Italia ’90: Roberto Baggio’s magical goal against Czechoslovakia

June 21, 2020


“Retro football has been our staple for the past few months, as we look to get our fix of on-pitch action by looking back at matches gone by. And with classic games screened on TVs from a series of international tournaments, it’s prompted a round of assessment of how good they really were in comparison to perception, collective memory and nostalgia. Which is all fair enough. It’s interesting to look back on tournaments like that, consider things we might not have thought about back then or since. False nostalgia for a time that didn’t exist has got the world into some problems in the past few years, so re-examining those memories are a useful exercise, if nothing else. …” the set pieces (Video)


The Barcelona Inheritance: The Evolution of Winning Soccer Tactics from Cruyff to Guardiola – Jonathan Wilson

June 21, 2020

“From Cruyff’s ‘Total Football’ to the epic rivalry between Guardiola and Mourinho, a gripping chronicle of the rise and fall of Barcelona’s dominance in world soccer. Barcelona’s style of play–pressing and possessing–is the single biggest influence on modern soccer. In The Barcelona Inheritance, Jonathan Wilson reveals how and why this came to pass, offering a deep analysis of the evolution of soccer tactics and style. In the late 1990s, Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team was disintegrating and the revolutionary manager had departed, but his style gave birth to a new generation of thinkers, including Pep Guardiola and José Mourinho. Today, their teams are first and second in the Premier League, marking the latest installment in a rivalry that can be traced back twenty-five years. The Barcelona Inheritance is a book about the tactics, the personalities, the friendships, and, in one case, an apocalyptic falling-out that continue to shape the game today. …”
amazon


A Data History of the European Cup: 2013, Bayern Munich 2-1 Borussia Dortmund

June 21, 2020

“We complete our data history of the European Cup with the all-Bundesliga final of 2013. After seeing off the Spanish giants in their semi-finals, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund met at Wembley, each seeking to become the first German winner in over a decade. …” StatsBomb


The Trials And Tribulations Of Slavia Prague

June 18, 2020


Bohemians 1905 beat Slavia Prague in February this year in a shocking result
“After 301 days, Bohemians achieved what no other club in the Czech League has managed and beat Slavia Prague. The reigning Czech champions had emerged from the midwinter break with 17 wins and three draws in the first half of the season. Buoyed by Chinese owners and led by Jindrich Trpisovsky, Slavia are too good for the rest of the Czech league. Or were. Shorn of a host of influential players, Slavia struggled to overcome a dogged Bohemians side backed by the usual cacophony of smoke bombs and drums in their crumbling Dolicek stadium. After a goalmouth scramble, Jan Vodhanel stabbed home for a 1-0 win. …”
World Soccer


Premier League emerges from lockdown changed but bringing hope

June 18, 2020

“Most people can pinpoint the moment when it became real, the hot flush of panic when it dawned that coronavirus was not some far-off threat but rather one heading to our doorsteps, quickly, inexorably, hellbent on destruction. For English football, it came during the week that began with Leicester’s 4-0 Premier League drubbing of Aston Villa on Monday 9 March and moved through Liverpool’s Champions League elimination at the hands of Atlético Madrid on the Wednesday. What an uncomfortable night that was at Anfield, thousands of diehards wanting to be there but, in their hearts, wondering why they had been allowed. Was it really safe? …”
Guardian


Bayern Munich Maintains Its Bundesliga Dominance While Undergoing a Rapid Transition

June 18, 2020

“Confirmation of an eighth successive league title came with a 1-0 victory over Werder Bremen on Tuesday, secured with yet another Robert Lewandowski goal and a brilliant late save from Manuel Neuer. Bayern has clearly deserved it. In recent months, Bayern has been the best team in Germany. Since the Bundesliga’s restart, it has been remorseless, winning seven league games out of seven and racking up 22 goals in the process. …”
SI


