FC Barcelona: Culminating With a Dream

May 29, 2011


“This season has seen FC Barcelona reach what must surely be the pinnacle of the quite remarkable cycle of success that this team has enjoyed since the appointment of Pep Guardiola in 2008. Playing a style of football that is as effective as it is beautiful, Barcelona have mastered both patient passing when with the ball and relentlessly energetic pressing without, their beguiling proficiency seeing them repeatedly outclass the rest of Europe.” The Equaliser – Video

Style and Stylelessness
“Some last-minute thoughts . . . Last year I wrote something about styles and stylelessness in soccer, and I’m thinking about that again as the Champions League final approaches. Everyone knows, because fifty articles a day say so, that Barcelona has a very distinctive style of play. You can name it and describe it, and you can see clearly when other sides try to imitate it. Xavi may be the perfect embodiment of the style, but it’s bigger than he is, and everyone knows it. Whenever Victor Valdés starts a Barça possession not with an aimless punt but with a sharp clean pass to Piqué or Busquets, the crowd at Camp Nou cheers. ‘Even our keeper plays the Barça way!'” Run of Play

Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United: Barcelona are European Champions
“Goals from each of Barcelona’s front three gave Pep Guardiola’s side victory at Wembley. Sir Alex Ferguson named his recent ‘big game’ XI – which meant Javier Hernandez upfront with Wayne Rooney behind, and Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick in the centre of midfield. The biggest surprise was Dimitar Berbatov not even being on the bench. Guardiola was able to call on Eric Abidal at left-back, but not Carles Puyol at centre-back, so Javier Mascherano started in defence after all. The overall pattern was not completely different from the 2009 final. United enjoyed a good opening few minutes, but were then the poorer side for the rest of the contest.” Zonal Marking

Barcelona outclasses Man United with a performance for the ages
“Surely now the doubters have been won over: this Barcelona is one of the greatest teams there has ever been. In Pep Guardiola’s three seasons in charge Barca has twice won the Champions League, and it was denied a hat trick that would have placed it statistically alongside the Ajax and Bayern Munich sides of the seventies only by the combined might of Jose Mourinho and an Icelandic volcano.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Lionel Messi the little master offers timely reminder of the beautiful game as Barcelona thrill
“This was the sort of spellbinding performance from Barcelona, and particularly their wonderful Argentine magician, that makes even cynics fall back in love with football. Pass and move, move and score. Bewitching. For a sport dogged by negative headlines, the club season climaxed with a celebration of the sport’s oft-hidden virtues. The spotlight turns to Fifa today, and the judgment of the Ethics Committee on recent shenanigans, but here was a reminder of what the game should be about. Not greed. Just glory. Just a love of the ball’s company, a passion for guiding it past opponents.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Brilliant Barcelona are a high point in football’s evolution
“In the buildup to this final, the BBC debated who was the greatest of all club football sides and settled on the Real Madrid team who won the first five European Cups from 1956 to 1960. There was unanimity in favour of Puskas, Di Stéfano and Gento: white-jerseyed enemies to the people of Catalonia. Study the tapes of those Real Madrid XIs and you see skill, exuberance, thrust and machismo; a regal confidence across the team. You also register a wholly different version of football in which possession is easily surrendered and defending often laissez-faire. The greatest of all Real’s early triumphs – the 7-3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960 – was a goal avalanche impossible to imagine in a Champions League final today.” Guardian – Paul Hayward

Prized Possession for Barcelona: Champions League Title
“LONDON — With the fans at one end of Wembley Stadium singing and dancing, and those at the other sulking and leaving, the public-address announcer made the most obvious of proclamations: Barcelona was the winner of the Champions League.” NYT

Barca vs. Man United player grades
“Reviewing the individual performances in the 2011 Champions League final (players graded on a scale of 1-10)…” SI

Barcelona 3 – 1 Manchester United
“For the second time in three years, brilliant Barcelona denied Manchester United Champions League glory with a sensational performance at Wembley. Although United could take some small consolation from the knowledge they were more effective than that 2009 letdown in Rome and even managed to level Pedro’s first-half strike through Wayne Rooney, once again the better team won. On the ground where the Catalans lifted their first European Cup, Lionel Messi also laid his personal ghost to rest, scoring his first goal for Barcelona on English soil, belting home what proved to be the winner nine minutes into the second half.” ESPN

