How Will This Season’s Bayern Munich Pep Squad Compare to Barcelona?

July 29, 2013

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“I don’t really know why I’m bothering to show up for soccer season this year. Bayern Munich’s complete dominance is, after all, a fait accompli. Last season’s Champions League winners only went out and added their biggest rival’s best player, Mario Goetze from Borussia Dortmund, and possibly the best coach in the world, the architect of the all-conquering 2008-12 Barcelona, Pep Guardiola. Bayern’s possession-based style is a perfect match for Guardiola. Last season in Europe’s five biggest leagues, Bayern was the only team besides Barcelona to average more than 60 percent possession. We’re all playing for second, right? Well, maybe.” Grantland


Tactical Analysis: Can Ibrahimovic and Cavani work together in the same PSG starting line-up?

July 29, 2013

“Two summers, two transfer windows, two world class strikers. After the capture of Swedish marksman Zlatan Ibrahimović sent shock waves through world football in July 2012, Paris saint-Germain have gone onto secure yet another centre forward feared throughout Europe in the form of Uruguayan Edinson Cavani. This £54 million transaction provides new manager Laurent Blanc with a wealth of talent in the striking department, in spite of the departure of Frenchman Kévin Gameiro to Sevilla. However, it also begs the question: is this club big enough for the two of them?” Think Football


Ronaldinho joins select club after Atlético’s debut Libertadores crown

July 29, 2013

“As Matías Giménez stepped up to take Olimpia’s fifth penalty, Cuca, the Atlético Mineiro coach, knelt on the touchline. Clad in jeans and a T-shirt, he rocked back and forth, head bowed, arms crossed over the sequined pattern on his chest. He didn’t look as Giménez’s shot struck the top of the post. The noise of the crowd told him the kick had been missed and he pitched forward, to lie still for a second or two before being engulfed by his celebrating coaches: Atlético, after another unlikely comeback, were Libertadores champions for the first time.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Celtic’s Saturday Afternoon At Brentford

July 29, 2013

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“Apparently, last Saturday, I and hundreds of others went on a hooligan rampage and “destroyed” the West London suburb of Brentford, while attending a pre-season ‘friendly’ between weakened sides from Brentford’s League One club and current Scottish champions, Celtic. That last event was actually how I spent my Saturday afternoon; which I why I was very surprised to discover my role in the first. Let’s get some things straight straightaway. The behaviour of the 6,000+ Celtic fans at Brentford was raucous and loud both outside and inside their Griffin Park ground. Some of it was, frankly, wrong; fireworks and drunks on the pitch during the game, for example. However, I would be hard pushed to describe it as worse than the behaviour of many of the football crowds I have observed in, ulp, 40 years watching the game at various levels. In fact, in some aspects it was fabulous. And I would certainly not describe it in the emotive terms used by others of a, shall we say, non-Celtic persuasion – many of whom were nowhere near London, let alone Brentford, last Saturday.” twohundredpercent


Radnički radical no more?

July 29, 2013

“The south of Serbia, with its rich and complicated past, is something of a historical and political melting pot. Niš, the region’s most populous city, is no different. Over the years, the city bore witness to the coming and going of a multitude of would-be conquerors, each of whom recognised the city’s importance as a gateway between East and West, a metaphorical confluence of cultures, ideologies, and nations. Consequently, Niš has long been possessed of a certain flexibility of nature, an ability to seamlessly adjust to the incursion of a previously unfamiliar authority. This year, the city’s illustrious football club, Radnički, has been obliged to exhibit a similarly acquiescent character.” World Soccer


Crying Out Loud

July 29, 2013

“There’s this Felt song called ‘I Will Die With My Head in Flames’ that I sometimes think of when I think of Landon Donovan. Not because he’d like it — it’s existential mid-’80s jangle-pop, and his taste trends more toward SUV-Bluetooth music, or whatever you want to call the Venn diagram intersection that includes both T.I. and the Fray. A certain type of SoCal white-dude uncoolness has become as central to his image as his rank as the all-time leading scorer for the U.S. men’s national soccer team; if you doubt this, please examine the covers of the first two 9-and-up children’s biographies to answer an Amazon search for his name.” Grantland


Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino’s ideology shaped by Old Boys’ network

July 26, 2013

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“For three days nobody saw Marcelo Bielsa. He was in his room at the Conquistador Hotel in Santa Fe but he had not emerged since arriving, chewed up by the 6-0 home defeat Newell’s Old Boys had suffered against San Lorenzo in the Copa Libertadores earlier that week. His project, his great plan, was falling apart and El Loco was suffering a crisis of faith. Newell’s had won the Apertura championship in 1990-91, playing brilliant, vibrant football but, exhausted, they had stuttered badly in the Clausura championship and were even worse in the Apertura in 1991-92.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

Martino planning for Messi and Neymar
“Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino said he will have failed in his role as new Barcelona coach if he is unable to get Lionel Messi and recently signed Brazilian star Neymar to play to the best of their ability in his starting lineup. Martino, speaking at a news conference to announce his arrival at the Camp Nou on a two-year contract, has the task of accommodating two of world football’s biggest stars next season — one of them from his hometown of Rosario, Argentina. But he is certain that Neymar, who arrived this summer on a five-year deal, and four-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi will complement each other perfectly on a Barca team that he believes can go on winning for many years to come.” ESPN


Ronaldinho joins select club after Atlético’s debut Libertadores crown

July 26, 2013

“As Matías Giménez stepped up to take Olimpia’s fifth penalty, Cuca, the Atlético Mineiro coach, knelt on the touchline. Clad in jeans and a T-shirt, he rocked back and forth, head bowed, arms crossed over the sequined pattern on his chest. He didn’t look as Giménez’s shot struck the top of the post. The noise of the crowd told him the kick had been missed and he pitched forward, to lie still for a second or two before being engulfed by his celebrating coaches: Atlético, after another unlikely comeback, were Libertadores champions for the first time.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Atlético Mineiro and reborn Ronaldinho attain Libertadores glory
“There might not be second acts in American lives, as F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, but it seems that there are in Brazilian football. At least in the case of Ronaldinho Gaúcho and Atlético Mineiro, the new champions of South America, after an exhilarating, at times improbable, Copa Libertadores penalty shootout victory over Paraguay´s Olimpia, at a tempestuous Mineirão stadium in Belo Horizonte last night.” SI


Arsenal fans, players caught up in the transfer window frenzy

July 26, 2013

“In most walks of life, if you can buy something for less than it’s worth, it’s considered a positive. If you see a painting in a second-hand shop, hand over $10 for it and it looks good in your hallway, you’ve done well; if it turns out to be by a noted artist and you can sell it at a profit, even better. If you find a grocery shop that sells vegetables a little bit cheaper than at the supermarket down the road, you shop there. Cheap is good. But soccer, especially in the transfer window, is a game of bluff and counter-bluff, when image is at least as important as the reality, and value seems something that is only considered long after the fact.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


O Glorioso Benfica – Stolen From Africa

July 26, 2013

“As incredible as Real Madrid’s five consecutive European Champions’ trophies were, it was inevitable that one day they would be toppled. In a seemingly relatively even playing field, Hamburg, inspired by Uwe Seeler looked well placed to step up, as did Barcelona with their skilful Hungarian imports. The side that stepped up a gear, however, were the leading club from the other Iberian capital, Lisbon. Benfica were the second side from the Peninsula to make their mark on the European Cup, quickly establishing themselves on the international stage on the basis of their continental exploits in the 1960s. To this day the Portuguese side boast one of the highest memberships of any club in the world, and enjoy a huge national and international fanbase on the basis of their 1960s exploits.” In Bed With Maradona


The top 10 most expensive Bundesliga flops

July 26, 2013

“Marcus Berg’s departure this week to Panathinaikos on a free transfer was confirmation that the Swedish striker has been a huge Bundesliga flop. However, he is not the first (and won’t be the last) player to cost a club millions of euros, not perform and leave for a small fraction to another club, or even for nothing at all. This is not a list of the most expensive transfers or even the biggest transfer flops; this is a list of the worst bits of business that Bundesliga clubs have made.” Bundesliga Fanatic – Part 1, Part 2


