Real Madrid looks rejuvenated as Zidane wins first game in charge

January 13, 2016

“Zinedine Zidane wore the number five shirt during his time as an iconic player at Real Madrid, so it was somehow fitting that Real Madrid beat Deportivo La Coruna 5-0 on his coaching debut Saturday night. This was a first game that even the Frenchman could not have imagined, with two early goals settling the nerves and a last-minute Karim Benzema strike that underlined a huge improvement in performance, attitude and atmosphere.” SI

Messi the favorite, but could Neymar jump Ronaldo in Ballon d’Or voting?

January 10, 2016

“What do Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Franck Ribery and Manuel Neuer all have in common? In the last four years, each was the ‘gooseberry’ on the Ballon d’Or podium behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. This year could be different; for the first time since 2010, when Ronaldo slipped to sixth (Iniesta was second and Xavi third) the Messi-Ronaldo duopoly could be broken by the player Barcelona signed to one day replace Messi: Neymar.” SI (Video)

Tactical Analysis: River Plate 0-3 Barcelona | Barca’s enterprising play too much for River

December 31, 2015

“In Yokohama, the final of the FIFA World Club Championship, saw on one hand the champion of the Copa Libertadores River Plate, who had beaten in the semifinals Sanfrecce Hiroshima of Japan, and on the other the Champions League winners, FC Barcelona that without Messi and Neymar beat Chinese team Guangzhou Evergrande. In the end, the Spanish team had their South American trident, as both Messi and Neymar decided to play the game despite not being 100%. River Plate made one change from the team that played the semifinal, with Uruguayan Tabaré Viudez replacing Leonardo Pisculichi. Luis Enrique presented his classic 4-3-3 system, River Plate alternated between their usual 4-3-1-2 and 4-4-2, the two systems being used by the team of Marcelo Gallardo.” Outside of the Boot

Gerard Pique takes on Real Madrid: Will it ever end?

December 17, 2015

“Even when he’s halfway around the world, Gerard Pique just cannot let it lie. The Barcelona defender’s running verbal battle with most of the Real Madrid squad continued in Japan on Wednesday as he refused to back down after igniting yet another row, this time with Bernabeu duo Alvaro Arbeloa and Sergio Ramos. We all know there’s little love lost between Barca and Madrid, but no figure on the pitch seems to embody the rivalry more closely than Pique.” BBC

Tactical Analysis: Valencia 1-1 Barcelona | Valencia risks pay off

December 10, 2015

“Following a circus of a week at Los Che where Portuguese manager Nuno walked after his side failed to register a shot at goal in their 1-0 loss at Sevilla; which resulted in the surprising arrival of new boss Gary Neville, both playing and coaching staff at the club will have been desperate to get back to league action. Thousands of the home fans welcomed Neville & co. to the stadium before the game by lining the streets surrounding the historic Mestalla stadium whilst singing his name and making plenty of noise in support of his ambitious words in his first press conference.” Outside of the Boot

Power Rankings | Top 5 Managers (November 2015): Klopp joins Enrique at the top

December 10, 2015

“A new mini-feature on the site for the new season is the introduction of the manager Power Rankings, where every month we list out the Top 5 tacticians from across Europe’s top leagues. October’s Power Rankings features five managers who’ve played key roles as the table begins to take shape.” Outside of the Boot

The Outsiders, Part 5: AP Campionese

December 10, 2015

“‘And this is Campione d’Italia’, she’s the Italian comune in Switzerland, you know, she’s an Italian enclave and exclave surrounded by Switzerland but still in the Province of Como, Lombardia, in the Swiss canton of Ticino’. Introducing the small town of Campione d’Italia, is much like describing a distant relative at a very large family celebration. She’s both vaguely recognisable and completely unfamiliar. She has the same plump and contented face as aunty Giulia, yet she’s definitely got the nose of grandpa Müller.” Football Pink

The Outsiders, Part 6: FC Andorra
“As countries go, there are few that can match the sheer stunning beauty of Andorra. Nestled firmly in the Pyrenees between France and Spain, Andorra is the sixth smallest nation in Europe in terms of size, its population could fit inside Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium. It has a rich culture stretching back over a thousand years and is a constitutional monarchy with an official language of Catalan, though French and Spanish are widely spoken too.” Football Pink

The Outsiders, Part 7: The New Saints
“Around the globe, football teams that have incorporated their sponsor’s name are common place. Of course, Red Bull have taken on teams in New York, Leipzig and Salzburg, aptly named the New York Red Bulls, RB Leipzig and FC Red Bull Salzburg whilst Bayer Leverkusen in Germany have taken their founders’ name since their emergence in 1904, as did PSV Eindhoven in 1913. Hyundai have taken on two teams in South Korea, Jeonbuk and Ulsan whilst Toyota even got in on the act in Japan.” Football Pink


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