Monthly Archives: April 2011

Norwich City’s Remarkable Transformation

Simeon Jackson
“When Canadian international forward Simeon Jackson struck the last-gasp winner for Norwich City against Derby County last weekend, it was incredibly the 12th goal that the Canaries had scored in the 90th minute or later this season. This is a sign of a team that never knows when it is beaten and this resilience is just one of the reasons for Norwich’s impressive surge to a highly commendable second place in the Championship. Paul Lambert’s team stand on the threshold of the Premier League, which would mean a second successive promotion and represents a remarkable turnaround in the club’s fortunes.” Swiss Ramble

La semaine en France: Week 32

“With an inevitably that feels like it has been building for about two months, Marseille returned to the Ligue 1 summit after a 4-2 win at Mediterranean neighbours Nice on Wednesday night. Lille’s 1-1 draw at Lorient last Sunday – a magnificent game of football – had given the champions an opportunity to sneak to the top of the pile that they duly took, thanks to a hat-trick from André Ayew and a first Marseille goal for his younger sibling, Jordan.” Football Further

France football heads mired in race row over alleged quotas for ethnic players
“France has been plunged into a fresh race crisis after claims that football officials tried to limit black and Arab players on youth training schemes to make the French team more white. The French football federation has opened an internal investigation after website Mediapart reported that top management approved a quota system to limit young black players and those of north African origin emerging as candidates for the national team.” Guardian

Last Day to Vote for Best EPL Blog (Qualification Round)

“Today is the last day to vote for the Best EPL Blog (qualification round). Since there are so many good Premier League-related blogs to choose from, we decided to have a qualification round for many. Out of these, the top three winners (the polls close at midnight tonight) will enter the final round of voting next week for the Best EPL Blog.” EPL Talk

Porto 5-1 Villarreal: Falcao nets four as Porto take giant leap towards Dublin

“Villarreal were 1-0 up at half time, but a superb second half performance from Porto puts them fully in charge of the tie. Andre Villas Boas used his usual 4-3-3 system. Cristian Sapanaru was at right-back, and Cristian Rodriguez was wide left. Juan Carlos Garrido named a side which seemed to be his usual 4-2-2-2 before kick off. Nilmar and Giuseppe Rossi were supported by Cani and Santi Cazorla, two wide players who come inside, and Borja Valero and Bruno Soriano, two classic deep-lying Spanish ball-playing midfielders. Jose Catala was surprisingly used at left-back over Joan Capdevila.” Zonal Marking

1960s Month: God’s Footballer

“Football and religion have always been intertwined; from teams such as Manchester City and Everton being formed as church teams to the likes of Gavin Peacock entering the church in their post-football careers. Indeed, many believe that football is a new religion, with star players being treated as deities and their importance within society being debated long into the night. One player, however, had doubts as to its significance.” The Equaliser

Argentines in… um… Spain & Mexico

“In spite of not having done anything in particular this week out of the ordinary, Thursday night has arrived and I’ve still not yet put up Argentines Abroad. I have had two contributions sent in, though, from Spain and Mexico, so it would be remiss of me not to at least put those up. To find out how Argentines did in Spain between last week’s Copa Del Rey clásico and this week’s installment in the European Cup, and how Emanuel Villa, Damián Álvarez et al did in Mexico last weekend, just read on. Complete with videos!” Hasta El Gol Siempre

Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona: two goals for Messi

“Lionel Messi scored a poacher’s strike and then a superb solo effort to give Barcelona a major advantage in the tie. Jose Mourinho named his expected side – Lassana Diarra was in for Sami Khedira, whilst Raul Albiol came in for the suspended Ricardo Carvalho. Pep Guardiola also chose the side expected in the preview. Carles Puyol returned from injury to fill in at left-back, whilst Seydou Keita replaced the injured Andres Iniesta. The game was scrappy, dirty and not particularly pleasing on the eye. For much of the contest, the objective of both sides seemed to be to get opposition players sent off, rather than actually try to score a goal. Tactically, it wasn’t fascinating for long periods.” Zonal Marking

