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


Javier Mascherano: Barcelona’s Voice in Defence?

February 23, 2015

“Mascherano’s quality is not in doubt. He is one of the best defensive midfielders in the world and proved that in last year’s World Cup in Brazil as one of the best players in the tournament. So highly was he rated as a teenage talent that he prodigiously made his senior Argentina debut before his senior club debut for River Plate. The bite, aggression and intensity that he plays with is married to leadership and an exquisite level of tact that comes from his perceptive game-reading ability. Allied to all that is the technical ability and technique to contribute positively to his team’s build-up play from the back, which was one of the prerequisites to him joining Pep’s Barça.” Outside of the Boot


Barca woes return, Real Madrid extend lead: Five things we learned in La Liga

February 23, 2015

“Things are not well at Barcelona again after a defeat to Malaga, while in Madrid, Real are firing on all cylinders and Mario Mandzukic and Antoine Griezmann are impressing for Atletico. Here are five things from the weekend’s La Liga action.” ESPN


Luis Suarez shines as Barcelona provider for Lionel Messi & Neymar

February 23, 2015

“With just seven goals in his first 22 games for Barcelona, at first glance it appears former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is struggling to adapt to life with his new club as he prepares for Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg at Manchester City. Indeed, with just four goals from 15 La Liga appearances, in terms of scoring this has been the least productive domestic campaign of Suarez’s career.” BBC


Riquelme’s reminder: There’ll always be a place for art in soccer

January 26, 2015

“Call me old fashioned, but Juan Román Riquelme is my favorite kind of player. Riquelme was never the fastest, strongest, or even remotely close to the most athletic player on the field. But somehow, the Argentine midfielder made a career out of the remaining scraps, relying exclusively on technique, awareness, and an ability to read the game with such precision that at times he came off as a master puppeteer. The other 21 players on the field frequently looked like extensions of Riquelme, only there to be manipulated by his thoughts and movements. Riquelme created exquisite art. Last night, Riquelme announced his career as an artist was over. Eight weeks after his final appearances, the Argentine virtuoso announced his retirement. His work is done.” Soccer Gods


Eric Abidal: A Tribute to the Legend

January 22, 2015

“There are footballers retiring every year, from top professionals who will go down in history as some of the greatest we have seen – such as Thierry Henry, Paul Scholes and Alessandro Nesta in recent times – to the lower division journeymen who most football fans would never have heard of, with all due respect. There are a myriad of reasons for retirement, be it injury, to prepare for the apocalypse – hello, Carlos Roa – or after falling out of love with football like David Bentley. How we remember footballers would depend on the legacy that they leave behind, the lasting impression that they made on us. It is the memories that we as football fans hold onto most dearly; perhaps it was a last minute winner in a fiercely-contested derby, a coolly-taken penalty in a shootout or someone who played for only one club throughout his career. However, for all the memories, only a certain few can leave behind a legacy that touches us on a human level, away from the pitch. Eric Abidal is one such player.” Outside of the Boot


The Catalan Roller Coaster

January 19, 2015

“It’s been a mad few weeks for F.C. Barcelona, turbulent and stressful in the extreme. Let’s break it down, shall we? It seems every season since Pep Guardiola left, rumors pop up suggesting Messi is fed up with the club and the board and is demanding a transfer. Obviously, these rumors have been false up until this point, and there’re several reasons why the greatest player to ever grace a football pitch will not leave the club for many years.” Soccer Pro


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