Category: Previews and Predictions

We Predict… The 2018 FIFA World Cup

You feel that, right? That’s the feeling we football fans get in the days leading up to the start of a FIFA World Cup. That’s the feeling you get when you know there’s a whole month of tournament football lying in wait. After Russia face Saudi Arabia in the tournament opener at the Luzhniki on Thursday, there are 55 games in the space of 19 days. Once it all gets going there’ll only be one day left of June that won’t have a match on. You feel it, right? It’s called FIFA World Cup fever.

Everyone at Icons.com has it. We’re all heading out to Russia over the course of the tournament and we could’t be more excited. But nor could we be more divided on what’s going to go down when the best of the best go head-to-head.

Making a hash of what’s to come over the next 32 days, our staff and partners have made their predictions for the competition ahead. But don’t take our word as gospel, feel free to get involved on our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages by giving us your predictions. After all, you can hardly do much worse.

And, of course, be sure to check out our fantastic range of official FIFA World Cup signed memorabilia from icons past and present – available right now on Icons.com.


Edward Freedman, Chairman

Winners: SPAIN have the best individuals and, since their victory in 2010, they are experienced in winning this tournament.

Runner-up: FRANCE’s weakest link is their inexperience but they have a great team that can get them to a second straight tournament final.

Shock exit: ENGLAND are rubbish. I don’t think they’re in the same class as a lot of the teams being talked about at this tournament. The Three Lions will draw against Panama and lose to Tunisia with the former shocking the world to progress to the knockout stages.

Golden Boot: DIEGO COSTA will inspire the eventual winners with a glut of goals.

England will… well, see above.

Random predictions: Iran will do a lot better than people expect while Belgium will disappoint despite progressing through Group G.

Can Diego Costa fire Spain to their second world title – a fourth major tournament triumph in ten years?

Dan Jamieson, CEO

Winners: SPAIN know how to win it, can keep the ball forever, have the world’s best goalkeeper and this time around they have the ugliest of ugly up front. And, of course, Sergio Ramos can take out any striker whenever necessary.

Runner-up: I like the look of FRANCE. They are my office sweepstake pick and I also like the look of about 23 high-calibre players that can’t even get into the squad (think Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema, Anthony Martial etc.). I think it’s a tournament too early for them to become world champions but the mix is right and in Antoine Griezmann they have a potential Golden Boot winner.

Shock exit: BRAZIL are not as good as they think they are, especially at defending. Neymar Jr can’t be 100% fit and the team is built around him. If they are dysfunctional upfront then the first big team that stands up to them can exploit the spaces at the back.

Golden Boot: If France get to the final then GRIEZMANN will play seven games and clean up just as he did at UEFA EURO 2016.

England will… play better football, look relatively organised, narrowly win the first two games, lose to Belgium and then come close to beating Colombia in the ROUND OF 16. They will come home feeling that the future’s brighter than the present.

Random predictions: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s mission to complete their trophy collection will be the journalistic narrative but team ethos, top goalkeeping, multiple goal threats, sound defending and ball-keeping midfielders will triumph over what they can offer. England fans will be looking through the silverware-winning U17 and U20 squads and drawing up their 2026 FIFA World Cup teamsheets come early July.

France forward Antoine Griezmann will be looking to go one better after Les Blues came close at UEFA EURO 2016.

Ben Soley, Sales and Marketing Manager

Winners: You don’t necessarily need the depth GERMANY have to win seven FIFA World Cup matches but the quality they possess is just insane. The fact that Leroy Sane will be watching from home (or more likely from a private island resort) speaks volumes.

Runner-up: FRANCE have the joint second youngest squad at the tournament. They beat Germany at UEFA EURO 2016 but that was on home soil. A second straight loss in a major final will be hard to take but we will be approaching a period of French dominance if they can eventually get it right.

Shock exit: Expectations will be higher for COLOMBIA after a stunning FIFA World Cup campaign four years ago and their group is one of the more competitive. PORTUGAL’s time in Russia will end as soon as they reach the knockouts. Both will be seen as underachievements.

Golden Boot: So many options! Having said that, I fancy someone from Group A with those kind fixtures against Russia and Saudi Arabia providing a good chance for the hat-trick that would take you halfway to the crown. I’ll be brave and go with Uruguay to be the nation with the most goals while MOHAMED SALAH takes the individual prize.

England will… lose in the QUARTER-FINALS. It’s hard not to put on the rose-tinted glasses. We have some outstanding wing-backs, one of the best strikers in the world and some great and in-form attacking support. Tight wins against Panama and Tunisia, coupled with a draw against Belgium, followed by a gritty win against one of Colombia or Poland in the round of 16 takes us to the quarters and Germany. That’s when I throw my glasses away.

Random predictions: Iran will only concede two goals but still go out at the group stages. Harry Kane will score a hat-trick while Harry Maguire will be an unlikely goalscorer. Lionel Messi will speak out against the AFA when Argentina are knocked out.

Germany are much-fancied to defend their title with strength in depth a particular asset.

Alistair Hunter, Senior Editor

Winners: BRAZIL are the perfect combination of gritty between the lines and irresistible going forward.

Runner-up: SPAIN are back to their best but come up just shy of a fourth title in ten years.

Shock exit: It pains me to say it as a massive fan of Lionel Messi but I see ARGENTINA going out at the group stages. Group D is deceptively tricky and there is a clear imbalance to Jorge Sampaoli’s squad. A fast start is needed to keep the immense pressure of their supporters’ expectations from getting to them.

Golden Boot: A relatively straightforward group and a deep run to the latter stages gives NEYMAR JR the best chance.

England will… reach the QUARTER-FINALS. Victory over Tunisia will lift their spirits enough to also cruise past Panama but defeat to Belgium leaves them second in Group G. They scrape by Colombia in the round of 16 causing a surge of excitement back home before Southgate’s men are outclassed (but hardly embarrassed) by the almighty Germans.

Random predictions: Lacking experience, training and guidance, FIFA World Cup officials struggle to properly implement VAR, which leads to several high-profile mistakes and widespread protestations over the use of the technology at future tournaments. Meanwhile Group C tops the goalscoring charts. 

Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) will be in use at the FIFA World Cup for the very first time. But will it help or hinder?

James Tildesley, Head of New Business

Winners: GERMANY, as I really don’t see a weak area of their game and they have such depth to their squad. Couple that with a manager who knows how to win and I can’t see past them.

Runner-up: I like the look of Spain and Brazil but I think FRANCE will be the ones who eventually lose out to the Germans. Again, this is a team with a phenomenally good squad which appears to have less of the types of personalities that derailed them so spectacularly in 2010.

Shock exit: PORTUGAL have a difficult group and I felt they really flattered to deceive at UEFA EURO 2016. There will be plenty who say they won it on merit and I would tend to agree but I also feel there was an absence of any real opposition.

