Monthly Archives: July 2011

ZM’s Copa America Best XI

“The outstanding performers from July’s Copa America tournament in Argentina.” Zonal Marking

Uruguay’s momentum, Paraguay’s bumpy road, more Copa America
“Going into the Copa America, we posed questions about the campaigns of the 10 South American sides. Now that the 43rd Copa America is history, we look back to find out if the tournament came up with the answers. (Listed from winners down to the teams eliminated in the group phase) SI – Tim Vickery


Scottish Premier League 2011-12: Season Preview

“The whole of Europe is eagerly awaiting the new Scottish Premier League season which kicks-off on 23rd July. Well – no, actually they’re not. Not surprising really, given that the last campaign turned out to be a truly horrible affair for so many reasons. Hopefully this year will be more about players, teams and results, rather than referees, politics and death threats. Here’s a look ahead to 2011/12…” Just Football

Arturo Vidal and Germanic influence on modern European football

“The test of any great league isn’t the size of its TV deals or the cost of it’s latest transfer, but the quality of its exports and its ability to mould a player in to the type of world beater that can perform on any stage. Rupert Murdoch, Qatari oil dealers, and fraudulent Italian presidents will come and go, but the ability of a league to continue or produce a landscape of development will stand the test of time.” The Oval Log

PSV Eindhoven – Champions League Or Bust

Ola Toivonen
“Another disappointing end to the season saw PSV Eindhoven come third in the Eredivisie, finishing behind champions Ajax and FC Twente. Although this was enough to secure qualification for the Europa League, things could have been so much better, as the Boeren (farmers) had led the table going into the winter break. Driven forward by the exploits of Hungarian Balázs Dzsudzsák and Swede Ola Toivenen, PSV were actually the league’s highest scorers, though this was assisted by the astonishing 10-0 demolition of old rivals Feyenoord.” Swiss Ramble

Tuesday tit-bits: A Roman Affair

“Sharing is good, because it breeds a pleasant atmosphere. So with that in mind, here are some things I’ve been reading this week that you might like to take a look at. Kicking things off with A.S. Roma fan, Di Elle, who has translated (with some help) an interview with Franco Baldini. The current England general manager is in the frame to take on a role at the capital club and some interesting comments were made regarding the future running of the club – and in particular with regard to Francesco Totti’s position in the Roman hierarchy.” The Football Express

Kun can charm City’s fanbase

“The sun is rising at Eastlands as ‘Kun’ brings his special talent to Manchester City. Kun is the nickname of Sergio Aguero, the Argentine striker who in the last few days has become the latest of City’s South American signings – and potentially the best. Robinho’s capture announced the arrival of the club amongst the super-rich, while the capture of Carlos Tevez had the added cachet of annoying Manchester United.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Bad blood as Bojan leaves Barca

“Bojan Krkic was supposed to be Barcelona’s next big thing. He broke into the side in 2007-08, becoming the club’s youngest-ever La Liga player and, shortly afterward, its youngest-ever La Liga scorer. Both records were taken from Lionel Messi. Bojan went on to score 10 league goals in that campaign, a decent return for a debut season. However, demonstrating how alarmingly his career has stalled, 2007-08 remains the season in which he played the most league minutes — 1,459, to be precise.” ESPN

Reenchanting the World

“Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that part of the Americans’ genius was their taming of the human pursuit of greatness. Their art was moderate, their religion egalitarian, and their guiding spirit was thoroughly anti-nobility. Their only stab at greatness was in the commercial world. ‘The Americans,’ Tocqueville wrote, ‘put something heroic into their way of trading.’ In all other spheres, they were that new human archetype: the bourgeois vanguard of a modern world yet unfolding. In other words, Americans lived in a world already ‘disenchanted.'” Run of Play

Twente 2 – 0 Vaslui: Solid result in tough game

“Based on the 2-0 final score line you wouldn’t tell that Twente had a tough time breaking down their Romanian opponent at home. Twente missed four key players and had severe problems building attacks from the back. As a result, the transition from last season’s double holding midfielder system to an offensive 4-3-3 didn’t go all that smooth yet.” 11 tegen 11

Adventures of an American Liverpool Supporter At Anfield

“First off, I’ll spare the usual story–let’s just say I fell in love with the game and due to various (seemingly extraneous) reasons, fell even more deeply in love with Liverpool Football Club. And yes, I’m also an American–Texan to be precise. This site (and many others) are full of stories like mine. Americans who, for one reason or another, became passionate fans of teams thousands of miles away. That’s the short version, for now at least. What has finally distinguished me from this teeming multitude that wear jerseys and get up at ungodly hours to watch the English Premier League on weekends, is that I’ve made the trip to my football holy land–Anfield.” EPL Talk

Uruguay light the way

“In the end, it was only a slightly surprising result. The 2011 Copa America might not have gone the way of holders Brazil or hosts and favourites Argentina, but Uruguay were probably the next in line to win it. Sunday afternoon’s 3-0 win over Paraguay was the result most expected after the semi-finals, and sees the Celeste lift their 15th Copa, pulling clear of Argentina, who they’d previously been level with on 14 tournament wins.” ESPN