Jose Mourinho claims Barcelona benefit from refereeing conspiracy after stormy Champions League loss
“Mourinho made mention of four officials: Anders Frisk, who he claimed received a half-time visit from Frank Rijkaard, the then Barcelona coach, in 2005; Tom Henning Ovrebo, who turned down a succession of Chelsea penalty claims against Barcelona in 2009; Massimo Busacca, who sent off Arsenal’s Robin van Persie at Camp Nou this season, and Wolfgang Stark, who showed a red card to Real’s Pepe on Wednesday. Mourinho was also expelled.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Real Madrid 0 Barcelona 2: match report
“Two moments of beauty stood out amidst the beastliness of the Game of Shame last night. Two moments of magic from Lionel Messi, his second goal echoing Diego Maradona’s dribbled gem against England in 1986, rescued this match from the dark ages. Clasico, crasico. But for Messi remembering that football should be about joy, adventure and imagination, and Xavi also playing with style, this was the game that dignity forgot. There was no respect, no charm, no integrity.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Messi puts Barca on brink of Wembley
“Lionel Messi struck twice late on as Barcelona took a huge step towards the Champions League final with a 2-0 semi-final, first leg win over 10-man Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. Messi, taking his tally to 52 in all competitions this season, netted in the 76th and 87th minutes – the second a typically brilliant solo effort – to settle an ill-tempered clash which saw Madrid defender Pepe sent off in the 61st minute.” ESPN

Barcelona and Real face UEFA action
“Both Barcelona and Real Madrid will face disciplinary proceedings from UEFA after their tempestuous Champions League semi-final first-leg tie at the Bernabeu. Barcelona won the game 2-0 thanks to two goals from Lionel Messi, but the clash was littered with unsportsmanlike behaviour, diving and fights. After the match, Real boss Jose Mourinho (who had been sent to the stands during the game for comments made to the fourth official) then launched into a tirade about the influence that the Catalan side have over European football.” ESPN

Negative Soccer Mars Real Madrid vs Barcelona Semi-Final
“Thank goodness the embarrassing spectacle of Real Madrid against Barcelona in the Champions League was played out in the semi-final of the tournament instead of the finale. The first leg of the semi-final was an example of everything that people hate about soccer. Barcelona players crowding the referee on several occasions to influence his decision. Players exaggerating contact. Poor refereeing decisions. The referee stopping and starting the game seemingly every few minutes. Off the pitch pushing and shoving. This is not what soccer is about. This was anti-soccer.” EPL Talk – Video

Champions League press reaction: ‘Mourinho has perverted history’
“If José Mourinho was feeling disgusted after Barcelona’s controversial 2-0 victory over his Real Madrid team, the Spanish press contained little to soothe his feelings. While figures from both sides offered predictably opposed views about the dismissal of Pepe which had such a major effect on the Champions League semi-final first leg at the Bernabéu, most commentators took a dim view of the Portuguese coach’s approach to the game and his complaints afterwards.” Guardian

Real Madrid 0-2 FC Barcelona – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Champions League
The 90th Minute

Schalke 0-2 Manchester United: Schalke torn apart by United’s passing and movement

“Manchester United were superior throughout the 90 minutes and could have won by a much greater margin.
Ralf Rangnick was without Benedikt Höwedes at the back, which meant Joel Matip had to play at centre-back. Other than that, it was the expected team in the expected formation. Sir Alex Ferguson omitted Nani to play Antonio Valencia on the right, and played Fabio behind him. The side was the same as the XI that started against Chelsea, with the exception of one Brazilian twin in for the other.” Zonal Marking

Schalke 0 Manchester United 2: match report
“Manchester United are so close to Wembley they can see the traffic. They moved to within touching distance of the final of the Champions League with a performance that was so mature, so mesmerizing that it must rank up there with their greatest ever.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

United dismantle Schalke to close in on final
“Barring an unlikely Schalke victory at Old Trafford next week, Manchester United will contest the Champions League final at Wembley on May 28 after a one-sided encounter in Germany. Ryan Giggs and the outstanding Wayne Rooney scored United’s goals in a two-minute second-half spell in the semi-final first leg at the Vetlins-Arena. Prior to that, though, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men had wasted an astonishing 13 chances to score – 11 of them coming before the break.” ESPN

Schalke 0-2 Manchester United – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Champions League
The 90th Minute

Great Managers Matter, and Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool Revival Should Teach US Soccer A Lesson