Golden Boot: I have money on TIMO WERNER so failure is not an option.

England will… get done 2-0 in the ROUND OF 16. I don’t see us doing much better than scraping out of our group but it’s also difficult for me to picture anything other than a spectacular disappointment in which we lose to Tunisia and Belgium and draw with Panama.

Random predictions: Mohamed Salah will overcome his shoulder injury to score six in Group A as he pulls himself into contention for the Golden Boot (I have money on him as well!). 

Egypt’s undoubted talisman, Mohamed Salah, will lead the line in a group of Uruguay, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Brett Sinclair, Warehouse Manager

Winners: BELGIUM have an all-round top quality squad with plenty of experience. They just need to work well together in a way that they have not before. Let’s see what Roberto Martinez can do.

Runner-up: ENGLAND. I must say that I think we are going in to the FIFA World Cup with a young squad that will have a lot to prove. Let’s wait and see what they can do.

Shock exit: There seems to be a lot of hype surrounding SPAIN this year but I think they get frustrated too easily. They may be on the end of a few red cards which could spell trouble in the group stages.

Golden Boot: As long as ANTOINE GRIEZMANN is on the pitch, I would always expect to see big things coming from him. The French squad has tons of talent and they should be able to make it easy for him.

England will… make it to the FINAL, as I stated earlier.

Random predictions: My very random prediction is that we will see a very high number of cards. I also think that VAR will not be used nearly as much as it should.

Is it time for Belgium’s golden generation to come good?



We Predict… The 2018 UEFA Champions League Final

It’s almost here. The countdown to the 2018 UEFA Champions League final is in its final stages and this year the anticipation could not be any higher. Kiev better brace itself, because when Real Madrid and Liverpool clash on Saturday evening, there’s sure to be fireworks.

We know it’ll be an exciting, enthralling and electric final. We know there’s a good chance the match won’t finish goalless. We know there’s history to be made. But what we don’t know – for certain, anyway – is exactly what will happen. But we can always guess. So, without further adieu…


Dan Jamieson, CEO

I’m with esteemed football writer Jonathan Wilson, who has argued that Real Madrid are a giant “sleep-walking into a hammering.”

I’m a born and bred Scouser and a big Liverpool fan, so forgive me for any perceived bias, but I just think Real won’t know what’s hit them. Lots of teams press but Liverpool are on a different level. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané are clocked as two of the top even fastest players in European football and it’s the Gegenpress that creates the chances rather than our more functional midfield. Marcelo will go walkabout, Sergio Ramos will push up too high and dive in too much, while Cristiano Ronaldo will get frustrated by a lack of service.

This is the end of the road for this great Real side but now the youngest, quickest and hungriest team they will have played will bring down the curtain on their regal rein. Exuberance triumphs over experience.

Score: Real Madrid 0-4 Liverpool
Man of the Match: Sir Bobby of Firmino.
Random prediction: After Madrid lose, they spend the summer trying to buy their conquerors.


Ben Soley, Sales and Marketing Manager

Real are the dream opposition for Liverpool – ageing, slow, over-confident. Madrid may have the experience in finals like these but Liverpool will have the hunger. There will undoubtedly be some early jitters and the occasion might get to some of the Liverpool players (as it did in the first 20 minutes of the first leg against Roma) but when they get their first chance they will quickly see how easy it is to get at Madrid’s defence.

Many of Liverpool’s games are won in the middle of the pitch, where a dynamic trio dispossess their opposite numbers, and get it to that forward three at pace. Injuries mean they are without linchpin midfielders Emre Can and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain while Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro will prove to be the hardest opposition Klopp’s side have come up against. So, it will be up to Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, and the competition’s leader for assists, James Milner, to control the game.

I expect a high-scoring match but those who doubt Liverpool’s defensive qualities should re-watch the performances of Dejan Lovren and Trent Alexander-Arnold’s against Manchester City in the quarter-final at the Etihad.

Score: Real Madrid 2-3 Liverpool
Man of the Match: James Milner.
Random prediction: Marcelo will misplace a pass that leads directly to a goal.

The final takes place at Kiev’s Olimpiyskiy stadium on Saturday at 19:45 (GMT)

Alistair Hunter, Senior Editor

Liverpool have all the tools to stop Real Madrid but there’s something about Zinedine Zidane’s side in these finals that makes them seem unstoppable.

Call it experience, call it genuine star quality, call it luck, call it whatever you want – there’s just something about them that has me believing that, especially if it goes beyond the 90 minutes, it’s they who pull through. I have been lucky enough to have attended the last two finals so I have seen this in action.

But, on a more practical note, I believe it’ll be Real’s strength in depth that will prove a decisive factor. After all, however Zidane chooses to line up his side in Kiev, he’ll have numerous options on the bench. One of Gareth Bale, Isco or Marco Asensio (or even all three) could be left out of the starting XI. Klopp doesn’t have that luxury and the more this incredibly high-octane, end-of-season game wears on, the more likely it is that fresh legs make the difference.

Score: Real Madrid 3-2 Liverpool (AET)
Man of the Match: Cristiano Ronaldo.
Random prediction: Ronaldo will win and convert a first half penalty.


James Tildesley, Head of New Business

Much has been said about Real Madrid’s weaknesses and, in particular, how Marcelo marauding forward would afford space to Liverpool’s key threat, Mohamed Salah. But I don’t think a team that has got itself to the final for a chance to win its third consecutive UEFA Champions League title could be that tactically naive.

Admittedly, I looked at Madrid against Bayern Munich and thought it to be promising for Liverpool and in the final Marcelo may well find himself out of position. However, I think mental strength will be a deciding factor and, given that Liverpool were rocked several times against Roma, I can see that coming to the fore again.

Score: Real Madrid 2-1 Liverpool
Man of the Match: Luka Modric.
Random prediction: Marcelo provides either the assist or a key pass for a Real goal while also being at fault for a Liverpool goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo is aiming to win his fifth UEFA Champions League title

Jamie White, Social Media Producer

Being a Liverpool fan, I have to have faith in the Redmen to bring home that trophy even if my head says Real Madrid will win.

Given their experience in winning this competition over recent years and considering the players they have at their disposal, it’s hard look past the Spanish giants for a third straight title. Having said that, on our day, we can beat anyone and there can be no bigger or better occasion to prove that than this one. People talk up Liverpool’s powerful attacking trio but its that leaky back line that will have to prove itself in limiting the damage caused by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo. I think that, should the game go to extra time, Liverpool may run out of steam with their high-pressure tactics. Real’s greater strength in depth will also play a key role in swinging the balance.

Score: Real Madrid 3-2 Liverpool
Man of the Match: Luka Modric.
Random prediction: (Not so random) Dejan Lovren will drop a howler.


