“A few weeks ago, the editorial staff of SoccerGods.com had a brainstorming session, in the middle of which someone almost offhandedly said, ‘Well, it’s Black History Month.’ It got a genuine laugh, because the idea of American soccer and black history intersecting sounded absurd. It was as if the ghost of Desmond Armstrong (who is still very much alive) came down and blessed us with an idea.” Soccer Gods
“Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore is a man accustomed to dealing with large numbers, but even he struggled to believe just how much his negotiating team had secured in the latest auction for the rights to broadcast his ‘product’ in the UK. The amount was an astonishing £5.136 billion for the three-year cycle starting in the 2016/17 season, which represented a 70% increase on the current £3 billion deal. This was a lot more than most analysts had expected, especially given that the current domestic TV deal had itself increased by 70% compared to the previous agreement. The magnitude of the increase was a testament to Scudamore’s ability to generate vast sums of money for the 20 Premier League clubs, but we could have done without his false modesty: ‘Am I surprised? Of course, the little old Premier League, doing quite well here.’” Swiss Ramble
“Ligue 1 only has 12/13 games left to decide a domestic champion, something that in the past two years was as easy a question to answer as whether the sky was blue. Paris Saint-Germain is the two time defending champions, a club that have won the last two French domestic titles by an average of 10.5 points. A club filled with stars amongst stars in Ligue 1 and Europe: Edinson Cavani, Thiago Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marco Verratti and more.” backpagefootball
“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
“Perhaps no player has ever looked quite so much as though he ought to be playing for Monaco as Dimitar Berbatov. Forget the reality of an under-supported club sustained by Russian money and tax breaks, playing on top of a car-park; if Monaco really were a club representing the playboys of the Côte d’Azur, all yachts and deck-shoes and meaningful glances over the champagne cocktails, Berbatov would fit right in. Throughout his career, his demeanour has been of a mysterious loner in a white dinner jacket leaving a casino in the early hours, his bow-tie long since undone.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson
Robin van Persie, of Manchester United.
“Earlier this month, Louis van Gaal, the manager of Manchester United, showed up at a press conference armed with an unusual prop: printouts of statistics from his most recent match, a 1—1 draw against West Ham United. West Ham’s coach had accused van Gaal of playing “long ball,” a tactic that involves repeatedly sending long, searching passes forward to opportunistic strikers, hoping for a lucky bounce or knock-down near the goal. Long ball eschews the beauty of intricate passing play and coördinated counter-attacks for trial and error: more often than not, the passes are headed out of play or kicked back down the field by the opposing team, caught by the keeper, or go out of bounds. The approach calls for tall, muscular center-forwards who can overpower defenders to win the ball; the rest of the team hangs back so that they can immediately launch the ball forward after the play and try all over again. While long ball can be very effective, particularly for teams of lesser technical ability, it makes for deadly dull viewing.” New Yorker
“One of the most successful clubs in Brazil, Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras have won eight league titles, as well as two Copa do Brasil trophies. The champions of South America in 1999, having beaten Colombian side Deportivo Cali to claim the Copa Libertadores, with their success culminating in the awarding of ‘Best Team of the 20th Century of Brazil’ by the Sao Paulo State Football Federation, they are a club of immense power and wealth. Palmeiras’ team is predominantly Brazilian, with ex Bayern Munich and Inter Milan defender Lúcio among their ranks. Apart from a smattering of Chilean, Argentinian and Uruguayan players, their squad is entirely made up of footballers from the ‘Futebol Nation’.” backpagefootball