The 2013 African Cup Of Nations: The Group Matches, Round One

January 23, 2013

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“Blimey. They could have warned us Mark Bright was a British Eurosport analyst for the ‘AFCON 2013’. With the first group games being largely turgid, Bright had a lot of gaps in the action to fill. He chose to do so with ‘y’know,’ – an ironic nervous tic when discussing tournament nerves. He rattled them off at ten-to-the-dozen at first, eventually settling down to produce 178 during the 90 minutes plus stoppage time, although this was only 12 higher than Danny Mills, who also began with sentences which mostly were y’knows, before settling down to about two-per-minute. And if you think the football must have been bad for me to be able to count them, you’re right.” twohundredpercent

South Africa’s decline apparent as African Cup of Nations begins
“On June 24, 1995, South Africa won the rugby World Cup, a triumph detailed by the film Invictus. That was a remarkable triumph, and there is no decrying the symbolism of Nelson Mandela, wearing a Springboks shirt, delivering the Webb Ellis Cup to Francois Pienaar, black president and white captain united in achievement. This was the glorious moment at which the dream of the rainbow nation seemed achievable.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Roma 1-1 Inter: Bradley & Guarin sum up Serie A’s obsession drivers rather than creators

January 23, 2013

“A match that started strongly before fading in the second half. Zdenek Zeman didn’t feel Miralem Pjanic was 100% fit, so went for Alessandro Florenzi in the centre of midfield. Inter coach Andrea Stramaccioni was without both Antonio Cassano and Diego Milito, so selected youngster Marko Livaja upfront. Juan Jesus, Yuto Nagatomo and Walter Gargano also returned to the side. The game was all about tempo – Roma looked very good in a frantic first 20 minutes, but as the game calmed down, it became more balanced.” Zonal Marking


Why Serie A has fallen out of love with the number ten

January 23, 2013

“Sunday night’s meeting between Roma and Inter was an underwhelming match. Despite being the most enticing fixture on paper of the Serie A weekend, the match drifted away after an exciting first 20 minutes, and ended as a scrappy 1-1 draw. However, the pattern of the game was interesting — it was played at a relatively slow tempo, interrupted by the occasional burst of sudden, end-to-end attacking. As both sides attempted to bypass the opposition defence quickly after half-time, the linesmen played as crucial a role as some of the players — there were 11 second-half offsides.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Valencia 0-5 Real Madrid: ruthless counter-attacking puts Real five up by half-time

January 23, 2013

“Real Madrid produced one of their finest performances under Jose Mourinho. Valencia coach Ernesto Valverde was without David Albelda and Joao Pereira, so Fernando Gago played a very deep midfield role, and Ricardo Costa was forced to move to right-back. Jose Mourinho named Fabio Coentrao rather than Marcelo at left-back alongside an unfamiliar centre-back combination, and selected Gonzalo Higuain upfront, possibly because of his excellent record against Valencia. Real utterly dominated the first half – they pressed well without the ball, and countered at incredible speed to produce a constant stream of goalscoring chances.” Zonal Marking


Statistical Analysis: How badly will Spurs miss Sandro?

January 23, 2013

“The new that Spurs midfield Sandro will be out for the rest of the season has come as a big blow for Spurs. Spurs coped well in their first game without Sandro, recording a 1-1 draw at home to Manchester United. Many expect Spurs to sign someone, but with Parker filling in for Sandro on Sunday, can they cope in their absence?” Think Football


Liverpool 5 Norwich 0: In-Depth Tactical Analysis

January 23, 2013

“Both managers made some surprising decisions. For Liverpool, Rodgers selected Henderson on the left flank, in a very narrow role within what was a lopsided 4-2-3-1 shape. Because Reina’s clash with Kagawa in the previous match was more serious than first thought, the Spaniard had to undergo some nose surgery – so Jones started here instead. The other main surprise was to see Skrtel benched and Carragher starting. The rest was more or less as expected – Suarez playing just off Sturridge, Gerrard alongside Lucas in midfield and Wisdom continuing at right back.” Tomkins Times


Everyman A Herculez

January 23, 2013

“How did a washed-up, written-off, tossed-away journeyman named Herculez Gomez become one of the most beloved members of the U.S. Men’s National Team?” What A Howler