Scott Hutchison, US Partner

If you’re looking for a defensive battle, this isn’t the match for you. Expect both teams to constantly press, setting us neutrals up to enjoy a free-scoring affair. I’m a firm believer in the intangibles, with experience being top of the list.

I can’t see Liverpool being intimidated by the occasion, but when that whistle blows, they’ll line up opposite the side who have reigned over this competition for three of the last four years. That will bring a certain confidence to Real and will put them up early, making this less of a competitive match than most would want.

Score: Real Madrid 4-2 Liverpool.
Man of the Match: Can it really be anyone other than Cristiano Ronaldo?
Random prediction: Chelsea showed that if you smother Mo Salah, you smother and ultimately stop Liverpool. He may get his goal but expect the Egyptian’s possession overall to be very limited.


So, that’s what we think will go down in Kiev. But what do you think? Send us your predictions by getting in touch via our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages!

Get 10% off ALL Liverpool and Real Madrid signed memorabilia on Icons.com.



Football’s back! Six unmissable storylines to look out for in 2017-18

At last, it’s back! The real football has returned! From now until late May of next year, it’s non-stop, full-on, unadulterated football and we at Icons.com could not be more excited.

After all, this season has the potential to be bigger, better and more exciting than ever. And not just in England. Let’s not forget the thrills that await around the continent; in Spain, Germany, Italy and France, where the best footballers on the planet do battle in front of the biggest crowds for the right to claim the world’s most coveted prizes.

In fact, with so much going on around the world on the opening weekend of the season, you could be forgiven for not knowing where to start or what to look out for. Well, it’s lucky we’re here then, isn’t it? Here are six things you need to keep an eye on this season.

 

1. Bem-vindo Neymar Jr

So, it actually happened. With Neymar Jr’s switch from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for €222million, world football’s transfer record has been broken by a factor of two. Our office stopped in its tracks to watch – perhaps a little out of disbelief – as the mercurial Brazilian forward was presented in front of the world’s media last week. With a glitzy unveiling in front of a sell-out crowd days later, the Parc de Princes has had more than a little Hollywood about it over the past month.

This season the 25-year-old will surely set his sights not only on a sweep of the domestic titles on offer at his new club but also a shot at one or both of the two individual honours that would certify his superstar status: the Ballon D’or and FIFA’s The Best Award. Will the football gods also write a mouthwatering script that reunites him with Barça in the UEFA Champions League? It may be time to start warming those balls…

 

2. The main event

Speaking of the UEFA Champions League, this season’s race for club football’s most sought-after prize promises to be as thrilling as ever. Real Madrid made history at the end of last season as they became the first team to successfully defend their title but Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo aren’t quite content with just two-in-a-row. The Spanish champions have won the famous tournament in three of the last four years and they’ve developed a taste for success.

Meanwhile, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are back, adding three previous winners and two of the competition’s most storied teams to the mix. Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho have a great knack of inspiring magic on European nights but can the trophy really return to the North West as early as this season?

Not if the rest of Europe has something to say about it. A certain aforementioned Brazilian seems dead-set on making his mark at PSG but to get to Kiev they may have to return to the scene of last season’s most remarkable tie: Camp Nou. All this while Carlo Ancelotti plots Bayern Munich’s return to the European throne and Gianluigi Buffon prays for one last shot at the trophy that has always eluded him.

As an official UEFA licensee, Icons.com is the proud home of official UEFA Champions League signed memorabilia.

 

3. A six-horse race

The Premier League is getting stronger in competitive terms, there’s no doubt about that. Almost all of the world’s best managers are taking charge of talented, hungry and exciting teams in England’s topflight and that means the title could go almost anywhere.

In Manchester, Pep Guardiola is building an attack-minded team at City with the signing of Monaco’s Bernardo Silva to add to Sergio Aguero’s goals, while United have a new hitman in the form of Romelu Lukaku. Liverpool are still a side of pure pace up front and should be an entertaining watch considering their attacking prowess.

Meanwhile, in London, Antonio Conte has one of the world’s most exciting attacking midfielders in Eden Hazard and Mauricio Pochettino will just be happy that both Harry Kane and Dele Alli (see below) have gone the summer without their heads being turned. Arch-rivals Arsenal have satisfied the wishes of their fans with the purchase of Alexandre Lacazette and the retention of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil (at the time of writing, anyway). So, who exactly is supposed to be the frontrunner here?

Find out who we fancy to come out on top in our special 2017-18 season predictions blog.

 

4. Dele’s big year

The breakout season is history, the sophomore slump was nowhere to be seen. Now the most exciting young talent at both Tottenham Hotspur and England can stretch his legs and really show us what he’s got. Gunning for a hat-trick of PFA Young Player of the Year awards – and perhaps the main gong too – Dele Alli faces a season of much promise.

Playing in front of potentially 90,000 fans at Spurs’ temporary home of Wembley Stadium won’t faze the England regular, nor will the prospect of a second season in the UEFA Champions League group stages. In fact, knowing the boy-wonder personally from our signing sessions, we’re not sure exactly what could faze him, if anything. Here is a confident 21-year-old who has the world at his feet. Which reminds us, isn’t there some sort of big international tournament coming soon?

We are immensely proud to have an official contract with Tottenham and England sensation Dele Alli. For exclusive signed products, visit Icons.com today.

 

5. All the world’s a stage

Ah, yes, the FIFA World Cup. Next summer sees the return of the biggest football tournament on the planet and with potentially one last chance at winning that most coveted trophy, the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will be desperate to deliver glory to their respective countries. Neymar Jr, Philippe Coutinho, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Dele Alli will be among the young but established stars hoping to capture the world’s attention and with the talent on offer it promises to be a tournament full of drama.

Whisper it but England look to be stronger than in recent years with Wayne Rooney surely determined to bow out of international football on a high alongside a stellar mix of young and experienced players mostly plying their trade in the Premier League.

Capture the spirit and excitement of the FIFA World Cup with officially-licensed FIFA World Cup signed memorabilia, exclusive to Icons.com.

 

6. La Liga’s on a knife-edge

Madridistas could be forgiven for still being a little hungover when their domestic season starts with a Supercopa Clasico on Sunday evening. Last season, Real won their first league title since 2012 and became the first team in history to retain the UEFA Champions League. Their supremacy is currently unquestioned but this season their hated rivals will want revenge.

Lionel Messi’s ultra dramatic, last-gasp winner in the sides’ pulsating encounter at the Bernabeu merely fanned the flames that could well spark all-out war this term. Barça haven’t experienced for years the upheaval they’ve suffered over the past few months with Neymar Jr gone and now a new man at the helm. Who knows how Ernesto Valverde plans to stop the Zidane juggernaut?

 

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We Predict… The 2017-18 Season

So, here we are again. When Leicester City travel to Arsenal on Friday night to open the 2017-18 Premier League season, it’ll be the first of 380 league matches that stretch over ten months and determine the fates of twenty topflight clubs. Win roughly 25 of your 38 matches and you’ll be in with a shout of the title; avoid losing more than 20 times and you should, in theory, stay up. It’s as simple as that, right?