The brutal beauty of Morocco’s Soccer Ultras

June 15, 2020


The Raja Ultras, led by the Capo (in lime green jacket standing on the railing between levels) fill the stadium with drum lines, chants, and songs.
“Zakaria Belqadi stands on a railing before a hoard of fans in the cheapest section of Le Grand Stade de Marrakech. He raises his arms, and the stadium begins to throb with the voices of young men. The song they sing has become well-known across the Arab world, and its lyrics have almost nothing to do with soccer: ‘In my country they abuse me … Only [Allah] knows, in this country we live in a dark cloud.’ These are fans of Raja Casablanca, one of Africa’s most successful soccer teams. Raja has won 11 Botola (Moroccan domestic league) championships and seven various Confederation of African Football (CAF) titles, among other honors. For many young men in Casablanca’s poorer neighborhoods, Raja has become a way of life, and the team’s ‘ultras’ fan clubs have even become organized, politically active and occasionally violent. …”
Africas a is Country
W – Raja Casablanca
YouTube: Raja Casablanca Ultras – Best Moments (Aug 26, 2016)


Football is all about speed: The growing importance of coaching

June 15, 2020

“I moved to Barcelona in January 2008, six months before Josep Guardiola took over as the head coach of FC Barcelona. It was the beginning of four years of tika-taka. Although I have always liked Real Madrid more than their rivals, I was somewhat seduced by the style of football played by the Catalans, especially Messi, Iniesta and Xavi; the latter in that period deserved to win one of Messi’s Ballon d’Or. After a year of watching tika-taka, I grew tired of the often pointless sideways passing of the ball. The worse part was that, at times, it seemed as if Barcelona were unable to change their tactics, as a growing number of opponents had learned how to play them. I started to wonder whether Guardiola’s rigid belief in ‘one-system-fits-all’ was not only ruining the extraordinary players’ freedom but also showing a lack of tactical skills. …”
Football Pink


Premier League returns: The 2019-20 season so far in eight graphics

June 15, 2020

“After a 100-day absence because of the coronavirus pandemic, England’s top flight will return to action on Wednesday. But where did we leave off and what are the challenges facing sides at both the top and bottom over the next nine games? BBC Sport helps you get up to speed with a picture of the Premier League in eight graphics. …”
BBC


Dirk Schlegel and Falko Götz: The East Berlin footballers who fled from the Stasi

April 29, 2020


“They had grown up together, two football-obsessed kids from the same side of a divided Berlin. They lived close to the wall that had defined their city since it was built in 1961. Their world as children was divided into good and bad, west and east, capitalist imperialism and communist utopia. They both knew not to mention the western TV they secretly watched at home. …”
BBC


Specials Dutch Vs Deutsch: An inherent difference between Performance & Achievement

April 29, 2020

“A longstanding intense football rivalry between the Netherlands and Germany has lessened with time. The post-war hatred, especially from the Dutch side, was projected on the football pitch in the early 1970s and decreased considerably after 1990. The scenes of Ronald Koeman wiping his bum with the German shirt and Rijkaard’s spitting in Völler’s hair are not what come to our mind recently, but more likely the mutual respect between Cruyff and Beckenbauer and the amount of Dutch coaches and players in the Bundesliga. It is the 21st century now, and in Football some nations are seeking perfection and for that, in certain aspects, they can learn from the best. It is only easier when the best are just the ‘neighbors next door’. …”
FootyAnalyst


SB Labs: Camera Calibration

April 29, 2020

“Camera calibration is a fundamental step for multiple computer vision applications in the field of sports analytics. By determining the camera pose one can accurately locate both players and events in the game at any time point. Furthermore, increasing the accuracy of the camera calibration will in turn increase the accuracy of any advanced metric derived from the collected data. One of the applications where camera calibration is essential is player tracking. …”
StatsBomb


Hidden In Plain Sight: The Black Bands of ’78

April 24, 2020


“As a Scottish schoolboy who was in love with goal nets and the prospect of Scotland becoming world champions, the Argentina World Cup in 1978 couldn’t have seared more had I been sirloin scorched on the parilla. While I’d never experienced anything like the disappointment of Scotland failing in their opening game against Peru, equally, I’d never seen anything like the goals installed uniformly at the tournament stadia. The nets were stunning. Brilliant white and pulled taut at the seams into squared corners as if draped over the stanchion of an A-frame. …”
In Bed With Maradona, WITHOUT THE STREETS OR DUSKS OF BUENOS AIRES, A TANGO CANNOT BE WRITTEN


The Meaning Behind Crests: Man United’s Red Devil, Panathinaikos’s Shamrock and More

