was no free water (unless you fancied filling your bottles up in the loo!) and as for food, well if your idea of a healthy food choice is a soggy sausage roll at £2 a pop then you would have been in luck! Hardly the kind of fare that The Olympics should be offering. Anyway, food complaints aside we had a great day and most importantly, the little Tnfivers LOVED it! Especially the Mexican waves!







Monday, 9 July 2012

TN5 Swap 5 A-Side Football For Running

Read the amusing yet heart-warming story of TN5's attempt at amateur athletics in the Leeds 10k Jane Tomlinson charity run on Sunday 8th July.

By Mrs Tnfive


Mrs Tnfive as Wilma and Mr Tnfive as Fred

Now I think it's fair to say that most people's idea of a good Sunday morning does not consist of donning a couple of Flintstones costumes and hauling themselves along a 10 kilometre circuit of their nearest city centre. Am I right? Well then, you might be surprised to read how enjoyable such a morning can be.

It's the second time we've taken part in the Jane Tomlinson Run For All, the first time was back in 2009, when Mr Tnfive drew gasps from the crowd as he wobbled along in a Sumo Wrestler costume, whilst Mrs Tnfive (yes that's me) just wobbled along. Back then, having done a grand total of 0 practice runs I was extremely pleased to have crossed the finish line in 83 minutes, and also extremely pleased not to have ended up spread-eagled on Briggate having collapsed with exhaustion!

Not one to shy away from a challenge, I jumped at the chance to do it all over again this year. So, having agreed with Mr Tnfive that we would run in fancy dress as Fred and Wilma Flintstone, on the morning of Sunday 8th July we eagerly made our way to Leeds Millenium Square and joined in with our fellow 'runners' as we warmed up to the strains of 'Sexy and I know it'.


Getting ready for the start gun

At around 8:45am we all began to make our way towards the start line on The Headrow. Music was blaring, the beats were pumping and the atmosphere was electric. The announcer welcomed us all and promptly set about starting a Mexican Wave before inviting us all to take part in a minute's applause for the charities and organisers involved.

During that minute we took the time to think about the reasons we were really there. We weren't just there for a jolly jog or to prance about in fancy dress costumes, we were there to raise money and support the wonderful legacy of Jane Tomlinson.

For those of you unfamiliar with Jane's story, she was an incredibly inspiring lady who battled cancer for many years. In 2000 she was given only a matter of months to live but instead of giving up, Jane went on to complete several incredible athletic challenges including the London Marathon and a full Ironman triathlon. Along with husband Mike, Jane launched the first Leeds 10k 'Run For All' in 2007. Sadly she lost her battle with cancer that very same year. Since her death, Mike Tomlinson has kept Jane's memory very much alive by organising various 'For All' events across the north of England and has raised over £4m.

Jane Tomlinson CBE
(photo courtesy of roadsofstone.com)
                                                       
After the minute's applause the wheelchair athletes and the serious runners set off to shouts and cheers from the crowd, and a few minutes later it was our turn! Nothing to fear I thought to myself as I shuffled towards the starting line. After all, I must have been out for at least four 1k runs over the past three years, so surely I must be at the peak of physical fitness and ready to win the race? Wrong. Let me tell you now, the odd sprint for the bus or a dash to the supermarket BOGOF aisle does NOT prepare you for a 10k run. Oh no.

As we jogged at an even pace up The Headrow I told myself over and over again 'this isn't that bad, you can do it'. The encouraging calls from the gathered spectators only served to cement my optimism. Before I knew it we were past the 1k mark and at that point I told myself 'go on girl, you can keep going 'til the 2k marker'.

The sun was beating down on us (for once!) as we jogged past The Merrion Centre and down past the construction site of the new Leeds arena. By this point my resolve to keep jogging on to the 2k mark was starting to wane. 'Are you ok?' Mr Tnfive asked me. 'Don't ask me if I'm ok!' I said, purely because if I thought about whether or not I was ok for too long, the answer would have been 'No' and I would have stopped! Just as I was really about to lose the will to get to the 2k mark Mr Tnfive said 'Look, there's the 3k marker already'. Well, I could have burst with pride as I explained to Mr T that I had never run that far continuously in all my life. Hoorah, hoorah and thrice hoorah!