Well, not quite. This is, after all, one of the most unforgiving leagues in all of world football. It’s a division in which the title defence of the two previous champions ended in finishes of 10th and 12th respectively. Where a team with five UEFA Champions League winners amongst its ranks could only muster a measly 13th place in 2016-17. And where a side who finished some 32 points shy of last season’s champions have spent nearly £100million on new recruits over the summer.

This is indeed a brutal league. But that’s exactly why it attracts the biggest audiences, a number of the biggest stars and most certainly the biggest names in management. For the likes of Mourinho, Conte, Pochettino, Klopp, Wenger and Guardiola, this weekend’s action offers the potential first step towards the ultimate glory. But to whom the trophy will go is anyone’s guess.

Giving it our best shot, we, the staff and partners of Icons.com, are back again to answer (or at least attempt to answer) the burning questions on everyone’s minds ahead of the big kick-off. But don’t just take our word, get involved on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages by giving us your predictions for the season ahead. You can hardly do much worse.

And, of course, be sure to check out our fantastic range of signed items from Premier League stars past and present – available right now on Icons.com.

It’s make or break time for Pep Guardiola in Manchester

Edward Freedman, Chairman

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Chelsea (2nd), Liverpool (3rd), Arsenal (4th)
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Watford, Brighton & Hove Albion
Overachievers: Everton – The Toffees have spent big but have invested well this summer. Wayne Rooney‘s return brings valuable experience to a dressing room packed with new and exciting faces.
Underachievers: Arsenal – Last year I predicted that because the Gunners had spent nothing they would falter. This year, despite the purchase of Alexandre Lacazette, the same problems will persist. Wenger should have left years ago.
Golden Boot: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Signing of the season: Ederson (Manchester City) – The Brazilian youngster is an improvement on former keepers at the Etihad.

FA Cup winners: Chelsea
League Cup winners: Liverpool

UEFA Champions League winners: FC Barcelona
UEFA Europa League winners: AC Milan

Random prediction: Lionel Messi will become only the fifth player ever to have won five Pichichi trophies after he finishes the season as La Liga’s top scorer.

Dan Jamieson, CEO

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Liverpool (2nd), Chelsea (3rd), Manchester United (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Watford, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: West Ham United – The Hammers have finally bought a striker with bags of Premier League experience.
Underachievers: Southampton – After years of gradual progress, decline will finally set in at St Mary’s.
Golden Boot: Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
Signing of the season: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – I always go for Liverpool‘s big money signing…

FA Cup winners: Chelsea
League Cup winners: Tottenham Hotspur

UEFA Champions League winners: Liverpool. Come on, we can all dream!
UEFA Europa League winners: Manchester United will retain the trophy after dropping out of the UEFA Champions League at the group stages.

Random prediction: Barcelona will improve despite the departure of Neymar Jr. They’ll wrestle the Spanish title back from Real Madrid.

Wayne Rooney has returned to Everton – could his experience bring success to Goodison?

Ben Soley, Sales and Marketing Manager

Premier League winners: Manchester United
Top four: Manchester City (2nd), Chelsea (3rd), Tottenham Hotspur (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Swansea City, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: Chelsea – A paper thin squad coupled with the return of UEFA Champions League football should make life tough for the Blues but Eden Hazard will keep them winning.
Underachievers: Manchester City‘s backline – Pep’s back four will improve on last season but they’ll still leak plenty of goals.
Golden Boot: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
Signing of the season: Nemanja Matic (Manchester United) – The Serbian will make a big difference for United but if Liverpool can sign a central defender the title is in the bag.

FA Cup winners: Liverpool
League Cup winners: Liverpool

UEFA Champions League winners: Paris Saint-Germain – Neymar Jr will take the Parisians that one step further they need this year.
UEFA Europa League winners: Villarreal – Though Arsenal will surely walk it if only they try.

Random predictions: Dele Alli‘s rise to superstardom continues, earning him a big money move at the end of the season for, let’s say, £200million. From March onwards, a number of players will feign and/or elongate injuries in order to be fresh for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. One of Nathan Redmond or Tom Davies sneaks onto England‘s plane for Russia.

Alistair Hunter, Senior Editor

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester United (2nd), Arsenal (3rd), Chelsea (4th)
Relegated: Burnley, Huddersfield Town, Stoke City
Overachievers: Newcastle United – The Rafa Revolution rolls on. In fact, he even manages to take a handful of points from former employers Liverpool and Chelsea.
Underachievers: Stoke City – Mark Hughes wins the sack race feeling the absence of the brilliant Marko Arnautovic. The rest of the bottom half chews them up and spits them out.
Golden Boot: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Signing of the season: Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City) – Manchester City fans will thank their lucky stars for that buy-back clause as the exciting young forward links up with Jamie Vardy to devastating effect.

FA Cup winners: West Ham United – Slaven Bilic’s side overcome Championship opposition in the Final.
League Cup winners: Cambridge Unit- ah, no, we’re out already. Okay, let’s go with Manchester City.

UEFA Champions League winners: Real Madrid – No-one thought back-to-back titles could be done. Why can’t they make it three-in-a-row with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale at the top of their game?
UEFA Europa League winners: Lyon – The French side weren’t too far off last season and this year the Final takes place in their own back yard.

Random prediction: A goalkeeper will get on the scoresheet at some stage this season. Liverpool sacrifice the topflight for a deep run in the UEFA Champions League as they reach the semi-finals. Cambridge United win automatic promotion from League Two.

Icons favourite Dele Alli: world football’s next £200million player?

Joe Turnbull, Editorial Intern

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Liverpool (2nd), Tottenham Hotspur (3rd), Manchester United (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Stoke City, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: Newcastle United – Rafa Benitez is experienced at Premier League level. I wouldn’t bet against him taking the Toon into the top ten.
Underachievers: Chelsea – Friction between Antonio Conte and the board will be their downfall. New boy Alvaro Morata won’t click and injuries will deplete their squad, leaving the Stamford Bridge side languishing in sixth.
Golden Boot: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Signing of the season: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United) – Though he cost a lot of money, the Belgian brings guaranteed goals. Lukaku is a fantastic player who will step up to the plate and may even give Jose a long run in the UEFA Champions League.

FA Cup winners: Liverpool
League Cup winners: Tottenham Hotspur

UEFA Champions League winner: Bayern Munich
UEFA Europa League winner: AC Milan – After the summer the Rossoneri have had, it’s difficult to see past them. The English clubs will represent themselves well.

