A guide to the 2011 Copa America

“Think football is over for the summer? Think again. From July 1st to the 24th, the ten nations comprising the CONMEBOL Confederation of South America, plus two guest countries, will play out the 43rd Copa America in Argentina. If you’re familiar with past tournaments, then you’ll know to expect some beautiful football, some drama, some hilariously shameless cheating, and some great spectacle, both on and off the pitch. It’s a fine showcase for South American football and for my money the most entertaining and passionate football on earth.” Three Match Ban – 2011 Copa America: Part One – The Minnows, Part Two – The Outsiders, Mexico & Costa Rica, Part Three – The Under-Achievers, Colombia & Peru, Part Four – The Over-Achievers, Paraguay and Ecuador, Part Five – The Contenders, Uruguay and Chile, Part Six – The Giants, Argentina and Brazil


Brazil 3-0 Chile: Dunga prevails over Bielsa in the tactical contest of the tournament

“A fascinating game of two vastly different styles – with one clear winner. Brazil were without both Felipe Melo and Elano through injury, and so Dunga chose Dani Alves on the right of midfield, with Ramires in a deeper, left-sided role. The rest of the team was as expected.” Zonal Marking

Granada’s Italian Job

“October 28th 1973; quite the memorable date in Spanish football history. A young, straggly but immensely gifted Dutchman by the name of Johan Cruyff made his league debut for FC Barcelona, and the effect he’d have on football from that point on, not just in Spain, is one that still shapes the game today. This story, however, is not about the number 14 – it’s about the number 35. Barça’s opponents that day were Granada CF, a team who have spent 35 years away from the Spanish top flight…until now.” In Bed With Maradona


“In October 2001, the national football teams of France and Algeria faced off in a long-awaited, and (at least in principle) “friendly” international game at the Stade de France in Paris. The event was trumpeted as an opportunity for reconciliation, a symbolic end to the conflict between the two countries, and an opportunity for a French nation increasingly shaped by it’s Algerian immigrant population to find peace within itself. But from the beginning, the match was something else: the stadium was packed with fans of the Algerian team, most of them French citizens of Algerian background. Many booed and whistled not just at the French national team (sparing only Zinedine Zidane), but also — loudly — at the French national anthem.” Soccer Politics

Using the TPI to Set Realistic Expectations at Aston Villa

“Plenty has been written about the unreasonable expectations of Aston Villa’s management team and some of their supporters since they began their search for a new manager. Chris Nee wrote a great piece at Two Footed Tackle, detailing Villa’s history in the Premier League. He makes the case that their “expectations may not have been unrealistic fifteen or even ten years ago, and maybe they haven’t changed. But football has.” Simon Clancy wrote in the NY Times Goal blog of the recent management carousel at the club which was kept alive by the appointment of Alex McLeish given that some fans don’t want him. I even spilled some digital ink on the topic, identifying several Aston Villa managers as large over-performers when it comes to the expectations set by the club’s transfer expenditures.” Pay As You Play

Mexican Wave

“On Saturday night, the United States men’s national soccer team lost 4-2 to Mexico in the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the regional championship of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Between Mexico’s early dominance, Team USA’s shocking surge ahead, and the Americans’ post-halftime futility, the match was a weird miniature of recent domestic soccer history. The United States was terrible (1950-1990 inclusive), then suddenly pretty good (2002 World Cup), then prone to squandering leads (2009 Confederations Cup final vs. Brazil) and stalling (USA-Ghana 2010) after exciting moments (USA-Algeria, also 2010).” Slate – Brian Phillips

Mexico exploits porous U.S. defense
“Breathless, frenetic, utterly absorbing: Mexico was a 4-2 winner in the Gold Cup final, a score line that didn’t seem quite to reflect its superiority, yet so open was the game that the U.S. had enough chances to have itself won the game by a two-goal margin. This was thrillingly end-to-end, a game in which midfields barely existed, settled by the porousness of the USA’s back four. In the end, it simply presented too many chances to Mexico.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Mexico claim Gold Cup glory
“Pablo Barrera scored twice as Mexico came from 2-0 down against USA to win a dramatic CONCACAF Gold Cup final 4-2 at the Rose Bowl. USA appeared to have taken control of the game as Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan put them two goals to the good inside the first quarter of the game, but Barrera and Andres Guardado levelled before the break and the former struck again before Giovani Dos Santos clinched victory.” ESPN