As we joined the Meanwood Road section of the course we were starting to flag, but the wonderful public that had lined the pavements kept pushing us forward. There were race marshals and representatives from Macmillan Cancer Support dotted along the route, all of whom gave us bags of encouragement and supportive applause.

Mr Tnfive takes a water break

Our legs were just starting to tire when we caught sight of some of the wheelchair athletes coming back along the opposite side of the road, heading for the finish in the city centre. Their strength and determination inspired us to keep going and before long we were at the 8k mark.

So how did the costumes hold up? Very well actually! I didn't think it would be possible to run such a distance with a string of white polystyrene balls tied around my neck, but they were surprisingly comfortable. I tell you something though, our outfit choices made our ages a bit of a giveaway - so many small children looked totally bemused as their parents pointed at us and said 'look there's The Flintstones'. One person who definitely recognised us though was Harry Gration, our local 'Look North' news presenter, who shouted 'Yabba dabba dooooo!' as he ran past us. It made my day, so thanks Harry!

As we approached the 9k marker, the end was in sight and it certainly felt that way for our tired out legs. The only thing keeping us going now was the tremendous support from the crowd and the occasional shout of 'Wilmaaaaaaaaaa!'. As we rounded the last bend of the course and headed down the home straight towards the finish, our pain suddenly evaporated and we managed a last sprint for the end. 'We've done it! I can't believe we've done it!' I squealed to Mr Tnfive as we crossed the line. And yes, I shaved 12 minutes off my previous time and came in at 71 minutes...........just ahead of Harry Gration!

Proudly displaying our medals!

If you would like to take part in any of the Jane Tomlinson 'For All' events, please go to http://www.forallevents.co.uk/

To make a donation, please go to:
   
www.justgiving.com/LeedsCityCollege10k2012







Thursday, 21 June 2012

Euro 2012 - Reviews and Predictions


TN5 give their view on the group games and the quarter finals 



The group games are completed and we’re into the knock out stages. Who has impressed so far, who will go on to win, and how did TN5’s group stage predictions go?

Group Predictions

A mixed bag in terms of TN5’s group-stage predictions. We got Group A completely wrong! We never saw Greece beating Russia and we fancied Poland to edge out the Czech’s. The shock of the tournament saw Greece going through against a fancied Russia, and Poland’s worst display of the campaign saw them offer very little against a limited Czech Republic. Both teams are going to really struggle against their quarter final opponents, after qualifying from without doubt the lowest quality group in the tournament.

In Group B the much fancied Germany eased through as predicted, but it was Portugal not Netherlands who joined them. The Dutch were the biggest disappointment of the tournament and Ronaldo came good just at the right time to take Portugal through at the expense of an unlucky Denmark. Both teams will be expected to reach the semis and perhaps meet again in the final.

Spain dominated Group C as expected, however they looked limited in attacking options (which may sound strange considering they have scored more than anyone). Italy performed well in all their three games and justifiably join Spain as predicted by TN5. Croatia had their chances and were unlucky to go out, but I’m afraid Ireland were the poorest side in the competition. Spain and Italy face cracking quarter finals against their Group D opponents.

And finally, England surpassed all expectations to take Group D, with France joining them as per TN5’s prediction. Both had their moments, but also showed their limitations as they edged out Sweden and Ukraine. It may depend on which version of the teams turn up for the quarter finals as to whether they will progress.

The Quarter Finals

Czech Republic V Portugal

The Czech’s have recovered well since their opening-day mauling by Russia. However, it took two early gifts from Greece, and an inept performance from Poland to hand them top spot in Group A. Portugal on the other hand have shown their attacking prowess against both Denmark and Netherlands. It’s difficult to see how they won’t have too much for the Czech’s.

With Spain waiting for them in the semi final, don’t be surprised if Portugal stifle Spain’s ‘tippy tappy’ football and hit them hard on the counter to book a place in the final.

