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Juan Sebastian Veron talks Lionel Messi and Argentina at the World Cup

Written by Chris Winterburn

Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4

Argentina’s opening victory of their World Cup campaign was not the straightforward result many were expecting from Alejandro Sabella’s side in their home continent. The first-half was a very difficult affair with Sabella’s tactical setup not benefitting Lionel Messi in the slightest, as I discuss here.

This opened up much half-time discussion on just why Messi couldn’t perform at the World Cup, however his second-half display put a kibosh on such talk.

Argentine veteran Juan Sebastian Veron has since spoken to adidas about Lionel Messi and Argentina’s chances in Brazil.

Veron talks to adidas as part of the #allin campaign.

Veron talks to adidas as part of the #allin campaign.

One of the main talking points surrounding Messi’s legacy is his ability to lead his country to glory in a World Cup. People who use Pele and Diego Maradona as measuring sticks suggest that a true mark of greatness is being able to lift the famous trophy and with Argentina disappointing in 2010, it was muted that Messi might not be able to repeat the feat of Maradona.

Veron disagrees, pointing out that the FC Barcelona forward has already achieved more than enough to cement his status as one of, if not the, greatest player ever.

Messi is already one of the best players in history and that will never change.

He holds the key. He doesn’t have to win a World Cup to be regarded as the best ever.

He’s already proven so, and there are many great players who are great players and never won a World Cup. But, it will be incredible to see him win it for Argentina and his team, as well as for his own story.

An encouraging sign for Messi and Argentina is just how well he slotted into Sabella’s 4-2-3-1 system in the second-half. Gonzalo Higuain’s introduction gave him a player to play off and this saw the tempo of Argentina’s attacks increase. It is unlikely Sabella will deviate from this system for the upcoming match against Iran with Messi appearing so confident following his strike against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Juan Sebastian Veron was a key part of the Argentinean footballing setup since 1997. Although he missed the 2006 World Cup in Germany due to difficulties within his club career at the time causing a lengthy dip in form, the man himself says it feels strange not to be involved this time around, “Although I miss playing in a World Cup, for the first time I’m able to see it from a different perspective and really enjoying my time here in Brazil. I’ve been able to watch many great games.”

Argentina were one of the pre-tournament favourites and although the defensive line is lacking in individual quality, a Lionel Messi hitting form at the right time is enough to drive most teams to the latter stages. In the interview Veron suggests that the importance of gaining a victory in the opening group match is invaluable in terms of providing ‘tranquillity’ to a group with the pressure in the remaining two fixtures significantly lowered,

We’ve won our first game which is great, it’s important to start the World Cup winning and it will bring a lot of tranquillity to the next match.

The team also know that a lot more hard work is needed and some improvements are needed.

It’s very important for there to be a balance between our defence and attack and the team needs to stay together as they’re a collective of many components, with many solutions.

I’m confident we’ll do well, but remember, in football anything can happen.

Argentina next take to the field against Iran on Saturday before their final group game against a lacklustre Nigeria side on Wednesday June 25th.

Juan Sebastian Veron was talking as part of the adidas #allin or nothing campaign

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Chris Winterburn meets Fernandinho

Earlier this season I had the chance to briefly talk to Fernandinho about a range of topics such as this summer’s World Cup on Brazilian soil, life at new club Manchester City, his brand new Adidas Predator boots and just what travelling supporters can expect from Brazil this summer.

Fernandinho with his Adidas Predator boots just after talking about the World Cup and Manchester City.

Fernandinho with his Adidas Predator boots just after talking about the World Cup and Manchester City.

CW: It is a World Cup year as you know and Brazil are the hosts, just how important and special would it be for you to get into the Brazilian side and go to the World Cup and win it on home soil?

F: After my family it is the next most important thing in my life.

CW: Now onto the new Adidas Predators you are promoting today, they are certainly very colourful but can you remember the first pair of football boots you ever had, what circumstances you got them in and who gave them to you?

F: This boot [Adidas Predator] would be perfect for the Carnival Catwalk in Brazil. I remember the first boots I ever had, I was four years old and my father bought me a pair of boots which I remember were black and yellow.

CW: At Manchester City you are playing in the centre of midfield with Yaya Toure, how much do you think playing with an experienced International will help you improve aspects of your own game and then break into this summer’s World Cup squad?

F: I hope so, playing with top quality players can only help me improve however ultimately it is only me who can put in the work over the season. The results of the club matter in all competitions and I have to impress the coach [Scolari] it is he who has the final decision.