FC Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United – Extended Fox Sports Video Highlights
Extended Fox Sports video

FC Barcelona Trophy Celebrations After Winning 2011 UEFA Champions League
Video highlights of the trophy celebration by FC Barcelona on May 28, 2011


Alegria

May 27, 2011


Garrincha
“Put all your partisanship aside and enjoy the ball in flight. It’s been switched crossed field from the inside-left position by the skillful, balding, English bulldog in ballet slippers to the man on the right touch in all black boots and pomade-infused black hair. Taken out of the air with the inside of the foot and stopped dead by the simplest of grace, the game has changed from a waltz on spiked Lucozade to an aguardiente-inspired pasillo remix. That sequence of events gives me joy. There is technique and there is technique. And, such deft touch is evidence of the latter. What happens next, the soccer equivalent of a crescendo, brings me happiness.” Run of Play


Sergio Busquets: Barcelona’s best supporting actor sets the stage

May 27, 2011

“Most people don’t like Sergio Busquets. But then his club and country coaches, Pep Guardiola and Vicente del Bosque, are not most people. Nor are his Barcelona team-mates. In the bowels of the Camp Nou, the question is obvious. ‘You must be happy to be free to play in this Champions League final after everything that has happened?’ Busquets is asked. ‘Sí, muy contento,’ says the Spaniard sharply. And then there is silence and a steely stare. Next.” Guardian


La semaine en France: Week 37

May 27, 2011

“You wait 56 years for a major trophy, and then two come along at once. Eight days after ending a 56-year wait to win the Coupe de France by beating Paris Saint-Germain at Stade de France, Lille ended a 57-year wait for the Ligue 1 championship following a 2-2 draw against the same opponents down the road at Parc des Princes.” Football Further


ADO 5 – 1 Groningen: First leg trashing fires ADO into Europe

May 27, 2011

“In a first leg of what many expected to be a tight affair, ADO trashed Groningen and went on to win 5-1, thereby virtually securing their win in this season’s Europa League qualification playoffs. Groningen conceded the midfield to ADO by playing a formation bordering on 4-2-4 against ADO’s compact 4-3-3. In turn, ADO played to their strength very well and consequently circulated the ball to the feet of wingers Kubik and Verhoek. In the end, a weak performance by Groningen goal keeper Luciano did the rest.” 11 tegen 11


Days Like These – The Big Match

May 27, 2011

“‘The Big Match’, directed by Joel Simon, depicts one man’s recollection of a special day in his childhood, and it’s something we can all relate to. The film uses animated archive video footage and photographs to bring this personal story to life. Music was written and performed by the Brian Irvine Ensemble.” In Bed With Maradona


The End of Barcelona

May 26, 2011


The Great Fish Market – Jan Brueghel the Elder
“I have a new piece in Slate about the Champions League final and whether we’re about to see the end of Barcelona’s magical run of the last few seasons. Of course, no sooner had I ventured this possibility in a draft than I went down with a sudden, bad case of food poisoning; most of this was written while I was clinging to the edge of the bed, sustained by nothing but Gatorade and rice. So take that into account, if you believe the universe avenges its chosen children.” Run of Play

Sic Transit Gloria Messi
“For the past three years, soccer has been dominated, utterly and ruthlessly, by a reign of Spanish prettiness. Spain’s national team won Euro 2008 with a rapturous mix of intricate passing and outrageous goal-scoring, then repeated the feat, albeit less dazzlingly, at the 2010 World Cup. Meanwhile, F.C. Barcelona took many of the same Spanish players—plus Lionel Messi, the Argentine superstar who’s lived in Spain since boyhood—on a fey romp through worldwide club soccer.” Slate


The tale of how Guardiola and Barcelona fell in love

May 26, 2011

“‘Citizens of Catalunya, now we have it here with us,’ were Pep Guardiola’s words to the celebrating masses on 24 May 1992. Barcelona had been to Wembley and come back with the club’s first European Cup. The skin-and-bones No 10 with the full head of thick, jet-black hair was 21 years old. He had marched up to take charge of the extra-time free-kick from which Ronald Koeman would score, only to be pushed away by Hristo Stoichkov, five years his senior.” Independent

