History Of The World Cup (1958)

March 31, 2010


Brazil defeats Sweden 5-2 in the World Cup. Pele;, at age 17, scores a goal in the game
“The venue of the 1958 World Cup was Sweden which infuriated the South Americans who expected it to revert back to them after Switzerland four years ago but they buried their hostility enough to be represented by Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Paraguay. For the first and only time, all four of the British home nations qualified and we saw the first entry for the Soviet Union. People forget just how vast the Soviet Union was – once it split in 1991, the remnants formed a total of 15 different countries including Russia.” (Yanks Are Coming)


Bayern 2-1 Manchester United: Ferguson loses the game with a strange substitution

March 31, 2010

“How on earth did Manchester United manage to lose this game? On top after twenty seconds of playing time, Rooney causing the Bayern centre-backs no end of trouble, and a spare man in the centre of the pitch, it really is quite remarkable that Bayern will go to Old Trafford with the advantage. Sir Alex Ferguson has been constantly praised on ZM for his tactics so far this season, but he might have to take the blame here.” (Zonal Marking)


Carragher: We can still salvage our season

March 31, 2010

“Rewind twelve months and Jamie Carragher was looking back on what had been a prosperous March for Liverpool, having played every minute of the Reds’ four successive victories against Sunderland, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Aston Villa. With fifteen goals scored – including four against both United and Madrid – and just one conceded, Rafael Benitez had just signed a new five-year deal, Steven Gerrard had just netted a hat-trick in the 5-0 mauling of Villa and the boys from Anfield were just a point off top spot in the Premier League.” (ESPN)


Caniza experience crucial for Paraguay

March 31, 2010

“Can Lionel Messi reproduce his Barcelona form for Argentina? Will Wayne Rooney be able to sustain his current level of performance into June and July? Might Cristiano Ronaldo, or even Kaka, be fresher at the end of the club season because Real Madrid are out of the Champions League? The World Cup is where reputations are confirmed and football fans across the planet are hoping the stars to be firing on all cylinders in South Africa.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)


Tactics: Alchemist Blanc harnesses power of the collective

March 31, 2010


Laurent Blanc
“Irrespective of what Bordeaux go on to achieve this season, it is impossible to overstate what their coach Laurent Blanc has done for the club. In just under two years and nine months he has transformed the south-west side from occasionally successful also-rans into the emerging force in French football, having led them to a league and Coupe de la Ligue double last season, the top of the table this term and the last eight of the Champions League for the first time since 1988.” (Football Further)


Van Gaal’s technological revolution

March 31, 2010

“Last season I interviewed Louis van Gaal a few weeks before he celebrated the Dutch title with AZ Alkmaar and it became very interesting when we started talking about the prospect of technical aids in football. In the previous game, AZ had a goal disallowed for offside and we both agreed that the decision was debatable. The scorer of the AZ goal was level with the stomach of a defender, who was lying prostrate with his head near the goal-line and his feet in the direction of the penalty spot. We both wondered which body part exactly constitutes offside and which makes it level.” (ESPN)


2009-10 UEFA Europa League, Quarter-finals: the 8 clubs, with stadium photos

March 31, 2010

“Europa League fixtures/results, Europa League fixtures/results (ESPN Soccernet). The Quarter-finals of the 09/10 Europa League begin on Thursday, 1st April, with the second leg matches a week later. Of the 8 clubs still alive, there are 2 English clubs (Fulham and Liverpool), 2 German clubs (Hamburg and Wolfsburg), 2 Spanish clubs (Atletico Madrid and Valencia), a Belgian club (Standard Liege), and a Portuguese club (Benfica).” (billsportsmaps)


Arsenal’s dynamic dribbling duo can drive the Gunners to glory

March 31, 2010

“The benching of Arsenal’s too most gifted dribblers due to slight knocks did not help the Gunners’ cause in the 1-1 draw to Birmingham. Two goals. One had a bit of luck; the other was dizzyingly graceful. Yet both were just rewards for the almost impudent desire of both players – although paved with good intentions – to get as close to the goal as possible.” (Arsenal Column)