Germany V Greece

Greece scraped through against the odds and have gone as far as they are likely to get. They would be underdogs against any of the quarter finalists, but the fact they are playing the best team in the competition in Germany means this is the end of their Euro 2012 road.

Germany will follow up this victory with a semi final win against England, (meeting Portugal in the final), and will lift their first major trophy since 1996.

Spain V France

Still many peoples’ favourites, Spain continue to dominate the ball in every game they play. However, the cutting edge of previous campaigns is not there and it will be a lack of goals that will ultimately cost them. Torres is not the answer, but they will persist with him if they use any forwards at all.

France had the better of their game against England and were impressive against Ukraine, but the Sweden game showed their vulnerability. With Cabaye missing they lacked the link player they so desperately need and even if he returns they won’t have the fluidity or defensive strength to overcome Spain.

After edging past France, Spain’s luck will run out as they hit a brick wall against Portugal, missing out on becoming the first team to win three major tournaments in a row.

Italy V England

We believe England would have had a better chance of qualifying against Spain, hitting them on the counter attack. Against Italy, it’s pretty much two very similar teams. Defensively fairly solid, a pass master in midfield (Gerrard/Pirlo) with hard work and the occasional showing of brilliance from the supporting cast. This is the closest of the quarter finals to call and therefore, as it’s England, we will go for the Three Lions to match their best ever Euro performance and reach the semi-finals.

However once there, a superior Germany will be too much for us, but it will be a gallant failure like Itailia ’90 and Euro ’96 once more, rather than the poor recent tournament showings.

So there you have it, Portugal and Germany meeting again in the final with Germany champions of Euro 2012.    


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

A WAG's Eye View of Euro 2012


Mrs Tnfive changes her tune


Euro 2012 - an event that I have dreaded with a passion. Well, what was there to look forward to? Night after night of ‘boring football’ taking over the TV. Long lonely evenings spent contemplating my navel whilst listening to my dear husband’s shouts of ‘Get in!!!!!’ and ‘That’s clearly off-side!’ coming from the living room. To be frank, I thought I would rather pull my toenails out one by one with a pair of rusty pliers than subject myself to this utter Euro tosh. However, for some unknown reason I couldn’t shake off this niggling feeling inside me, this little voice in my head that kept saying ‘Go on! Give it a go. You never know, you might actually enjoy it!’ Well, who am I to ignore the call to the beautiful game? If nothing else I’ve always enjoyed a challenge. So, I took a deep breath and took the plunge into Euro 2012. After all, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Ok, I admit. I did have a beer or two during that first nail-biting game between Greece and Poland which probably helped to fuel my enthusiasm, and pushed me to shout at the telly every time the ref got his red card out. But, beer or no beer by the time the first match was over I was finding myself thinking ‘Mmm. That wasn’t so bad. Maybe I’ll watch the next one?’


A couple of games in and enter Cristiano Ronaldo. Now for some reason this guy is a bit like Marmite – you either love him or loathe him. He appears to have a huge army of female fans but the jury’s still out as far as this female is concerned.  I have to say, the bloke is good-looking but aside from the fact that he looked like he’d had a swim in a vat of chip fat before that first game, his change of hairstyle at half time seriously put me off. Sorry Ron, but you’ll be relieved to hear that I won’t be joining your fan club or sending you marriage proposals any time soon. (‘I should think not!’ says ‘him indoors’). Any footballer that spends his 15 minutes off restyling his barnet instead of sucking on a piece of orange is just not for me.

Anyway, I digress. By the time the first England match rolled around, I was seriously getting into this football lark. I had ‘tweeted’ and posted on Facebook, joined in discussions about Ron’s fancy step-overs and I’d even hung a string of St George flags from my Juliette balcony. ‘Quite a change’ I hear you cry. I hadn’t been this interested in football since Italia ’90 when I only tuned in to gawp at Gary Lineker’s legs!

