RIP James Gandolfini

20 06 2013

I switched on the television in work this morning to hear the sad news that James Gandolfini of Tony Soprano fame had passed away at only 51 years of age whilst on holiday in Italy.

Whilst the official cause of death hasn’t been announced yet it is being suggested that the Soprano’s star suffered a heart attack.

Whilst Gandolfini will be best remembered for his iconic performances in the Sopranos, his film credits included Zero Dark Thirty and Killing Them Softly, and he appeared in the Broadway production God Of Carnage.

The three time Emmy award winning actor was in Italy for the 59th Taormina film festival.

A great actor, a great man and a great loss.

 

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Euro 2012 Semi Final preview

27 06 2012

Well that is that then, the quarter finals are now over and it is time to look on towards the next round of the competition.

From my point of view things went pretty much as expected…

Sadly France didn’t manage to overcome Spain, no surprise really when you see how much discord there is in the squad.

If the French ever want to get back to winning ways then something needs to change. Lets face it they have the talent, there are some very good players in the side, what they seem to lack is any sort of cohesion and desire to do well for each other.

Let’s look at chinless twat Samir Nasri as an example. He is a gifted player, as much as it pains me to say it, but as an example of a hard working team member he leaves a lot to be desired. When coming on as a sub the other night his whole attitude just screamed apathy.
Fair enough he thought he should have started, well you didn’t Samir old chum, deal with it, get over and show the bosswhy you should be the first name on the team sheet.

France aren’t alone in this, you only have to take a look at Holland’s tournament to see what disharmony in the squad can do to you!

The Czech side set out their stall to frustrate and that’s really what they did for long periods of a game that seemed even longer.
Still it had to happen sooner or later, CR7 did what he does best and grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and bang Portugal are through and the Czechs go home. I’m just glad we didn’t have to watch another 40 fucking minutes of that shit

Germany Vs Greece delivered exactly what I expected. A boring, dirty, stampy sort of a  match from the Greece countered by sheer dominance from Ze Germans. Can’t help but expect more of the same come the Italy game.
Swapping the front three round worked out well and rested a few tired legs ahead of a stiffer test later this week.

England Vs Italy also didn’t contain any real surprises. Balotelli should have killed the game but didn’t and my long awaited penalties finally arrived as of course did the obligatory England collapse… in a tale of two Ashleys both Cole (Twat)  and Young (talentless twat) made a hash of it that sends their country home… again.

So we move on to the penultimate stage of the competition, for me if I look at the groupings I would have to expect Germany to have too much for Italy and would expect that Spain will make easy enough work of Ronaldo and friends.

That said I wouldn’t mind if the obnoxious one did manage to pull something out of his bag of tricks to steer the Portugese through. Would serve Spain right for trying to bore their way to victory!





Euro 2012 Quarterfinals

21 06 2012

Well from tonight onwards we enter the fun stage of Euro 2012.

The group stages were wrapped up on Tuesday evening with England topping their group and France coming through as runners up.

So after a night off we get stuck right in with the first clash taking place in Warsaw tonight

Czech Republic Vs. Portugal

As much as I would love to see a Czech victory here I just can’t overlook the quality that Portugal have available to them with Nani, Veloso, Pepe, Coentrao and of course a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.

That isn’t to say that the Czech’s are toothless, far from it, but talismanic goal scorer Milan Baros has failed to spark so far this tournament and Tomas Rosicky is still carrying a bit of a knock. That said Petr Jiracek has been one of the top performers in the tournament so far, grabbing 2 goals in the opening 3 matches.

Tomorrow night sees the action resume in Gdansk;

Germany Vs. Greece

The second of our quarter finals presents a bit of a “David and Goliath” situation. However on this occasion I am putting my money squarely on Goliath.

Germany were one of my hot favourites before the tournament started and three games in I haven’t seen much to make me alter my views.
Germany are the only team to have picked up all 9 points from the group stage and the Holland match aside, have done so without really having to break a sweat.

Mario Gomez has been in superb form thus far with 3 goals to his name already, 2 of which against Holland were absolute crackers.

I just don’t see the Greeks having the quality to go up against Die Mannschaft in any area of the park. They were lucky in a lot of ways to get out of their group especially as they probably played the worst football out of any of the four teams.

