Monthly Archives: August 2010

Bologna 0-0 Inter: Benitez starts with bore draw

“A low-key game with few goalscoring opportunities – the result was celebrated by managerless Bologna like a win. The home side included new signings Andrea Esposito, Matteo Rubin, Gyorgy Garics and Albin Ekdal in a 4-1-4-1 system that saw Belgian midfielder Gaby Mudingayi sitting very deep in front of his defence, with Marco di Vaio isolated upfront. Rafael Benitez used the 4-2-3-1 formation that Inter played towards the end of last season, and the system Benitez favoured at Liverpool. Maicon was unavailable so Javier Zanetti started at right-back.” (Zonal Marking)

Aston Villa 1-0 Everton: Villa strike early, then hold on
“A bizarre game that Everton dominated from start to finish, and yet still managed to lose. Stephen Ireland suffered an injury in the warm up, so Nigel Reo-Coker replaced him in the centre of midfield. James Collins returned at the back, and Gabriel Agbonlahor wasn’t fit enough to start, so John Carew continued upfront.” (Zonal Marking)


Late August looks at Bundesliga and Serie A

“As per usual action in Germany’s top-flight commenced on the Friday, and for the second week in succession Bayern Munich got things under way. Unfortunately for Louis van Gaal, they didn’t quite gets things all their own way. Much to the delight of a rapturous home-crowd in Kaiserslautern, the 2009/10 2. Bundesliga champions defeated the illustrious treble-winners by a comfortable two-goal margin.” (Tactics, analysis, opinion, & scouting)

England manager Fabio Capello snubs Joe Cole for Euro 2012 qualifying matches

“The variety and skills offered by the new Liverpool player have been overlooked with the England manager instead selecting five wingers, including Shaun Wright-Phillips and Ashley Young. In another surprising move, Capello has picked Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe, despite the Tottenham Hotspur pair being doubtful with injuries. Capello wants them to report to The Grove at 4pm today, when Crouch’s rib problem and Defoe’s hernia complaint will be assessed.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter)

My Favourite Footballer…Rivaldo

“So, why do I love Rivaldo? A player who I’ve hardly had the opportunity to see live, whose peak coincided with my milk teeth falling out, and whose reputation was tarnished by play-acting? Rivaldo’s own audacious brand of football is what endeared him to me. His fondness for the outrageous; stepovers, heel flicks, volleys, pannas, bicycle kicks, the list goes on – he tried, and executed, them all to perfection.” (The Equaliser)

The Arsenal Fanshare: Supporter Ownership or Pipe Dream?

“In a league of Abramoviches and Glazers, and mid-ranking clubs dreaming of oligarchs and oil barons to bail them out, Arsenal’s owners have always stood out as somewhat of a curiosity. Yes, they may have both a Russian tycoon in Alisher Usmanov and an American billionaire investor in Stan Kroenke, but the club has been run by the Hill-Wood family since 1929 and takes pride in their plurality of ownership. What’s more, unlike several of England’s bigger clubs, the relationship between the board and the fans has always been generally good.” (Pitch Invasion)

Signaling – and Sharing – your Sports Fandom

“Here are a few more reflections inspired by the discussion over at Overcoming Bias of nerds using game-playing to signal social messages to the world outside the game. (Robin Hanson’s original post was here, my first extrapolation to the situation of sports fans was here, and his brief comment on that is here.) This Sporting Life is largely about making sense of the connoisseur fan’s experience of sports. In what ways is appreciating a great sporting performance in the same league, so to speak, with other valued human experiences — especially of the arts?” (This Sporting Life)

Bills rise as clock ticks down for Brazil

“Along with the other candidates to host the World Cup in 2018, England had to select its host cities and stadiums well in advance. And so earlier this month, the Fifa inspection committee could ride the tube, visit the venues, talk to officials and end up with a firm idea of what they will be getting if England gets the nod. It is unfortunate that the 2014 hosts did not have to go through a similar process.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)