April 24, 2020

With sports, including soccer, at a standstill, it’s a good time to delve into the history and culture of the game. Nowhere are those more evident than on club crests. They often just include a crown and a ball. But on occasion, logos feature an element inspired by a fascinating story or some esoteric or hidden meaning. We brought you two such lists back in 2017 (Part 1 | Part 2)
SI


How English football responded to the second world war

April 24, 2020

“When the 1939-40 Football League season kicked off on Saturday 26 August 1939, players were wearing numbered shirts for the first time. Bigger changes were to come. Germany invaded Poland the following Friday and the four divisions and FA Cup were halted once war was declared on 3 September. The action stopped after three rounds of fixtures, with Blackpool boasting the only 100% record in the top flight and Leeds bottom of the table having failed to score a goal. …”
Guardian


The Pressure Of Being A South American Goalkeeper

April 22, 2020


“Veteran Ecuadorian defensive midfielder Segundo Castillo is winding down his career at home with Guayaquil City after almost 90 games for his country and spells in Serbia and England. Around a decade ago he had a season with Everton and the next one with Wolves. He did not play many games, but he stayed long enough to form an impression, which he recently shared with the Ecuadorian press. ‘Football in England is passionate in its intensity,” he said, “but in a cultural aspect, after the game, it’s different. Losing doesn’t mean that you’re mediocre. The fans wait outside and ask for autographs, and nothing bad happens. Here in Ecuador it’s different; lose and you can’t go out because maybe people want to get you.’ …”
World Soccer


Football Manager 2020 guide: The best formations and tactics you need to try

April 22, 2020

“You’ve been unveiled at the ground holding a scarf above your head. You’ve posed for photos with the chairman and been asked the awkward questions about that one player who appears to be running his contract down. Now what? The first and most important chore of any budding football manager is to bring your philosophy to life. Football Manager 2020 has a range of set templates and styles but trying to find a healthy balance between them can be like, well, trying to manage a squad of egos and prima donnas. …”
FourFourTwo


Jurgen Klopp’s early years and how he could have coached Manchester United

April 22, 2020

“At Liverpool, it was Brendan Rodgers. At Borussia Dortmund, it was Thomas Doll and at Mainz, Jürgen Klopp’s predecessor went by the name of Eckhard Krautzun. That’s not how Klopp usually describes him. ‘When he sees me,’ Krautzun explains, ‘and there are other people sitting around, he says ‘this is the guy who sent me to Tunisia, to a foreign country where I couldn’t speak a word of French to sit around in that stadium trying to scout a player!’’ It is just one of a number of anecdotes the 76-year-old is happy to tell about Klopp, whose subsequent reign at Mainz was regarded as a resounding success. In his first coaching job, Klopp saved the club from relegation after succeeding Krautzun, before taking them up to the Bundesliga for the first time three years later. …”
the set pieces


When Andriy Shevchenko’s move to Chelsea failed under Jose Mourinho

April 20, 2020


“To many Andriy Shevchenko was one of the best strikers in the first decade of the 21st century. His career spanned a host of big clubs, where he scored a lot of goals for them. While he’s now the manager of the Ukrainian national team and qualified them for the Euros, he isn’t quite renowned as a manager yet. His playing days might be well behind him, but he is still well-remembered for that. His best spell came before he came into the bigger spotlight. Dynamo Kiev was the place where he first broke onto the scene. Having initially played for the Reserves side, his goalscoring exploits saw him rise through the ranks and later earn a big move to Milan in the summer of 1999. …”
Football Pink


Golden Goal: Jean-Pierre Papin for France v Belgium (1992)

April 20, 2020

“Karim Benzema has been publicly reflecting, let’s say, on France’s ability to win the World Cup with a ‘go-kart’ of a striker, Olivier Giroud. He might also recall Stéphane Guivarc’h, who led the line for France in 1998. For their two World Cup triumphs, France have had centre-forwards who went through the whole tournaments without finding the net. In the early 90s, on the other hand, they had one of the deadliest finishers the game has seen – and they made fools of themselves on the international stage. Go-kart? Go figure. …”
Guardian (Audio)


