In Adoration: Five Years With Barcelona

March 15, 2012


“Whether they are your team or not, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we are enjoying football during the time of one of the world’s greatest ever club sides. Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona deserve their place in any list of finest teams and London based photography firm Divar and Aguilar have been with the Catalan club throughout the current golden era…” In Bed With Maradoma, Gallery – 2, Diver & Aguilar: Blog


The Reducer, Week 28: Manchester City Gets the Shakes

March 15, 2012

“You know it’s not exactly a scrapbook-worthy weekend of football when managers are reduced to bemoaning what they deserved or how they were the better team or how they ‘bossed it’ (I see you, Martin Jol) following a loss or a draw. Coming at the end of a week where there was plenty of talk about England’s place in European football’s pecking order — what with Arsenal going out of the Champions League and both Manchester sides losing in the Europa League — the weekend’s action did little to quell murmurs that the Premier League is no longer the premier league.” Grantland (YouTube)


The Banal Hero

March 15, 2012

“‘Men walk as prophecies of the next age,’ the celebrated essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once said. The Real Madrid boardroom fell silent. ‘We will not miss Makelele,’ harrumphed Florentino Perez at last, snapping his fingers for Emerson to be escorted from the room and for a more expensive essayist to be brought in.” Run of Play


Is Spanish soccer the best in the world?

March 15, 2012

“Lionel Messi scored five goals in a single game last week, becoming the first player in the Champions League ever to do so. Most were impressed; some were not. Against Bayer Leverkusen, they said: So what? It is a familiar argument — and one that Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in particular have been forced to confront time and time again. Between them, they have racked up astonishing goal scoring figures, breaking records at every turn — Messi has scored 50 goals already this season, Ronaldo 40 — but the nagging doubt lingers. Yeah, they say, but against who?” SI


Where do Premier League sides attack from?

March 15, 2012


Southampton, UK
“In an individual match, it’s easy to see that a side have a bias towards one particular flank. In Monday’s 2-1 win over Newcastle, Arsenal constantly attacked down the right, with Theo Walcott staying wide on that flank, and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain moving inside from the left. That was surprising when you looked at the opposition, because Newcastle were likely to be more secure down their left (where Jonas Gutierrez protects his full-back well) than down the right, where the ill-disciplined Hatem Ben Arfa was reluctantly fielded. But the bias towards the right, while exaggerated in that game, is actually typical of Arsenal this season, and in the last couple of years.” Zonal Marking


On Distant Fandom

March 15, 2012

“On April 2, 2011, India won its second Cricket World Cup. But unlike most other cricket fans, I didn’t watch the final in its entirety. For a ninety-minute stretch, I was watching Manchester United produce a typically wondrous comeback against West Ham United. It was a significant win without which any joy at India’s triumph would have been unmistakably sullied. Even though I was born and raised in India my attachment to a soccer club — one that I’ve never seen play in the flesh — was stronger. When, a few weeks later, on May 14, Manchester United clinched its 19th league title and surpassed Liverpool’s long-held record, I felt transcendent joy.” Run of Play


Chelsea 4-1 Napoli: Napoli unable to defend crosses

March 15, 2012

“Chelsea produced an impressive display to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals. Roberto Di Matteo chose a rough 4-2-3-1 system, with Daniel Sturridge wide on the right, and Ramires tucked in on the left. Walter Mazzarri named his expected side – Juan Zuniga in ahead of Andrea Dossena was the only small debate in his selection. Zuniga got the nod, but then had to move to the right once Christian Maggio picked up an injury, and Dossena came on down the left. This was an entertaining game with either side being ‘ahead’ in the tie at two separate points – Chelsea came out on top, though it wasn’t a particularly enthralling tactical battle.” Zonal Marking


Bayern 7-0 Basel: Basel’s brave strategy vaguely logical, but their application of it disastrous

March 15, 2012

“Bayern stormed into the quarter-final after a comfortable victory. Jupp Heynckes decided Bastian Schweinsteiger wasn’t fit enough to start – he was on the bench. Luiz Gustavo played in the middle with Toni Kroos ahead, Philipp Lahm switched to right-back, with David Alaba on the left. Heiko Vogel made one change from the first leg, bringing in Cabral for Benjamin Huggel, so Basel were back to the XI that beat Manchester United last year. Basel started off pressing high in the first five minutes, but then retreated into a deep shape with two banks of four behind the ball.” Zonal Marking


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