Five things to watch in the Champions League final Story Highlights
“It’s here: the biggest game of the year in world club soccer. Five things to watch for in Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United (2 p.m. ET, Fox)…” SI

Can’t England get United behind the red half of Manchester in the Champions League?
“On the day of the game, when Manchester United last played in Lisbon in 2007, Sir Alex Ferguson commandeered a crew from in-house broadcasters MUTV and headed out to Oeiras, west of the city. In the Jamor sports complex, surrounded by woodlands, lies the Estadio Nacional, an oval arena, medium-sized, that is the traditional setting for the Portuguese cup final. Ferguson had the crew film him walking out on to the pitch and at various points around the stadium.” DailyMail

Champions League Final Predictions: What the bloggers say
“There’s nothing predictable about Saturday’s Champions League Final between Manchester United and Barcelona – but ITV have asked a selection of the top football bloggers to give it a go anyway…” itv


Ten conclusions to make from Arsenal’s season 2010/2011

May 26, 2011

“1. Mental fragility cost Arsenal the season. There is a valid assertion that with the youth policy, certain characteristics – in some cases, the key characteristics that make up the anatomy of a successful football club – have had to be exaggerated and the others, harder to reproduce. Indeed, the most attractive qualities of Arsenal since the beginning of Arséne Wenger’s reign – the youth, fluidity, intelligence, pace and confidence in possession – have effectively taken over the team.” Arsenal Column


Lessons from the 2009 final (part one)

May 26, 2011


“As this season’s Champions League final is a repeat of the final from 2009, it’s well worth taking a look at that contest before Saturday night’s game. The footage, if you’re interested, is available on YouTube here (with the following parts on the links down the right-hand side). Here are five conclusions from that match – five more (plus the usual preview) to come.” Zonal Marking

Lessons from the 2009 final (part two)
“A continuation of the earlier conclusions from the 2009 Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United. The majority of points are, of course, related to Manchester United’s tactics – since they lost that final, and have to put things right this time around.” Zonal Marking


Football Culture Clash: a debate with Paul Hayward

May 26, 2011

“On a flight back from Spain, a chance meeting with Paul Hayward, Chief Sports Writer for The Observer, led to a lengthy discussion on the cultural differences between the English and Spanish game. Our conversation took place in the aftermath of the Champions League semi finals that did little to enhance the reputation of La Liga in the eyes of the British press and public. With this Saturday`s Champions League final bringing our two footballing cultures together, Paul Hayward and I thought it would be interesting to continue our comparisons of attitudes and approaches to the sport via email and publish them here. Here`s the first couple of exchanges between Paul and I. Please join in the debate and check back later in the week when our focus turns to the big game between Manchester United and FC Barcelona at Wembley…” Guillem Balague, (2)


Fourteen: #1

May 26, 2011

“This is the first part of a David Peace-style fictionalisation of the 1974 World Cup Final, its specific focus being the Dutch squad of Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff. I’m not entirely sure where I’m going this – I started it while sitting in a coffee shop to pass the time and just kept writing – but I’ll publish it in several parts and see it through to its conclusion regardless. If the prose seems clunky then that’ll be because I very rarely turn my hand to fiction, but it’s been fun to write and so this is the first instalment of what may be several to follow.” The Equaliser


Varied tactical options for Man United to deploy against Barcelona

May 24, 2011


Gerard Pique
“Barcelona’s team we know; Manchester United’s is a matter of speculation, a fact that, in itself, is indicative of two things. First, that Barcelona is the favorite, with such a defined and familiar style of play that, even in this age of rotation, it is possible, as with the greats of the past, to rattle through a first eleven.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Have Bolton played ‘attractive football’ under Owen Coyle this season?

