100 football blogs to follow in 2011

October 26, 2012

“The year of the blog? Very possibly, especially with the current batch of outstanding sites out there which have grown, improved, developed and cross-pollinated in recent time. Aided by social media, an increasingly specialised selection is out there, waiting for you to wade through and bolster your knowledge of the game, and I thoroughly recommend losing yourself in as many of the following as possible.” Guardian


We’re Entering A Golden Age of Long Form Soccer Writing

October 10, 2012

“The human condition is marred by a short attention span and thus a lack of historical context. Not recognizing this flaw is what leads each generation to automatically believe that now is the best time to be alive, and place zero value in those who have preceded it. Similarly, not having a full appreciation of the drawbacks and benefits of a certain time in our past can also breed a shallow nostalgia that cloaks fear of change in a more tolerable desire for the “good old days”. Such a cultural battle between futurists and nostalgists has been playing out in the global soccer community since the game’s earliest days, and has only been accelerated during the globalization of the sport over the last several decades. Thus, it is with great caution that I state we are embarking on what may come to be viewed as a golden age for long form soccer writing.” Forbes


We’re turning into the Premier Liga! Redknapp and Keown analyse the season so far

October 10, 2012

“As the Premier League pauses for a second international break, Sportsmail columnists Jamie Redknapp and Martin Keown take a moment to catch their breath and assess the season so far. One modern trend both have noticed is an influx of smaller, skilful players and a focus on passing that is taking the English game closer and closer to the style of the Spanish La Liga.” Daily Mail


San Marino’s Davide Gualtieri recalls the pain his goal caused England

October 10, 2012

“The equation was simple. If England beat San Marino by seven and Holland failed to win in Poland they qualified for the 1994 World Cup, second in their group behind Norway. At kick-off on 17 November 1993, it seemed difficult but not impossible; 8.33 seconds later, the dream was over as San Marino took the lead. It was not mathematically impossible for England to qualify from there but psychologically, morally, it became so.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


UEFA World Cup qualifying: Spain wins opener; England ties Ukraine

September 12, 2012

“World Cup champion Spain defeated Georgia 1-0 on an 86th-minute goal by Roberto Soldado on Tuesday, the first step by the Spaniards on their road to the 2014 World Cup. This was the 23rd consecutive victory in qualifying matches for Spain, which has three points in Group I and is tied with Georgia. Spain is attempting to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive major title after repeating as European champion this summer.” SI


Draw sheds light on England’s problems

September 12, 2012

“Have England fans ever been this overjoyed about a draw? It doesn’t matter that England, if it is as good as it wants to believe it is, should do far better than a 1-1 home draw with Ukraine. It also doesn’t matter that the generally sleepy and perfunctory opening salvos in a long and largely uninteresting qualification tournament provided plenty of talking points — namely, Steven Gerrard’s late red card, Tom Cleverley’s hat trick of wasted empty-netters and Frank Lampard converting a penalty for the second straight England game.” ESPN

Lampard’s late penalty salvages draw
“England’s soccer team found a way to quickly dissipate the nation’s summer of sporting success and bring back the gloom. After the Olympics and Paralympics created a feel-good atmosphere in London, the national team returned to Wembley on Tuesday night to play Ukraine and narrowly avoided what would have been its first competitive home loss in five years.” ESPN (Video)

Ukraine pay the penalty as Frank Lampard saves England a point
“Apparently this England side are now officially the third best international team in the world. Or, at least, that is what Fifa would like us to believe through its increasingly perplexing ranking system. The whole process is flawed, to say the least, and certainly on nights like these Roy Hodgson’s players remind everyone that their shortcomings are not merely a matter of fine-tuning.” Guardian (Video)


Ukraine’s young guns face England and life without Andriy Shevchenko

September 10, 2012

“A star has gone out and a new age must begin. For a long time the question with Ukraine was whether Andriy Shevchenko was still worth his place in the side; now that he has retired, there is a realisation of what an almighty gap there is to fill. For 17 years, Shevchenko was an all but permanent feature of Ukraine’s national team, winning 111 caps, scoring a national record 48 goals and becoming a totemic presence.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Tomtom Zola Moukoko and How Football Manager Stole My Life

August 31, 2012

“One game, a lifelong obsession, and an IBWM exclusive piece for you to understand a little more about the book. Stalking is such an ugly word, full of needlessly negative connotations. I prefer to see myself as a sort of digital detective – a dedicated disciple of those who secured immortality through the Championship/Football Manager series. It was my job – if I can call what was a hugely enjoyable pursuit a ‘job’ – to track down and extract anecdotal gems from 26 of these unlikely superstars for Football Manager Stole My Life. So six months ago – armed with little more than a notepad, pen, phone and the reckless optimism possessed by battle-hardened Scotland supporters – I set off on my quest.” In Bed With Maradona

amazon: Football Manager Stole My Life


Leading Manchester City To European Glory And My Finest Football Manager Moments

August 26, 2012

“Hi, my name is Ben and I’m a recovering Football Manager addict. In the past, I’ve spent weekends holed up in my room playing the game as the world passes me by. I’ve openly discussed tactics my friends and my brother, talking about potential signings, youth-team products, training schedules; anything you can think of, it has been conversed.” Sabotage Times