U.S. player ratings against Mexico
“U.S. player ratings vs. Mexico (scale of 1-10).” SI

YouTube – USA 2 Mexico 4

High Five: Top Five FC Barcelona Defenders In The Last Decade

“It is quite natural for offensive players to hog the lime-light. We, at TheHardTackle, do not deny that and have already paid our tribute to them. However, trophies are won on the basis of a great defence. It is not a coincidence that teams with stingy defensive lines usually end up winning league titles. Yet, defenders are sadly a neglected lot. They rarely get the spotlight or awards, despite performing well. Here’s a little homage to the top five Barcelona defenders in the last decade.” The Hard Tackle

Jack Climbs a Beanstalk While the Giant Pays Transfer Fees with Golden Eggs

“In a more recent piece for the Financial Times, Simon Kuper informs us that top flight football clubs have rapidly turned the business of player evaluation into a quantifiable pursuit. As opposed to a more personal scouting scheme where a club manager might have to rely on whether the opinion of whomever he sent to watch whomever he’s watching is worth a flutter, instead a few statisticians can torture the mountain of numbers at their fingertips sufficiently enough to objectively assess a player’s potential value to his squad. Having read that piece, one might wonder why the Alex Ferguson who misinterpreted the stats on Jaap Stam made, what thus far appears to be, another error in statistical analysis when he signed Bébé without having seen him play.” twohundredpercent

River Plate’s descent into madness

“A year ago, when River finished last, the words River and relegation, did not seem possible in the same sentence says Daniel, a fan of River Plate. One of Argentina’s and indeed the world’s greatest sporting institutions, the giants of the game are facing just that — dropping down a category and having to play in the B league — this Sunday when the second leg of a two-way playoff will determine its future.” SI

Santos 2-1 Peñarol: greater attacking variety gives Santos the Copa Libertadores

“After a goalless first leg, goals from Neymar and Danilo gave Santos their first Copa Libertadores for nearly 50 years. Muricy Ramalho made a few changes from the first leg, including a significantly different back four. Danilo dropped back from the midfield to become a right-back, whilst Leo started at left-back, and Edu Dracena returned at centre-back. Ganso had recovered from injury to take Danilo’s place in midfield.” Zonal Marking

Trials and Tribulations

“Why isn’t el Tri better? Mexico is the most populous nation in the Spanish-speaking world, and soccer is by far the most popular sport.11 In the second most popular sport in the poll, boxing, Mexico currently has twice as many world champions as any other country. Youth leagues and impromptu street games dot the landscape from one peninsular extreme (Yucatan) to another (Baja California). The nation boasts a rabid fan base as well as a successful pro league that lures talent from around the globe. These are the ingredients for a world power.” Run of Play

Liverpool Target Nolan Roux Is Half Guivarc’h Half Papin Says A French Scout

“In a summer packed with tedious transfer speculation surrounding the on-off-on-off sagas of Cesc Fabregas and Carlos Tevez, it was a pleasant surprise that Liverpool were this week linked with an €8m swoop for little-known Brest striker Nolan Roux. Liverpool sports director Damien Comolli obviously knows the French market well, but with Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez already at the club – not to mention Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodriguez, and at time of writing, David N’Gog, Joe Cole and Milan Jovanovic also on the books – where would Roux fit in? We asked a French football scout who has watched Roux in action for his thoughts.” Sabotage Times

Tactical Observations and Talking Points of the 2010/11 Bundesliga Season

“While the Bundesliga may not necessarily be known for the tactical nous of Seria A it has become increasingly more aware of modern trends and more and more coaches are putting an emphasis on the tactical aspect of the game. This season saw several bold moves being made by coaches throughout the league. Whether it was deviating from the norm or taking a risk in their approach, there were several tactical talking points or trends of interest. Here are some of the more noteworthy tactical observations of the 2010/11 Bundesliga Season.” Bundesliga Fanatic

U.S. trio prove their worth in do-or-die win over Panama in Gold Cup

Clint Dempsey
“They are the three most famous players in U.S. men’s soccer — Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Freddy Adu — and on a night when their team needed them most, they combined on a goal that helped each player overcome a personal challenge in addition to the one from a pesky Panama team in a hard-fought Gold Cup semifinal.” SI

