The 10 best corner routines of the Premier League season… so far

“… Increased focus has led to more innovation, and corners are one aspect of the game to have benefited from this. Gone are the days of just putting it in the mixer. Now pre-planned moves are showing their effectiveness. In this piece, The Athletic breaks down the 10 most innovative corners this season. To narrow down the selection from more than two and half thousand so far this season to just over a hundred, only those that resulted in a goal were in contention. Additionally, the idea of the corner alone doesn’t put it into the top 10, its execution also factors into the equation. Let’s begin… …”
The Athletic (Video)

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Lionel Messi, PSG and what we’re hearing about his future

Lionel Messi in Paris. Will there be another season? That is one of the most important plotlines at play at the Parc des Princes right now and, judging by this week’s latest instalment of Parisian drama, a conclusion is still some way off. On Friday, Jorge Messi, the Argentinian forward’s father, posted a dramatic message on his Instagram story. It read: ‘Danger — FAKE NEWS!!!!’, followed by emojis of an exclamation mark, a radioactive symbol and a skull. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Are Bayern Munich really progressing under Julian Nagelsmann?

“Julian Nagelsmann might have imagined this stage of the season in many different guises when he resumed work after the World Cup. He almost certainly did not envisage this. His team will begin April with more games to shape the remainder of their campaign than they normally would at this stage, a legacy of the aforementioned break for the tournament in Qatar, but they will also make their way onto that road in an unfamiliar position of second place. Bayern Munich did not lose everything in Leverkusen, but any misapprehension under which they might have laboured under that this is a regular Bayern season is gone. …”
Guardian
W – Julian Nagelsmann

Italy vs England: Why is the match in Naples? How safe will it be for away fans?

Italy host England on Thursday night in the two sides’ first 2024 European Championship qualifier, with the match taking place at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Naples. The Azzurri haven’t played in Naples for 10 years but the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) does like to take the national team on tour to grounds throughout the country. So why Naples for this England match? What is the southern city’s relationship with the national team? What can the travelling England supporters expect? And what security measures will be in place after last week’s trouble between club fans in the city centre? …”
The Athletic (Video)

The strange career of Dele Alli

Dele Alli burst onto the scene as a 16 year old for MK Dons, by the age of 19 he was playing in the Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur and scoring goals for England. Twice voted PFA Young Player of the Year he would become one of Spurs’ most important players. Yet at the age of just 26 he is in the Turkish league struggling to make an impact at Besiktas. What went wrong for Dele Alli? Seb Stafford-Bloor writes, Craig Silcock illustrates.”
YouTube
W – Dele Alli

Liverpool must pull off the impossible at Real Madrid – this is how they do it

“The odds will be stacked against Liverpool when they walk out at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night. Real Madrid’s 5-2 win in the first leg at Anfield three weeks ago — Liverpool’s heaviest defeat at home in the Champions League — left Jurgen Klopp’s side on the brink of elimination. The champions of Europe, three goals up in their own stadium, against a team beaten by lowly Bournemouth last weekend. Logic suggests the tie is already done and dusted. …”
The Athletic (Video)
The Athletic – Real Madrid 1 Liverpool 0: Klopp’s team limp out – who can stop the champions?

Champions League Quarterfinal Draw Brings Intrigue to Wide-Open Field

“This has been an unusual season, with the break for the World Cup adding to a rare sense of unpredictability. This looks to be the most open Champions League in years, with the only side clearly in form, Napoli, never having previously gotten this far in the competition. It’s almost certainly too early to say the presence of three Italian sides in the quarterfinals represents the return of Serie A as a major power, 13 years since the last Italian winner, but that only one Spanish side got through the group is indicative of the financial difficulties La Liga sides are enduring. Wider trends are one thing, the specific ties another. After Friday’s draw, we assess the four quarterfinal ties. …”
SI – Jonathan Wilson

Can Rochdale avoid the drop?