Football Voices

July 26, 2012

“The history of the World Cup has always been accompanied by very interesting radio and television commentaries. What follows is a collection of three classic and iconic commentaries from a German, an English and a Norwegian commentator.” Do not mention the war (Video)


Goal-Post

July 20, 2012


“Goal-Post is a new anthology collecting the very best Victorian football writing, covering the birth and development of the world’s greatest game, and written by those who were there to witness it. It’s a collection of contemporary articles and extracts featuring some of the players, officials, clubs and matches that helped shape and define the game. In making these valuable, informative and entertaining pieces of writing accessible and available to the modern reader, Goal-Post aims to provide a flavour of what it must have been like to have enjoyed football in the latter part of the nineteenth century.” Victorian Football


Racism in football: putting the boot in

July 14, 2012


Sol Campbell
“It is 30 years since Paul Canoville became the first black footballer to play for Chelsea. When the team-sheet was announced, with his name as substitute, the National Front held a meeting in a local pub to discuss the outrage. As Canoville warmed up, Chelsea supporters screamed, ‘Sit down, you black cunt’, ‘You fucking wog’. Then they started to chant: ‘We don’t want the nigger, we don’t want the nigger, la la la la.’ The abuse continued unabated for the next two years. That was when Herman Ouseley, then running the Ethnic Minorities Unit at the Greater London Council, decided something had to be done. In 1984, Ouseley, now Lord Ouseley, went to see Chelsea chairman Ken Bates, who couldn’t see there was an issue.” Guardian


Top Soccer Books to Read This Summer

July 12, 2012

“Now that Euro 2012 has ended there is a lack of games to hold fans interest until most domestic seasons begin in August. During this downtime I personally dig into some books, because a person can only read so many transfer rumors. The following lists my favorite soccer related books to read. I would love to hear other suggestions, as I have a limited library to base my choices on. So turn off he replay on Fox Soccer of Wigan vs. Stoke and pick up one of these to get your soccer fill until your team begins playing meaningful matches again.” Bleacher Report


The Future of Non League Football 2012

July 9, 2012

“So after seven weeks we have re-presented our updated manifesto for change. You can read all of the articles again from the links below. We have also sent a link to the FA, The Conference, Northern, Southern and Isthmian Leagues to ask for their comment. But we wont be holding our breath for any feedback. We all know that sense and football administration are unlikely bedfellows. Hope you have enjoyed them, and if you think of anything else we have missed, please get in touch. Same time, same place next year?” The Ball is Round


The Best Football Shirts of Euro 2012

July 7, 2012

“Spain reigned supreme on the pitch, but which nation stole the sartorial show? Euro 2012 was a tame tourney for football kits when compared to some of the shock shirts of years past, but still had its fair share of gems which we will see again soon when World Cup 2014 qualifying begins this fall. And remember, all these shirts and more, including new Premier League releases for 2012-13, are available through epltalk.com.” EPL Talk


Devaluing the Euros

July 5, 2012

“After just over three weeks of football, the world’s second biggest football tournament has played out in front of our eyes in Poland and Ukraine. Sixteen of Europe’s best teams have competed in thirty nine games to determine who would win the Henri Delaunay and join the likes of France, Holland, Denmark, West Germany, Greece and Spain in being crowned the champions of European Football. A few weeks before the tournament the bookies suggested that you should look no further than 2008 champions Spain for the winner of the tournament and when Iker Casillas elbowed Platini out of the way to lift the trophy they proved that class and form were both well judged.” The Ball is Round


Internal strife forces Blanc, Van Marwijk to pay ultimate price

July 5, 2012

“The end of a major tournament often brings a rash of coaching changes. Euro 2012 has been no different. Some, like Franciszek Smuda (Poland), Dick Advocaat (Russia) and Slaven Bilic (Croatia) already were at the end of their contracts — but Laurent Blanc and Bert van Marwijk, who coached France and Holland, respectively, were two surprise coaching casualties following Euro 2012.” SI


ZM’s team of Euro 2012

July 5, 2012


Iker Casillas, Spain
“Iker Casillas, Spain. This wasn’t a tournament of particularly fine individual goalkeeping displays, but the best two goalkeepers of the tournament – and of the century – met as captains in the final. Until the, there was nothing to separate Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon, but after Casillas made a fine save from Di Natale and prompted Spain’s second goal with a good ball out to Alba, he must get the nod. …” Zonal Marking


The Reducer: Euro 2012 Final Retro Diary

July 2, 2012


“When it was over, when Fernando Torres was wearing a look on his face that said, ‘Holy shit! I won the Golden Boot!?’ I didn’t want them to leave. I didn’t want it to be over. It had been a month, but it felt like it was just beginning. Some countries wait generations to win a major football tournament. Spain, for instance, waited 44 years. Then the right generation came along. On Sunday, Spain defeated a valiant, gassed Italy, 4-0, in Kiev, to win Euro 2012. They have now won two consecutive European championships and are the World Cup holders. They are the first team to ever successfully defend their European Championship. Spain’s victory on Sunday marked the third time they won the Euros. The only other country to pull off that feat is West Germany. In terms of accomplishments, this Spanish side can only be compared to the Brazil team, led by a young Pele, that won the World Cup in 1958 and 1962, or the early ’70s West Germany team that won the Euros in 1972, the World Cup in ’74, and placed as runners-up to Czechoslovakia in Euro ’76.” Grantland (Video)

