Play-Offs For A Champions League Place: Game 39 Revisited?

February 16, 2010


“Small wonder that Ian Watmore’s brain-child of ‘reforming’ the FA Cup senseless was leaked to the press at the weekend. No more than forty-eight hours after the story broke in the press (with more or less no fanfare anywhere other than in The Times, which broke the story), the Premier League comes up with its proposal to jazz up the end of the season. Their answer, a play-off for the fourth Champions League place, is an act of evil genius so simple that one is almost tempted to stand and give grudging applause. And let’s make this absolutely clear, this idea has nothing to do with evening things out or redistribution of money. It’s about the Premier League snatching the end of the season away from everybody else.” (twohundredpercent)

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It’s More than a Ball Game: Scottish Football and Culture

February 16, 2010

“The state and importance of Scottish football both fascinates and repels large parts of Scotland – but there can be little doubt that the condition of the game and how we see it throws light on Scottish culture and society. In the last week, I have watched Motherwell v Rangers and Aberdeen v Celtic live on TV, and went to the St. Johnstone v Dundee United cup tie. Taking all three of these together gives a number of pointers about the health of the game.” (Gerry Hassan)


A Brazil legend’s lasting legacy

February 16, 2010

“Brazilian football lost one of its all-time greats last week when Orlando Peçanha died at the age of 74. If he had to go, then maybe the forces of destiny and the gods of soccer thought it appropriate to take him on the eve of Carnaval. Perhaps they were trying to make a point, juxtaposing his loss with the start of the country’s great party. Because as revelers fill the streets from Rio to Recife, there are many who like to see Brazilian soccer as one giant Carnaval, everyone more concerned with having fun than with the result, in a fabulous land full of skilled strikers and inept defenders.” (SI – Tim Vickery)


European heavyweights meet again

February 16, 2010


“While the Champions League takes centre stage this week with the ever enticing first knockout round, arguably the biggest fixture of all is scheduled in the backwaters of Thursday night’s Europa League. Ajax vs. Juventus has been played out as a European Cup final as well as a Champions League final, and the sound of the fixture may well have the same effect on the ears of lovers of football history as the Madeleine cake in the mouth of Marcel Proust.” (ESPN)


World Cup Legends: Teófilo Cubillas (Peru)

February 16, 2010

“You may not have heard of Teófilo Cubillas, also known as ‘El Nene’ or ‘The Kid’. I was only vaguely aware of him until reading up a little (and watching a lot of YouTube) this weekend. But Teófilo Cubillas is arguably the greatest player in Peru’s history, and a player who more than made his mark at two World Cups – Mexico 1970, and Argentina 1978 – with a mix of dribbling, playmaking and long range shooting.” (World Cup Blog)


Beckham to put emotion to one side

February 16, 2010

“AC Milan’s press conference on the eve of their UEFA Champions League first knockout round first-leg tie against Manchester United FC was even more animated than usual as the massed ranks of the media jostled for positions at Milanello.” (UEFA)