Rochdale AFC’s Crown Oil Arena
“In the days when clubs at the bottom of the Football League had to seek re-election, Rochdale often had to rely on their old pals to maintain their status. Since automatic promotion and relegation began, Rochdale have not faced the ignominy of relegation to the National League, but if their present situation does not improve, a club with over 100 years of Football League heritage could find itself playing in the non-league game. Rochdale are currently bottom of League Two and six points from safety and they are five behind 23rd-placed Hartlepool United. There’s nine games to go, five of which are away from home for the ‘The Dale’. …”
Game of the People

Which Premier League club are best at penalty shootouts?

“Whether Arsenal and their fans are actually disappointed to have exited the Europa League or not, it happened. Of course, Mikel Arteta’s team didn’t lose to Sporting Lisbon in the competition’s round of 16 this week, they drew 3-3 on aggregate. As a result, the tie was decided by that classic invention of the 1970s, the penalty shootout. Shootouts are one of those elements of football where fans might have a reasonable grasp of their team’s record, and can usually recall some infamous moments from elsewhere — John Terry slipping in the rain in Moscow 2008, perhaps — but other than that, it’s a fairly nebulous concept. …”
The Athletic

El Clasico: What do Real Madrid really think about Barcelona corruption charges?

“On February 15, news emerged that prosecutors were investigating payments made by Barcelona to a man who, at the time, was vice-president of Spanish football’s refereeing committee. Just over a month has passed since and Barca have been charged with corruption over their relationship with Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, who received €7.3million (£6.4m; $7.8m) from the club between 2001 and 2018. Both parties have denied wrongdoing. …”
The Athletic

Alan Shearer on Wrexham’s Paul Mullin: ‘The ideal balance of selfless and selfish’


Paul Mullin is a star courtesy of Ryan Reynolds, Rob McElhenney and a brilliant documentary series that has transported Hollywood to north Wales. The 28-year-old centre-forward’s career had been low-key and he was something of a journeyman-in-waiting. Mullin graduated from Huddersfield Town’s academy but, after a brief spell on loan at sixth-tier Vauxhall Motors aged 20, left without playing a game for their senior side. He was picked up by Morecambe, then moved to Swindon Town, Tranmere Rovers and Cambridge United, where he finally made a name for himself. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Taking on the powerhouses: Grimsby’s golden age in the FA Cup


The 1939 FA Cup semi-final between Grimsby Town and Wolves carries on after the crowd had been on the pitch at Old Trafford.
“It’s hard to know what, in the year 2023, looks more far-fetched. That when Grimsby play Brighton on Sunday they will be attempting to reach the club’s third FA Cup semi-final, not the first; or that the previous runs to the last four, which included wins over Manchester City and Chelsea, had nothing to do with David or Goliath. Grimsby’s semi-final appearances in 1936 and 1939 were highlights of the greatest period in the club’s history. …”
Guardian

The Europa Conference League: an unlikely stroke of genius?

“When UEFA announced the introduction of a tertiary continental club competition, it’s fair to say that the idea received a lukewarm reception at best. While some, for various reasons, did instantly herald the UEFA Europa Conference League as a welcome addition to the European calendar, for the majority it appeared to be another maverick UEFA project – a concept formulated by a governing body seemingly more concerned with validating its own role against a backdrop of rising ‘super’ club power than adding real value to the game. Clearly, there were also financial motivations involved, with UEFA looking to eke out every ounce of commercial potential from its lucrative estate. …”
Football Paradise

Soccer’s Perpetual President: Why Gianni Infantino Can’t Lose

“KIGALI, Rwanda — Presidential politics hardly matter when so many voters want to be Gianni Infantino’s friend. Watch the soccer officials angle for handshakes and face time in stadium suites and marbled lobbies. See the federation presidents pull Infantino aside to thank him for the latest round of funding he has delivered. Glimpse the leaders from smaller soccer nations congratulate him on his successful effort to expand the men’s World Cup, spinning up more opportunity but also ever more money. …”
NY Times

From Sporting Lisbon to Athletic Bilbao — why do we get foreign clubs’ names wrong?