Spain sheds ‘boring’ charges in Euro 2012 final, with Italy’s help
“Everything in football is relative. How one team plays is necessarily conditioned by how the opponent plays. When Spain was accused of being boring, the response was always that it was very hard for it not to be when opponents packed men behind the ball. Italy didn’t, and Spain showed just how unboring it could be, its 4-0 win the largest margin of victory in a European Championship or World Cup final. Spain’s game plan, essentially, was a game of chicken — and it never blinked first. When opponents sat deep against it — and in the past two tournaments only Chile and Italy have not — Spain held the ball.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Euro 2012: Perfect Spain justify Vicente del Bosque’s beliefs
“Playing without a defined striker remains a relatively novel concept but Vicente del Bosque was actually returning to Plan A. After unsuccessful attempts to incorporate a proper No9 into his side Del Bosque reverted to his initial system of six midfielders and Spain became the first side to win the European Championship by using the same XI in their opening game and the final.” Guardian – Michael Cox

Friedrich Nietschze Reflects Upon the European Championships
“We are honored at Futfanatico to welcome Friedrich Nietschze as a visiting scholar, classical philologist, philosopher, and soccer analyst. The German intellectual heavyweight took a break from his grueling publish or perish schedule to answer pressing questions on the European Championships, the gay science, post-nihilist studies, and the final between Italy and Spain. His answers will probably confuse (but may amuse) you.” futfanatico

Spain earns the big prize, but here are my Euro 2012 tourney awards
“Spain ended two debates once and for all with its master-class performance in a sensational 4-0 Euro 2012 final victory against Italy: No, it is not boring to play with six midfielders and no clear center-forward; and yes, it deserves to be called one of the greatest teams of all time after becoming the first side to win three major international tournaments in succession.” SI


Reading FC – Dear Prudence

June 29, 2012

“After the disappointment of losing to Swansea City in the 2011 Championship play-off final, not many people would have expected Reading to bounce back so well that they not only secured promotion to the Premier League last season, but they went up as champions, ahead of more fancied clubs like Southampton and West Ham. Their thoroughly likeable manager, Brian McDermott, deserves a huge amount of credit for superbly marshalling his resources, especially after losing leading scorer Shane Long to West Brom and skipper Matt Mills to big spending Leicester City in the summer.” Swiss Ramble


The European Cup and the New Europe

June 26, 2012

“During international football competitions like the European Cup, eleven players briefly become their country, for a time, on the pitch. A nation is a difficult thing to grasp: unpalpable, mythic, flighty. Historians might labor away to define the precise contours of a country’s culture and institutions, and even sometimes attempt to delineate it’s soul, while political leaders try mightily (and persistently fail) to stand as representatives of it’s ideals. But in a way there is nothing quite so tactile, so real, as the way a team represents a nation: during their time on the pitch, they have in their hands a small sliver of the country’s destiny. And in those miraculous and memorable moments when individual trajectories intersect with a national sporting victory, sometimes biographies and histories seem briefly to meld. At such moments, the players who inhabit the crossroads of sporting and national history –Maradona in 1986, Zidane in 1998 — become icons, even saints.” Soccer Politics


The Question: why have there been so many headed goals at Euro 2012?

June 26, 2012

“There is little remarkable about the fact that this tournament has yielded 69 goals in its opening 28 games. If the two semi-finals and final produce eight goals between them there will, for the third tournament running, have been 77 goals in a finals. What is remarkable, though, is that of those 69, already 20 have been from headers – already three more than the record of 17 set in 2004. While Andy Roxburgh, the head of Uefa’s technical committee, has been characteristically cautious, insisting that the sample size is too small to draw any definitive conclusions, Michel Platini has been keen to claim credit, insisting that the introduction of extra officials behind the goals has reduced the amount of grappling at corners and free-kicks.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Gavin Hamilton Euro 2012 diary: June 26, Kiev

June 26, 2012

“England are out and the inquest begins. Though the initial angst over penalties was inevitable, the long-term discussion needs to go deeper. The question should not be why do England keep losing on penalties, but why do England keep ending up in so many penalty shoot-outs. The simple fact is that England were not good enough to beat Italy over 120 minutes. Indeed, they were a very poor second. For Italy, you can substitute Portugal in 2004, Argentina in 1998 and Germany in 1996.” World Soccer


The Great Roy Hodgson and the Lazy Arabs

June 26, 2012

“Paul. I have been a subscriber of this site since the very first day it launched. I have always supported you and enjoyed your writing. This time however, you have simply gone too far. Way too far. What you fail to understand is that none of this was Hodgson’s doing. The good bits, like the bit when Walcott’s shot seemed to deflect in or when the Ukraine ‘keeper dropped the ball, they were his doing. So was the bit when Ukraine had a goal disallowed. But in no way shape or form can the performance of the England team be blamed on him.” Tomkins Times