United States 1-0 Panama: Donovan and Adu come off the bench to help break the deadlock
“Clint Dempsey scored 15 minutes from time to put the US into the Gold Cup final. Bob Bradley kept faith with the XI that overcame Jamaica – Jozy Altidore went off injured in that game, and his replacement Juan Agudelo started here. This meant that Landon Donovan was again on the bench.” Zonal Marking

Five Stunning Signings In Spain

“In gathering together this list of five of the best signings in Spain over the past five years, a number of criteria were used. The most important was, of course, personal preference. But others did include a complex formula of cost multiplied by resale value (if appropriate) divided by how important the player was to the club. There was also some other stuff thrown in for good measure.” Football 365

Pep Guardiola: Obsession Down Memory Lane

“Pep Guardiola is oft-lauded as a character of certainly revolutionary manner; with his deployed tactics of choice and on-field innovativity, one could be taken for a fool to presume otherwise. But beyond the surface of wizardry, Catalonia’s number one visionary succumbs to retromania and comes off as a champion of conservatism.” In Bed With Maradona

Why I Fear For Jordan Henderson

“Jordan Henderson has yet to kick a football for Liverpool – even in training – and many are already writing him off. If playing poorly – or rather, failing to shine as expected – for England at any level is an indicator, John Barnes and Steven Gerrard would have been totally worthless for Liverpool; little matter that they are two of the club’s top five players ever. Hell, even Lionel Messi hasn’t been even half as good for Argentina as he has for Barcelona, and Argentina actually pass the ball.” Tomkins Times

The Football Journalist as an Object of Intimate Desire

“Here’s a quick one for you: what do Alexander the Great, Josef Goebbels, William Blake, and Keith Southern have in common? Their personalities and abilities are all combined within Henry Winter. Or Paul Hayward. Or Patrick Barclay. Or whoever else you care to mention that lives that dream, the important role of god of war – controllers of information, directors of foot-soldiers in the great struggle, inquisitors, commissars, and giants among men – the football journalist.” Surreal Football

The Damned Utd: A Review

“I approached my reading of David Peace’s The Damned Utd with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Widely regarded as one of the most creative novels ever composed on the subject of football, I was excited to get to grips with the book and yet fearful of being disappointed having seen the film version starring Michael Sheen (released three years after the publication of the book in 2009) and been largely impressed.” The Equaliser

United States 2-0 Jamaica: US dominate centre

“A deflected strike from Jermaine Jones and a cool Clint Dempsey finish put the US into the semi-finals of the Gold Cup. Bob Bradley left out Chris Wondolowski and Landon Donovan, bringing in Sacha Kljestan behind Jozy Altidore, and Alejandro Bedoya on the right. He was dealt an early blow with Altidore’s injury, meaning Juan Agudelo had to replace him upfront.” Zonal Marking

Real Madrid And Financial Fair Play

José Mourinho
“So in his first season as Real Madrid manager José Mourinho justified his much vaunted reputation as a winning manager, but the problem is that his team only added the Copa del Rey to the trophy cabinet. This was just a consolation prize for the most successful club in Spanish history, especially as their eternal rivals Barcelona won the two competitions that really mattered, namely La Liga (for the third season in a row) and the Champions League, when they out-passed (and out-classed) Manchester United.” Swiss Ramble

A True Master Patrik Berger

“Saturday afternoon, along with hangover I was at probably the highest seat in the Liverpool Echo Arena, but it was a seat that did make for a good view of the whole of pitch at the Merseyside Master. Liverpool lifted the trophy captained by a very round John Barnes. His side included FA Cup winner Stephane Henchoz, Paul Jones the Southampton keeper who only ever played 3 games for Liverpool during an emergency loan spell, alongside him Norwegian Kvarme and the tournaments Golden Boot winner Paul Walsh.” Touchline Shouts

We’re Coming To Win It

“If you want to cheer for a plucky underdog at this year’s Copa America then Paraguay are your team. Their small population of 6,000,000 (or 6,000 if you believe their most famous female export Larissa Riquelme)*, relatively small land mass in South American terms, and lack of funds (only Bolivia have a smaller GDP per head) will make them perennial underdogs. But this year they can also be considered dark horses, even though their opening game against Ecuador on July 3rd will be their first competitive outing since they were narrowly beaten by Spain in the World Cup quarter-finals. That was the furthest they had ever reached on the world’s biggest stage and it was the third time in their last three World Cup knockout games they were defeated by a team that went on to the final (2002 Germany, 1998 France). Here I assess the reasons why Paraguay are more than just spirited minnows.” In Bed With Maradona