Future bright for Copa kings Uruguay
“The record 15th Copa America triumph came with a fair dose of suffering – the only way Uruguay know how. They drew both their first two games. Then they mounted a heroic rearguard action in the quarter final against hosts Argentina, where they had a man sent off in the first half. But in the end it was conclusive. And so was the message from Buenos Aires after the 3-0 win over Paraguay in the final – last year’s run to the World Cup semi finals was no fluke. Uruguay are back.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Uruguay 3-0 Paraguay: Tabarez gets things right
“Uruguay won their record 15th Copa America with an excellent, controlled performance. Oscar Tabarez likes to spring a surprise with players and formations, but it was his expected XI for this match, in the 4-4-1-1 system that can reasonably be described as his first choice shape throughout this tournament. Gerardo Martino’s side was less predictable – he made four changes from the semi-final win over Venezuela, but kept roughly the same system – a narrow 4-4-2 / 4-5-1 with Pablo Zeballos making forward runs from a wide-left position, although Nelson Valdez sometimes switched positions with him. Uruguay were better all over the pitch – they were more secure at the back, more potent upfront, and most crucially, they won the midfield battle.” Zonal Marking

Uruguay’s Copa América triumph ushers in another golden age
“This has been a tournament that has persistently defied expectations, but not in the final. Uruguay were comfortable winners over Paraguay, collecting a 15th Copa América title and so, on Argentinian soil, moving past Argentina to become the most successful team in the tournament’s history.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Suarez pays tribute to team-mates
“Luis Suarez was named Player of the Tournament after helping Uruguay to a 3-0 victory over Paraguay but paid credit to his team-mates for the success. Suarez scored the opening goal and set up Diego Forlan for the third to round off a hugely impressive tournament as Uruguay cruised to victory.” ESPN

The Rise and Fall of Héctor Cúper

“What do Sir Alex Ferguson, Ottmar Hitzfeld, Carlo Ancelotti, José Mourinho and Josep Guardiola have in common? They are the only members of an elite group of managers who have won the UEFA Champions League twice. As members of the group, they are always guaranteed work at the top level of world football. This season a familiar face returns to Spain, a man who has come as close as anyone to entering this group. Héctor Cúper will probably feel he is the unluckiest manager in football.” In Bed With Maradona

Eredivisie season 2011/12 preview: the title contenders

“In the build-up to the start of the 2011/12 Eredivisie season, 11tegen11 will review all Eredivisie clubs to discuss the tactical implications of all summer changes. Nine Eredivisie clubs will kick off the new season with a new manager and several clubs have seen key players leave, freeing up space to fit in young talents and new acquisitions. The first chapter of this preview series will discuss title contenders Ajax, Twente and PSV.” 11 tegen 11

Build It and They Will Come – Passion For LEGO Football Stadiums

“I love football. No seriously, I do. And when I was little I loved Lego. Who didn’t. I was a very serious Lego builder. But I had rules. All of my constructions had to be in one colour. I couldn’t half finish a structure using a different shade, oh no. I would have to take it apart and build it smaller. I would spend hours sketching designs before building them, making my Dad take loads of pictures before knocking them down again. Nobody wanted to see a day old structure, irrespective of how good it looked.” In Bed With Maradona

Which Striker Should Jose Mourinho Sign?

“José Mourinho has already splurged €55m on five players this summer but the Real Madrid coach and newly appointed ‘sporting manager’ wants one more. In an echo of last year’s narrative, the Special One is desperate to sign another striker so he doesn’t go have to go out hunting with Karim ‘the cat’ Benzema, as he complained last time round when Gonzalo Higuaín knacked his back. Here are the four frontrunners whose names have been bandied around in Spain as the main men who could join the Santiago Bernabeu strike force.” Football365

Paraguay 0-0 Venezuela (AET): Paraguay win on penalties – again

“Paraguay are, amazingly, through to the Copa America final having drawn all five games in the competition so far. As he did for the Spain game in last summer’s World Cup, Gerardo Martino made numerous changes to his side, partly because of Antolin Alcaraz’s suspension, which meant a big reshuffle at the back. Nestor Ortigoza returned to the midfield.” Zonal Marking

Paraguay 0-0 Venezuela
“Paraguay rode its luck through another penalty shootout to beat Venezuela on Wednesday and set up a Copa America final against Uruguay. Paraguay, which has not won any of its five matches in the tournament, booked its place in the final following a goalless draw and a 5-3 victory on penalties. The only miss in the shootout came when Justo Villar stopped Franklin Lucena’s shot. Dario Veron held his nerve to net the final spot kick and set up Sunday’s final against Uruguay, which beat Peru 2-0 in the other semifinal on Tuesday.” ESPN

Uruguay 2-0 Peru: Tabarez changes formation again to take Uruguay to the final
“Luis Suarez scored two second half goals in a confident Uruguayan performance. Oscar Tabarez was without Diego Perez, so Napoli’s Walter Gargano took his place. Sebastien Coates returned at centre-back. Sergio Markarian brought in Giancarlo Carmona for Renzo Revorendo, and Yoshimar Yotun for William Chiroque. With both sides contesting the quarter-finals as underdogs and both used to playing reactive football in this competition, much of the game was something of a stalemate, with neither side committing enough players into attack to overload the opposition.” Zonal Marking