May 24, 2011

“Considering Bolton and Owen Coyle received an enormous amount of praise earlier in the season, it’s slightly strange to find them down in 14th place at the end of the Premier League season. 14th place doesn’t sound particularly bad, but having flirted with a Europa League place earlier this season, it represents an alarming drop in form in the second half of the season.” Zonal Marking


Socrates and Garforth Town

May 24, 2011

“The word ‘nice’ gets a little over used for our liking, but this is a nice story in the nicest sense of the word. Answering a call via contacts made in junior football, the legendary Brazilian master Socrates turns out for Garforth Town against Tadcaster Albion in the Northern Counties East League in October 2004.” In Bed With Maradona


Positive statistics highlight the negative reality of MLS

May 24, 2011

“Earlier this month, Major League Soccer proudly announced the launch of the Castrol Index to ‘objectively’ rank its players’ performances. As if the modern game was not already burdened with enough useless statistics, we can now enjoy the benefits of this ‘proprietary technology’ that purports to track around 1,800 player movements per game, and then produce a league table of ranked individuals. The first monthly table told us what we possibly already knew: Thierry Henry is the best player in MLS.” WSC


The Guatemalan Manchester City

May 24, 2011

“Top flight team slumps into the third division before a well-off businessman takes control, recruits foreign coach, engineers a revival and targets the Champions League. Sound familiar?” In Bed With Maradona


Liverpool’s Future Strategy

May 23, 2011


“If ever a football club’s season could be described as the proverbial ‘game of two halves’ that would be the one experienced by Liverpool fans this year. Following Roy Hodgson’s appointment as manager last July as the replacement for the popular Rafael Benitez, the Reds endured their worst league start in more than 50 years, falling into the relegation zone in October after a dismal home defeat to newly promoted Blackpool.” Swiss Ramble

Liverpool’s 2009/10 results underline the challenges Fenway face
“Under Hicks and Gillett, the Liverpool structure became more complex than in the days of the Moores family. There were two main UK holding companies; Kop Football (Holdings) Limited (‘KFH’) and its subsidiary Kop Football Limited (‘KF’) which in turn owned The Liverpool Football Club and Athletic Grounds Limited (‘LFAG’), the football club itself. KF was the entity that borrowed the vast majority of the money from the banks. At 31st July 2010 LFAG’s debt was limited to an inter-company loan to KF of £104.6m and bank loans and overdrafts totalling £37.7m.” the andersred blog


Are Argentina better off without Tevez?

May 23, 2011

“The stocky shadow of Carlos Tevez is likely to be cast all over the Copa America in Argentina this July. The Manchester City striker will almost certainly not be picked for the tournament as Argentina coach Sergio Batista is apparently building a side without him. He is attempting to create an imitation Barcelona, with Lionel Messi in the ‘false number nine’ role that Pep Guardiola invented for him with the Catalan club. The back-up is to use Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid as a target man striker.” BBC – Tim Vickery


2010-11 English Premier League Final League Table

May 23, 2011

“The 2010-11 EPL season has finished with Manchester United winning a record 19th league title. The final table has them with a 9 point lead over 2nd place Chelsea and 3rd plcae Manchester City. On the other end, there are three sides who have been relegated to the Championship. These are Blackpool, West Ham United, and Birmingham City. The final league table is below with each team’s home, away, and overall record.” The 90th Minute


Good Day, Bad Day: Disaster for Depor and a record for Ronaldo

May 23, 2011

“With little, bowl-headed Bojan wearing the captain’s armband for Barcelona as reward for a splendid A- in PE, LLL feared the worst for Pep’s Dream Boys at Málaga. A defeat for Barça would have left a table reflecting the fact that Real Madrid had lost the league by a single point, something Marca would no doubt have dined-out on for the entire summer. Instead, the mini-Dream Boys came away from the south coast with a 3-1 victory to give Barça a four point advantage over Madrid after 38 games.” FourFourTwo


15 managerial appointments – the verdict

May 23, 2011


Rafael Benitez, Inter
“Back in August, ZM published a list of the 15 most intriguing managerial appointments of the summer. All were taking new jobs with speculation about how well they would fare. Some have done brilliantly, but more have been a disappointment, and an amazing number are no longer in their position. Here, then, is a summary of how each has performed.” Zonal Marking


Abramovich’s chase for the Champions League takes another life

May 23, 2011

“It’s happened again. Chelsea end a season without a trophy and the manager has been removed from his post. Roman Abramovich pours so much money into that football club that there is an argument to suggest that he has the right to do what he likes, but since when did 2nd in the league and a quarter-final place in the Champions League constitute a season worthy of sacking the manager?” Bamber Media


