Monthly Archives: October 2010

Arsenal 1 – 0 West Ham United

Fanatics of Tangier, Eugene Delacroix
“Alex Song’s late header gave Premier League title chasers Arsenal a narrow victory over West Ham to deny the bottom club a deserved point at Emirates Stadium. Robert Green, in front of watching England manager Fabio Capello, had pulled off a string of fine saves to keep the Gunners at bay.” (ESPN)

Arsenal 1-0 West Ham United – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – EPL(The 90th Minute)

Blackburn Rovers 1 – 2 Chelsea
“Branislav Ivanovic nodded home a late winner for Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea as Blackburn squandered a golden chance to upset the odds at Ewood Park. Rovers controlled the game for long periods and could have gone in front for the second time when Jason Roberts shot wide in the 81st minute with the goal at his mercy.” (ESPN)

Chelsea pull one out of the hat
“The Premier League appears to be embarked upon a perpetual quest for another Roman Abramovich or a second Sheikh Mansour. For most, this particular Holy Grail is unattainable. Instead, there were Ewood Park debuts for Venky’s managing director Balaji Rao and his brother Venkatesh, the men intent on making Blackburn a brand in India.” (ESPN)

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


Political football

“Wednesday was quite a day to be in Buenos Aires. Aside from the national census – which was done by closing every business in the country and ordering people to stay at home to be counted rather than simply sending forms out and asking people to return them – the country’s former president Nestor Kirchner died suddenly of a heart attack in the morning. This might not have been such a pressing issue in terms of national affairs, but for the fact that Kirchner was also married to the current president, and was widely expected to succeed her following next year’s elections.” (ESPN)

The Cosmos Interviews

“This is what we know. The New York Cosmos are back with intentions on being the 20th MLS franchise in 2013. It’s run by famous industry names like Paul Kemsley, Terry Byrne, and famed advertising executive Carl Johnson, as well as more locally entrenched talent like Giovanni Savarese and Joe Fraga. They got Pele as the honorary president. They purchased Copa NYC (soon to be called Cosmos Copa), a citywide amateur World Cup of sorts.” (this is american soccer – pt. 1), (this is american soccer – pt. 2)

Spain yet to discover the root of cardiac problems among players

“When the final whistle blew, the cameras closed in as the two men embraced. These were not adversaries recognizing each other’s merits after the most honorable of contests. Nor were they teammates sharing the spoils of victory. In fact, they weren’t footballers at all. But they were heroes. Together, the two doctors, José Ignacio Garrido and Tomás Calero, had just saved someone’s life. Live on TV.” (SI)

Leeds United 0-4 Cardiff City

“Clinical Cardiff destroyed lacklustre Leeds as Dave Jones’s side moved level on points with fellow Championship high-flyers QPR. Three quickfire goals in the second half killed the game as a contest, but the home-side could so easily have made more of a spell in the first half when they were on top.” (Defensive Midfielder)

Matthias Sindelar And The Death Of Austrian Football

“There’s always a clash of cultures in my household. Having a half-Austrian wife and being of Greek descent myself, often throws up half-jovial debates as to which country has given the world more in an artistic and philosophical sense. For every Greek philosopher, she counters with Freud. For every Mozart and Strauss, she gets a Homer or Sophocles in response. And for a Telly Savalas, she can always trump me with an Arnie. But its within the realm of football, that I’ve had the upper hand since Greece’s triumph at Euro 2004. That is until a recent visit to Vienna opened my eyes to a modestly lauded footballing history that makes the Austrian national side’s current stagnation, all the more saddening.” (In Bed With Maradona)

FIFA Get Set To Weed Out Corruption

“So today and tomorrow, in Zurich, FIFA are discussing what – if anything – to do to rescue the reputation of its World Cup bidding process, a process which has descended very publically into the pettiest of playground squabbling in the couple of weeks since The Sunday Times first called its integrity into question with its allegations of cash-for-votes. I expect they’ll do the absolute minimum they think they can get away with – which might be as little as nothing, but will probably involve some token gestures, possibly including the delay of the 2022 vote until sometime next year.” (twohundredpercent)

Chivas are missing their Little Pea

“Mexican striker Javier Hernandez stole the Monday morning headlines following his match-winning brace for Manchester Utd against Stoke City but things aren’t so rosy back at his old club Guadalajara Chivas. Sunday’s ‘clasico of the clasicos’ against bitter capital city rivals America ended 0-0, the second half of which was at times exasperating to watch. The clash pits the all-Mexican, provincial ‘people’s club’ from second city Guadalajara against Mexico City’s America, whose name alone alludes to intentions of grandeur.” (WSC)

