Growing pains for Milan pair

September 29, 2012


Massimiliano Allegri
“‘Chaos in Milan. It’s never this bad!’ cried the front page of Corriere dello Sport last Monday, reacting to seeing the city’s two clubs both lose the previous weekend. Indeed, before Milan’s midweek win over Cagliari, the pair had combined to take just three points from seven home matches following three draws and four losses, with Milan themselves having already lost three league games this term.” ESPN


Kroos emerges as talk of Bayern Munich, challenging German stars

September 29, 2012

“Bayern Munich has long prided itself on its youth development, and with some justification: half of the first-team regulars that made it to the Champions League final in May came through the club’s academy system. But they don’t always get it right in Bavaria.” SI


Napoli 3-0 Lazio: Cavani x 3

September 29, 2012

“Edinson Cavani hit a hattrick – and missed a penalty – as Napoli stormed to victory. Walter Mazzarri started Alessandro Gamberini rather than Salvatore Aronica in defence and Valon Behrami ahead of Blerim Dzemaili in midfield. Vladimir Petkovic moved back to his 4-1-4-1 / 4-3-3 after an unsuccessful experimentation with 4-4-2 against Genoa, with Miroslav Klose returning upfront, Stefano Mauri moved inside and Senad Lulic out on the left. Despite Klose’s early disallowed goal (struck off because he admitted punching the ball into the net), this was a fairly simple game. Napoli were more forceful, energetic and direct than Lazio – they won the battle in the midfield and counter-attacked swiftly.” Zonal Marking


Suarez hat trick paces Reds

September 29, 2012

“Luis Suarez scored his second hat trick at Carrow Road in the space of five months as Liverpool crushed a sorry Norwich 5-2 to record its first Barclays Premier League win under Brendan Rodgers. Suarez scored a memorable treble on his last visit to Carrow in April and he took just 67 seconds to open his account in Norfolk this season, scoring from the edge of the box to make it 1-0. He then capitalized on a terrible mistake by Michael Turner to make it 2-0 before laying on Nuri Sahin, who made it 3-0 just after the break.” ESPN


Can Charlie Adam fit in at Stoke?

September 29, 2012


Charlie Adam
“At Stamford Bridge last season, Charlie Adam appeared to have become a proper Liverpool player, as Kenny Dalglish’s side recorded a fine 2-1 victory over the eventual European Champions. The Scot played a crucial role in both goals. First, he energetically closed down Jon Obi Mikel as AVB-led Chelsea tried to pass out from defence, won the ball, and prompted a rapid Liverpool passing sequence leading to Maxi Rodriguez’s cool finish. His contribution for the winner was even better — a 50-yard pass out to Glen Johnson, who had stormed forward from right back to slide in a late winner.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Everton reverses trend with superb start to Premier League season

September 29, 2012

“Everton goes into this weekend in third place in the Premier League (ahead of West Bromwich Albion on goal difference!) and playing some of the nicest soccer around. Does David Moyes not know it is still only September? It’s been five years since his side had 10 points from the opening five games, with Everton renowned for split seasons that start badly and end well since at least 2005-06, when the Toffees lost the first three European fixtures and the domestic ties that followed them. It took an injury-time winner from Tim Cahill against Sunderland (and against the run of play) on New Year’s Eve to turn a tide that threatened to carry the club to the second tier.” SI


Inverting The Pyramid-Barcelona’s 1-2-3-4 formation

September 29, 2012

“Modern football, has it’s foundations laid upon the ‘false’ tactics – so to say the ‘False 10′ and the more popular and widely accepted ‘False 9.’ The present era is a period of sustained innovation, where new formations, different chalkboards and novel setups come up to the fore every day. But the setup which I am going to talk about is the 1-2-3-4. Yes, you don’t need to rub your eyes and read again. It’s called ‘Inverting the Pyramid’ – Why?” The False 9


The question: How troubling is Liverpool’s start?

September 27, 2012


“Not since 1903 have Liverpool had a worse start to the season but for the most part their supporters seem relatively sanguine. The fixture list has not been kind, offering up home games against three of the sides likely to fill the top four positions in the Premier League at the end of the season and testing away games at West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland. And Liverpool have played pretty well – even in the home defeat by Arsenal, when they ended up comfortably beaten 2-0, there was an hour or so in which they controlled the ball.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Liverpool’s Failure To Strengthen Their Squad Could Be A Blessing In Disguise
“It may not have been that elusive first three Premier League points, but Brendan Rodgers secured his first domestic win as Liverpool boss as his young side put in an excellent performance to beat a strong West Brom team 2-1 away in the League Cup and qualify for the next round, where they’ll face Rodgers’ old side, Swansea, at Anfield. It was a record breaking night for the Reds, with Jerome Sinclair coming off the bench to become Liverpool’s youngest ever player at 16 years and 6 days of age – he wasn’t even alive for Euro 96, how old do some of you feel, eh?” Sabotage Times


The Ethics of Soccer Sponsorship

September 27, 2012

“Feeling queasy at the increased commercialisation of football is an experience common to us all, but a definite ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ mood has prevailed in recent years. Indeed, sponsorship has become yet another facet of the game to get nostalgic about – a marvellous post at the Football Attic recently confirmed the fact that certain advertisers seem to ‘suit’ certain clubs. Hence, JVC will always be associated with Arsenal and a Liverpool shirt minus the legend ‘Crown Paints’ simply isn’t kosher.” thetwounfortunates


