My Perfect 10: Francesco Totti

“Life could have been so different for Francesco Totti. ‘If I hadn’t been a footballer, I would have liked to have become a petrol pump assistant,’ he said. ‘When I was little, it was wonderful to smell the petrol fumes and see those guys handle so much money.’ Admittedly one does sometimes have to wonder whether those fumes ever went to the young Totti’s head.” FourFourTwo


Bernabeu set for a face-lift as Barça move one step closer to a ‘hidden war’

“Both Barcelona and Real Madrid can claim to have been more than entertaining in their respective weekend victories. The first 15 seconds at the Santiago Bernabeu, for example, were particularly compelling. And both clubs also delivered in their own special ways on the traditionally fusty, dusty institutional level. Normally a day spent watching pompous, boastful men in their 50s, jangling their jowls whilst talking endlessly about finances and waving voting cards is as skull-dentingly tortuous as a 2010/11 Deportivo season highlights DVD.” FourFourTwo

Bora Bahia

“The constant beating of drums, the colour, the dancing, the screaming, the singing, the joy on people’s faces; it’s all around me. Bora Bahia! Campeão Carioca! (come on Bahia, Champions of Rio) screams the guy behind me. But I’m not in Rio, I’m in Salvador in North Eastern Brazil. On the pitch, Rio side Fluminense are being put to the sword and in the stands the carnival atmosphere is in full swing. Full time score: Esporte Clube de Bahia 3 Fluminense 0.” In Bed With Maradona

Manchester City Antes Up for a Seat at Soccer’s Power Table

“Now, though, Manchester City’s players take the field in pale blue jerseys that suggest possibility as expansive as the sky itself. Or the fossil fuels beneath it. In 2008, the club was bought for $330 million by Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, a member of the royal family of the emirate of Abu Dhabi who has fueled his team with an oil and talent pipeline.” NYT

Gerginio Wijnaldum: The Bargain of 2011?

“We watch a fair bit of the Eredivisie at IBWM towers and last season was a little tricky for us. We like to see the traditionally big clubs doing well and have always had a bit of a soft spot for Feyenoord. Seeing the Rotterdam club suffer a truly horrible 2010-11 by their standards wasn’t great to watch, but we enjoyed seeing how well Georginio Wijnaldum was coming along at the club.” In Bed With Maradona