Borussia Dortmund’s Road To Recovery

“Amid all the excitement about Mainz’s exhilarating start to the new German season, Borussia Dortmund’s surge into second place in the Bundesliga, winning seven of their first nine matches, including the impressive disposal of fierce local rivals Schalke 04 in the Revierderby, has gone largely unnoticed, even though Jürgen Klopp’s young, athletic team puts on show a similar brand of aggressive, attacking football.” (The Swiss Ramble)

Video of the Week 2: Match of the Eighties, 1984/85

“With the benefit of hindsight the 1984/85 season and its hideous denouement had been coming, but it wasn’t any less of a surprise when it played out before our very eyes. The safety of football grounds had not been properly addressed in decades and clubs themselves didn’t have either the inclination or the resources to do very much about spectators that they didn’t seem to consider to be much above vermin in the food chain. Meanwhile, crowds had long before started to plummet and trouble at matches had become part of the match day routine for many thousands, whether they wanted to be or not.” (twohundredpercent)

Feyenoord 3 – 0 VVV: Midfield problems frustrating Feyenoord…

“Feyenoord managed to recover from their historical 10-0 defeat at the hands of PSV last weekend. At least in the sense that they managed to get the three points playing VVV at home. Despite this positive result, their performance did not provide the sparks of light that may have been hoped for.” (11 tegen 11)

Defence and justice

“‘It’s like we’re girls, in England it happens all the time.’ So said Estudiantes captain Juan Sebastián Verón last week, after a photo of River Plate winger Erik Lamela’s bloodied and bruised knee circulated in the media. ‘Verón’s right, you can’t come out showing what they did to you,’ said Godoy Cruz playmaker David Ramírez. ‘For me he’s a poof. I get hit hard, but I also tackle hard, because that’s football’, ‘Mincing about and showing his leg isn’t a manly thing to do,’ opined Argentinos Juniors midfielder, Néstor Ortigoza.” (The Football Ramble)

Wonderful Old Soccer Postcards

“I haven’t read, or even seen, Hunter Davies’s Postcards from the Edge of Football, but I love looking at old football postcards. I like the thought that underneath all the large public channels of media and culture, the world is being crisscrossed with these incidental private images of the game, carrying greetings, questions, and experiences from one person to another.” (Run of Play)

My Promise To Roy

“There was pressing. There was a higher defensive line. There was no Poulsen to slow the game down. Meireles was not marooned on the wing. The game was taken to the opposition. There was passing and movement, playing to the strengths of the players. It was what so many of us have been calling for. Play like that in six of the next eight games, and Roy Hodgson might find the criticism from fans (myself included) dissipating. So that’s my promise: more of this, on a consistent basis, and all can still be forgiven.” (Tomkins Times)

20 Years of New Stadia

“It’s now over twenty years since the publishing of Simon Inglis’s seminal The Football Grounds of Great Britain, a book that predated Hillsborough and the first of the breed of stadia, Scunthorpe United’s Glanford Park. So, I thought it would be informative to analyze some of the successes of the subsequent period: an era that has seen great change impinge upon the game. Debate as to what the turning point was – the aforementioned disaster, the setting up of the Premier League, Italia 90, MDMA, all seaters, Fever Pitch and even Michael Thomas’s 1989 winner at Anfield for chrissakes – all have their apologists and the changes have often not been for the better but, as far as stadia is concerned, and away from Goodison or Fratton Park, our forefathers wouldn’t recognise the match going experience as we would. Which clubs have gotten it largely right?” (thetwounfortunates)

Premier League title far from a formality for early leader Chelsea

“Under normal circumstances in the Premier League, you’d look at a side that was five points clear with a quarter of the season played and assume it was strolling toward the title. These, though, are not normal circumstances. Chelsea has been the best team, scoring four more goals than anybody else and conceding five fewer. Beyond statistics, it feels as though Chelsea has been playing the best football.” (SI – Jonathan Wilson)

FC Uniteds FA Cup Dilemma

“When the dust settled after a weekend of FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round matches that were watched by over 40,000 people, one tie from the First Round draw stood out from the rest: Rochdale vs FC United of Manchester. It could hardly more apposite that FCUM earned their first appearance in the competition proper of the FA Cup in this of all months. The name of Manchester United has been dragged through the mud by the Wayne Rooney transfer debacle – an event that may have woken many up to the colossal lack of soul at the heart of Premier League football. The protest, meanwhile, goes on at Gigg Lane but such success brings new debates to be had for a club that is a protest against much of what is wrong with modern football.” (twohundredpercent)