Fiorentina 0-0 Juventus: home side dominate in a clash of similar systems

September 27, 2012

“3-5-2 versus 3-5-2, and one point apiece. Vincenzo Montella made three changes. The most significant involved him selecting the industry of Romulo over the creativity of Mati Fernandez. Adem Ljajic came in for Haris Seferovic, and Manuel Pasqual for Mattia Cassani. Antonio Conte and Massimo Carrera decided to rest Claudio Marchisio, with Emanuele Giaccherini starting instead. Fabio Quagliarella replaced Mirko Vucinic after his impressive impact in the last couple of games. Fiorentina were the better side but struggled in front of goal, with Juventus seemingly happy with a point.” In Bed With Maradina


Oscar – a midfielder in the full sense of the word

September 24, 2012


“Little more than a month into the season, new signing Oscar is already a Stamford Bridge sensation. I must confess that I took a bit longer to be won over by him – before making up for lost time by coming to the conclusion that he could be the most important player Brazilian football has produced in a while. I was at one of his very first matches for Internacional, a 3-0 defeat to Fluminense in the Maracana stadium in August 2010. He was brought on after 35 minutes, made a mess of everything he tried and was himself replaced after 57. It hardly matched the hype that was already surrounding him.” BBC – Tim Vickery


Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United: United come from behind to win

September 24, 2012

“Liverpool started stronger, but Manchester United gained control of the game after Jonjo Shelvey’s dismissal. Brendan Rodgers used Shelvey as the highest player in his midfield triangle, and Glen Johnson continued at left-back. Sir Alex Ferguson rested Nemanja Vidic, and played Ryan Giggs, rather than Paul Scholes or Tom Cleverley, in the centre of midfield. Liverpool dominated the first half, United the second – Shelvey’s dismissal was a huge turning point in terms of the tactical battle.” Zonal Marking

Manchester City 1-1 Arsenal: two goals from corners
“There was plenty of attacking talent on show, but centre-backs Joleon Lescott and Laurent Koscielny got the goals. Roberto Mancini chose Scott Sinclair on the left in the absence of Samir Nasri, with Sergio Aguero returning upfront to partner Edin Dzeko. Arsene Wenger was without Thomas Vermaelen so Laurent Koscielny came in at the back. Aaron Ramsey started on the right, with Gervinho as the primary forward. Arsenal can be more pleased with their performance – they dominated possession and got into dangerous positions in the final third – but they trailed for 42 minutes, and had to scrap to win a point.” Zonal Marking

Schalke 0-2 Bayern: Kroos controls the game
“Bayern dominated possession throughout the match, and eventually found a route to goal. Huub Stevens made just one change from the side that defeated Olympiakos in midweek, bringing in Julian Draxler in place of Tranquilo Barnetta. Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern side had played a day later than Schalke (beating Valencia 2-1) so he freshened up the side with three changes – Mario Mandzukic was back in for Claudio Pizarro, while Thomas Muller and Luis Gustavo replaced Franck Ribery and Javi Martinez. Bayern always seemed on top, but the game was lacking in excitement and tempo, so there were few goalscoring chances until the away side took command early in the second half.” Zonal Marking


The Dynamos

September 24, 2012

“It was supposed to be the ultimate football franchise: Eleven man armies that would prove communist superiority in the world’s most popular sport. But more than two decades after the USSR and the Eastern Block fell apart, the Dynamo movement is fading. This is the story of a football machine that rarely worked and, after ninety years of troubled existence, is still in search of its true identity. Born in 1923 to an authoritarian, unstable and violent family, Dynamo Moscow was imagined to be an athletic role model. However, as happens with all autocratic concepts, this desire of an idealist communist sport club crumbled under the weight of its own expectations.” In Bed With Maradona


Team of the Week – Match Day 4

September 24, 2012

“Part one of the English week kicked off this weekend and in usual fashion, it did not disappoint. Eintracht Frankfurt are 4 from 4 while Hannover’s unbeaten run finally came to an end in Hoffenheim. Bayern again separated themselves from the pack with a convincing win in Schalke and Dortmund’s historic unbeaten run finally came to an end. Plenty of talking points and excitement along with a string of wonderful individual performances. Here is the creme of the crop…” Bundesliga Fanatic


Milan clubs suffer, perfect starts ended

September 24, 2012

“The writing appears to be on the wall for AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri as his side suffered a third defeat in four Serie A games, a 2-1 reverse at the hands of Udinese. The beleaguered Rossoneri boss has spent the last fortnight deflecting speculation his job is under threat and will now face more tough questions should he remain in charge at the San Siro.” ESPN (Video)


Match Of The Week: Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United

September 23, 2012


“Perhaps, and this is a theory that it is impossible to substantiate, Sir Alex Ferguson has come to realise a fundamental truth of football which frequently seems to slip under our radar. It doesn’t matter whether you play well or not. It’s a result-based business and what matters, all that matters, is getting that result. Manchester United were poor at Anfield this afternoon, but when the ball needed to roll for them it rolled for them, when they needed referee Mark Halsey to make misjudgements, they got them. They came away from Anfield this afternoon with all three points, when all bar the most one-eyed could only consider that they might even have deserved none.” twohundredpercent