Motherwell 0 – 3 Celtic

May 23, 2011

“Neil Lennon picked up his first trophy as Celtic manager with a comfortable Scottish Cup final win over Motherwell at Hampden Park. Ki Sung-yueng opened the scoring in the 32nd minute with a wonderful drive and Mark Wilson’s shot in the 75th minute, which deflected off Well skipper Stephen Craigan, put the Parkhead men into an unassailable lead. Charlie Mulgrew’s wonderful free-kick with two minutes remaining brought an even more positive end to the Irishman’s first season as permanent boss – which, to say the least, has been troubled.” ESPN


Groningen 2 – 1 Heracles: Hard-fought battle decides EL play-off final ticket

May 23, 2011

“Groningen managed to claim a place in the final of this season’s Eredivisie play-offs by beating Heracles with the tiniest of margins: away goal difference. After a hard-fought battle, ending in a 3-2 home victory for Heracles, Groningen’s 2-1 win was just enough to secure a place in the final and to maintain hopes of playing in next season’s Europa League preliminaries.” 11 tegen 11


Lionel Messi: Boy Genius

May 22, 2011


“Given a rare night on the Barcelona bench last Sunday, Lionel Messi yanked on the seat in front of him, hunched his shoulders over the chair back and kicked it with his cleats. He seemed not so much the world’s best soccer player as a restless kid in a movie theater. He is 23, with a grown-up’s income reported to exceed $43 million this year. Yet Messi still has a boy’s floppy bangs, a boy’s slight build and a boy’s nickname, the Flea. Even the ball stays on his feet like a shy child clinging to his father’s legs.” NYT


Aston Villa 1 – 0 Liverpool

May 22, 2011

“Aston Villa duo Stewart Downing and Ashley Young have been on Liverpool’s radar for some time and manager Kenny Dalglish witnessed first-hand their qualities as his side slipped to the defeat which ended their Europa League hopes. With Tottenham only drawing the Reds could have leapt into fifth place and secured European qualification with a victory but they rarely troubled their hosts on an afternoon when Villa’s two wingers provided the main attacking thrust.” ESPN


Manchester United v Blackpool – Tangerine Theatre of Dreams

May 22, 2011

“The final game of the season and the champions host Blackpool in what could be their last Premier League game. The outcome of this game alone will not necessarily control Blackpool’s destiny unless the Tangerines achieve the impossible and win at Old Trafford.” Tangerine Dreaming


Málaga 1 – 3 Barcelona

May 22, 2011

“Barcelona’s second string warmed up for next weekend’s Champions League final against Manchester United with a 3-1 win at Malaga this evening. Sebas Fernandez gave Malaga the lead after 31 minutes, but a Bojan Krkic penalty levelled the scores just before the break.” ESPN


1970s Month: The Match That Never Was

May 20, 2011


Chilean political prisoners in 1973
“The history of football is a fascinatingly diverse path. The manner in which it spread across the globe in a rapid, uncompromising fashion led to it becoming increasingly entangled in the social and political issues that were prevalent at any given time. Through such periods clubs and players were granted different connotations as they became associated with varying aspects of society, politics and religion.” The Equaliser


Premier League season review

May 20, 2011

“As the Barclays Premier League season goes in to its final weekend, let’s take a look back at how things have panned out for each club since August…” SI


Porto 1-0 Braga: Porto win Europa League

May 20, 2011

“Falcao’s trademark header just before half time gave Porto the UEFA Cup trophy. Andre Villas Boas named the side which could reasonably considered his first choice XI for this season, with one exception – Freddy Guarin started on the right of the midfield trio, when Fernando Belluschi has seen plenty of playing time in that position.” Zonal Marking


Swindon Town internal PR briefing: Paolo Di Canio

May 20, 2011


“FistedAway can today exclusively bring you details of a memo discarded by Swindon Town’s PR department, which was exclusively found after exclusively rummaging through the (exclusive) bins outside the County Ground.” Fisted Away


