Sepp Blatter’s World Cup plans show no respect for logic – or football

May 14, 2013

The Fifa president, Sepp Blatter
“Sepp Blatter, it may not come as a complete surprise to learn, talks nonsense at times. He was at it again last week, speaking at the Asian Football Confederation conference in Kuala Lumpur, urging Asia to press for more places at the World Cup. It was wrong, he said, that Europe and Conmebol could have 19 of the 32 slots at the next World Cup. ‘We have to get a better balance,’ he told delegates. ‘You are a powerhouse. You must be aware that you are a powerhouse … If you have the same number of participants from all continents then there is a balance of strength and a balance of forces … There is no chance to kick them [Europeans or South Americans] out before one of them is in the semi-finals.'” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Wigan 1-0 Manchester City: Wigan stifle City and attack with tremendous width

May 14, 2013

“Ben Watson headed a stoppage time winner as Wigan lifted the FA Cup for the first time. Roberto Martinez was able to call upon Antolin Alcaraz in the centre of his three-man defence, and he used James McArthur as a right-wing-back and Jordi Gomez in central midfield. Roberto Mancini picked Joe Hart despite having used Costel Pantilimon as his FA Cup goalkeeper throughout the competition. James Milner was only on the bench, as Mancini went with two ‘interiors’ and two forwards. The nature of the result might suggest a ’smash and grab’ – but Martinez’s tactics outfoxed Mancini, and Wigan fully deserved their victory.” Zonal Marking


Porto 2-1 Benfica: late Kelvin winner puts Porto on the verge of the title

May 14, 2013

“A draw would have kept Benfica at the top – but a dramatic goal from substitute Kelvin means Porto go into the final day as favourites for the title. Vitor Pereira used his expected starting XI, although midfielders Joao Moutinho and Lucho Gonzalez often played the other way around to their normal format. Jorge Jesus used Andre Almeida instead of Lorenzo Malgarejo at left-back, while Ola John returned with Oscar Cardozo on the bench. This was a very scrappy game with relatively little technical quality or tactical surprises.” Zonal Marking


Altidore has found his form at AZ, but is he headed for another move?

May 14, 2013

“Jozy Altidore’s European club season is over, and the final eye-popping numbers are in: 31 goals in all competitions for AZ Alkmaar, including 23 league strikes and eight in the Dutch Cup, which AZ won last week with Altidore scoring the game-winner. AZ did struggle in the Dutch league, finishing a disappointing 10th, but the 23-year-old Altidore’s 31 goals broke Clint Dempsey’s year-old record for goals scored in a European club season by a U.S. national team player.” SI


How life (and death) change Egyptian soccer and its American coach

May 14, 2013

FBL-QAT-EGY-FRIENDLY
“Bob Bradley wasn’t looking for an adventure as much as he was looking for a job after being fired as coach of the U.S. soccer team two years ago. But in Egypt he found both. When Bradley arrived in the fall of 2011 to take over Egypt’s national soccer program, the country was teetering between revolution and rebellion. The Arab Spring uprising had already unseated longtime leader Hosni Mubarak, and five months after Bradley began work a deadly riot broke out at an Egyptian Premier League match, killing 74.” LA Times


Fulham 1 Liverpool 3: In-Depth Tactical Analysis

May 14, 2013

“After last week’s debacle against Reading, Martin Jol refreshed the team with a couple of changes. Hughes replaced Senderos at the back, with Richardson stepping in to replace Riise at left back. After his impressive cameo, Kacaniklic was handed a start here, with Emanuelson benched. Karagounis was fit, so he continued in midfield. With Agger and Gerrard allowed to start their rehabilitation early, changes were bound to happen. Coates and Shelvey came in, with Wisdom replacing Enrique. But instead of reshuffling the pack within the usual 4-2-3-1 shape, Rodgers went back to experimenting with a sort of 3-5-2 (which, to be specific, was more like a 3-1-4-1-1).” Tomkins Times


Why Real Madrid Need Zlatan to Make Great Leap Forward

May 14, 2013

“Winning the Spanish League used to be a significant achievement. It used to be tough. But ever since Real Madrid and Barcelona’s financial superiority ruled everyone else out of the running, La Primera title race has become a bit of a snore-fest. In 2010, when Barcelona reached the 99-point barrier to win the title, we gasped. Two years later, their rivals in the Spanish capital beat it by one point to reach the century mark, and we applauded. Barcelona are on track to repeat the feat this season, and in all honesty we have yawned and moved on.” Bleacher Report


The Bringer Of Famine

May 14, 2013

“Today, the goalkeeper seems eternal. It feels natural that a team should be made of ten plus one, that behind the outfielders scurrying in their or striker less there should be an unspoken other, his place so taken for granted that nobody even bothers to refer to it when discussing formations. That, though, is a relatively modern phenomenon. When the game that would evolve into football began with the foundation of the Football Association in 1863, there was no such thing as a goalkeeper in the modern sense.” [PDF] The Outsider