Red card ruins Liverpool’s midfield plan to dominate Manchester United
“This match was essentially two separate tactical battles; before and after Jonjo Shelvey’s game-changing red card. His dismissal will have been particularly infuriating for Brendan Rodgers, whose starting approach resulted in a fine Liverpool display before half-time. Sir Alex Ferguson is generally cautious in this fixture, naming a defensive-minded 4-5-1 system in each of his last two visits to Anfield. Unusually he selected a true playmaker, Shinji Kagawa, behind Robin van Persie in conjunction with two natural wingers.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/sep/23/liverpool-midfield-dominate-manchester-united”>Guardian – Michael Cox

Reds fall short on emotional day
“All things considered, Manchester United represented worst possible visitors to Anfield on such an emotional occasion. Not the club, who behaved with immaculate dignity, but the players, who pilfered three points their display did not deserve, and some supporters, who put a sizeable dent in their reputation, particularly when provoked by a moronic minority at Anfield.” ESPN

Manchester United, Liverpool set for emotional match at Anfield
“On Sunday afternoon, 96 red balloons will float up and out of Anfield, each one released by the captains of Liverpool and Manchester United to symbolize one of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. It is more than 23 years since they died, but the match will be Anfield’s first chance to mark their passing since a report from the Hillsborough Independent Panel finally and formally allocated blame for the tragedy this month. After two decades of campaigning, it took a matter of moments for the chair, the Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, to confirm that a catalog of poor decisions by the authorities had caused the deaths.” SI


Xavi thunderbolt sparks Barca win

September 23, 2012

“A stunning 87th-minute goal from substitute Xavi set Barcelona on their way to a hard-fought 2-0 Primera Division victory over Granada at the Nou Camp. The Catalan giants had looked to be on the verge of dropping their first points under new coach Tito Vilanova as the visitors defended resolutely – and themselves looked dangerous on the counter-attack. But Xavi, a 53rd-minute replacement for Thiago Alcantara, finally broke the deadlock with a sublime goal three minutes from time, latching onto the ball on the edge of the box and bending a brilliant shot with the outside of his right foot into the top-left corner via the bar.” ESPN

La Liga: FC Barcelona 2-0 Granada CF: Match Review
“FC Barcelona left it late, scoring two goals in the final five minutes to earn themselves a hard-fought win over Granada at the Camp Nou, thus maintaining their 100% record at the top of La Liga. Just like in midweek against Spartak Moscow, Barcelona struggled to take their chances due to a combination of exceptional defending and a jaw-dropping performance from Toño in the Granada goal, but eventually their pressure paid off as Xavi broke the deadlock on 87 minutes with a stunning shot that crashed in off the underside of the crossbar.” Barca Blaugranes


Juan Roman Riquelme: A Quixotic Enigma

September 23, 2012

“Julio Falcioni was furious; his team disconsolate. The coach scanned his depleted dressing room, and found the one he was looking for: ‘You,’ he bellowed. ‘You’re not the coach, I am!’ His victim was shocked. Juan Roman Riquelme is a man defined by ambiguity, his face hard to read at the best of times, but Boca Juniors’ enigmatic and mercurial talisman was quite clearly stunned – and then just bloody angry.” In Bed With Maradina


Messi saves Barça; reigning champ Chelsea off to stuttering start

September 20, 2012


“Another astonishing night of Champions League action rounded off Matchday One in dramatic style. Lionel Messi lit up the night as only the world’s best player can, while elsewhere there were jitters for holders Chelsea, penalty drama at Old Trafford, shocks in France and Portugal and more new stars bursting onto the scene.” SI

Football Weekly Extra: Close but no cigars for Chelsea and City in the Champions League
“In today’s Football Weekly Extraaaaaah, AC Jimbo has Rob Smyth, Paul MacInnes and Jonathan Wilson in the pod to marvel at some truly liquid football. Ronaldo’s last-gasp winner against City – woof! Oscar’s screamer against Juventus – double woof! PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic becoming the first player to score for six teams in the competition – legend woof!” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson – James Richardson


Chelsea 2-2 Juventus: Juve take advantage of their areas of strength

September 20, 2012

“Oscar’s strikes gave Chelsea two-goal lead, but Juventus found a way back into the game. Roberto Di Matteo selected Oscar as the central playmaker in his 4-2-3-1, with Juan Mata on the bench. The rest of the side was as expected. Antonio Conte (and assistant Massimo Carrera) named the expected side. There were no major surprises in the way the sides lined up, either – it was 4-2-3-1 against 3-5-2, and both sides had areas of strength and weakness.” Zonal Marking


Oscar shines, but Chelsea’s defense breaks in draw with Juventus

September 20, 2012

“Sooner or later people are going to start believing in Oscar’s genius. Last year, in extra time in the final of the Under-20 World Cup in Bogota, he floated a chip from wide on the right over Portugal goalkeeper Mika to complete his hat trick and give Brazil a 3-2 victory. It was, everybody agreed, a sensational goal — if he meant it. He insisted he did, but there was doubt: could anybody really, in the heat of the game, have had the vision, the audacity and the control to execute such a shot?” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Dortmund 3-0 Leverkusen: Leverkusen caught out by Dortmund full-backs overlapping