The alternative Champions League

“The football in the CONCACAF Champions League is like Latin American food, low quality but lots of it. In comparison to Europe or South America, CONCACAF is definitely a poor relation. So why am I writing about it, and more importantly why should you read about it? From the tattoo of Che of Maradona’s arm to Emilio Médici linking Brazil’s World Cup win in 1970 to his military dictatorship, football and politics in Latin America are joined at the hip. The CONCACAF region pits the very richest against some of the poorest nations in world football, and more often than not the poor ones win, for the time being at least.” (In Bed with Maradona)

Blackburn 1-2 Arsenal: Wing play the perfect escape from aerial bombardment

“In the face of wanton intimidation Arsenal never cowered but out-fought such typically irksome opponents. Sam Allardyce had yet to lose at home to Arsenal since 2002 and was similarly undefeated last season at Ewood Park to each of the “big four” through a bullish and no-nonsense style. It may be a divided style in England at least but there is no doubt that for a side like Blackburn it can level the playing fields somewhat against what is known as superior opponents. For a good part of the game Arsenal survived a barrage of long passes – and throws – and with the growing confidence of Theo Walcott in particular found an outlet to exploit Blackburn’s in mobility.” (Arsenal Column)

AZ 1-1 Excelsior: how to execute a 4-1-4-1…

“It’s only slightly over a year ago that Dirk Scheringa’s AZ broke the 27-year span in which either Ajax, PSV or Feyenoord won the Eredivisie title. However, things look rather different for AZ at present. The worldwide financial problems induced the bankruptcy of Scheringa’s DSB Bank, AZ’s main sponsor since 1993 and the driving force behind their success, culminating in the Eredivisie title of 2008/09.” (11 tegen 11)

Title defence begins with 3-0 win over Racing

“David Villa scored his first league goal for Barcelona, as the Spanish champions opened their La Liga campaign with a comfortable win at Racing Santander.” (FC Barcelona Web)

Racing Santander 0-3 FC Barcelona – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – La Liga
“FC Barcelona kicked off the 2010-11 Spanish Primera Division (aka La Liga) season with an away match against Racing Santander. The match highlights can be found here at Free Soccer Highlights.” (The 90th Minute)

RIP Francisco Varallo

“The football World Cup today lost one of its final links with its origins, when Francisco Varallo, the former Boca Juniors forward, died in the early hours in La Plata, aged 100 years and six months. He had been the last living player to take part in the final of the inaugural tournament in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1930, when Argentina lost to the host nation 4-2. When Martín Palermo finally, in 2008, became Boca Juniors’ highest goalscorer of the professional era, it was Varallo’s record he’d surpassed.” (Hasta El Gol Siempre)

La Liga campaign kick-offs

“As the new La Liga campaign kick-offs in Spain we travel to Madrid and Barcelona. Can Jose Mourinho turn his squad of under-achieveing Galaticos into a winning team? And is the dominance of Spain’s two biggest clubs a cause for concern? We also visit Milan as the Italian season gets underway and talk to the former Juventus and Chelsea striker gianluca Vialli.” (BBC)

Torres nets winner

Hubert Robert, The Old Bridge
“Striker Fernando Torres may still be some way short of his lethal best but he underlined his quality – and importance to Liverpool – with a brilliant strike to defeat 10-man West Brom at Anfield.” (ESPN)

Liverpool’s Fernando Torres ends goal drought against West Bromwich
“Fernando Torres scored for the first time since April to put a flattering gloss on Liverpool’s performance against West Bromwich Albion this afternoon. Roberto Di Matteo’s side, who had James Morrison sent off late on, were a comfortable match for Liverpool throughout but one touch of class from the Spain international gave Albion another painful lesson away from home.” (Guardian)

Tottenham Hotspur take their seat at Michel Platini’s grandest party

“The competition’s anthem is a stirring call to arms, a signature tune for excellence and, as Spurs fans will soon appreciate, the opening bars to an extraordinary symphony conducted with a baton of iron by Uefa. Briefly deemed under the sway of greedy clubs, the Champions League is now utterly ruled by Michel Platini, the Uefa president.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter)

Barcelona: Mascherano to be Used in Double Pivot?