La semaine en France: Week 36

May 20, 2011

“Anyone who doubts the truth in the old adage that a week is a long time in football would do well to speak to the jubilant people of Lille. Seven days ago their team had gone 56 years without winning a trophy and were in danger of being overhauled in the league by Marseille. One week on, they are practically assured of their first Coupe de France and Ligue 1 double since 1946.” Football Further


Exploitation, Youth Soccer, and College

May 20, 2011

“I begin with a warning and an observation. First, I do not want to dwell on American soccer troll topics. This post is not meant to gauge the ‘effectiveness’ of the college soccer system in producing elite players as compared to European youth academies. Rather, I want to focus on the intangible. I also want to grapple with a topic that has long ached at my soul: does our consumption of top-level European soccer foster child labor exploitation in Africa and elsewhere? As 21st century consumers with unparalleled access to tomes of information, we have a moral obligation to reflect on how our decisions in aggregate affect the world.” Run of Play


The Shrinking Cities

May 18, 2011


“In a recent post on the economic geography of football for The Two Unfortunates, I examined how a region’s economic wealth can have a large impact on the wellbeing of the game. Clubs feed off the prosperity or otherwise of their hinterlands and the role of government and business in a local economy has far reaching effects. Firms that cluster together can achieve mutual benefits as the amenities required for the successful running of a soccer club tend to be in plentiful supply. These include transport infrastructure, hotels, supermarkets and manufacturing suppliers, but the most important commodity of all is the fans.” In Bed With Maradona


Porto 3-2 Braga: Hulk dominates the game

May 18, 2011

“A great encounter with some terrific goals – Porto narrowly recorded an important victory. Porto lined up as expected, 4-3-3 with Fernando dropping deep ahead of his own defence, and Hulk and Silvestre Varela switching wings upfront.” Zonal Marking


Crossing is football’s greatest divide

May 18, 2011

“An interesting sub-context to this season has been the running battle between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur fans to ‘prove’ who is the ‘better player’; Theo Walcott or Gareth Bale. Of course, such debates can only be subjective but Spurs currently have the bragging rights on this one as Bale is the PFA Player of the Year. However, if such awards were decided by numbers than intuitive feelings, then perhaps the outcome would have been closer, with arguably Theo Walcott nipping it ahead of the Welshman. (Although we do realise, statistics are not all-conclusive on their own and it is a matter of interpretation).” The Arsenal Column


Matches Today: Intra-Portuguese Europa League final, Copa Libertadores quarters

May 18, 2011

“We lamented a bit last week over the close of the (European) club season, with most of the big leagues decided (and after the weekend, France (Lille) and the Netherlands (Ajax) also crowning champions). So what else is a CultFootball fan to look to, aside from the upcoming Champions League final (10 days away!)? Well, just today there are three tasty matches to watch.” Cult Football


Geoff Twentyman’s tales of scout’s honour for Liverpool FC

May 18, 2011

“IT’S the job every supporter wants – and thinks they would be great at. The role of the football scout is one of the most important in the modern game. With stakes high, and pressure and expectation burdening clubs like never before, transfer market prowess has seldom been more crucial. Put simply, a club’s recruitment policy can be the difference between success and failure, boom and bust.” Liverpool Echo


Udinese Selling Their Way To The Top

May 17, 2011


Giampaolo Pozzo
“Following back-to-back victories against Lazio and Chievo Verona, Udinese stand on the brink of achieving the improbable dream of qualifying for the Champions League for only the second time in their history. They only need one more point to guarantee their entrance through the ‘gates of paradise’, as Europe’s flagship competition was described by their down-to-earth coach Francesco Guidolin, but the last game of the season is against this year’s champions Milan, so this objective is still far from a fait accompli.” Swiss Ramble


What To Expect Next Season? Hertha Berlin – A Tactical Examination and Season Review

May 17, 2011

“The last time Markus Babbel participated in the 1. Bundesliga he was in charge of VfB Stuttgart after a short stint there as a player following retirement. In November 2008 he replaced the outgoing Armin Veh. Veh had a poor first half of the season and left his side stranded in 11th place, closer to relegation than the top half they were accustomed to. Babbel came in and guided Stuttgart to a 3rd place finish and qualification for the Champions League after a quite remarkable Hinrunde. In fact, Stuttgart finished that season just 5 points behind champions Wolfsburg. It was a turnaround few expected.” Bundesliga Fanatic