September 20, 2012

“Dortmund recorded a comfortable victory over Leverkusen side that offered little attacking threat. Jurgen Klopp named a side familiar from last season, with Marco Reus carrying a slight knock and therefore only on the bench. Sami Hyypia made a single change, bringing in Jens Hegeler for captain Simon Rolfes. This was an interesting formation battle that favoured Dortmund, whose movement had a clear purpose and was effective at dragging Leverkusen out of position, before exploiting the space on the flanks.” Zonal Marking


Real Madrid 3-2 Manchester City: second half switches leave City exposed down their right

September 20, 2012


“An excellent match, defined by a chaotic final 15 minutes. Jose Mourinho surprisingly named Michael Essien, rather than Mesut Ozil or Luka Modric, in the centre of his midfield. Sergio Ramos was dropped, with Raphael Varane starting at centre-back instead. Roberto Mancini also made a surprise selection decision, with Matija Nastasic starting over Joleon Lescott at the back. Yaya Toure played at the head of City’s midfield triangle. Real dominated the majority of the game but twice fell behind, while City scored two goals against the run of play, before losing the game after some shambolic defending late on.” Zonal Marking


Genoa – Strange Relationship

September 20, 2012

“It’s fair to say that last season was not particularly enjoyable for Genoa. They only just managed to avoid relegation, while their defence was the worst in Serie A, conceding a horrific 69 goals. Matters came to a head when a group of their fans staged a protest during the 4-1 home defeat to Siena, throwing flares and demanding that the players gave them their shirts, leading to a 45 minute suspension of the match.” Swiss Ramble


Tactics for Beginners – an Introduction

September 20, 2012

“Mihail, I have been watching football for over 40 years, but recently I’ve increasingly realised that the way I have been watching games is very limited. I want to see more. I want to look at something that is familiar and ordinary and see it as fresh and extraordinary. You could say I know there is a different paradigm, and I’m trying to shift myself to it. …” Tomkins Times


The problem with Southampton

September 20, 2012

“The league table doesn’t lie — and neither do the record books. Bottom of the Premier League with no points, Southampton is faced with a statistical barrier to survival: no newly promoted side has lost its first four matches and escaped relegation.” ESPN – Michael Cox


AC Milan in the Age of Financial Fair Play

September 18, 2012


“Earlier this summer, a group of AC Milan fans gathered for a vigil outside the club’s headquarters near via Turati in the center of Milan. They came with flowers and candles and recited prayers. At the end, they laid their beloved club to rest. The banner outside read, ‘AC Milan, December 16, 1899–July 22, 2012.’ On it, a message that served as a final twist of the knife: ‘He lacked affection for his loved ones.’ Milan received the ‘you’re dead to me’ treatment from its fans the day it sold Thiago Silva and later Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Paris Saint-Germain. The previous season the club allowed Andrea Pirlo to join Juventus instead of renewing his deal. The thinking inside Milan was that Pirlo’s best days were behind him. The midfielder responded by leading Juve to an undefeated season, winning the Scudetto along the way. He then turned in a performance for Italy at Euro 2012 that cemented his position as one of the greatest midfielders of his generation.” Grantland


Russian money is starting to change Europe’s football map

September 18, 2012

“The map of the football world is changing. A side issue of sad-gate has been the realisation that the wages of the world’s best footballers are now so huge that there are a handful of clubs who can afford them. Were Cristiano Ronaldo to leave Real Madrid who, realistically, even with the enormous marketing potential he offers, could afford his wages?” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Dortmund 3-0 Leverkusen: Leverkusen caught out by Dortmund full-backs overlapping

September 18, 2012

“Dortmund recorded a comfortable victory over Leverkusen side that offered little attacking threat. Jurgen Klopp named a side familiar from last season, with Marco Reus carrying a slight knock and therefore only on the bench. Sami Hyypia made a single change, bringing in Jens Hegeler for captain Simon Rolfes. This was an interesting formation battle that favoured Dortmund, whose movement had a clear purpose and was effective at dragging Leverkusen out of position, before exploiting the space on the flanks.” Zonal Marking


Higher hopes for South America’s World Cup players

September 18, 2012


“World Cup qualification in Europe has a few good games along with plenty of mismatches. In South America, meanwhile, every game in the long campaign is resonant with rivalry and relevance. The best development in the history of the continent’s national teams was the birth of the Copa America in 1916 and its frequent, at times annual, staging in the early years. It did much to spread interest in the game and raise standards.” BBC – Tim Vickery


Champions League 2012-2013 – 10 Players to Watch

September 18, 2012

“The 32 teams are primed, the players are ready and the famous anthem has been pre-loaded onto tape ready to be belted out around the grounds of Europe’s elite football clubs; yes, the 2012/2013 UEFA Champions League group stages are all but ready to begin. With a new competition brings a new batch of players, fresh and ready to prove themselves on the biggest stage. Here at Just-Football.com we present to you 10 players to keep an eye on in this season’s Champions League…” Just Football