Italy 0-0 England: Pirlo dictates the game

June 25, 2012


“Italy somehow failed to score despite dominating for 120 minutes, but won the resulting penalty shoot-out. Cesare Prandelli brought in Riccardo Montolivo to play at the top of the diamond, because of concerns over Thiago Motta’s fitness. Roy Hodgson made no changes from the XI that narrowly defeated Ukraine in the group stage. Italy were the better side all over the pitch here – only finishing let them down.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012: England versus Italy, an abbreviated but charged rivalry
“England against Italy feels as though it should be one of football’s classic fixtures, a meeting between the motherland of the game and a country that has won the World Cup four times. Yet the sides have met only twice before in major tournaments, never on neutral soil, and only four times in qualifying games for major tournaments. England have won just one of those six competitive fixtures and Italy are one of only four teams (Brazil, Uruguay and Romania being the other three) to have the advantage over England in a head-to-head comparison. It was, though, a game against Italy in 1948 that brought perhaps England’s greatest ever victory.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Euro 2012: The Quarter-Finals – England 0-0 Italy (Italy Win 4-2 On Penalty Kicks
“So, then, to Kiev and to the quarter-finals of the European Championships. It’s the final match of the round this evening, featuring an Italian side that is something of a curates egg, excellent against Spain in matching them every inch of the way before being slightly underwhelming against Croatia and The Republic of Ireland, whilst England remain somewhat enigmatic, decent enough in fits and starts but also a little lucky in places and, for fifteen minutes against Sweden nine days ago, almost apocalyptically disorganised. The history books say Italy, who have a considerably better record against England than many realise due to the infrequency with which the two sides have played each other over the years, but England have showed considerable character over the last few weeks and this match felt, prior to kick-off, difficult to call.” twohundredpercent

England v Italy: match report
“This was a chronicle of a death foretold, of a failure to prepare properly. This deserved defeat on penalties, England’s sixth reverse in seven shoot-outs, highlighted technical deficiencies also painfully apparent during the two hours of football. Italy, and Andrea Pirlo in particular, were vastly superior. Italy deserved to progress to a Euro 2012 semi-final with Germany in Warsaw on Thursday. Some of Pirlo’s passing was sumptuous; he guided the ball around England’s half as if using satnav. He cherished the ball’s company whereas England, following a deceptively promising start, continued to surrender it cheaply.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Euro 2012 paper review: ‘The world has been turned on its head’
“The devilishly handsome model in the Zegna menswear advert may be too smouldering and intense to express much in the way of emotion, but elsewhere in La Repubblica joy is unconfined. Underneath their masthead, the Italy goalkeeper Gigi Buffon can be seen celebrating Italy’s Euro 2012 quarter-final penalty shootout win over England with team-mates Antonio Cassano and Daniele Di Rossi, among others.” Guardian

Three thoughts: Italy nips England for well-deserved berth in semis
“Here are three thoughts on Italy’s 0-0 win over England in penalty kicks: 1. Justice was done in the end. From the second minute of the match, when Daniele de Rossi struck a swerving shot from 30 yards out that cannoned off the inside of Joe Hart’s post, Italy might have felt it was not going to be its night. Mario Balotelli had a hat-trick of chances in the first half, the last of which a close-range toe-poke that was deflected over the crossbar, led him to kicking the goalpost in frustration. It was not so different in the second period, most of which Italy dominated.” SI

Redemption for England and Italy
“The exact role of coaches is a hotly debated topic in soccer. Is the sport like jazz in which the players use their creativity to improvise genius, with the coach merely there to provide the cut-away reaction shots the television cameras need to enhance the drama? Or is it akin to a symphony in which the coach is the conductor, a Bill Parcell-ian puppet master orchestrating every move?” ESPN (Video)


Euro 2012: England versus Italy, an abbreviated but charged rivalry

June 22, 2012

“England against Italy feels as though it should be one of football’s classic fixtures, a meeting between the motherland of the game and a country that has won the World Cup four times. Yet the sides have met only twice before in major tournaments, never on neutral soil, and only four times in qualifying games for major tournaments. England have won just one of those six competitive fixtures and Italy are one of only four teams (Brazil, Uruguay and Romania being the other three) to have the advantage over England in a head-to-head comparison. It was, though, a game against Italy in 1948 that brought perhaps England’s greatest ever victory.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Euro 2012 Quarterfinals Preview

June 22, 2012

“…Greece vs. Germany. How They Got Here: Greece, despite all their history (the last couple of tournaments, not the battle of Sparta and Athens), have been pretty entertaining throughout Euro 2012. Or at least they’ve been involved in entertaining matches. They are an example of what happens if you just keep playing (Russia might want to write this down). After drawing with Poland and losing to the Czech Republic, they looked down. But in their third and final match, a goal from 35-year-old captain Giorgos Karagounis put them up on Russia, and saw the Greeks through to the quarters.” Grantland (Video)