Klinsmann, players elated with U.S. progress

July 22, 2013

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“Things could have gone differently for Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S. national team after that article came out back in March. The pressure on Klinsmann already was mounting after the Yanks lost their opening match of the final round of World Cup qualifying in the previous month, and the critical Sporting News piece — the one whose headline challenged the coach’s ‘methods, leadership and acumen’ — broke just days before an injury-ravished American squad played a pair of pivotal Hexagonal games versus Costa Rica and at Mexico.” ESPN


Top 10 Young Football Managers

July 22, 2013

“Football, over the last couple of seasons, has been witnessing a ‘change of guard’. Players who we adored in their prime have retired, managers that headed some of the greatest sides in history have resigned. All this has given rise to the next generation of football personnel ranging from talented young footballers to talented young tacticians. In this piece we will be focusing on the Top 10 Young Football Managers, that could be at the helm of some of the biggest clubs in World Football, in the not-so-distant future.” Outside of the Boot – Part 1, Outside of the Boot – Part 2


Tactics for Beginners – No 11. Who Will Blink First?

July 22, 2013

“Bob: Tactically, how important is half-time in a game? Mihail: Half-time is crucial if your team is losing. In this short break the manager should find a way to improve his team and introduce some fresh ideas. It could be wholesale changes, including a change in the shape, a player or two introduced, or some players’ positioning swapped. Or he could try making much more subtle changes, with certain patterns of play changed, or new patterns introduced to try something different, before deciding whether to bring on the wholesale changes ten to fifteen minutes into the second half.” Tomkins Times


The end of the road has been reached by the Kings of Ghana

July 22, 2013

“In the 83rd minute of a friendly against Tanzania in 2008, Ghana’s goalkeeper Richard Kingson vacated his penalty area and ambled into opposition territory. As he crossed the half way line, his brother Laryea placed the ball, surveyed the options and prepared to deliver his free kick. Timing his run with the trajectory of the cross, Richard arrived in the box and headed an equalising goal for the Black Stars. It was a peculiar and unique way for a national team to score.” World Soccer


Brazil 2014 blame game

July 20, 2013

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“‘If the protests happen again,’ said FIFA president Sepp Blatter, ‘we will have to ask ourselves if we took the wrong decision in giving Brazil the right to stage the World Cup. His words would not appear to contain any threat, implied or otherwise, that the venue for the 2014 World Cup might suffer a late alteration. Rather, this would seem to be a public relations exercise, and an attempt to separate two distinct areas of protest. The mass demonstrations that rocked Brazil last month began relatively small and specific – on the issue of public transport in Sao Paulo.” ESPN – Tim Vickery (Video)


Has the Continental shift of Footballing power finally happened?

July 20, 2013

“The 23rd of April 2013. One date all Catalan’s will almost certainly want to forget. The Tiki-taka system was overran, collapsed and went into self-destruct mode, their biggest European defeat since losing 4-0 against Dynamo Kiev in 1997. Without their Messiah, Lionel Messi fully fit; Barcelona looked a shadow of their normal selves on that night in Munich. A further defeat to the Bavarian’s at the Camp Nou showed Barca at their most vulnerable state, the German club showed the World that playing a severe pressing game in midfield and not letting them build play from the back is possibly one of the ways that Barcelona can be cut down in their stride. A 7-0 aggregate score was the real alarming evidence for Tito Vilanova and his coaching staff to take notice of, again more proof that they finally need a Plan B when it comes down to playing the European Giants at least.” Outside of the Boot


Are we witnessing an Italian footballing renaissance?

July 20, 2013

“… There’s a land far, far away – a mystical place filled with romantic and footballing sensibilities. Actually, it’s called Italy. Home to some of the greatest players, birth place of the most revolutionary tactical innovations. Seen as a place of fraud and feuds to those unwilling to look beyond the distinctive ‘defensive’ approach. The Italians have ruled and been ruled. The tides are turning; tumultuous Turin and melodramatic Milan are gathering an army and they’re planning a renaissance.” Think Football