Detroit City FC: The football team rising from America’s biggest ruin

April 20, 2020

“In the 1980s, he played for the LA Lazers, a short-lived indoor soccer cousin to the famed LA Lakers, attracting a similarly glitzy Hollywood crowd to the city’s Forum arena. In the 1990s, as part of Sir Bobby Robson’s scouting network, he picked apart England’s World Cup 1990 opposition before being deployed to watch Brazilian phenomenon Ronaldo in preparation for Barcelona’s then world-record £13.2m purchase. In the 2000s, the arrival of David Beckham transformed the LA Galaxy team he helped coach from global non-entity into a travelling circus. He has even barked orders at the likes of Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood and Andrew Ridgeley as manager of Stewart’s LA Exiles – a team of ex-pat musicians, actors and artists who have made California home. But he has never seen anything like Detroit City. …”
BBC


A History of Soccer in Six Matches

April 18, 2020


Hungary’s visit to Wembley in 1953 was a seminal moment in the modern game.
“A few weeks ago, I asked readers to submit ideas for what they would like to see in this column. Not because I am short of them, you understand, but because in this bleak new reality of ours writing about sports very much falls into the category of ‘things you want,’ rather than ‘things you need.’ There was a flurry of suggestions, on every topic under the sun, most of which I know absolutely nothing about. One theme that stood out, though, was that many would welcome the chance to immerse themselves in the comforting nostalgia of soccer history. Even with my understanding editors and generous word counts, that is a vast, unwieldy subject. You can write soccer history in a million different ways: through the lens of teams and individuals, through tactics or geography or culture. …”
NY Times (Video)


Formations and systems in football

April 18, 2020

“The core of football tactics is the formation of the team. In football (soccer) the formations are classified in names consisting of numbers that represent defenders, midfielders and attackers (the goalkeeper is unnecessary to involve in this tactical aspect). Here are some of the most utilized formations in football presented in a historical overview. Formations are simplified ways to describe a team’s positional tactic schematically. As Jonathan Wilson writes in Inverting the Pyramid: ‘designations of formations can at times seem a little arbitrary. Just how far behind the main striker does the second striker have to play for 4–4–2 to become 4–4–1–1? And how advanced do the wide midfielders have to be for that to become a 4–2–3–1?’ …”
Football History


Carlos’s 1986 World Cup foul and the value of rethinking our villains

April 18, 2020

“Football can give you completely the wrong idea about people. One incident in one match can skew the perception. For years I thought I hated Carlos, the Brazil goalkeeper who pulled back Bruno Bellone after the France forward had gone round him in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final and somehow went unpunished. How, four years after Harald Schumacher’s horrendous assault on Patrick Battiston, could that glorious France – Platini! Tigana! Giresse! – be cheated once again by a goalkeeper? Carlos’s offence had nothing like the raw violence of Schumacher’s, but it was cynical. And so, for compounding the injustice of Seville 1982, he went on the blacklist. …”
Guardian


Yuri Semin: the man who can’t say no when Lokomotiv Moscow call

October 5, 2018


“Never go back, they say, but Yuri Semin has never been somebody to place too much store by conventional wisdom. He is 71 now, his eyes more watery than ever, and this is his fourth stint in charge of Lokomotiv Moscow. In total, he’s managed them for more than two decades. To a large extent, Semin is the club and that they are playing Schalke in the Champions League on Wednesday is to a large degree down to him.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Bayern Are Fine, but the Bundesliga May Not Be

October 5, 2018

“The problem with Bayern Munich is that they’re too good. That’s why the specific problem is that the team has now gone three games in a row without winning, including a shocking 2-0 defeat away to Hertha Berlin is a problem at all. Those three matches (one in the Champions League and two at home domestically) mean that Bayern, for the time being have dropped out of first place. Cue the crisis debate.” StatsBomb


Vítor Frade and the world of Portuguese managers in the game

October 5, 2018

“Rarely has relegation proven to be as beneficial to the manager who failed to avoid it as that of Hull City. By the time that their drop from the Premier League was confirmed on the 14th of May 2017, Marco Silva had become one of the most highly regarded coaches in England. Relegation had looked inevitable when he got the job yet he managed to give the club some hope and pride through the attacking football he managed to impose on the team.” Footyanalyst