Germany, Spain still favorites as Euro 2012 quarterfinals begin

June 20, 2012

“A new tournament starts in Euro 2012 on Thursday with the first of four quarterfinals, a showdown between Portugal and the Czech Republic here at the National Stadium. After a breathless run of 24 games in 12 days, Wednesday was the tournament’s first off-day, which gives us a chance to do a new set of power rankings and preview each quarterfinal.” SI


Gerrard proves he can deliver from deep – but Italian intelligence the real test

June 20, 2012

“Roy Hodgson has based his England side around organisation, discipline and a good shape without the ball. It’s not a system that brings the best out of individuals, particularly flair players, and as a result, it’s been difficult to name a standout man of the match in any of England’s three Euro 2012 matches so far – despite England topping their group comfortably with seven points. But over the three games, Steven Gerrard has been England’s star performer, from his deep midfield role alongside Scott Parker.” FourFourTwo


Gavin Hamilton Euro 2012 diary, June 20, Warsaw

June 20, 2012

“The longer England stay in this tournament, the luckier they get. Last night’s win over Ukraine – the first time England have beaten the hosts at a tournament – included a huge dose of luck, with the match officials refusing to award Ukraine a goal after Marko Devic’s shot was cleared from behind the line by John Terry. However, England demonstrated a spirit and sense of togetherness that was lacking in South Africa.” World Soccer


England can start to dream

June 20, 2012

“After England squeaked by the unfancied Cameroon in the 1990 World Cup quarterfinal, then-coach Bobby Robson was moved to quip, ‘We didn’t underestimate them. They were just a lot better than we thought.’ Roy Hodgson’s team may feel similarly after winning 1-0 against a frenetically impressive, attack-minded Ukraine. A dour first half was followed by the entertaining spectacle of the second. England held on and was rewarded. France’s insipid collapse against eliminated Sweden in the other Group D match means the Three Lions topped their group and avoid the world champions in the quarterfinals.” ESPN (Video)

England 1-0 Ukraine: cagey game
“Wayne Rooney returned to head in a simple goal, and England finish top of Group D. Roy Hodgson dropped Andy Carroll to bring in Rooney, so Danny Welbeck returned to his position as the primary centre-forward. Oleh Blokhin made various changes – Andriy Shevchenko wasn’t fit enough to start, and Andriy Voronin was dropped, so there was an all-new centre-forward partnership of Artem Milevskiy and Marco Devic. Serhiy Nazarenko was replaced by Denys Harmash, and Yaroslav Rakitskiy came in at the back. Like all three of England’s matches, this was poor technical game lacking in quality, and many of the chances came from set-pieces and crosses.” Zonal Marking

Three thoughts: England casts aside hype to thrive on grit
“Three thoughts on England’s 1-0 victory against Ukraine, which sent England (first place) and France (second) to the Euro 2012 quarterfinals, while Ukraine and Sweden were eliminated… This England provides plenty thrills (of a slightly different kind). No wonder manager Roy Hodgson was all smiles after the final whistle: England has already exceeded expectations at the Euros, winning Group D with seven points. The English public, too, seems to have warmed to a side that has a little bit of everything — experience, grit, fight, pace, youth — but is mercifully lacking the sense of entitlement that has hampered previous versions of the ‘Three Lions’.” SI


Three thoughts: England switch to 4-4-2 keys comeback over Sweden

June 17, 2012

“Three thoughts from England’s dramatic 3-2 victory over Sweden in Kiev, Ukraine. 1. England is winning with 4-4-2. There is a scene in Steve Barron’s 2001 film Mike Bassett: England Manager, an affectionate satire on the England national team, in which Ricky Tomlinson, playing the title character, reaches the end of his tether. He reacts furiously to the suggestion that he might experiment tactically. “Four-four-fookin’-two,” he shouts as the audience laughs at a poor, befuddled man out of his depth. Eleven years later, England is again playing 4-4-2. And somehow, it seems to be working.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


England 3-2 Sweden: long balls, set-pieces and terrible defending

June 16, 2012


Danny Welbeck, Andy Carroll
“A scrappy game low on quality, but high on entertainment. Roy Hodgson made one change. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was dropped with Ashley Young moving to the left, and Andy Carroll coming upfront as a target man. Erik Hamren brought in three players – Johan Elmander upfront, Anders Svensson in the middle, and Jonas Olsson at the back, though Sweden played pretty much the same formation as against Ukraine. This was a crazy, open match that could have gone either way – both sides had spells when they were on top.” Zonal Marking

England’s show of character
“Buzzwords in the England camp the past few days included ‘bold’ and ‘creative.’ For large parts against Sweden at the European Championships at an Olympic Stadium mostly bathed in yellow, England was anything but. However, an inspired substitution of Theo Walcott by manager Roy Hodgson will ensure most will only remember the result, a frenetic 3-2 England win that knocked the Scandinavians out of the tournament.” ESPN (Video)