Leverkusen 0-1: Mainz: Mainz go clear at the top thanks to Tuchel’s substitutions

“Another impressive tactical decision from Thomas Tuchel, and another victory for Mainz. Jupp Heynckes has played a variety of formations so far this season – here, he went for a 4-5-1 / 4-3-3. Stefan Reinartz played at the back in Sami Hyypia’s absence, whilst Sidney Sam was on the right wing, outside Lars Bender.” (Zonal Marking)

Fenerbahce 0-0 Galatasaray: not enough support for the lone strikers
“Galatasaray ended their incredible ten-year losing streak at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium with a goalless draw. Fenerbahce played a fairly standard 4-2-3-1 systemwith few surprises. The powerful Mamadou Niang was the lone striker, with support from the Brazilian playmaker Alex. Miroslav Stoch started on the left and Issiar Dia on the right, but they switched flanks throughout.” (Zonal Marking)

Clearing Up A few Loose Ends: Celtic, Portsmouth and (Briefly) Wednesday

“It’s the football scandal of a generation. And it won’t go away. Colleen Rooney, photographed blatantly sipping a cool drink by a holiday swimming pool… while there’s a recession on!! I mean not one single British passport holder anywhere else in the world has done that in the last week. As to whether that shite really does sell newspapers, that’s a debate for someone else to start. I don’t know enough to offer an informed opinion, so I won’t offer any opinion. Something for Mail columnist Martin Samuel to ponder next time he writes about Uefa’s ‘financial fair play’ regulations.” (twohundredpercent)

The Question: Are Barcelona reinventing the W-W formation?

“Football is a holistic game. Advance a player here and you must retreat a player there. Give one player more attacking responsibility and you must give another increased defensive duties. As three at the back has become outmoded as a balanced or attacking formation – though not as a defensive formation – by the boom in lone-striker systems, coaches have had to address the problem of how to incorporate attacking full-backs without the loss of defensive cover.” (Guardian – Jonathan Wilson)

Barca face African adventure in the Cup
“For those who have been reading La Liga Loca for a year or two now it’s probably best to rejoin today’s ramblings a couple of paragraphs further down. It’s Copa del Rey rant time again. The Copa del Rey is the worst attempt at a competition since Maniche and James Beattie were the only two entrants in the ‘Best Salad Eater 2009’ jamboree. The whole fiasco is designed to clear out all the nasty, oinky, lower league riffraff as soon as possible to give as much chance to Spain’s Primera clubs to win it.” (Four Four Two)

Villarreal 2-0 Atletico: Villarreal impress with technical quality and ruthless finishing

“A 2-0 win that was both aesthetically impressive and quietly professional, as Villarreal move back up to second place. The home side fielded a narrow 4-4-2 / 4-2-2-2 with two quick forwards, and wide players looking to move into the centre of the pitch. Cani made a rare start on the left, whilst Gonzalo Rodriguez was played at centre-back alongside Carlos Marchena.” (Zonal Marking)

Villarreal’s South American-European fusion:
“If Jonathan Wilson’s explanation as to raison d’être of the 4-2-3-1 formation is true (affording licence to playmakers and dribblers in an age of increased physicality), then little wonder it first became popularised in Spain, that country that produces a phalanx of ball-players; players who would be miscast if they were to operate as traditional box-to-box dynamos in a 4-4-2. Witness, for example Roy Hodgson’s struggles to impart lessons on Liverpool’s more adept ball players, or more pointedly, Joe Cole’s entire history as a young footballer.” (santapelota)

Out of Villarreal’s old orange grove grows ‘the perfect football eco-system’
“It was Benjamin Franklin who said nothing in life is certain except death and taxes but what does he know? Sure, he built a few libraries and did some experiments with electricity and catheters and fireplaces and stuff, but he didn’t know the first thing about what really matters: football in Spain, that magical world where death and taxes aren’t certain at all; where football clubs owe the taxman €627,266,721.38; where a player literally came back from the dead this weekend – Salamanca player Miguel García’s heart stopped beating, the doctor who saved him revealing: ‘He was dead for 25 seconds’, and where it’s not just that death and taxes aren’t inevitable, it’s that plenty of other things are.” (Guardian)

Napoli 1-2 Milan: Oddo off the bench to provide overlaps for both Milan goals

“A wet and windy night in Naples produced an entertaining game, and a victory for Milan over ten man Napoli. The home side set out in their usual 3-4-3 system, keeping the same attack and midfield as against Liverpool, only changing the defence where Paolo Cannavaro was suspended, so Gianluca Grava came in and the defence was shuffled.” (Zonal Marking)

