What Gifts You Can Give to Football-Crazy Fans

Football – it is the name of the game widely played and loved. It is among the most popular sports throughout our globe. Football and gifts – can you relate them? I do hope many have already started wondering how these can be related to each other. Let me explain that in the rest of this write-up.

What is a gift?

The simple answer to the equally simple question is those are received from your beloved, guests and close ones on an occasion or at any other time are gifts. Usually, we showcase these gifts and it is not about flaunting off what we have, but a signature way to decorate our interiors.

A gift builds up a kind of bonding between the recipient and giver. It is a token of love, blessing and well wishes for the receiver. There are many things that you can give as gifts. A recipe book, a golden necklace, a ceramic showpiece and many more could make ideal gifts. But before you buy gifts for someone, you need to know what the person likes.

What if the person is a football crazy? What could be a fascinating gift for him? Let us examine.

Gifts for Football Maddies

You will come in for wonderful surprise to know there are plethora of gifts for the crazy football fans. We will start with accessories. There is a wider variety of items in this category, ranging from gloves, shoulder pads to helmets, balls and shoes. If anyone in your family is passionate about the game and wants to make a career in this field, think about gifting him anything from such a wonderful options of accessories. He cannot help, but talk highly about your choice. “How did you read my mind?” That will be the first question you are likely to be asked when he will unpack his gift.

Baggy T-shirts are favorite for the footballers as well as their fans. These feel extremely comfortable both at home and when they are playing in the ground. T-shirts could be the most exciting gifts for the soccer fans. Check if the T-shirts are of superior quality and made of fine fabric so that these offers heavenly comfort to the users. It will be great for your nephew or cousin, whoever you want to give a gift to, if the T-shirt has the picture of his favorite player printed on it.

If you have ever collected an autograph of a star player at an event, you can now use it as a madding gift for your brother, cousin or nephew who is a die-hard football fan. It weighs its worth in gold for the person and you will always be remembered by him. Frame the autograph and gift it in a nicely embellished box.

Scrapbook is also a good idea as gifts. It will be of great use to any football maddy. The gift receiver can make a good use of the scrapbook to write about their star players and the most memorable event in details.

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The Importance Of A Goal Keeper In A Soccer Team

As discussed in my soccer formation or system article, a goal keeper in a soccer team is always critical player. He would have to be field regardless of whatever formation or system a team would be put out to play. A goal keeper can be defined as the player who guards the goal of his team during the course of a match. Furthermore he is the only player legally allowed to touch, pick or save the ball with his hands within the six yards box or penalty box. This alone makes him different from all the other players.

Under the laws of soccer, any other player who uses his hand to touch or block the ball purposely would result in a foul minimum and a free kick or penalty would be given to the opposition. Another fact is that most keepers would stay inside the penalty box or not across the half as their job is to keep the ball out of the goal. Technically a goal keeper is the most difficult position to play in. The reason for this is simple even if he saves every shot at him in the match except for conceding the one goal that loses the match for his team, he would become a villain instead of the hero at the end of the match. Here a keeper has to be on own his toes and maintain concentration throughout the whole match as a single mistake or lapse could cause his team to lose.

Therefore typically a goal keeper is treated in a very different way from the rest of the team. The characteristics of a great keeper can be summarized as: Having a good command of the box, having good positioning sense, having good agility or jumping ability and having a good pair of hands. Having a good command of the box, would enable a goal keeper to better or organize "arrange" his defense during opposition corners or free kicks. This is critical as most teams in the modern game do work on their set pieces and just a lapse in defense may result in conceding a goal.

In the past, great keepers have always been seen commanding the box like generals such as Peter Schmeichel of Manchester United fame.Another important aspect is the positioning sense of a keeper. Sometimes it can be akin to a sixth sense of where the ball would be shot towards. In some games, poor positioning of the keeper can result in a goal being scored. Being agile or having good jumping ability has enabled many a keeper to keep out or pull off magnificent saves when the opposition has shot certain goal bound shots. While equipped with a strong pair of hands is a necessity as shots can be coming in at a high speed or from different avenues with a variety of power.