So, as I write I am watching the England v Ukraine game (yes you read that right. I’m a woman, I can multi-task!) and there is more than just a teensy weensy bit of me that desperately wants Rooney to score a hat trick. I am shouting at the TV as Tymoshchuk fouls Scott Parker, tweeting and facebooking about Ukraine’s poor luck on that ball crossing the line, getting that heart-sinking feeling when Shevchenko comes on (please don’t score again!) and laughing at Blokhin’s over enthusiastic hand gestures.

I am happy. Very happy. At last I feel as though I know something about football and after 11 years of marriage I finally understand my husband’s passion for the game. I have you to thank for that. Yes you – Euro 2012.

And…………………………………I think I might even (just maybe!) understand the off-side rule!!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Euro 2012 Update


TN5 give their view after the second round of group games




We are well and truly into Euro 2012 now and all but Ireland have one last chance to secure qualification for the last 8. Who will make it and is TN5’s pre-tournament verdict likely to be accurate?


Group A

A wide-open group in which any of the teams can still qualify – or go out. Russia have certainly been the most impressive to date having emerged as outside contenders for the title. A draw against Poland put their qualification on ice, but they should have no trouble seeing off Greece to secure their last 8 place.

Poland have impressed in both games, with some fine attacking football and a real star in the making in Lewandowski. However, two draws mean they go into a shoot out with the Czech Republic knowing only a win is good enough to progress. The Czech’s looked poor against Russia in the opener, and were gifted two early goals against Greece. They’ll be looking to hang on for a draw against Poland to sneak through at the expense of the home nation.

Greece still have an outside chance, but there has been nothing so far that would suggest they have enough to cause Russia any problems in their final group game.

TN5 Verdict: We predicted Russia and Poland at the start and we are sticking with it. Russia look almost certain to get the result they need against Greece, and they could also spring a surprise in the quarter finals against Group B’s runner up. Poland must win against the Czech’s, but we fancy them to keep the home nations dreams alive – although it will be short lived with Germany the likely opponents in the quarter-finals.


Group B

Back to back defeats leave highly fancied Netherlands on the brink of elimination. The Dutch have created the chances but failed to convert them. They now need a 2 goal victory over Portugal and rivals Germany to do them a favour against Denmark to go through.

Germany need a point to make sure of qualification and have looked the best team in the tournament so far. It’s going to take a special performance from someone to stop them going all the way.

Portugal’s late winner has put them back in it, but they will need to overcome a desperate Netherlands if they are going to progress, and that’s not going to be an easy task. While Denmark’s opening day win against the Dutch might just be the result to take them through. A draw with Germany MIGHT be enough to take them through.

TN5 Verdict: We went with Germany and Netherlands, but it might be just too much for the Dutch to qualify. Second place is wide open and any team could progress. We think Netherlands will get the result they need against a very average Portugal (ending Portugal’s hopes) but with a draw being enough to see Germany winning the group, Denmark might just get the point they need to send the Dutch home early. A quarter final with Russia though might just be as far as the Danes go.


Group C

Ireland are the first team definitely out of the competition after two disappointing performances and results. With only pride to play for, we could see some changes to their line up for the final game.

These changes could help Italy. Like Poland, Italy have put in two decent performances, but no wins leave them desperate for victory on the final day. A win will almost certainly put them through though.

And that leaves Spain, who continue to impress with their total domination of the possession, and Croatia to fight it out. Spain put 4 past Ireland, but were gifted many of the goals and their lack of goal scoring ability could come back to haunt them in future rounds. They won’t concede many, but could come unstuck by not finding the net often enough.

Croatia have put in two good performances, but may just come up short from a very difficult group unless they can perform a miracle against Spain.


TN5 Verdict: Italy will get the victory they need against Ireland, and Spain will see off Croatia for our pre-tournament prediction to come through. And with the teams from this group playing the qualifiers from Group D, we wouldn’t be surprised if both make it to the semi-finals -  although for Spain, Torres will not be the one to score them the goals to take them all the way, and this could be their ultimate downfall.