Radnicki and Ideology

July 20, 2013

“The south of Serbia, with its rich and complicated past, is something of a historical and political melting pot. Niš, the region’s most populous city, is no different. Over the years, the city bore witness to the coming and going of a multitude of would-be conquerors, each of whom recognised the city’s importance as a gateway between East and West, a metaphorical confluence of cultures, ideologies, and nations. Consequently, Niš has long been possessed of a certain flexibility of nature, an ability to seamlessly adjust to the incursion of a previously unfamiliar authority. This year, the city’s illustrious football club, Radnički, has been obliged to exhibit a similarly acquiescent character.” In Bed With Maradina


With bids and bluffs, the EPL transfer season is in full swing

July 20, 2013

“There is something about the transfer window that is like reading a complex spy thriller. Everywhere there is information and misinformation, unlikely alliances are formed and you never quite know who’s trying to bluff whom. Agents insist their clients are attracting interest from bigger sides to encourage buying clubs to act and to drive up wages. Selling clubs insist other clubs are interested to push up prices and to try to encourage a swift deal. But what’s really interesting is when buying clubs feign an interest in players they have no intention of signing.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Bosman, Lewandowski and the surge of Player Power

July 20, 2013

“Jean-Marc Bosman is one of those rare footballers whose name will continue to live on in the world of football. However, unlike most such footballers it was his contribution to football off the pitch that makes him stand out and ensures that generations of footballers and fans alike will knowingly or unknowingly pay tribute to the Belgian. Few changes have made more impact on club football as much as the Bosman Ruling, no mean feat considering how football has evolved since its inception.” Outside of the Boot


Stevan Jovetic: a winning combination of focused professional and big kid

July 16, 2013

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“The first time I saw Stevan Jovetic was in the austere beigeness of the Hotel Podgorica. It was the day before Montenegro’s first international as an independent country and there was an air of great ceremony about each stage of the process. This was the first pre-match press conference. Men in suits fussed about, the little flags on the press-conference desk were crisp and even the majority of journalists had put on collared shirts. Then, to the side of the stage Jovetic emerged, his Brian May mop lank with sweat, his red and yellow training kit marked with mud and grass stains. Grinning broadly, clearly bored of waiting, he started flicking a ball from foot to foot.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Football’s answer to the Ashes

July 16, 2013

“Should Stuart Broad have ‘walked’ after wrongly being given not out in the first Ashes test? I have no idea, and not just because I did not actually see the incident (listening via radio in Rio de Janeiro hardly qualifies me as close enough to give an authoritative opinion). It is not an easy issue. On the one hand, there are days when he will be given out in dubious circumstances, and the fielding side will certainly not call him back. So why not leave the decision up the umpires? On the other hand there is the code of ethics which applies in each sport, the unwritten rules of conduct to which the players generally adhere, and which Broad could be accused of breaking.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Tactical Flexibility and Transgressive Transfer Policy Shapes New Bayern Era

July 16, 2013

“Last season Bayern Munich already boasted arguably the deepest squad in recent football history. This offseason they added to that depth with two of the world’s biggest talents in Mario Götze and Thiago Alcantara, which will once again make them favorites not only domestically, but internationally as well. All the while, there are several questions surrounding Bayern’s transfer policy and squad management going into the new season.” Bundesliga Fanatic


Liverpool looking at the long term, a need for patience

July 16, 2013

“Things could have been a lot different for Liverpool Football Club, if DIC’s (Dubai International Capital) bid to takeover the club had gone through in 2006. Middle-Eastern billions pumped into the club, taking it from a challenging side to a winning one. Trophies, players, revenue — it would have been back to the golden days for the red half of Merseyside. The club, however, looked to the West; and blimey how that turned out!” Outside of the Boot


After a productive transfer season are Fiorentina now real Serie A title contenders?

