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)