Champions League: Neymar’s Hat Trick Powers P.S.G. in Rout

October 5, 2018


“Paris St.-Germain’s attack overwhelmed Red Star Belgrade, 6-1, in the Champions League on Wednesday, with Neymar scoring a hat trick that included two brilliant free kicks. P.S.G. Coach Thomas Tuchel went with his strongest lineup up front, with Neymar, the World Cup star Kylian Mbappé, Edinson Cavani and Angel Di María. They all scored in the first half except for Mbappé, who had to wait until the 70th minute for his goal, created with some more deft footwork by Neymar.” NY Times


When the Eagle devoured the Goat Skip to entry content

October 5, 2018

“On a blustery afternoon in February, over 40,000 Eintracht Frankfurt fans entered the Commerzbank-Arena to see their team play fierce rivals 1. FC Köln. Eintracht’s 2017/18 season had so far been very good; finding themselves on the cusp of Champions League football, a competition they had not played in since they were runners-up to the great Real Madrid in the old European Cup in 1960, whilst three days previously they qualified for the semi-final of Germany’s knock out tournament – the DFB Cup – which they then went on to win.” FootballPink


The Tantalizing Talent of Lille’s Nicolas Pépé

October 5, 2018

“It’s still early. Even with seven or eight games already played in Europe’s biggest leagues, the sample size is too small to come to concrete conclusions. A hot or cold streak can still change a club’s underlying numbers and their season projections in a meaningful way. But by this point, trends can develop. And things that have persisted over the duration of the season to date warrant further investigation. It’s possible to being to what’s likely to continue from what won’t. This is especially important when talking about young players who have performed at a higher level from last season and are perhaps in the beginning stages of ‘making the leap.'” StatsBomb


Paul Pogba: which clubs could offer him escape from Manchester United?

September 30, 2018


“Paul Pogba, who was stripped of the Manchester United vice-captaincy on Tuesday, could potentially leave the club in January after his relationship with José Mourinho hit an all-time low. But with a salary of £250,000 a week and a fee likely to be in the region of £100m, which clubs have the financial might to sign the French World Cup winner?” Guardian


The Best Two Way Premier League Players

September 30, 2018

“Looking for players that contribute on both sides of the ball is often a difficult task. Separating out tactical responsibilities from player abilities, and individual shortcomings from schematic ones is always hard. Does a player not track back because he’s lazy or because he has instructions to remain high up the pitch? Does a midfielder keep passing it sideways because he cannot pick a forward pass or because the manager’s approach calls for conservative possession?” StatsBomb


For David Luiz and Chelsea, Everything’s Perfect. Until Suddenly It’s Not.

September 30, 2018

“Muttering under his breath, shaking his head in regret, David Luiz was the last player to disappear from the field. He had taken his time after the final whistle. As Liverpool’s players went over to celebrate with their fans, and as his Chelsea teammates trudged disconsolately toward the tunnel, Luiz lingered. He stripped off his jersey. He bestowed a few handshakes on eager young fans reaching their arms out for him to brush.” NY Times


A bullet for the president: gangs, corruption and murder in Bulgarian football

September 30, 2018

“One spring Monday morning, Lokomotiv Plovdiv president, Alexander Tasev, like most football bosses around Europe, sat in his expensive car about to head off to work. Seconds later he was shot dead by someone in a passing car, two bullets piercing his head. Since that day in May 2007, at least 12 more football bosses have been killed in the Balkan country. Tasev was the third Lokomotiv president to be killed in just two years.” Football Pink (Video)


Bundesliga Roundup: Schalke is Bad, Werder Bremen are Good and Favre is Favre

September 30, 2018

“The Bundesliga is in full swing. Bayern Munich, to nobody’s surprise, are way better than everybody else. Despite a late slip against Augsburg leading to a 1-1 draw, they remain by far the best team in Germany. Here’s what’s going on in the rest of the league.” StatsBomb


An Ex-Owner of the Dodgers Takes Another Swing in Marseille

September 16, 2018


“MONACO — Not long after Frank McCourt arrived at his luxury hotel here, there was a knock at the door. A valet had returned with a newly pressed shirt. McCourt, freshening up after an overnight trans-Atlantic flight, called out from the bathroom with an instruction to hang the shirt in the closet. McCourt carried on with his ablutions. The valet, in that smooth, five-star silence, carefully slid the shirt onto the rail and, without seeing McCourt, prepared to slip out the door. As he was leaving, though, he could not help himself. ‘Allez l’O.M.,’ the valet said, and vanished.” NY Times