“After an entertaining 2-2 draw in Portugal last week, there’s much to look forward to in the return fixture between Arsenal and Sporting Lisbon. Say that to any of the travelling fans, though, and they won’t be happy. Sporting are not, as they are regularly referred to in the English-speaking press, ‘Sporting Lisbon’. They are Sporting Clube de Portugal officially, or Sporting CP, or simply Sporting. Whereas once this error was overlooked and forgiven, in recent years Sporting fans have become more militant about it. A ‘NOT Sporting Lisbon’ campaign on social media in 2016, launched by fans and supported by the club, made this clear. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox

Liverpool’s elite status under threat after timid exit from the Champions League

“‘Where’s the final next year? Istanbul? Book the hotel,’ declared a bullish Jurgen Klopp after last season’s Champions League final defeat in Paris. Let’s hope those rooms are refundable. Klopp expected the good times to keep rolling, but over the course of this troubled season, Liverpool have been repeatedly exposed as a fading force. This limp last-16 exit at the hands of Real Madrid simply confirmed it. …”
The Athletic

Why Arsenal and Zinchenko make so much sense

When Arsenal signed Manchester City pair Gabriel Jesus and Oleksander Zinchenko Arsenal fans hoped they would take them to the next level. Jesus would provide goals from the central forward position, but it was unclear what difference Zinchenko would make. Jon Mackenzie explains that Zinchenko’s unique tactical profile has given Arsenal a level of control they wouldn’t have otherwise. Illustrated by Philippe Fenner.
YouTube

Schalke’s fighting spirit, Bellingham’s troubles and Bayern boost their treble chances

“The 100th Revierderby ended in a draw, but just like the famous 4-4 in 2017 (Schalke came back from 4-0 down) and the 3-3 in 2008 (Dortmund came back from 3-0 down in Jurgen Klopp’s first derby at Signal Iduna Park), Saturday’s meeting produced one clear winner. Veltins-Arena was an explosion of noise and gratitude at the final whistle: Schalke had fought back twice to keep their unbeaten run of seven league games going. And with each week, the prospect of staying up, a possibility that appeared frankly ludicrous at the start of the winter break, is becoming stronger. …”
The Athletic
Guardian: Leipzig present a tough Champions League proposition to Guardiola

Ligue 1 relegation battle shows it pays to be decisive if sacking a manager

“Football clubs are often indecisive when the stakes are high. Too often they dither over transfers, dropping players who have lost form, or dismissing managers. The dangers of this approach has been on show in Ligue 1 this season, where the relegation of four clubs rather than the usual three has made the need for success even more acute than usual. Ligue 2 is a particularly difficult division to bounce back from, as St-Étienne are discovering. Having been relegated from the top flight last season, they are now 13th in the second tier. …”
Guardian

Will the Champions League stay in Europe?

“In April last year, the Paris Saint-Germain chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi provided a window into the backroom discussions of European football. Al-Khelaifi is best known as the Qatari face of PSG but his footprint is all over the sport. He is on the executive committee of UEFA (the European football governing body and organiser of the Champions League) and he is the chair of the European Club Association (which represents the interests of clubs who compete in European club competitions). Not only that, but he is also running the Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports (which holds the largest portfolio of broadcast rights in the sporting world, screening major sporting events across the Middle East, France, New Zealand, Turkey and the United States). …”
The Athletic

La Liga analysed: A record-breaking weekend but Rodrygo’s wait goes on

“You’ll never guess what score the Barcelona game finished on… For the eighth time in all competitions in 2023 — and the 11th this season — Xavi’s side ground out a 1-0 win as their seemingly inevitable march to the Spanish league title continues. From late, late goals to finishing woes, The Athletic’s Thom Harris takes you through some of the standout stats from another weekend of La Liga action. …”
The Athletic

Juventus beat Sampdoria amid tangled subplots worthy of Oscars

“The final scene was back-to-front, each actor playing the wrong part. Dejan Stankovic’s Sampdoria had just lost 4-2 to Juventus, a result that left them joint-bottom of Serie A amid ongoing concern that the club could face bankruptcy at the end of the season. Yet there he was at full time, pulling Dusan Vlahovic into an embrace and offering consolation to the striker whose team had just beaten his own. …”
Guardian