Manchester City May Not Be as Rich as You Thought

“It’s been happening quietly, since for some reason the media don’t seem all that eager to visit the possibility that their original version of the story was full of exaggerations and mistakes, but some of the grandiose claims about the purchase of Manchester City by the Abu Dhabi United Group are finally starting to go up in smoke. For instance: the notion that City’s new owners—usually described as “the investment arm of the Abu Dhabi royal family”—were sitting on $850 billion which they were prepared to pour into the club. This astonishing, not to say newspaper-selling, claim turns out to have been based on a simple misconception.” (Run of Play)

The increasing misery of modern football

“When Ottmar Hitzfeld was the coach of Borussia Dortmund back in the 1990s, he admitted that defeat would prompt him to sink into a two-day depression. It’s hardly surprising when you consider that being a manager (to use the British term) is the most demoralising job in football. You stand on the sideline, impotent to influence events other than through gestures and calls. And when your team loses, you end up taking most of the blame.” (WSC)

Chilean miners play football with president

“The 33 miners who were trapped underground for nearly 70 days took part in a friendly football match at the national stadium in Santiago against a team of rescue workers and cabinet ministers led by President Sebastián Piñera. The prize for the winners was a stay in the presidential palace, while the losers would have to go down the mine” (Guardian)

Manchester City 0 – 3 Arsenal

Treuziñ ar bed isdouarel, Joachim Patinir
“Samir Nasri, Alex Song and Nicklas Bendtner were on target as Arsenal struck a blow for the old guard against 10-man Manchester City, triumphing 3-0 at Eastlands. City had been looking to reclaim second place in the Premier League but hopes of a fifth successive win were all but dashed with the early sending off of Dedryck Boyata.” (ESPN)

Manchester City 0-3 Arsenal: red card holds back City, but Arsenal impress in important win
“An early red card was the game’s key moment, but Arsenal played well on their way to an ultimately comfortable victory. Manchester City’s front six were as expected – the news was at the back, where Dedryck Boyata started alongside Vincent Kompany in Kolo Toure’s absence, with Jerome Boateng at left-back and Micah Richards at right-back.” (Zonal Marking)

An unfair advantage?

“In 1922, when English politician Stanley Baldwin wanted to launch a revolt against Prime Minister David Lloyd George, he described his adversary as ‘a dynamic force’. And, he added, ‘a dynamic force is a very terrible thing’. Those of us who love football will know what he means. The game runs on passion, from fans, players and coaches. Take the passion away and the game is nothing but too much is deadly.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)

A Birthday Toast

“Ladies and gentleman, friends, family, opium smugglers, torch singers, bicyclists, balloonists, chemists, painters, gangsters, mysterious women in kimonos, and grad students; Three years ago today, armed with nothing but youthful pluck, a Google password, and a biography of Pierce Egan, I set out to create a sports website that would ‘be insanely profitable’ and ‘basically run itself.’ From those springs of innocent idealism, plus electricity and several computer languages, The Run of Play was born.” (Run of Play)

Inter 1-1 Sampdoria: Inter’s attackers struggle to break down Sampdoria’s two banks of four

“Inter dominated, Sampdoria took the lead, then Rafael Benitez’s side rallied late on to claim a point. Diego Milito was still out injured, but Esteban Cambiasso returned to the centre of midfield. Elsewhere, the side was as expected, with Jonathan Biabiany on the right and Coutinho on the left.” (Zonal Marking)

Videos of the Week: FA Fourth Qualifying Round Highlights

“We’ve got something a little different for our Video Of The Week this week. Match Of The Eighties will be back later on in the week, but for now it seems like as good an idea as any to ease ourselves into Monday morning with some highlights from this weekend’s FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round matches from the weekend just passed. We’re starting off with FC United of Manchester, who were at home yesterday afternoon against Blue Square Premier side Barrow. With the draw for the First Round Proper already having been made, United already knew that their reward for winning this match would be a local derby against Rochdale if they could get past a team two divisions above them.” (twohundredpercent)

An Honest & Thorough Inquiry into EPL Truths

“With several matches played, the dark haze clouding our view of football in England has finally started to disperse. Now, with the crystal clear light of the holiest of truths, we set upon the most divine of inquisitive expeditions. We turn a deciphering eye upon the UK, helping you to distinguish the verdad santisima from the deceptive half-truths mulling about. Let us begin.” (futfanatico)