Book Review: African Soccerscapes

March 30, 2010


“This slim volume, from a scholar fast developing a reputation as a leading expert on the history of African soccer, has hallmarks of a high level research monograph but transcends the genre with its impeccably researched trawl through the development of the game on the continent. Football is important for Africa.” (thetwounfortunates)


Video Of The Week: France – Black, White & Blue

March 30, 2010

“This week’s ‘Video Of The Week’ is from the ‘More Than A Game’ Series, and focusses on the history of football in France, as seen through the prism of immigration. As Jean-Marie Le Pen seemed singularly unable to grasp, much of the success that the French national football team has had has been at least partly due to to immigrant players. This documentary, which was screened in Britain as part of the ‘World Cup Stories’ series during the run up to the 2006 World Cup finals documents the history of a national team which gave the World Cup to the game and then took almost seven decades to win the competition.” (twohundredpercent)


Rare Struggles for Argentine Powers

March 30, 2010

“Two of the most popular teams in Argentina — River Plate and Boca Juniors — and their legions of frenzied fans are not a happy bunch these days. The two clubs have long dominated the game in the South American nation and in the capital, Buenos Aires, but they are trapped in the lower half of the first-division standings more than halfway through the Clausura (closing tournament).” (NYT)


Rafa Benitez: Should he stay or should he go?

March 30, 2010


“As we approach the climax to the 2009/10 Premiership season, Liverpool are still battling for major prizes and have plenty to play for. However, had Liverpool fans been told last May that their team would be battling for 4th place and The Europa League, many probably would have scorned in contempt. Yet, with only seven league games remaining the Reds have a huge fight on their hands to salvage pride and respectability from what, last May, promised to be an enterprising, possibly even watershed year.” (Just Football)


The Blog Files #1: Just Football interviews Barcelona Football Blog

March 30, 2010

“Football bloggers. Does a more committed collective exist anywhere in football, across any cross-section of the game? Not only are they dyed in the wool supporters and students of the game themselves, but they also give up a large chunk of their own free time to create, debate, muse, argue, serve and inform a wide and varied audience of fellow football fanatics, all the while managing to balance the additional demands of running a website, creating regular content, handling the boring administrative nuts and bolts and just generally keeping informed.” (Just Football)


Soccer’s Obama Moment: South Africa’s World Cup In Context

March 30, 2010

“Millions around the world are counting down to June 11, 2010. That’s the date the first soccer World Cup ever to be played in Africa will kick off in Johannesburg, South Africa. If you haven’t taken notice beyond Charlize Theron’s antics at the drawing or just don’t care, it’s time to become a fan or at least pay attention. Pay attention because South Africa hosting the World Cup will be a historic moment of first black president proportions.” (nutmeg radio)


Zonal Marking’s 20 teams of the decade – in full

March 29, 2010


“After twenty trips down memory lane, this series has finally come to an end. Below are the twenty sides chosen, in descending order, to represent the 2000s in tactical terms. Choosing the sides was a difficult task. The intention was not to choose the twenty ‘best’ sides, but to choose twenty sides who were somehow interesting tactically, or those who made a significant impact upon the game.” (Zonal Marking)


Domination by Barcelona and Real Madrid making Spain the new Scotland

March 29, 2010

“The headline was as alarmist as it was partisan. ‘The government,’ declared Spain’s best-selling newspaper, ‘is trying to kill Spanish football.’ It was November 2009 and the Socialist party prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, announced an end to ‘the Beckham Law’. The sports daily Marca, part of the right-leaning El Mundo group, was furious. Presidents of the country’s biggest clubs threatened to lead a strike. At the Spanish League they were talking as if the four horsemen of the apocalypse had reared into view.” (Guardian)