Javier Mascherano
“When I previously wrote about how signings will affect Barcelona’s squad, I naively assumed that Guardiola’s summer transfers were over. Then, possibly their two biggest transfers were completed – Javier Mascherano was signed from Liverpool and big money signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sent out on loan (with a view to a permanent move) to AC Milan.” (A Tactical View)

Manchester United 3-0 West Ham: a slow start, but a comfortable victory for United

“Manchester United struggled to get going, but were always comfortable after Wayne Rooney ended his goal drought from the penalty spot. Avram Grant set West Ham out in a conservative 4-1-4-1 system, with Scott Parker deep in midfield. Grant chose to field Kieron Dyer on the left of midfield, and Luis Boa Morte in a central role. Mark Noble was the central midfielder with most license to get forward and support Carlton Cole.” (Zonal Marking)

Who can stop Inter?

“Serie A 2010-11 club by club previews. Get ready for the big kick off as we give you a unique lowdown on all 20 Serie A teams. (Football Italia)

Tactical battles await in Serie A
“A valuable lesson was learned by the Italian FA (FIGC) during the World Cup in June: when things go wrong, when the national tem performs lousily and has a worrying lack of young players ready to step up and replace tired veterans, do what all authorities seem to do in a crisis – panic.” (ESPN)

All change in Italy but expect a similar outcome

“‘Everything must change so that everything can stay the same,’ Italian novelist Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa wrote in The Leopard. The famous phrase is often used to describe the way cosmetic change is used to cover a lack of real reform in Italy’s political, economic and social spheres, but it may also be applicable to the country’s top-flight football this season. It’s all change at the big clubs, with three of the big four starting the campaign with new coaches. Nevertheless, the expectation is that we’ll have the same story of the last four seasons since the Calciopoli scandal shook things up, with Inter proving too good for the other contenders.” (WSC)

Tactics: How the Premier League title contenders shape up

“The Premier League season is less than two weeks old, but a look at how the top sides lined up in their opening matches provides an interesting indication of how they plan to approach the season from a tactical perspective. The diagrams below, screenshots from the ESPN Soccernet website, show the average positions adopted by the players from Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool in their teams’ opening home games of the season. (Data is taken only from home games because ESPN’s average position diagrams inexplicably go a bit haywire for away teams.) Average position diagrams do not give a water-tight representation of a team’s formation – which is necessarily in a constant state of flux – but they do offer useful insights into basic shape.” (Football Further)

Blackburn 1-2 Arsenal: Arsenal’s passing game prevails

“Arsenal emerge with the points after a professional display in a decent match. Sam Allardyce chose to use the two Dioufs either side of Nikola Kalinic upfront, and continued to use Phil Jones ahead of the back four, in a very defensive midfield role. Vince Grella also came into midfield – Allardyce seems to see him as a ‘big game player’, since his three starts in 2010 have come against Arsenal (twice) and Manchester United, and the two before that were against Tottenham and Liverpool.” (Zonal Marking)

Blackburn Rovers 1-2 Arsenal – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – EPL – 28 August 2010
(The 90th Minute)

The Ball Day 51 – Visiting the Dogon Country pt. 2

“Here is part 2 in Phil and Andrew’s trip visiting the Dogon Country in Mali. Catch them stumbling across a village funeral procession before heading out to the hills for some sunset soccer action. Music in this EP from a The Ball favorite Iba Diabaté with ‘Wala Yalala’ which you could download from here. Then we round out the EP with a track from Konteh Kunda and the great track ‘Jaraby’ that you can download from here or from iTunes. Both artists from the ever expanding Akwaaba Music stable, real African music direct from the source.” (Blip)