The Most Famous Athlete In The World

“Two members of the Santos, Brazil soccer team passed the ball forward along the sideline, then shot it toward the small man called Pel�, who was waiting in front of the goal. Pel� lifted his right leg in a short, quick motion and looped the ball over one defender’s head. He dodged past that man and lifted the ball again as two more defenders approached. The ball seemed to hang in midfiight as Pel� feinted to his left; then he ducked his shoulders and lunged between his opponents. Before a shocked goaltender could react, Pel� drove the shot into the net with his head.” (SI)

The Old Firm yearn for more European glory

“Celtic have started the league season well. We’ve played eight, we’ve won eight. But there’s a familiar problem: Rangers have won all eight too. Something’s got to give today, when Lionel Messi’s favourite blue immovable object meets what was – until Tony Mowbray arrived in the East End – also an immovable object. By Scottish standards, at least. Who will win is as hard to predict as the league title. Celtic have the resources, but Walter Smith has steered a remarkably steady course through Rangers’ financial maelstrom. Neil Lennon’s side won the final derby of last season, but there was little to play for then, and his Celtic side are still unpredictable.” (WSC)

Celtic 1-3 Rangers: second half turnaround
“A typically fiery Old Firm derby saw Celtic lose their 100% record, and Rangers maintain theirs. Celtic were unchanged from their win last week at Dundee United, starting with a 4-4-2 system that saw Georgios Samaras dropping deep to the left.” (Zonal Marking)

Celtic 1-3 Rangers – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – SPL
(The 90th Minute)

Liverpool 2 – 1 Blackburn Rovers

“Striker Fernando Torres ended his six-match goal drought with the winner against Blackburn to provide a much-needed boost at Anfield. Goalkeeper Paul Robinson had kept the Reds at bay until Sotirios Kyrgiakos’ 48th-minute header and although a Jamie Carragher own goal quickly levelled things up Torres struck only his second of the season soon after.” (ESPN)

My Promise To Roy
“There was pressing. There was a higher defensive line. There was no Poulson to slow the game down. Meireles was not marooned on the wing. The game was taken to the opposition. There was passing and movement, playing to the strengths of the players. It was what so many of us have been calling for. Play like that in six of the next eight games, and Roy Hodgson might find the criticism from fans (myself included) dissipating. So that’s my promise: more of this, on a consistent basis, and all can still be forgiven.” (Tomkins Times)

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

Tottenham 1-1 Everton: a good tactical battle

“An exciting first half followed by a quieter second, and a result that reflects the balance of play. Harry Redknapp chose to start with just one striker for the first time at home in the Premier League this season, with Peter Crouch supported by Rafael van der Vaart. Younes Kaboul played alongside William Gallas at the back, and Wilson Palacios came into the centre of midfield.” (Zonal Marking)

Football, Blogs and Newspapers Unite? Part Three

“So today, the meat and potatoes as it were of this series: what might more cooperation between independent blogs and on-line newspaper football sites actually look like? Before I dive in, I think it’s important to point out that I’m not going to lay out concrete models with specific revenue streams and publishing formats, but rather point out general features that would make a union more desirable than the current situation, where the only mutual connection between newspapers and blogs comes in the form of hyperlinks. I should also mention that discussion of the obstacles to this kind of union will be examined at length in a future post, but feel free to start shredding in the comments.” (Pitch Invasion)

Club, Community and Consumerism: What Do We Support?

“What is the purpose of a soccer club? What, indeed, is the purpose of using the word ‘club’ in the name of so many Major League Soccer teams – to keep the question focused on these North American shores just for now. Are we supporters of clubs, or are we consumers of products? (This is a question Toronto Football Clubs have been asking themselves recently, as we will discuss). We should begin with a pathetically brief description of what a ‘club’ is.” (Pitch Invasion)

River fail to win again, and Banfield are the day’s big winners

“River Plate and Racing made it a second damp squib of the weekend in terms of matches I’ve attended, with a 1-1 draw in which the hosts were comfortably outplayed for the first half, and perhaps just slightly the better team in the second. Colombian genius Giovanni Moreno got Racing’s goal, and Diego Buonanotte came off the bench at half time and scored River’s equaliser within a minute.” (Hasta El Gol Siempre)

The difference between two derbies – illustrating the change from Benitez to Hodgson.