P.S.G.’s Star System Has Run Its Course

“Nobody at Paris St.-Germain seemed particularly upset at being knocked out of the Champions League. Christophe Galtier, the coach, made all the right noises, of course. It was a terrible disappointment, he said. A great shame, because this is a competition that really means a lot to the club. Very sad for all concerned. Kylian Mbappé, meanwhile, came across so phlegmatic that he seemed almost detached, as if the whole thing had happened only in the abstract. …”
NY Times

Union Berlin still dreaming after a night of snow and St Gilloise sucker-punches

“Eisern Union! Eisern Union!” — Iron Union.
“It’s one of the biggest nights in Union Berlin’s history and everyone’s here. On the train out of the city centre down to the Kopenick district, the carriages are full of the young and old, men and women, the loud, the quiet and the wild-eyed. Opposite me, an elderly woman wrapped in a red and white scarf stares out of the window and watches Berlin’s outskirts go by. Behind her, by the doors, three young men all in black, each with a dash of red somewhere, bang the glass and echo chants down the carriage. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Premier League relegation predictions – according to the data

“Things are getting serious at the bottom of the Premier League table. Just eight points separate Southampton (20th) and Crystal Palace (12th), with clubs so desperate to avoid the drop that six of the bottom ten sides have changed managers this season — and Southampton doing so twice. The financial incentive to stay in the division is huge, but with 15 games to go, who looks most likely to be playing Championship football next season? …”
The Athletic (Video)

Carlo Ancelotti: Football’s Greatest Unsung Coach?

“The stare. The brow. The outfit. Everything about Carlo Ancelotti is iconic to its core. He is a man that exemplifies class, and his accolades as both player and coach take him to a stratosphere that even the most revered in the game would struggle to contemplate. He is, in many ways, an enigma that manages to evade the adoration and relentless discussion that his talent deserves. Why is it, after so many years in the game and so many trophies won, that we fail to place Ancelotti in the category that so many managers with less success are put in with ease? …”
Football Paradise
W – Carlo Ancelotti

Why Italian football has no money

Clubs in Serie A are struggling to spend money. In January 2023 transfer window when the Premier League spent a combined total of 800m Euros, Serie A spent just 33m. But why? What is holding Italian clubs back from competing with their European counterparts? What are the main revenue streams, and why aren’t they fruitful? James Horncastle writes, Henry Cooke illustrates.
YouTube

Can Barcelona’s Alarcon and Torre follow in the footsteps of Gavi and Pedri?

“October 7, 2021. It was the international break, but it was far from a quiet day at La Masia. Barcelona’s renowned academy was still abuzz with the events of the previous night: one of their graduates who still lived in the club’s facilities had become the youngest player to feature for Spain at the age of 17. Gavi had been handed his international debut by then-Spain manager Luis Enrique in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals against Italy, in which La Roja came out 2-1 winners. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic – La Liga analysed: Barcelona’s binary scores and peerless Griezmann
Guardian: Sevilla dragged back into La Liga’s Sarlacc pit after Atlético annihilation

Asbjorn Halvorsen and Otto Harder – the story of two team-mates and a war


Halvorsen, centre, was a star for Hamburg before returning to his native Norway
“Hamburg train station, September 1933 – the scene for a farewell between two long-time team-mates who achieved so much together. Asbjorn Halvorsen was heading home to Norway. A midfielder with Hamburg, he had been a key part of their attack and one of German football’s first foreign stars. The other man – Otto Fritz ‘Tull’ Harder – had been the beneficiary of Halvorsen’s creativity. A clinical finisher with the strength of a removal man, Harder’s goals had powered Hamburg to German titles in 1923 and 1928. …”
BBC

Eternal rivals Lazio and Roma dreaming of the Champions League

“The Scudetto is still heading to Naples, but for one weekend Serie A belonged to the city of Rome. On Friday, Lazio toppled the league leaders at their own stadium. On Sunday, Roma beat the Juventus side who would be second if it weren’t for the 15-point penalty given to them at the start of this year. …”
Guardian