The Twohundredpercent Premier League Previews: Bolton Wanderers

“If there is one particular role within football that is analysed more than any other, it is that of the manager. So much of the culture of the modern game is wrapped up in the cult of the football manager that it would be easy to reach the conclusion that their value is over-stated, but when they get things right, they can set a club that may have been heading towards choppy waters towards, perhaps, a brighter future. One of the more understated success stories of the last couple of years or so has been the appointment of Owen Coyle by Bolton Wanderers. Coyle’s appointment wasn’t without a degree of controversy and the nature of the way in which he was poached from Burnley left a sour taste in the mouth for many. Bolton Wanderers supporters, however, may wish to reflect instead upon the extent to which Coyle has been a success on the pitch and how this has reflected upon the club’s well-being in a more general sense.” twohundredpercent

ADO 2 – 0 Tauras: Half time improvement sees ADO through to the next EL qualifying round

“Judging by the score line of 2-0 ADO did a good job beating Lithuanian side FK Tauras, admittedly of a lower standard, to reach the third qualifying round of the Europa League. But the performance to go along with it was rather flat, with ADO only taking full advantage of their superior playing qualities in the second half, when the pressure on their opponents was significantly increased.” 11 tegen 11

Uruguay Reach Copa America Final

“The 2011 Copa América has been a tournament full of shocks, everyone would agree. None of the three pre-tournament favourites won their groups, none of the group winners made it through to the semis, and both the hosts and the holders (who were among those favourites first mentioned) went out in the quarter-finals. When the curtain is raised on the final in River Plate’s Estadio Monumental on Sunday afternoon, though, there will be one sight that’s familiar from past tournaments, though.” In Bed With Maradona

Uruguay 2, Peru 0

“Luis Suarez scored in the 53rd and 58th minutes to lead Uruguay past Peru 2-0 on Tuesday and into the Copa America final. Uruguay, which reached the semifinals of last year’s World Cup, will be looking for a record-15th Copa America title in Sunday’s final against either Paraguay or Venezuela, which meet in the other semifinal Wednesday in Mendoza. The final will be played Sunday in Buenos Aires.” ESPN

Uruguay storm into final
“Uruguay are the first team through to the Copa America final after they recorded a convincing 2-0 victory over Peru in La Plata, Argentina. Luis Suarez netted a second-half brace in the semi-final.” ESPN

Uruguay’s international rise
“On July 7, 2010, Uruguayan fans were waking up having seen their side fall to Netherlands in the semi-finals of the World Cup in South Africa a day earlier. Now one of the favourites to pick up the Copa America, Oscar Tabarez’s Uruguay are bringing back memories of their glory days, which began in 1924 and ran until their World Cup win of 1930 on home soil.” ESPN

Brazil 0-0 Paraguay: Brazil fail to score in 120 minutes – then miss all their penalties too

“Paraguay are through to the semi-finals of the Copa America, having drawn all four games so far. Gerardo Martino took the surprising decision of dropping Nestor Ortigoza, bringing in Victor Cacares in the centre of midfield. Roque Santa Cruz dropped out, with Nelson Valdez making his first start of the tournament.” Zonal Marking

Venezuela 2-1 Chile: Borghi’s changes put Chile on top, but set-piece vulnerability proves fatal
“Venezuela are through to the semi-finals after two goals from dead ball situations. Cesar Farias’ defence and midfield were as expected – the only decision to make was upfront, where Miku played just off Giancarlo Maldonaldo, in a fairly basic 4-4-2. Claudio Borghi was without Jean Beausejour, so Arturo Vidal moved out to the left and Carlos Carmona came into the centre of the pitch. Chile were poor in the first half, then excellent in the second. Venezuela were never particularly inventive, but retained a threat from set-pieces – and that was enough for them to win the game.” Zonal Marking

Uruguay 1-1 Argentina (AET): Uruguay progress after disciplined defending and superb penalties
“The hosts are out of the Copa America after an engaging 1-1 draw. Oscar Tabarez kept faith with the same narrow 4-4-1-1 system as against Mexico, although there was one change – Martin Cacares came in for Cristian Rodriguez, with Alvaro Pereira moving forward to the left of midfield. Sergio Batista named an unchanged XI in broadly the same system as in Argentina’s final group game against Costa Rica. The game started frantically and then slowed down but remained enjoyable – the two red cards opened up the game, but didn’t produce any more goals.” Zonal Marking

Peru 2-0 Colombia (AET): Colombia waste chances and Peru exploit goalkeeping mistakes
“Carlos Lobaton and Juan Vargas scored thumping extra time goals to put Peru into the semis. Hernan Gomez named his expected side, in a 4-3-3 formation. Sergio Markarian also named 4-3-3, though his side featured many changes from the final group stage game against Chile, when various players were rested. Colombia had the better chances, but Peru were always in the game and largely defended well.” Zonal Marking

Manchester City’s Amazing Deal: Know Your Rights

“When Manchester City announced that their commercial agreement with existing shirt sponsor Etihad Airways was to be expanded into a 10-year deal worth up to £400 million, the reaction of most observers in the football world was one of disbelief. This hugely lucrative contract includes the renaming of the City of Manchester Stadium in a naming rights deal that is likely to be the highest ever signed in football.” Swiss Ramble

Brazil pay the penalty

“Eight-time Copa America winners Brazil were left stunned and eliminated as they failed to convert a single penalty in their shootout against Paraguay, losing it 2-0. The Brazilians created the better chances throughout the 120 minutes, but were unable to make the breakthrough as both sides remained scoreless to send the quarter-final in La Plata to penalties.” ESPN

