Saturday, February 16, 2008

zizou-facts and quotes

  • Nicknamed "Zizou"
  • Born in marseilles, France, of Algerian parents
  • Scored his first goal professionally in 1991; the president of the cannes football club gifted him with a car.
  • In his first international game (playing for France against the Czech Republic) in 1994, he scored two goals in 17 minutes
  • Won Golden ball European MVP award for leading France to victory in 1998
  • FIFA Player of the Year in 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006
  • Became football's most expensive player in 2001, when Real Madrid acquired him for £46 million (roughly $66 million)
  • Christian Dior's first male model
  • After being sidelined several times with injuries, he announced he would retire after 2006 World cup games in Germany
  • Captained the French team in World Cup 2006 games; they lost to Italy
  • headbutted opponent Marco materazzi after a brief altercation in the 100th minute of the World Cup Final game. Zidane was red-carded, banished from the field.
  • Still won 2006 FIFA Golden Ball
  • Is featured as a LEGO minifigure, included in some of the soccer playsets


"I have won many awards and I am very happy about this, but I am not the best player in the world." — Zinedine Zidane

"It doesn't matter how many times you win an award, it is always very special." — Zinedine Zidane

"When we don't know what to do, we just give the ball to Zizou and he works something out." — Bixente lizarazu

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lampard Could Force Barça Move

Barcelona could buy Frank Lampard in the summer for as little as €7m from Chelsea if the player chooses invoke a new FIFA ruling that would allow him to go. With the player already searching for a house in the city, rumours are growing by the day.

Lampard Could Force Barça Move

The England midfielder has already been seen house hunting in Castelldefels close to Barcelona and that has led to speculation that he could be lining up a switch to Camp Nou.

Lampard could use the FIFA rule that allows players to just pay up the remainder of their contract when they want to join another club after record ruling from Court of Arbitration for Sport.

That means that he could leave Chelsea even if the club do not wish to sell in order to complete his dream move to Barça.

While Lampard and his Catalan wife already own property in her home city of Barcelona, the recent trip saw the former West Ham star claim that he needed a house within four months.

One report suggests that the move could be facilitated by José Mourinho taking over at Camp Nou if Frank Rijkaard steps down in the summer, but that appears unlikely.

Deco has already hinted that he wants to leave and that move would pave the way for Lampard to come in an be the attacking force in midfield for Barça.

Lampard has already turned down a contract offer from Chelsea and has just one year left on his deal at the end of the season.

Whether the Blues could, or indeed want to, tempt the 29-year-old with an improved contract remains to be seen and will certainly determine whether he stays or goes.

Karl Benz

The Early Years

Karl Benz was born the son of an engineer on November 25, 1844 in Karlsruhe. His father died when Karl was barely two years old. Despite being relatively poor, his mother ensured he had a good education. Karl Benz attended high school before going on to study at a technical college in Karlsruhe under the tutorship of Ferdinand Redtenbacher. This course of study was followed by a two-year traineeship at a mechanical engineering company in Karlsruhe. Whilst he was there, Benz gained basic experience in all areas of work. His first employment followed, as a draftsman and designer at a scales manufacturing factory in Mannheim. When he lost his job in 1868 he moved to the "Gebrüder Benckiser Eisenwerke und Maschinenfabrik" company which was concerned mostly with bridge construction. His interest in motor vehicles was sparked, as so often is the case, by the bicycle. His employment at Benckiser was followed by a short period spent working in Vienna, also at an iron construction firm.

The Beginnings

In 1871, the technically-minded Benz founded his first company in Mannheim with a mechanic by the name of August Ritter. The workshop had a typical Mannheim address: T 6, 11. It was, however, soon to become clear that Ritter was not a very reliable partner. It was only with the help of his fiancée, Bertha Ringer, that Benz was able to overcome this obstacle. Without further hesitation she paid in her dowry to buy Ritter out of the business. In 1872 Bertha Ringer and Karl Benz were married. Bertha Benz emerged as a crucial player in the future success of the fledgling company and undertook the world's first long-distance journey in an automobile. Karl and Bertha Benz had five children: Eugen (*1873), Richard (*1874), Clara (*1877), Thilde (*1882) and Ellen (*1890).

Karl Benz's business did not enjoy the best of fortunes at first. For example, his "Iron Foundry and Mechanical Workshop", which Benz later renamed "Factory for the Production of Metal-working Machinery" had its tools confiscated by the bailiffs. During this period Karl Benz concentrated on developing the two-stroke engine, in order to find another way of earning a living. After two years of development his first stationary engine finally spluttered into life on New Year's Eve 1879. It was a two-stroke model as the company Gasmotorenfabrik Deutz had already been awarded a German patent for the four-stroke version in 1877, thanks largely to the work of Nikolaus August Otto. Benz received several original patents for perfecting his two-stroke engine, which he worked on until he achieved series production standards. For example, one of these patents was awarded for the engine speed regulation system. He used his newly developed battery ignition system to induce combustion in the engine.