Bury, Macclesfield, Derby and whether a regulator would have saved crisis clubs

“English football has problems it cannot hope to solve by itself. Or so concluded the UK government last week, with the publication of a white paper that promises to reshape the national sport. A new era of independent regulation and tighter financial controls is coming and, under new proposals, no professional club can expect to escape the heightened scrutiny. Too many have been left damaged and hurt by financial mismanagement, too many are or were run by unsuitable owners. Reform was as necessary as it was unavoidable. …”
The Athletic

Borussia Dortmund go into combat mode before Chelsea showdown

“They say that history is written by the winners, but it never felt, before this season, as if Borussia Dortmund would be in the position to pick up their pen. Now, it might be different. It felt that way when Nico Schlotterbeck, the crown prince of defensive drama in these parts, saw Timo Werner’s late shot speed past Alexander Meyer, Dortmund’s stand-in goalkeeper, and reacted to clear off the line with a mixture of chest and shoulder, all but sealing the win. Schlotterbeck clenched his fists, celebrating it like a goal. …”
Guardian

Liverpool 7 Manchester United 0: Gakpo, Nunez and Salah run riot as Ten Hag’s men wilt


“Two goals each from Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah helped Liverpool power to a record win over Manchester United. Gakpo, the Netherlands forward signed from PSV Eindhoven in January, produced his best performance for Jurgen Klopp’s team, scoring two exquisite goals either side of Nunez’s 47th-minute header. Salah got in on the act with a fourth before Nunez got his second and the Egypt star completed his own double. Roberto Firmino, who confirmed this week he will be leaving at the end of the season, came off the bench to complete the rout. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic: Ten Hag has used ruthlessness and running but this Man Utd humbling needs a new response (Video)
Guardian: Ten Hag accuses Manchester United of being ‘unprofessional’ in Liverpool rout
BBC: Bruno Fernandes a ‘disgrace’ & Manchester United ‘eaten alive’ in Liverpool thrashing
Guardian: Salah and Liverpool make history with seven-goal rout of Manchester United

Explaining Borussia Dortmund’s best start to a year – and it’s Chelsea up next

Borussia Dortmund’s title charge is well and truly on. They held on to beat visitors RB Leipzig 2-1 on Friday and temporarily go three points clear of Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga. Bayern reclaimed top spot by beating Stuttgart on Saturday but the data company FiveThirtyEight measured the win over Leipzig as increasing Dortmund’s title chances from 14 to 19 per cent. Bayern (76 per cent) might be clear favourites to secure an 11th straight German championship, but Edin Terzic’s side are pushing them. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Explained: 100-minute Premier League matches next season but no concussion subs

FIFA’s clampdown on time-wasting is set to go global after football’s lawmakers signed off plans to encourage leagues worldwide to tighten up the enforcement of stoppage time. The decision was one of several confirmed on Saturday at the annual general meeting of the International Football Advisory Board, otherwise known as IFAB, and means that World Cup style-stoppage time, which saw 100-minute matches at Qatar 2022, could be seen in the Premier League next season. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Nelson’s winner for Arsenal was ludicrous – and may prove to be 2023’s Ulloa equivalent

“Mikel Arteta was at the Emirates Stadium for five years as a player, and has now been here for three more as a manager, and he hasn’t experienced anything like that. ‘That’s probably the loudest and the most emotional moment we’ve had here,’ he said after his Arsenal side turned a 2-0 deficit against Bournemouth with half an hour to play into a momentous 3-2 last-gasp win. …”
The Athletic

Liverpool, Napoli and the Problem With Systems


Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool has lost its edge.
“There is no such thing as a 4-3-3. The same goes for all those pithy threads of numbers that are hard-wired into soccer’s vernacular, the communal, universal drop-down list of legitimate patterns in which a team might be arrayed: 3-5-2 and 4-2-3-1 and even the fabled, fading 4-4-2. They are familiar, reflexive. But none of them exist. Not really. …”
NY Times

