Spain’s streak ends, Belgium stays hot in Euro World Cup qualifying

“It was an incredible night of drama in the European World Cup qualifiers as Spain and Germany both conceded dramatic last-minute equalizers to end winning streaks. Meanwhile Belgium continued its positive run of form, while question marks remain over the future of Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni. Here is a wrap of Tuesday’s European World Cup qualifiers…” SI


Dzeko, child of Sarajevo, grows into humble star for rising Bosnia

“The lights in tower blocks that stand at one end of the Bilino Polje Stadium glimmer through a thick haze. It feels foggy, as it always does on match nights in Zenica, the industrial town where Bosnia-Herzegovina plays its home matches, but this isn’t mist; rather it’s the oily smoke from the dozens of cevapi stalls that line the streets around the ground. And if you peer hard enough through the murk, you see the same face staring back from every T-shirt stall: Edin Dzeko.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Bosnia-Herzegovina move beyond hope towards expectation
“For Bosnia-Herzegovina, the hope is becoming unbearable. Tuesday night’s 3-0 victory over Lithuania, coming after a 0-0 draw in Greece the Friday before, has put them at the top of their group with four games played. There is optimism that they will qualify for the World Cup for the first time, but it is tempered by the memories of the recent past.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Spain 1-1 France: Deschamps’ formation switch results in late France dominance

“Spain failed to win for the first time in 25 qualification matches. Vicente del Bosque continued with Sergio Busquets at the back and Xabi Alonso as the sole holding player. David Silva started on the left, but went off injured after 13 minutes, replaced by Santi Cazorla. Didier Deschamps started with a single striker, Karim Benzema, flanked by Jeremy Menez and Franck Ribery. Patrice Evra came back in for Gael Clichy, and Maxime Gonalons played as the holding midfielder. Spain dominated before the break, but France were excellent for the final half hour following a clever change in formation from Deschamps, and the away side created enough goalscoring chances to feel they merited a point.” Zonal Marking

Uruguay still struggling to get best out of Edinson Cavani

“In the past couple of years, Uruguay have been South America’s best side. At the 2010 World Cup, they advanced further than any other CONMEBOL nation, then triumphed at last year’s Copa America. The man behind their success is Oscar Tabarez. A veteran coach who won the Copa Libertadores as long ago as 1987 and started his first spell as Uruguay coach a year later, Tabarez is a wise tactician, both methodical and ruthless with his starting selections and strategy.” ESPN – Michael Cox

The Peerless Jozsef Bozsik

“Among the most widely noted tactical phenomena of the last ten years has been the increasing importance of the ‘deep lying playmaker’. As teams have lined up with ever more defensive midfielders, previously advanced midfielders have dropped ever deeper themselves in search of precious space. In many ways this isn’t a new trend, but simply a return to a practice of the 1950s and earlier. For prior to the advent of the WM, the deep lying playmaker (such as Austria’s attacking centre-half, Ernst Ocwirk) was a mainstay of the game.” In Bed With Maradona

Rangers: A Warning From History

“The contrast between the current public profiles of the Rangers FC’s Chief Executive and Chairman could not be greater. While the former, Charles Green, has a love of his own voice only matched by his disregard for telling the truth with it, the latter, Malcolm Murray, has largely – and wisely, to judge by his few public utterances – kept his own counsel. With Green taking time out to re-charge his bullshit batteries before the media onslaught in support of the new club’s Alternative Investment Market flotation, Murray last week became the defender of the Rangers faith, deploying what you might describe as a far subtler form of Green’s modus operandi for dealing with criticisms of the Rangers – blame everything on the ‘enemy’; if, that is, you thought Murray intellectually capable of subtlety.” twohundredpercent

No Pain, No Gain for Millwall

“The optimism with which the season began didn’t take long to evaporate. Perhaps they were just another dispiriting example of modern football’s culture of instant gratification, but the boos that greeted the half-time whistle in our opening match at home to Blackpool were loud and clear. In what some might refer to as a quirk of the fixture list, this opening match was a repeat of that which ended the previous campaign. The visitors went about both games in their usual way: urgent going forward, with the ever-present danger of meltdown at the back. There was, however, a world of difference between the two performances from the home side.” The Two Unfortunates