José Mourinho, the anti-Barcelona, stands alone in modern football

April 24, 2015

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“Todern football was invented in Barcelona in the mid-90s. Of this season’s Champions League quarter-finalists, four sides are managed by players who turned out for Barça in 1996: Pep Guardiola, Luis Enrique, Julen Lopetegui and Laurent Blanc. Within a couple of years, they had been joined by Frank de Boer and Phillip Cocu as well as the coach, Louis van Gaal, and his assistant, Ronald Koeman. In slightly differing ways, the eight are apostles for the Barcelona way – or, more accurately, given the influence of Ajax on that style, the Barçajax way. However, there was another presence there, initially as a translator and then as a coach. In the Barçocracy of modern football, there is a fallen angel.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Returns, rematches, powerhouses mark Champions League semifinals

April 24, 2015

“The Champions League semifinal draw was conducted Friday and while the names may be familiar, the opportunity for new storylines to arise is bountiful. There will be reunions for coaches and a chance to avenge previous defeats, and, with three teams still dreaming of clinching a European, league title and domestic cup treble, plenty at stake.” SI


Real Madrid 1-0 Atletico Madrid: poor Atletico transitions mean Real dominate the entire tie

April 24, 2015

“Javier Hernandez struck in the 178th of the 180 minutes in this European Cup quarter-final, but Real had been the better side throughout. Carlo Ancelotti had a mini-injury crisis, with Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Marcelo all out. This meant Javier Hernandez, Fabio Coentrao and Isco were all recalled, although the replacement for Modric was more surprising – Sergio Ramos was fielded in the middle alongside Toni Kroos, as Ancelotti’s system was more 4-4-2, or 4-2-2-2, than 4-3-3.” Zonal Marking

We Can Play Defense, Too: Real Madrid Bring a Katana to Atlético Madrid’s Knife Fight
“The eighth Madrid derby of the season was not for the faint of heart, but they never are. So what gave? While it took until the 87th minute, Carlo Ancelotti found a way to beat his crosstown rivals for the first time this year. Why was Real Madrid able to win a match that was less a soccer game and more a late ’90s brawl between the New York Knicks and Miami Heat? It probably has something to do with this: Real scrapped their pretty attacking approach and got down and dirty with some defense.” Grantland


Berlin-Bound: Which Team Has the Best Chance of Winning the Champions League?

April 16, 2015

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“As we told you a few weeks ago, the drama’s all but gone from the major domestic leagues across Europe. Thankfully, the Champions League is here to save us. The quarterfinals of soccer’s greatest annual competition kick off today with Atlético Madrid hosting Real Madrid in a rematch of last year’s final and Monaco traveling to Juventus. Tomorrow, FC Porto welcomes Bayern Munich and Barcelona visits Paris Saint-Germain.” Grantland


Tactical Analysis: Atletico Madrid 0-0 Real Madrid | Battle of attrition in wide areas

April 16, 2015

“The two teams that met in the one of the most charged local derbies of all time in the Champions League final of last season clashed again on the European stage in the quarter final this time around. Last season was the breakout year for Atletico, as they won La Liga, and went all the way to the Champions League final. That, however, was where it ended for them, with their eternal rivals Real Madrid beating them in heart breaking fashion to lift La Decima. This season was a totally different story though, with the European champions failing to record a single victory over their rivals. Both sides came into the game pretty evenly matched, and left quite the same.” Outside of the Boot


Despite Win, Juventus Need to be Wary of Monaco’s Speed in Transition

April 16, 2015

“As the full-time whistle sounded, the fans at Juventus Stadium were happy. Their beloved Bianconeri had just claimed a 1-0 win over Monaco, in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final, and as they gazed down from the steep stands to watch their idols shake hands with the opposition, there was a sense that the tie was theirs to lose. And that feeling was justified, too. Juventus probably shaded the contest on home soil, kept a clean sheet and head into the away leg knowing that, despite Monaco’s lofty third-place standing in Ligue 1, the club’s home form is only the ninth-best in France. It’s not a fantastic record, and Monaco’s six wins in 16 appearances at the Stade Louis II will hardly make Max Allegri’s men feel as though they’re visiting a fortress.” Licence to Roam


Lazio earned its fascist reputation, but it has since devolved into stereotypes

April 13, 2015

“The crest of S.S. Lazio depicts a golden eagle, wings outstretched, grasping a blue-and-white-striped club badge in its talons. The eagle looks a little ferocious, as many mascots are wont to do. Still, its steely glare shouldn’t provoke such loathing – yet this misunderstood avian has managed to become a perfect symbol of the much-maligned club. You see, an eagle was commonly used as a fascist symbol. It doesn’t matter that the eagles worn on Italian Fascist uniforms bear little resemblance to the Lazio eagle; for those seeking to make their cases against the side, the bird’s use gives further credence to the theory that Lazio is a fascist club, founded by army officers and doomed to be Mussolini’s team.” Fusion


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