Paraguay 0, Brazil 0
“Paraguay advanced to the Copa America semifinals on Sunday by defeating defending champion Brazil 2-0 in a penalty shootout after the score was level at 0-0 following extra time. Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar stopped Thiago Silva’s shot and Elano, Andre Santos and Fred also missed for Brazil, which was eliminated from the South American competition a day after host Argentina lost to Uruguay.” ESPN

Argentina and Brazil lead the fall of the Copa América giants
“The giants woke up, but only to be felled. When Argentina and Brazil scored seven goals between them in their third group games at the Copa América, it seemed they were slowly rousing themselves for the march to a meeting in the final that the organisers had done everything in their power to make inevitable. In their quarter-finals, though, the problems of the opening games returned. Both struggled to make domination of possession count, both lost on penalties, and both will look on a barely credible semi-final line-up and wonder why on earth they are not there.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Brazil coach defends ‘historical incompetence’ after Copa América exit
“The Brazilian daily paper O Globo may have branded it an act of “historical incompetence” but the Brazil squad and coaching staff have defended their exit from the Copa América. The five-time world champions were beaten on penalties by Paraguay after a shoot-out in which they failed to hit the target with all four spot kicks. But despite the failure the coach, Mano Menezes, has pleaded that the public look on the bright side.” Guardian

Fickle Copa America quarterfinals yield surprising remaining quartet
“The full moon shone bright and white over San Juan, its domination of the chill sky seeming a symbol of the lunacy that took over the Copa America this weekend. The tournament — perhaps any tournament — has never known a series of quarterfinals like it, as the three group-winners and the hosts all crashed out. The machinations of the schedulers, who had done everything in their power to ensure a third successive Brazil-Argentina final, are left looking a little silly.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Inspirational Markarian leads Peru to semi-finals
“At the time of writing there is the chance that Venezuela might make it two, but at the moment there is the certainty that one of the Copa America semi-finalists will be a team who missed out on last year’s World Cup – and who missed out by the widest possible margin. Peru finished bottom of the table in South America’s 2010 qualifiers. They lost all nine away games, conceding 26 goals in the process.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Venezuela 2, Chile 1
“Venezuela reached the Copa America semifinals for the first time as Oswaldo Vizcarrondo and Gabriel Cichero scored either side of halftime to beat Chile 2-1 on Sunday. Humberto Suazo equalized briefly for Chile in the second half. Venezuela is unbeaten in four games at the Copa America and has been the surprise team in a surprising tournament.” ESPN

Uruguay 1, Argentina 1
“Uruguay advanced to the semifinals of the Copa America with a penalty shootout victory over hosts Argentina on Saturday, with Carlos Tevez having his spotkick saved by goalkeeper Fernando Muslera in the decider. The game ended 1-1 after regulation time and there was no addition to that scoreline in extra time. The final tally in the shootout was 5-4 to Uruguay.” ESPN

Argentina dumped out
“In the biggest upset of the 2011 Copa America thus far, Uruguay have defeated tournament hosts Argentina on penalties in their quarter-final in Santa Fe. The match itself ended 1-1 as Argentina dominated large portions of the contest, but Uruguay showed their steel to win the shootout 5-4 and eliminate the favourites. Carlos Tevez, the figure at the centre of much transfer debate, had his spot-kick saved by Fernando Muslera while Uruguay converted all of their penalties in clinical fashion.” ESPN

Peru 2, Colombia 0
“Peru reached the Copa America semifinals for the first time since 1997 by defeating Colombia 2-0 in extra time on Saturday. Carlos Augusto Lobaton fired a powerful shot from just inside the penalty area in the 101st minute and fellow midfielder Juan Manuel Vargas sealed the victory with a shot from near the penalty spot in the 111th.” ESPN

Man Utd Fan Wears Rooney Shirt to Liverpool Practice, Escapes Alive

“Liverpool, currently on tour in Malaysia, had an interesting and — thankfully for one spectator — non-violent incident in the stands involving a brave soul and his choice of fashion. The fan wearing a Wayne Rooney Manchester United shirt was booed, taunted and eventually stripped of his shirt at Liverpool’s open training session in Malaysia.” EPL Talk

Issues of Acceptance: This Is RB Leipzig

“Leipzig known as the Heldenstadt, the city of heroes. A place where citizens made a significant contribution to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the reunification of Germany. This was the 1989 ‘peaceful revolution’, when visitors to Monday evening prayers at the Nikolaikirche demonstrated against the communist regime and defied the orders of the regime. Since reunification, the city, largely spared from Allied bombing campaign which decimated nearby Dresden, has enjoyed something of a renaissance – taking back its cultural and musical significance in the Bundesrepublik.” In Bed With Maradona

Eintracht Braunschweig 3-1 1860 Munich

“Newly-promoted Eintracht Braunschweig fired a warning shot to the rest of the league as they tactically outwitted 2. Bundesliga stalwarts 1860 Munich with a potent display. A vociferous home crowd couldn’t prevent the visitors from jumping into the driving seat early on, bossing the ball, winning a corner, and having three blocked efforts on goal. With Collin Benjamin throwing himself into a mopping up job with relish, the former HSV man helped maintain 1860s pacy start, and ruined Braunschweig’s attempts to position their midfield bank of four as near to the lone striker Dominick Kumbela as possible.” Defensive Midfielder