July 16, 2013

“Finishing in a lowly 13th place in the 2011/12 season, Vincenzo Montella made a huge turnaround last season leading Fiorentina to challenge Milan for the final slot Champions League slot, with Fiorentina narrowly missing out after a controversial Milan win against already relegated Siena in the last week. The owners’ decision to replace former sporting director Pantaleo Corvino with the dynamic duo of Daniele Prade and Eduardo Macía had impact on Fiorentina’s change in fortune. The new management sold troubled players such as Juan Vargas and replaced them with new, fresh, young and hungry faces, more suited to the tiki-taka style of football Montella wanted to install at Artemio Franchi. Last season has seen Fiorentina bringing in midfielder Borja Valero and centre-backs Gonzalo Rodriguez and Facundo Roncaglia from relegated Villarreal, where they also pick up Giuseppe Rossi, a dynamic, yet injury prone 25 year old.” Think Football


Financial losses, potential penalties put FFP’s development in a bind

July 13, 2013

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“In 2009 Michel Platini, the president of UEFA, announced that something was finally going to be done about the arms race in European soccer. With great fanfare it was announced that regulations, known as Financial Fair Play, had been agreed to limit excessive spending, especially by the notorious ‘sugar daddies’ — wealthy individuals who use their financial muscle to stockpile talent and effectively buy titles. Many soccer fans welcomed the initiative, believing that prudential regulation was long overdue in the light of the persistent insolvency of European clubs.” ESPN (Video)


SoccerManager.com — The best online manager game

July 13, 2013

“Let’s be honest, most of us have at some point been worryingly addicted to Football Manager games. The chance to take control of a football club and replicate the beautiful game in a virtual interface has been a hobby of millions. The sole chance us below average footballers (yet passionate footy fans) have to experience the ‘real’ thing. But it’s one thing to take lowly Southend United to Europe’s holy grail and take ‘Old Big Ears’ back to Roots Hall while playing against managers controlled by computer generated algorithms, and another whole scenario to do it against actual managerial enthusiasts like yourself. SoccerManager.com takes this highly addictive passion and puts it onto the online world, implementing all the necessary features for you arm-chair pundits, and gives you the opportunity to compete.” Outside of the Boot

SoccerManager.com


The 10 biggest questions for European soccer in 2013-14

July 13, 2013

“With the Confederations Cup now behind us and the new European soccer season less than 40 days away, there are plenty of talking points looking ahead to season 2013-14. Here are ten questions that we have been asking this summer…” SI


In Mario Gomez Fiorentina have seen something the rest of Europe did not

July 13, 2013

“Mario Gomez scores lots of goals: 75 in 115 league appearances for Bayern Munich, 63 in 121 for Stuttgart and 25 in 58 games for Germany. Even last season, when he had been relegated to second choice behind Mario Mandzukic, Gomez rattled in 12 goals in 11 starts. When he joined Bayern in 2009, he was the most expensive transfer in Bundesliga history. If various add-on clauses end up being triggered, he will surpass Nuno Gomes as Fiorentina’s record signing.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Schrödinger’s Football Team

July 13, 2013

“The no-man’s land of the summer is an odd time for all football fans. For most of us, the love and support we lavish on Liverpool Football Club represents one of the most intense, long-lived and important relationships in our lives. Liverpool Football Club will be there throughout the majority of our existences, aside from the casuals or the apostates of course. But from late May until mid-August, our love of football is, against our wishes, put on hold. We rely on the relentless march of the season to sate our desire for the sport we love. There is always another game in a few days and then abruptly there isn’t; I always feel bereft for a few days after the FA Cup Final.” Tomkins Times


The Neymar problem

July 13, 2013

“The Cristiano Ronaldo problem has become the Neymar problem. That both are superb players is not in doubt; both are supremely skilful, capable of a sudden and devastating acceleration, and both can turn games in an instant. But they can also be negligent of their defensive duties and allow the opposing full-back to get forward untended.” World Soccer – Jonathan Wilson


Premier League: How Muslims are changing English football culture

July 9, 2013

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“When the Premier League started in 1992, it included just one footballer known to be Muslim, Tottenham’s Spanish midfielder Nayim. England’s top division now features 40 Muslim players and they are having a significant effect on the culture of the game.” BBC


Brazil’s Confederations outsiders face uphill battle to be included

July 9, 2013

“Brazil was obviously joyous at winning the Confederations Cup in such convincing style — but it would only be natural if there were some places where joy was somewhat confined. Those players outside the squad, for example, now face a much harder time getting back in.” ESPN – Tim Vickery (Video)


