Patrick Barclay’s debate replies: are Barcelona still the team to beat?

August 8, 2009

barcelona madrid team goal celebration
“Chelsea will be the team to beat this year. The partnership of Drogba and Anelka looked irresistible towards the end of last season, and if they carry that form into this season they will dominate almost any defence they come up against. I can see Ancelotti coping very well in his first season, and they are surely the favourites for the league and will almost certainly get to the CL final.” (Times)


Elizaga: It’s in our hands

August 8, 2009

“It was in early 2007 that opportunity knocked for Argentinian goalkeeper Marcelo Ramon Elizaga and, true to form, he grasped it firmly with both hands. Having spent the previous two seasons in Ecuador with Emelec, Elizaga was approached by then Tricolor coach Luis Fernandez Suarez, who offered the custodian the chance to join the national-team set-up should he take Ecuadorian nationality.” (FIFA)


Unshakeable optimism at Celtic

August 8, 2009

“The list was not exhaustive but it could exhaust all hope. Mark Venus, the Celtic assistant manager, was asked yesterday about the players side would have to watch in their Champions League play-off tie against Arsenal. ‘Fabregas, Arshavin, Nasri, Rosicky, Diaby, Sagnol, Eboue, Van Persie, Clichy they are a good team,’ he said. But if this seemed like a litany of despair, then fear not. Venus and Tony Mowbray are the Chuckle Brothers of European football. Their optimism knows no bounds.” (The Herald)


Early Football Fitness: Smoke

August 8, 2009

spender3
Bolton, Burnden Park
“That’s Widnes there, the chemical town where I was born. There are several versions of this photograph in circulation, and this is the mildest. The others have had additional smoke added: perhaps the photographer knew of worse places, and wished to compete. I came along some 12 years after the Clean Air Acts, and still had acute bronchities and asthma throughout my childhood. Football training in the Victorian and Edwardian periods is subject to an urban myth, one you’ll recognise straightaway: starve the players of the ball during the week, coaches are meant to have said, and they’ll be all the hungrier for it on Saturday afternoon.” (More Than Mind Games)


Do Supporters Need A Villain?

August 8, 2009

“Football supporters thrive on animosity. We need to be able to shake our fists in the air and yell all the bad words at our hated teams and players. When Jose Mourinho left Chelsea, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, a gifted manager of a rival team was out the door. I wouldn’t have that same level of dread when Liverpool faced Chelsea.” (EPS Talk)


How Michael Owen can make something out of sweet nothing

August 8, 2009

“For football, summer used to be the close season – or perhaps that should have been the closed season. Either way the game more or less shut down for three months and was pushed to the back of the nation’s mind while cricket, Wimbledon, the Open and the big race days took centre stage.” (Guardian)