Brazil 4-2 Ecuador: Brazil finally grab a win

Francesco Guardi
“An open game was always likely to favour Brazil, and they took advantage to confirm their progression to the knockout stage. Mano Menezes changed his right side completely – Robinho and Maicon replaced Jadson and Dani Alves. Reinaldo Rueda left out Segundo Castillo in the centre of midfield, with Oswaldo Minda coming in. Brazil turned in their most impressive display in the Copa so far, though they still lacked cohesion upfront, and remain a little nervous at the back.” Zonal Marking

Brazil 4, Ecuador 2
“Alexandre Pato and Neymar scored two goals each as defending champion Brazil hit form with a 4-2 win over Ecuador on Wednesday to secure a Copa America quarterfinals spot. Brazil finished atop Group B and advanced to a knockout match against Paraguay. Ecuador was eliminated. Pato scored with a header in the 28th minute and a close-range shot in the 60th, while Neymar netted from inside the area in the 48th and 76th. Striker Felipe Caicedo scored for Ecuador in the 37th and 58th.” ESPN

Chileans in raptures after sealing quarter-final against Venezuela
“Finding grilled meat in Argentina isn’t usually a problem, but for days the parrillas of Mendoza have been rammed. With Chile only 130 miles across the Andes, fans have come in their droves, with reports of queues of more than six hours at the border. Even a day after their 1-0 win over Peru – a poor match in which neither side managed a shot on target before the decisive late own goal – they lingered, and many will make the short hop up to San Juan for Sunday’s quarter-final.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Grondona: Messi could quit
“Argentine Football Association (AFA) president Julio Grondona has warned that Lionel Messi could call time on his international career if the criticism from fans and the country’s media continues. Messi came under fire for below-par performances in the first two group games at the Copa America before sealing Argentina’s progress against Costa Rica.” ESPN

Venezuela 3, Paraguay 3
“Grenddy Adrian Perozo scored a stoppage-time equalizer with the help of his goalkeeper as Venezuela rallied for a 3-3 draw with Paraguay in a thrilling Copa America Group B match Wednesday. Venezuela was trailing 3-1 but pulled one back in the 89th via Nicolas Fedor. Goalkeeper Renny Vicente Vega then rushed to the other end in the game’s last play and met a corner with an angled header to set up Perozo’s equalizer two minutes into stoppage time.”>ESPN

Fascist Football: Imagining ‘Nation’ through Calcio

“Studies of Italian Fascism have spent a lot of time assessing the roles that rituals, myths and symbols of the regime played in ‘regenerating’ a mystical, national collective; however, few have considered the cultural role that football played in the imagining of Italy’s national community under Fascism. In the post-World War One era, Italy was still a rather disparate nation-state. During the 1920s therefore, one way the regime attempted to construct an imagined national community was through the popular sport of calcio (the ‘Italianised’ term for football).” The Equaliser

1980s Month: Le Carré Magique
“When it comes to footballing combinations of flair and panache, it appears that three really is the magic number. Down the years there have been a host of attacking triumvirates that have excited passions and frightened defences. From Sunderland’s infernal triangle of Cuggy, Mordue and Buchan in the 1910s, Brazil’s 1950 inside-forward trio of Ademir, Jair and Zizinho, Manchester United’s ‘holy trinity’ of Charlton, Best and Law in the 60s, to the three R’s (Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho) that dominated the 2002 World Cup, threesomes have always had something special about them.” The Equaliser

1980s Month: A Tale of Two Teams
“Prior to Uruguay’s encounter with Denmark at Mexico ‘86, coach Omar Borrás had already condemned their group – which also comprised West Germany and Scotland – as “El Grupo de la Muerte” or “The Group of Death”. Nowadays the term is thrown around all too regularly, often being attached to any conglomeration of recognisable international names, but when Borrás employed it it was more than fitting. Eventually three of the four teams progressed to the knockout rounds, but in that group each team epitomized a style of play so distinctive in relation to the others that one could not help but feel that the teams wouldn’t be able to survive in the presence of one another: such complete competitors simply could not coexist.” The Equaliser

Is Stewart Downing Actually Stanley Devastating?

“A certain player happens to have completed more successful crosses in the past three seasons than anyone else in the Premier League; he is the top-flight’s 5th-most successful chance-creator over the past seven seasons, and the only one of that top five to not be in a Champions League side over the duration (the other four being the world-famous quartet of Fabregas, Gerrard, Lampard and Giggs). His club’s Player of the Year, he is someone who has regularly registered in excess of ten assists a season throughout his career, with as many as 14 in 2006/07, and is capable of getting double-figures in goals (he did so in 2007/08, and was just one shy of last season). All this, and on average fit to play in all but three games a season over the past five years. (Stats courtesy of Opta Joe.)” Tomkins Times

Jérémy Menez – “A Frenchman Abroad”

“The mercurial Jeremy Menez is a player blessed with undisputed ability. With a blend of dexterity and pace, Menez has caused consternation among Serie A defences for three seasons. Deployed in either a wide berth or forward position, Menez has become a linchpin in the famed ‘Giallorosso’ jersey of AS Roma. Technical attributes aside, Menez has recently allowed peripheral club turmoil to blight his mood and dull his threat. A clash of characters with Roma’s temporary manager, Vincenzo Montella, saw Jeremy’s mood and form wane, while Roma’s hardcore tifosi duly became increasingly disenchanted with their man. And as last season expired, a prevailing disquiet suggested the Frenchman’s position was borderline untenable.” FFM