Pedro and Alexis: Time to Step Up or Else

July 9, 2013

“With all eyes on Neymar teaming up with Lionel Messi, let’s not forget about the other wing position: right-wing. Pedro and Alexis need to have solid seasons, or else they could be on their way out at FC Barcelona.” Barca Blaugranes


Emre Colak: Scout Report

July 9, 2013

“Turkey’s youth development system is a bit acarpous. Coaches first look for physical characteristics and have no tolerance for incapable players. They do not want to give these players time for improvement. Most coaches don’t know how to teach basic fundamentals. For example, if Thomas Müller was from Turkey, there is no way that he would make it anywhere near the national team. The other problem of youth development of Turkey is uneducated football coaches, who after retiring from football have an opportunity to get licence from Turkish FA with just a little bit of tuition, not enough to educate young players.” Outside of the Boot


Is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the right man to take Dortmund forward?

July 9, 2013

“Borussia Dortmund suffered a massive loss when Mario Götze announced his deal with Bayern Munich. They were wounded and now it’s time to heal. It’s a delicate situation. He was the creator, the trickster, the man with the rabbit in the hat. The young German allowed Reus to cut in and play one-twos around corners and into channels; he’d drift out and create gaps for Lewandowski, or even Gündoğan to burst through. He was all four corner pieces to Klopp’s jigsaw. And now he’s gone.” Think Football


Deal with it: Brazil will host the World Cup

July 4, 2013

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“If you were in Beijing or New York last week, you would have to be sitting down when reading the news. According to a report by Folha de S. Paulo, a leading newspaper in Brazil and Latin America, that was obviously replicated by international outlets, there was a chance that the FIFA Confederations Cup semifinals and final would be hosted by one of those cities. Other reports also revealed plans for next year’s World Cup to be moved to safer pastures after FIFA and international authorities were scared by the scale and intensity of the protests on Brazilians streets during this summer’s test event. Yours truly was even asked to take part in a discussion themed ‘Brazil should give up the World Cup.'” ESPN (Video)

The Brazilian lesson: shout
“It’s a peaceful winter’s day in the favela of Monte Azul, São Paulo. Customers sit chatting around the hot-dog stand (which accepts credit cards). A state “health agent” patrols the undulating main street, looking for sick people to advise. At the crèche, the purple curtains are closed to let the children nap. And the rain runs neatly into the gutters, instead of flooding the street. A lot has changed since 20 years ago, when some local men worked as ‘security guards’ for bakeries and supermarkets – which meant they were paid to murder suspected thieves.” FT – Simon Kuper


The Future of Non League Football 2012/13 – A Summary

July 4, 2013

“So there we have it. Another season finished, another one that at the Non League level has seen its fair share of contraversey, mismanagement and simply downright incompetence. In fact, as I write this, some two months after the Ryman Premier League season ended we are still none the wiser as to who was actually relegated last season. Is it Thurrock or Carshalton Athletic? I genuinely feel that the Isthmian League have no idea themselves, and are hoping for divine intervention to make the decision.” The Ball is Round


Hasn’t the Confederations Cup been great?

July 4, 2013

“Well, hasn’t it been great? From the opening minutes of that opening game when Neymar was firing home that impeccably executed volley, through the thrills and fun of the group games and semi-finals, to the final. I honestly cannot recall one bland game in over the 2 week duration of this year’s Confederations Cup. If this competition is merely Brazil’s supposed warm-up for the real deal of the 2014 World Cup, then we are in for a treat. Here are my 6 reasons why I believe the Conferedations Cup has been so flipping fantastic.” Outside of the Boot


Is the need for speed more important than tika-taka tactics?