With new investors and partners in the Mannheim court photographer Emil Bühler and his brother, a cheese merchant, together with the financial support of the banks, Benz converted the company into a joint-stock company in 1882 and called the company "Gasmotoren-Fabrik Mannheim". Karl Benz had a mere 5% stake in the company, was "only" classed as director and was not the main supplier of ideas. His partners in the firm were also trying to exert increasing influence on his designs and a combination of these factors led Benz to leave the new company in 1883.

Benz & Co.

Later that year Benz found a different source of financial support in Max Rose and Friedrich Wilhelm Eßinger who ran a shop in Mannheim which sold, among other things, bicycles and who Benz met through his interest in cycling. In October the three men founded the company "Benz & Co. Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik". The workforce soon expanded to 25 men and the company grew to the point where it was even able to grant licenses for the production of gas engines. Benz could now devote himself one hundred percent to the development of his car engine. Financially secure, he took a different route from Daimler, who installed his engine into a carriage, by first designing a complete vehicle in which he could house his four-stroke gasoline engine. In 1886 he was granted Patent 37 435 for the vehicle and unveiled his first "Benz Patent Motor Car" to the public.

Between 1885 and 1887, three versions of the three-wheeler were designed: the Model 1 which Benz donated to the Deutsches Museum in 1906, the Model 2 which was probably altered and rebuilt several times, and lastly the Model 3 with wood-spoked wheels which Bertha Benz took on the first long-distance journey in 1888.

By 1886 the existing production facilities could no longer cope with the insatiable demand for stationary engines and "Benz & Co. Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik" moved to a larger factory building in Waldhofstrasse in which motor vehicle engines were manufactured until 1908. The appearance in 1890 of new partners, Friedrich von Fischer and Julius Ganß, marked the growth of "Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik" into Germany's second-largest engine factory. In 1893 Karl Benz introduced the axle-pivot steering system into automobile construction and in 1896 he developed the "contra" engine which was to become the precursor to today's horizontally opposed piston engine.

The World's Largest Automotive Manufacturer

Between 1894 and 1901 the Benz "Velo" was built at Benz & Co. It was a reasonably priced, light automobile for two people which signaled the breakthrough to higher sales and, with total production of some 1200 units, can be legitimately described as the first series production car. As the turn of the century approached, Benz & Co. had grown into the world's leading automotive manufacturer. In 1899 the firm was converted into a joint-stock company.

Julius Ganß joined Karl Benz on the Board of Management becoming the member responsible for commercial matters. The vehicle production workforce grew from 50 in 1890 to 430 by 1899. In this year alone, Benz built 572 vehicles.

The Final Years

On January 24, 1903 Karl Benz announced his retirement from active work within the company, taking a seat on the Supervisory Board. His departure was the result of internal wrangling in the company caused by the management's decision to employ a group of French designers in the Mannheim plant, with the aim of facing up to the competition from Mercedes. Karl Benz's two sons Eugen and Richard also left with him, although Richard returned to Mannheim in 1904 as passenger car production manager. By the end of the year sales of Benz motor cars had reached 3480.

In 1906 Karl Benz founded the company "Carl Benz Sohne" in Ladenburg, which was jointly owned by himself and his son Eugen. At first, they planned to build naturally aspirated gas engines. However, times were changing quickly and demand for this type of engine dwindled. This necessitated a change of tack to vehicle production and by 1923 some 350 "Carl Benz Sohne" vehicles had been produced. In the meantime, the Benz family had relocated to Ladenburg. In 1912 Karl Benz left the company as a partner, leaving his sons Eugen and Richard to run the business alone.

The company expanded further and branched out into other markets, for example into England where the "Carl Benz Sohne" vehicles were often employed as taxis and where their reliability earned them great popularity. In 1923 the last vehicle was built, followed only by two 8/25 hp vehicles a year later which Karl Benz kept for his own business and personal use. He enjoyed using both cars and never sold them. They have been preserved right up to the present day.

In contrast to Gottlieb Daimler, who died in 1900, Karl Benz was there to witness the blossoming of motorization and to see the products of his inspiration. He died on April 4, 1929 in his home in Ladenburg. Today this house is used by the "Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler Foundation" as their headquarters and as a location for a range of events.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Uefa Tell Referees To Get Tough

Referees who were invited to the European governing body's annual mid-term meeting in Cyprus last week were told that overly aggressive challenges that threaten the safety of an opponent warrant a straight red card.

Officials were also instructed to clamp down on group confrontations by acting swiftly before the situation escalates and not hesitating to issue yellow cards, particularly when players run a considerable distance to get involved.

"The players involved have to realise, 'If I approach this incident, I get a yellow card,"' former referee turned Uefa instructor Hugh Dallas told The Observer.

"The referees are charged with a responsibility of protecting the players' safety. The players have got to feel safe on the field of play," he added.

Dallas also said that he believes that the illegal use of arms and elbows is also becoming "more and more dangerous."