La Liga 2010-11 season preview

“Every summer, football clubs all over the world throw their money away. In Granada CF’s case, quite literally. One morning in July, the Spanish second-division team awoke to find that the money earned from season-ticket sales — which it had handily “stored” in bin bags — had been thrown out by the cleaner. Already racked by debt and in administration, Granada had lost an estimated $500,000 thanks to a woman with a mop and bucket. Luckily, in the end most the cash was found in a recycling box.” (SI)

Cheick Tioté

“Unlike the majority of their Premier League counterparts, Newcastle United’s squad seems to askew cosmopolitanism. Buttressed by an English spine, you can almost taste its Carling-flavoured depth. This isn’t to suggest Geordies are a xenophobic bunch – rather, it’s a reflection on a monotonous birthplace-list nestling in a place where Wigan Athletic don’t include a single Englishman in their first-XI.” (Defensive Midfielder)

My Favourite Footballer…Ian Rush

“Thanks to growing up with boys – I’ve got five brothers – I started watching football out of boredom as I didn’t want to spend the whole time alone by myself. That was how it all began. I wasn’t even born when he was at his peak with Liverpool but, thanks to the genius invention of video recorders (and my brothers) I was able to relive the unseen action later in life. He is the reason why I became a Liverpool fan, “he” of course being the unstoppable Ian Rush. The legendary Welsh number nine who wrote history at Anfield.” (The Equaliser)

Tottenham 4-0 Young Boys: Much-improved Spurs progress with ease

“A routine victory for a Tottenham side that always looked in control, and are now into the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history. Harry Redknapp made a few changes to last week’s side – Peter Crouch replaced Roman Pavlyuchenko (who, despite his late wondergoal, was awful in the first leg), whilst Tom Huddlestone came into the midfield alongside Wilson Palacios, Aaron Lennon was selected instead of Giovani dos Santos, and Ledley King got a start too.” (Zonal Marking)

Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 Young Boys – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Champions League
“Tottenham Hotspur hosted Young Boys in the second leg of the playoff round in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, August 25, 2010. The score was 3-2 in favor of Young Boys after the first leg but Spurs would only need a 1-0 win to advance because of away goals.” (The 90th Minute)

Auxerre 2-0 Zenit: Two goals from corners and two red cards
“Auxerre progress thanks to two goals from corner-kicks, against a frustrating nine-man Zenit side. Jean Fernandez made one change from the first leg, surprisingly dropping Walter Birsa and bringing in Roy Contout in the left-wing position. Otherwise, they played the same conservative 4-4-1-1 system, with Anthony Le Tallec trying to combine with Ireneusz Jelen upfront.” (Zonal Marking)

Ajax 2-1 Kiev: midfield changes win the game for Ajax
“Ajax beat Kiev 2-1 to advance to the group stages of the Champions League. In a match that, in the end, brought both relief and confidence, Ajax’ common 4-2-3-1 had a tough time against Kiev’s defensive 4-4-2. Jol’s essential midfield adjustments turned the game around, and in a climatic closing ten minutes, Ajax managed to get away with a 2-1 victory.” (11 tegen 11)

Roy Hodgson accuses Internazionale of breaking word over Dirk Kuyt

“Roy Hodgson has accused Rafael Benítez of reneging on an agreement not to sign Liverpool players after Dirk Kuyt’s agent claimed the Holland international wants to leave for Internazionale. The Liverpool manager received an assurance last week from Massimo Moratti, the Inter president, that the European champions had ended their interest in Kuyt and Javier Mascherano, who has since become a target for Barcelona.” (Guardian)

Messi to Madrid!

