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)