Tag: Real Madrid

We Predict… The 2018-19 Season

You do realise that it’s been nearly one whole month since the FIFA World Cup finished, right? Three-and-a-bit weeks have passed since France dismantled Croatia in Moscow, which in our minds means we’ve been deprived of top class football for far too long. It’s about time the 2018-19 season kicked off and we get back to what really matters. Cast aside the mundane pre-season tours and friendlies for the real, proper, competitive, edge-of-your-seat drama acted out by the best players football has to offer.

After all, that’s what we’re all here for. The big leagues and the big names. And in 2018-19 those big names have a lot to answer for. There’s a mouthwatering title tussle in England while Cristiano Ronaldo sets out on his new adventure in Serie A, Steven Gerrard is the main story in Scotland and, as ever, the likes of FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Juventus are bearing down on Real Madrid to steal their European crown.

With just a handful of days until the big kick-off we, the staff of Icons.com, are back again to answer (or at least attempt to answer) the burning questions on everyone’s minds ahead of the season opener at Old Trafford on Friday night. But don’t just take our word for it, send us your predictions for the season ahead on our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages. 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.

Manchester City and Liverpool are strong favourites to contest the Premier League title.

Edward Freedman, Non-Executive Chairman

Premier League winners: MANCHESTER CITY are the strongest team with a great coach. There’s no reason that Liverpool can’t win it but City have strengthened with the addition of Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City. It’ll be close.
2nd – Liverpool 3rd – Manchester United 4th – Tottenham Hotspur
Relegated: Cardiff City, Fulham and Crystal Palace
Golden Boot: SERGIO AGUERO looks fit and on form with lots of support from City’s myriad creative talent.

Serie A winners: Cristiano Ronaldo will change his role by coming deeper and be as good as ever. He has a lot of supporting acts at JUVENTUS, who should take the title easily.
La Liga winners: FC BARCELONA have strengthened while Real Madrid have disappointed during the summer. Madrid have already lost Ronaldo and if Luka Modric goes too that will be a seismic a blow.
Bundesliga winners: BAYERN MUNICH. It’ll be the same old, same old in Germany, which, admittedly is quite boring.

UEFA Champions League winners: The arrival of Arturo Vidal to FC BARCELONA will bring Real Madrid‘s three-year dominance to an end. Barca have an excellent coach who can pull it off.
UEFA Europa League winners: SEVILLA have a decent team and are well experienced in winning this competition. I like them out of the frontrunners.

Signing of the season: The very attacking RIYAD MAHREZ will only grow under Pep Guardiola alongside much higher quality teammates.

My team, FC Barcelona, will… be stronger at the back with a superb goalkeeper in Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Samuel Umtiti growing in stature. They’re now a real team and not just an attacking force.

Mark my words… Zinedine Zidane will be managing Manchester United before Christmas. More of the old school of English managers will be replaced by younger continental coaches.

There’s a new face in Turin. You may already know his name.

Dan Jamieson, CEO

Premier League winners: MANCHESTER CITY haven’t gone backwards so should retain the title under Pep Guardiola. That said, key component Fernandinho must stay fit.
2nd – Liverpool 3rd – Tottenham Hotspur 4th – Arsenal
Relegated: Newcastle United, Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town
Golden Boot: SERGIO AGUERO is the biggest goal threat in the league’s best and most creative team.

Serie A winners: It’s not just the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo that makes JUVENTUS favourites. It’s also the capture of Emre Can and the return of Leonardo Bonucci.
La Liga winners: Lionel Messi and FC BARCELONA win the league title for fun but is another league and cup double really enough?
Bundesliga winners: I’ll go with RB LEIPZIG just for the fun of it.

UEFA Champions League winners: From a tactical standpoint, LIVERPOOL are more suited to winning on the ultimate stage than in domestic competitions.
UEFA Europa League winners: Unai Emery knows how to win this competition and he’ll bring that nous to ARSENAL.

Signing of the season: NABY KEITA is like Roy Keane on steroids mixed with Paul Ince on fast forward.

My team, Liverpool, will… be pipped to the post by a Manchester City team who have more experience. But teams coming to attack allows us to counter with extreme pace so it should be another exciting campaign at Anfield.

Mark my words… Manchester United will implode, leaving Jose Mourinho to pack his bags and leave his hotel just in time for Christmas. England‘s youth players will start to break in to first teams across the country – the future is bright for 2026. Fulham (who have bought very well over the summer, by the way) will stay up with a surprisingly entertaining brand of football.