Group D

England got their much needed victory, but only just! Goals for each of the strikers is encouraging, with the returning Wayne Rooney adding to the attacking options, but the manner in which they conceded the two goals was disappointing. However, they are now just one point away from the quarter-finals and must be expected to progress from the group stages now.

France were far more comfortable with an impressive victory over host nation Ukraine, with Cabaye in fine form as predicted by TN5. It’d difficult to see how they won’t get at least a draw against the already eliminated Sweden to set up a tasty looking quarter-final against probably Spain or Italy.

After a great opening game result, for Ukraine it’s looking like they will be out at the group stage unless they can manage an unlikely victory over England.

TN5 Verdict: France will get a victory over Sweden to secure top spot in the group, with England doing enough to join them in the quarter-finals. Both will face tough ties, with England going no further and France really having their work cut out to reach the semi-finals.  

Friday, 15 June 2012

Who Should Roy Pick For England V Sweden?


TN5 give their view as to who should be in the starting line-up for England’s game against Sweden



After a reasonable point against France, England now face Sweden in what many are seeing as a must win to avoid a “do or die” match against host nation Ukraine in the final game. With calls for the team to be more adventurous, question marks against the fitness of some key players, and the continued absence of Wayne Rooney, this is TN5’s view of how we should line up for the game:

More adventurous?

Many commentators have stated they are looking for England to be far more adventurous and attacking in this second game, after the point against France. Even Steven Gerrard suggested England should be looking to dominate possession and the play far more than they did in the opening game. We think this has potential to be very dangerous.

The danger is that “being more adventurous” can easily be translated as throwing in an extra forward, or seeing Gerrard bombing on from midfield to support the front line. This will leave England dangerously exposed and whilst Sweden may not capitalise this strategy, other teams further in to the competition will. Our view is that yes we need to push further up the field and dictate the play more, but this should be done by releasing our full backs to join in the attack – something they both excel at. Italy have shown the advantages of full backs getting forward, and whilst we are not suggesting 3 at the back, this can be done if you have 2 holding midfielders sat in front of the two centre halves.

The formation

As with the opening game, we believe England’s best formation is 4-2-3-1 with two holding midfielders. This is how the top sides are lining up -  Busquets and Alonso, Schweinsteiger and Khedira, Van Bommel and De Jong. The added advantage for England is we have two great attacking full backs who are better at attacking than defending, certainly in the case of Johnson. This needs to be utilised to make us more attacking. Cole and Johnson pushing on in the spaces out wide, with Gerrard and Parker holding their positions to provide the protection.

In effect when we are on top, it will be a 2-4-3-1 line up as we look to attack down the flanks.

Back 5

The keeper and defence will be kept the same, although we maintain Jagielka is a better alternative to Terry.

The key change is getting Cole and Johnson on the front foot, safe in the knowledge they are covered by the midfield pairing.

Defensive Midfield

Highly likely to be Parker and Gerrard again. However, if either were struggling with tiredness, I’d have no hesitation in bringing in Jones to that position, or even Milner. Jones is an excellent short passer and Milner works his socks off, willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good of the team.

The key to this role is discipline. Far too often Parker is caught out ahead of the ball when a move breaks down. He doesn’t need to influence the play going forward the way he tries to. He is far more effective when he is in position protecting the back line. Alongside the “tackler” we need a passer. And Gerrard is certainly that. If the pair of them are disciplined and learn to sit in their position, they provide great protection, but can also move the ball around well to retain possession.

If Gerrard needs a lesson in how to play the role, have a look at Schweinsteiger’s performance against the Dutch. Always in position when the move breaks down, but backing-up play when the opportunity arises and creating chances. We need Gerrard to fulfil this role.


Attacking Midfield

Young to be retained in his role behind the front man, but Roy should bring in Walcott down the right. His pace and ability to set up a chance is ideal for the formation and he will put 2 or 3 good chances the way of the striker.

On the left it’s a choice between Oxlade-Chamberlain, who had a reasonable game against France (and the one we’d stick with), or Milner. His industry down the flank would combine well with an overlapping Cole.