Grimsby Town: How community spirit (and blow-up haddocks) created an FA Cup fairytale

“Paul Hurst has got his priorities right. After his Grimsby Town team stunned Southampton to book an FA Cup quarter-final against Brighton & Hove Albion, he was apologising to the town’s school teachers who may have had sparse classrooms on Wednesday — and bleary-eyed pupils today. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Barcelona and Real Madrid, hated rivals who need each other more than ever


“It’s a frosty December morning in Madrid. But inside its swish Hotel Ritz, there is the warm buzz of money and power. Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and Barcelona counterpart Joan Laporta enter together, just as the breakfast event at which they are the star guests is about to begin. … Over recent decades, Perez and Laporta had so often been on opposite sides as Madrid and Barca battled for domination of La Liga — and regularly for control of the Champions League trophy, too. But events have driven them together, and these two historic rivals have become intertwined in a new love story which has huge consequences for the future of Spanish and European football. …”
The Athletic (Video)
The Athletic: Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona: Xavi’s side edge tight Copa Clasico (part one)
The Athletic – El Clasico: Can’t beat them? Join them. How Barca turned tables on Real Madrid
The Athletic: How Real Madrid’s versatile quartet shows Carlo Ancelotti at his experimental best (Video)
The Athletic – Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona: A Copa del Rey Clasico defined by ugly moments

Inside the Bundesliga’s VAR centre and the possibility of virtual reality

“Video assistant referee — rarely have three words elicited such controversy in football. The spotlight has been placed firmly back on VAR in the Premier League in recent weeks, after Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) chief refereeing officer Howard Webb apologised to Arsenal and Brighton over “significant errors” made in fixtures last month, followed by Lee Mason leaving his role as a Premier League VAR official following the high-profile error. …”
The Athletic

Barcelona: The Airbnb-ification of a once-unique style

“Barcelona — the city, like the club — is a victim of its own success. About a decade ago, still reeling from the global recession and high unemployment, Catalonia’s capital threw open its doors and a whole world of tourists poured in. Even if you weren’t there, you probably saw enough of the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell on Instagram to feel like you were. The open doors weren’t just a figure of speech: thanks to the app economy, millions of visitors spilt out of Barcelona’s hotels and into its chamfered apartment blocks, renting rooms and whole homes through companies such as Airbnb. …”
The Athletic (Video)
The Athletic: Barcelona slump again after European defeat. How bad will it be this year?
Guardian: Barcelona crumble ‘with no soul’ to anger Xavi and ‘give Real Madrid life’

Chelsea can add corners to the list of things going badly

“When there are nine minutes to play in a London derby, and you haven’t threatened all game, conceding the second goal practically ends it — especially when you have only scored four goals in 2023. Chelsea’s rotten run continues with another game without scoring and another loss. Tottenham’s 2-0 victory over Graham Potter’s side leaves Chelsea in 10th place, 14 points off the Champions League spots. …”
The Athletic

Concacaf Revamps Nations League, Unveils Copa America and World Cup Qualifying

“The U.S. will have to win just one of two potential home-and-away series against Concacaf opposition to qualify for the 2024 Copa América, the regional governing body revealed Tuesday as it unveiled its ’23–25 senior men’s competition structure. Next year’s Copa América, which will be staged in the U.S., will include six Concacaf qualifiers alongside the 10 South American nations that traditionally contest the prestigious tournament. Those six Concacaf teams will be furnished by a revamped 2023–24 Nations League, which will be streamlined for the region’s top-ranked countries. The Americans will get their first crack at qualifying for the Copa this November. …”
SI

The Fastest Premier League Sacking Ever

Patience with managers has long been a hot topic in football, especially in the demanding world of the Premier League. But in 2006 Charlton Athletic’s patience was wearing very thin as they stared relegation to the Championship down the barrel. Managers came and went, none quicker than Les Reed. This is the story of the quickest Premier League sacking ever. Written by Seb Stafford-Bloor, illustrated by Craig Silcock.
YouTube