Esposto: Then and Now—Paris Saint-Germain

September 18, 2012

“A look back 20 years shows that the parallels exist between Paris St-Germain’s 1991 takeover by Canal Plus and their current owners Qatar Sports Investment – the lavish spending, the top talent, the expectation of immediate success, but will things end differently this time around? As the club begins their Champions League campaign on Tuesday, this is the story of Les Parisiens – from then to now.” The Score


Lionel Messi scores 2 off the bench

September 16, 2012


Daniel de la Feuille in 1706
“Lionel Messi climbed off the bench to score twice while his fellow replacement David Villa was again on the mark as Barcelona continued its 100 percent start to the new La Liga season with a 4-1 victory over Getafe on Saturday. Adriano capitalized on good work by Cesc Fabregas to notch a 32nd-minute opener before the visitors added three more goals in the final 16 minutes to seal their fourth win in four league outings.” ESPN

La Liga: Getafe CF 1-4 FC Barcelona: Match Review
“FC Barcelona dominated Getafe en route to a comfortable 4-1 win in the Spanish capital. Despite injuries to key members of the starting XI such as Andrés Iniesta and Alexis Sanchez, Barcelona were always in control of the game and got their breakthrough in the 32nd minute through Adriano Correia. Lionel Messi was brought on around the hour mark as Tito Vilanova looked to seal the game and the Argentine made sure of all three points with a quick-fire brace – one goal from the penalty spot, and a second from all of six yards. Getafe pulled one back thanks to a Javier Mascherano own-goal before David Villa restored the three-goal advantage with a clinical finish in added-on time.” Barcablaugranes


Premier League Saturday, Gameweek 4 Match Highlights [VIDEO]

September 16, 2012

“Sometimes you just want to see the highlights all over again. For others, you may have had a busy day and didn’t get a chance to watch the Premier League matches. Whichever boat you’re in, here are the match highlights from all eight Premier League matches on Saturday, September 15.” EPL Talk (Video)


Sevilla 1-0 Real Madrid: Sevilla score after 2 minutes, then protect the lead for 88

September 16, 2012

“Sevilla triumphed in a fascinating tactical battle at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Sevilla coach Michel made an interesting selection decision, introducing Hedwiges Maduro into the midfield triangle. This pushed Piotr Trochowski forward to the left, and meant Manu had to settle for a place on the bench. Jose Mourinho chose a familiar side, with Luka Modric on the bench. Gonzalo Higuain started ahead of Karim Benzema upfront. There were two major phases to this game – the first half was about how well Sevilla’s initial gameplan worked, the second half was about how Mourinho adapted, and then the two coaches traded blows with substitutions until the end.” Zonal Marking


Two Brazilian cities, two games, halfway to the 2014 World Cup

September 16, 2012


“On the belvedere atop Corcovado mountain, tourists crowd the railings for a God’s-eye view of the world’s most beautiful cityscape. Standing under one Rio icon, the open-armed statue of Christ the Redeemer, they aim their phone cameras at another: Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain), the granite outcropping that resembles a giant cat crouching at the edge of Guanabara Bay. Off to the left, though, is a Rio landmark of equal significance, at least to futebol fans: Maracanã, the largest stadium in Brazil and the site of the 2014 World Cup final.” SI


Sampdoria: A Sort Of Homecoming

September 16, 2012

“Despite his obvious commitments in the English Premier League, there can be little doubt which Serie A result Roberto Mancini looks for first every weekend. Mancini has the club record for both appearances and goals at Sampdoria where he lifted the league title in 1991 at the end of a campaign that saw him and Gianluca Vialli nicknamed the goal twins. Sampdoria are back in the top flight and with two wins in their first two matches, they could be one of this campaign’s pleasant surprises. The last three seasons have seen the team go from the Champions League preliminary rounds to relegation with no lack of off-the-field antics along the way.” In Bed With Maradona


Liverpool: Still No League Win, But Reasons To Be Cheerful

September 16, 2012

“After what has been a monumental and emotional week on Merseyside, football was something of an afterthought. The findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel have shocked the nation, but it merely highlighted what the families of the victims and the survivors of the disaster have known all along. The club, though, had to focus on the task at hand: a trip to Sunderland, as Brendan Rodgers went in search of his first league win as Liverpool boss.” Sabotage Times

Rush: Rodgers needs time to build Reds
“Liverpool legend Ian Rush is adamant that Brendan Rodgers will be a success at Anfield if he is given time. Rodgers replaced Kenny Dalglish as manager in June but has failed to win any of his first four league games at the Reds helm. Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Sunderland has left Liverpool with two points from a possible 12, their worst start to a season since 1911. But Rush, who won five league titles during two spells at the club in the 1980s and 1990s, sees signs that Rodgers is starting to pull things together.” ESPN


Owen looks to finish career filled with ifs, injuries on high at Stoke

September 16, 2012

“Fourteen years later, and getting settled in Stoke, 600 miles and a world away from St Etienne, Owen will struggle to find a preview that does not mention his goal against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup. What the ITV commentator Brian Moore described above, in the rising pitch that gilded a thousand similarly spectacular goals, was not just a moment for Owen’s early career, but what would become the enduring reference point. It is not a bad one to be stuck with, though Owen can be forgiven for wishing he had something a little more recent in contention. Instead he signs for Stoke City on a free transfer, as he did for Manchester United three years ago, once again keen to prove that his football career does not exist solely in the past tense.” SI


What is American Soccer?

