A Hazard In His Own Right

By Kristian Heneage

It was a proud moment for Thorgan Hazard. The younger sibling of Chelsea winger Eden, he had finally made his way out from the all encompassing shadow of his brother. 

"He is no longer Eden’s brother,” Zulte Waregem coach Franck Dury said in January. “He is Thorgan Hazard in his own right.” 

Dury’s evlaution was correct. Hazard has been sensational since his arrival at Zulte Waregem and recently capped off a golden boot winning season with 11 goals and 15 assists in 38 games. The brothers are both currently on the books of Chelsea, yet for Thorgan, it required a trip back home to his native Belgium in order to shine. 

When Eden arrived at Chelsea’s Cobham training complex in Surrey, England, there was not just a sizable price tag trailing him. Agents, advisors, medical staff, and Chelsea TV staff all swarmed him as they celebrated another prized capture. Yet tucked somewhere quietly at the back, was his younger sibling. 

"I knew very well that I was passing through," he said, reminiscing on a month spent at the training ground. 30 or so days split between training sessions with the first and reserve team. On the surface it seemed a move aimed at helping Eden acclimatize to new surroundings. Chelsea had previously struck a similar deal for the Musonda brothers (Lamisha, Tika and Charley). 

The idea that he is only there because of Eden, and that the will never match his brother’s level has all been heard before. Even opponents have told him: "You’ll never be as good as Eden." Yet Thorgan remains unflustered: "We are not the first brothers in professional football. People often try to compare us, I understand, but we are not the same players. Everyone manages his career the way he wants. Eden exploded quickly, I play at my own pace, I hope it works."

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Three Times and An Old Lady - AFR Voice Ep. 39

They’ve done it again. For the third year running the Scudetto will be sitting pretty in Juventus’ trophy cabinet after they took the title at the weekend without even having to kick a ball. On the show this week we take a look at what’s been another superb domestic season for the Old Lady, as well as trouble at the Coppa Italia final, a certain aging striker who might just find himself sneaking onto the plane to Brazil this Summer, and a 24 goal thriller in Serie D. And no, you didn’t read that wrong – 24 GOALS.

Things may be wrapped up in Italy, but the opposite can be said of La Liga. After a weekend when neither Barcelona, Atlético or Real Madrid managed to notch up a win the three-way title race continues to be wide open with only one thing now clear – it will be going down to the final day. So why not join us and get bogged down in the seemingly infinite potential outcomes involved in what’s going to be a truly great run-in for fans of permutations and confusing head-to-head records.

If that sounds a bit much, then things are a bit simpler in the Premier League where we cast a keen eye on a Man City side edging ever closer to the title, Chelsea running out of steam, and plenty of drama at the bottom of the table both on and off the pitch.

Away from Europe, we’ll head Down Under where a new A-League champion has been crowned after this weekend’s Grand Final between Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers. Hear us talk through the game, as well as discuss why there could be a strong Aussie showing in next year’s Asian Champions League, and how the league moving away from big name players isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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Everyone’s Second Team: Why Atletico Madrid Deserve Our Support

By Caleb Cousens

This year we have been lucky enough to witness a season of special moments thanks to the exploits of Atletico Madrid and Liverpool FC. Neither team were taken seriously at the start of the season, yet both have rocketed to the top of their respective domestic leagues playing their own unique brands of football. I will let someone else wax eloquent about Brendan Rogers and the Anfield faithful, for now let’s head to the Estadio Vicente Calderon.

This is the year of the underdog, and as such, it’s not a bad time to get behind Diego Simeone’s swashbuckling side that has been kicking ass and taking names. Atleti have shattered the illusion of La Liga’s duopoly, beginning with a Copa del Rey at the end of last season that set the tone for what would come. It was the first time that the lesser known Madrid side had beaten the big white machine in 25 matches spanning 14 years. They started this season as they finished, by beating Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, and have proceeded to remain undefeated against Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in La Liga this entire year.

In the Champions League their success seems even less likely. Atletico Madrid have one of the smallest squads in Europe, but have managed to thrive both domestically and in Europe, beating the crème of the crop from Russia, Portugal, Italy and Spain on their way to the Semi-Finals.

That said, why should you support Atletico Madrid?

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Scythe Matters - AFR Voice Ep.37

Well, it’s been an interesting Easter weekend for David Moyes. First he was stared down by the Grim Reaper at Goodison Park, and now his sacking is confirmed. We’ll be taking a look at what’s gone wrong for the Scotsman, and who the Red Devils can turn to next.

Elsewhere in England, it’s been a big weekend for the Liverpool winning machine which took another big step towards the title, beating Norwich as Chelsea lost a home league game under Jose Mourinho for the first time in 77 games. But what will the ramifications of that result be at both the top and bottom of the table?

Then it’s off to the Continent where Chelsea will have to forget about the weekend very quickly, as they take on Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals. We’ll be previewing this game, as well as another huge one across town when Real Madrid take on Bayern Munich in the other last four tie a day later. Strap yourselves in: it’s definitely business time.

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Through Ryu’s Lens: José does it again

Parisian fans have swooped past frustration and sit in their city with nothing but existential angiush. Oh, what could have been. This was their year, and it was led by the mighty Zlatan. That is, until he was reminded of his humanity and sidelined with an injury.

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Milan in Freefall - AFR Voice Ep.32

‘Crisis’ has been the buzzword this season for the pod, with the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and even Barcelona getting blasted with the dreaded ‘c’ word. But finally we have turned our audio attentions to a club that deserves it more than most – AC Milan.

The Rossoneri are a shocking 40 points adrift from league leaders Juve and we discuss where it all went wrong. Is rookie manager Clarence Seedorf ripe for the sacking in the summer, and will the struggle for power in the boardroom be resolved anytime soon?

Elsewhere, we look at Europe in more positive tones, heralding Bayern’s 50-game unbeaten run, ruffling the hair of little Lionel Messi for eclipsing recent AFR profilee Paulino Alcántara as Barça’s all-time record scorer, and bow down to the mighty Zlatan for making his own little bit of Parisian history.

All that plus a quick fire witness report from Chelsea’s Champions League clash against Galatasaray, a report on Jermain Defoe’s perfect MLS debut and an evaluation of Rivaldo’s career which came to an end this week. He was arguably one of football’s all-time greats, but why won’t he be remembered as such?

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Through Ryu’s Lens: Blues in Black

It was a bright and sunny day in London. A rarity for Chelsea faithful. Matchday was made even better when Mourinho’s men stole 3 points in the dying minutes of the match against Everton. Nevertheless, Ryu brought out his camera and turned the lights down low at Stamford Bridge.

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Zero to Hero: The rise of Nemanja Matic

By Dominic Vieira

Finding the complete centre midfielder, the sort of player demanded by most manages these days, is a blistering headache; just ask David Moyes how successful his search has gone. As several clubs looked to improve their quality in the centre of the park, in particular those sitting at the top of the Premier League, Nemanja Matic was a highly wanted man this winter.

Like with most of Benfica’s signings - Matic, who joined from Chelsea as part of the David Luiz deal and was originally valued at £4m - arrived to the Portuguese capital as an outsider, a player no one had really heard of and someone who the club did not expect to sell for millions. This too was shown by the player being rejected by the club’s ‘Stars Funds,’ a fund through which investors can buy a percentage of a Benfica player’s rights.

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Minimalist Club Crests by Daniel Nyari

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