Jose Mourinho is into his third season at Manchester United…

Ben Soley, Sales and Marketing Manager

Premier League winners: Out of sheer hope as much as expectation, I’ll say LIVERPOOL.
2nd – Manchester City 3rd – Manchester United 4th – Chelsea
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Fulham and Crystal Palace
Golden Boot: HARRY KANE will finally break his August duct and, despite being exhausted from his FIFA World Cup exploits, the Englishman will win this honour yet again.

Serie A winners: Could you imagine JUVENTUS not winning the title now?
La Liga winners: FC BARCELONA will surely be Spanish champions again.
Bundesliga winners: The obvious choice in Germany is BAYERN MUNICH.

UEFA Champions League winners: Isn’t it FC BARCELONA‘s turn again?
UEFA Europa League winners: With a mere 50 hours left of the transfer window at the time of writing CHELSEA have only to keep their squad together to walk this competition.

Signing of the season: NABY KEITA gives Liverpool a new famous number eight as well as a proper number one.

My team, Liverpool, will… start strong but find themselves in second place after a tricky spell around Christmas time. Still, dare I say it’s our year? In the end they’ll have the league won with two games to spare.

Mark my words… Jose Mourinho will be gone by this time next year while at the same time the world transfer record will be broken once again and Liverpool will have won silverware. I also predict that I will have changed my mind about most of the above within the first two weeks of the season.

Liverpool’s Naby Keita is much-fancied to be a hit in the Premier League.

James Tildesley, Head of New Business

Premier League winners: No surprises here, really. I can’t see anyone beating MANCHESTER CITY. The only thing that I can see upsetting their dominance is an injury to Fernandinho as they don’t have a quality replacement at the time of writing.
2nd – Liverpool 3rd – Arsenal 4th – Tottenham Hotspur
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and Crystal Palace
Golden Boot: The metronome that is HARRY KANE wins this while Mohamed Salah does well again… but not as well as last season.

Serie A winners: AC Milan will run JUVENTUS close.
La Liga winners: With Real Madrid in transition, FC BARCELONA retain the title.
Bundesliga winners: If anyone gets near BAYERN MUNICH expect the Bavarian side to buy their key players at the end of the season.

UEFA Champions League winners: FC BARCELONA will beat Manchester City in the final.
UEFA Europa League winners: If CHELSEA embrace the playing style of new manager Mauricio Sarri, they’ll be excellent in Europe.

Signing of the season: NABY KEITA is exactly what Liverpool need and he suits their playing style perfectly.

My team, Aston Villa, will… reach the play-offs at best. They need to rebuild after last season and the new owners will help with that. But to galvanise the team enough to put consistent performances across 46 gruelling games and win that league is a step too far.

Mark my words… Burnley will drop like a stone with the addition of European football to their fixture list. They’ll finish 17th. Manchester United will have a horrendous season with Jose Mourinho gone in January. Losing Assistant Manager Rui Faria is massive – it’s going to be a hard watch for United fan this season.

Steven Gerrard is the big story in Scotland as he looks to topple Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic.

Alistair Hunter, Senior Editor

Premier League winners: LIVERPOOL have just about enough to topple Manchester City. Either way this will be an enthralling title race that goes down to the wire. Buckle up, this is going to be a classic.
2nd – Manchester City 3rd – Tottenham Hotspur 4th – Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Bournemouth and a Rafa-less Newcastle United
Golden Boot: Another season among Europe’s top scorers cements HARRY KANE‘s place among the Premier League greats.

Serie A winners: Carlo Ancelotti pulls off the mother of all upsets in bringing the Scudetto back to NAPOLI.
La Liga winners: Arturo Vidal gives FC BARCELONA much-needed backbone. La Blaugrana won’t be stopped in Spain – unless they find themselves twelve yards from goal, of course.
Bundesliga winners: John Williams’ Imperial March plays as BAYERN MUNICH sweep their rivals aside once again.

UEFA Champions League winners: Those of us who had at least one eye open during the FIFA World Cup will have seen just how fearless and seemingly unstoppable Kylian Mbappe is right now. Under the astute guidance of Thomas Tuchel, this is the year that PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN finally get it right.
UEFA Europa League winners: Rangers storm to success in Baku… only joking. Not even Stevie G can pull off a miracle of that magnitude. I’ll play it safe and go with perennial UEL winners SEVILLA.