Cataloons

May 17, 2011

“Faced with a free weekend of football, our man behind the very successful Daggers Diary, Brian Parish and Dan Campbell headed off to Barcelona for a weekend of football.” The Ball is Round


The rise and fall of Diego Forlan

May 17, 2011


“How does the World Cup’s best player find himself persona non grata at his club? ITV Football’s James Appell examines the curious case of Diego Forlan. Do fans ask too much of their club’s players? Most supporters, fickle though they can be, are usually satisfied with a bit of elbow grease – winning matches or putting in quality performances are often not even deemed necessary.” itv


A Pacific Passion Play

May 17, 2011

“The moment when the Pacific Northwest succumbed to soccer nirvana came during—what else?—a steady downpour at 8:03 p.m. last Saturday at Qwest Field in Seattle. On the night the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers resumed the fiercest rivalry in American club soccer, a sellout crowd of 36,593 watched in awe as the Emerald City Supporters unveiled a 23,000-square-foot display of nine green-and-blue banners telling the pictorial story of the Sounders’ DECADES OF DOMINANCE over their Oregon neighbors—like cave paintings of a modern-day sports culture.” SI


Europa or Bust?

May 17, 2011

“After months of positively explosive squibs, the performance against Spurs was a bit of a damp one. It disappointed because it came so quickly after the scintillating display at Craven Cottage, that was one of the Reds’ best for a couple of seasons, and several convincing home wins.” Tomkins Times


Ajax 3-1 Twente: Ajax win title in last day drama

May 16, 2011


“Ajax needed to win to clinch the title, Twente needed just a draw – but Frank de Boer’s side emerged victorious. The Ajax manager named an unchanged 4-3-3 side from the one that beat Herenveen last weekend. Michel Preud’Homme’s selection was also unchanged from the previous weekend’s 4-0 thrashing of Willem II.” Zonal Marking

Ajax 3 – 1 Twente: Eredivisie decided in fantastic final
“A home victory over title rivals Twente meant that Frank de Boer’s Ajax secured the 30th Eredivisie title in the club’s history. Both title contenders faced each other on the final match day with Ajax needing a win for the title. And just one week after losing the Dutch Cup final to Twente in overtime, Ajax managed a 3-1 win in a tight and very exciting match that was ultimately decided by small tactical adaptations, which become clear when comparing this match to the Cup final.” 11 tegen 11

We won it 30 times!
“I still can’t believe what happened yesterday. I woke up this morning and thought that I had a beautiful dream last night. But it’s not a dream. It’s reality. Ajax are champions of Holland. For the 30th time in their history. It’s actually too good to be true. When I watch videos of the boys celebrating it feels unreal. It’s a dream that came true.” World of Ajax


Barca back-ups draw blank

May 16, 2011

“A second-string Barcelona side were held to a goalless draw by relegation-threatened Deportivo La Coruna in the penultimate round of Primera Division matches at the Nou Camp. The league title was wrapped up with a draw at Levante on Wednesday night and, with a Champions League final meeting with Manchester United to come at the end of the month, coach Pep Guardiola named an experimental side.” ESPN

FC Barcelona v Deportivo La Coruna – Preview, Prediction, TV Listings, and Betting Odds – La Liga
The 90th Minute


Lille 1-0 PSG: Lille win the French Cup with 89th minute goal

May 16, 2011

“Substitute Ludovic Obraniak netted a lucky/brilliant free-kick to secure Lille’s first major trophy since 1955. Rudi Garcia brought Moussa Sow back into the side upfront, and also selected Idrissa Gueye in the centre of midfield, in the usual fluid 4-1-2-3 shape.” Zonal Marking


Long journey pays off for Pedroza

May 16, 2011


“The fascinating 51-year history of the Copa Libertadores has now been further enriched by the emergence of a goalscorer born in England. Antonio Pedroza’s journey has taken him from Chester to Chiapas, the town of his birth to the region in the south of Mexico where he now plays as a striker for Jaguares. The son of a Mexican father and an English mother, Pedroza ensured that the club’s debut campaign in the Libertadores got off to a good start when, just before his 20th birthday, he scored in both legs of their qualifying match against Alianza Lima of Peru.” BBC – Tim Vickery