CW: With the World Cup this summer being in your home country Brazil, how excited are you by the country showing the positives they have to offer to a worldwide audience?

Fernandinho in the midst of his photo-shoot to promote the brand new Adidas Predator boots.

Fernandinho in the midst of his photo-shoot to promote the brand new Adidas Predator boots.

F: For Brazil it is exciting that we are going to be able to show the positive sides of the country, the World Cup is not just going to be in one city it will be in lots of different cities so you will be able to experience all of Brazil. The North of Brazil is totally different to the South of Brazil, central Brazil and the East and West, every side of Brazil is completely different. Outsiders have an idea of Brazil being about the Carnival and the beach but you will be able to visit Manaus where there is one of the most beautiful rainforests in the world with many different creatures, but it is completely different if you go to Campinas which if you like fishing is fantastic. There is a different side to Brazil, the nature and the culture will be able to be shown to the rest of the World.

This interview was conducted on behalf of FootballBoots.co.uk

Written by Chris Winterburn

Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4

Chris Winterburn meets Alvaro Negredo

February 25, 2014 1 comment

At the beginning of this season I caught up with Manchester City’s summer signing Alvaro Negredo after the Spaniard had enjoyed a wonderful start to his career in the Premier League. Here is what Negredo had to say to me with regards to life at Manchester City, differences between La Liga and the Premier League, his World Cup ambitions and an interesting little anecdote regarding his first ever pair of football boots.

Alvaro Negredo has set the Premier League alight in his first half season with Manchester City, scoring twenty three goals in all competitions.

Alvaro Negredo has set the Premier League alight in his first half season with Manchester City, scoring twenty three goals in all competitions.

CW: You mentioned the new Adidas F50 boot was light, does this affect how you strike the ball in any way?

AN: Yes, It helps with the power, the lighter the boot the more power you are going to get behind your shot and it helps that the boots are quite thin as well, you feel like your foot is a lot closer to the ball so it is more like playing without anything on your feet.

CW: As we have said it is a World Cup year this year, the Spain squad has already won the World Cup and are looking to make it two in a row, do you think you can play a big part in that?

AN: The competition for places is obviously very high for attacking players in the Spanish squad and all I can do over the next year is perform as well as I can and hopefully I will be there scoring goals for Spain next summer.

CW: Since moving from Spain this summer what immediate differences have you noticed between the game in La Liga and in the Premier League?

AN: Yes, the pace of the game, there is a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and you have to get up and down the pitch a lot, a lot more in this league than in Spain. In Spain teams tend to keep the ball a lot more and prize possession over running quite so many distances but at Manchester City we have a lot of players that are very good on the ball and we keep the ball quite well so it isn’t too different for me playing when we do have the ball but when the opposition have the ball it is a little bit different as there is more running.

CW: As we are in a World Cup year, looking back through your life and the World Cups you remember which players have stood out in World Cups for you and who have you modelled your game on?

AN: The Brazilian Ronaldo is a player who is completely different to any other forward that has played the game, his speed over the first three or four yards was absolutely incredible and I loved watching him play, his physique was incredible and he scored goals, he was everything I wanted to be in a centre forward.

CW: European teams have traditionally not done well in World Cups hosted in South America, how confident are you? and how important would it be for Spain to be the first European side to win a World Cup in South America and also be the first side to win two World Cups in a row since Brazil in 1958 and 1962?

AN: We know it is going to be very difficult, there is going to be a lot of good teams out there but we have got exceptional players in the squad and we’re confident that we can retain it [World Cup] we won the tournament in South Africa which again is a different continent so we have got the experienced gained from that to be able to do the same again but we know it is going to be very difficult so we will just do our best to try and bring the trophy home.

CW: In the past playing for Sevilla you have worked with Diego Capel and Jesus Navas, small players and you have linked well with them, under Pellegrini’s style of football at Manchester City are you finding it to be anything similar?

AN: I like being a tall guy in any team but the players [he has played with] are all quite different, Silva and Aguero tend to keep hold of the ball a little bit more, they look to take players on and bring others into play whereas Navas and Capel are more direct and tend to run straight at players, trying to get to the by-line and then hit the balls into the box where I can head them in.

Alvaro Negredo sporting the brand new Adidas F50 boots shortly after we spoke. (Picture is courtesy of FootballBoots.co.uk)

Alvaro Negredo sporting the brand new Adidas F50 boots shortly after we spoke. (Picture is courtesy of FootballBoots.co.uk)

CW: You currently play under the Spanish boss Vicente del Bosque, what are his coaching methods? I know you only get to work with the National team manager for a short period of time so does that make it more difficult to adapt and learn his coaching methods?