Some of the best keepers in the modern games are Buffon of Italian Giants Juventus and Peter Czech of English Giants Chelsea fame. Each of these keepers owns most of the above characteristics to make them a highly valued member of their teams.Without a doubt, a goal keeper is one of the most specialized positions in soccer or football with their ups and downs in each match.

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What Are the Qualities of a Football Team Striker?

Every team is like a useless pack of cards if there are no good strikers because you can’t win a match without scoring goals and you can’t score goals without having potent strikers. The question then is who is a striker? And what are the qualities of a good striker?

A striker is a football player whose responsibility is to score goals. This simply means that if a striker cannot score goals then he should not be in the team in the first place.

Now, let’s look at the qualities of a good striker or forward. A good striker should have a clear vision just like a good goalkeeper. A good striker should be able to convert any chance to a goal. But he cannot just take his chances if he cannot see very well.

A good striker should have speed. This is where counter attack comes into play. If the strikers in a team lack speed then counter attacks become useless. If you take a look at Spanish, Argentine and Brazilian national teams you will appreciate the value of speed to any striker. Spanish, Argentine and Brazilian teams are so good at counter attacks simply because they have strikers that can move with the ball so fast.

A good striker should have what I call “goal sense”. This simply means that he or she should know when to use the head or leg. He or she should know when to tap in the ball. He or she should know when to pass the ball to another player that is better positioned to score the goal. He or she should also know when to be selfish with the ball.

A good striker should have inner strength, vigor, stamina, or energy. He or she should be able to surmount any kind of opposition once he or she is with the ball. Great strikers of our time such as Samuel Eto’o Fils of Cameroon and FC Barcelona of Spain, Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast and Chelsea FC of England and Wayne Rooney of England and Manchester United of England are some graphic examples of strikers that have the much needed strength.

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The Best Soccer Fitness Workout

Fitness is especially important for soccer players, as they will be called on in a match to run for up to 90 minutes, with no stoppage in time and only sporadic stoppage of action. When preparing for the upcoming soccer season, it is best to play the beautiful game of soccer as a way to get more fit, as there is no substitute for the game. Even small-sided games for 15, 20 and 30 minute intervals will help increase fitness and endurance.

As a separate workout away from the game, It is best for soccer players to alternate sprinting, distance and interval running during a fitness workout. With each workout, players should gradually increase repetitions and improve times.

Here are the best drills for a soccer fitness workout:

300’s: On a soccer field, start out on the end line and sprint to mid-field up and back 6 times (50 yards x 6 = 300). High school players should try to run these in less than 70 seconds. After each 300, rest for two minutes and then repeat.

Hills: Find a steady incline hill (no “baby” hills)  Sprint up the hill and jog down. The jogging is recovery time, so this can be done slowly. Once players reach the bottom, the should turn around and sprint up the hill again. After five (5) hills, then take a two minutes rest and do five (5) more.

Cones: These are sprints. Place cones about five (5) yards apart for 25 yards.  Players should spring to the first cone and then back, then to the second cone and then back, and so on.  Five cones up and back is one repetition. Do ten (10) reps and then a one (1) minute rest. Then ten (10) more.

Challenged yet? We’re just getting started…

30-30’s: This is interval training.  Players should begin by jogging for a few minutes and then the fun begins. Next is to alternate 30 seconds of jogging with 30 seconds of sprinting.  Do a set of five (5) 30-30’s, then rest two (2) minutes and then five (5) more. 

120’s: This is a full sprint of the length of the soccer field. High school players should try to do this in less than 20 seconds. After reaching the opposite end line, players should jog back, allowing 60 seconds to recover. Do 7-10 of these.

Cooling down and stretching: Players should always take fifteen to twenty minutes to cool down and stretch to conclude fitness training.

Want even more soccer workout information? Total Soccer Fitness is your complete guide to soccer conditioning, which features a free soccer fitness course.

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Soccer Fixture: Chelsea Versus Arsenal

Chelsea and Arsenal met in the First Division of the Football League at Stamford Bridge for the first time on the 9th November, 1907 – 30 years after the stadium had first been opened for use by the London Athletic Club. Chelsea won 2.1 with both goals scored by George Hilsdon. Arsenal’s reply came from Charlie Satterthwaite.

