Ghana ‘lucky’ to be in Nations Cup semi-finals

February 6, 2012


Zambia 3-0 Sudan
“Ghana have admitted they are lucky to have reached the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals, after being gifted a quarter-final winner by Tunisia.” BBC

African Cup Of Nations: Ivory Coast, Ghana on collision course
“Thoughts on the winners from the African Cup of Nations quarterfinals…” SI

Six points on Ghana 2-1 Tunisia
“Ghana replicated the Ivory Coast’s tendency to rely on opposition mistakes and set-pieces to get their goals. Forcing errors in the opposition is a large part of attacking, and dead ball situations make up a high percentage of goals at any level of football. But the dependency on those two avenues is a damning indictment of the lack of creativity in the two sides considered to the best in the tournament. A final between the two is probable, but it could turn into a defensive stand-off.” Zonal Marking

Ivory Coast 3-0 Equatorial Guinea: Ivory Coast reliant on set-pieces and mistakes
“The individual quality of Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure proved too much for Equatorial Guinea, but the Ivory Coast are yet to convince. Ivory Coast coach Francois Zahoui has made plenty of changes to his side in this competition – always in a 4-3-3 shape. He seems keen to utilise his strong squad, and almost every position aside from the goalkeeper and centre-backs has seen rotation.” Zonal Marking

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FC Barcelona 2 – 1 Real Sociedad: Barca Breaths a Sigh of Relief

February 6, 2012

“A massive sigh of relief could be heard in the aftermath of tonight’s game not only because Barca managed to eek out the victory and remain within striking distance of Real Madrid in the league, but also, and more importantly, because Sergio Busquets’ injury was determined to be not too serious. Painful and ugly, yes, but according to the medical reports, Busi should be back on the pitch soon. Thanks be to the football gods.” The Offside

Barcelona initially unconvinced that Leo Messi would succeed as a pro
“Rosario, Argentina, 2000. Leo Messi is 12 years old and, although coveted by both Newell’s Old Boys and River Plate, neither club can afford the approximate $1000 per month across two years for the growth hormone treatment that will correct a deficiency and allow him to reach his natural height at a normal rate of growth. His father, Jorge Messi, had persuaded his employers and another local business to sponsor the initial cost of treatment, but that, too, has become unsustainable. The story of the boy who would become the world’s greatest soccer player needed an another hero.” SI


Football and the Arab Spring

February 6, 2012

“It can include governments demanding that its national team be allowed to wear poppies on the shirts, regimes getting involved with the affairs of associations, militaries owning clubs and even the imprisonment of fans and players, but politicians and rulers around the world often seek to use football to their advantage. No wonder – it is the world game and has a unique power to bring people together.” ESPN


Diplomat Bielsa goes on the attack

February 6, 2012


Marcelo Bielsa
“If he needs help in his captaincy dilemma then perhaps Fabio Capello could take a leaf out of the book of Marcelo Bielsa. Currently with Athletic Bilbao after spells in charge of the national teams of Chile and his native Argentina, Bielsa believes that the role of the captain is to represent the squad – and on that basis he usually lets the players vote to determine who should lead them out. But that is where Bielsa’s democracy ends. In the late 90s when he first took the Argentine job there were some early problems – hardly a surprise given the unorthodox nature of his trademark 3-3-1-3 system.” BBC – Tim Vickery


Arsenal must make more of their chances

February 6, 2012

“When Marouane Chamakh signed for Arsenal in 2010, there were doubts about whether he was the type of striker Arsenal need. After all, his record, before the last two seasons, wasn’t very prolific and his, and his team’s form dramatically faltered in the second-half of the campaign. Arsène Wenger, though, had felt that his composure in front of goal could be corrected like other strikers he had signed previously, Thierry Henry and Emmanuel Adebayor to name two. But, a season-and-a-half later, Chamakh’s form has dropped since scoring 10 goals in 17 after he signed to just one in his last 14 this season. His confidence has disappeared and he now ambles about on the pitch, a shadow of his former self and looking to compensate his lack of penetration by constantly dropping deep.” The Arsenal Column


Chelsea 3-3 Manchester United: Chelsea move into 3-0 lead but lose control

February 6, 2012

“An exciting game featuring a classic Manchester United comeback. Andre Villas-Boas was without Ashley Cole and John Terry, so had to field Jose Bosingwa at left-back and give a debut to Gary Cahill in the centre of defence. Frank Lampard and Ramires were also both out, so Florent Malouda came into the side with Chelsea changing formation. Sir Alex Ferguson picked the expected side in a 4-4-1-1 shape. Chris Smalling had picked up an injury the day before, otherwise his promising partnership with Jonny Evans might have been retained at the back.” Zonal Marking