The Best of Football Writing in 2012

December 31, 2012

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“Before we move forward, let’s take a step back. 2013 will bring new stories, and writers will continue to unveil value in the context of our day-to-day lives. But before we jump ahead, we really should take a step back. The internet is a wonderful place, but our constant consumption of content allows us to forget which stories were truly compelling, creative, well-researched, and told with conviction. For the second year in a row, I have compiled what I consider to be a list of the best writing in football. This year, I called upon some of the game’s most influential voices to reflect on how writing best interpreted, dissected, and brought meaning to the beautiful game. Consider this project to be a sort of anthology. The games will be remembered in history, but our reactions and our stories could have been forgotten. Instead, they’re here.” A Football Report

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Blatter Critical of M.L.S. in Interview

December 31, 2012

“FIFA President Sepp Blatter is many things — we’ll pause this post briefly so you can insert your own description here — but he is apparently not a fan of Major League Soccer. In an interview with Al Jazeera that was broadcast on Saturday, Blatter was critical of both the league and the development of the sport in general in the United States. The comments came as part of a larger discussion about FIFA’s role in developing the game around the world.” NY Times (Video)


Snapshot: Applause For The Brave Amateurs From Germany

December 31, 2012

“Borussia Mönchengladbach’s first journey into European action earned them the respect of their professional opponents. German sides have throughout the existence of the European Cup Winner’s Cup been involved in a number of memorable matches: Fortuna Düsseldorf’s 4-3 loss to a legendary Barca side in the final of 1979 or Werder Bremen’s win over Arsene Wenger’s AS Monaco are certainly highlights to cherish. The list goes on. The competition itself got off to a bumpy start in the 1960/61 season though. Only ten cup winners chose to participate in the first edition of the competition. Borussia Mönchengladbach were amongst those ten teams, and were lucky enough to go past the first round on a walk over draw. The luck ran out when it came to the quarter-final draws. Bernd Oles’s side had to go up against Scottish cup champions and greats Glasgow Rangers.” Bundesliga Fanatic


Tactical & Statistical Analysis: Why are Premier League teams struggling to defend?

December 31, 2012

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“Top Premier League teams have seemingly had difficulties defending this season. This weekend alone we saw a goal glut in the Premier League which is great entertainment but less good for the competitiveness of the Premier League on the European stage. Manchester United of old, Chelsea under Mourinho and Benitez’s Liverpool side achieved relative successes mainly as a result of a solid back four and a strong defensive record. With Benitez this was particularly the case in Europe, as well as when the club finished 2nd in the Premier League. Managers now a days seem to put less emphasis on defensive play and spend more time attacking. Manchester United for example have struggled defensively but instead of bringing in a holding player or a defender they purchased Premier League top scorer Robin van Persie.” Think Football


Best of 2012: Zambia’s championship

December 31, 2012

“In 1993, a plane carrying the Zambian team to a World Cup qualifier in Senegal stopped for refueling in Libreville. Shortly after takeoff, it exploded and crashed into the sea off the Gabonese coast, killing everybody on board. Kalusha Bwalya, the great star of that side, was not on the plane because he played in the Netherlands and was making his own way to Dakar. He helped put together a new side and went on to become president of the Zambian Football Federation.” FOX Soccer – Jonathan Wilson


Forget Terry, Mata is the main man at Chelsea these days

December 31, 2012

“The determination to make a good first impression under a new manager always galvanises a group of players, and Chelsea’s squad have become well-accustomed to this concept in recent years – forced to adapt to the methods of André Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benítez in quick succession. Few have started each era as impressively as Juan Mata – he scored on his debut under Villas-Boas, then struck the first goal of the Di Matteo and Benítez eras. With the rotation at centre-back, the inconsistency of the central midfielders and the struggles upfront, Mata has been a key player under all three coaches, and has consistently delivered in the final third.” Life A Pitch – Michael Cox