The heat is on in the Russian Premier League

April 27, 2015

“The Russian weather warms, the Premier League clubs are feeling the heat of an end of season battle for Europe or survival. The fine performance by Zenit in the Europa League was a spring highlight and accompanied the club’s steady progress at home. While going out to reigning Champions Sevilla in two very good matches, the St. Petersburg side showed that it is possible to compete on two fronts, contrary to the English commentators.” backpagefootball

Dynamo Kyiv soaring under Serhiy Rebrov and closing on slice of history

April 16, 2015

“Serhiy Rebrov scored only one goal for West Ham United, the winner in a 3-2 victory over Watford in November 2004. He was wearing an orange sweatband on his wrist when he did so, an indication of his support for the demonstrators who were occupying Independence Square in Kiev, protesting against irregularities in the presidential election run-off that had seen Viktor Yanukovych defeat Viktor Yushchenko. Yushchenko won a re-run election, but Yanukovych returned. A decade on, the demonstrators were back in Independence Square fighting him again, their success precipitating the Russian seizure of Crimea and the war in the Ukrainian east. Rebrov is an ethnic Russian who was born in Horlivka – or Gorlovka, if you prefer the Russian name – about 30 miles north-east of Donetsk.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

“Torpedo-ed” Moscow

April 13, 2015

“Torpedo Moscow, in their latest incarnation, are a club with a whole heap of trouble. Fans warring with the owner, owner trying to placate investors, never-ending stream of bad media. One of the storied clubs of Russian football seems to want to curl up and die. Last weekend’s violence in Tula was another blow against soccer in Russia. Coming hot on the heels of the idiocy in Podgorica, the Arsenal and Torpedo fans seemed eager to grab headlines with a flare and firecracker display which presaged a full on riot.” backpagefootball

The Fun in France: Are We Set for a Boring End to the European Soccer Season?

April 3, 2015

“Can you believe it’s April already? While there have been times over the past eight months when the season’s felt like an interminable drag — those weeks of domestic cup games, the handful of international breaks, consecutive weekends in which the best game involves Newcastle — we’re finally here. With just about two months left in most leagues across Europe, it’s the stretch run, where the rubber meets the road, the standings approach finality, and things become truly exciting. Except, maybe not this year.” Grantland

The good thing about the Qatar 2022 date change

March 31, 2015

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“When cities put forward a bid to stage the Olympics, the date of the Games is an explicit part of the proposal. IOC members know what they are voting for. This, of course, was not the case in the race to stage the 2022 World Cup. An inspection group carried out a detailed study into the bids, and put the information at the disposal of FIFA’s Executive Committee – which proceeded to take little notice. They chose Qatar with barely a thought for the logistical problems and world football has been in a bind ever since. It would seem that some sort of compromise is being worked out. A conventional June/July World Cup presented the obvious problem of extreme heat, and so the tournament is set to be staged in November and December.” The World Game – Tim Vickery

Montenegro v Russia – Nightmare on Black Mountain

March 31, 2015

“I honestly thought I was dreaming as I followed the events on Friday night. I was on the overnight train back to Voronezh, still suffering from a wee bit of a fever, and honestly believed that I was watching an amazingly bad action movie from the 1980s. The idiots who turned up to put on a show of ‘Slavic’ force on Friday night in Podgorica, made a mockery of what sport should be. From inappropriate chants to throwing flares, knives, coins and stones, what should have been a straightforward international match between two not-unfriendly nations, turned into an inferno.” backpagefootball

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


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