Signing of the season: Tottenham’s capture of… wait… what? Oh. Oh my. Okay, in that case, I’ll go with ALISSON. The keeper will prove his distribution is as assured as his brilliant shot-stopping.

My team, Cambridge United, will… finish so aggressively mid-table that they may even break the league in two. My other team, Rangers, will close the gap on Celtic, win at least one Old Firm derby and snag the Bhoys’ Treble Treble by claiming one of the cups. All aboard the Steven Gerrard bandwagon – the Gers are on their way back.

Mark my words… the pressure on Premier League officials to implement VAR will prove all too much after a campaign riddled with refereeing mishaps. Ryan Sessegnon will be snapped up by a top six side in January amid fresh calls for his inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s England squad but the most exciting home-grown prospect will break through down the road at Chelsea. Callum Hudson-Odoi, remember the name.

Lionel Messi’s FC Barcelona are expected to retain the Spanish title.

Brett Sinclair, Warehouse Manager

Premier League winners: MANCHESTER CITY‘s very talented squad will cruise to the title if they stay fit.
2nd – Tottenham Hotspur 3rd – Liverpool 4th – Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and Fulham
Golden Boot: This is tough one with some of the world’s best footballers playing in the league this season but I hope PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG’s pace gets the service it deserves.

Serie A winners: I expect great things from JUVENTUS after the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo. Juve will be closely followed by Napoli.
La Liga winners: FC BARCELONA take the title with Real Madrid not too far behind.
Bundesliga winners: No-one will come close to BAYERN MUNICH as they glide to victory.

UEFA Champions League winners: JUVENTUS will push through. For their sake, I hope the officials are more switched on this season.
UEFA Europa League winners: CHELSEA will focus on winning this.

Signing of the season: FELIPE ANDERSON will do great things for West Ham United.

My team, Leicester City, will… finish fifth this season. There’s not much else they can do. It would be great to see a repeat of their title-winning exploits in 2015-16 but it’s best to be realistic.

Mark my words… Arsenal will not lift a trophy this season or finish in the top five. Sorry to all the Gunners out there.

Paul Pogba is now a world champion – can he shine at Old Trafford?

Daryl Angel, Head of Customer Support

Premier League winners: MANCHESTER UNITED
2nd – Liverpool 3rd – Manchester City 4th – Arsenal
Relegated: Southampton, Cardiff City and Brighton and Hove Albion
Golden Boot: ROMELU LUKAKU shares the honour with HARRY KANE.

Serie A winners: I would love to see one of the Milan sides back on top but I don’t think it’s possible after CR7‘s move to JUVENTUS.
La Liga winners: FC BARCELONA, no doubt about this.
Bundesliga winners: I would love to see BAYERN MUNICH toppled but I don’t think anyone has the squad to do so.

UEFA Champions League winners: MANCHESTER UNITED will face JUVENTUS in the final with Paul Pogba scoring the winner… but for whom I don’t know yet.
UEFA Europa League winners: Having been knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the group stages, PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN treat the UEFA Europa League as the most important trophy of the season.

Signing of the season: 35-year-old Lee Grant at Manchester United… or Jack Wilshere for West Ham United. JEAN MICHAEL SERI to Fulham could also be one of the coups of the summer.

My team, Manchester United, will… either win the league or crash and burn ten games into the season and sack Jose Mourinho before Christmas. I hope Mourinho’s third season curse is about to change.

Mark my words… everybody will see that £70million for Allison is ridiculous and Liverpool fans will be singing for the return of Loris Karius by Christmas. Rangers will finally challenge Celtic in the SPL. Paul Pogba will either become Manchester United club captain or be gone by this time next year.


So, that’s what we think will go down during this season’s 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 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?

 

Follow Icons on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for all our latest blog posts, special offers and competitions.



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!



Behind the Signing: Roberto Carlos and Rivaldo sign for Icons!

Here at Icons.com, we are very lucky to get to work with the world’s best footballers. It’s something we’re immensely proud of and at our most recent signing session we added two new names to our unbeatable roster. So, here’s what happened when we met the legendary Brazilian duo of Roberto Carlos and Rivaldo.

The summer is a busy time of year in the world of football. Though there’s little to no action on the pitch, clubs across the country and around the world are hard at work signing players for the season ahead. But, on Friday July 14th, in a plush hotel in central London, Icons.com captured the signatures of the two summer recruits to beat them all. We signed Brazilian legends Roberto Carlos and Rivaldo.