“It was no surprise that Liverpool lost the 214th Merseyside derby given their woeful start to the season. No Liverpool fan, not even the most pessimistic of follower, would have fathomed such baffling results and such perturbing performances on the field given the strength of their squad at the start of the season. With some trading-up and trading-down from both Rafael Benitez and Roy Hodgson over the past couple of seasons, the majority of the Liverpool team still remain from the title challenging season of 2008-09. Crippled by the Hick’s and Gillett’s unwillingness to service the promises they provided when they took over the club, Liverpool stumbled around the Premier League last season, like a common drunk who is just about on their last legs before slumping face first into the bar.” (Talking About Football)

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool: the home side not brave enough when going forward“A fairly uneventful 0-0 at the Stadio San Paolo. Napoli played broadly their usual system, although here it frequently looked like a 3-4-3 rather than a 3-4-1-2 or a 3-4-2-1, as has been more accurate in recent games. Michele Pazienza and Walter Gargano started in midfield, whilst Hugo Campagnaro was in on the right side of defence, with Salvatore Aronica on the other side.” (Zonal Marking)

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats
(The 90th Minute)

Video of the Week: Match of the Eighties, 1983/84

“It’s a couple of days later than usual, but this week’s Video Of The Week returns to the BBC’s ‘Match Of The Eighties’ series and on to the 1983/84 season. Liverpool had run away with the 1982/83 league title and they were to repeat this by finishing three points clear of Southampton, with Nottingham Forest in third place. How times have changed. Meanwhile, it wasn’t a terribly good year for most clubs in the Midlands – West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City, Coventry City, Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers took up the bottom six places in the First Division.” (twohundredpercent)

Pjanic on the streets of Lyon

“There are few things fellow Rambler and South American football guru Rupert Fryer likes better than discussing what constitutes a ‘true number 10’, as I rediscovered at dinner last week. From here we got onto a mutual pet subject, the marvellous Miralem Pjanic. Rupert, and Jonathan Wilson, who with us, both aired their doubts over Pjanic’s future, following the arrival of Yoann Gourcuff at Lyon. Two playmakers in the same team? These days, only if Rupert was the gaffer.” (The Football Ramble)

La semaine en France: Week 9

“The Ligue 1 table has a slightly more familiar look to it ahead of the 10th round of matches, after victories for all the big teams last weekend. Paris Saint-Germain climbed to third with an impressive 2-0 win at Toulouse on Saturday. Mevlüt Erding claimed only his second goal of the season to seal the win, finishing a neat move involving a typically ornate flick from Nenê and an astute through-ball by Ludovic Giuly. Paris are above Marseille on goal difference after the champions edged Nancy 1-0, with Loïc Rémy claiming his first OM goal – and taking a swipe at Damien Gregorini’s face in the process – to cover up an unconvincing display from Didier Deschamps’s side.” (Football Further)

Werder’s defense still an issue

“Some goals Werder Bremen conceded in the 4-0 drubbing at Internazionale last month were so soft that Italian football paper Gazzetta dello Sport rechristened the team ‘Werder Crema.’ It was a charitable assessment; Gazzetta easily could have reached for a stronger Italian word.” (SI)

Panathinaikos 0-0 Rubin Kazan: little invention from attackers and a good result for neither
“A disappointing match in which both sides’ shooting ability deserted them.
Panathinaikos lined up with their now customary 4-2-3-1 system. Simao sat infront of the defence with Kostas Katsouranis playing a more energetic role, and linking up with Giorgos Karagonis. Luis Garcia started from the left and drifted into the centre, whilst on the other side, Stergos Marinos linked up with with Loukas Vyntra, the right-back.” (Zonal Marking)

Inter Milan 4-3 Tottenham Hotspur – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats
(The 90th Minute)

Twente 1 – 1 Werder Bremen: A self fulfilling prophecy for defensively tuned Twente
“Dutch champions FC Twente faced Werder Bremen at home for their third Champions League Group stage match tonight. This offered them a chance at revenge for both team’s match-up last season when the Germans knocked Twente out of the Europa League competition in the first knock-out stage. After winning 1-0 at home, Twente went on to lose the second tie 1-4.” (11 tegen 11)

UEFA Champions League Power Rankings After Matchday 3
“The Champions League is halfway through the group stage and the contenders to win the title have not really changed. Barcelona, Chelsea, Bayern, and Real Madrid remain at the top. Other teams showing great form are Arsenal and Lyon who are both 3-0-0. The rankings are below and through October 21, 2010 and only include the top 8 (along with teams just missing the cut).” (The 90th Minute)

Love football, hate footballers

“If this week’s Wayne Rooney saga has done anything other than earn the Manchester United striker a huge pay rise and, presumably, an even huger grudge from his manager, it’s added yet another hammer blow to the wedge that is being driven relentlessly between players and supporters. The nutshell version of the story is that Rooney allegedly nailed a hooker, not-only-allegedly disgraced himself at the World Cup and allegedly briefed journalists that he wanted to leave United.” (twofootedtackle)