George Hilsdon was the first player to score 100 goals for Chelsea and a weather vane modelled on him can still be seen at Stamford Bridge. Legend has it that Chelsea will suffer ‘great misfortune’ if it is ever removed, as it was during ground works in the late 1970’s when Chelsea were in financial and football decline. Hilsdon was the victim of a gas attack on the Western Front in WWI and never played professional football again, dying in 1941. His grave is unmarked.

This first match was watched by a then record crowd for England’s top division: 65,000. Arsenal were still known as and based at Woolwich Arsenal at the time but they had a huge away following for this match due to it also being the 66th birthday of King Edward VII. The munitions factory – where many of the workers who followed the club were based – was closed for the day, hence they were free to travel to West London.

In fact, Arsenal could have been more local rivals of Chelsea than Tottenham Hotspur. A local businessman – Henry Norris – had a significant role in the development of both clubs. Amassing a fortune from property Norris became a Director and then Chairman of Fulham. Another Edwardian businessman called Henry – Henry Augustus Mears – had acquired Stamford Bridge with a view to it becoming one of the finest venues for association football in the capital if not the whole country. He offered Norris the chance to move Fulham FC to the ground but Norris refused to pay the annual rent of some £1500 and so Mears created his own team – Chelsea FC – in 1905. Had Norris not been so careful with his money, there might not have been a Chelsea football club at all.

Five years later Norris, still Chairman of Fulham became a majority shareholder of Woolwich Arsenal which had gone into voluntary liquidation. Becoming Chairman of that London club too, Norris proposed merging them with Fulham to form a super-club. The move was blocked by the Football League and so Chelsea and Fulham remained local rivals rather than Chelsea and Arsenal.

This match between the two teams in 1907 was the first ever to be played by two London clubs in the First Division and so the first major ‘London derby.’ All subsequent league meetings between the two sides to date have been in the top tier of English football (the old First Division and now the Premier League).

Woolwich Arsenal got their revenge the following season with a 2.1 win on 28th November, 1908 – Chelsea’s goal coming from George Hilsdon again. The Gunners won on Chelsea turf in the season after that as well, before the first draw – 1.1 – in this league fixture on 15th February, 1913. This was the last time the two sides met before Woolwich Arsenal moved to Highbury and changed their name to Arsenal.

Indeed, after that win in their first meeting, Chelsea did not win the fixture again until 13th December, 1919 when they won 3.1 with goals from Robert McNeil, John Cock and Henry Ford in front of a huge post-war crowd of 60,000.

The fixture on 12th October, 1935 was played in front of another enormous crowd: 82,905, which was the second highest recorded attendance for an English league match. It finished in a 1.1 draw. Joseph Bambrick scored for Chelsea and Jack Crayston for Arsenal.

Arsenal’s record league win at Stamford Bridge came in front of 74,667 football fans on 29th November, 1930 – a 5.1 victory, with David Jack scoring a hat-trick as Arsenal moved closer to their first League Championship win and domination of English football in the 1930s. They scored five times again on 24th November, 1934 – in a 5.2 victory this time – with legendary Arsenal centre-forward Ted Drake scoring four of Arsenal’s goals. Drake would go on to manage Chelsea in 1952 and was largely responsible for changing their nickname from The Pensioners to The Blues.

The Gunners also scored five goals in a 5.3 win on 29th October, 2011 with Robin Van Persie scoring a hat-trick for the victors.

Chelsea’s largest win in the fixture came in a 6.0 win in the Premier League on 22nd March, 2014 which was also Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger’s 1000th game in charge. This is the highest number of goals Chelsea have scored against Arsenal in a league fixture at Stamford Bridge and also represented the biggest margin of victory by The Blues. Oscar scored two goals that day alongside one each from Samuel Eto’o, Andre Schurrle, Eden Hazard and Mohamed Salah in front of an attendance of 41,614.