Known the world over for their style and flair on the pitch, this iconic pair were two of the world’s very best players during the 90s and 00s. Meeting the duo for the first time was an eye-opening experience as we shared time between their duties at the Star Sixes tournament – a meeting of some of the greatest names in world football.

It was an early start for us all but by 9am we were buzzing to meet two absolute legends. First up: Roberto Carlos.

The signing happened very quickly, as we got word the former Real Madrid full-back was ready for action. Instructed to nip up to the 11th floor and join him in his room, our team – well-versed in the art of a speedy signing session – got things underway. As self-confessed kit nerds, seeing all sorts of historic shirts, boots, balls and photos was a sight to behold. But seeing them personally signed by a FIFA World Cup and three-time UEFA Champions League winner made it all the more exciting.

During this time, we reflected on what a great player Roberto Carlos was; a truly unique defender who lit up the game. How much would the powerful defender cost in 2017, we wonder? A stalwart of Real Madrid, Carlos still holds Los Blancos‘ record for appearances made by a foreign player. No mean feat when you consider the Galaticos that have passed through that great club.

After a few quick pictures with Roberto we were out the door ready and raring for the arrival of Rivaldo.

As we got the lift down to the lobby, former Liverpool, West Ham and Portsmouth goalkeeper David James stepped in to greet us. The legendary England shot stopper had a quick chat with our team and we wished him luck for the tournament. Luck that didn’t quite catch, mind, as an England team even featuring Steven Gerrard couldn’t win the tournament on home soil. We make it 51 years of hurt now…

Of course, our team are no strangers to footballing superstars but a day up close and personal with this many legends of the game was still one to relish. Topping it off: FC Barcelona and AC Milan hero Rivaldo.

A true gentleman, the 1999 Ballon d’Or winner breezed through our signing session with every bit of the class he brought to the football pitch. Still as lean and fit as ever, the legendary attacker gave great care and attention to the products he was signing – fastidiously dotting his i’s and paying particular regard to ensuring he signed with the correct squad number. We signature buffs loved that!

Adding his beautiful autograph to a superb collection of items, it was time for Rivaldo to be whisked away to face China at the nearby O2 Arena. Three-nil or four-nil for Brazil, we asked. It wouldn’t be that easy, he replied quite diplomatically.

It was 7-0.

 

For our full range of Rivaldo and Roberto Carlos signed products check out Icons.com now!

Follow Icons on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for all our latest blog posts, special offers and competitions.



ICYMI: Messi’s wedding, the two Ronnies and NUUUTS!

Here at Icons.com we like to keep a watchful eye over our superstar friends to see what they’re getting up to during the summer break. Let’s just say it’s been a huge fortnight for our two most popular Icons. In case you missed it…

Lionel Messi is now a married man, having tied the knot with his childhood sweetheart Antonella Roccuzzo. A hearty congratulations are in order from everyone at Icons HQ to a man with whom we’ve worked for over a decade. Despite our invite getting lost in the post, the wedding was a star-studded event with footballing A-list guests Gerard Pique, Sergio Aguero and Cesc Fabregas among the attendees. Now there’s a list of players that would make quite the five-a-side team – though it may mean Messi’s bride going between the sticks.

Not to be outdone by his Argentine rival, Cristiano Ronaldo had some big news of his own last week as he announced, via Instagram, the arrival of twins; a boy and girl. Should the pair grow up to be anything like their dad, Manchester United will surely be keen to snap them up on long-term contracts.

And if the thrill of newborns wasn’t quite enough excitement for Cristiano, the 32-year-old European champion had yet another reason to be smiling as his snap of the tiny tots racked up some 7.9 million likes (and counting), making it the second most popular Instagram photo of all time. We’re sure our favourite Portuguese superstar will be a great father to them both (good luck on him going easy on you in the back garden, kids).

Next we turn to a familiar face to take us away from weddings and babies and bring us back to the football pitch, as recent Icons signee Ronaldinho enjoyed a lovely return to Camp Nou in the blue and red of FC Barcelona. Playing in a legends game against Manchester United, our new friend was just as amazing and flamboyant as you would expect. The samba star executed an outrageous nutmeg on Jesper Blomqvist and, you have to trust us on this, it’s a must watch.