Sweden 2 England 3: match report
“Danny Welbeck struck a goal of elegance, athleticism and immense significance for England, here on Friday night. It was a magical flicked finish, created by Theo Walcott, who helped turn a crazy game on its head with a vibrant second-half cameo. England were trailing 2-1 when Walcott arrived, swiftly equalising and then fashioning Welbeck’s winner with a superb darting run and cross. England were panicky at times late on but held on and now face hosts Ukraine in Donetsk on Tuesday knowing a draw sees Roy Hodgson’s side into the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Euro 2012: Danny Welbeck hits late winner as England beat Sweden
“There was a point here when all of England’s old failings had resurfaced and the match was straying dangerously close to an almost implausible ordeal. Sweden had turned the game upside-down with two goals early in the second half and, at that point, it looked like Roy Hodgson’s team might finish the evening at the bottom of Group D.” Guardian


Englands of the Mind

June 16, 2012

“The English national soccer team is, as of this writing, located in Krakow, Poland, its official stamped-by-UEFA ‘Team Base Camp’ for Euro 2012. England’s hotel in Krakow, the Stary, was ‘revealed’ in November via a press announcement from the Football Association. It was then re-revealed last week via the FA’s official YouTube channel, FATV (‘Football’s Home’), or more specifically via an ‘exclusive’ synth-y corporate down-tempo waiting-room video mostly devoted to slow pans over billiards tables and shots of boxes sliding into focus.” Grantland – Run of Play (Video)


The Reducer: Orange Crushed

June 16, 2012

“Game of the Week: Germany 2, Holland 1. When the final whistle blew on this Group of B (B is for Death) match, one image in particular kept running through my head. There was Arjen Robben and his crinkled, baby Benjamin Button face, dickishly taking the long way around to the Dutch bench after being substituted for in the 83rd minute. He didn’t try to hype up his teammates, he didn’t shake hands with his sub, Dirk Kuyt, or give a quick man-shake to his manager. Nope, instead he tore off his jersey, parading past the famously passionate, good-traveling Holland fans, looking like a kid who’d just been Tasered while sucking on a lime.” Grantland


Euro 2012 Analysis – Day 1, Groups A, B, C, D

June 15, 2012

“This is the first piece in our Euro 2012 Analysis series, during which we’ll analyze all the matches based on our FootballrRating score. The app is currently in public beta. Register now to gain access to our match, player, and team analysis.” chimu solutions


France 1-1 England: France dominate possession but creativity stifled by England sitting deep

June 12, 2012


“A match with little invention, played at a very slow pace. Laurent Blanc chose his expected side in a 4-3-3, with Florent Malouda shuttling forward from the midfield. Roy Hodgson’s side contained one surprise name – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who started on the left. James Milner started on the other flank, and Danny Welbeck got the nod over Andy Carroll upfront. As expected, France dominated possession (65%) and had 21 shots compared to England’s 5, but many were from long-range, as Blanc’s side struggled to create clear-cut chances.” Zonal Marking

Three thoughts: England’s set play success forces draw with France
“1. England thrives with English goals. In the Balkans and perhaps elsewhere, a goal scored with a powerful header is known as an English goal. If that header comes from a set play, that makes it even more English (British, really, but in the Balkans comprehension of the distinction is blurry). So far in this tournament, that stereotype has proven to be true. Only two goals have been scored with one touch from a set play, and, appropriately, both were scored by players on English clubs: Sean St Ledger of Leicester City for Ireland and Joleon Lescott of Manchester City for England.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

France 1 England 1: match report
“Good point, average creativity. England were under sustained pressure towards the end of their opening Group D game but they held on and will take deserved satisfaction from this result, if not necessarily the display. It’s a good start though. The French were more technical, more assertive through the likes of Franck Ribery and their terrific right-back, Mathieu Debuchy, comfortably the man of the match. Uefa awarded the honour to Samir Nasri, who had brilliantly equalised Joleon Lescott’s header, but Debuchy really impressed most.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Euro 2012: Samir Nasri’s goal for France echoes England’s old failings
“New coach, but familiar pattern. England have scored before conceding at every international tournament they have competed at since 1990. Yet so often they lose that lead with a goal struck from a similar position. For years England’s weak zone has been the space between defence and midfield and it has constantly been their downfall in opening games. In 2000 the game-changer was Portugal’s Rui Costa, who got all three assists as England squandered a two-goal lead to lose 3-2. In 2004 Zinedine Zidane scored a superb free-kick after a clumsy Emile Heskey foul in that position. Two years ago Clint Dempsey turned past Frank Lampard’s poor challenge before his weak shot squirmed between Robert Green’s legs.” Guardian – Michael Cox

Not a bad start for England, France
“Not a win for England, but not a bad start. A team devoid of four regulars, including Wayne Rooney, showed grit, organization and calm to earn a 1-1 draw with tournament dark horse France, which extended its unbeaten streak to 22 games. Les Bleus won’t be disappointed, either. Neither team wanted to lose.” ESPN (Video)

England, France draw in Group D
“England held on for a 1-1 draw with France on Monday at the European Championship, giving the Group D favorites one point each. Joleon Lescott put England in the lead with a header in the 30th minute, and Samir Nasri leveled for France shortly before halftime with a strike into the bottom corner of the net. France still has not won a match at a major tournament since the 2006 World Cup. The national team, however, is unbeaten in its last 22 matches.” SI


