Neymar the hero of a nation as Brazil fans look for villains

August 23, 2016

“There were real grounds for concern when the final of the men’s Olympic football tournament went to penalties. How often do the Germans lose a shootout? Winning the gold medal was much more important for Brazil – they were in front of their own fans in the Maracana stadium, this was the only title they had never won and their game badly needed a boost.” The World Game – Tim Vickery

Driving A Different Route: From Hearts, To Houston ang Holland

August 23, 2016

“It was during a recent run-of-the-mill conversation with a mate that our minds revisited one of the most glorious days in the 142-year history of Scottish club, Heart of Midlothian, which, consequently, was also among the most bitter and painful occasions for their Edinburgh rivals, Hibernian. We were, of course, recalling the 2012 Scottish Cup final when the Jambos put the Hibees to the sword in the Hampden Park sun, to record a heavy 5-1 win. Now, given that neither my friend nor I have an affiliation to either Edinburgh team, it was a somewhat peculiar topic to enter our rambling.” Football Pink

James Horncastle: A guide to Inter’s mess

August 23, 2016

“It was 3:45 in the morning in Nanjing when Inter kicked off their Serie A campaign on Sunday. The club’s new owner Jindong Zhang had promised to stay awake for it. ‘I will watch the game on television as will all the Suning staff as one big family,’ he wrote in a message wishing the team good luck for the new season. By 5am Zhang and his 13,000 employees could be forgiven for thinking they were asleep and in the grips of a nightmare. Except the nightmare was all too real.” calciomercato

Fallen Idols or Charm of the Championship?

August 20, 2016

“Since the inception of the English Football pyramid as we currently know it in 1992, English football has always operated within a very rigid, very strict hierarchy of power and quality. At the very top is the international behemoth, the commercial powerhouse and footballing nirvana coveted worldwide that is the Premier League. Dominated by the best of the best, from all corners of the world it is a league of ferocious intensity, some of the most passionate and famous fans and stadiums in the world, and an unequivocal and unapologetic influx of foreign talent both on the pitch and off it. The Premier League has grown into the world’s greatest domestic showpiece for the sport that we love, full of drama, pedigree, tradition and some of the most memorable moments in the history of the sport.” Outside of the Boot

Over/Under: European club, season predictions for 2016-17

August 20, 2016

“With the new top-flight seasons set to kick off in Italy and Spain this weekend–and Germany one week later–and the Premier League just underway, there are lots of predictions to be made and questions to be answered. Will the competitive imbalance in France, Germany and Italy continue to be a problem? Will we see a surprise winner in any league? Will there be an outsider who cracks the Champions League elite? And just who will Jose Mourinho fall out with next? With all of those questions–and more!–in mind, we take a look at the European club landscape in the over/under prism to provide as much clarity as possible entering a nine-month quest for trophies and championships…” SI

Low crowds and chaotic La Liga fixture list cannot deter from guarantee of drama

August 20, 2016

“Spain’s football stadiums will be full this season – and that’s an order. Well, they’ll look full, anyway. The Spanish league will fine clubs whose grounds aren’t at 75% capacity, double for those who don’t reach 50%. The part of their grounds that are visible on TV screens, that is. There will be someone there whose job it is to count and sanctions will apply to the stand and the corners opposite the master camera – the televisual U, it’s called. The bit that can be seen. As for the bit that can’t be seen, well, that bit can’t be seen.” Guardian

The Question: can De Bruyne and Silva prosper in their ‘free No8’ roles?

August 20, 2016

“These are, it must be stressed, very early days. Things will change, things will develop and besides, one of Pep Guardiola’s greatest skills is his protean nature, his capacity and willingness to change approach game by game – something that will be tested by the flood of matches an English season brings. But two games in to his competitive tenure as manager of Manchester City, certain patterns have already begun to emerge.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


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