“Ah, summer, when the breezes blow and the international soccer media lose all contact with reality. If you thought the World Cup was the only highlight of the season, or that soccer fans should concern themselves only with events that happen in the real world, then you have been missing one of the game’s distinctive pleasures. I refer, of course, to transfer gossip, a popular but critically underappreciated genre of soccer writing comprising frothy speculation about players shifting teams, usually in exchange for massive sums of money. In most European leagues, the summer transfer window—one of two periods during which teams are allowed to buy and sell players—runs from the first day of July to the last day of August, meaning that the peak of the summer transfer-gossip season is now upon us.” (Slate)

The Highs And Lows Of Slovak Football

“The Slovak National Team certainly made an impact on world football this summer in South Africa dumping holders Italy out of the World Cup in dramatic style. Their 3-2 victory at Ellis Park Johannesburg was one of the most exciting matches of the tournament, and reaching the last 16 was an achievement way beyond expectations for the nation of 5.5 million people playing at their first ever major tournament.” (In Bed with Maradona)

Sampdoria 3-2 Werder Bremen (AET): Pazzini puts Sampdoria in charge, but subs prove crucial

“An amazing second leg of a superb tie sees Bremen progress thanks to a dramatic late show, whilst Sampdoria must settle for the Europa League. Both teams changed shape from the first leg, with plenty of personnel changes too. Sampdoria set out with a strange formation vaguely resembling a 4-4-2 diamond (more on that later), with Stefano Guberti and Daniele Dessena starting in midfield, and Marius Stankevicius replacing the suspended Stefano Lucchini.” (Zonal Marking)

Football: A Question of Interpretation

Wassily Kandinsky, Project for Yellow, Red, Blue
“The beauty of football is that it is essentially a subjective pastime, it can be as simple or as complex as the individual wishes it to be. There is no one way to watch football, no template for interpretation, no defined set of behaviours to adhere to. Football can be mathematical, it can be scientific, it can be poetic and it can be abstract. The same simple action can be delineated in a multitude of ways, each as improbable as the last.” (The Equaliser)

Getting The Hang Of Football On The Internet

“In no small part, the print media and the film and music industries both made the same mistake with the arrival of the internet. They both reacted to slowly at first to the new technology and both are repenting their tardiness at their leisure. The print media have been unable – yet – to find a method that successfully been able raise revenue from the shift to online viewing (and the silence from The Times after their paywall went up would seem to indicate that the numbers probably haven’t been spectacular, although Rupert Murdoch has described them as “strong”), but how will football, which has been happily wedded to television for the last two decades or so, react to changes in viewing habits?” (twohundredpercent)

Serie A 2010-11 season preview

“The gloomy headlines are as familiar to followers of Serie A as the six o’clock alarm to Phil Connors during a stay in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Italian football is not so much trapped in groundhog day as groundhog season, but the editorials are just as repetitive. Season ticket sales are down and marquee names have left. There’s violence in the stands and on the pitch. Debt levels are mounting and Serie A’s clubs are at loggerheads with the national federation.” (Guardian)

Man City 3-0 Liverpool: Hodgson’s 4-4-2 completely outplayed

Joseph Parrocel, Combat de Leuze, 18 September 1691
“A dominant performance from City, who weren’t flattered by the 3-0 scoreline. Roberto Mancini made changes on his wings, bringing in James Milner and Adam Johnson for Shaun Wright-Phillips and David Silva. Mario Balotelli wasn’t fit, and Emmanuel Adebayor was omitted. Joleon Lescott played at left-back in the absence of Aleksandar Kolarov.” (Zonal Marking)

The Monday Night Match: Manchester City 3-0 Liverpool
“Well, that’s one question answered, at least. Those that had been wondering how long it would take Manchester City’s diamond-encrusted team to gel this season have their answer, and it is quite a specific one – give or take a few seconds, it took one match and twelve minutes before the team clicked into place and from then on the result of this evening’s match was never in a great deal of doubt. While City gelled, Liverpool were oil and water.” (twohundredpercent)

City smash sorry Reds
“Manchester City flexed their enormous muscles at Eastlands tonight to delight the man who made it all possible and deliver their biggest beating of Liverpool since 1937. Sheikh Mansour could not have picked a better night to watch the team he has spent £1 billion on in a league game for the first time.” (ESPN)