Firmino and Wijnaldum seal Liverpool win as Spurs pay price for Vorm errors

September 16, 2018

“These may still be the embryonic stages of the new Premier League season but Liverpool firmly leave the impression they want to see the view from the top of the table, judging from their superiority here against another of the teams who will switch their attentions to the Champions League in the next few days. It was Liverpool’s fifth straight win, only the third time they have started the season so immaculately, and perhaps the most frightening thought for the teams playing catch-up is that Mohamed Salah has still not quite found his most exhilarating form of last season.” Guardian


Claudio Taffarel on Alisson, Ederson and the history of Brazilian goalkeeping

September 16, 2018

“There’s a touch of Ginga about Alisson Becker: he moves with swagger, relieved from the chains that, in the past, often reduced goalkeepers to contorted figures. Liverpool’s No.1 invites opposition strikers to apply pressure before dribbling past – or even chipping the ball over – them. He displayed his great dexterity in the Reds’ 1-0 victory over Brighton, but his approach backfired against Leicester when Kelechi Iheanacho intercepted his improvised Cruyff turn and teed up Rachid Ghezzal for a simple finish.” The Set Pieces


France may have conquered the world but PSG find Europe a little harder

September 16, 2018

“What jolly scenes those were in the Stade de France last week as Les Bleus’ World Cup-winning squad and 80,000 fans serenaded N’Golo Kanté, football’s most self-effacing superstar and, apparently, its most adorable card cheat. Yes, it’s been all whoops and giggles in France since Didier Deschamps’ team added a second gold star to the nation’s shirt this summer. But the return of the Champions League this week is a reminder of a sorrier facet of the country’s football history – its incorrigible haplessness in European club competition.” Guardian


Tyler Adams’ maiden goal lifts USA to first win over Mexico in three years

September 12, 2018


“Tyler Adams showed he might be able to help when the rebuilding US soccer team resumes competitive matches next June. So did Antonee Robinson and goalkeeper Zack Steffen. Adams scored his first international goal, four minutes after Angel Zaldivar was ejected for a studs-up tackle, and the United States rebounded from a poor first half for a 1-0 victory over Mexico on Tuesday night and their first win over El Tri in three years.” Guardian


Uefa Nations League – as it stands: Who are the winners and losers following the opening rounds of group games?

September 12, 2018

“A goalless draw on the opening day of the tournament may not have been the result the suits in Nyon had wanted, but the point earned by France in Munich provided the world champions the foundation to build upon. Goals from Kylian Mbappé and Olivier Giroud in their second game, the 2-1 defeat of Holland, leaves Didier Deschamps’ side top ahead of their return leg against Germany in Paris next month.” Telegraph


The financial cracks in the foundations of German football

September 12, 2018

“A problem exists in German football. The latest crisis finds its origins in the foundations poured over the last dilemma nearly two decades ago. Following victory at the 1996 European Championships, Die Mannschaft imploded. Defeat in the World Cup Quarter Finals in 1998 was followed by first round elimination at the 2000 European Championships. Germany is not a nation to take such setback lightly. In the next decade, German football was revitalised at grassroots level.” Backpage Football


More Than a Team

September 12, 2018


“In 1906 Nikolas Majluf arrived in South America after a sea voyage that had begun in Haifa, then part of the Ottoman Empire. He had changed ships in Marseille and continued to Buenos Aires, Argentina. From there, he traveled by mule over the Andes and ultimately settled in Victoria, Chile, nearly 1,000 kilometers south of Santiago, the nation’s capital. He was following a path that had been established by Palestinians who had begun arriving in Chile in the late 1800s. They struggled at first, but in ensuing decades they created both businesses and institutions, including schools, professional associations— and Club Deportivo Palestino (Palestinian Sport Club), the soccer team popularly known as ‘Palestino.’” Aramco World


Atletico Madrid’s Slow Start

September 12, 2018

“Atletico Madrid are off to a curiously slow start. It’s the rare year where there might be some cracks at the top of La Liga. The departure of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid means there’s a crack of daylight at the top of the table. But, three games in, the perennial favorites, Barcelona, and Ronaldo-less Madrid are perfect and Diego Simeone’s team has already dropped five points. Is there anything amiss with Atletico, or have their opening three games been the kind of fluke that the next 35 games will make everybody forget?” StatsBomb