For a Break-Up [UPDATED]
“I, personally, have never been the type who dwells on heartache and tragedy. Others may whinge, but it’s never been my way. When a thing goes pear-shaped, you can either throw a bin through a window and steal a pair of trainers, or you can lift a pint to the good times and set about refactoring your tattoo situation.” (Run of Play)

Wayne Rooney, Manchester Uniter and Contempt
“Manchester United supporters have learnt a tough lesson this week. The fact that footballers are mercenaries may be common knowledge amongst fans of most clubs, but Manchester United, by virtue of their sheer scale, have been largely insulated from this. They have been able to hang on to the likes of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs for years and years, and have been afford one major luxury that is denied to almost every other club – they sell, by and large, only when they need to sell and they feel that a player is surplus to requirements. Comments to the effect that they are not matching the ambitions of a player (a deliberately ambiguous statement – ‘not matching ambitions’ can quite easily be extended in its interpretation to ‘not doubling my wages’) are not something that they are used to.” (twohundredpercent)

History repeats itself as crowd trouble rocks Serbia

“Serbia is currently gripped by the dilemma of whether to cancel this weekend’s Belgrade derby between the country’s most famous clubs – Red Star and Partizan. This fierce debate was sparked by events which have once again cast the nation in a poor light around the world. Firstly, on October 10, Belgrade’s Gay Pride parade was marred by ugly scenes as right-wing football hooligans attacked security forces and laid waste to the capital city, resulting in more than €1 million (£890,000) of damage, 132 injured policemen and 249 arrests.” (WSC)

The Return of the Soccer Rioters

Charles Le Brun – Entry of Alexander into Babylon
“Last Tuesday, a riot broke out at a soccer game in Italy. Its perpetrators were a group of right-wing Serbs who had traveled to Genoa to watch their national team play Italy—or, as it turned out, not to watch it play, since the game was called off after just seven minutes. The Serbs threw burning flares onto the pitch and used a metal bar to try to smash the fence that separated them from the Italian supporters. A large, heavily tattooed man in a black ski mask climbed the Perspex barrier at the front of the stands and started slicing through the perimeter netting with wire cutters, pausing to give the occasional Nazi salute. As Italian riot police moved to surround the visitors, the Serbs set fire to an Albanian flag and unfurled a banner reading ‘Kosovo is Serbia.'” (Slate – Run of Play)

Bradley’s Lack of Commitment to New Tactics Deeply Concerning

“OK it’s been a week, and a rough week at that. The USMNT played Columbia last Tuesday, and I had planned to write my normal post-game, but after the match I was too furious to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as it were). I decided to calm down for a few days, but then the weekend came, and I got to experience the worst sports weekend I can remember in my lifetime. Let me explain.” (Yanks are Coming)

Real Madrid 2-0 Milan: Early goals seal victory

“An enjoyable contest between the two most successful sides in the history of the European Cup ended in a comfortable won for Real. Real set out in a fairly standard 4-2-3-1 system. Cristiano Ronaldo played higher up the pitch on the left than Angel di Maria on the right, whilst Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira alternated position, with Alonso generally further forward.” (Zonal Marking)

Real Madrid 2-0 AC Milan – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Champions League
(The 90th Minute)

Arsenal 5-1 Shakhtar: stalemate turns into a rout
“Arsenal started slowly but ended up thrashing a Shakhtar Donetsk side who offered no attacking threat until the final ten minutes. Arsene Wenger recalled Cesc Fabregas and played him alongside Jack Wilshere and Alex Song, whilst Samir Nasri and Tomas Rosicky were preferred to Andrei Arshavin.” (Zonal Marking)

Arsenal 5-1 Shakhtar Donetsk – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Champions League
(The 90th Minute)

Ajax 2 – 1 Auxerre: A false nine and a false nr. 10, but a true victory for Ajax
“The double confrontation with AJ Auxerre from France will be decisive on Ajax’ European Football campaign this season. Having faced world class teams Real Madrid and AC Milan in the first two matches, Ajax will have to defend a one point lead over Auxerre to hold onto the third place in Group G of the UEFA Champions League, and to qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League.” (11 tegen 11)

Spartak Moscow 0-2 Chelsea: usual professional display from Ancelotti’s side
“Yuri Zhirkov’s stunning goal put Chelsea into a lead they never looked like giving up. Spartak fielded a 4-2-3-1 system, with Ari playing close to the main striker, Welliton. The two wide players stayed on their respective flanks for most of the first half but switched in the second. Ibson and Aleksandr Sheshukov played a loose double pivot, with a good understanding allowing each other to move across the pitch.” (Zonal Marking)