City slickers hit their stride
“Once deemed the final piece in the jigsaw, then a cause of controversy, now the architect of their downfall, Gareth Barry has become a byword for bad tidings for Liverpool. This is the player for whom Rafa Benitez was willing to sacrifice Xabi Alonso, the one he really wanted when the club bought Robbie Keane and the man who became the reason for escalating tensions.” (ESPN)

Manchester City roll back the years as Mancini’s mentality takes hold
“The first thing to say about Manchester City is that for a team of fractious individuals, mercenaries and strangers, only there for the money – and, please, can someone explain how they are possibly going to keep them all happy? – and led by an unpopular manager who doesn’t speak to the players (and will probably be gone by Christmas anyway), they didn’t do too badly, did they?” (Guardian)

Manchester City 3-0 Liverpool – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – EPL
“Manchester City played their first home match of the 2010-11 EPL season with a match against Liverpool on Monday, August 23, 2010. The match highlights can be found here at Free Soccer Highlights.” (The 90th Minute)

Central players World Cup 2010

“Soccer analysis focuses on particular moments of the game, usually highlights or events preceding a goal. Goals are nice to watch and few events preceding the goal keep it comprehensible. Advanced chess players might be able to do better, but in general we memorize around seven to nine events. In the short term, judging player performance is based on seven to nine actions. Let alone putting those actions back in to team perspective.” (Sport Analysis)

A Mental Game: Pain

“Author’s note: It’s that time of year again where I’m preparing to teach several sections of Intro Psychology, so I thought I’d try to combine purposes and put something together drawing on the section addressing sensation and perception. It is apropos of nothing in particular, but does fit with my occasional series on ‘a mental game’ where I’ve written about sports psychology, group conflict, and happiness.” (Pitch Invasion)

The Price Of Inter’s Success

Wesley Sneijder
“There’s no doubt that the 2009/10 season was a triumphant one for FC Internazionale, better known as Inter, as they became the first Italian team to complete the treble by winning the scudetto, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League in a single year. In fact, Inter have been the dominant force in Italian football ever since the Calciopoli scandal in 2006, winning five league titles in a row, the first time this has been done since Juventus achieved the feat in the 30s.” (The Swiss Ramble)

Thoughts from the weekend: River vs Independiente

“I’m going to start a series today based on my thoughts about the match (or one of the matches) I attended over the weekend in the Argentine Primera División. The weekend just gone, that was Sunday’s clásico between River Plate and Independiente. The home side need as many points on the board as early as possible in their battle against relegation, whilst the visitors had started the season underwhelmingly and, after last year’s title challenge, remain impatient for a win. I headed to the match to see whether Ángel Cappa had managed to improve his team with a proper pre-season.” (Hasta El Gol Siempre)

Dortmund 0-2 Leverkusen: Dominance down the right decides the game in the first half

“An interesting game here, because a 4-4-2 defeated a 4-2-3-1 – intriguing, in the light of Sampdoria, Tottenham and Liverpool’s recent problems with 4-4-2. Dortmund played a fairly basic 4-2-3-1 system, with the main point of interest being the debut of Japanese international Shinji Kagawa, a highly-rated attacking midfielder signed over the summer from Cerezo Osaka.” (Zonal Marking)

Pelé as an Ideal

“The end of my years as a teenager is approaching, which means I am soon to leave behind my life’s last opportunity to believe that I know everything. Already I can feel uncertainty slipping into parts of my mind that were once ironclad, airtight. “Is America really the best country on earth?” I ask myself. “Is there any substantive evidence to suggest that my 8th grade Social Studies teacher is the devil?” The perfect life I designed for myself seems increasingly unlikely by the day.” (Run of Play)

Pelé in Brazil
“When I asked to interview Pablo and Dennis about Pelé they both responded with furrowed brows. Neither one liked Pelé, they explained. Pablo called him an idiot. ‘Perfect!’ I said. I chose Dennis and Pablo because they are both Brazilian. That’s it. Just being Brazilian may not seem like much to go on, but it’s a start. If we are really going to figure this Pelé thing out, we need to explore as many perspectives as possible. This is the perspective of two regular dudes that happen to be from Brazil.” (Run of Play)

