Daily Archives: March 24, 2010

‘Galacticos’ in Hell

The Hell, Coppo di Marcovaldo
“It has become a sign of spring: as swallows crowd the sky over Madrid, Real is eliminated at the knock-out stage of the European Champions League. Yet again, the richest club in the world has spent obscene amounts of money with the sole intention of winning the most important club competition in the world, but on March 10, they were knocked out from the last 16 for the sixth year in a row (in 2003, they were eliminated from the last eight).” (The New Republic)

African Teams Certain on World Cup, but Not on Coaches

“A World Cup campaign is usually a four-year process that starts when a national team engages in torturous self-examination immediately after its ouster from the last championship. Coaches are fired (or their contracts are not renewed) and aging players retire from the international scene. Even the winner is often in need of a new manager to enliven the roster and refresh tactics for the interspersed continental championship and next phase of World Cup qualifying.” (NYT)

The Cost of Ambition

“Of the three divisions in the Football League, the Championship is possibly the most fragmented both in terms of the relative sizes of its member clubs and, by extension, their ambitions. Whilst, with four or five exceptions, there is not a huge difference between the size of the clubs in Leagues 1 and 2, there exists great inequality within the Championship in this respect. There are, of course, many parameters dictating how big a club is – history, budget, stadium – but if we take attendance as a barometer, we can see that Newcastle get over five times the average attendance of Blackpool and Scunthorpe. As with everything in football, the pound sign rules supreme.” (thetwounfortunates)

World Cup Moments: The Bittersweet Brilliance Of Totaalvoetbal, 1974.

“Total Football is such a visual spectacle it seems unjust to describe it by words. It’s football’s art – that which requires no explanation, merely open senses. Fortunately we live in the YouTube era, and as such those spectacles are only a click away. The Johan Cruijff-won Oranje penalty – all ninety seconds of it – from the 1974 final against West Germany, along with a compilation of the side’s finest moments from their bittersweet tournament…” (World Cup Blog)

Is Barcelona’s alternative shape really a 4-2-4?

“Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side have generally played with a 4-3-3 since he took over nearly two years ago. His natural ‘plan B’ last season was to switch his striker, Samuel Eto’o, with his outside-right, Lionel Messi. Barcelona aren’t able to do that this season, because Eto’o has left the club, and been replaced by Zlatan Ibrahimovic – a magnificent player, but one who would be uncomfortable being deployed in a role away from the centre of the pitch.” (Zonal Marking)

More Shots the Merrier in Quest for Football Goals

“Bobby Charlton perfected his shooting technique through hours spent kicking a football against a concrete well. Oliver Bierhoff developed his predatory instinct by practicing with his eyes closed. Brazilian striker Romario even attributed his ability to stick the ball in the net to a penchant for late nights and love making. But what really separates football’s top goal scorers from the rest isn’t ice-cold nerves, a cannon shot or unerring accuracy. It’s being selfish.” (WSJ)