Lionel Messi, Here & Gone

“In the imagination of guidebook writers, who see places as they should be but rarely as they are, there is a passionate love affair between the city of Rosario and its famous progeny, global soccer star Leo Messi. I know this because it said so, right there on page 179 of the ‘Lonely Planet,’ which I thumbed through during the three hours of countryside between Buenos Aires and Messi’s hometown. An Irish ex-pat named Paul, my translator and friend, drove. He’d agreed to help me act on my obsession with Messi, who is one of the world’s most famous athletes, and most unknowable, the combination of which sucked me in. I’d been reading everything I could find, watching internet videos of him scoring one ridiculous goal after another for Barcelona. Other players seem to chase the ball, while Messi moves in concert with it, full speed to full stop.” ESPN


We’re Entering A Golden Age of Long Form Soccer Writing

“The human condition is marred by a short attention span and thus a lack of historical context. Not recognizing this flaw is what leads each generation to automatically believe that now is the best time to be alive, and place zero value in those who have preceded it. Similarly, not having a full appreciation of the drawbacks and benefits of a certain time in our past can also breed a shallow nostalgia that cloaks fear of change in a more tolerable desire for the “good old days”. Such a cultural battle between futurists and nostalgists has been playing out in the global soccer community since the game’s earliest days, and has only been accelerated during the globalization of the sport over the last several decades. Thus, it is with great caution that I state we are embarking on what may come to be viewed as a golden age for long form soccer writing.” Forbes

We’re turning into the Premier Liga! Redknapp and Keown analyse the season so far

“As the Premier League pauses for a second international break, Sportsmail columnists Jamie Redknapp and Martin Keown take a moment to catch their breath and assess the season so far. One modern trend both have noticed is an influx of smaller, skilful players and a focus on passing that is taking the English game closer and closer to the style of the Spanish La Liga.” Daily Mail

The State of Analytics: Too many soccer analytics posts lack Statistical Power

“I mentioned at the start of these columns I know next to nothing about even basic statistical science, but it appears if I or indeed any of us are going to help in moving forward on developing useful metrics in gaining a better understanding of best practices in football, that might have to change. The reason is that one of the major misunderstandings among amateur soccer analytics writers is the importance of Statistical Power, generally determined by an accurate and useful sample size. The name of the game is eliminating the possibility of Type I and II errors, which involve ruling out a null hypothesis (no statistical correlation between factor X and result Y).” The Score (Video)

Paris Is Rising: Among Les Thugs

“Yesterday when I, along with about 100 other Paris Saint-Germain fans, landed in Marseille, the welcome wagon arrived in the form of police officers dressed in riot gear ready to escort us to PSG’s clash with Marseille at the Stade Velodrome. Tensions between the teams run high, and when I asked the man next to me why he hates Marseille so much he said, ‘I don’t know. I have it in my blood.’ There were close to 100 members of the Gendarmerie with assault rifles bracketing us on both sides as we walked to the bus. There were three paddy wagons, at least eight officers on motorcycles, and a helicopter hovering above. Streets were blocked off throughout the city to make for a swift transport to the stadium.” Grantland

The Secrets Behind The Success Of Dutch Football

“The Netherlands are not only known for their tulips, clogs, windmills and marijuana. When you think of Holland and football, you think of Total Football, Johan Cruijff, Marco van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp and, more recently, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart and Robin van Persie. The country is known for producing talented and skilful football players that are among world’s best. One of the core reasons Holland produces so many talents is the excellent organisation of youth football from which other countries can learn a lot.” Sabotage Times

San Marino’s Davide Gualtieri recalls the pain his goal caused England

“The equation was simple. If England beat San Marino by seven and Holland failed to win in Poland they qualified for the 1994 World Cup, second in their group behind Norway. At kick-off on 17 November 1993, it seemed difficult but not impossible; 8.33 seconds later, the dream was over as San Marino took the lead. It was not mathematically impossible for England to qualify from there but psychologically, morally, it became so.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Searching For the Young Soul Rebels: The Real Madrid Blueprint 1965

“It has been said by the critics that one man cannot make a team, yet when Argentina-born Alfredo Di Stéfano flew the Atlantic to join Real Madrid in 1953, it marked the beginning of an era in which the blond centre-forward led the club to real greatness. Champions eight times in eleven seasons, Real became the most famed and most feared club side of all time, and at the height of their power between 1956 and 1960, set up what will probably remain an all-time record by taking the European Cup five times in a row.” In Bed With Maradona