AN: Spain have obviously got some of the best players in the World, so any time that you spend with them always makes you a better a player as you learn things from them. [Vicente] del Bosque is a fantastic coach and he has got no problems in transmitting his ideas to us on the days when we do have with him. It is fantastic to work with him and players with such great quality.

CW: As we are here for the unveiling of the new Adidas F50 boot can you remember the first pair of boots you had as a child and who gave them to you?

AN: I always used to wear colourful boots as a child, all the kids wanted a pair because they came in many different colours. For my first pair of boots, I went to the local sports shop and bought a pair of white boots and when I came home my mum said I had to go and take them back because I would be a target for opposition defenders, wearing white boots. I was told I had to take them back as I would just get kicked all the time but we talked it through and eventually I won the argument and got to keep my white boots.

This interview was conducted on behalf of FootballBoots.co.uk

Written by Chris Winterburn

Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4

Chris Winterburn meets Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka

February 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Earlier this season I caught up with a two of Everton and England’s defensive line at Adidas’ World Cup launch event in Salford. Here is what the pair had to say to me with regards to the new Adidas Predator boots, life at Everton under Roberto Martinez, the Toffee’s hopes for the season and of course this summer’s World Cup out in Brazil.

Leighton Baines getting to grips with his new footwear shortly after we spoke.

Leighton Baines getting to grips with his new footwear shortly after we spoke.

Phil Jagielka Interview:

CW: Chris here from FootballBoots.co.uk, I noticed the new Pink Adidas Predators you had on, I had a feel of them earlier and they are really light. Does that impact your game in any way?

PJ: Well yeah obviously. Same again, you’re not getting than many pairs of leather boots these days, so it’s like synthetic leather that probably makes the boot that little bit lighter.  If you look at the mould, especially there is no metal inside there either not that the studs are particularly much heavier but I like a light boot, obviously there is actually lighter ones out there as well obviously the F50 is that little bit lighter again but I think that is the way football is going now, the amount of speed and all sorts involved in the game the last thing you want is the feeling of running around in a pair of wellies so like you said these Predators themselves are getting lighter, more comfortable and for me that ticks two massive boxes.

CW: This summer you were made Everton’s club captain after Phil Neville retired, has that changed your attitude to the game at all? How you approach matches and will it affect you going into the World Cup?

PJ:  It hasn’t affected the way I go into games or matches towards anything. I think obviously there is more responsibility off the pitch, I think that’s probably the biggest thing and obviously it has been made that little bit bigger by having a new management staff because obviously the coaching staff and the manager I knew obviously a lot about left so it was all about me bridging the gap between the new manager, the new coaching staff and the players which was more difficult than maybe it would have been it things would have stayed the same but it hasn’t been, it’s not been majorly difficult it’s just something new to me being sort of a stepping stone between the players and the management staff.

CW: In your career so far you have played under Neil Warnock at Sheffield United and David Moyes at Everton but with Roy Hodgson and England is it any different because you can only work together in such a short space of time?

PJ: It is different because as much as you try and make it a club atmosphere and all sorts because you’re trying to make it as relaxed and like it is when you go back to your normal clubs because everyone does play for different clubs and are used to different styles of training and styles of coaching so I think it is a bit of a different job for Roy when he is taking the England team. As I say if he had us for six months at a time it would be a lot easier for him whereas obviously he only gets us for four or six days at a time so putting his methods and views across in such a short space of time becomes a lot harder, but I think he has done a great job with the squad he has put together and the way he has handled himself because it is difficult being the England manager not only on the pitch but obviously off the pitch as well so he has got a slightly different role to the previous managers I have had in my career.

Phil Jagielka on the new World Cup Ball (Brazuca): I have had a feel of it and a bit of a kick around with it and all sorts, fantastic as usual, a great ball from Adidas. I remember the days when I used to go out and buy myself an Adidas Tango, the ball has slightly changed from then to this one but yeah great colours, the ‘Brazuca’ as I have heard it’s been called so it’s just nice and hopefully it will be a memorable ball and hopefully I will get to use it in the summer first and foremost. Hopefully I will have a few decent memories of playing with it.

Leighton Baines Interview:

CW: Earlier I had a pair of the new Adidas Predators you have on and I notice they were very light will this impact your free-kicks at all?