Rafael Benitez & Manuel Pellegrini: Newcastle & West Ham bosses adjust to life at bottom

September 12, 2018

“Rafael Benitez and Manuel Pellegrini are two managers used to living the high life who now find themselves stranded in the Premier League’s bottom three with Newcastle and West Ham after poor starts to the season.” BBC


Kylian Mbappé needs to control his temper. Perhaps Neymar can help

September 4, 2018


“‘You have to a protect us,” implored an increasing irked Kylian Mbappé to the referee as he picked himself up from another forceful challenge. Newly promoted Nîmes had made a point of pressing the Ligue 1 champions aggressively in midfield and ruffling as many Parisian feathers as possible. Mbappé, however, saw their tactics differently. With less than 20 minutes on the clock, he was already booked for protesting, with Neymar having to lead the 19-year-old away from the referee for fear of further punishment. Mbappé’s ire did little more than simmer, however, and in injury time – after his thunderous finish had won the game for PSG – he reacted aggressively to a trip from Nîmes midfielder Taji Savanier and was dismissed for the first time in his Ligue 1 career.” Guardian


Champions League group-by-group guide: English quartet well placed

September 4, 2018

“Manchester United, Liverpool and Spurs should squeeze through tricky groups while Manchester City’s task looks relatively straightforward” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Gute Woche/ Schlechte Woche Bundesliga Matchday 2 Edition

September 4, 2018

“After a busy week of transfer window spending and European draws, it was a welcome return to the Bundesliga for the second round of matches in the new season. Bayern Munich unsurprisingly made it two wins from two, and more surprisingly so too did VfL Wolfsburg. Schalke suffered a second straight defeat as did Bayer Leverkusen, while there was frustration for RB Leipzig as they were held to a point. We had the usual thrills, spills, highs, lows and everything in between. So just who were the winners and losers of the opening weekend?” Bundesliga Fanatic


At Transfer Time in Lithuania, Prospects and Profits Collide

September 4, 2018


“KAUNAS, Lithuania — The letter was short and to the point: A.S. Monaco, the elite soccer club on the French Riviera, wanted Ibrahima Sory Soumah to travel from his home in Guinea to France for a 10-day trial. Soumah’s mind raced with the possibilities. If Soumah, a teenage midfielder, could succeed in the test period and convince his hosts of his value, he might take his place at one of the finest soccer finishing schools in the world, and maybe even follow the path that led George Weah, Thierry Henry and Kylian Mbappé from Monaco to global stardom. But even if he did not, Soumah knew that simply spending time under the tutelage of Monaco’s coaches would increase his chances of finding a different club and forging a decent pro career in Europe, fulfilling his dreams and those of his family back in Conakry.” NY Times


Tottenham’s Defensive Issues: Fixing the Right Side

September 4, 2018

“After a 3-0 victory at Old Trafford last Monday night, it would be easy to presume that Mauricio Pochettino would be overjoyed. In the moment, he made all the right noises but by the time Friday had come round and he was doing the pre-match press conference ahead of this weekend’s Watford game, his mood had soured. StatsBomb


Claudio Marchisio, Andres Iniesta and football fans’ false memories

September 4, 2018

“This month marked the end of an era for Juventus, with former midfield general Claudio Marchisio ending his 25-year association with the club. ‘A thousand thoughts and a thousand images accompanied me throughout the night,’ the 32-year-old wrote of his decision to part ways with the club he joined as a child. Marchisio’s exit might have been overshadowed to a degree by Gianluigi Buffon also leaving Turin this summer, the World Cup winner having opted to see out his career with Paris Saint-Germain, but there’s something a little different about the departure of a man who has known no other home in his professional career.” The Set Pieces


Liverpool 1-0 Brighton

August 26, 2018


“Manager Jurgen Klopp said he still has ‘a lot of work to do’ after Liverpool’s hard-fought 1-0 victory over Brighton sent them top of the Premier League. Mohamed Salah, who scored 32 league goals last season, scored with a clinical strike midway through the first half at Anfield. … Liverpool, the only Premier League side with a 100% record after three games, are two points clear of champions Manchester City, who drew 1-1 with Wolves earlier on Saturday.” BBC (Video)


Sergio Agüero embraces defending to erase Pep Guardiola’s doubts

August 26, 2018

“Manchester City beat Huddersfield 5-1 in an FA Cup fifth-round replay in March last year. Sergio Agüero scored twice but post-match discussion centred largely on whether he had a future at the club. Pep Guardiola had made it clear he felt there were elements of the Argentinian’s game that did not fit with his vision and had brought in Gabriel Jesus with a view, it seemed, to easing him out.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Is Harry Kane Fine Now?

