Being Branislav: How Ivanovic Became One of the Best (and Unique) Players in the Premier League

March 19, 2015

“Look at Branislav Ivanovic and you won’t see the modern conception of a full-back. He’s no Dani Alves, getting to the end line, pumping in crosses, and pinning back opposition wingers. No, he’s a physically intimidating slab of Serbian sinew, with a questionable haircut and legs like two Doric columns. A glance at Ivanovic recalls the days when everyone who played defense really wanted to play defense — to make two-footed tackles, to launch clearances into the stands — and not do much else. Except Ivanovic defies that old-school classification, too. In fact, the 31-year-old seems to defy any classification. A right back on the team sheet, Ivanovic has become one of the best in the world by doing it his own way.” Grantland

Chelsea 2-2 PSG (aet): Blanc continues with starting approach despite early red card

March 16, 2015

“Paris Saint-Germain adapted excellently after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s dismissal, and progressed on away goals courtesy of two headed goals from their centre-backs. The most surprising name on the Chelsea teamsheet was Oscar, who was preferred over his fellow Brazilian Willian. This hinted at Jose Mourinho’s preferred midfield format. In defence, Gary Cahill was selected instead of Kurt Zouma, who has recently impressed both in defence and midfield. Nemanja Matic was fit to return in the holding role.” Zonal Marking

Champions League: Chelsea lose ugly against Paris St-Germain

March 13, 2015

Chelsea v Paris St Germain - UEFA Champions League Second Round Second Leg
“Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has turned the trick of winning ugly into an art form – but there is no merit in losing ugly and that is exactly what his side did as Paris St-Germain deservedly dismissed them from the Champions League. As the cards stacked up against PSG, the need for an away goal piled on top of the harsh first-half dismissal of talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it was the Premier League leaders who cracked under pressure, a fact acknowledged by a despairing Mourinho in the aftermath. In a last-16 second leg that was dramatic and dreadful in equal measure, Chelsea made an undignified exit on away goals after a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge and a 3-3 aggregate result. It was an eyesore of a performance that also demonstrated the dark side of a fine team’s personality.” BBC

Lunacy in London: PSG Go Full OMG and Knock Chelsea Out of the Champions League
“Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain came into yesterday’s Round of 16 match notched at 1-all, with the London club holding the away-goals tiebreaker after the first leg. Thirty-one minutes into the game, PSG’s Swedish superhero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, was given a questionable red card, and then Chelsea, propped up by a one-man advantage, strolled … into a thunderdome filled with UFC-level off-ball high jinks and Brazilian center backs with plutonium foreheads. The match went off the rails again and again and again, ultimately ending in a 2-2 extra-time draw, which sent the Parisians on to the next round. We’ve rounded up the most madcap moments from the midweek mania — but before we get to them, a quick word from Zlatan.” Grantland (Video)

Chelsea set a standard PSG’s still trying to achieve
“When, in 2011, Paris Saint-Germain became another club to win the lottery, there were a few examples to use as an indicator of its future. Manchester City, bought in 2008 by the Abu Dhabi United Group, has won two English Premier League titles, while Málaga, purchased by Abdulla Al Thani in 2010, had its ascent tempered by a near implosion. But it’s Chelsea, the first to undergo a similar overhaul, that has become the most powerful of them. One of the first clubs since the turn of the millennium to be bought by natural resources, Chelsea’s won Champions League, Europa, and England (three times) since Roman Abramovich became the club’s avatar. Chelsea and PSG might go into Wednesday’s Champions League tie with the scores level, but in other respects, Chelsea lead the French side by some distance.” Soccer Gods

Jose Mourinho: Chelsea will win Premier League title
“Chelsea will win the Premier League title this season, manager Jose Mourinho has predicted. The Blues were knocked out of the Champions League by Paris St-Germain in midweek but lead the top flight by five points with 11 games remaining.” BBC (Video)

UEFA: Chelsea 3-3 Paris St-Germain

Watch the 8 Best Goals Scored by Premier League Managers

March 13, 2015

“Sam Allardyce | Bolton Wanderers vs. Ipswich Town. 21 April 1979. Big Sam gets accused of being many things: long ball merchant, unambitious, over indulgent at the buffet. But I can only accuse him of abandoning an excellent mustache. While playing for Bolton Wanderers, Allardyce scored this thunderbolt of a header against Ipswich Town. In the early 2000s, Allardyce’s returned to Bolton as manager and would take them back into the Premier League and the Europa League. Sadly, the mustache did not come with him.” 8 by 8 (Video)

Tactical diversity needed for Chelsea to accentuate their dominance

March 4, 2015

“Sunday’s Capital One Cup Final clash between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur saw Jose Mourinho spring somewhat of a puzzle on pundits and fans alike as he named five defenders in his starting eleven. It would become apparent closer to kick-off that the Blues would not line up with five defenders, rather four; with 20-year-old powerhouse Kurt Zouma playing at the bas of a midfield trio, attempting to fill the shoes of one Nemanja Matic.” backpagefootball

Did the long ball tactic really ruin English football?

March 1, 2015

“In the glorious game of football many things are forgiven—cheating, biting, lying, spitting—but there’s one thing that’s inexcusable. One thing so wretched and sickening it deserves no place in the game we all know and love. That one thing, the cardinal sin, is called the long ball. Next year marks the 50th year of hurt for the weathered and beaten English faithful. 50 years since Geoff Hurst belted the ball against the bar and allegedly across the West German line. 50 years without a trophy and what’s to blame? That despicable long ball.” Outside of the Boot

Juventus must find a way to cope with Dortmund’s pressure

February 25, 2015

“The greatest aspect of top-level European competition is the opportunity to witness contrasting footballing styles face one another; pleasingly, despite the globalisation of football and the increased movement of players and coaches across borders, obvious differences remain between Europe’s best leagues. The obvious example from this week’s set of Champions League fixtures is the clash between Borussia Dortmund and Juventus in Turin on Tuesday night. Whereas some of the second round ties are frustratingly familiar — Manchester City vs. Barcelona, PSG vs. Chelsea, Schalke vs. Real Madrid — these two sides haven’t met since the European Cup final of 1997. The clash of styles should be fascinating.” ESPN – Michael Cox


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