LB: No because I think the thing with them is and the thing I like about them is the balance, I mean there are certain boots you pick up and there is no weight in them whatsoever so no real feeling in them, no real protection in them so the new Predators are really light but have still got some substance to them which is better. As I say with regards to striking a ball they have got that grip again which some boots don’t have, I’ve worn, tried a couple of other pairs of boots which just haven’t had the same feel so as I say the all round package for me is spot on.

CW: With Roberto Martinez your new manager, do you think any of his new coaching methods will help you to adapt your game in a World Cup year where you will be coming up against the World’s best players?

LB: Yeah, well what we’re doing now obviously is, the manager’s style is different so straight away it asks more questions of you sort of he is asking us to try different things to what we have been used to so that hopefully only adds another string to your bow if you like and makes you a more complete player and that’s the thing were doing now, were a lot further down the line than we were in pre-season in terms of implementing the manager’s methods and his ideas but it’s certainly been interesting to work with him.

CW: With a lot of teams being busy in the transfer market this past summer the competition is really strong for those European places, with this in mind what would you consider a good season for Everton this year?

LB: Well I think what we always have looked to do is find ways to improve on what we have done before so I think that’s the goal really, to try and get back in amongst those European spots you know, the Europa League and as you said there, there has been a lot of activity and a lot of teams have strengthened really well so it looked like it was going to be as tough as ever but then we sort of had a good final day of the window, bringing in some good additions so they seem to have helped us, we have had some good results, a good couple of wins so we feel confident. We haven’t lost in the League yet and its clear we are capable of doing it [Qualifying for Europe], it’s just the competition is as strong as it’s ever been so we are going to have to be at our best.

These interviews were conducted on behalf of FootballBoots.co.uk

You can follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4

Chris Winterburn meets Edin Dzeko

February 18, 2014 1 comment

Earlier this season I caught up with a number of Premier League footballers at Adidas’ World Cup launch event in Salford. Here is what Edin Dzeko had to say to me with regards to the World Cup, his boots and the start of Manuel Pellegrini’s tenure as Manchester City boss.

Dzeko just after we spoke pictured with Adidas' 2014 World Cup ball, the Brazuca.

Dzeko, just after we spoke, pictured with Adidas’ 2014 World Cup ball, the Brazuca.

CW: You have been modelling the new Adidas Predator boots today and I noticed that they are very light, does that impact your game at all when you strike the ball or when you’re dribbling?

ED: I think it is definitely better that the boots are lighter and you feel quicker, ha I’m joking, I like the new boot, I am already playing in them for a few months and it is really good. I like this boot as my feet fit in the boot, there is no space inside the boot and that is most important for me.

CW: Manchester City have got a new manager this season, Manuel Pellegrini. What has he brought to the place that is different to last year with Roberto Mancini?

ED: I think a lot of things are different but especially the way we play, the way we want to play. We want to be an aggressive team, an attacking team and well organised. I think we can only improve over the coming games.

CW: Growing up with World Cups being shown on television, what players stood out to you when you watched the tournaments on television when you were young and have you tried to model your own game on any of them?

ED: My favourite player always was Andriy Shevchenko, I definitely watched him not only at the big competitions but also at the clubs where he played. He was my favourite.

CW: Following on from that, at the World Cup every team who travels wants to win the tournament but are there any teams who you really don’t want to face, who you are really wary of?

ED: I think that Spain for me are definitely the best team in the world and I would prefer to avoid them.

CW: As with every World Cup year there is a new ball, have you had chance to see this summer’s edition today?

ED: Yeah, I just saw the ball and it looks good, the colour is also very Brazilian colours.

CW: Does anything about the ball affect the way you strike it? Does the weight of the ball affect the way you approach striking the ball?

ED: Of course you have better balls than others, I think Adidas balls are good as you can hit them properly.

CW: I remember a couple of years ago you were playing for Wolfsburg in the Champions League at Old Trafford and now you are playing regular Champions League football with Manchester City, how much would it mean to you to win that competition?

ED: This is the best club competition in the World and it would be fantastic not just for me but for the club first and this is something amazing but we still have to go into the second stage and then anything else is possible.

CW: This year you appear to be getting more first team football at Manchester City under the new manager, how important is that for you heading into a World Cup year?

ED: First we have to go to the World Cup you know, there are still two games [Qualifying] to come so I don’t think too much about that at the moment, I just think about doing my best in training and the manager is there to make a choice.

This interview was conducted on behalf of FootballBoots.co.uk.

You can follow Chris Winterburn on Twitter @Chriswin4