Random prediction: Neymar Jr carries Paris Saint-Germain all the way to the Final but they come up just short to Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

Matt Sheppard, Editorial Intern

Premier League winners: Chelsea
Top four: Manchester City (2nd), Arsenal (3rd), Tottenham Hotspur (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Swansea City, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: Newcastle United – Rafa will finally get to show exactly why he decided to stick by the Toon Army following their relegation the season before last.
Underachievers: West Ham United – There’s lots of hype around the Hammers’ big-name signings but most of them will prove well past their sell-by date.
Golden Boot: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Signing of the season: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) – The Portuguese international will form a partnership with Kevin de Bruyne that turns into quite something.

FA Cup winners: Arsenal
League Cup winners: Manchester City

UEFA Champions League winner: Real Madrid
UEFA Europa League winner: AC Milan

Random prediction: Pep Guardiola will resign at the end of the season, following a failure to land the league or UEFA Champions League. Nathaniel Chalobah will be on that plane to Russia next year.

Italian giants AC Milan are well fancied for UEFA Europa League glory

Chris Jinks, A1 Sporting Memorabilia

Premier League winners: Arsenal
Top four: Chelsea (2nd), Manchester City (3rd), Liverpool (4th)
Relegated: Burnley, Swansea City, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: Arsenal – Without the distraction of trying (and repeatedly hopelessly failing) to win the UEFA Champions League, the Gunners focus on domestic matters. Momentum stays with the team early in 2018 when they would usually falter.
Underachievers: Manchester United – Mourinho has made a number of big money signings but The Special One will be unable to get the team to gel. Without a trophy, Jose gets grumpier by the day.
Golden Boot: Alvaro Morata (Chelsea)
Signing of the season: Sead Kolasinac (Arsenal) – In a time when we have £200million players, Wenger still finds a bargain in this free transfer.

FA Cup winners: Chelsea
League Cup winners: Tottenham Hotspur

UEFA Champions League winner: FC Barcelona
UEFA Europa League winner: Villarreal

Random prediction: Arsene Wenger will call it a day having finally won the league, bowing out on a high. (I’m going to keep predicting this each year until it’s true!)

Harm Jan Deuring, De Hand van Maradona

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester United (2nd), Tottenham Hotspur (3rd), Arsenal (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Burnley, Watford
Overachievers: Huddersfield Town – The Terriers do what many believe to be impossible: they avoid relegation.
Underachievers: Chelsea – Morata for Diego Costa is a mistake while Eden Hazard will be sorely missed during the opening weeks of the season. Liverpool will also struggle under the weight of their busy schedule.
Golden Boot: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United) and Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) share the honour.
Signing of the season: Nemanja Matic (Manchester United) – The Serbian is the missing link in Jose’s midfield. Tottenham‘s first signing of the season will be a close second – whoever it may be!

FA Cup winners: Arsenal
League Cup winners: Surprisingly, a side outside the top six!

UEFA Champions League winner: Real Madrid
UEFA Europa League winner: AS Monaco

Random prediction: Alexis Sanchez will stay at the Emirates but will have a disappointing season. No-one in the Manchester United squad will be banned for more games than Jose Mourinho himself.

Is this the year Arsene Wenger finally wins back the Premier League title?

Scott Hutchison, US Partner

Premier League winners: Manchester United
Top four: Manchester City (2nd), Chelsea (3rd), Arsenal (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Huddersfield Town, West Bromwich Albion
Overachievers: Crystal Palace – Frank de Boer guides the Eagles to a nice finish alongside the big boys.
Underachievers: Tottenham Hotspur – The Wembley hoodoo comes for Spurs again.
Golden Boot: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
Signing of the season: Javier Hernandez (West Ham United) – The Mexican is an absolute steal for what he’ll do on the pitch and pure highway robbery for what he’ll do for the club in the North American market.

FA Cup winners: Manchester City
League Cup winners: Everton

UEFA Champions League winner: Chelsea
UEFA Europa League winner: Celtic

Random prediction: My prediction that Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic would move to the Premier League didn’t come true in 2016-17 but he will crush it in Germany this season, becoming one of the darlings of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. That move to England will be a superstar signing come the summer of 2018.


So, that’s what we think will go down during this season’s Premier League campaign. But what do you think? Send us your predictions by getting in touch via our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages!

For our full range of Premier League signed products check out icons.com now!



We Predict… The 2016-17 Season

Leicester City v Everton - Premier League

Such is the nature of Leicester City’s 5,000/1 title triumph last season that it would seem ridiculous to suggest we’re at the starting blocks of the most unpredictable season ever. And yet, with the addition of even more superstars to the most competitive major league in Europe, there are sure to be a whole host of twists and turns over the course of the next ten months.

So, with managerial heavyweights Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola going toe-to-toe in Manchester, just down the road from a Liverpool team beginning to fit Jurgen Klopp’s mould, while Antonio Conte adapts to life in London beside Premier League veteran Arsene Wenger and exciting young boss Mauricio Pochettino, there’s sure to be fireworks.

Trying to make sense of it all ahead of Saturday’s big kick-off, the staff and partners of Icons.com have given their answers to the biggest questions. But we’d like to hear from you on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages: don’t be shy, give us your predictions for the season ahead and check out our fantastic range of signed items from Premier League icons past and present – available right now on Icons.com.

Edward Freedman, Chairman

Premier League winner: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester CityLiverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea
Relegated: Bournemouth, Burnley, Hull City
Underachievers: Arsenal – The Gunners have spent nothing this summer; manager Arsene Wenger should have gone two seasons ago.
Signing of the season: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Mane is an honest and hard worker, he’s just the player Jurgen Klopp’s side need right now.

FA Cup winner: Tottenham Hotspur
League Cup winner: Manchester United

UEFA Champions League winner: FC Barcelona
UEFA Europa League winner: Juventus

Random prediction: This will be Arsene Wenger’s last season at ArsenalPep Guardiola will be key to Manchester City‘s success.

Dan Jamieson, CEO and Managing Director

Premier League winner: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea
Relegated: Hull City, Watford, Sunderland
Overachievers: Crystal Palace – Alan Pardew produces good attacking teams and if they were to get him, Christian Benteke could be the difference.
Underachievers: Arsenal – This is is the year when Arsene Wenger’s transfer philosophy is exposed as fundamentally flawed.
Signing of the season: Loris Karius (Liverpool) – The goalkeeper may be injured now but he will be a star by the end of the season. Henrikh Mkhitaryan – I liked him before he moved to Dortmund and he should suit Manchester United’s UEFA Europa League endeavours.

FA Cup winner: Chelsea
League Cup winner: Tottenham Hotspur

UEFA Champions League winner: FC Barcelona will get back on top.
UEFA Europa League winner: Sevilla would seem an obvious choice.

Random prediction: Arsene Wenger will not sign a new contract. Manchester United will suffer from squad shuffling and rotation issues as they try to find the right combinations. Pep Guardiola will complain about English football’s congested fixture list within months.