World Cup Memories

“A month after the end of the World Cup, I think it is about time I close a few tabs on my browser that have been holding particularly memorable reflections on that delirious month in the early summer. Here are a few quotes. I like this from the English novelist Tim Parks, in the New York Review of Books. First, a nice observation about FIFA’s attitude to cheating…” (This Sporting Life)

Neymar hailed for Premier League snub

“Neymar saying no to Chelsea’s millions and staying with Santos is being seen as a huge victory for Brazilian football. This might be going just a little too far but more than anything else, it is a victory for common sense. The 18-year-old is a magnificent prospect. He is sleek and skilful, able to beat the defender on either side, capable of combining well, and full of tricks he can put to productive use in and around the penalty area. He is a goalscorer and goal maker but he is still raw.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)

A Glance at the Premiere of the Premiership

“There is a saying – familiarity breeds contempt. However, for the attacking trident of Chelsea, a keen understanding and movement has led to a whopping 12-0 goal differential and two wins. Granted, neither West Brom nor Wigan will be fighting for titles this season, but…but…but…six goals is six goals is six goals. Malouda was at his thoughtful best, anticipating a Lampard shot and pouncing on the rebound. Anelka followed a classy far-post finish with a right-place-at-the-right-time header (read: offside).” (futfanatico)

Sports Writing Blues

“Lately, I find I do not have much to say. In June and July I watched all but two World Cup matches, read enormous amounts of football journalism, and contributed to the genre in my own way via this blog and daily podcasts for The People’s Game. I loved this – especially the podcasts which gave me a chance to talk with bloggers I’ve been reading, who define my ‘imagined community.’ But by the end, I found that I had less and less to say.” (From A Left Wing)

Fulham 2-2 Manchester United: exciting game, fair result

“Brede Hangeland scored late on at both ends in a frantic finale to a superb game. Fulham brought in Clint Dempsey and Paul Konchesky, with Mark Hughes sticking to the 4-2-3-1 shape that brought Roy Hodgson such success last season. Wayne Rooney was out, so Sir Alex Ferguson gave Javier Hernandez his first Premier League start, and selected Park Ji-Sung rather than Nani on the left – otherwise the team was the same as in their opening game of the season.” (Zonal Marking)

Football transfer rumours: Dirk Kuyt or Roque Santa Cruz to Inter?

“On the eagerly-awaited day in which Sky Sports News leaves freeview and launches in “stunning high definition”, it’s difficult to imagine how anything so mundane as the football equivalent of a mart report could overshadow such a landmark event. Admittedly, the Rumour Mill has no idea what difference the switch to stunning high definition is going to make to a channel we spend so much time gazing at we refer to it, simply, as “the news”. Perhaps the breaking news ticker that rolls across the bottom of the screen informing us that Stilian Petrov has mislaid a pair of shorts will be even more yellow. Perhaps Charlotte Jackson will turn out to be flawed.” (Guardian)

Benitez begins Inter reign with Supercoppa triumph

Claude Gellée, Idyll: Landscape with a Draughtsman Sketching Ruins
“Inter Milan earned their fourth piece of silverware in 2010 by lifting the Italian Supercoppa with victory over Roma; Rafa Benitez’s first trophy with the Nerazzurri. John Arne Riise put the visitors in front in the 21st minute, but Goran Pandev levelled four minutes before the break. Samuel Eto’o scored in the 70th and 80th minutes to give Rafa Benitez a winning start on the Inter bench and earn the Nerazzurri their first success of the 2010-11 season.” (ESPN)

Inter Milan (Internazionale) 3-1 AS Roma – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Super Cup
“The 2010 Italian Super Cup, the introduction of the domestic season, featured Inter Milan taking on AS Roma at the San Siro. The match highlights can be found here at Free Soccer Highlights.” (The 90th Minute)

