Tactics: How the Champions League semi-finalists line up

April 14, 2011


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

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Hello, New World!

April 14, 2011

“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

April 14, 2011

“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


The Island of Arsenal

April 14, 2011

“It’s impossible to talk about Arsenal without talking about the je ne sais quoi of Arsenal, its ineffable Arsenal-ness, that special mélange of esprit and souffrance that sets Arsenal willfully and gloriously and somewhat ludicrously apart from every other soccer team in England. Arsenal plays the most stylish soccer, an intricate passing game of overlapping runs and constant movement. Arsenal suffers the most agonizing collapses: five years and counting without a trophy.” Slate – Brian Phillips


1960s Month: Kansas City Spurs, Glory and Oblivion

April 14, 2011

“The year was 1969. Only one year earlier, professional soccer had finally arrived in Kansas City, under dubious circumstances. The National Professional Soccer League had merged with the North American Soccer League, forcing the then Chicago Spurs into a bind – they could either dissolve to make way for the newly minted Chicago Mustangs, or move. And move they did.” The Equaliser