Benfica Helped by River Plate Reunion

March 29, 2010

“SL Benfica centerback Luisão is not who immediately comes to mind when you think of Brazilian soccer. Fittingly, for a man whose name literally means “Big Luís”, his 6-foot-4 frame is long and muscular and, while his main responsibility is taking opposing center-forwards out of the game, he has a knack for popping up with important goals.” (WSJ)


The Professor’s Appeal Saves Him With One Arsenal Fan

March 29, 2010


“The harmony of 60,000 voices that drifts out of the Emirates Stadium in London every other week is evidence that sport can bring people together. Singing as one, Arsenal fans serenade the leadership of the bookish, 60-year-old Frenchman who leads their favorite soccer team. ‘One Arsene Wenger,’ rings the chant . ‘There’s only one, there’s only one Arsene Wenger. One Arsene Wenger!’” (NYT)


The Real Winner is…. Neil Lennon

March 29, 2010

“The fallout of Tony Mowbray’s sacking at Celtic leaves behind a trail of blame, bitterness and recrimination – but one person has come out as the winner from Mowbray’s disastrous reign. Neil Lennon. The Parkhead hero has been drafted in as the interim manager, bringing with him former team-mate and good pal, Johan Mjallby to try and salvage something from such a turgid season, but the fact that he has been handed the job when Mowbray had barely left the manager’s seat is not the reason why.” (ScotZine)


Labour’s Football Proposals: Playing To The Gallery Or Genuine Change?

March 29, 2010

“There was a time when members of parliament would only really queue up outside Westminster to discuss how to brow beat our game. They considered us animals that needed to be caged and carry ID cards at all times during the 1980s, it took a lot of work to undo the damage done to the reputation of the rest of us for the actions of what was always a very small minority. Times, however, have moved on. From Tony Blair playing keepy-ups with Kevin Keegan to Gordon Brown’s professed love of Raith Rovers, football’s use as a political football has almost now come full circle, and it has reached its logical conclusion with a story leaked to The Guardian this evening – possibly accidentally, more likely tactically – about Labour Party proposals for their forthcoming general election manifesto which, were it would happen, would go some way to changing the landscape of the game in this country.” (twohundredpercent), (Guardian – “Government’s plan to fix football: give clubs back to fans”)


Torres double downs Black Cats

March 28, 2010


Claude Gellée, Les adieux d’Énée et Didon à Carthage (1676)
“A scintillating first-half performance set the tone for a one-sided Liverpool victory over Sunderland at Anfield that kept the Reds in the race for Champions League qualification. Fernando Torres struck a brilliant opener in the third minute and Glen Johnson’s deflected strike made it 2-0 at the end of a first half in which the hosts could easily have scored six.” (ESPN)

Liverpool 3 Sunderland 0: match report
“Springtime, and the shackles are off. Two goals from Fernando Torres, a fortuitous strike from Glen Johnson and a performance full of verve and panache gave a free-styling, freewheeling Liverpool, for so long laboured and unlovable, victory over Sunderland and cast Rafael Benitez’s side back into the thick of the race for the Champions League.” (Telegraph)

Fernando Torres’s touches of genius reignite the Liverpool challenge
“Fernando Torres struck a majestic goal as Liverpool announced their intention to chase Tottenham Hotspur all the way for a Champions League qualification place in emphatic style against Sunderland this afternoon. Their display was so commanding it allowed Anfield to mock the moment that had threatened to encapsulate their turbulent campaign.” (Guardian)

Liverpool v Sunderland – as it happened
“Kick-off is at 4pm. Sixth-placed Liverpool have won their last seven at Anfield and need to keep winning if they’re to maintain their push for fourth in the table and the place in the Champions League qualifying rounds that goes with it.” (Guardian)