The sides are neck and neck in terms of wins in this fixture. In the years when Chelsea have gone on to win the League Title they have never lost at home to their rivals from North London, drawing the matches in the 1954/55 and 2004/05 seasons and winning each of them in 2005/06, 2009/10 and 2014/15.

For Arsenal, in the 13 seasons where they have finished as League Champions, they have only lost at Chelsea on two occasions (Chelsea were in the Second Division in the 1988/89 season so there was no fixture) – on 29th August, 1970 when Paddy Mulligan and John Hollins scored for Chelsea and Eddie Kelly got one back for Arsenal – and on 2nd February, 1991. Kerry Dixon and Graham Stuart scored for Chelsea that day with Alan Smith replying for Arsenal in front of a crowd of 29,094. This was the only league defeat of the season for George Graham’s Arsenal team and their first in 27 First Division matches, stretching back to a 2.0 loss at Luton Town on 21st April, 1990.

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Rlegated Rovers

Rovers who had collected only four points in the Premier League this season and scored thirteen goals all in all, went into relegation after losing to Newcastle 3-1. The Rovers captain Chris Samba told BBC news that things can still improve for their team, they will need a big heart and improve themselves. They have played better than this and they can. He wants a reaction from his team. He wants to his team to make a comeback with a different attitude, he wants them to be tougher than this.

Even though the Rovers do not seem to be playing so well this season they have been Premier League Champions and have been successful in beating teams like Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspurs. They also have the achievement of being one of the four clubs that have won the Premier League title, which includes Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal. Arsenal also faces relegation fears as it has not won a trophy in the past six years.

Blackburn Rovers was established in 1875 and in 1888 they became the founding members of the Football League.

Newcastle played well in its last match against the Rovers. With De Samba making a hat-trick the Rovers fall in for their fourth defeat of the Premier League season causing them to drop into relegation. Being the English Football Club that has the eighth highest number of honors in football, Newcastle is at the fourth position in the Premier League. With 12 points the team is just a notch below Chelsea and can easily be the title grabbers this year. Their performance has been good so far and their best players this season include De samba and Leon Best. De Samba was the man who caused Newcastle to win from the Rovers this Saturday. He is also in the top players list this season with three goals to his credit. This is definitely the attraction of football fans who will be eager to buy Newcastle tickets to watch him play and make more Hat-tricks in the future.

The Blackburn rovers come across Manchester City in the next match. Manchester City has been in the top five list this season. At the moment it retains the position at number two with sixteen points which is equal to the Red Devils' score, for Blackburn rovers it may require all their strength to beat the Citizens. Manchester City might not have been Premier League champions but in the past few years they have come across as one of the best teams and now they have been at the top. The game will take place in Ewood Park on Saturday the 1st of October.

The Blackburn captain and defender Chris Samba motivates his team with his talk. He told The Sun newspaper that you push your luck and destiny yourself. And that is what he wants his team to do also.

He does not want them to just sit and see other teams pass them because because he knows that his team can play much better than they did against Newcastle. They still have the chance to regain their full position in the football world. Blackburn fans who have heard what Samba thinks will certainly be encouraged to buy Blackburn tickets and come to cheer the team.

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FIFA 10 – The Next-Gen Soccer Video Game Experience

Here is my two cents on FIFA 10 video game;

Graphics: The graphics of this version of FIFA is superiorly much better than the previous versions of the game. The players look more realistic and can be compared to that of PES 2009(although it is much better). The player’s shirts, shorts, and hair move and their breath on a cold, snowy day can be seen. The facial features of the players can be seen more clearly. This is probably THE next-gen soccer experience.

Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, PC, Nintendo DS, N-Gage, PSP, Cell Phone, and the iPhone through the AppStore.

New Features: 

  • To make sure that the attacking team doesn’t have an advantage on the counter attack, the defensive line or “the defense” will be positioned deeper. This was done improve the realism of game play.
  • 360 Degree Dribbling System – A new system which allows players to make more ‘precise’ passes. These ‘precise’ passes were not able to be made in previous versions of the game.