Uruguay 1-0 Mexico: Uruguay’s pressing leads to dominance, and progression to the knockouts

“Alvaro Pereira’s scrappy goal set up a quarter-final showdown with Argentina. Oscar Tabarez dropped Edinson Cavani and Martin Caceres, bringing in Alvaro Gonzalez and Cristian Rodriguez either side of a narrow 4-4-1-1, moving Alvaro Pereira to left-back. Luis Fernando Tena made one change, with Miguel Ponce replacing Javier Aquiano. Mexico also lined up in a broad 4-4-1-1 system, with Giovani dos Santos behind Rafael ‘Lugo’ Marquez.” Zonal Marking

Argentina’s Copa Begins In Earnest
“‘A new Copa has started’, Lionel Messi told the press after Monday night’s 3-0 win for Argentina against Costa Rica. Messi wasn’t in a press conference, or a mixed zone; he was picking up his man-of-the-match award. Normally he’d just stand for a couple of photos and leave with the gong, to answer questions outside, but he grabbed a microphone to thank ‘the people of Córdoba for how they’ve treated all of us, especially myself.'” In Bed With Maradona

The Prem’s most wanted players

“In term of transfers, football clubs seem to go through crazes. The January transfer window was all about strikers, with Fernando Torres, Andy Carroll, Edin Dzeko, Darren Bent and Luis Suarez all changing hands for more than 20 million pounds each. In fact, those five transfers contributed to 159 million pounds of the record 225 million spent by Premier League clubs in that month.” ESPN

West Bromwich Albion’s Risk Averse Strategy

“At one stage last season West Bromwich Albion seemed destined to be relegated from the top flight yet again, despite the sterling efforts of top scorer Peter Odemwingie and the tough tackling Youssouf Mulumbu, but a timely change of manager inspired a solid series of results in the last few months, culminating in the club’s best ever finishing position of 11th in the Premier League.” Swiss Ramble

A chance is a chance is a chance?

“Before we dive deep into soccermetrics territory to aim for a method to assign different value to different chances created during a football match, let’s take a big step back in time. Back to our early childhood, the school yard… I’m pretty sure that the majority of us have enjoyed playing marbles at that time. Not just the fun of playing the simple one-on-one game, but also the trickery trade that came with it. There were those guys (or girls) you looked up against, who always had the biggest and most shiny marbles of all, making your bunch look pale and insignificant.” 11 tegen 11

Sergio Batista and the Sharpening of Long Knives

Sergio Batista
“We’re one week into the Copa América, and if nothing else it’s proven correct those who made pre-tournament predictions that it would be the most closely-fought Copa in a long time. For the first time ever, both Argentina and Brazil failed to win their opening matches. It must be said that not enough credit was given to the two sides who foiled them in those games; Venezuela in the case of the holders Brazil, and Bolivia in the case of hosts Argentina.” In Bed With Maradona

Critics attack ‘disastrous’ Brazil after they scrape Paraguay draw
“Perhaps Dunga wasn’t so bad after all. He may have been pragmatic and have refused to pick the public’s favourites, but at least he won games. Brazil, after underwhelming in a 0-0 against a Venezuela team that, after Saturday’s 1-0 win over Ecuador, improbably tops Copa América’s Group B, were highly fortunate to scrape a 2-2 draw against Paraguay. Two thirds of the way through the group stage, none of the seeds have yet won a game and, amid all the grumbling about Argentina’s form, the one consolation for the hosts has been that Brazil have been even worse than they have.” Guardian

Can Argentina salvage their Copa America hopes?
“We’re one week into the Copa América, and if nothing else, it’s shown that those who predicted that this would be the most closely-fought Copa in living memory, have been proven correct. For the first time ever, both Argentina and Brazil failed to win their opening matches. It must be said that not enough credit was given to the two sides who foiled them in those games; Venezuela in the case of the holders Brazil, and Bolivia against the hosts Argentina.” World Soccer

Brazil 2-2 Paraguay: Brazil snatch the draw
“Mano Menezes ditched the “European” 4-2-3-1, went for a Dunga-style compromise system, then ended up with 4-2-2-2… He dropped Robinho from his starting line-up, favouring Jadson who played much narrower on the right, as he has done in previous friendlies. Gerardo Martino went for the 4-4-2 / 4-3-3 hybrid that he often favoured at last summer’s World Cup. Roque Santa Cruz played on the right, and made diagonal runs to a centre-forward position.” Zonal Marking

IBWM and World Soccer: Writers Wanted

“Providing detailed analysis and featuring articles from the likes of Sid Lowe, Tim Vickery, Jonathan Wilson, David Conn and Brian Glanville, World Soccer is the oldest and most respected football magazine on the planet. Now into its 51st year, World Soccer is read by thousands each month including players, coaches, managers and many of the most influential names in the beautiful game. IBWM is the award winning home of world football which reaches more than 150 countries and is visited by more people each week than you can cram into the Camp Nou on a matchday.” In Bed With Maradona