“As all of my regular readers know, I am a red-blooded Liverpool fan. Given the choice, I never walk alone. As such, much was my dismay when earlier this year, my beloved Reds found themselves in the relegation zone during the first few months of the EPL season. At the same time, since January, I have become elated with their success with King Kenny Dalglish at the helm. The turn-around has been remarkable, and yet paradoxical at the same time. While the personnel changed somewhat (sulky Torres out, Suarez and Carroll in), this small change in personnel to me should not a complete turn-around make.” Yanks Are Coming

Schalke v Manchester United: tactical preview

“Schalke have reached their first-ever European Cup semi, whilst United are in their fourth in the last five seasons. The headline news is that Dimitar Berbatov hasn’t travelled because of a groin strain. On face value, the absence of the Premier League’s top scorer should be quite a blow, but considering that Ferguson has only picked Berbatov for one of United’s last ten Champions League knockout games, it really shouldn’t cause too much concern.” Zonal Marking

Real Salt Lake’s and CONCACAF Glory: #MLS4RSL Ain’t #REALBS

“This infographic about Real Salt Lake’s road to the two-legged final of the CONCACAF Champions League is pretty damn awesome, and more than worth glancing at ahead of tomorrow’s second leg in Salt Lake, with the Americans tied 2-2 on aggregate with Monterrey of Mexico. It’s informative for the newbie, and interesting enough for the nerd.” Pitch Invasion

Raúl: ‘We dream of beating United. Let’s see if we’re the better team’

“Eight years after your last Champions League semi-final, you’re back in the last four of Europe’s premier competition – having left Real Madrid. Many thought your departure was the beginning of the end. Instead, you’re the story of the season.” Guardian

Rangers 0-0 Celtic: It’s in Celtic’s hands now despite stalemate

“The Seventh and final Glasgow Derby of the season ended in a stalemate. Chances were few and far between, but Celtic had a glorious opportunity to secure all three points late on as they awarded a penalty. However Greek International Georgios Samaras was denied by a great save from Rangers keeper Allan McGregor. Despite the game ending all square, the league title is Celtic’s to lose. Rangers may be a point ahead, but Celtic have a game in hand against Terry Butcher’s Inverness Caley and even if they take a draw from that game, the Parkhead side would go top on goal difference. If a win was secured then Celtic would lead by two points with four games left remaining of the season.” Scotzine

Brazilian teams thrive amid World Cup concerns

“On the pitch, last week was a splendid one for Brazilian football. Fluminense’s dramatic qualification for the knockout stages of the Copa Libertadores meant that Brazil did not have a single team eliminated in the group phase – while Argentina lost three. The Brazilian sides also managed to avoid each other in the second round, creating the possibility of the competition’s last eight featuring five teams from the same country.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Premier League Survival: The 6 Teams Battling To Avoid Relegation

“The relegation from and promotion to the Premier League is starting to shape up. Still room for decisions and intrigue but nowhere near as unclear as it was a few weeks ago. First, Premier League relegation. In my opinion the bottom six teams are still in the fight. Those above that could, technically, face trouble based on their points total but it’s tough to imagine all six teams below them doing enough to overtake them. So that leaves us with this setup…” EPL Talk

Henry Winter: Jose Mourinho’s rivalry with Pep Guardiola is the stuff of soap opera

“When they first ran into each other, Mourinho was assisting Bobby Robson while Guardiola was Barcelona captain and darling. Staff versus family, outsider versus insider: as Mourinho’s world collides with Guardiola’s again, a past dynamic underpins the present drama. As Mourinho prepares a Champions League ambush for Guardiola’s side in the Bernabéu this Wednesday, some of the energy fuelling his astonishing career surely stems from a desire to prove himself to Barcelona, whose faithful still deride him as ‘The Translator’.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Man United haunted by German ghosts of Champions League past

“‘Typical Germans,’ Sir Alex Ferguson sneered after Manchester United’s away-goals quarterfinal exit against Bayern Munich (4-4 on aggregate) in the Champions League 12 months ago. The Scot was referring to the perceived gamesmanship of Ivica Olic, Franck Ribéry, Mark van Bommel and Bastian Schweinsteiger, who all made sure referee Nicola Rizzoli was well aware that United defender Rafael had already been on a yellow card before his dismissal.” SI

Football Weekly: Taxi for Wenger?

