Ireland and Poland renew friendship that has brought fond memories for blazers

March 28, 2015

“Jackie Carey is said to have written in his official report to the FAI on the game between Ireland and Poland in Katowice in May 1958 that it was ‘fitting that our association should be the first to resume international games with this predominantly Catholic country.’ This curious observation raises a couple of points. The first is: What on earth was the team ‘manager’ on about? The Poles had been back in international football for a decade by the time the game took place and their first post-war attempt to qualify for a World Cup, which included a 2-1 win over the Soviet Union in front of 93,000 in the same stadium where Ireland played, had only ended the previous year with a play-off defeat by the same opponents in ‘neutral’ East Germany.” Irish Times

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

Werder Bremen’s rebound will mean little if it can’t reach Champions League

March 13, 2015

“Poor Werder Bremen. When struggling, its woes went unheard, so loud were the laughs at Borussia Dortmund’s expense. But when soaring, in comes Wolfsburg, knocking in five goals two weeks ago to crunch Werder’s near-success into a throw-away sentence at the end of a paragraph. All this team wants is someone to notice it, damn it, but in this league of showoffs and scrappy strugglers and this weekend’s hedgemonic opposition, Bayern Munich, people are constantly swiping left when encountering the insipid green diamond that is Werder Bremen.” Soccer Gods

Round Table: The spring season of RPL

March 13, 2015

“1: What did the fall season teach you? Saul: Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. The wealthiest side is top and looks likely to win the league (despite not playing well as a team); Spartak are experimenting with a foreign manager and failing, having expected him to bring instant success; the new sides are struggling, including with their finances; Terek are mid table; further down clubs have begun to disappear from the league structure. Having said all that, I’m really looking forward to things starting up again in a few weeks. Aleks: The first half of the season showed that Spartak are doing better than is generally thought. They’re the only team that’s currently unbeaten at home. Despite not having stability up front, Dynamo are doing better than expected, and have so far made it farther in the Europa League than they ever have, joining a select few teams to have gone unbeaten in the group stage in the process. …” Russian Football News

Russian football in crisis – part 1

February 3, 2015

“It was a typically Russian response, one that anybody who has worked here, or done business, with Russian companies will have experienced. Payday arrives, confidently you head out that evening and decide to remove some cash from the drinklink and you begin to boil. What was in your account the day before, hasn’t changed. It’s eight o’clock, so no good calling your boss or someone who can offer an explanation, worse, it’s a Friday and it dawns on you that your fridge is going to remain empty for another couple of days, at least. This is just the beginning. The end will be far more frustrating and depressing.” backpagefootball – part 1, part 2, part 3

Scout Report | Ozan Tufan: Turkey’s Hottest Prospect

February 3, 2015

“Turkish football’s productivity – unsurprisingly – is deplorable. Enes Ünal and Ozan Tufan are the hottest prospects right at the moment. When it comes to football, European clubs hesitate to make an investment on Turkish players. Some Turkish journalists call it ‘passport problem’ but for me, it’s all about reputation. Turkish players must tighten their belts and work harder than ever.” Outside of the Boot

Upset Polish fans broke into their club’s stadium and left coffins for each player

January 28, 2015

“Angry fans and impromptu protests are all the rage this Major League Soccer offseason. Being the relative neophites we supposedly are (but actually aren’t) here in the United States, we can take a few notes on how to send a strong message from fellow supporters around the world. Bear witness to the work of the pissed off fans of Zawisza Bydgoszcz. The Polish first division club is dead last in the league, so bad that it’s eight points behind the next worst team. They haven’t won in 10 matches, and it lost a friendly to a second division team this weekend.” Soccer Gods (Video)


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