July 4, 2013

“The Confederations Cup final between Spain and Brazil was a highly anticipated clash of two opposing brands of football. In fact, while Spain are well known for playing a possession based style of football, Luis Felipe Scolari has reshaped a traditionally flamboyant Brazilian side into a more defensive minded, counterattacking team.” Think Football


Brazil 3-0 Spain: Spain unable to cope with Brazil’s pace and power on the break

July 1, 2013

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“Brazil won the Confederations Cup at the Maracana after a convincing demolition of the world champions. Luis Felipe Scolari stuck with his usual side – in five games he only deviated from this XI once, when Paulinho wasn’t 100% fit for the final group game. Vicente Del Bosque brought in Juan Mata on the left of his 4-3-3 system, but otherwise the side was unchanged. Brazil yet again started superbly – but Spain failed to mount a significant fightback.” Zonal Marking

“Brazil produced a breathtaking performance at the Maracana to overwhelm Spain and claim their third consecutive Fifa Confederations Cup. Driven on by the passion of a fiercely partisan crowd, the five-time world champions signalled their intent ahead of next summer’s World Cup by ending Spain’s 29-match competitive unbeaten record with a majestic display. Fred scored twice, but Neymar again stole the show, scoring Brazil’s second goal with a rasping left-foot shot. To compound Spain’s misery, Sergio Ramos missed a second-half penalty before Gerard Pique was sent off for bringing down Neymar as last man, with 22 minutes remaining.” BBC

Dream final a sub-plot to urban uprising (June 28)
“And so the 2013 Confederations Cup has its dream final – Brazil against Spain, the match the world has been waiting years to see. It is a clash of two philosophies. For the Brazilians, the star player (known over here as the ‘craque,’ from the English ‘crack’) tips the balance with a moment of individual inspiration. For the Spaniards the collective idea is all important – the constant passing at pace, the continuous formation of triangles, each one opening up new possibilities for a new combination, until a runner can be slipped through on goal.” The World – Tim Vickery

Brazil on the verge of greatness
“Forget history and superstition. You have to be pretty twisted to believe that because Brazil won the Confederations Cup in 1997 and 2005 and 2009 and then failed to win the big one the following year, beating Spain and lifting the trophy at the Maracana was anything but a good thing. Anyone who witnessed the performance against Spain, who felt the goose bumps from the Torcida, who saw Fred, then Neymar, then Oscar, then just about every member of the Selecao vault the pitch-side barriers and celebrate with the supporters will know just how important this was.” ESPN (Video)


Confederations Cup: police clash with protesters outside Maracanã

July 1, 2013

“Protests against the rising cost of hosting the World Cup and a raft of other social inequalities in Brazil see police and demonstrators clash outside the Maracanã on the night of the Confederations Cup final. Brazil won the game against Spain 3-0 to win the trophy. Protests have taken place for the duration of the tournament, involving hundreds of thousands of people” Guardian (Video)


FIFA World Cup – Everybody Wants To Rule The World

July 1, 2013

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“The article below covers the financial impact of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and was first published a couple of years ago in Issue One of The Blizzard, the thinking fan’s football magazine of choice. Each issue can be purchased on a pay-what-you-like basis and includes some of the finest writing in the world of football, so I would encourage you to visit their website and invest some of your hard-earned cash. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. Although this is an old piece, I thought that it might be worth republishing on my blog, as it seems very timely given the recent criticism aimed at FIFA over the money it will make from the World Cup in Brazil – in stark contrast to the billions invested by the host country. As you will see, many of the concerns are nothing new and would surely find resonance with many of the South African people.” Swiss Ramble

How delicious: Sepp Blatter has kicked off Fifa’s Arab Spring in Brazil
“It may be a little early to call this, what with several days of the Confederations Cup and an entire World Cup to run, but there’s a nagging sense that Sepp Blatter is somewhat miscast as a Brazilian counter-revolutionary. At time of writing, Fifa had yet to request covert support from the CIA in the form of arms shipments and financial backing. But with protests in Brazil continuing to make the most explicit of links between the money the country’s government has spent on Fifa tournaments, and the money it hasn’t spent on less uplifting things such as healthcare and education, Herr Blatter finds his usual arsenal increasingly wanting.” Guardian


The Special One, King Carlo and Resurrecting Real Madrid

July 1, 2013

“If the San Siro in Milan is called the graveyard of European football, the Bernabeu under Florentino Perez has become the graveyard for some of Europe’s top managers. They all came here to bring the European Cup to the Spanish capital, and for a little more than a decade now they have failed to do so. The latest addition to Florentino Perez’s exit list is Jose Mourinho, who undoubtedly was ‘the man’ expected to restore some pride into the Los Blancos side.” Outside of the Boot