The third quarterfinal takes place on Saturday in Donetsk

Spain Vs. France

Well, well, well isn’t this going to be a veritable feast of football.

In a lot of other years this is a match which could have graced a final, instead we see two of the heavyweights of World and European football going toe to toe in the first of the knock out stages.

I know that you can never base anything on form, particularly in cup football but if we were looking just at the group stages then you would have to say that this is a tough one to call.

Personally I haven’t really fancied Spain, even before the tournament started. There is just something about the way they are playing football at the moment which doesn’t fill me with that sense of awe that has been present in the past when watching them.

Yes Spain have the better players on paper, yes they are current World and European champions and yes they are more than capable of playing some very good football but I can see France tipping it.

Our last installment of  quarterfinal fun comes on Sunday in Kyiv

England Vs. Italy

Not quite the pairing that it might have been in prior years, neither team is what you would think of as a “vintage” side , indeed a lot of people have been saying that this is the worst England side for a number of years and plays a very negative style of football, personally I disagree but I will come to that later.

If I had to choose a word to sum up Italy for me it would be a toss up between dull and mediocre. They have some talented players in the side – Di Natale, Balotelli and Pirlo spring to mind but they made really hard work of their group and were far less value for money than the very unlucky, very spirited Croatians.

As if to prove my point only 1 of Italy’s goals in the group stages actually came about from open play.

As for England, well I am finding it more difficult than usual to dislike the side this year. Sure a few of the old annoyances linger on like Cole, Terry and Gerrard (all good players but just scum) But Hodgson hasn’t been afraid to give time to the likes of Welbeck and Oxlaide -Chamberlain, both of whom have impressed so far.

Whilst it isn’t the flashiest England team of recent years it it probably the most hard working and they look well set up to counter with pace via Young, Walcott and the aforementioned Chamberlain.

With Wayne Rooney back in the side and looking to make up for lost time I could see the Azzurri stumbling in this one.

 





World’s largest lasagne….in Poland?!?!?!

21 06 2012

A Polish restaurant in Krakow has set a new Guinness World Record for cooking the largest ever lasagne to celebrate the Italy footbal team staying nearby.

As we all know Italy are in Poland for the 2012 European soccer Championship and will take on England in the quarter-finals this Sunday.

The monster lasagne weighed in at more than 5.29 tons and took 10 hours to bake before being sliced into 10,000 portions.

“I don’t know about the players or if they will try the lasagne because they are on a diet, but they can try just a little bit,” Trattoria Giancarlo executive chef Giancarlo Russo told reporters.





Euro 2012 – Top players so far

15 06 2012

Ok, now before anyone points out the obvious yes we are only partway through the group phase but this is my blog and I make the rules!

With the second round of matches more or less out of the way now I have decided to have a quick look at some of the standout individual performances in the tournament so far.

 Mario Gomez

In my view Bayern striker Mario Gomez went  into the tournament with a little bit of a point to prove after a disappointing night in the Champions League final against Chelsea.

Well, with 3 goals so far he has more than delivered. Whilst he was the scorer of the only goal against Portugal was important it is two strikes against Holland which really impressed.
In particular his first where he timed his run to perfection and scored a goal that Dennis Bergkamp would have been proud of.

I would be surprised if an in form Gomez couldn’t fire German on to at least a Semi Final place.

Adrei Arshavin

  If I had to pick three words to sum up Arshavin’s time at Arsenal they would be frustrating, lazy and mercurial.

After the initial promise Arshavin has pretty much failed to deliver. Yes people can point to his assist rate but it is more his work rate or lack of that bugged me. He just doesn’t seem to care.

Well if for Arsenal Arshavin has been found wanting it has been a completely different story for the Russian national side.
This is the Arshavin that Arsenal fans have been crying out to see, making runs, picking out passes and just generally pulling the strings in the way we know he can.

Russia have been one of the standout teams for me and I credit Arshavin with being a big part of that success.

Mario Mandzukic

If it hadn’t been for injury to first choice striker Ivica Olic then Wolfsburg striker Mandzukic would likely have found himself consigned to the bench.

Well couldn’t that have proved to be a mistake? With 2 well taken goals against Ireland and the all important equaliser against Italy last night. Mandzukic is proving to be a more than capable replacement.

Here is hoping Croatia can manage to make it out of the group stage so we can see more of this promising forward.