Liverpool 3 – 0 Sunderland
“Torres opened the scoring with a spectacular strike in only the third minute, cutting inside Michael Turner and curling a shot into the top corner. Glen Johnson added a second with a shot that deflected off Turner then turned provider for Torres to hook home again. Craig Gordon saved well from Daniel Agger and Maxi Rodriguez to maintain some respectability for Sunderland.” (BBC)

Liverpool 3-0 Sunderland – Recap and Video Highlights – English Premier League – Sunday, March 28, 2010
“Liverpool hosted Sunderland in the English Premier League on Sunday, March 28, 2010 needing a win to keep their Champions League hopes alive. They are several points back of Tottenham Hotspur (who are in 4th place) and realistically need to win almost all of their remaining matches to have a chance at 4th place. Sunderland are above the relegation zone and need another win or two to guarantee their survival.” (The 90th Minute)


Roma 2-1 Inter: A narrow victory that could turn out to be crucial

March 28, 2010

“There’s a case for saying that was the first huge game of the season. Title favourites Inter against the side who look most likely to topple them, and Jose Mourinho up against Claudio Ranieri – the man he replaced at Chelsea almost six years ago. It was an incredibly tight game with few goalscoring opportunities, and the goals were hardly well-crafted – Roma went ahead from a goalkeeping error at a set-piece, Inter equalised thanks to a couple of ricochets and an offside flag that never came, whilst Roma’s winner came thanks to a Taddei shot which found its way to Toni, who coolly converted. To add to this, Inter hit the woodwork three times, suggesting that this was a game that down to small details within the box, rather than because of a grand tactical plan.” (Zonal Marking)

AS Roma vs. Inter Milan
(footytube)


Football At The World Cup: Part Two (1982-1990)

March 28, 2010


Roger Milla Cameroon 1990
“Last week, we took you from the beginning of the 1966 World Cup finals through to 1978 through the lens of the television cameras that brought the world’s biggest football tournament into our living rooms. This week we move on to the 1980s and the beginning of the gradual expansion of the tournament. The 1980s were a decade during which technological improvements that those in the television industry may have hoped for were cut short by a tournament that twice might not even have taken place, and ended with a tournament that was resplendent with bells and whistles but was let down by the appalling quality of football taking place on the pitch.”  (twohundredpercent)


What Is True and What Is False Will Soon Be Clear

March 28, 2010

“As Europe’s soccer season approaches the time for prizes or brickbats, the Bayern Munich coach, Louis van Gaal, declares: ‘These are the weeks of truth. We’ll either get the gladiolas or we’ll be dead.’ Never the shrinking violet, Van Gaal might soon live to regret his rhetoric.” (NYT)


Ibrahimovic strike enough for Barca

March 28, 2010

“Barcelona provisionally moved back to the top of the Primera Division standings by becoming only the second team to take points off Real Mallorca at their Ono Estadi this season – with a 1-0 win. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 63rd-minute strike – his third of the week – proved to be the winner as Barca edged three points clear of Real Madrid, who play Atletico on Sunday night.” (ESPN)

Injured Iniesta to miss date with Arsenal
“Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has been ruled out of Wednesday’s Champions League match with Arsenal due to a hamstring injury. The Spain international was replaced just after half-time in Saturday night’s win over Real Mallorca and, after undergoing tests, it was announced that he is likely to be sidelined for around 10 days.” (ESPN)


How the 2000s changed tactics #2: Classic Number 10s struggle

March 27, 2010


Manuel Rui Costa
“The decade started with the most attacking, open tournament in modern football, at Euro 2000. The four semi-finalists all played ‘classic’ Number 10s in the hole between the opposition defence and midfield. France, Italy, Portugal and Holland had Zinedine Zidane, Francesco Totti, Manuel Rui Costa and Dennis Bergkamp respectively – it almost seemed essential to have a player in this mould to be successful – helped by trequartista-less England and Germany’s early exits.” (Zonal Marking)