The Premier League runout songs – from Star Wars to the Stone Roses


“One of the most memorable and/or toe-curling scenes from the documentary series Sunderland ’Til I Die came when budding Ministry Of Sound DJ/new club director Charlie Methven discussed mixing things up music-wise. To replace Dance Of The Knights, the foreboding Prokofiev piece which had been a staple at the Stadium of Light since it was built in the 1990s, Methven got out the figurative glow sticks and suggested they play Tiesto’s 2005 club smash Adagio For Strings. All while affecting a ‘Yeah, sure, I used to spin a little in my time… before I went to work for JP Morgan’ vibe, which didn’t quite mesh with the locals. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Pressure builds on PSG players, coach and director despite late win over Lille

“When PSG were trailing Lille 3-2 with 15 minutes to play, coach Christophe Galtier was joined on the touchline at the Parc des Princes. Famed sporting director Luis Campos, who engineered Lille and Monaco’s recent title-winning squads, left his usual seat in the stands to bark orders and complain about decisions. Although known to be fiercely opinionated, Campos’ ire spilling over in such a public fashion is unprecedented. After three consecutive defeats in three competitions last week, pressure is growing on Galtier. Campos, it seems, feels it too. …”
Guardian

How Should Fans Feel About Newcastle United?

“As he walked out of the tunnel and onto the field at St. James’ Park, Eddie Howe paused for a beat. Much of the time, Newcastle United’s manager makes a conscious effort to maintain the distance between himself and the effects of his work. It is a natural instinct, a self-defense mechanism. But for once, Howe could not stop himself from taking in the tableau. All around him, the steep banks of seats were filled with striped black-and-white flags. In the Gallowgate, the grandstand that serves as the stadium’s heart and lungs, there were banners for heroes current and past. …”
NY Times

Gladbach celebrate Groundhog Day after upsetting Bayern yet again

“Borussia Mönchengladbach’s social media team couldn’t resist it. As the final whistle blew on their result of the season, probably, of most seasons, there was a post to acknowledge the victory over Bayern Munich. Then, straight away, there was a still of Bill Murray’s misanthropic TV reporter Phil Connors, waiting for Punxsutawney Phil to pop his furry head out of the hatch, with no further comment. This was their, and the champions’, Groundhog Day. Because even against Bayern, Die Fohlen have been here before. …”
Guardian

The Oligarchs’ Derby


“Olympiacos called it the Match for Peace. On April 9 last year, a little more than a month after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Greek club staged a friendly with Shakhtar Donetsk. It was a heartfelt, poignant sort of occasion, the first game Shakhtar had played since it had fled a war in its homeland. Before the game, each of Shakhtar’s players emerged with Ukraine’s flag — cornfield yellow, summer blue — draped over their shoulders. Both teams’ jerseys were adorned with the slogan: ‘Stop War.’ All proceeds from ticket sales for the game, held at Olympiacos’s Karaiskakis stadium in Piraeus, would be used to help support refugees from the fighting. …”
NY Times

Manchester United takeover: ‘No assurance’ the Glazers are going anywhere

“For all the talk of a Qatari revolution or a local-lad-turned-billionaire buying Manchester United, it has been quite the week at Old Trafford. Season ticket prices are going up for the first time in over a decade, the club’s share price on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has taken a turn for the worse after a positive spike before Friday’s soft deadline for potential bidders and, oh yeah, the Glazer family are still firmly in control. …”
The Athletic

Ain’t Got No History? The Most Successful English Clubs

“A football club’s history is wielded as both a source of validation and a sad lament for the passing of better times. Arsenal fans concerned that their club haven’t been league champions for 17 years should think about how Sheffield United supporters feel about the 123 years that have passed since their club finished top of the pile in England. Can we definitively prove Preston supporters think about the year 1888 more than anyone else? No, but it’s true. …”
The Analyst

How Arsenal control games

Goals win games, and defences win titles, as Sir Alex Ferguson once said. But when a team concedes, or scores is just as important as conceding in the first place. In the first half of the season, during Arsenal’s ascent to the top of the Premier League, there has been a distinct pattern to when their goals have been scored. Jon Mackenzie analyses the data and suggests why Arsenal are so good at managing their games. Written by Henry Cooke.
YouTube