Video of the Week: Greatest Goals of the World Cup 1954-1978

World Cup 1974
“This years Womens World Cup has caused one or two people to comment on the nature of the sixteen team tournament. The WWC is set to be expanded to twenty-four nations for the next competition in Canada in four years time, but this years competition has been taut and exciting – all killer, as some might say, and no filler. With this in mind, our Monday video timewaster (and who doesn’t need a timewaster on a Monday morning?) brings you the best goals from the day when the World Cup was played out between just sixteen nations, between 1954 and 1978. Our thanks go to the original uploader of this article and don’t forget that if you happen to be reading this on a mobile device, you can switch to our desktop view by clicking the link at the very bottom of this page.” twohundredpercent

Ups and Downs

“So Marc Pelosi, a seventeen-year-old rising star of American soccer, may be be headed to Liverpool to develop his skills in the Reds’ youth program. He has made an interesting comment: ‘I have been told the current Barcelona coach said that if you don’t go to Barcelona, the second best place to develop is at Liverpool. It’s a great, top notch organization.’ (Pep Guardiola has indeed been reported as having said that, but I can’t track the quote to a reliable source. It would be surprising, though, if Guardiola didn’t have nice things to say about Liverpool’s youth program, since it’s run by people with Barça pedigrees, José Segura and Rodolfo Borrell.)” Run of Play

Barca press cry ‘scandal’ over fixture list, while Zidane puts the kettle on

“Last Thursday marked the pre-season’s first bout of conspiracy theorising and childish screams of ‘it’s not fair!’ in the ongoing media war between Real Madrid and Barcelona. It was the day after the fixtures for the 2011-12 campaign were announced and the loonier parts of the Barça press thought they could smell a rather pungent rat as they cast their eyes over Barcelona’s opening few games, which kick off with a trip to a beefed-up Málaga.” FourFourTwo

Set-pieces dominate the first week of the Copa

“For a tournament often hailed for its flair and unpredictability, the Copa America has clearly been lacking excitement. So far, the goals per game count stands at a pathetic eight, from seven matches. That gives a goals per game rate of just 1.14 – roughly half the goals per game rate of last summer’s World Cup, where the figure was 2.27. There have been three 0-0s, and only Chile have scored more than once.” Zonal Marking

Argentina 0-0 Colombia: another goalless draw
“The third 0-0 from seven Copa America games so far, as Argentina again struggled. Sergio Batista made one change from the opening day 0-0 against Bolivia. Marcos Rojo dropped out, with Pablo Zabaleta coming in on the right. Javier Zanetti moved to the left. Hernan Dario Gomez also made a single change, bringing in Carlos Sanchez for Gutavo Bolivar, a straight swap in midfield. Argentina had much of the play but failed to create enough chances to get the breakthrough, a common feature of this tournament. Colombia sat back and played on the break, and deserved their point.” Zonal Marking

Chile 2-1 Mexico: Borghi’s change in formation prompts Chile’s comeback

“Chile recovered from 1-0 down to record a 2-1 victory in an excellent contest. Claudio Borghi lined up with a 3-4-1-2 formation containing various players who are familiar from last year’s World Cup, and there were no major selection surprises. Like Costa Rica, Mexico are competing with an Olympic squad in this tournament, and assistant manager Luis Fernando Tena is in charge. He played a 3-5-2, with Giovani dos Santos just behind Rafael Marquez Lugo, not to be confused with the more established Rafael Marquez.” Zonal Marking

Copa América 2011: Chile Rely on Set-Pieces to Get Victory
“Chile embarked on their journey for a first Copa America trophy against a weakened Mexico side. With last month’s Gold Cup Mexico’s main international competition of the summer, a mostly under-22 side make up the Copa America squad for the tournament invitees. This meant that Chile, with the likes of potentially Barcelona bound Alexis Sánchez, as well as Humberto Suazo and Matías Fernández, were clear favorites. Meanwhile Giovanni dos Santos – Tottenham-loanee and spectacular goal-scorer in the Gold Cup final – the main player of note for the Mexicans.” the elastico

Transfer activity this summer is frenzied so far despite FFP rules

“This summer is quickly turning into one of the most frenzied transfer periods in recent years. In the Premier League alone, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool have already spent a combined £77 million ($122.9M) on new players, a figure that could easily double before the end of August, as even bigger moves (Samir Nasri to Man Utd, Wesley Sneijder to Man Utd, Ezequiel Lavezzi to City, Stewart Downing to Liverpool) potentially come to fruition. Then there’s Chelsea, yet to sign a new high-profile recruit, and Arsenal, who’ll be eager to add to the £9 million ($14.3M) outlay for Gervinho in the wake of some high-profile departures. It’s feasible that total spending among the 20 first division English teams will top £400 million ($638.8M) this year.” SI

WWC: Erica Turns on the Style

“Sure, Copa América has Messi, Forlán, and Neymar. Yes, it will be a very interesting test for Mano Menezes. Yeah, it’s nice to see the young Brazilian and Argie talent that’s been shining in leagues around the world. And I’ll grant you that, despite lackluster performances from Brazil in its first game and Argentina in its first two, there are good reasons to expect both to put on an offensive show in this Copa America. Both Brazil and Argentina are using very offensive schemes, and both have players who can make things happen. Plus the third traditional power in South American soccer, Uruguay, has a pretty good team, the one that went farthest in the last World Cup and the one with the best player from that tournament. And we can’t forget Chile or Colômbia, both of which bring some interesting players. There are lots of reasons to watch this Copa America.” Cult Football