Improved Features:

  • Manager Mode: Now, making a 5-star team is much harder. This means you can’t just buy many highly-rated players and expect your team to become a 5-star team. You have to gain experience with your team. Another cool thing is that your pre-season friendly matches are organized by your ASSISTANT MANAGER! I thought that this was pretty cool.
  • A.I. has been improved.
  • Set-piece delivery has been improved. This means that scoring goals or crossing from a free kick/corner is much easier.

David Ruther revealed the following features on his Twitter account:

  • The wall defending against a free kick can be moved through use of the shoulder button.
  • The game will not feature dynamic lighting.
  • Cross-park passes are now generally a lot more driven, and will take about half the time to cross the pitch.
  • You can assign specific stadiums to clubs.
  • On cold days, it may snow, and players’ breath will be visible.
  • There will be new crowd effects.
  • There will be a new training mode, similar to the one in the PS2 version.

To watch a trailer for this upcoming game, please visit: http://europeansoccer-about.com/VideoGame [http://www.europeansoccer-about.com/VideoGame]

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Is Money Killing Sport?

Recent news in the UK has featured two knights of the realm. The death was announced of Sir Roger Bannister, the athlete who ran the first four-minute mile in Oxford in 1954 and was later knighted for his contributions to medicine. Bannister competed in the amateur era and was said to have derived no financial benefit from sport. On the other hand, Sir Bradley Wiggins, performed in the modern era in which all elite sport is professional and richly rewarded. He was in the news because a Parliamentary committee had found that though he had done nothing illegal, he had nevertheless acted unethically in taking prescribed medication not for treating an affliction but purely to enhance his performance in winning the Tour de France cycle race in 2012. This latest in a long series of stories of drug abuse in professional sport raises the question of whether it is still sport in the traditional sense, and whether ethical behaviour can survive in an era ruled by big business.

International cycling competition had gained a bad reputation for drug abuse when a former seven-times winner of the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong, was stripped of all his achievements on the revelation of his abuses in 2012. The United States Anti-Doping Agency described him as the ringleader of “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” The Sky cycling team, of which Wiggins was a member, was launched on the claim of being a champion of clean sport. It has now been revealed as acting in a way that was technically legal but unethical, behaviour that can be considered as characteristic of much of modern business.

Another interesting reflection on trends in modern sport was provided recently by FIFA’s decision to allow the use of TV monitoring facilities in soccer matches to aid referees’ decisions. Various systems are already in use in cricket and rugby, where spectators are shown replays on a large TV screen. However, replays of action will not be displayed in this way at soccer matches on the grounds that fans would not be prepared to accept marginal decisions that go against their team. This is surely a severe condemnation of a sport by its own ruling body, and shows to what depths sportsmanship and ethics have sunk in this most commercialised of sports.

The lesson from all this would seem to be that the authorities will continue to struggle for legality in sport, as in business, but that little can be done to ensure ethical behaviour, and pure sportsmanship can be expected to survive only in the amateur arena.

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Does Mo Salah Have a Shot at Winning the Ballon D’Or?

This question has been on the minds of many football fans as they witnessed the performance of the 25-year old Egyptian forward over the course of the season. Sir Alex Ferguson had once told that Inside Forwards are more dangerous than traditional forwards. The Egyptian seems to be trying to prove Ferguson’s remarks true. He has shown explosive bouts of pace, exceptional fitness levels, extraordinary shooting accuracy and the form of his life.

So, once again, does Mo Salah have a shot at winning the Ballon d’Or? Not Quite Yet!

The reason is rather simple- Liverpool as a team have not won any silverware this season as of yet. So does this count? Yes, it does. Despite all his exploits, the team has not been successful in any major competition apart from the UEFA Champions League. Liverpool just won the first-leg of their semi-finals against AS Roma 5-2. Salah proved to be instrumental in this trashing of his old club yet again as he ended the match with 2 goals and 2 assists. He had managed to score seven goals in his 7 outings in the Champions League during the leadup to the Semi-finals. He has shown out of the ordinary striking form through-out the Premier League season. But unless Liverpool win the Champions League, his dream of winning the Ballon d’Or will remain just that, a dream.

