Uruguay 1-1 Paraguay: Tabarez ditches his double pivot, then makes more attacking moves

March 26, 2013

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“Reigning South American champions Uruguay recorded their third consecutive 1-1 home draw – their participation in Brazil remains in the balance. Oscar Tabarez fielded a familiar core to this side – Edinson Cavani was only on the bench, with Diego Forlan behind Luis Suarez upfront, the combination that won Uruguay the Copa America final against Paraguay in 2011. The major news was in the centre of midfield, where Tabarez played Nicolas Lodeiro rather than a second defensive midfielder. Uruguyan-born Gerard Pelusso selected a cautious 4-4-2 formation for bottom-placed Paraguay, having experimented with 4-3-3 earlier in the qualification process. Oscar Cardozo and Nelson Valdez were together upfront, while Ricard Ortiz pushed forward to the left of midfield. This game started slowly before gradually developing into something quite interesting – mainly because of Tabarez’s constant chances.” Zonal Marking


Analyzing the Strengths and Weaknesses of Germany’s Formations

March 26, 2013

“Against Kazakhstan Germany lined up without a recognized striker in a competitive game for the first time in its history. It was a landmark tactical decision that symbolized both a growing talent pool of attacking midfielders in German football and the acclimatization to a generational trend in football tactics. With more and more of these versatile and technical attacking players being integrated and Löw expanding his tactical arsenal, just what are Germany’s options going forward? Let us examine the various tactical formations Löw has used and at his disposal and the strengths and weaknesses of each in the context of Germany’s continuing development as a team.” Bundesliga Fanatic


Croatia 2-0 Serbia: brave decision to use Kovacic in midfield helps Croatia dominate the game

March 26, 2013

“Croatia’s two strikers – Ivica Olic and Mario Mandzukic – scored a goal apiece before half-time, to win an incredibly hotly-anticipated derby. Igor Stimac’s major decision was the surprise selection of 18-year-old Mateo Kovacic for his international debut in the centre of midfield. Sinisa Mihajlovic used Ivan Radovanovic as a holder, and Alen Stevanovic rather than Dusan Tadic on the left. Marko Scepovic played upfront, although he lasted less than ten minutes. Why Croatia v Serbia? Well, for both political and football reasons, this was an absolutely huge fixture – especially the meeting between fierce rivals Stimac and Mihajlovic. For the incredible background to the story, read this excellent summary – with that in mind, the main feature of the match was its surprisingly sporting nature.” Zonal Marking


USA did it in 1994, why not Qatar?

March 26, 2013

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“The latest debate in World football is getting ugly. A political agenda is being created. A heated discussion on culture. Questions are being raised over just the nature, ethics and customs of the host nation. As Marina Hyde puts in her piece for the Guardian ‘football may finally be about to go to war’. And this unfortunate chain of events has taken away the beauty of this beautiful game, and put it into a cringe-worthy and down right embarrassing situation. The respect that this ‘World’ sport demands, its very synonym of a ‘Global’ game may seize to exist.” Outside of the Boot


The Heart and Soul Of Khalilou Fadiga

March 26, 2013

‘Bouba Diop is there!’ … There is a short but telling pause. John Motson, one does sense, must have been comfortable in the knowledge that nothing would shock him on the pitch that day, that in the world of football he had simply seen too much. And yet the commentator older than time itself, and whose trademark sheepskin coat is probably even older than that, is lost for words. He is forced to repeat himself, this time louder, certainly, but somehow more hesitant, more noticeably taken aback. … ‘Bouba Diop is there!’ Again, momentary silence.” In Bed With Maradona


U.S. victory at Estadio Azteca no longer impossible challenge

March 26, 2013

“Is Estadio Azteca losing its mystique? It seems like a crazy question ahead of the U.S.’s much anticipated World Cup qualifier here on Tuesday against archrival Mexico (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Univision). After all, Mexico has lost only one World Cup qualifier at the Azteca (vs. Costa Rica in 2001) in the history of the stadium, which was built in 1961. Nor has the U.S. ever won an official game here, managing just one tie in 1997.” SI


With such a weak England squad were England’s golden generation under-appreciated?

March 26, 2013

“England smashed San Marino 8-0 on Friday night, which might lead some fans to get a sense of renewed optimism in their county’s ability to make a mark in Brazil 2014. However, in perspective, despite the fact 8 goals were scored, this was an incredibly low quality opposition and we cannot really read much into the result. What was striking about the squad that faced San Marino and has been selected for the qualifiers is how weak it is, particularly after Rio Ferdinand dropped out. This is in stark comparison to the wealth of quality England had between 2004 and 2010 during the ascent of the ‘golden generation.’” Think Football