Soccer Fans Supply Strong Voice in Scottish Independence Debate

September 15, 2014

“In this city defined by the rivalry between its two biggest soccer clubs — Celtic and Rangers — there were no team colors on display Sunday night as fans filtered into a gloomy pub to watch Scotland play Germany in its first qualifying game for the 2016 European Championship. There is, however, more than soccer to talk about at the moment. Scotland is wound tight, waiting to uncoil next week, when the country will vote on whether it should be independent from Britain. The debate has generated the kind of tension and engagement usually reserved for soccer rivalries in Scotland, and in fact the country’s stadiums have become key battlegrounds for the yes and no campaigns.” NY Times

Scotland – when politics and football clash
“The Scotland independence referendum centers mainly on political and social issues, but as is often the case, the implications run far below the surface. One such area is the beautiful game itself. While many follow football in an attempt to forget about the problems of the world, the current climate in Scotland makes it impossible to ignore the reality of the impending referendum – from aggressive chants to verbal attacks on Scottish players, Scotland’s football takes first stage on the referendum.” backpagefootball

Tactical Analysis: Arsenal 2-2 Manchester City | Efficient Citizens again, defensive woes for Gunners

September 15, 2014

“Arsenal 2-2 Manchester City | Arsenal came into the game after a rather disappointing end to a window that did see them capture a man that has everything to prove, and a disappointing draw with Leicester. Manchester City had a quiet end to the window, much like their previous game which resulted in a shock home loss to Stoke City. Three points wasn’t crucial at this stage, but could prove to have been as the season wore on.” Outside of the Boot

Manchester City display direct, rugged edge at Arsenal
“In strategic terms, Manchester City’s Manuel Pellegrini is a subtle manager, more likely to change the balance of his team with a minor alteration rather than a sweeping, dramatic shift in formation. His starting XI for the 2-2 draw against Arsenal, however, was a surprise. Without Yaya Toure in midfield, he was forced to select Fernandinho and Frank Lampard, both starting their first game of the campaign. The Brazilian looked rusty, and Lampard struggled to cope with the speed of the game. Both were eventually substituted on a booking — although Fernandinho had recovered to become one of the second half’s standout players.” ESPN – Michael Cox

Champions League: Will an English club win this season?

September 15, 2014

“There was a time, in the not too distant past, when English clubs feared only each other in the later stages of the Champions League. Such was the dominance of Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool that one or the other of them reached seven out of eight Champions League finals between 2005 and 2012 and they claimed nine out of the 12 available semi-final places between 2007 and 2009. How times change. As the group stages of Europe’s premier club competition get under way on Tuesday, English clubs find themselves fighting to re-establish themselves at the top table.” BBC

The long haul in South America is yet to begin

September 15, 2014

Brazil v Ecuador
“While the 2016 UEFA European Championship qualifiers commenced this week, the cream of South American football was running around in mickey mouse games that will have little bearing on what will occurs next year when the likes of Brazil and Argentina play for something far more important than bragging rights and some cash to stock up the coffers.” The World Game – Tim Vickery

Premier League, Week 4: Handing Out Credit and Blame for City, United, Arsenal, and Liverpool

September 15, 2014

“What a weekend. Manchester United won, 4-0! Alan Pardew personally ensured that Newcastle lost, 4-0! Arsenal’s beautiful attack scored two goals! Arsenal’s woeful defending gifted Manchester City two goals! Liverpool lost! So many unexpected things happening all at once. Let’s wade through the weekend’s results using a little game I like to call ‘Credit or Blame.’” Grantland

Assessing Dutch football’s European chances

September 15, 2014

“With both the Champions League and Europa League group stages kicking off this week, what impact will Dutch sides AFC Ajax, Feyenoord Rotterdam and PSV Eindhoven make in their respective competitions? First things first: How did they get there? Ajax have made the groups this year by winning the Eredivise, as first place automatically qualify for the Champions League. Last season’s second place Feyenoord had a chance to qualify for the Champions League, but crashed out to Turkish giants Besiktas; they lost 5-2 on aggregate. Therefore Feyenoord had a chance to enter the Europa League, in a qualifying match against FC Zorya Luhansk, who Feyenoord defeated 5-4 on aggregate.” backpagefootball

Can Jack Wilshere profit for England where Gerrard and Henderson lost?

September 15, 2014

jack wilshere
“There is an unhelpful idealism about international football, or at least about the way England approach international football. Everybody has their favourite to promote, the key creator who cannot be left out, the grand scheme that will secure success, and the result is often a terrible mish-mash – a team designed, if not by committee, then certainly with so many voices at play that a manager’s thinking can become clouded.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


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