The five reasons Liverpool have a broken defence

“For all the talk about Liverpool’s impending midfield rebuild this summer, it is becoming increasingly clear they need to strengthen their backline, too. Defensive errors heavily contributed to Tuesday night’s chastening Champions League thrashing at the hands of Real Madrid. “I think we gave all five goals away and that means we could have done better,” admitted Jurgen Klopp. The sight of Liverpool capitulating wasn’t a one-off. Alarmingly, it was the eighth time in all competitions this season they have conceded three times or more. …”
The Athletic (Video)
NY Times: Real Madrid Leaves Liverpool Chasing Shadows of Itself
Guardian: Liverpool and Klopp face big task to limit fallout from Real Madrid fiasco

The Football Sustainability Index: How well run is your club?

“The coming days and weeks will bring the moment that sees English football forced to embrace change. The government’s white paper is expected imminently, crystallizing the key recommendations proposed by the exhaustive fan-led review of the national sport’s governance. Those in power have now concluded that football cannot carry on as it was. Too many clubs have been allowed to unravel. Some irretrievably so. Increased regulation, despite the Premier League’s lobbying, will finally be introduced in 2023. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Napoli attack space. So how did they adapt when Eintracht Frankfurt didn’t leave them any?

“… Glasner does not set Frankfurt up to dominate European games but Napoli had 70 per cent possession, outshot the hosts 18 to five and created three big chances — a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score — (including a penalty) without conceding any. This extends Napoli’s run to six straight wins, scoring at least twice in each and conceded just once. How did Napoli adapt their approach away to Frankfurt? …”
The Athletic

Pep Guardiola ‘delighted’ with Manchester City’s draw at RB Leipzig

“Pep Guardiola launched a characteristically counterintuitive defence of his approach after half-time in Manchester City’s draw against RB Leipzig. City were held to a disappointing 1-1 score in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, but despite being dominated for long periods of the second half Guardiola refused to make a single substitution, and afterwards explained that he was wary of Leipzig’s danger on the counterattack. …”
Guardian (Video)

How goalkeepers react to high-profile mistakes – according to the goalkeepers’ union

Loris Karius is set to make his first appearance in nearly two years in the Carabao Cup final for Newcastle this weekend. It comes in the same week Thibaut Courtois and Alisson both made high profile and uncharacteristic mistakes during Real Madrid’s Champions League win over Liverpool. So how will Karius, whose career has been defined by the errors he made against Real in the Champions League final in 2018, be preparing for a game he didn’t expect to be playing in? …”
The Athletic

Did the World Cup break PSG?

PSG’s seasons follow a similar pattern; summer full of big-name transfers, start the season with a bang, trail off towards the end of the season, and crash out of the Champions League. However, they have started to trail off even earlier this season, and look like losing out on the Champions League even earlier than usual. So what is different about this season? Has the mid-season World Cup had an impact? Jon Mackenzie writes, Marco Bevilacqua illustrates.
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Why Liverpool keep failing to beat Real Madrid: ‘They were almost mocking us’

“… As he basked in the glory of winning the Champions League last summer, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti’s reflections were telling. Their path to victory had included knockout ties with Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City, yet the Italian deemed Jurgen Klopp’s side the easiest to prepare for tactically. … The pair have faced each other four times during three Champions League campaigns between 2017-2018 and 2021-2022. On each occasion, Liverpool have been second best. If they have any hope of winning silverware this season, they need to change the narrative when the two meet in the first leg of the last 16 of the Champions League tonight.”
The Athletic

Liverpool not for sale: FSG have ruled out a full takeover, so what happens next?

“If the battle to assume ownership of Manchester United continues to intensify, Liverpool have quietly accepted now is not the time for their own takeover. Fenway Sports Group (FSG), it has become abundantly clear, are here for the foreseeable future. John W Henry, Liverpool’s principal owner, confirmed as much on Monday. …”
The Athletic (Video)