“Our topics for rumination and mastication include showing a bit of love to Arsène Wenger after yet another late collapse by the Gunners; celebrating the end of Fernando Torres’s goal drought; and wondering whether Liverpool can pip Tottenham into fifth place and squeak into Europe. Plus, we look ahead to the Champions League semi-finals and catch up with the goings on in Serie A, the Bundseliga and La Liga (where Lionel Messi has scored his 50th goal of the season, and Real Madrid’s reserve side tonked third-place Valencia 6-3).” Guardian – James Richardson

Liverpool 5 – 0 Birmingham

Andrea Mantegna, Triumph of Caesar
“A Maxi Rodriguez hat-trick inspired Liverpool to their biggest win of the season and further prove, if anyone was still in doubt, that Kenny Dalglish is the man to lead the club forward. The little Argentinian was not necessarily brilliant but just put himself in the right places to capitalise on some impressive team play by a side brimming with the confidence instilled by the 60-year-old Scot.” ESPN

Liverpool 5-0 Birmingham City – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – EPL
The 90th Minute

Barcelona 2 – 0 Osasuna

“Lionel Messi netted his 50th competitive goal of the season and David Villa ended his goal drought as Barcelona recovered from their Copa del Rey final defeat with a victory over Osasuna that keeps them firmly on course for the Primera Division title. Villa had gone 11 matches without finding the back of the net for his club – including Wednesday’s painful cup final loss to bitter rivals Real Madrid – but the Spain international was back on the mark to put a much-changed Barca ahead at the Camp Nou.” ESPN

FC Barcelona 2-0 Osasuna – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – La Liga
The 90th Minute

Kenny For Good?.

“Like most people, I expected Kenny Dalglish to give Liverpool a lift. While he wouldn’t have been my first choice last summer (due to his time out of the game), such was the depression surrounding the team by the autumn that it was crying out for someone inspirational and in touch with the club. If a caretaker was needed, he had to be the man.” Tomkins Times

Manchester United 1-0 Everton: United dominate but leave it late

“Another poacher’s goal from Javier Hernandez, and another late victory for Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson made many changes to his side, bringing in Darron Gibson and Johnny Evans for rare starts. Wayne Rooney played off Javier Hernandez. David Moyes was without Johnny Heitinga, so brought Jack Rodwell into the central midfield zone alongside Phil Neville, with Tony Hibbert at right-back. Tim Cahill was on the bench.” Zonal Marking

Part One: Introduction, Aims and Context

“The first part of four in the serialisation of my dissertation ‘To what extent can Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona be considered to have been political institutions in Spain during the twentieth century?’, this instalment introduces the topic at hand and provides academic and historical context to the subject.” The Equaliser – Part One: Introduction, Aims and Context, Part Two: The Political Life of FC Barcelona, Part Three: Real Madrid, Franco and the Socio Model, Part Four: Conclusions

Xolos Rising

“It took decades, but in the end it was just a short journey to find something seemingly so far away: the transcendent football experience. On a Sunday morning in April, soccer fan Dean Mitchell leaves his home in San Diego and heads south towards the border. The barren desert geography doesn’t change much between his home and Tijuana, Mexico, but nearly everything else brightens once he passes that wall, including Dean’s mood. Crossing the border on foot it takes literally one step to enter a completely different world – away from a soccer niche to a land hot with football fever.” this is american soccer

On Building an American Identity

“GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — A weathered, eight-lane track rings the field at Estadio Mateo Flores, site of the 2011 CONCACAF U20 Championship. Far from the pitch, on a narrow strip of real estate between lane eight and the near-empty stands, six young Americans juggle a single Nike ball. As I observe from the press box that doubles as a VIP area and triples as general admission seating, United States substitutes Cody Cropper, Eder Arreola, Moises Hernandez, Omar Salgado, Sacir Hot, and Sebastien Ibeagha stay loose.” Run of Play

Fernando Torres may have cost Chelsea the title as well as £50m

“It is a little peculiar that the re-emergence of Chelsea as challengers for the Premier League should come as a surprise. Considering that the club completed the Double last season, their abilities ought not to have been overlooked. The players, however, had sent themselves into the shadows and in February, in Fernando Torres’s first two games for the club, a home defeat by Liverpool was followed by a goalless draw at Fulham. Chelsea gave every impression of being a jaded side and, even now, the necessity of rejuvenating the squad is obvious.” Guardian