Alan Dzagoev

With 3 goals to his name so far 21 year old Dzagoev is really starting to live up to Russia’s expectation.

The CSKA Moscow striker has been a revelation so far and if not quite the dark horse that some people are making him out to be he has certainly raised more than a few eyebrows as Russia have looked more than good value for a tilt at the title.

Niklas Bendtner

 If you have ever had the pleasure of listening Niklas Bendtner then you will be well aware that he is a supremely confident young man,some might even say arrogant.

Well Sunderland’s top scorer last year, a mighty 8 goals, has started to live up to a little bit of his own hype after netting two well taken goals against Portugal.

Of course the controversial 24 had to go his own way by flaunting tournament rules against and flashing his Paddy Power sponsored boxer shorts.

 

Andriy Shevchenko

At 35 there are some people who thought that this might prove to be a tournament too far for Shevchenko.

Well two goals against Sweden from the talismanic striker will have gone someway to proving them wrong.

Shevchenko has always been a player for the biggest of stages and an excellent start to the tournament so far coupled with his resurgence for Dynamo Kyiv is just going to show why he is still top dog for the Ukraine.

Yohan Cabaye

Cabaye was the best midfielder on show in the France v England match by some distance, especially when compared with Scott Parker….

The Newcastle player dictated the tempo of the entire game and showed levels of class that may yet earn him a move away from St. James Park.

He controlled and patrolled the middle of the park with ease and it was on this foundation that France dominated the entire game.

 

 

 

 

 

 Bastian Schweinsteiger

Gomez might be getting the plaudits for scoring 3 very good goals but if he is pulling the trigger than it is Bayern Munich midfielder Schweinsteiger who is providing the ammo.

In fact I would go so far as to say that Germany’s chance of winning the tournament revolves heavily around Schweinsteiger’s ability to set the tempo of the game more or less single handed.

Approaching his prime at 27, Schweinsteiger’s influence was evident again on Wednesday when he set up both goals as Germany beat the Dutch 2-1 with a lesson in fast, powerful and clinically effective football.

“Schweinsteiger is getting better and better, he’s developing more of a presence and when it gets tough he can keep the ball,” coach Joachim Loew said after Germany moved to the brink of the quarter-finals. “He’s physically strong and wins the one-on-ones.”





The Rocky Road to Poland….

13 06 2012

If you have been watching the European Championships as avidly as I have you will be well aware that Ireland are not only in a very tough group, Spain, Italy and Croatia, but that in their opener they had a shocker.

As such they will need to play out of their skins in order to even stand a chance of going through.

Luckily for the boys in green they have a lot of support and not just from within the Emerald Isles as the below video proves

The children singing are the Thai Tims and are all pupils at a school run by the Good Child Foundation in Thailand which offers equal oppurtunity education to all children.

The Good Child Foundation is a great cause that does a lot of good in rural Thailand, please support them if you can 🙂





Spicy Breaded Mozzarella Balls

2 12 2010
 I am at a loss to think of many things that are better than gooey melted mozzarella cheese and crunchy fried  breadcrumbs with a little hint of spice. That is why I simply love these little fried mozzarella balls, they are delicious either by themselves, with a spicy tomato sauce or a sweet chili dip.
 
 Your guests will love how they taste and you will love how easy they are to prepare.
 
Ingredients:
1 lb drained bocconcini (small mozzarella balls)
3 large eggs
1 cup panko dry bread crumbs
4tbsp white flour
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1tbsp milk

Method:

Drain the liquid from the mozzarella balls and pat dry with some kitchen paper

Beat together the eggs and the tablespoon of milk with a little bit of salt, the milk will help make the egg wash really smooth and the egg will break down the membrane in the egg helping it stick better.

Mix together the flour, salt and pepper in a ziplock bag and then poured in the drained mozzarella balls making sure that they get an even coating. Shake off any excess flour.

Dip the balls into the eggwash ensuring they are well coated

Mix the garlic powder, cayenne and paprika in with the breadcrumbs and make sure everything is well combined before adding the mozzarella balls

place the balls back in the egg wash and then dip them again in the breadcrumb. This double breading will help ensure an even coating and will make the balls extra crunchy and delicious.

Fry the balls in vegetable oil for about 1 – 2 minutes until they are lovely and golden.

Serve immediately with a nice dipping sauce or keep warm until needed in a low oven








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