Football Weekly: City and United celebrate but West Ham go down

May 16, 2011

“The pod reflects on a weekend of league and cup joy in Manchester and relegation woe for West Ham. Plus, the rest of the news from around Europe, and Craig David’s Chechnya gig” Guardian


Retro Missile-by-Missile

May 16, 2011

“‘All referees are good, and all are bad. A referee only needs to make one mistake, or an assumed mistake, against a club and if he lives till he is a hundred he never gets over it.’ So said Charles Sutcliffe, former referee and president of the Football League, d. 1939. Yep, 1939. And you thought your contempt for officials was all modern and shit. Tsk.” Run of Play


Whatever happened to… The Stanchion?

May 16, 2011

“Let it never be said that GhostGoal is afraid of tackling the really big issues in football today. Here’s Oli Baker … English football is almost unrecognisable from 20 years ago. All these changes have been very well documented and argued ad nauseum. One development has been criminally overlooked.” GhostGoal


La semaine en France: Weeks 34 and 35

May 15, 2011


“Marseille are bloodied but they are not beaten yet. Lille’s 2-1 victory at Saint-Etienne on Tuesday saw OM fall seven points off the pace in the title race, but the champions defeated Brest 3-0 the following day and will be just a point behind Lille the next time the league leaders take to the field if they win at Lorient on Sunday.” Football Further


Liverpool 0 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur

May 15, 2011

“Tottenham seized the advantage in the race for the final Europa League spot as Liverpool’s first match since the appointment of Kenny Dalglish as permanent manager ended in a 2-0 defeat. But referee Howard Webb could have been accused of having a helping hand in deciding the outcome with a series of questionable decisions which culminated in the award of a very favourable penalty for the visitors’ second.” ESPN

Liverpool 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – EPL
The 90th Minute


Scottish football reaches a new low

May 15, 2011

“For the second time in a month, Scottish football is making headlines around the world. Unfortunately, the first time was because ‘viable’ explosive devices were posted to Celtic manager Neil Lennon and high-profile Celtic fans. The second occurred when Lennon was assaulted by a Hearts fan on the Tynecastle pitch on Wednesday night, as if in a deliberate attempt to prove that this level of football hatred is not unique to the west coast, and that, in terms of football, Scotland is not a civilised country.” WSC


Ajax close to title joy after going back to their roots

May 15, 2011

“After a season that has taken in institutional crisis, European humiliation and the departure of a popular head coach, it seems extraordinary that Ajax enter their final game with a chance to become Dutch champions for the first time since 2004. Yet that is exactly the situation ahead of tomorrow’s winner-takes-all meeting with FC Twente at the Amsterdam Arena.” Independent


Only Kenny can restore Liverpool way

May 15, 2011


“When Luis Suarez scored his fourth goal for Liverpool on Monday night at Fulham, there were fans typically beside themselves. They now had ‘the best player in the world’. Now obviously this is nonsense, and Suarez himself probably can’t believe his start. In the past, such form certainly wouldn’t have lasted. One thing you could set your watch by – almost without exception – is that whatever happened in the first year or two for a player signed by Liverpool, he’d end up devoid of spark and a lesser player.” ESPN


Manchester City 1-0 Stoke: Man City clinch first trophy since 1976 after Toure strike

May 15, 2011

“Yaya Toure’s powerful shot 15 minutes from time gave Roberto Mancini’s men the victory. Mancini was able to call upon Carlos Tevez upfront, meaning Edin Dzeko dropped to the bench. Mario Balotelli started on the wing, and Aleksander Kolarov played over Pablo Zabaleta at left-back.” Zonal Marking


Bochum 3-1 Duisburg

May 15, 2011

“Bochum are just 180 minutes away from promotion to the Bundesliga after an accomplished performance against Duisburg. This round 34 tie in 2. Bundesliga involved two sides with all still to play for. Bochum, two points ahead of 4th-placed Greuther Fürth, knew that a win here would earn them a place in the Bundesliga two-legged play-off against the top division’s third-worst side, Borussia Mönchengladbach.” Defensive Midfielder