English Football’s Map of Europe

October 18, 2011

“EURO 2012 Qualifying may be over for the time being and although England are in second place behind Montenegro, here is a little glimpse of your average Englishman’s perception of European footballing nations. This is English Football’s Map of Europe by our friend Charlie Anderson (@lucianosays). Be sure to have a look at his site (Things Fall Apart) as well. I think it’s just about right, yeah? It’s all about coming out as the moral victor.” A Football Report

Andy Gray Questions Whether Barcelona Could Handle Stoke or Blackburn
“I admire Lionel Messi’s incredible skills as much as the next soccer fan, but I’m not a member of the recent love fest in the British media where they’ve heralded Barcelona as the greatest team ever. They’re up there, no doubt, but I question Messi’s talent when he comes up against the tough teams either in the Champions League or World Cup, where the Argentine routinely disappears in matches whenever he’s faced against a tough opponent. So many of the opponents that Messi faces in La Liga look like Swiss cheese, allowing the best player in the world too much space to dart in and out before pulling the trigger to score wonderful goals.” EPL Talk

Barcelona Couldn’t Do It On A Wet Wednesday At Stoke
“We’ve all done it at some stage. Pose a hypothetical and often incomprehensible scenario to our fellow co-workers or a friend down the pub in order to back-up an already suspect football related argument. Compared a team of the past to one of the present, constructed a parallel universe where all shots hitting crossbar and posts go in, removed a key player from a club and modified their future results accordingly or, in Andy Gray’s case, cherry picked teams of vastly different stature and speculated on the outcome.” Sabotage Times

Bad start for new Argentina coach

October 18, 2011

“Last Tuesday when Venezuela beat Argentina in the second round of South America’s World Cup qualifiers it was historic, but hardly surprising. Venezuela have been making dramatic strides, had home advantage and were taking on an especially vulnerable Argentina side – whose 4-1 win at home to Chile the previous Friday may have disguised the fact.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Latin America’s power struggle
“Just a few rounds gone and, of the nine teams in contention, only two have yet to win a game. The other seven already have one success to their name, but nobody has two. The figures don’t just show it, they shout it: World Cup qualification in South America is more competitive than anywhere else on the planet.” ESPN – Tim Vickery

From the Secret Rulebook

October 18, 2011

“Expressions of regret at missing a chance to score require, in almost all circumstances, contact between (a) one’s two hands and (b) one’s head. It is never appropriate to employ one hand only to demonstrate one’s dismay and/or wrath. Parts of the body other than the head may be touched, but only after manual contact with the head. All appropriate hand gestures will employ bilateral symmetry. The repertoire of approved gestures — to be used immediately after popping the easy header over the bar, scuffing the volley into the turf, or dragging the simple side-foot shot well wide of the gaping net — is as follows…” Run of Play

The Rendez-Vous. A Bagatelle for Arsenal in Russian Landscape
“Anyone who has crossed from the leafy district of Hertfordshire to that of Brockhall Village will probably have been struck by the sharp difference between the natives of the respective provinces of Arsenal and Blackburn. The peasant of Brockhall is short, stooping, sullen; he looks at you from under his brows, lives in flimsy huts of poplar wood, does labour-duty for his master; never goes in for trade; eats badly, wears pleated shoes. In Hertfordshire the peasant pays rent and lives in spacious cabins of pinewood; he is tall, with a bold gay way of looking at you and a clean white face; he trades in oil and tar, and on feast-days wears boots.” Run of Play

Media punta power

October 18, 2011

“Pride of place this week goes once again to Levante, who stay second behind Barcelona on goal difference after beating Malaga 3-0 in the duel of the new-teams-on-the-block. It’s true that Malaga lost their goalkeeper Willy (he might have to change the name on his shirt if he ever gets signed by an English team) after half an hour to a sending-off, but Levante proved themselves perfectly capable of taking full advantage, winning a game with lots of symbolic meaning attached to it.” ESPN

Lazio 2-1 Roma: Full-backs give Roma the early advantage but Lazio nick it late on

October 18, 2011

“A game that turned on a red card and penalty decision – Luis Enrique won the early battle, but Eddy Reja’s side came through for him in stoppage time. Reja chose his usual shape, a cross between a 4-3-1-2 and a 4-2-3-1. Hernanes was the playmaker, Djibril Cisse a left-sided forward, and Alvaro Gonzalez deeper on the right. Enrique was without Francesco Totti and David Pizarro started on the bench, so Miralem Pjanic played as the number ten in, broadly, a 4-3-1-2. A victory for Lazio, then – they had the better of the game overall, but great credit should go to Enrique for his bravery throughout the fixture.” Zonal Marking