Gavin Hamilton Euro 2012 diary, Gdansk, June 10

June 11, 2012

“It was always a little premature to hail Denmark’s victory over Holland’s as proof of a new defensive mood enveloping the European game. First Chelsea win the Champions League, then Denmark provide the tournament’s first shock by keeping a clean sheet against much-fancied Holland.” World Soccer


The Reducer: The Big Stories at Euro 2012

June 8, 2012


Ronaldo
“Euro 2012 kicks off Friday at National Stadium in Warsaw. The producers of the Turin Olympics opening ceremony are in charge of the festivities in Poland, and it has been reported that the tournament will be inaugurated, musically, with a performance of Frédéric Chopin’s Etude in A Minor.” Grantland (YouTube)


Gavin Hamilton Euro 2012 diary: Warsaw, June 8

June 8, 2012

“Welcome to Warsaw! Euro 2012 is slowly cranking into life after yesterday’s bank holiday in the Polish capital; victory for the hosts over Greece in this evening’s match may be the tonic the tournament needs to capture the imagination of the Polish people.” World Soccer


Euro 2012 previews: general themes

June 6, 2012


Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Arjen Robbe
“Team-by-team previews are on their way later today. But, to save repetition in many articles, here are some general themes based upon recent international tournaments…” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Holland
“After a reputation for playing beautiful football was undermined by Holland’s brutal performance in the 2010 World Cup final, Holland’s strategy in the past two years has been an interesting balancing act – Bert van Marwijk wants to look as if he’s moved on to a more open style of football, but remains reluctant to abandon the structure and functionality that took Holland to the World Cup final in the first place.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Spain
“Spain didn’t win World Cup 2010 through pure tiki-taka. They won because they mixed tiki-taka with different options that brought more directness and urgency to their play.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Germany
“They didn’t win the competition, but Germany hit the greatest heights at World Cup 2010. While Spain embarked on a series of controlled but rather uninspiring 1-0 victories, Germany hit four goals past Australia, England and Argentina.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Czech Republic
“Michal Bilek hasn’t been particularly popular during his time as Czech Republic coach, but he has assembled a well-organised, functional side that mixes experience with youth.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Greece
“Greece aren’t overwhelmingly different from the team that shocked Europe to win Euro 2004. They’re not as extreme in their negativity, and not as effective, but are still broadly defensive and their main threat will come from set-pieces.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Italy
“In many ways, Cesare Prandelli isn’t a typical Italian coach. He’s a highly intelligent man, but one doesn’t think of him as a pure tactician like Marcello Lippi, Giovanni Trapattoni or Fabio Capello. He’s of an Arsene Wenger figure – he wants an overall, attacking philosophy rather than lots of specific tactics, and likes developing young players to suit his footballing identity.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: England
“Roy Hodgson was the right choice as England coach – at least in the short-term – but realistically, you can’t expect a side to play good football when their coach is appointed a month before the tournament.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Croatia
“Of the 16 teams in this competition, Croatia are one of the hardest to define. They seem trapped between a few different ways of playing, and don’t have a specific footballing identity.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Sweden
“For the first time since World Cup 1994, Sweden are at a major international tournament without Lars Lagerback. Now in charge of Iceland, Lagerback was at the helm for so long (first as a joint-coach with Tommy Soderberg, then in sole charge) that his footballing style -organised, defensive – became merged with Sweden’s footballing style, to the point where it was difficult to tell the difference between the two, at least to an outsider.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Denmark
“It’s impossible to think of Denmark at the European Championships without thinking of their astonishing victory 20 years ago. Then, they triumphed at Euro 92 despite not qualifying for the tournament initially…yet they’re even more of outsiders this time around.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Russia
“There are many lessons to take from Spain’s dominance of international football over the past few years, and an important one has been the importance of bringing a solid club connection to international level.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Ireland
“It is a decade since Ireland last qualified for a major international tournament, and the three biggest stars from the 2002 World Cup will represent Ireland again here – Shay Given in goal, Damien Duff on the wing and Robbie Keane upfront.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Portugal
“Such is their habit for producing a certain type of footballer, it rather feels like we’ve encountered a Portugal side with these strengths and weaknesses many times before.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Poland
“Poland come into this tournament with the lowest world ranking of the 16 competitors, but they are certainly not the weakest side in the competition.” Zonal Marking


The Question: Does 4-4-2 work for England?