September 14, 2012


“For Howler’s debut issue, Matthew Doyle (MLSsoccer.com’s Armchair Analyst) watched more than 50 hours of USMNT tape (going all the way back to Italia ‘90) to discern what—if anything—characterizes the American style of play. With tomorrow night’s WCQ against Jamaica looming, we thought we’d share it early, especially because his analysis has a lot to say about what went wrong in Friday’s loss to Jamaica.” Howler

Is Juergen Klinsmann as conservative a coach as Bob Bradley?
“In preparation for the release of Howler magazine, the whatahowler tumblr released the full text of an article with the ambitious title, “What is American Soccer?” by MLS Armchair Analyst Matthew Doyle, and it is a riveting read for CONCACAF nerds especially (full disclosure—I contributed a short piece for issue one). I was struck though by the final paragraphs on US mens national team coach Juergen Klinsmann’s dogmatic belief in the possession-based 4-3-3, and they should be of interest to Toronto FC fans in particular, still reeling from the collapse of the Aron Winter era…” The Score


Consequences of funding a modern day Russian Revolution

September 14, 2012

“FC Anzhi Makhachkala are currently one side that are never too far away from the gaze of the European media. With it’s well known funding it has managed to raise the profile of Russian football and dispel nonsense myths, especially in Western Europe, that the standard of football in Russia is sub-standard. The side in recent years have lured the likes of highly respected manager Guus Hiddink and Roberto Carlos as a player before he took up the role of Sporting Director at the club. Samuel Eto’o, Christopher Samba, Yuri Zhirkov and Brazilian centre back Ewerton are just some of the names Anzhi fans have the pleasure of watching. And now, there may be much, much more on the way.” Slavic Football Union


The autumn of Steven Gerrard

September 14, 2012

“They say the darkest hour comes before the dawn, although whether or not that includes false dawns — of which there have been a few at Anfield in recent times — isn’t entirely clear. It has been confusing not only for Liverpool’s battered and bruised supporters to figure out whether the pale sun above them was rising or setting, but also for the Reds’ talisman, Steven Gerrard.” ESPN


Robert Enke – A Life Too Short

September 14, 2012

“I have spent the best part of whatever little free time I have had over the last few months to brush up on my sporting literature. Being in London for nearly two months this summer provided me with the otherwise elusive ability of being able to order things on Amazon. Such First World pleasures remain beyond the scope of my Third World residence and thus, suffice to say, when given the opportunity I did what any self-respecting human being would do — I pigged out. Any and all free time was spent discovering every possible use of Amazon’s all-purpose search function. Names were dug up from the depths of memory, and glossary’s were trolled in search for references to excitable yet obscure sports books I had committed to read.” Bundesliga Fanatic

amazon: A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke


Why The Beeb’s Hillsborough Documentary Failed To Explain The Struggle For Justice

September 12, 2012


“This week, the results of a near three-year long inquiry by the Hillsborough Independent Panel are publically released. The panel, chaired by James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, was set up in 2010 to examine all of the evidence relating to the events of the disaster on April 15th, 1989, with the remit of bringing ‘full public disclosure’ of all relevant documentation and to report how ‘the information adds to public understanding of the tragedy and its aftermath.’ After going over more than 450,000 previously unseen documents released by as many as 80 different organisations including the South Yorkshire Police, emergency services, the coroner and Sheffield City Council, will deliver a presentation at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral on Wednesday morning with their findings.” Sabotage Times

Hillsborough disaster: David Conn analyses report – video
“Guardian sports writer, David Conn, analyses the contents of the report on the Hillsborough disaster 23 years ago that left 96 dead. The report by an independent panel, established three years ago and chaired by the bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, found that there was a failure of authorities to protect people and an attempt to blame fans” Guardian (Video)

Hillsborough disaster
“The Hillsborough disaster was a human crush which occurred during the semi-final FA Cup tie between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest football clubs on 15 April 1989 at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England. The crush resulted in the deaths of 96 people — 94 died on the day and two more victims died later in hospital. Another 766 persons were injured. All of those were fans of Liverpool Football Club. The Hillsborough disaster remains the deadliest stadium-related disaster in British history and one of the world’s worst ever football accidents.” W – Hillsborough disaster

Hillsborough disaster: new inquest likely after damning report
“A new inquest into the Hillsborough disaster is likely to be ordered after the full scale of the establishment cover-up in the wake of the 1989 disaster was revealed for the first time. Criminal prosecutions of key figures are also possible after the Hillsborough Independent Panel – which was chaired by the bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, and had unrestricted access to 450,000 documents over three years – revealed the depths of a police cover-up that swung into action the morning after the disaster.” Guardian

Hillsborough: prosecutions likely over ‘the biggest cover-up in history’
“The Hillsborough stadium disaster led to the “the biggest cover-up in history”, it has been claimed as a new report disclosed the extent to which police doctored statements and tried to blame innocent fans.” Telegraph