A football revolution

“Every tiny aspect of a football match can now be recorded and scrutinised. FT Weekend Magazine commissioned artist Giles Revell to create a series of images of the recent Champions League Final between Barcelona and Manchester United, using exclusive data extracted from the game by the analysis company Prozone” FT – Simon Kuper

The Qatari dilemma facing Paris St-Germain

“The cynical football fan might say that there is no such thing as a bad time to have your club bought up by the richest people on Earth, but if such a time exists then, for Paris Saint-Germain, that time is now. Having lurched through crises in the boardroom, in the stands and on the pitch over the last few years, PSG were until the last few weeks showing signs of entering a phase of stability.” French Football Weekly

Liverpool Formed 1892, Elected to Division Two 1893

“The club came into existence following a row between the directors of Everton FC and the owner of their Anfield ground, John Houlding. Houlding was a brewer as well as the club’s landlord. He insisted that only his beers be sold inside the ground and, as Everton grew in stature he put up their rent from £100 in 1884 to £250 in 1890. On the 12th March, 1892, Everton quit Anfield and three days later, Houlding formed Liverpool FC. Originally the new club played in the blue and white shirts that Everton left behind (see photograph – Everton changed to ruby red) but in 1896, they adopted the municipal colours of red and white and in 1901, took the city’s liver bird emblem as their badge.” Historical Kits

Valencia’s Mata looks likely to exit

“Once the tipping point is reached departures become inevitable and the slide becomes harder to arrest than ever; what starts as an emergency solution risks becoming a permanent situation, the enshrinement of inequality and the inability to compete. Handled well, the effects can be palliated but, barring a sudden shift, the trend is unavoidable. Spanish soccer has reached that tipping point. Valencia certainly have.” SI

The Great Pretender

“His CV is that of a relatively successful, if transient, Brazilian striker. An impressive collection of domestic clubs – Vasco da Gama, Flamengo, Fluminense, Botafogo – is complimented by more exotic names; Ajaccio in Corsica, and Mexican side Puebla. Yet Carlos Henrique Kaiser is nigh-on unknown in the football community, and for good reason; he only managed around 30 full games (and no goals) during a career that spanned over two decades.” In Bed With Maradona

Scattershot Politics: Sport and Its Serpentine Political Meanings

Andres Escobar
“Over the past fifteen to twenty years, historians have increasingly emphasized the role of sports as both a driver and reflection of society. The recent Bill Simmons-inspired and ESPN-produced 30 for 30 documentary series tackled a number of difficult subjects via sport. In “The Two Escobars“, directors Jeff and Michael Zimbalist travelled through 1980s Columbia, following the lives of Pablo (international drug dealer/murder/local philanthropist) and Andres Escobar (captain of Columbia’s 1994 World Cup team murdered in a nightclub alteration several months later). The two unrelated protagonists encapsulated the travails of late 20th century Columbia. Drug money filtered into the nation’s soccer infrastructure, boosting its competitive success but also adding layers of complexity and violence to a nation already struggling with decades of conflict.” CultFootball

Swansea City Back In The Big Time

“After nearly thirty years Wales once again has a representative in the top tier of English football, following Swansea City’s thrilling 4-2 win in the Championship play-off final against Reading. Not only was this a terrific achievement in its own right, but it also represented a massive turnaround for the Swans, who came close to going out of business less than ten years ago.” Swiss Ramble

Milutin Soskic leaves indelible mark on U.S. goalkeeping technique

“Being honest, there isn’t much about U.S. soccer that people in England envy, but we do wish we had a similar glut of goalkeeping talent. Over the last 10-15 years the U.S. has produced an extraordinary number of high-class goalkeepers, so many, in fact, that it’s begun to spoil Sylvester Stallone’s performance in Escape to Victory (because there, of course, half the joke was that he was an American who played football and had to play in goal so he could use his hands).” SI