Tottenham 3-3 Arsenal: chalkboards

“Another exciting north London derby finished all-square at White Hart Lane. Harry Redknapp chose to use both Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko upfront together again, with Rafael van der Vaart going to the right in place of Aaron Lennon. Arsene Wenger brought in Abou Diaby for Jack Wilshere, and Bacary Sagna replaced Emmanuel Eboue at right-back, but he used the same front four as against Liverpool.” Zonal Marking

La semaine en France: Week 31

“Another misstep from Lille allowed Marseille to close to within a point of the leaders in Week 31, while Paris Saint-Germain confirmed their return to form by beating Lyon 1-0 and relauching their bid for a Champions League place. Lille were held to a 1-1 draw by Bordeaux last Saturday – Vujadin Savić cancelling out Moussa Sow’s 21st goal of the season with a near-post header from a corner – but Rudi Garcia refused to sound the alarm and said he had been much more encouraged by his team’s performance than in the 1-0 loss at Monaco the week before.” Football Further

Real Madrid 1-0 Barcelona (AET): Ronaldo header wins Real the Copa del Rey

“A tight, scrappy game was won by Cristiano Ronaldo’s 103rd minute goal. Jose Mourinho had to reshuffle his defence with Raul Albiol suspended. Sergio Ramos moved into the centre, and Alvaro Arbeloa came in at right-back. Mourinho also chose to play no true striker – Karim Benzema was dropped with Mesut Ozil back in the side on the right. Ronaldo started ufpront.” Zonal Marking

Real Madrid Lay Hands on the Copa del Rey
“Less than a week after their hard fought tie in league play, Madrid and Barça met in the final of the King’s Cup. Mourinho sent his defensive set into the midfield again, then put in Özil from the start for an added touch of creativity in attack, and sprinkled the whole side with an extra dose of aggression dust.” Cult Football

Jose’s Barça-Bothering Continues in Cup
“The notion that there is a ring-bearing, hairy-toed, mystical, ‘I love you Master Frod’ friendship surrounding World Cup winners was firmly dispelled in Valencia in Wednesday’s Copa del Rey final. Ten of those who triumphed in South Africa came face to furious face in Mestalla and spent a wonderfully ill-tempered 120 minutes kicking and stamping each other along with generous volleys of insults thrown in for good measure.” Football 365

FC Barcelona 0-1 Real Madrid (El Clasico) – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Copa del Rey
The 90th Minute

Power shift in Copa Libertadores apparent as knockout stage looms

“The Copa Libertadores can seem like a slow burner, but it is about to catch fire. The final group games are taking place in South America’s equivalent of the Champions League. Next week, the 16 remaining teams kick off the knockout stage. Come June 1, just two are left standing — and it is a fair bet that one of them will be from Brazil. In the last 20 years, only three times has the final not featured a Brazilian club.” SI Tim Vickery

Napoli’s Success Story

“Despite a disappointing home defeat to Udinese last Sunday, this has still been a great season for Napoli, who currently lie second in the Serie A league table with five games remaining. Even though the scudetto is now probably beyond them, there’s still a slim chance that they could catch the leaders Milan, while qualification for the Champions League looks more than likely. The team has played its football at a fast tempo and with the intensity typical of manager Walter Mazzarri, a shrewd tactician and a powerful motivator, which has delighted the club’s passionate supporters.” Swiss Ramble

Rafael van der Vaart comes up trumps as Tottenham win the battle for midfield

“If Tottenham are to challenge at the top level consistently, they need complement their British directness with a bit of continental flair. And it’s safe to say that, in their inaugural year in the Champions League, Rafael van der Vaart has helped to provide that. Against Arsenal, the Dutchman rediscovered his best form after it, like many of his peers nominated for the PFA player of the year award, took a dip after the New Year but he was inspirational at White Hart Lane as Spurs came back from behind to draw 3-3.” Arsenal Column

Tottenham Hotspur 3-3 Arsenal – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – EPL
The 90th Minute

Feature: Streetwise Marseille slip into title gear

“For their rivals in the French title race, the manner in which Marseille have muscled their way into position in recent weeks bears an ominous trace of déjà vu. Just as they did last season, when they ended an 18-year wait for the Ligue 1 championship, Marseille are steadily grinding out results while their opponents flounder. The 2-1 comeback victory at Montpellier on Sunday enabled Didier Deschamps’s side to close to within a point of wobbling leaders Lille, held to a 1-1 draw by Bordeaux the day before. Third-place Lyon, meanwhile, saw their title ambitions hit in a 1-0 defeat at Paris Saint-Germain that left them six points off the pace with seven games remaining.” Football Further

