Tactical choices in the center key to USA-Mexico CONCACAF Cup playoff

October 5, 2015

“Neither the United States nor Mexico heads into the CONCACAF Cup match in an ideal situation. Unrest has been the theme since the Gold Cup, with Mexico battling–yet appearing to narrowly avoid–key injuries sans a full-time manager and Jurgen Klinsmann still with some calls to make in regard to his first-choice lineup. Through the chaos in each camp, the key on Oct. 10 will likely be each team’s defensive approach. The finer details—player selection and formations—could change, but the broad strokes should remain the same because coaches don’t have time to drastically change now.” SI

Success Is No Longer Foreign to East Timor, but the Players Are

October 5, 2015

“With so little to cheer in their nation’s brief soccer history, fans of East Timor’s national team would be correct to consider this the squad’s golden era. East Timor, which did not play a World Cup qualifying match until 2007 and did not win one until this year, has advanced to the second round of World Cup qualifying for the first time. Under normal circumstances, the team would be warmly received when it assembles in Dili, the capital, next week for its next two matches. But instead of cheering, infuriated fans in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony off Australia’s north coast, are raising questions about how the team was put together: Apparently the national federation went on a shopping spree for players in the world’s richest marketplace — Brazil — and came back with more than enough to reshape its team.” NY Times

Forever delayed: Theo Walcott, the prodigy who just will not come of age

October 5, 2015

“Amid all the conspicuous consumption of Baden-Baden in 2006, the dancing on tables and the parades of personal trainers, there was an incongruous constant, a small shaft of sanity in a mad, mad world. Most nights, Don Walcott would take his seat outside the small curry house. He was amenable, approachable and seemed a little bemused by the circus he and his son had suddenly found themselves a part of. It’s startling now to think that was over nine years ago, that that’s how long Theo Walcott has been a promising footballer. Everybody’s still waiting for Theo.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Are we seeing a Norwegian Renaissance in Europe?

October 5, 2015

“The Norwegian Eliteserien is not considered a top league in Europe, but recently it has shown that the league is still strong despite the nation’s relatively small population. This season has seen two Norwegian sides reach the group stages of the Europa League, while another fell at the last hurdle. In addition the national team is also showing a renewed strength in its attempts to reach next year’s European Championships.” backpagefootball

Thomas Tuchel’s inspiration sparks Borussia Dortmund’s revival

October 2, 2015

“Through the first five matches of the Bundesliga season, Borussia Dortmund held the best record in the league, having scored more goals than even Bayern Munich. That streak ended with two straight draws, but it doesn’t take away from BVB’s impressive resurgence under 42-year-old new manager Thomas Tuchel. Tuchel studied under Pep Guardiola during his own sabbatical after resigning from Mainz in 2014, and on Sunday, they go head-to-head in their first Klassiker. Tuchel based his style of play at Dortmund on the same system Guardiola has used since his days at Barcelona.” SI

Premier League: Need for speed behind counter-attacking success

October 2, 2015

“A lot has been made of the rise of counter attacking as a tactic in the Premier League this season, but there is nothing particularly new about it. It is not as if more teams are doing it than before, but it is being highlighted because the likes of West Ham, Leicester and Crystal Palace have had notable successes playing that way. What I think has changed is that more managers understand the need for pace.” BBC

Goal Analysis: How Barcelona came from behind to beat Leverkusen

October 2, 2015

“Losing Messi to a knee injury, football fans wanted to know how Barcelona would respond to the absence of a player of such quality. And through the first half, Barcelona was certainly not the better side. Bayer Leverkusen not only produced the majority of opportunities in the first 45 but looked the more spirited and in step of the two teams. But, Barcelona showed resolve and let fans know that one player does not make a championship team. With a gritty second half performance, they showed that they still had enough talent to find a way to net two in the last ten minutes of the game and secured the three points.” Outside of the Boot


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