HSK Zrinjski and the Eviction Of Velez

September 18, 2013

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“Contemporary recollections of Mostar almost always surround the Stari Most, the 16th century Ottoman Bridge located in present day Bosnia and Herzegovina. Standing towering for over 427 years until it was destroyed in 1993 by the Bosnian Croats the scenic bridge was reopened again in 2004. It stands today as a reminder of the Balkan conflict yet remains one of the former Yugoslavia’s foremost tourist attractions. Across in the north western reaches of Mostar there stands another building less famous but equally symbolic of the tragic Balkan conflict. Built in 1971 the Bijeli Brijeg Stadium was until 1992 the home territory of Velež Mostar. Alongside the Maksimir in Zagreb and the Marakana home of Red Star it was recognised as one of the ‘hottest’ grounds in the former Yugoslav First League. Venue for some special nights in Yugoslav domestic football, the stadium also witnessed UEFA Cup competition including wins for Velez against the likes of Derby County, APOEL, Belenenses and Spartak Moscow.” In Bed With Maradona


The Global Theater: The World Cup exhibits the best and worst

September 18, 2013

“There are two moments from my time in the stadia of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa that I remember particularly vividly. One of them I couldn’t take my eyes off. The other I couldn’t watch. I was in FNB Stadium for the Final between Spain and the Netherlands. It was a grueling game, the frustration and ugliness seeping across the turf as the minutes ticked by. Oddly enough, though they are always riveting spectacles, many World Cup finals are actually pretty disappointing as soccer. Often the best games are in the quarterfinals, or even earlier in the tournament. Watching that final on TV seems to have been particularly frustrating. In the stadium, though, there was something wonderful about being collectively enraged. We could yell, stomp, hold our heads in our hands, and it felt like the Dutch players, the poor referee Howard Webb, and even the heavens above could hear us.” SI – Laurent Dubois


Barcelona v Ajax and a philosophical line that stretches back to 1872

September 18, 2013

“In 1872 a decision was taken that changed football forever, and that would have a major bearing on Wednesday’s Champions League meeting between Barcelona and Ajax. The Scotland team, all of whom were drawn from the Queen’s Park club, looked at the England side they were about to meet in the first ever football international and, realising their opponents were on average over a stone a man heavier than they were, resolved not to engage in the dribbling and charging game that had been prevalent until then, but to pass the ball and keep it away from the English. The tactic was a resounding success: Scotland had the better of a goalless draw and the possession game was born.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Champions League: Lopez clutch for Madrid; Moyes can breathe easier

September 18, 2013

“It was all about firsts as the 2013-14 Champions League kicked off Tuesday: the first game in the competition at their new clubs for a host of coaches, including Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti, Manuel Pellegrini, Laurent Blanc and David Moyes; the first start for Iker Casillas this season, and the first since Cristiano Ronaldo signed his big-money contract at Real Madrid; it was also Edinson Cavani’s first European start for Paris Saint-Germain alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Here are some thoughts on a thrilling first round of matches…” SI


New managers: Mourinho at Chelsea

September 18, 2013

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“Jose Mourinho isn’t so much a ‘new’ manager as a returning manager, following nearly six years away from Chelsea. The obvious advantage Mourinho has over David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini, the other two newcomers amongst top Premier League clubs, is that he has experience of competing (and triumphing) in a Premier League title fight. The downside, however, is that opposition coaches are now fully aware of his tricks, both in terms of psychology and tactics. Whether that means they’ll be able to counteract them with an intelligent strategy of their own, however, is a different matter.” Zonal Marking


Manchester United 4-2 Bayer Leverkusen: Tactical Analysis

September 18, 2013

“The last time the 2 sides met in the Champions League Group stages was in 2002. United were victorious in both the games with Ruud van Nistelrooy scoring in both and a certain Bulgarian striker named Dimitar Berbatov getting his name on the scoresheet for Bayer. This of course was only 1 season after Bayer had dumped United out in the semifinal stages of the 2001-02 season to set up a final against Real Madrid which will always be remembered for THAT Zidane goal.” Outside of the Boot


Bojan still struggling to find his feet

September 18, 2013

“It certainly isn’t the group of death; it’s not even the second-most exciting group in this season’s Champions League. But there was something rather magical about Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax and Celtic — four previous European Cup winners — being drawn together in Group H. Even before Celtic, from the fourth pot, were drawn alongside their more illustrious opponents, the three other sides together already provided an intriguing group. There’s the ideological link between Barcelona and Ajax, and past finals between Barca and Milan (1994) and Ajax and Milan (1995).” ESPN – Michael Cox


Real Sociedad 0-2 Shakhtar Donetsk: Sociedad start excellently but Shakhtar more ruthless

September 18, 2013

“Alex Teixeira was barely noticeable for long periods – but struck twice to give Shakhtar three crucial points in a tough group. Jagoba Arrasate named Haris Seferovic upfront having used Carlos Vela there at the weekend. The Mexican returned to the right flank, while Imanol Agirretxe – first-choice centre-forward last season – wasn’t yet fit enough to start, but was on the bench. Ruben Pardo and Marek Bergara returned having been rested at the weekend. Shakhtar are wobbling in the league – three games without a win, having won their opening six. Mircea Lucescu rested his full-backs at the weekend, but named his expected XI here – Tomas Hubschman returned to the side having suffered from сonjunctivitis in recent weeks. Real Sociedad dominated early on thanks to their energetic pressing, but failed to take advantage of their dominance.” Zonal Marking