August 26, 2018

“Harry Kane scored a goal against Fulham last Saturday. It wasn’t a remarkable goal. Erik Lamela did most of the work driving through Fulham’s defense before freeing Kane on the left side of the penalty box. The Spurs striker cut back onto his right foot, shaking a defender to create enough space to finish precisely across the keeper, tucking the ball inside the right post. Fairly standard Kane type stuff. What makes that goal important is that for months Kane hasn’t been doing the standard stuff that turned him into a superstar.” StatsBomb


Gus Poyet melts down as Bordeaux go from crisis to crisis

August 26, 2018

“Crisis has become a part of day-to-day life at Bordeaux. Fan unrest, player indiscipline and the threat of relegation have become endemic across recent seasons. When Gus Poyet arrived at his press conference on Thursday evening, implosion was again imminent.” Guardian


Trained to Find Players, Bundesliga Insider Scouts for Scouts, Too

August 26, 2018


“LEVERKUSEN, Germany — The challenge, as Jonas Boldt sees it, is that soccer no longer has any secrets: no territory left uncharted, no stone left unturned, no gems still hidden. He knows, for example, that the coup that transformed his own career — which kick-started a journey that took him from intern at his boyhood club to his current post as sporting director of one of Germany’s biggest teams — almost could not happen now. The world has changed too much, become too small, too busy.” NY Times


Ronaldo’s wait for a goal continues as Juventus edge past Lazio

August 26, 2018

“TURIN, Italy — Along with the iconic Mole Antonelliana, Cristiano Ronaldo can see the tricolour dappled pylons of the Allianz Stadium from the balcony of his hillside “mega villa” overlooking Turin. Ever since the 33-year-old moved in, Juventus fans in the city below have been in reverential awe of him as if the green slopes behind the Gran Madre church were Piedmont’s own Mount Olympus; the home of a god, not a footballer.” ESPN


Manchester United lack clarity on and off the pitch – nowhere is that clearer than in the centre-back department

August 26, 2018

“DIEGO Godin, Harry Maguire, Yerry Mina, Toby Alderweireld… as each Brighton goal flew in on Sunday, Manchester United’s inability to land a centre-back came to seem more and more of an error. United were shambolic at the back, lacking leadership and organisation, an open door through which Brighton seemed not quite to be able to believe they could keep walking. For United that is a deeply worrying sign, for if there is anything Jose Mourinho has historically been good at, it is organising his back four.” Unibet – Jonathan Wilson


Unwavering in his philosophy, Marcelo Bielsa’s unique approach to the game is taking off at Leeds United

August 22, 2018


Marcelo Bielsa has never compromised his philosophy for anyone, after 30 years of coaching, and as he sits on top of a league he was told would be beyond him, why would he start now? Even after Leeds’ worst performance of the season last night at Swansea City, their 2-2 draw puts them just ahead of Middlesbrough at the top of the table on goal difference. It was a credit to their resilience, digging out a result when not playing well. But also to their ruthless manager, who hauled off key holding player Kalvin Phillips after 28 minutes, and left-winger Gjanni Alioski at the interval.” Independent (Video)


The Illusion Train

August 22, 2018

“As the referee’s whistle signaled the end of the 2018 World Cup final between France and Croatia, I confess that I wept, more from relief than from joy. The blunder by French goalie Hugo Lloris that allowed Croatia its second score had struck me as suicidal. It reminded me of Zinedine Zidane’s narcissistic, self-destructive foul in the 2006 final World Cup match, when the Italian defender Marco Materazzi allegedly insulted the French superstar and Zidane responded by attacking him, causing Zidane to be ejected and weakening his team to a degree that I felt cost France the game. Was there something in the collective unconscious of les Bleus that didn’t want France to win its second world title, following on the great triumph of 1998?” Harpers