Napoli 1-2 Udinese: Guidolin without Di Natale and Sanchez, but masterminds great victory

“Two fantastic goals gave Udinese an important win over Napoli. Francesco Guidolin had numerous absentees, most notably his two star forwards, Antonio Di Natale and Alexis Sanchez. He had to play Kwadwo Asamoah just off German Denis, the former Napoli player. Walter Mazzarri played his usual 3-4-2-1 system – Hassan Yebda continued over Walter Gargano in midfield, and Victor Ruiz started at the back.” Zonal Marking

Under-strength Udinese force Napoli to rewrite their Serie A script
“Giampaolo Pozzo has never been afraid to ask for a little divine intervention. For years the Udinese owner has been leading his players up into the hills to the east of their city, on an annual pilgrimage to the Blessed Virgin’s Sanctuary of Castelmonte. As they climb he might recount the sanctuary’s legend, telling of how the devil once challenged the Virgin Mary to a race to Castelmonte’s peak, with the winner taking possession of the local town of Cividale.” Guardian

The Velvet Underground and Raúl

“I still remember the first time I heard a Nico solo track from the post-Velvet Underground, post-Chelsea Girl era. It was ‘My Only Child’ off Desertshore, Nico singing largely a capella in her unique voice, with occasional trumpet notes. It was like nothing else I had heard. I was stunned to find it was a song she had written herself. It was on a German anthology of ‘death songs’ that my girlfriend gave me for Christmas in the far-off days of my unremembered youth (a.k.a. 2003).” Run of Play

Barcelona 2011 vs. AC Milan 1990

“Ask anybody who’s done it, and they’ll tell you that sustaining success is much harder than achieving it in the first place. The great Hungarian coach Bela Guttmann refused ever to spend longer than three years at a club because he felt that after that he could no longer motivate players. It may be that in the modern world of soccer in which money begets money, success is easier to sustain than previously, at least on a domestic level. On a European scale what that means is a cluster of perhaps eight or so super powers constantly battling for the Champions League, which is surely the main reason no side has successfully defended the title since the AC Milan of Arrigo Sacchi in 1990.” SI

Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool: amazing late drama

Kenny Dalglish
“Robin van Persie broke the record for the latest-ever Premier League goal…then Dirk Kuyt broke it again. Alex Song was only fit enough for the bench, so Arsene Wenger played Abou Diaby and Jack Wilshere in the centre of midfield. Theo Walcott came in for Andrei Arshavin. Kenny Dalglish named his expected side, although he had to make two like-for-like changes because of injury during the game – both Fabio Aurelio and Jamie Carragher were forced off. Amongst the crazy few final moments, the main tactical story from this game was simple – Arsenal struggled to break down a disciplined Liverpool defence.” Zonal Marking

Late penalty drama rocks Gunners
“Arsenal saw their Premier League title hopes all but extinguished in a dramatic 1-1 draw with Liverpool. Dirk Kuyt secured a point for the Reds with a penalty after 10 minutes of injury time – just moments after Robin van Persie’s own spot-kick had looked enough for victory. The Gunners are now six point points behind leaders Manchester United having played the same amount of games.” ESPN

Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1: match report
“And that is why Arsenal remain beautiful bridesmaids. And that is why Arsenal, for all their individual elegance, for all their collective style, will not be champions of the Premier League. Manchester United would have seen this game out, protecting their lead with their lives. And that is why United are destined to lift the trophy.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool – MOTD – Sunday, April 17, 2011
The 90th Minute

Prepare for some twists and turns

“The time has arrived in South America when fans all over the continent will need a calculator in one hand and the phone number of a cardiologist in the other. This is the last week of the group phase of the Copa Libertadores, the continent’s equivalent of the Champions League. Of the eight groups, four have been completed, while the rest have their last round coming up on either Tuesday or Wednesday.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Ten top Ligue 1 talents who could be on the move this summer

“The current row over TV rights in French soccer might not have made the news across Europe but its consequences soon will. Orange has dropped out of the bidding for next season’s rights — it paid the French league €200 million ($288M) to show one game a week for the last three seasons — leaving Canal Plus as the sole bidder. Canal has shown a willingness to pay something similar to its current deal, worth €450 million ($650M), but whatever happens, it will not make up the huge shortfall caused by Orange’s drop-out.” SI