Penarol carving out a new history

Pablo Dorado of Uruguay, World Cup 1930
“Measuring 309m by 46m, the flag unfurled on 12 April by fans of Uruguayan club Penarol is apparently the biggest in the world. Draped across much of Montevideo’s Centenario stadium, it hung in celebration of the fact that the club had made it through to the knockout stages of the Copa Libertadores for the first time since 2002. Two months later, there is much more to celebrate. Penarol have gone all the way to the final, for the first since they won the last of their five titles in 1987.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Review of the Season: No plan ‘B’ for Barça & Mourinho’s blacklist

“Real Madrid ended October above Barcelona after perfect month – essential in a league where dropping a single point is as advisable as jamming your todger in a toaster. Pep’s Dream Boys carelessly threw away two precious points at the Camp Nou in a 1-1 draw against Mallorca, prompting mass panty-bunching panic in the Catalan capital.” FourFourTwo

Brazilian football is not dead, but things need to change

“Towards the end of the group phase Vanderlei Luxemburgo’s Brazil, with Ronaldinho and Alex shining, had booked their place in the second round. Colombia seemed sure to join them. They had played well, and only needed to avoid a five goal defeat against the Brazilians to make sure of their slot. I interviewed the Colombian coach, Javier Alvarez, the day before the game.” Sambafoot

Guadeloupe vs. U.S.A.: The Joys of the Gold Cup

“Tomorrow night, in Kansas, we’ll be able to enjoy one of those fixtures that makes the Gold Cup such a pleasure to some of us, and a rather mystifying affair to many others. Indeed, the Gold Cup competition, while it takes place year after year in the U.S., seems to largely fly under the radar for many in this country — except, of course, for fans of the Mexican national team, and for those of the Central American and Caribbean teams for whom it represents perhaps the most important international competition.” Soccer Politics

“You’ve Never Heard of Chicharito?”
“That was the dismayed, slightly disbelieving, question posed by a fan of a Mexico team last night to the North Carolinian worker at the food stand getting him a beer and hot dog. We were at the Carolina Panthers stadium (actually named, of course, after a large financial institution, the Bank of America), and it was clear that the phenomenon of tens of thousands of people needed to go to the bathroom and buy food during a sharply circumscribed fifteen-minute period was strange and overwhelming to a system set up for U.S. football.” Soccer Politics

Gold Cup 2011: US Falls To Panama 2-1, and this was a player’s loss
“What follows is the match recap I wrote last night for The Shin Guardian. The only changes are a few links I thought I would add, and one more disclaimer. Below where it reads ‘This loss isn’t on Bob Bradley’, after a spirited comment discussion at TSG, I’ll amend slightly. Yes, Bob Bradley’s tactics weren’t perfect. But he had a plan (attack Panama’s right flank, (Try) to establish width. His substitutions were (with the possible exception of Goodson off instead of Ream) spot on.” Yanks are coming

A meeting with Spain: Alonso, Arbeloa and Silva get candid

“It’s not often U.S. fans get the opportunity to mingle in the presence of footballing royalty. So when adidas organized a meet-and-greet recently with nine members of the reigning World Cup champions in advance of Spain’s recent friendly against the U.S., plenty were on hand at the “We Got Soccer” store to get a glimpse of Spain’s stars up close and personal.” SI

Who is the true top scorer of the Eredivisie? Introducing a weighted goal scorer metric

“The question posted in the title of this article seems to deserve a rather simple and straightforward answer, doesn’t it? Compile a simple list of the amount of goals scored by each player and, voilà… N.E.C.’s Björn Vleminckx managed to score 23 goals during the past Eredivisie season, outscoring ADO’s Dimitry Bulykin by two goals and the Belgian striker is rewarded with the trophy.” 11 tegen 11

Hopelessly Romantic: Remembering Works Teams

“When a football legend parts from the game either through retirement or death, ink splatters as tributes are furiously written to consider the man’s style of play, his memorable moments on the pitch, his connections with his fans, and his contributions to club and country. Even for an almost legend, debates commence over whether the player had been underrated, if he should indeed be a member in the pantheon of the greats instead of simply a distinguished guest, or what flaws he might have had as a player or person that prevented him from achieving truly legendary status.” twohundredpercent

Five great soccer quotes from a few literary giants

“Admit it: You’re fascinated by all the chaos and allegations embroiling FIFA these past few days. So are we. Who knows what to believe, but it’s hard to argue with the theater of it all. At some point, we read a poignant quote from legendary French philosopher writer Albert Camus (right), who before writing The Stranger and other classics was a goalkeeper for the youth team of Racing Universitaire Algerios (RUA).” Kicking & Screening Soccer Film Festival

