Barcelona 4-1 Atletico: Falcao’s opener wakes up Barca

December 18, 2012

FC Barcelona v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga
“Atletico started the match excellently, but still lost 4-1… Tito Vilanova chose Alexis Sanchez rather than David Villa on the left of his attack, and Adriano started rather than Daniel Alves at right-back. Despite the failure of the 4-4-2 at the Bernabeu, Diego Simeone again selected that system after Atletico’s 6-0 win over Deportivo last week. Miranda replaced Daniel Diaz at the back. Atletico started the game very nicely, staying compact, pushing up and restricting the number of chances Barcelona created – but eventually crumbled.” Zonal Marking

The football tactical trends of 2012
“In 1872, the 11 Queen’s Park players who made up the Scotland national side looked at the England team they were about to face in the first international fixture and decided they had to try something out of the ordinary. England were over a stone a man heavier and given the head-down charging that characterised the early game, that was a significant advantage. What Scotland had to do, it was decided, was to keep the ball away from England, to deny them possession and thus control the game.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

La Liga Review: Is the La Liga title race over already?
“After a thrilling weekend of La Liga action the title race may be over, but the chase for the top four, and the relegation battle are amazingly close. The big match of the weekend saw the top 2 face off, as Barcelona hosted Atletico Madrid at the Nou Camp, and despite the away side taking the lead they eventually succumb to a 4-1 defeat. Colombian striker Falcao gave Atletico the lead in the 31st minute, before a terrific strike by Adriano, and a Sergio Busquets goal gave Barcelona a halftime lead.In the second half the inevitable happened, and Lionel Messi netted a double to kill off any chance of a comeback, giving Barcelona a flattering 4-1 win.” Think Football (Video)

Corinthians 1-0 Chelsea: Corinthians disrupt Chelsea’s passing and pinch a scrappy goal

December 18, 2012

“Corinthians lifted the World Club Cup after a typical 1-0 win. Tite left out his number ten, Douglas, and instead selected Jorge Henrique to play a disciplined role on the right. Rafael Benitez moved David Luiz to centre-back with Branislav Ivanovic going to right-back. Frank Lampard and Ramires started in the middle, and Victor Moses was chosen over than Oscar. Chelsea had their chances – particularly late on – but overall Tite’s strategy was effective, particularly in a negative, spoiling sense.” Zonal Marking

New year brings new goals, perhaps new club for Drogba

December 18, 2012

” Timing a retirement is hard enough for anybody; for sportspeople, used to the rush of victory and the adulation of the crowd, to the routine of training and a preposterous income, and facing perhaps 60 years of post-playing life, it must seem almost impossibly daunting. In terms purely of narrative, Didier Drogba probably should have gone in May after the Champions League final. It seemed the perfect ending. He had been at the club eight years, and had been striving all that time for European glory. He’d been sent off in the 2008 Champions League final and banned for the ferocity of his protests after Chelsea had lost to Barcelona in the 2009 semifinal. Munich was his redemption. He headed the 88th-minute equaliszr and then rolled in the final penalty.” SI

Identity crisis: America’s dual nationalities face a tricky choice

December 18, 2012

“Fans of the United States national team have a tradition of eager impatience upon the release of the squad for any game. When the squad was named before their game against Russia last month there was general surprise to see the re-inclusion of Nuremberg’s Timmy Chandler, sparking the latest chapter in a raging debate about football and identity.” World Soccer

Eight Out of Work Managers Revisited

December 18, 2012

“The serious lack of imagination shown by Football League chairmen continues to fuel the managerial carousel. Almost three years ago, we were bemused by Paul Hart’s arrival at Crystal Palace while the likes of Alan Irvine, Brian Laws and Darren Ferguson played musical chairs. Two and a half years on and it’s Dougie Freedman, Mick McCarthy and Dave Jones making sideways moves, as well as Laws again. The message is – don’t be out of a job for too long or you’ll be viewed as yesterday’s man.” thetwounfortunates

Least Said, Soonest Mended: Brendan Rodgers, The Press & Liverpool’s Transition

December 18, 2012

“Pride, they say, comes before a fall, and for the Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers there may be no greater fall this season than that which occurred at Anfield yesterday afternoon, as his team was outplayed by Aston Villa to bring to an end the feeling that Liverpool were, perhaps, finally starting to turn a corner this season. The starting point for making this claim hadn’t been particularly strong, though. Single goal wins against Southampton and Udinese were workmanlike rather than spectacular, whilst the late comeback which brought a win at West Ham United last weekend rather overlooked the fact that his team had already turned a one goal lead into a one goal deficit already that afternoon. Sometimes as a manager, the rub of the green will go your way and two goals in four minutes towards the end of last weekend’s trip to London – one of which was an own goal – was proof of this.” twohundredpercent