The New York Cosmos Want to Take the Field Again

“As a theme for a downtown party, a salute to late-’70s American professional soccer sounds a little on the you’ve-got-to-be-kidding side. But anyone who walked into Openhouse Gallery in NoLIta one rainy night in mid-February would have seen a young crowd in a huge room celebrating the New York Cosmos, the long-defunct team that briefly turned the world’s most popular sport into a glamorous New York fad.” NYT

Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona: Real fight back impressively, but gap remains eight points

“A penalty each from the two Pichichi contenders saw honours even at the Bernabeu. Jose Mourinho left out Mesut Ozil and brought in Pepe to give extra grit in the centre of midfield. Raul Albiol started at centre-back, and Karim Benzema got the nod upfront. Pep Guardiola welcomed back Carles Puyol, allowing Sergio Busquets forward into his natural position. Elsewhere, it was as expected.” Zonal Marking

Ronaldo earns draw in el clasico
“Cristiano Ronaldo scored a late penalty to earn 10-man Real Madrid a dramatic 1-1 draw from the clasico showdown with bitter rivals Barcelona at the Bernabeu. Ronaldo’s 82nd-minute spot-kick cancelled out Lionel Messi’s 53rd-minute penalty for Barca, which came following an incident that also saw Madrid defender Raul Albiol sent off.” ESPN

Real Madrid 1-1 FC Barcelona (El Clasico) – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats
The 90th Minute

Man City 1-0 Man United: Toure dominates the game in midfield and scores the winning goal

“Manchester City won the derby to progress to the FA Cup final next month. Roberto Mancini chose to leave out Edin Dzeko despite Carlos Tevez’s absence – he went with Mario Balotelli upfront, supported by Yaya Toure, with Adam Johnson and David Silva on the flanks. Sir Alex Ferguson left out Ryan Giggs and Javier Hernandez. He used three ‘wingers’ – though Park Ji-Sung played in the centre. Dimitar Berbatov started alone upfront.” Zonal Marking

Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – FA Cup
The 90th Minute


Travelers Awaiting a Ferry, Philips Wouwerman
“Despite overtures to delicacy, Barcelona FC has become an unwieldy force, a football leviathan. Coinciding with the city’s international debut in the ’92 Olympics, the club began two decades of furious attack on Real Madrid’s hegemony over Spanish football with championships in La Liga and the Champions League, with Super Copas and thrashings at the Bernabéu. Their popularity among passing fans and football writers has swelled and their influence seems ubiquitous: it’s a small step from the club’s success to the success of the Spanish side in the 2008 Euro Cup and 2010 World Cup; their mind-boggling sextuplet of championships in 2009 persuaded Real to spend record amounts assembling a team dubbed ‘galactic’.” Run of Play

Real Madrid v Barcelona: tactical preview
“Barcelona have an eight-point gap going into the second of five Clasicos this season. No-one needs reminding what happened in the previous fixture between these two sides. The 5-0 was a truly historic result, and the heaviest defeat of Jose Mourinho’s managerial career. Mourinho has a reputation for learning from his mistakes, though – his Inter side were outplayed by Barcelona at the Camp Nou in early 2009/10, but he returned in the semi-final to record an unlikely victory.” Zonal Marking

Mainz 1-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach

“Mainz took a huge step towards Europa League qualification after overcoming ten-man Borussia Mönchengladbach with a late goal from André Schürrle.” Defensive Midfielder

Wolfsburg 2-2 St Pauli
“Wolfsburg scored a late equalizer to grab an undeserved point at home to fellow strugglers St Pauli. The point leaves both sides four points adrift from safety with just fives games to go.” Defensive Midfielder

Media Muppet of the Month, April 2011.