U21: 8 players to watch at the European Championships

“As we tied up the last remnants of the 2010/11 season, packed up the suitcases and prepared to hit a few well deserved weeks in the sun, we realised… football isn’t ending just yet. This weekend in Denmark, Europe’s finest young players will be showcased in the U21 European Championships, so here are eight of those players – one from each team – that you should be looking out for.” backpagefootball

Ten Spanish La Liga talents that could be on the move this summer
“And so it starts. There hasn’t even been much of a break for the national team. No sooner had the season finished — even before the season had finished — than they were talking about the new signings. In doing so they confirmed a basic and ultimately destructive trend: Madrid and Barcelona not only have the most voracious appetites in Spain, but they are the only ones with the wallets to satisfy those appetites. Sometimes there is not even much of a plan, just an attitude that says: he’s good, let’s get him before anyone else does.” SI

Ten Bundesliga talents who could be on the move this summer

“The post-Bosman age of contractual freedom has made it much harder for the smaller European teams to hold onto their best players. In the case of German champions Borussia Dortmund, however, the fact that it succeeded with the youngest ever side now rather than, say, 20, years ago, actually works in its favor. In those days, every half-decent Germany player was snapped up instantly by Serie A clubs and Jürgen Klopp’s side would have been dismantled in the time it takes to drink an espresso. But the Bundesliga’s newfound prosperity has stopped the migration across the Alps in recent years. The crème of young German talent will only move to a handful of European super-clubs now, and for that reason alone it is unlikely that Borussia’s brave young squad will suffer too much hemorrhage.” SI

Liverpool FC Transfers: Centre Back Scouting Stats

“Liverpool FC Transfers are the talk of twitter at the moment with the transfer window now in full swing and, shockingly, with Liverpool FC completing its first piece of business of the summer, it promises to be a summer to remember. However a major talking point has been of the pursuit of Blackburn Rovers’ young central defender, Phil Jones. We’ll be looking at Phil Jones’ stats a little later on in this article. First up we’ll be comparing the renowned defenders from the top three and also comparing them to Liverpool’s centre backs, Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel. We’ll then look at the central defenders that are more likely to be available for transfer.” Anfield Index

Nigel’s Webspace – Galleries of English Football Cards 1965/66 – 1979/80

“BAB has always represented one of the great mysteries of football sticker producers. Now, with the help of a website visitor, Mark, this website is proud to exclusively reveal at least part of the mystery. Bernard Babani began publishing technical books in 1942. In the late 1950s and early 1960s Clive Sinclair was an employee, and the author of some of their books on transistors.” Nigel’s Webspace

I’m In Love But I’m Lazy

“The US national team is part of that élite group referred to in England by their demonym rather than by the name of the country. At the last World Cup, for instance, England were shut out by Algeria after drawing against the Americans. They beat Slovenia but they lost to the Germans. It could be regarded as something of a badge of honour, like being criticised by the TaxPayers’ Alliance. Last summer, an English football website published a link to footage of American fans celebrating Landon Donovan’s goal against Algeria. Readers were advised to ignore the ‘obnoxious’ chanting of ‘USA! USA! USA!’” The Carvalho Peninsula

Wigan Athletic’s Unlikely Survival

“As Wigan’s fans watched their overjoyed players celebrate the narrow escape from relegation on the last day of the season by first soaking their manager Roberto Martinez in champagne, then throwing the Spaniard into the air, their emotions were surely a mixture of delight and relief. After all, Wigan had been written-off by all and sundry for the majority of a campaign that had started disastrously with two thumping great home defeats, 4-0 to newly promoted Blackpool and 6-0 to reigning champions Chelsea.” Swiss Ramble

Tough Love: Didier Deschamps and L’Om

“Didier Deschamps’ decision to remain with Olympique de Marseille is excellent news for France’s most successful club. Captain when L’OM became their country’s first European Cup winners in 1993, Deschamps cemented his legend in 2010 when he led them to their first Ligue 1 title since the match-fixing scandal that overshadowed that Champions League triumph, during his first season in charge. But despite his hero status amongst the demanding Stade Vélodrome crowd, further consecrated by declining a move to Roma, Deschamps faces another difficult pre-season at one of Europe’s hardest clubs to manage.” In Bed With Maradona