June 6, 2012

“‘In 1966, English football changed forever. Alf Ramsey led his wingless wonders to the World Cup and Allen Wade sat down to start writing the FA Guide to Training and Coaching, a book that, published the following year, became a Bible to a generations of coaches. Wade’s thinking chimed with that of Ramsey, whose success legitimised an approach that might otherwise have been thought of as overly negative.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Euro 2012: France – an animated history – video

June 6, 2012


“James Richardson rounds off our series of potted animated international football histories with France, all the way from early humblings at home to old rivals England and through to their three truly great teams, via dominance in their own back jardin. You can watch the Germany, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Spain and England animated histories too” Guardian – James Richardson (Video)


Spain: Euro 2012 preview

June 2, 2012


“Spain are the world and European champions. They qualified for this summer’s competition with an eight-wins-from-eight record. They hold the world record for winning 14 competitive games in a row. And they followed up their qualifying campaign with a stunning 5-0 victory in a friendly against Venezuela that showcased them at their very best. Success at Euro 2008 and in South Africa two years later did not just wipe out the past, it provided a road map for the future.” World Soccer – Spain: Euro 2012 preview, Ukraine: Euro 2012 preview, Sweden: Euro 2012 preview, Russia: Euro 2012 preview, Republic of Ireland: Euro 2012 preview, Portugal: Euro 2012 preview, Poland: Euro 2012 preview, Italy: Euro 2012 preview, Holland: Euro 2012 preview, Greece: Euro 2012 preview, Germany: Euro 2012 preview, France: Euro 2012 preview, England: Euro 2012 preview, Denmark: Euro 2012 preview, Croatia: Euro 2012 preview


Anglo-Italian relations

April 19, 2012

“Back in 1992 West Ham looked on enviously as Sheffield United kicked off against Manchester United on a sunny day on the 15th August to start what is now the richest league in the world. The Hammers had been relegated at the end of the previous season and now had to fight their way back onto the top table, in a similar situation to this season although the Free bet sites at the time would have not been so genorous about an immediate return as they have been this term.” The Ball is Round


It’s not a results business is it?

April 9, 2012


“So much pressure is put on sports players to perform. Win at all cost seems to be the motto at all levels of the game we should love. And why should we love it? Because it at the end of the day it is supposed to be a past time, something to enjoy, to relieve our stress of an ever increasing hard life. But there is more to life than the pursuit of winning. There is enjoyment.” The Ball is Round


Swansea make themselves at home at the Cottage

March 21, 2012


“On another amazing weekend for Welsh sport our resident Swansea City fan, Abi Davies made her way back from London with a smile as wide as Swansea Bay after an excellent win at Fulham.” The Ball Is Round


Twenty Years Of Fever Pitch

March 5, 2012


“It may seem odd to look at upon the anniversary of the release of a book, but Fever Pitch is no ordinary book. This year sees the twentieth anniversary of a book that launched its own sub-genre – the football confessional continues to thrive to this day – and has been held responsible for both a sea-change in attitudes towards football supporters and for the gentrification of the game in a general sense, and it is worth taking a moment to pause and consider the impact of a book that went some way towards redefining football writing in Britain.” twohundredpercent

Fever Pitch author Nick Hornby says beautiful game has lost its way
“As the 20th anniversary of the publication of Fever Pitch nears, Nick Hornby worries that the cost of supporting top clubs has turned the game from a passion into a theatre-style ‘treat’.” Guardian

Fever Pitch and the rise of middle-class football
“The publication of Nick Hornby’s football memoir Fever Pitch 20 years ago is often seen as the point when middle-class interest in football began. How far has the game changed since then?”>BBC

“Fever Pitch,” by Nick Hornby
“Fever Pitch is self-confessed football (soccer) tragic Nick Hornby’s semi-autobiography and memoir of his life built around supporting Arsenal FC. Originally written in 1992, Hornby chronicles his youth and teenage years growing up as a divorced child, his years at university, and first forays into adulthood while connecting everything to his obsession of the Arsenal, fan worship and the way obsessions find a way to rule a man’s life. The memoir is told in the format of each chapter being a short essay on the lead-up and goings on in his life preceding a particular match.” Stuff I Read

Fever Pitch
Fever Pitch: A Fan’s Life is the title of a 1992 autobiographical book by British author Nick Hornby. The book is the basis for two films: Fever Pitch (UK) was released in 1997, and Fever Pitch (US) in 2005. The first edition included the sub-title ‘A Fan’s Life’ but later paperback editions did not.” Wikipedia, amazon


Robben plays party pooper

March 2, 2012

“Long to reign over us? Stuart Pearce’s grasping of the England nettle in his country’s hour of need has drawn both admirers and detractors, but any comfort in his tenure being extended was always likely to hinge on a positive result. Wanting the job will not be enough. Pre-match statements of intent can only fade into the shadow of defeat. Now, the clamour for Harry Redknapp will grow as a result of a victory from a clinical Dutch team, for whom anything beyond second gear was not required, even when England looked to have fought back for a 2-2 draw.” ESPN

England’s revival snuffed out by the brilliance of Arjen Robben in friendly against Holland at Wembley
“This was a mad end to another mad day in the England madhouse. From a shock choice as captain to a crazy finish, via some alarming naivety of play and an even more alarming sequence of injuries, England’s friendly defeat to Holland contained all manner of dramas.” Henry Winter (Video)


Five famous dressing room revolts

March 2, 2012

“Frank Lampard is unhappy at being benched, Ashley Cole is fed up with being treated like a robot, Gary Cahill wants to know why he’s not playing more games. Chelsea has won just three games in 11, it teeters on the brink of Champions League elimination and the dressing room appears to be in perpetual and open revolt. With Andre-Villas Boas staring rebellion in the face, a look back at five managers who’ve been here before..” SI


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