Bayern Munich: A model franchise

May 17, 2012


“The annual Super Bowl of world soccer is finally here. Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea (2:45 p.m. ET, FOX) may lack the sexiness of recent European finals — neither team finished at the top of its own domestic league, after all — but I still think this should be a highly entertaining contest.” SI

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Euro 2012 – The Runners & Riders: The Czech Republic

May 17, 2012

“One could forgive the Czech Republic for being a little circumspect in their preparations for the 2012 European Championships. Having failed to qualify for the World Cup finals again two years ago – they’ve only qualified for one World Cup finals since the division of the Czechoslovakia’s national football team split into two early in 1994 – their qualification for this European Championships was modest and unspectacular. They scored only twelve goals in their eight qualifying matches, of which they lost three including a home defeat in their opening match against Lithuania. With Spain winning the group by an almost inhumane eleven points, the Czech Republic squeezed through to the finals with a comfortable win against Montenegro.” twohundredpercent

Euro 2012: The Runners & Riders – Russia
“The Russian national team could be forgiven for treating all matches up to the 2018 World Cup finals as a warm up for that competition. After all, the amount of money being spent on the first tournament to be held in the country will be vast and expectations amongst the Russian public will be accordingly high. Russia, however, have spent most of the last two decades or so since the break-up of the Soviet Union singularly failing to set the world of international football alight and there is little to suggest that this summer will see a significant improvement from them.” twohundredpercent


Wigan stay up after a switch to 3-4-3

May 17, 2012

“The surprise package in the second half of Premier League season was the only side who switched to a back three on a permanent basis. It seems odd to trace Roberto Martinez’s successful experiment with a three-man defence back to an eight-goal defeat, but that’s where we’re going to start. On the final day of the 2009/10 season, Wigan travelled to Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea needed a win to make sure of the Premier League title. Chelsea won 8-0.” Zonal Marking


An impressive new stadium cannot hide rotten core of Romanian football

May 17, 2012

“The new Arena Nationala in Bucharest is magnificent. Its steep sides – the steepest permissible according to European law, apparently – are conducive to a good atmosphere, it’s near enough the centre of town to make access relatively simple and the early teething problems with the pitch have been sorted out. After all the problems over funding and all the delays, Romania has ended up with a national stadium to be proud of. Sitting in the press box for last week’s Europa League final – plug sockets and televisions aplenty, Ethernet cables at every seat – it was hard to believe this was the same city I first visited 11 years earlier.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


‘Daddy’s Crying’

May 17, 2012


“For nearly three years, I’ve been giving myself the same speech. Since my one and only heartbreaking trip to Old Trafford in the fall of 2009, it’s been the go-to pep talk for the voices inside my head. Having supported Manchester City since the age of 11, finally daring to step inside Manchester United’s famous ground as a 40-year-old and then being forced to witness City lose a soul-crushing classic to a Michael Owen goal that made it 4-3 nearly two minutes after the final whistle should have been blown, this became my mantra: Nothing can ever hurt me again.Grantland


The Premier League Is Sensational

May 17, 2012

“Like everyone else, I blacked out when Manchester City scored two goals in stoppage time to snatch the Premier League title from Manchester United. In my case, I woke up three days later, in a bathtub full of ice. My right kidney was missing, and a piece of paper containing the following text was folded in my hand. I have no idea what to make of this.” Grantland – Run of Play


Sacked Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish will never walk alone

May 17, 2012

“Kenny Dalglish walked away from Anfield yesterday but he knows he will never walk alone. For all the mistakes he made, for all the poor PR, misguided handling of the Luis Suárez saga and the meagre league form, Dalglish’s love affair with Liverpool will never end. He may have gone but the fans will still sing his name.” Telegraph – Henry Winter