Newcastle 6-0 Aston Villa: Carroll the main man as Newcastle run riot

“A huge win for Newcastle thanks to two main factors – they won the midfield battle, and had a clear gameplan when they had the ball. Chris Hughton kept faith with the eleven players that started well but faded badly against Manchester United last Monday, whilst Kevin MacDonald made the one expected change – with James Milner leaving, his replacement Stephen Ireland came into the side in the centre of midfield.” (Zonal Marking)

The hooligan problem and football violence that just won’t go away

West Ham / Millwall
“They hunt in packs, fuelled by cocaine, hooked on violence and occasionally wielding chains. Some are as old as 65. They use mobile phones and the internet to arrange showdowns with rival “firms” at agreed locations away from prying CCTV cameras and police surveillance. This is the profile of the 21st-century football hooligan, a breed of “fan” who, although decreasing in numbers and visibility, is recognised by the football authorities and police as never having gone away.” (Guardian)

Magic Messi wins Supercopa for Barca

“Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as Barcelona turned around a 3-1 first-leg deficit to claim the Supercopa with an impressive win over an under-par Sevilla side at the Nou Camp on Saturday.” (ESPN)

FC Barcelona 4-0 Sevilla – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Super Cup
“The Spanish Super Cup wrapped up on Saturday, August 21, 2010 with FC Barcelona hosting Sevilla in the second leg. Sevilla had a 3-1 lead from the first leg which was played last weekend. The match highlights can be found here at Free Soccer Highlights.” (The 90th Minute)

Apertura 2010: round 3 Saturday goals

“Saturday saw San Lorenzo win the clásico against Racing with a spectacular headed winner by Sebastián Balsas from a corner with just a few minutes to go. It was a match Racing didn’t really deserve to lose, but nonetheless San Lorenzo claimed their first win of the season. Elsewhere, Quilmes and Lanús drew 1-1, Vélez beat Argentinos 2-0, and Godoy Cruz outplayed Olimpo and got a win that was more comfortable than 1-0 scoreline would suggest. You can see all those goals right here.” (Hasta El Gol Siempre)

D’Alessandro inspires Internacional to the Copa

Andrés D’Alessandro
“In the end, it was a bit too much to hope for. Guadalajara – a.k.a. Chivas – had a first-leg deficit to overturn and were playing away from home in Wednesday night’s second leg of the Copa Libertadores final. The first leg defeat in their brand new Omnilife Stadium was only by two goals to one, and with away goals not counting in the final there was always going to be hope, but in the end Internacional outclassed their opponents just as much as they had in the first leg a week before.” (ESPN)

Classy Internationalists 3-2 Fiery Nationalists – Internacional win Copa Libertadores 2010
“There was anger, acrimony, a brawl, some lovely football, the announcement of a potentially truly top class player and Pele. There was also heartbreak, tears, good goals and goodbyes. All in all, pretty much what you can come to expect from South American football’s biggest club game, the Copa Libertadores final.” (Just Football)

2010 Copa Libertadores Winner is Internacional, So Mexico’s Wait Continues
“Brazil’s Internacional are your Copa Libertadores 2010 winners after beating Mexico’s Guadalajara 3-2 in Brazil last night, and 5-3 on aggregate over two legs. Seems 2010 is the year for clubs named Inter to win continental titles.” (The Offside)

Bayern 2-1 Wolfsburg: Heartbreak for McClaren as Schweinsteiger strikes late

“A tremendous fixture to open the new Bundesliga season – the champions from the last two seasons going head-to-head – and it turned out to be a wonderful game. Bayern continued to use their 4-2-3-1 formation that brought them such success last season, with some notable modifications. Holger Bastuber moved to centre-back, with the promising Diego Contento starting at left-back. Toni Kroos has returned from a loan spell at Leverkusen and played behind Miroslav Klose, meaning Thomas Mueller played the right-wing role he thrived in at the World Cup.” (Zonal Marking)