View this post on Instagram

⚽⚽ @FCBarcelona #BarçaLegends

A post shared by Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (@ronaldinho) on

But wait just a minute. If I were you, I’d keep my eyes fixed on Icons.com over the coming weeks as another legend who played in that very same game could be arriving soon. Here’s a hint: much like R10 himself, this Brazilian is much loved in Catalunya…

Lastly this week, we congratulate former England captain John Terry but not on his move to Aston Villa. We salute Mr Captain Leader Legend for his confident rendition of Ben E King’s classic Stand By Me which he belted out during his Villans initiation. Does he get top marks for his singing? No. Is it cheating that he got a guitarist to accompany him? Probably. Do we care? Absolutely not.


Shop from our full range of 100% authentic Ronaldinho signed items by visiting our dedicated R10 page…

Follow Icons on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for all our latest blog posts, chat and competitions.


Memorabilia signed by Messi



CLOSED | WIN a Cristiano Ronaldo Signed Nike Boot with FOOTY.COM

Video via FOOTY.COM on Facebook

After a stellar 2016 in which he not only won the UEFA Champions League for a third time but also inspired a first ever major trophy as the captain of his country AND bagged a fourth Ballon d’Or, Cristiano Ronaldo‘s standing as the best player in world football became less of a debate and more of a cold, hard fact.

We at Icons.com love us some CR7. So much so, in fact, that we’ve been working closely with the global phenomenon for over a decade. A Sporting Lisbon legend, a Manchester United hero, a Real Madrid superstar – however you choose to view his career, Ronaldo remains one of our most popular icons.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with our friends at FOOTY.COM to offer the ultimate giveaway for Cristiano fans.

04-cristiano-certificate

That’s right, this week we’re offering you the chance to win a Cristiano Ronaldo signed Nike Mercurial Victory VI boot.

Throwing your hat in the ring for this spectacular prize couldn’t be easier. Just head over to FOOTY.COM, pop in your name and email address and you’re in. The competition ends on Sunday March 12th at midnight (GMT) so enter now before it’s too late!

03-cristiano-signature

Follow Icons on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for all our latest blog posts, chat and competitions.


Memorabilia signed by Cristiano Ronaldo



The Phenomenon Signs Again: Ronaldo Returns For Icons

 

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima

All the best footballers have nicknames. Lionel Messi is “The Flea”, Diego Maradona “The Golden Boy”, while Sergio “Kun” Aguero is named after a Japanese cartoon character. Then there’s Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima. He, rather aptly, is “The Phenomenon”. The three-time FIFA World Player of the Year was the star striker of a golden generation of Brazilian footballers who triumphed at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. And while those may have been the glory years for this outrageously talented number nine, wherever he went throughout his career – be it Internazionale or Real Madrid – Ronaldo just kept doing what he did best; scoring goals.

It’s exactly why the Brazilian has such a cult following even today, five years after his retirement from football. And because we at icons.com love bringing you products from the world’s greatest players, we made sure to get a wide range of fantastic items signed by The Phenomenon himself.

This, of course, is not the first time Icons have met with the now 39-year-old. We have, in fact, been working with Ronaldo for over thirteen years and since our last signing session, he’s been a busy man. A Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme and co-owner of North American Soccer League side Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Ronaldo still finds time to travel the world watching football and was only too happy to chat away about the game he loves.

All throughout our session the former Galactico striker was in a high spirits, laughing and joking with our team as he signed our selection of shirts, photos, boots and balls.

ronaldo-brazil-back-signed-shirt

Adding his signature to a number of items that serve to chronicle his outstanding career at the very top of the sport, Ronaldo seemed to be moved by our selection of photos, recalling great goals in FIFA World Cups, astonishing performances in the UEFA Champions League and remarkable personal honours from a career spanning eighteen years. In fact, he seemed to like a number of items so much that he asked our team if he could take a few away for himself.

Ronaldo-Signed-Nike-FootballICRNSB1-Ronaldo-Signed-Black-Nike-Tiempo-Boot

With a handful of goodies to remember another thoroughly enjoyable and successful signing session, Ronaldo bid us farewell and left to enjoy more of his his favourite city, Madrid, a place in which he spent five great years tearing up La Liga with his Galactico team-mates. That left our team with the all-important task of delivering the excellent variety of exciting products to icons.com for you to enjoy. With more coming over the next few days, keep an eye for our full range of Ronaldo signed products and take it from us; these are not-to-be-missed products from a true legend of football.

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

Follow Icons on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for all our latest blog posts, chat and competitions.


Memorabilia signed by Ronaldo