The 50 greatest managers of all time

Joan Bleau – 1645 – Cumberland
“Alex Ferguson looked on, realising a big lesson was needed here. He had been sitting in the Carrington canteen, chatting away to an old friend but keeping a vigilant eye on the Manchester United youngsters lining up for lunch. As underage forward Robbie Brady opened his mouth to order, he was suddenly cut off by someone cutting in. Cristiano Ronaldo, just in the door and having just received the 2008 Ballon D’Or, presumed the place in the queue to go with his new prize.” The Football Pantheon

Season Review: Premier League

“It might not enter the annuls of history as a vintage season, but 2010/11 arguably had more intrigue, twists, turns and drama than any other for a long while. And while the players have discovered Twitter (a new way for them to disgrace themselves) and superinjunctions (a new way for them to hide the old ways), there was plenty to enjoy on the pitch – for neutrals, mainly.” twofootedtackle

Brazil 0-0 Venezuela: Brazil fail to impress

“Mano Menezes’ first competitive game as Brazil manager ended with a poor 0-0 draw against a resilient Venezuela side. Menezes played his expected side, which meant Ganso playing as the playmaker behind a front three. Cesar Farias named a solid 4-4-2 side, with La Liga duo Nicolas Fedor and Jose Rondon upfront. Brazil dominated possession, of course, and in the first ten minutes of the game looked like they were going to run riot. The longer Venezuela went without conceding, however, the more confidence the underdogs had, and the better they defended.” Zonal Marking

Seleção Draw Blank Against Venezuela in Copa América
“As opening gambits go, it was far from convincing. Having watched their most bitter of rivals stutter against Bolivia (a result which was reported with considerable verve in Brazil) the seleção met Venezuela, hoping to put down an early marker in the competition. A year after being knocked out of the World Cup with barely a whimper of protest, opportunity hung heavy in the La Plata air; this was the moment for Brazil to shake off the dust, to reintroduce itself to the world. A team rich in youthful vim and logic-defying hair styles marched onto the pitch. Mano Menezes looked on sagely as Neymar, Ganso et al. took their starting positions. The stage was set. And then… nothing.” Snap Kaka A Pop

Opening skirmishes hint at wide-open Copa

“They may have had a little bit of help from some a less than perfect pitch in La Plata and some opening match nerves from the big two, but in holding Argentina and Brazil respectively, Bolivia and Venezuela made a powerful declaration of the current strength in depth of the South American national teams. Whoever wins the Copa America on 24 July will have to battle their way to the title but both hosts Argentina and 2014 World Cup hosts Brazil will feel they are capable of far better than they produced in their first group games.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Copa América 2011: Chile win at ‘home’; Uruguay are held by Peru

Brazil and Venezuela
“Group C of the 2011 Copa América began on Monday night with a double-header in San Juan, and it was the most entertaining evening of action we’ve had so far in the Copa. Uruguay surprisingly fell behind to Peru before a brilliant assist from Nicolás Lodeiro and a smart finish from Liverpool’s Luis Suárez gave them a deserved equaliser. Shortly after, Mexico’s Under-23s took on Chile, and went in at the break with a lead before Claudio Borghi’s entertaining team fought back in the second half to win 2-1. Chile and Colombia are the only sides to win their opening games. You can see all Monday’s goals right here.” Hasta El Gol Siempre

The Meteoric Rise of Novara Calcio

“To some, the words Novara Calcio are about as unknown as ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. After all, it was only two seasons ago that the Piedmontese side was floating around in Italy’s vast third division, now known as the Lega Pro. Most the teams in Lega Pro play on pitches comparable with fields found right outside the highway – complete with live & active growing vegetation. It is here that the curious case of Novara Calcio commenced, right down to their unusual synthetic pitch that could very well be renamed ‘Il Cimiterio’ (The metaphorical graveyard of a footballers career) for its awkward surfaces that have caused plenty of twisted ankles and exploded ligaments from players not used to the artificial ground.” In Bed With Maradona

1980s Month: Justin Fashanu & the Meaning of the Goal

“Everyone at Carrow Road, forty days into the 1980s, knew immediately that they had witnessed a moment that would transcend the match they were watching. BBC commentator Barry Davies, covering Norwich City’s clash with Liverpool for Match of the Day, instinctively knew too. That moment was Justin Fashanu’s phenomenal Goal of the Season – if not the decade.” The Equaliser

Colombia 1-0 Costa Rica: Ramos goal beats ten man Costa Rica

The Lady and The Unicorn, Domenico Zampieri
“Colombia squeezed past Costa Rica in a poor game. Hernan Dario Gomez surprisingly left out Cristian Zapata, sticking with the partnership of Luis Parea and Mario Yepes at the back. Hugo Rodallega was also on the bench. Costa Rica are participating in this tournament with an Olympic squad, so the majority of players are under 23, and the XI was unrecognisable from the side which contested the Gold Cup.” Zonal Marking

Keep Calm and Carry On

“Seemingly as bumptious as he is precocious, Jack Rodwell recently said that several of England’s senior players including Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, and John Terry, would be certain starters if they were in the current Barcelona squad—a boast sure to induce more than a few guffaws even if publications like The Sun are patting Jack the Lad on the head for his bulldogged patriotism.” Run of Play