Uefa are, however, pleased with what they see as progress in the area of holding, pushing and pulling shirts in the penalty area with no less than five penalties given for the offence in the Champions League group stage.

The referees were also given instructions to be equally firm with player dissent and the business of asking for opponents to be booked by the waving of imaginary cards.

And, from this month, assistant referees will be positioned closer to the tunnel when the half-time and full-time whistles are blown in an effort to prevent trouble between the two sets of players as they make their way back to the changing rooms.
Finally, with Uefa president Michel Platini remaining firmly opposed to the idea of a 'video referee', TV monitors are to be removed from technical areas for all Uefa matches.

Real Madrid Eyeing Hibs Starlet

Real Madrid have confirmed that they are watching Hibernian striker Steven Fletcher and could make a €5m offer at the end of the season for his services.

Los Merengues' chief scout, Julen Lopetegui, revealed that the highly-rated Scottish starlet is one of a number of gifted youngsters the club are tracking.

Fletcher, 20, has only recently been rewarded with a new six-year contract at Hibs, but Madrid could buy that out if they really want him, according to the Daily Telegraph.

"He is now one of ten young players we are watching across Europe. It's a complicated process and we know it will be a hard choice," Lopetegui explained.

A number of Premiership clubs are also said to be watching his progress, while Fletcher has already gained interantional recognition.

Spain's Under-21 coach, Iñaki Saez, was impressed with the player at the Under-19 European Championships two years ago and is well aware of his talent.

"During the last couple of years the level of young players in Scotland has increased," said Saez.

"Fletcher is proof of that. He has a big future and I can't understand why he isn't playing for Celtic or Rangers.

tht s d way 2 do it- d real way...

Real Madrid racked up a truly incredible scoreline over a Real Valladolid side that simply collapsed in the face of pressure.

Both coaches would have been mindful of that draw at the Pucela's own patch earlier in the season, with Bernd Schuster eager not to endure a repeat.

And with that 2-0 loss at Almeria sitll weighing on his mind, he set his side out to kill this game off early.

Having almost gifted a chance to Llorente at the other end, they were nonetheless en route to doing so after just seven minutes.
Julio Baptista finished off a tremendous passing move that went from Sergio Ramos to Robinho, who in turn found Robben on the break. The Beast was able to barrel home on the run, and Madrid were 1-0 up.

Robinho went down just a few minutes later, with Drenthe coming on to run the left flank.

He and Robben - another import with something to prove - set about impressing, and their side kept up the pressure.

Valladolid, for their part, were able to pass the ball about well enough, but as soon as they reached the final third, they were met with an immediately mobile and spirited wall of opposition.

Madrid, meanwhile, had no such concerns, as half an hour in they were able to waltz forward and grab a second. Guti played a fine one-two with Raul, who in turn was able to dribble around Sergio Asenjo and tap the ball home.

Minutes later, it was 3-0, with Arjen Robben perhaps only just onside from Guti's masterful through ball, with Asenjo being dummied the wrong way as the ball sailed past him.

Madrid were now free of pressure, and it began to show in their passing play, which was growing ever more direct and attractive.

This culminated in their spending a lot of time in the box, and thus winning a penalty five minutes before the break.

Sergio Asenjo - who had been so impressive in recent weeks - showed his inexperience by giving away a penalty needlessly after coming off his line to challenge Baptista.

Raul, the old master, punished the tyro with a fine spot-kick, and Sergio was left to pick the ball out of the net for a fourth time.

And then it was five. Royston Drenthe silenced his doubters with a brilliant pass to Guti, the provider turned finisher, who in turn fired home.

No doubt the Madrid faithful in the Bernabeu stands would have passed half time by placing wagers on how many their heroes would rack up in the second period, but in fact it didn't quite work out that way.

Madrid, no doubt under orders to conserve their energy, started the second period slowly, although Guti and Robben almost carved out a fine chance five minutes in.

But the best opportunity came at the other end, where Oscar's rather innocuous shot saw Casillas merely palm it to Llorente. Thankfully for the injured 'keeper, Ramos and Cannavaro were able to clear off the line.

Diarra came on for Sergio Ramos as coach Schuster protected one of his star assets, but far from struggling with a loss of shape, Madrid, in fact, made it six.

Guti took his personal tally to two after Arjen Robben's sly cut-back to the edge of the box. The finish was unorthodox, cracking off both posts before settling over the line.

Valladolid took off Sisi as it became increasingly clear that it was game over, while Soldado came on for the hosts, who wanted yet more goals.

They duly got one, and it was a well-taken strike from Royston Drenthe. Guti set him up for the near-post finish after a move that, while Route One, was still easy on the eye.

Valladolid somehow found the will go on, with Oscar Sanchez firing a free-kick well over, and then Borja drilling a shot just wide as Madrid relaxed.

Indeed, seven goals saw them sated, and Valladolid humiliated. The gap's up to eight points - can Barcelona challenge now?