UEFA Champions League Video Highlights For Tuesday, October 19, 2010(The 90th Minute)

Why Wayne in White Would Be A Win Win Win

“If the average, cheese-brained, money-obsessed English footballer paid as much attention to becoming a better player as to the size of their bank balance, Ipod headphones and the press attaché’s tits then a heck of a lot more would have headed to the Spanish league in recent years than the brave few that have manfully taken the plunge in la Primera.” (Football 365)

Why isn’t Wayne Rooney the player we thought he’d become?
“Wayne Rooney is a force of nature: a natural, swaggering, street footballer who used to play the game with the reckless abandon of the best player in the playground and who made the dimensions of the pitch seem to shrink whenever he received the ball. He retains all of these qualities, despite his current loss of form, but he only really got the credit his talent deserved in England when he started scoring goals.” (Football Further)

Wayne Rooney’s arch adviser heads for another big pay day
“Wayne Rooney plays for England in a summer tournament, then returns to gory tabloid stories exposing his alleged weakness for prostitutes. Further stories soon follow, that he has fallen out with his Scottish disciplinarian manager and wants a transfer. The manager denies any falling out, but complains that, despite all his club have done for the ‘boy’, Rooney’s ‘advisers’ say he wants a move.” (Guardian)

Alex Ferguson is not always right
“It seems to be a truth universally acknowledged that, when in want of a new club, a footballer rarely gets the better of Alex Ferguson. The Manchester United manager, we are told, is the right man to send players on their way. He knows when to protect his players, when to discipline them and when to dispense with them. When a player looks set to leave Old Trafford we are fed the usual line, that Ferguson sells players when it suits him but not when it suits them. Well, Wayne Rooney might just be proving that theory wrong.” (WSC)

The Trade Secrets Behind Lyon’s Rise

“Despite their victory over Lille last weekend, Olympique Lyonnais’ start to the season has been far from convincing with manager Claude Puel reportedly being given three games to save his job. Coming off the back of two seasons where Lyon finished “only” second and third in Ligue 1, questions have been asked about whether Puel is the right man to take the team forward. Although this would have represented success for almost any other club in France, the end of domestic league dominance must have felt like failure to those supporters whose team won the League an unprecedented seven years in a row from 2002.” (The Swiss Ramble)

Morality and Marlon King

“It’s easy and facile to suggest that morality has no place in football, that ultimately only results count, that money talks louder than ethics, and that fans don’t care anyway. The furore over the hiring of Marlon King by Coventry City aside, it’s obvious that morality, both of the general type and of a more specific version relating to football, is at the heart of most interesting discussions about football. Fans care passionately about the nebulous quality ‘fairness’, about the ‘right’ way to play, and even to which values their club should aspire. Almost everything that makes people angry and passionate about football is to do with some kind of morality. It’s just that they rarely care about what two (or three) consenting adults get up to in a hotel room (allegedly).” (Run of Play)

It’s Time For Under-Fire Hodgson To Take Some Risks

“We have all been there. Whether it is a way to pass time in school or a pub debate, we have created an all-star football eleven. Variations within the definition of the team can range from the best players you have seen in person to the best eleven to have played in your lifetime. I’m sure you’ve done it.” (Micro LFC)

Barcelona 2-1 Valencia: Barca outmanoeuvred early on, but stage second half fightback

“Unai Emery’s tactics worked a treat, but pure quality shone through and Barcelona were rampant in the second half. Xavi returned to action to boost Barcelona’s central midfield zone, so Andres Iniesta played in the forward three. Maxwell started at left-back, and Seydou Keita on the left of midfield. Valencia surprisingly omitted Juan Mata and instead used Ever Banega in an advanced midfield role, with Pablo Hernandez on the right. On the left, they pushed nominal left-back Jeremy Mathieu forward onto the left of midfield, with Jordi Alba playing at left-back. Roberto Soldado got the nod ahead of Aritz Aduriz.” (Zonal Marking)

Wayne Rooney and Manchester Uniter: A Sign of the Times?

“They booed the home team off the pitch at the end of Saturday’s match at Old Trafford between Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion. For the fifth time in eight league matches this season, United had failed to win a league match and, although they remain unbeaten in the Premier League table and stay in the Champions League places for the time being, for Manchester United supporters that have been plumpened with almost two decades of unbroken success, this is what counts for underachievement. More troubling for supporters of the club, however, will be the apparent breakdown in the relationship between Sir Alex Ferguson and another of his employers’ most prized assets; Wayne Rooney.” (twohundredpercent)