“This old chestnut is revived thanks to David Anderson of the Daily Mirror, who wrote a peach of a piece this week; taking nonsense to new heights. After all, wasn’t it about time someone wrote a piece criticing Rafa Benítez, for no apparent reason? Here he tells us of the folly of playing Dirk Kuyt out on the wing, after he scored a great goal playing … out on the wing.” Tomkins Times

A Brief History of El Clasico aka The Greatest Football Rivalry

“They called him Judas. They threw bottles, cigarettes, rubbish, and heck even a rotten pig’s head to show their disgust. The Boixos Nois, once the neo-nazi ultras of Barca, were banned from the stadium after this incident. Such was the level of hatred. This was treachery, one of ridiculous proportions. Transfer of players between these two clubs was not new, in fact 27 people had moved directions before Luis Figo did, but not one of them was in this fashion. Never before had a player who belonged to the club, one who was loved and admired by the fans for more than just his footballing skills, left so bitterly. ‘The derbi of shame’ they call it, brought out all the emotion that could ever be thrown out, by this magnificent rivalry.” The Offside

Madrid vs. Barcelona: Four Times a Soccer Classic
” A ‘clásico’ encounter between Real Madrid and F.C. Barcelona, the two biggest and most successful teams in Spanish soccer, inevitably generates high expectations. But the prospect of four such clásicos in 17 days has triggered a frenzy here that is rekindling memories of last July, when Spaniards followed with bated breath their national team’s triumphant march to its first World Cup trophy in South Africa.” NYT

Camp Nou Stadium for FC Barcelona
“FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou Stadium, one of the world’s greatest football venues, is to be extensively remodelled. The stadium, already the largest in Europe, will be enlarged to accommodate over 106,000 fans, together with extensive new facilities including hospitality and public areas.” Foster + Partners

Meet and Greet The Owners and Presidents of Serie A

“Because Milanisti are such gracious hosts, Milan Insider Matteo Bonetti takes a few moments to reflect on the owners and presidents who would be there as peers looking out for the welfare of new American owner Thomas DiBenedetto. Matteo offers some key talking points to help the prospective AS Roma owner adjust to his new surroundings in Serie A. Buona Fortuna!Beyond the Pitch

Intelligence and Tribalism

“There are two very different types of football fan which clash. The first type is a thinker. They are intellectuals. They base their opinions on reason and evidence. They listen to Football Weekly, read Zonal Marking and Run of Play. They follow Iain Macintosh and Swiss Ramble on Twitter. They have read Brilliant Orange and Inverting the Pyramid many times. They stream the Argentine Apertura at 2am on their laptops.” Watching and Thinking

Tactics: How the Champions League semi-finalists line up

Gerard Pique
“This season’s Champions League semi-finalists reached the last four with an average aggregate winning margin in the quarter-finals of four goals, making them the most comfortable set of semi-final qualifiers in the Champions League era (post-1992). The diagrams below depict their tactical line-ups from the first legs of their quarter-final ties, before there were any leads to be defended or deficits to be overturned.” Football Further

Lessons from the Champions League
“The Champions League semifinals are now set. What did we learn in the quarterfinals about the teams that made it through to the final four? Here are five lessons to keep in mind before Europe’s premier competition returns with the first legs of two highly anticipated ties, Manchester United vs. Schalke on April 26 and Barcelona vs. Real Madrid on April 27.” ESPN – Michael Cox

The Brilliance of Barcelona B
“As a football fan, there are many things worse you could do with your time than watch Barcelona B. From afar, perhaps on a low quality stream or from a high seat in their 15,000 capacity Mini Estadi, you may just think you’re watching the senior side playing with their usual swagger. Pass, pass, pass, pass. Possession football at its very finest that is the core to Barcelona’s success. That’s probably because you’re watching the next crop of Barcelona first team players, and they’re a very talented bunch.” The Oval Log

Hello, New World!

“This Thursday night, 14 April 2011, the Timbers Army will sing the official ‘Star Spangled Banner’ at a stadium in the heart of Portland, Oregon, and the local football club will play its first home match in America’s top division. The Timbers face Chicago’s Fire. The match will occasion large amounts of beer consumption on premises and in the surrounding neighborhoods, and play its own small part in hastening the decline of the traditional nation-state.” Run of Play

Portland readies for home debut, Beckham rants; more mailbag
“There’s something that just seems right about the match between Portland, Ore., and soccer. You can see for yourself tonight when the Portland Timbers host their historic first MLS home game (ESPN2, 11 p.m. ET) against the Chicago Fire in what figures to be a festive cauldron in their refurbished downtown stadium.” SI

On Disappointment

“There are several major reasons why a player disappoints: 1. He or she—I’ll use just “he” from here on, but these points apply equally to female athletes—gets injured and has difficulty recovering. 2. He turns out to be older than many people had thought, that is, on the decline at an age when some other players are able to maintain peak performance. 3. He is not, and never was, as good as some people thought he was…” Run of Play