Manchester City v Arsenal - Premier League

Sergio Aguero remains one of the Premier League’s most fearsome strikers, can he lead Man City to the title?

Ben Soley, Sales and Marketing Manager

Premier League winner: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester CityManchester UnitedChelseaArsenal
Relegated: Hull City, Burnley, Swansea City
Overachievers: Arsenal – The Gunners have spent nothing again and will no doubt have 10+ injuries and yet somehow they’ll still manage to finish among the biggest spenders on the globe.
Underachievers: Manchester United – All that money… what a waste of all that money…
Signing of the season: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – The attacking midfielder was expensive but will be key to Liverpool’s pacy frontline. Nathan Redmond will be useful at Southampton.

FA Cup winner: Liverpool
League Cup winner: Chelsea

UEFA Champions League winner: Bayern Munich
UEFA Europa League winner: Manchester Uni- no, not really! Juventus or Benfica.

Random prediction: I’ll be laughed at for my prediction about Sadio Mane. Despite all the summer spending by Manchester City, Kevin de Bruyne will remain key to their success. 

Margaret Plunkett, Head of Customer Service

Premier League winner: Manchester United
Top four: Manchester UnitedArsenal, Manchester CityChelsea
Relegated: Hull City, Southampton, Burnley
Overachievers: Arsenal – My beloved Gunners will remain in the top four despite not spending umpteen millions on new players.
Underachievers: Tottenham Hotspur – Spurs have an excellent manager but his players will let him down again this season.
Signing of the season: Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)

FA Cup winner: Chelsea
League Cup winner: Liverpool

UEFA Champions League winner: Bayern Munich
UEFA Europa League winner: Atletico Madrid

Random prediction: Sam Allardyce will bring success to England at last.

Wayne Rooney Testimonial: Manchester United v Everton

Can Jose Mourinho bring Manchester United back into title contention with an expensively assembled new-look side?

Alistair Hunter, Editorial Assistant

Premier League winner: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester CityManchester UnitedChelseaTottenham Hotspur
Relegated: Hull City, Swansea City, Watford
Overachievers: Middlesbrough – If only Aitor Karanka can glue the pieces together, there’s genuine talent on Teesside in Marten de Roon, Viktor Fischer and Alvaro Negredo.
Underachievers: Leicester City – The fearless Foxes won’t be as lucky with injuries again this season. Regardless, the Premier League has an inexhaustible love of seeing successful teams fail. The bottom half beckons for Claudio Ranieri’s miracle men.
Signing of the season: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United) – He’s getting on a bit, yes, but the Premier League will suit this brash, physical phenomenon. That secret yoga routine has kept him nimble.

FA Cup winner: Manchester City
League Cup winner: Cambridge United – At the time of writing, the U’s have just dumped out Championship side Sheffield Wednesday to reach Round Two. Wembley calls…

UEFA Champions League winner: FC Barcelona – There’s no way you keep Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr and Luis Suarez quiet two years in a row.
UEFA Europa League winner: PSV Eindhoven – The Dutch side finish third in their UEFA Champions League group then battle to victory in Stockholm under Phillip Cocu, an achievement that’ll earn the boss a move to a top European side.

Random prediction: Dele Alli will continue his remarkable rise at Tottenham Hotspur. There will be at least one nine-goal thriller as the league’s porous defences are exposed by one of Europe’s finest collection of attacking midfielders.

Harm Jan Deuring, De Hand van Maradona

Premier League winner: Manchester United
Top four: Manchester United, Manchester CityTottenham Hotspur, Chelsea
Relegated: Hull City, Burnley, Bournemouth
Overachievers: Everton’s play will be the opposite of last season’s: not sparkling but very efficient. David Moyes will guide Sunderland to a solid season.
Underachievers: Liverpool‘s inconsistency will result in a paltry mid table finish. Arsenal will fail to qualify for a UEFA Champions League spot and Arsene Wenger will quit next summer.
Signing of the season: Ilkay Gundogan – The German will be a key player for Manchester City from day one.

FA Cup winner: Manchester City
League Cup winner: Chelsea

UEFA Champions League winner: FC Barcelona 
UEFA Europa League winner: Internazionale under Frank de Boer

Random prediction: Harry Kane will again finish the season as Premier League top goalscorer. Injuries will disrupt the debut season of Zlatan Ibrahimovic but at the end of season he will have played an important role at Old Trafford.

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - Premier League

Dele Alli was red hot for Tottenham last season, will his stock rise yet further this campaign?

Chris Jinks, A1 Sporting Memorabilia

Premier League winner: Manchester United
Top four: Manchester UnitedManchester CityLiverpoolChelsea
Relegated: Sunderland, Swansea City, Hull City
Overachievers: Liverpool – The Reds will have momentum with Jurgen Klopp as in charge and the team as a whole will become greater than the sum of all its parts.
Underachievers: Arsenal – The same stagnant strategy with no real leadership on or off the pitch will lead to a finish outside the top four in Wenger’s last season.
Signing of the season: Henrikh Mkhitaryan – The spotlight is bound to be on fellow summer signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba meaning the pressure is off the Armenian playmaker.

FA Cup winner: Chelsea
League Cup winner: Liverpool

UEFA Champions League winner: FC Barcelona
UEFA Europa League winner: Atletico Madrid

Random prediction: This will be Arsene Wenger’s last season in the Premier League but he will eventually return to manage here… as England boss.

Scott Hutchison, US Partner

Premier League winner: Chelsea
Top four: ChelseaManchester United, Manchester CityArsenal
Relegated: Burnley, Hull City, Swansea
Overachievers: Middlesbrough – Boro will be this season’s Bournemouth.
Underachievers: Manchester City – Pep Guardiola will find the Premier League much harder than previous stops. Paul Pogba – There’s no way the Frenchman lives up to the hype and his hefty price tag.
Signing of the season: Andre Ayew (West Ham United) 

FA Cup winner: Liverpool
League Cup winner: Manchester United – Jose Mourinho will desperately want to win silverware in his first season at Old Trafford.

UEFA Champions League winner: FC Barcelona
UEFA Europa League winner: Manchester United – See above.

Random prediction: The key for any Premier League team to win America’s hearts begins with the smarts to sign Dortmund’s US wunderkind Christian Pulisic and someone will oblige in the January transfer window.


So, that’s what we think will go down during this season’s Premier League campaign. But what do you think? Send us your predictions by getting in touch via our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages!

For our full range of Premier League signed products check out icons.com now!



We Predict… UEFA EURO 2016

A giant replica of the Henri Delaunay trophy, awarded to the winner of the UEFA European Championship, is displayed near the Eiffel Tower on the Champs de Mars in Paris on June 23, 2013 on the sidelines of the launch of UEFA Euro 2016 brand and logo. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

With the opening match of UEFA EURO 2016 fast approaching, the staff and partners of Icons.com have made their predictions for what will happen during the month-long festival of football in France.

