An A-to-Zed Guide to the EPL

August 22, 2013

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“With its 21st season under way, here’s a highly selective, wholly subjective refresher guide to the English Premier League, from A to Zed…” SI

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Marek Hamsik’s creativity ideal for Rafa Benitez’s Napoli revolution

August 22, 2013

“It has been an exciting summer of coaching changes across Europe: The top seven favourites for the Champions League, the top three in England, the top two in Spain, plus the champions of France, Germany and Portugal all started 2013-14 with a new manager. In Italy, somewhat surprisingly, it’s been quieter. Of last season’s top four, Juventus’ Antonio Conte, Milan’s Max Allegri and Fiorentina’s Vincenzo Montella remain in their positions having performed extremely impressively, albeit in different ways, last season.” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)


Manchester City’s tactical shifts make for a brilliant performance

August 22, 2013

“Holistic has been the buzzword at Manchester City since Roberto Mancini was dismissed as manager at the end of last season. It was much derided at the time, but City’s 4-0 demolition of Newcastle United on Monday evening was a demonstration of what holistic football can look like. If City continues to play as well as it did in its Premier League opener, new manager Manuel Pellegrini won’t have to worry about his job security. The statement City probably regretted releasing when showing Mancini the door referred, of course, to more than just team selection and style of play, but it was evident from City’s four signings this summer than there was a clear system of play in mind, with at least one alternative.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Dynamo Moscow Season Preview

August 22, 2013

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Dan Petrescu
“From occupying the bottom of the table to nearly finishing 3rd, Dynamo Moscow had one of last season’s biggest comebacks. The introduction of Dan Petrescu as manager led to a series of impressive results, including a whopping 5-1 win over Spartak in the oldest Russian derby and a 14-match unbeaten run. The former ended in the sacking of Unai Emery as Spartak manager. The latter ended in a humiliating 1-0 loss for the Muscovites to the later-relegated Alania. The team disappointed at the end of the season, their scoreless draw against Volga leaving them short of a Europa League spot.” Russian Football News


Bilbao Tactics: Post Bielsa Era

August 22, 2013

“It was just over a year ago that Marcelo Bielsa’s Athletic Bilbao were the envy of most European clubs. With a squad assembled mostly of youth products and clever signings in-keeping with their Basque region-only philosophy, Bilbao reached the finals of both the Copa Del Rey and the Europa League by virtue of their high-pressing, slick passing football that saw Bielsa become one of the in-demand coaches on the continent. They lost both finals but after finishing a solid tenth in La Liga and disposing both Manchester United and Schalke with a young squad drilled brilliantly into Bielsa’s meticulous approach, there was high optimism that Bilbao could push on to challenge the higher reaches of the Primera.” Outside of the Boot


Counting the cost of a dream ticket to Brazil

August 22, 2013

“Sales of 2014 World Cup tickets got off to a brisk start Tuesday. According to FIFA, the 1 million applications received in seven hours included plenty from host nation Brazil, from neighbours Chile and Argentina, and also from the USA and England — a testimony to the strength of Anglo-Saxon fan culture, especially as there is no guarantee that Roy Hodgson’s men will even qualify for the competition. For non-Brazilians the cheapest tickets start at $90. A number of tickets are available to locals at knockdown prices — part of a PR offensive to win Brazilian hearts and minds in the run-up to a tournament that may be a focal point for vociferous protests.” ESPN – Tim Vickery