Hillsborough disaster: the independent report, in full
“An independent panel has concluded that the police and ambulance services made “strenuous attempts to deflect blame” for the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. The full report is below…” Telegraph


UEFA World Cup qualifying: Spain wins opener; England ties Ukraine

September 12, 2012

“World Cup champion Spain defeated Georgia 1-0 on an 86th-minute goal by Roberto Soldado on Tuesday, the first step by the Spaniards on their road to the 2014 World Cup. This was the 23rd consecutive victory in qualifying matches for Spain, which has three points in Group I and is tied with Georgia. Spain is attempting to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive major title after repeating as European champion this summer.” SI


Draw sheds light on England’s problems

September 12, 2012

“Have England fans ever been this overjoyed about a draw? It doesn’t matter that England, if it is as good as it wants to believe it is, should do far better than a 1-1 home draw with Ukraine. It also doesn’t matter that the generally sleepy and perfunctory opening salvos in a long and largely uninteresting qualification tournament provided plenty of talking points — namely, Steven Gerrard’s late red card, Tom Cleverley’s hat trick of wasted empty-netters and Frank Lampard converting a penalty for the second straight England game.” ESPN

Lampard’s late penalty salvages draw
“England’s soccer team found a way to quickly dissipate the nation’s summer of sporting success and bring back the gloom. After the Olympics and Paralympics created a feel-good atmosphere in London, the national team returned to Wembley on Tuesday night to play Ukraine and narrowly avoided what would have been its first competitive home loss in five years.” ESPN (Video)

Ukraine pay the penalty as Frank Lampard saves England a point
“Apparently this England side are now officially the third best international team in the world. Or, at least, that is what Fifa would like us to believe through its increasingly perplexing ranking system. The whole process is flawed, to say the least, and certainly on nights like these Roy Hodgson’s players remind everyone that their shortcomings are not merely a matter of fine-tuning.” Guardian (Video)


Beaten Uruguay have no time to sulk

September 10, 2012


“In the context of a league campaign, a resounding win or a heavy defeat never ends at the final whistle. More important than the points won or lost can be the team’s reaction. Can it rally in the face of adversity, or guard against excessive euphoria? This is especially true in South America’s marathon 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, when two rounds are played together, and a team can play at one end of the continent on Friday and the other the following Tuesday.” BBC – Tim Vickery


Ukraine’s young guns face England and life without Andriy Shevchenko

September 10, 2012

“A star has gone out and a new age must begin. For a long time the question with Ukraine was whether Andriy Shevchenko was still worth his place in the side; now that he has retired, there is a realisation of what an almighty gap there is to fill. For 17 years, Shevchenko was an all but permanent feature of Ukraine’s national team, winning 111 caps, scoring a national record 48 goals and becoming a totemic presence.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Hillsborough – Searching For The Truth; BBC TV Documentary

September 10, 2012

” Last night, BBC North West and BBC Yorkshire aired a brand-new documentary entitled ‘Hillsborough – Searching For The Truth.’ If you missed it, here it is in its entirety. According to the synopsis from the BBC, the documentary filmmaker speaks to police officers, Hillsborough victims’ family members and the author of an infamous article in the Sun newspaper which blamed Liverpool fans for the disaster. The 30 minute documentary was released last night in the build-up to Wednesday’s much-awaited report from the Hillsborough Independent Panel, where the Panel had access to more than 400,000 previously unreleased documents.” EPL Tale (Video)


Dempsey, United States stunned by Jamaica in World Cup qualifier

September 10, 2012


“Three thoughts on the United States’ 2-1 loss against Jamaica in a World Cup qualifier on Friday… • The U.S.’s lack of width and possession were killers. The Americans were always going to have to deal with the injury-related absences of Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan, but their inability to possess the ball meant that some degree of width in the attack was necessary, and that width wasn’t there.” SI


This Is A Red and Brack Nation

September 10, 2012

“Over an hour before kick-off and the stadium was already awash with flags, banners and fireworks as it rocked to the drums and chants of the Torcidas. I was in Rio for the game known as the Fla-Flu, the derby between Flamengo and Fluminese. While not as big as Vasco vs Flamengo, the excellently named derby of the millions, the Fla-Flu is a game of historical significance. And the pre-match atmosphere was certainly living up to the hype as the two sets of fans took in turns to explode into action.” In Bed With Maradona


West Germany v Austria, 1978: Unravelling the “Shame of Córdoba”

September 10, 2012

“Germany versus Austria, and a match that would find its place in history and footballing folklore. In Austria it would be known as Der Wunder von Córdoba or ‘the miracle of Córdoba’. In Germany meanwhile it would become known as Der Schmach von Córdoba, or ‘the disgrace of Córdoba’. While one could understand the reaction of the Austrians to what was ultimately a meaningless match – they had not defeated the Nationalmannschaft since 1931, after all – I have always wondered why it was seen as such a big deal in Germany. OK, Helmut Schön’s side had given their little Southern brothers a rare chance to engage in hysterical hyperbole, but in truth the 3-2 defeat didn’t really amount to much in the end.” Bundesliga Fanatic