UEFA EURO 2016 is set to be the biggest European Championships ever with an expanded field of twenty-four teams vying for glory in France. As an official UEFA licensee, we can hardly wait for the competition to begin. With four home nations competing, including Roy Hodgson’s England and a Gareth Bale-led Wales making their tournament debut, there is much to look forward to. And don’t forget, we have a fantastic and wide range of official UEFA EURO 2016 signed memorabilia available to buy from Icons.com throughout the tournament. Check us out!

 

Edward Freedman, Chairman

Winners: Germany
Runners-up: Spain
Top Goalscorer: Antoine Griezmann (France)
Early Exits: Portugal and Wales

What will happen to England?: Quarter-finals. The Three Lions will reach the last eight of the competition but a quarter-final loss will be manager Roy Hodgson’s final match in charge of the national team.

Dan Jamieson, CEO and Managing Director

Winners: Germany
Runners-up: Croatia
Top Goalscorer: Thomas Muller (Germany)
Early Exits: Portugal and Russia
Surprise Packages: Switzerland, Northern Ireland and Slovakia
What will happen to England?: The last 16. England will scrape through Group B, finishing third, before losing to a good team in controversial but predictable fashion.

Random Predictions: Dele Alli will be voted into the Team of the Tournament. France will set the competition alight but lose in the semi-finals on penalties to Germany.

Above: Icons CEO Dan Jamieson believes England's Dele Alli will make the UEFA Team of the Tournament

Above: Icons CEO Dan Jamieson believes England’s Dele Alli will make the UEFA Team of the Tournament

Ben Soley, Sales and Marketing Manager

Winners: Germany
Runners-up: Spain
Top Goalscorer: Antoine Griezmann (France) and Kevin de Bruyne (Belgium)
Early Exit: Italy
Surprise Packages: Wales and Turkey
What will happen to England?: Semi-finals. Wales will give England a tough game but The Three Lions will still finish top of Group B. After two knockout triumphs, we will eventually run out of steam, losing our semi-final 2-1 AET.

Random Predictions: Cristiano Ronaldo will break Michel Platini’s and become the UEFA European Championships‘ all-time leading goalscorer. Toni Kroos will complete more passes than any other player but Luka Modric will play more key passes.

Margaret Plunkett, Head of Customer Service

Winners: France
Runners-up: Germany
Top Goalscorer: Olivier Giroud (France)
Early Exit: Portugal and Wales
Surprise Packages: Czech Republic and Switzerland
What will happen to England?: Last 16. The lack of a solid back line will be costly once again for England.

Random Predictions: I must be loyal Gooner and say that Olivier Giroud will continue his fine form for France and lead them through a good tournament. Mesut Ozil, as usual, will complete the most passes of any player at the competition.

Above: Could Cristiano Ronaldo become the European Championships' all-time leading goalscorer?

Above: Could Cristiano Ronaldo become the European Championships’ all-time leading goalscorer?

Alistair Hunter, Editorial Assistant

Winners: France
Runners-up: Belgium
Top Goalscorer: Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
Early Exit: Italy and Wales
Surprise Packages: Poland and Croatia
What will happen to England?: Quarter-finals. Roy’s boys will top Group B but scrape through their first knockout test, looking fatigued and lacking depth. Tired and short on confidence, England will come unstuck against a familiar foe in the last eight.

Random Predictions: Poland’s Arkadiusz Milik will earn a big money move from Ajax after impressing alongside Golden Boot winner Robert Lewandowski. It will help usher in a new age for strike partnerships in world football.

Harm Jan Deuring, Social Content Co-ordinator

Winners: Spain
Runners-up: France
Top Goalscorer: Thomas Muller (Germany) and Alvaro Morata (Spain)
Early Exit: Italy and Belgium (QF)
Surprise Packages: England and Wales
What will happen to England?: Semi-finals. England will finally take their revenge on Portugal in the quarter-finals but lose to Spain in the next round.

Random Predictions: The best game of the tournament will be between Belgium and Germany, in which the Belgians will deserve to win but see Germany go through. Paul Pogba will be the Player of the Tournament despite losing in the final to Spain.

Above: Hot tip? Germany's Thomas Muller is fancied by many on the Icons team to win the Golden Boot.

Above: Hot tip? Germany’s Thomas Muller is fancied by many on the Icons team to win the Golden Boot.

Chris Jinks, A1 Sporting Memorabilia

Winners: Germany
Runners-up: France
Top Goalscorer: Thomas Muller (Germany)
Early Exit: Portugal and Czech Republic
Surprise Packages: Wales and Poland

What will happen to England?: Semi-finals. Staying optimistic but also realistic, as long as England can avoid the big guns they can reach the final four. Roy has selected the right players but still hasn’t found a suitable formation.

Scott Hutchison, US Partner

Winners: France
Runners-up: Germany
Top Goalscorer: Antoine Griezmann (France)
Early Exit: Belgium and Italy
Surprise Packages: Republic of Ireland and Austria
What will happen to England?: Semi-finals. I can’t believe that I’m the most optimistic of the Icons bunch…

 

So, that’s what we think will go down at this summer’s UEFA EURO 2016. But what do you think? Send us your predictions by getting in touch via our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages!

For our full range of official UEFA EURO 2016 signed products check out icons.com now!



Icons Weekend Football Preview: Cup Weekend In England; Messi and Ronaldo Both Travel

The Emirates FA Cup

It’s almost the weekend! And that means, as always, there’s a full card of top class football to look forward to. Football that involves our Icons doing what they do best – being iconic. So who’s playing where and when? With a run-down of what our friends are up to this weekend, it’s the Icons Weekend Football Preview

Don’t forget to let us know who you’ll be supporting by getting in touch with our social media team. Find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and let them know how your favourite Icon has gotten on over the course of the weekend. Let’s get started!

 

Arsenal vs Hull City

Arsenal's French striker Olivier Giroud runs with the trophy after winning the English FA Cup final match against Hull City at Wembly Stadium in London on May 17, 2014. Aaron Ramsey scored an extra-time winner as Arsenal ended their nine-year trophy drought by coming from two goals down to beat Hull City 3-2 in a gripping FA Cup final. AFP PHOTO/GLYN KIRK == NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE == (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

For Arsenal fans, this fixture will have a very familiar ring to it. The Gunners have now faced Hull City in the FA Cup in each of the last three seasons, notably beating the Tigers in the 2014 Wembley final to capture their first trophy in nine seasons. And after a successful defence of their crown last season, Arsene Wenger’s side have not been beaten in the Cup in three years. The French gaffer will oversee his 100th FA Cup match as Arsenal manager on Saturday afternoon and may look to fellow countryman Olivier Giroud to break down what is expected to be a stubborn Hull back-line.