I Had Not Thought Death Had Undone So Many

March 27, 2010

“I’ve just been groping through piles of statistics and have come across a thoroughly melancholy fact, namely that there are no survivors of England’s pre-War internationals. The earliest international match for which we have a living English representative is Northern Ireland v England on 28th September 1946: Sir Tom Finney (b. 5th April 1922) scored on his war-delayed debut.” (More Than Mind Games)


Stranger than Fiction: Maradona and Messi

March 27, 2010

“This is the age of permanent record, and as such there is now a growing desire for the sort of personalities that will somehow lift the banal stream of day-to-day news roundups into capital H ‘History.’ It is a yearning for the age of “Great Men”. You can see it as pundits react to President Obama signing an inadequate health bill through the House of Congress the other day.” (A More Splendid Life)


World Cup scouting: Nicolas N’Koulou (Cameroon)

March 27, 2010


Nicolas N’Koulou
“‘When Sochaux’s Martin, Ideye and Maurice-Belay found themselves in a three-on-one against Nkoulou with a match-winning 4-2 goal at their feet right at the end of the game, the goose looked well and truly cooked for Monaco,’ wrote L’Equipe’s Jean-Pierre Rivais in his match report on Monaco’s Coupe de France quarter-final with Sochaux on Wednesday. ‘But the young Cameroonian somehow recovered the ball and, at the end of Monaco’s counter-attack, Pino popped up at the right moment to beat Richert and make it 3-3…’ ” (Football Further)


106. James Milner, 2010

March 27, 2010

“Click to enlarge, and debate the strip below the line. Keith Hackett’s official answers appear in Sunday’s Observer and here from Monday.” (Guardian – Paul Trevillion)


The Champions League Quarter Finals – A look ahead.

March 27, 2010

“As we’re about to seamlessly pass into another Champions League week, what better time is there to look ahead to the mouth watering quarter final ties ahead? Well, slightly later in the week perhaps, or even actually in said week as opposed to just before it maybe, but sod it I’m gonna do it anyway and I’ll be damned if such a trivial thing will stop me. So without further ado…” (Football Fan Cast)


Is this the best season of football in recent years?

March 26, 2010


Inter
“A brief break from the in-depth tactical analysis here, to round-up the major European leagues, highlight this weekend’s crucial table-topping fixtures, and celebrate how wonderful European football has been this season.” (Zonal Marking)


World Cup 2010 Wall Chart

March 26, 2010

“Wall charts are a World Cup tradition. I’ve had one either pinned, Blu-Tacked or taped to a wall (and one time attached to a fridge with magnets) for every tournament I can remember. They’re useful for two things…” (World Cup Blog)


Secrets of Bayern’s ungainly schoolmaster

March 26, 2010

“Louis van Gaal, Bayern Munich’s coach, was celebrating a goal when he fell over. The scorer, Arjen Robben, had run up to hug him but instead jumped on top of him. Eventually Van Gaal stumbled into his dug-out, blushing and with a bloodied finger. The hug is already a Youtube classic in Germany.” (FI – Simon Kuper)


The World Cup Of National Anthems: Part Four

March 26, 2010


“For many people, major sports tournaments are the only occasion that national anthems are heard. These peculiar tunes have become a genre of their own, transcending the mere hymns that many of them were in first place, and they range from the gloriously uplifting to mournful dirges. The selection of words has, in many countries, brought about national debate that has been all-encompassing. In the case of Spain, it was decided that it would probably be for the best just to not bother having any for the sake of national unity.” (twohundredpercent)


Out of form Gerrard living off his reputation

March 26, 2010

“Watching Steven Gerrard’s body language this season, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was a man condemned. And in some ways, perhaps he is. Out of the title race by December, FA Cup and Champions League runs ended prematurely, and sidelined at intervals by groin and hamstring injuries, it’s understandable Gerrard could be feeling a little sorry for himself.” (WSC)