The Short Happy Life of Adilson Batista

September 8, 2012


“A man at peace, Adilson Batista, manager of Serie A strugglers Atlético Goianiense, yawned, stretched, and leaned back in his chair. He knew had made the right choice. It hadn`t been easy to turn down the offer to go back to Cruzeiro, a far bigger club than Atlético, and he would never forget those glorious nights in 2009, when he had taken the team from Belo Horizonte to the Libertadores final against Estudiantes. They had called him one of the brightest young coaches in Brazil back then. But he had a responsibility to Atlético. He`d only arrived in April, and it would be wrong to leave the club in the lurch just a few weeks later. He wanted to see the project through to the end.” World Soccer


Sabella meshes Argentina’s abundance of attacking talent

September 8, 2012

“It is possible to have too much of a good thing. Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez, Angel Di Maria, Javier Pastore, Ezequiel Lavezzi … no other nation comes even remotely close to Argentina in terms of attacking and creative talent. The problem has been trying to fit as many of them as possible into the same squad. It did for Diego Maradona and it did for Sergio Batista.” SI


You Think You Know Me? The 5 Greatest Football Metamorphoses

September 8, 2012

“Thanks to the modern day media saturation of football, Sky TV, the evolution of the internet, twitter, etc., etc.; we are all very confident of our knowledge and familiarity with all involved; the clubs, players, managers, chairmen, pundits, presenters are all very well known to us. Sometimes there are those that surprise however, the ones that we think we have all figured out, only to learn that they’re not as crap as we thought, or not as much of an imbecile, or not quite the disaster waiting to happen that we had all concluded; these select few, are football’s five greatest metamorphoses.” Sabotage Times


Manchester United: A Lifetime On the Left

September 8, 2012

“When left-wing director Ken Loach agreed to make a film about Manchester United fans, it was widely assumed that he’d done so because this gave him the opportunity to work with Eric Cantona. Looking For Eric (2009), his uplifting revenge fantasy about a down-and-out postman played by Steve Evets (a former part-time bassist with The Fall), also deals with the fall-out from the Malcom Glazer takeover. In one memorable pub scene, fans argue between themselves about the merits of supporting breakaways FC United (‘the People’s Club’). But neither the enigmatic presence of Cantona nor the unresolved FCUM dilemma provides the main focus for the film, which is the idea that only through comradeship and solidarity can certain problems be overcome.” In Bed With Maradona


Hulk and Witsel signings show that Zenit have turned a corner

September 8, 2012

“The Russian Premier League season started this July and Zenit picked up where they left off the prior season. Even though many of the key players suffered disappointment at Euros, by late July Zenit was already looking the strongest club in the league. With predominantly the same lineup as the previous championship campaign, Zenit were in cruise control sweeping its biggest rivals in succession: 2-0 over Dinamo Moscow, 3-1 away to CSKA Moscow, and a 5-0 demolishing of the most hated Spartak Moscow.” Think Football


Uruguay have cause for World Cup concern

September 6, 2012


“World Cup qualification resumes in South America this Friday, with a question mark hanging over the team which have been the continent’s form side over the past two years. Might the London Olympics mark an unwelcome turning point for Uruguay? On the face of it there should be no cause for alarm. World Cup semi-finalists in 2010, Copa America champions last year, Uruguay’s senior side have gone 18 games without defeat. They have made a solid start to the 2014 qualifiers. Leaders Chile sit out Friday’s round, where a win for Uruguay would take them to the top of the table.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Sabella meshes Argentina’s abundance of attacking talent
“It is possible to have too much of a good thing. Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez, Angel Di Maria, Javier Pastore, Ezequiel Lavezzi … no other nation comes even remotely close to Argentina in terms of attacking and creative talent. The problem has been trying to fit as many of them as possible into the same squad. It did for Diego Maradona and it did for Sergio Batista.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Trouble atop the table, hope at the bottom
“With Euro 2012 followed by the season’s big kickoff and the excitement of the transfer window, only now is Europe turning its attention to the need to qualify for the next World Cup. South America, meanwhile, is in a very different situation. Sights are already firmly trained on winning a place in Brazil 2014. The continent’s marathon qualification tournament is a third of the way through. This Friday, action will get under way in the second year of a three-year campaign. So far the soccer has lived up to its billing as the most competitive World Cup qualifiers on the planet.” ESPN


Adrien Rabiot: The Future Of Paris St. Germain

September 6, 2012

“A few minutes before Ezequiel Lavezzi was introduced to the French press on July 2nd last month, heralded as yet another high-profile name to join the ranks of rapidly-improving PSG, another player came to sign a professional contract with the Parisian club. There weren’t any journalists present aside of those representing the club’s official website and local newspaper Le Parisien. And yet this name might well come to embody what is left of Paris Saint Germain’s identity a few years down the line.” In Bed With Maradona


The Curse of Wembley

September 6, 2012

“The title of the film by German film maker Stefan Keber suggests what many people already know: England have not won any major trophy since their World Cup triumph at Wembley in July 1966: England are cursed by Wembley and the third goal. Not just that, every time they appeared to be coming close to another final, there were German teams eliminating them from the tournament. The last time in 1996 at the Euro held in England.” Do not mention the war (Video)