Details: FA Cup, Emirates Stadium, Saturday 12:45pm, BT Sport 2 HD


Las Palmas vs Barcelona

Barcelona are in irresistible and record-breaking form right now, so any chance to watch them in action is one not to be missed. It’s a shame, then, that their Saturday afternoon clash at Las Palmas will not be on British television, as Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta and company look to extend their historic unbeaten run to 32 in all competitions. Messi became the first player in La Liga history to reach 300 league goals during their midweek win over Sporting Gijion – who’ll bet against him adding to that tally tomorrow?

Details: La Liga, Estadio Gran Canaria, Saturday 3pm


Bournemouth vs Everton

Everton v Aston Villa - Premier League

With the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley in the side, Everton have every right to believe they have the potential to win a Cup competition. But inconsistent form has dogged their season and now the FA Cup looks to be their last chance at salvaging a memorable campaign. A trip to the south coast to face Bournemouth, in front of the BBC camera crews, may not be the ideal environment for Roberto Martinez’s team but if Lukaku and Barkley can link up well, the Cherries will have serious issues, as on their day those two are nearly unstoppable.

Details: FA Cup, Vitality Stadium, Saturday 5:15pm, BBC One HD


Malaga vs Real Madrid

AS Roma v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

Buoyed by a important victory over AS Roma in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night, Zinedine Zidane‘s Real Madrid travel to Malaga for a tricky La Liga clash. Cristiano Ronaldo‘s exceptional goal at the Stadio Olimpico showcased everything that’s mesmerising about his game. The speed, power and directness of his touchline sprint and rifled finish proved to be too much to handle for another of Europe’s top teams. But Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and company will need to be on their toes for this trip, as three points will be crucial in their pursuit of the title.

Details: La Liga, La Rosaleda, Sunday 3pm Sky Sports 3 HD


Chelsea vs Manchester City

Manchester City v Chelsea - Premier League

The beauty of the FA Cup is that it can pit the Shrewsburys of the world against the Manchester Uniteds (see below) but the Cup is also good for a heavyweight contest or two. And that’s certainly the case here, as Sergio Aguero‘s Manchester City travel to Stamford Bridge to face a Chelsea side who suffered their first defeat since Guus Hiddink took charge of the Blues. The hosts may see this competition as their last truly viable chance at silverware this term, with progress in the UEFA Champions League looking shaky after their loss to Paris Saint-Germain.

Details: FA Cup, Stamford Bridge, Sunday 4pm, BBC One HD


Shrewsbury Town vs Manchester United

GettyImages-507433724

Losing star striker Wayne Rooney earlier this week was a big blow to Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United and a midweek defeat in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League tie with FC Midtjylland was far from ideal but the Red Devils have extensive experience of seeing off lower league opposition in the FA Cup – especially of late. Shrewsbury are the latest test for the Old Trafford side after Juan Mata‘s goal helped see off Derby County, who went the way of Sheffield United, Preston North End, Cambridge United and Yeovil Town. Can United add to that list with a moral-boosting victory on Monday night?

Details: FA Cup, New Meadow, Monday 7:45pm, BBC One HD


Who will you be watching this weekend? Let us know!

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Memorabilia signed by Messi



Icons Weekend Football Preview: Barcelona Out To Extend Unbeaten Run; Aguero In Top Of The Table Clash

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-ATLETICO

It’s almost the weekend! And that means, as always, there’s a full card of top class football to look forward to. Football that involves our Icons doing what they do best – being iconic. So who’s playing where and when? With a run-down of what our friends are up to this weekend, it’s the Icons Weekend Football Preview

Don’t forget to let us know who you’ll be supporting by getting in touch with our social media team. Find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and let them know how your favourite Icon has gotten on over the course of the weekend. Let’s get started!

 

Sunderland vs Manchester United

Manchester United's English midfielder Jesse Lingard (R) celebrates with Manchester United's English striker Wayne Rooney after scoring during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in London on February 7, 2016. / AFP / Ian Kington / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata travel to Wearside to take on Premier League strugglers Sunderland this weekend and we’re confident that at least one of them will be on the scoresheet during Saturday’s early kick-off. Rooney has scored three goals in United’s last two matches against the Black Cats, while Mata has scored twice in their last three meetings. Louis van Gaal’s side will arrive at the Stadium of Light hoping to keep up their good form and a win here will keep the Red Devils in touch with the top four – at least two of whom are guaranteed to drop points on Sunday.

Details: Premier League, Stadium of Light, Saturday 12:45pm, BT Sport 1 HD


Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao

GettyImages-507783510

Real Madrid have scored 19 goals in five games since Zinedine Zidane took charge and a whopping 16 in three home games at the Santiago Bernabeu and with Gareth Bale nearing a return to full fitness it’ll be down to Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodriguez to continue the scoring in this deceptively tricky clash against sixth-placed Athletic Bilbao. Ronaldo will no doubt be in the mood, having picked up the Pichichi Trophy for finishing last season as the league’s top scorer during the weekend. How many will he and Real get this weekend?

Details: La Liga, Santiago Bernabeu, Saturday 3pm


Aston Villa vs Liverpool

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09: Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool scores their first and equalising goal from a free-kick during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Philippe Coutinho scored a wonderful free-kick midweek as Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup against West Ham United but, despite defeat, Jurgen Klopp’s young side looked strong and can take plenty of positives into this match at bottom of the table Aston Villa. Klopp will look to Coutinho for more magic this weekend and the Kop boss was full of praise for his Brazilian star recently. “I don’t know many teams who he can’t play for,” Klopp said of Coutinho. We can’t think of many either!

Details: Premier League, Villa Park, Sunday 2:05pm, Sky Sports 1 HD


Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur

Manchester City v Leicester City - Premier League

Two of the Premier League’s most deadly strikers will face off at the Etihad on Sunday afternoon as Harry Kane and his Tottenham side travel to face Sergio Aguero and Manchester City in this mouth-watering top of the table clash. Aguero has scored six in his last four league games and Kane is on form too, with four in his last four Premier League outings, so expect goals from this match – one that could go a long way in deciding where the Premier League trophy ends up come May.

Details: Premier League, Etihad Stadium, Sunday 4:15pm Sky Sports 1 HD


Barcelona vs Celta Vigo

Barcelona v Valencia - Copa del Rey Semi Final, First Leg

Luis Enrique’s Barcelona broke a club record on Wednesday with a 1-1 draw in the Copa del Rey at Valencia. The draw not only sealed their place in history – with the team reaching a record 29 consecutive games unbeaten in all competitions – but also the final of the Copa. Superstars Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta were all rested for that game so we expect that foursome, fresh and on form, to come into this match against an overachieving Celta Vigo side eager to extend their lead at the top of the table.

Details: La Liga, Camp Nou, Sunday 7:30pm, Sky Sports 1 HD


Who will you be watching this weekend? Let us know!

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