Forward

Our favourite comments from pundits this tournament was the BBC panel “Welbeck was Man of the Match for me”, followed by “Other than Lescott’s header, we didn’t create any chances”. Surely a contradiction if ever there was one? Is it not the job of the forward to a) score goals; and b) create chances? If Welbeck did neither, was he really Man of the Match?

Whilst Welbeck had a reasonable game, we still believe Carroll offers a much greater threat, especially in the formation we believe England should play. His power and presence would have been a real handful for France, and will be for Sweden. With the right supply line from attacking full backs and pacey wingers, he has the height, technique and power in his shot to be a top marksman this tournament.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Euro 2012 First Round Review

Are TN5 Standing By Their Original Predictions For the First Stage Of Euro 2012?

Now that each team has played their opening game, who has impressed, who has disappointed, and how is TN5’s pre-tournament verdict looking?


Group A

Well, we predicted a tight, close, low-scoring Group A – and we couldn’t have been much more wrong! Russia have emerged from the first round of games as probably the side that has impressed most people. A 4-1 victory over the Czechs make them easily the stand-out team of Group A. However, they were sluggish in the opening phase of the game and will face far better opposition in the later stages.

Poland started superbly against Greece, but the sending off of the Greek defender probably worked more against the Polish as they began to sit back and rest on their 1-0 lead. Had they continued attacking with Blaszczykowski looking a threat down the right and Lewandowski a handful upfront, they would have taken the game. Greece fought back well though and could have won it in the end.

TN5 Verdict: We are sticking with our pre-tournament prediction of Poland and Russia to go through, albeit from a far more exciting group than anticipated.


Group B

The shock of the first round of games came when Denmark beat Netherlands. Many peoples’ favourites to win the tournament, the Dutch simply couldn’t convert any of the chances they created with Robben, Huntelaar and particularly Van Persie the guilty parties.

Germany overcame Portugal in the most eagerly awaited, and yet most uninspiring game of the opening round. It wasn’t until they had gone behind that Portugal began to utilise their attacking flair, but it was all too little too late.

TN5 Verdict: It’s an uphill struggle now for the Netherlands, but we are still sticking by them to get through with Germany. What a game on now between them on Wednesday! Could all four teams be on 3 points each going into the final game?


Group C

Well, Jelavic did show his Everton form on the international stage as he helped Croatia to a well deserved victory over Ireland who, I’m afraid, looked out of their depth. The bigger tests are still to come for Croatia though if they are to make it through the group.

Spain sprung their own surprise by naming a team with no centre forward. And when they did bring a forward on, Torres looked the all too familiar figure of someone devoid of confidence. Like a golfer who has lost his confidence in putting, I fear Torres will never be a true force again. Italy contained the Spanish well and created several chances of their own. They look a useful outfit, particularly once Ballotelli had gone off.

TN5 Verdict: Again we are sticking with our predictions. Although Croatia impressed against Ireland, the tougher games against Spain and Italy will see them just miss out.


Group D

England would have taken a point before the game, so they won’t be too disappointed. An accomplished, but far from sparkling display got their tournament off to a reasonable start against France with the draw a fair result.

With Ukraine coming back to win 2-1 against Sweden, they have given themselves a chance of progressing and set up a couple of intriguing games on Friday.

TN5 Verdict: We’re making it 4 groups out of 4 where we sticking by our original predictions. After a point apiece from the opening game, both England and France should have enough to see off both Sweden and home nation Ukraine, despite their opening game victory.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Who Should Roy Pick For England V France?


TN5 gives its view as to who should be in the starting line up for England’s opening game




With Euro 2012 now underway, the countdown begins to England’s first game Vs France on Monday 11th June. With much controversy and debate surrounding the initial squad selection, and the subsequent numerous withdrawals, Roy Hodgson is left with a squad of players who he somehow has to mould into a winning team. With no Wayne Rooney available, this is TN5’s view of how he should line up for the opening game:

The formation

With what looks on paper a limited squad, Roy will be looking to make the most of the players he has available by getting the tactics right. We believe that he must go with a 4-2-3-1 line up.

