Not So Clásico

May 3, 2011

Sandro Botticelli
“Real Madrid and F.C. Barcelona feature some of the best soccer players on earth, are the world’s two richest clubs, embody drastically opposed philosophies of the game, have combined to win more than 140 trophies, and share a complex, antagonistic history that ties their rivalry inescapably to the Spanish Civil War. (Fascists kidnapped and executed Barcelona’s club president in 1936; the Franco regime used Madrid as a symbol of Spanish nationalism.) Any game between these two clubs is a big deal. Four Clásicos in 18 days is, in the soccer universe, a quasar.” Slate – Brian Phillips

Barcelona v Real Madrid: tactical preview
“Amongst the squabbling, appealing and conspiracy theories, there’s a football match to play tonight at the Camp Nou. Now into the fourth part of a four-part Clasico series, there’s relatively little left to say about the potential tactics of both managers. We’ve had one win for Pep Guardiola, one win for Jose Mourinho (in extra time) and one draw. We’ve had different formations, different players and wildly different patterns to matches, and it’s difficult to predict what more can reasonably be expected tonight.” Zonal Marking

On Mind Games
“Listening to the most recent ESPN Soccernet Podcast seemed to confirm the notion that there is a persistent, perhaps all-too-British, unreconstructed lapdog approach to covering Jose Mourinho.” Run of Play

England could learn lessons from Colombia’s Cup

May 3, 2011

“The memories came flooding back last week when the draw was held for the Under-20 World Cup, which kicks off in Colombia at the end of July. Ten years ago I travelled up there for the Copa America. It was the first time that Colombia had staged a major tournament, and some doubted that they could do it. The political moment in the country was tense, with guerrilla forces offering a threat. In the build-up to the tournament there were car-bomb attacks in some of the major cities, and then the vice-president of the Colombian FA was kidnapped.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Using futsal to improve English footballers’ technique

May 3, 2011

“The English FA’s website wonders plaintively how players such as Luis Figo, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Robinho and Roberto Carlos managed to ‘develop skills that set them apart… What did they do as youngsters that provided them with the basis to becoming some of the world’s best players?’ Reading this you might think that the FA are about to reveal new plans for youth development. But the article continues: ‘If you are interested in the answer then you need to learn more about a game called futsal.’” WSC

An Ode to Sami Hyypia, a Truly Great Red

May 3, 2011

“Sami Hyypia called time on his outstanding career yesterday, retiring from Bayer Leverkusen at the age of 37. Even in the twilight of his career, Hyypia gave the Bundesliga club a glimpse of the consistent greatness he displayed throughout his ten years at Liverpool. Sami helped Leverkusen to a 4th place finish in 2009-10, his only full season at the club and was named to the Bundesliga Team of the Season.” Anfield On The Hudson

It’s just not fair… Jose Mourinho, the 1973 European Cup Winners Cup Final and why football needs its sense of injustice

May 3, 2011

“On Thursday evening, as I sat clad in shorts basking in the warm spring sunshine and savouring a tipple in the company of good people, I began to shuffle nervously as conversation quickly turned to the previous nights activities at the Santiago Bernabeu. The reason for my sudden anxiousness was not down to any strong affiliation with Real Madrid, nor was it down to any kind of discomfort brought about by the searing heat (18 degrees – I’m British), but rather because I knew exactly what was coming. To be more specific, I knew exactly what was coming from one particular corner of the table.”
Five in Midfield

1960s Month: B.S. Johnson – The Man Who Should Have Filmed ’66

May 3, 2011

“The 1960s: skirts got shorter, and it seems that memories got shorter too. Larkin’s verse above exemplifies this. Written looking back on the ‘Annus Mirabilis’ from 1967, he conveniently ignores that his own sexual career started much earlier than this.” The Equaliser