The Best? Football As Never Before

March 26, 2010


“In looking at George Best Fußball wie noch nie (Football as Never Before) it would be logical to set the work next to the more widely viewed 2006 film, Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait and analyze the similarities and differences, but, in my eyes, I don’t think it would be fair to either film. There’s no doubt the Zidane edition is a direct descendant of the 1971 work by German filmaker Hellmuth Costard, with the exact same premise driving both the storyline and singular character focus. But where the two differ is outside the film itself – particularly, in the eyes of this viewer.” (Pitch Invasion)


Belgrade rivals go head to head for the tile

March 26, 2010

“The animosity between bitter Belgrade rivals Red Star and Partizan, which is bad enough at the best of times, stepped up a notch as they both set their sights on this season’s championship. Partizan president Dragan Djuric got the ball rolling by claiming referees work in favour of Red Star and that his club’s administrative board would be issuing an announcement regarding refereeing at Red Star’s league games.” (World Soccer)


How the 2000s changed tactics #2: Classic Number 10s struggle

March 26, 2010

“The decade started with the most attacking, open tournament in modern football, at Euro 2000. The four semi-finalists all played ‘classic’ Number 10s in the hole between the opposition defence and midfield. France, Italy, Portugal and Holland had Zinedine Zidane, Francesco Totti, Manuel Rui Costa and Dennis Bergkamp respectively – it almost seemed essential to have a player in this mould to be successful – helped by trequartista-less England and Germany’s early exits.” (Zonal Marking)


Valencia & the Spanish Art of War: the Ambush

March 25, 2010


“Not all Spanish tribes suffocate their prey like the constricting Catalans. A fierce and respected tribe to the South, Valencia, sits back and springs traps. The Valencians are led by the shifty spy Villa who lives in the enemy’s shadows, and they are a force to be reckoned with… The ambush, like the entrapment of Barcelona, seeks to defeat prey while conserving energy. The ambush requires extensive planning, organization, and coordination. To successfully capture their prey, each and every part must move with precision and in sync. And, of course, the predator must deceive the prey.” (futfanatico)


Ultras in Britain are wrongly persecuted

March 25, 2010

“For many, the word “ultra” conjures up images of violence on the terraces or on the streets around the stadiums in countries such as Italy or Greece and in some parts of South America. Incessant chanting, mass crowd participation, choreographed displays and fireworks are all integral parts of the ultra culture throughout the world. But ultras and hooligans are different things and eventually the authorities here will come to realise that. The first group to endorse the phenomenon in the UK were Aberdeen fans, the Red Ultras. Formed over a decade ago, the group announced recently that they would be disbanding with immediate effect.” (WSC)


Teams of the Decade #2: Barcelona, 2008/09

March 25, 2010

“What more can you say about this Barcelona side? European champions, La Liga champions and Copa Del Rey winners, all in the first season under the charge of Pep Guardiola. And they didn’t do it by merely winning games, they did it by winning in style, making them perhaps the most universally respected side of the decade. The most astonishing thing about their La Liga performance was how utterly convincing they were in defeating the sides around them at the top of the table.” (Zonal Marking)

How Pep Guardiola is looking to improve on perfection
“Just how does Pep Guardiola improve on the most successful club side in a calendar year? We detail the tactical changes the Barcelona coach has made to his side to make them even better. After Barcelona’s 1-0 win over Estudiantes in the Club World Cup in which the Catalan side recorded a never before paralleled, six cup wins in a calendar year, manager Pep Guardiola turned to his assistant Tito Vilanova, with bleary eyed with tears of joy, seemingly asking ‘where do we go from here?’ Just how does Pep Guardiola possibly improve upon perfection?” (Arsenal Column)


Tactics: Wigan’s Martínez learns Premier League pragmatism

March 25, 2010


“When Roberto Martínez arrived at Wigan Athletic in the summer of 2009, he made it clear from the outset that he wanted to do things his way. ‘We’ve introduced a completely different style of play to the team,’ he said in August. ‘We’re allowing the players to think more about their own decisions during the game’.” (Football Further)