The key to England’s success in the tournament will be utilising one of the few assets we have in the two good attacking full-backs. They need to have the confidence to push forward and support the midfield and forwards whenever possible, especially if Carroll is the front man. To do this, we MUST eliminate our Achilles heel and have the insurance policy of two holding midfielders. Time and again we get hit on the break. Germany did it to us in the last world cup, Robben did it for Holland earlier this year. Even in the last two friendlies, Parker has too often been caught ahead of the ball when a move has broken down. Ideally you would have a ball winner and a passer in those two holding roles, like Spain will line up with Busquets and Alonso. 

In front of the holding two, three forward-thinking players need to create problems for the opposition to put them on the back foot, but fall in to help defensively. And up front either someone to hold the ball up or to run in behind the back line to keep the defenders pushed back.

Keeper

Hart. No brainer. Probably the best keeper in the world and will be kept busy this tournament.

Defence

Full backs will be Johnson and Cole. However, both need to be encouraged to get forward, as this is what they are best at. They need to be putting the opposition on the back foot and pushing Ribery and Nasri backwards, rather than waiting for them to come on to us. They also need to be as much, if not more so, of a supply line of crosses to Carroll as the wide midfielders, as they will inevitably get more time and space on the ball coming from deeper.

At centre half we have real problems. Even before the injuries, we would have gone with Jagielka and Lescott but Roy will undoubtedly pick Terry at the expense of Jagielka. Jagielka and Lescott proved they can work well together against Norway and to us, would present the most stable of partnerships of those that are available.

Defensive Midfield

This is where England’s tournament will be decided, and we fear to our cost. Time after time England come undone being hit through the middle of the park: Romania 2000; Brazil 2002; Germany 2010; and Robben this year in the friendly. We need two HOLDING midfielders to protect the centre halves. Ideally this would be a tackler and passer. Unfortunately, we don’t have a quality passer of the ball to anchor the midfield alongside Parker, who also needs to severely curb his tendency to drift forward towards the end of games.  We would have given Gerrard the role with strict instructions to hold his position. But, we all know Gerrard is an all-action player and Roy won’t be able to resist the temptation of having him push on. Unfortunately the hole he leaves behind him is a greater threat to us than the risk he presents to the opposition going forward.

If we were being bold we MIGHT consider Jones in there alongside Parker. Jones is a great passer of the short ball and a future England captain, and it would release Gerrard into an attacking midfielder role. This might be the best option in the absence of Rooney, but will Roy risk Jones in the middle against France? Highly unlikely.

Attacking Midfield

Young is an automatic choice and our greatest creative hope. If Gerrard takes a holding midfield role we’d play Young centrally. If Gerrard was pushed forward behind the front man, Young goes out to the left which is where he will play when Rooney is available to slot into that role behind the main striker.

As for the wide positions, Walcott’s pace is a must for us down the right. The amount of chances he creates for Van Persie is vastly under-rated and the fear he puts into the opposition back line is a real asset. Roy will probably go with Milner though to counter the French attacking threat, and you could deploy Milner on the left if Walcott does start. However, in keeping with our attack-minded line up, with a strong defensive midfield unit to protect the back line, we would go for the surprise element of Oxlade-Chamberlain down the left to really get at the French back line.

Forward

With just one role upfront, it’s a straight choice between Carroll and Welbeck. We would go for Carroll. He came in for a lot of undeserved stick this season, but is a real handful for any defender and the French centre halves are probably their weakest area. However, the big danger is to lump the ball forward to Carroll. We need to work the ball up to him as we would if it was Welbeck, as the big man has an excellent touch. Carroll’s real threat comes from his aerial ability, and this needs to be utilised from crosses, where the attacking fullbacks will come into their own providing the ammunition for Carroll to fire home.

So that’s our line up as to how England need to play to beat France:
Hart; Johnson; Jagielka; Lescott; Cole; Gerrard; Parker; Walcott; Young; Oxlade-Chamberlain; and Carroll.