But things have not always gone according to script for the Egyptian. His initial entry into the Premier League was with Chelsea, who bought him from FC Basel. But he could only make 13 appearances and score 2 goals before being loaned-off to Italian side, Fiorentina. He was then loaned to AS Roma who bought him from Chelsea for a complete transfer. He enjoyed considerable success at the club. Liverpool then bought from Roma before the start of the 2017-18 season. Many of the experts voiced their doubts about Salah’s ability to adopt to the Premier League. But all of them have been silenced now, given his performance and sheer attacking prowess he has shown.

Salah also helped Egypt qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2018, their first appearance since the 1990 World Cup. He emerged as Egypt’s top scorer during the qualifying tournament and scored both the goals in the all important match against Congo. He has so far scored 43 times for Liverpool during this season and is only behind Ian Rush in the all time top goal scorer’s for the club in a single season.

Mo Salah has already been named as the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the year. So let us hope Liverpool will maintain their momentum and take their current form into the second leg against AS Roma.

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Soccer Fixture: Manchester United Versus Newcastle United

This fixture was first played on 6th April, 1895 when Manchester United – still known then as Newton Heath – beat Newcastle United 5.1 at Bank Street in Clayton, Manchester in front of a crowd of 6,000. Newton Heath had moved there two years earlier after playing their early league games at North Road; this was a Second Division clash with the team having been relegated from the Football League’s First Division the previous season.

Newcastle United’s first win in the fixture came on 13th November, 1897: 1.0 through a goal by Willie Wardrope.

Newcastle’s biggest away win to date against the Red Devils came 25 years after the team had officially changed its name to Manchester United, on 10th September, 1927. Newcastle won 7.1 in front of a crowd of 50,217 at Old Trafford where the Manchester club had moved in 1910.

Newcastle scored seven goals again in the 1930/31 season, conceding four in reply. Jack Cape scored a hat-trick for the visitors with Tommy Reid also scoring a hat-trick for the home team.

A high scoring draw of 4.4 took place on 31st January, 1959 with Bobby Charlton and Dennis Viollet and the Alberts – Quixall and Scanlon – scoring the home team’s goals. Newcastle scored through Ivor Allchurch, John McGuigan and two from Len White.

Close high scoring games between the two teams include a narrow 3.2 win for the Lancashire team on 3rd September, 1966 when Denis Law scored the winner. It was 3.2. to Manchester United again on 15th October, 1977, shortly after Dave Sexton had replaced Tommy Docherty as manager. Jimmy Greenhoff scored the winner that day

The home team won 5.3 on 23rd November, 2002 with Ruud Van Nistelrooy scoring a hat-trick. Newcastle’s goals that day included Alan Shearer’s 100th Premier League goal for the club (he also thus became the first player to score 100 Premiership goals for two different clubs – Blackburn Rovers being the other one).

On Boxing Day, 2012 Manchester United won 4.3 with Javier Hernandez scoring the winner in the last minute of one of the most breathtaking games this fixture has produced.

Manchester United teams have put six goals past the Magpies in this fixture during three distinctive periods in the club’s history, and all in the top tier of English football. The ‘Busby Babes’ beat Newcastle 6.1 on 12th January, 1957 in front of a little over 45,000 fans and the last time this fixture was played before disaster would strike in Munich just over a year later. Whelan, Pegg and Viollet scored two goals apiece that day, with one Jacky Milburn replying for the Toon.

They won 6.0 on 4th May, 1968, just 25 days before Busby’s rebuilt team would win the European Cup at Wembley Stadium for the first time by beating Benfica. Sadler, Kidd (2) and a George Best hat-trick collectively routed Newcastle that day in front of an attendance just short of 60,000.

Almost forty years later, on 12th January, 2008, Manchester United again won 6.0, this time in front of a crowd of almost 76,000. Their goals that day included a hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo. Alex Ferguson’s team would win the second of three consecutive league titles that season and the club’s third European Cup (now Champions League) in Moscow just over four months later against Chelsea.

On 7th December, 2013 Newcastle United won at Old Trafford for the first time in over 40 years, with a single goal by Yohan Cabaye in the second half proving to be the difference between the two sides

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