For Liverpool, the Great Unraveling Must Now Begin

March 25, 2010

“Somewhere deep in the bowels of Anfield there is a timer ticking down. That timer shows about 100 days on it now, and tomorrow it will show about 99, and sometime this July the timer will hit zero. At that point, a bell will ring and Liverpool Football Club will have to begin a massive process of undoing the horrendous financial mistakes of the Rafa Benitez era. Sometime this July a $100 million loan payment will come due, and with no Champions League money coming in for the 2010/11 season, no cache of funds sitting in the bank and no prospect of future earnings to be found, Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett will have to start selling their big names.” (EPL Talk)


Tony Mowbray was foolish to think he could rebuild Celtic at leisure

March 25, 2010


Tony Mowbray
“In Scottish football parlance, Wednesday night in Paisley marked Tony Mowbray’s George Burley moment. As Steven Thomson slammed home a fourth St Mirren goal against Mowbray’s Celtic, the manager’s job finally became untenable. Just, indeed, as did that of Burley as Scotland fell to a shambolic friendly 3-0 defeat in Wales last November.” (Guardian)


Stop this illicit trade in bullshit stories

March 25, 2010

“David Beckham might not be going to the World Cup in South Africa this year, but 40,000 hookers will be. That is literally what a headline on the NBC sports website claims: ‘40,000 hookers making their way to South Africa for World Cup.’ Other media outlets have been a bit more PC: ‘40,000 prostitutes to enter South Africa’, says the UK Daily Telegraph; ‘40,000 prostitutes bound for South Africa’, says the New York Daily News. Apparently many of these hookers will be trafficked into South Africa against their will, forced into a life of grimy prostitution for the satisfaction of drunken football fans.” (Spiked), (Must Read Soccer)


‘Galacticos’ in Hell

March 24, 2010


The Hell, Coppo di Marcovaldo
“It has become a sign of spring: as swallows crowd the sky over Madrid, Real is eliminated at the knock-out stage of the European Champions League. Yet again, the richest club in the world has spent obscene amounts of money with the sole intention of winning the most important club competition in the world, but on March 10, they were knocked out from the last 16 for the sixth year in a row (in 2003, they were eliminated from the last eight).” (The New Republic)


African Teams Certain on World Cup, but Not on Coaches

March 24, 2010

“A World Cup campaign is usually a four-year process that starts when a national team engages in torturous self-examination immediately after its ouster from the last championship. Coaches are fired (or their contracts are not renewed) and aging players retire from the international scene. Even the winner is often in need of a new manager to enliven the roster and refresh tactics for the interspersed continental championship and next phase of World Cup qualifying.” (NYT)


The Cost of Ambition

March 24, 2010

“Of the three divisions in the Football League, the Championship is possibly the most fragmented both in terms of the relative sizes of its member clubs and, by extension, their ambitions. Whilst, with four or five exceptions, there is not a huge difference between the size of the clubs in Leagues 1 and 2, there exists great inequality within the Championship in this respect. There are, of course, many parameters dictating how big a club is – history, budget, stadium – but if we take attendance as a barometer, we can see that Newcastle get over five times the average attendance of Blackpool and Scunthorpe. As with everything in football, the pound sign rules supreme.” (thetwounfortunates)


World Cup Moments: The Bittersweet Brilliance Of Totaalvoetbal, 1974.

March 24, 2010


“Total Football is such a visual spectacle it seems unjust to describe it by words. It’s football’s art – that which requires no explanation, merely open senses. Fortunately we live in the YouTube era, and as such those spectacles are only a click away. The Johan Cruijff-won Oranje penalty – all ninety seconds of it – from the 1974 final against West Germany, along with a compilation of the side’s finest moments from their bittersweet tournament…” (World Cup Blog)


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