Home ground: a wander around Newcastle’s St James’ Park

“I’m biased, of course, but I reckon that this place is a bit special. Packed with believers and full of noise, illuminated by floodlights and bursting with passion, it’s a thrilling place to be on a matchday. But even empty and silent on a cold winter’s morning like this one, St James’ Park retains a special ambience and splendour that make it deserving of its place in the hearts of the Toon Army and at the heart of this great city.” Stuff by Paul Brown


Controversy clouds Barcelona’s win

“Arsene Wenger told Pep Guardiola to congratulate Massimo Busacca, but the Barcelona coach was more interested in congratulating his players. The Swiss referee might have been important during Barcelona’s 3-1 victory against Arsenal in a Champions League match Tuesday at the Camp Nou. He might even have been decisive. But Guardiola preferred to believe it was his players who were the difference. The trouble is, on their own, they might not have been. With Busacca, they won the match, eliminated Arsenal and advanced to the quarterfinals; without him, we will never know if they would have done so. The doubts will not go away. Nor will the anger and the accusations.” SI

Tactical preview of Twente – Zenit

“Twente has had a very respectable season so far. Given the fact that their successful manager Steve McLaren and several influential first team members had left during the summer, a sort of ‘transition season’ might have been expected. But those expectations have been superseded as the club had a respectable Champions League campaign, with home draws against defending European Champions Inter, and against Tottenham and Werder, finishing third in their Champions League Group. In the first Europa League knock-out stage they defeated Russian side Rubin Kazan, with a solid 2-0 away win proving the base for that victory.” 11 tegen 11

Winning ugly works for Spurs, too

Harry Redknapp
“‘Parking the bus’ is not usually the Tottenham way. A club famed for its commitment to good, open, attacking football throughout the years, it’s maintained that reputation with its European performances this season. In the group phase, Spurs being involved in a 0-0 game was unthinkable.” ESPN

Tottenham 0-0 Milan: Spurs hang on
“Milan had the majority of possession in both matches, but failed to score in 180 minutes of football. Harry Redknapp made one change from the first game, with Luka Modric returning in place of Wilson Palacios. Gareth Bale was only fit enough for the bench.” Zonal Marking

Zonal Marking: PSV v Rangers tactical preview

“Rangers’ triumph over Sporting Lisbon will go down as one of the narrowest European two-legged victories of the season. Maurice Edu scored in the 92nd minute to take the tie on away goals, and Rangers progressed with a 2-2 draw having recorded only two shots on target in the entire second leg. Few matches illustrate so eloquently that football is a game of fine margins.” stv

Five Years, Five Samurai, Five Stories

“2011 marks the fifth anniversary of the Calciopoli scandal and the subsequent relegation of Italian football’s grandest club, Juventus. Many times the players who left la vecchia Signora in the aftermath of that blackest of marks on the sports great history have been spoken of; called traitors, mercenaries and cowards. But what of those who stayed, the heroes who have become a part of club legend, names that will be forever loved by the Bianconeri faithful?” In Bed With Mardona