New managers: Martino at Barcelona

October 15, 2013

Gerardo Martino unveiled as new Barcelona manager - video
“In an ideal world, Gerardo Martino wouldn’t be coaching Barcelona this season. Whereas the majority of Europe’s top clubs were after a new manager this summer because of footballing reasons, Barca were forced to turn to a new coach because of Tito Vilanova’s health problems. That makes Martino’s task slightly complicated, because this summer there was a genuine debate about how much Barcelona needed to evolve their style of play. Martino has not been appointed because his predecessor failed, but because he was simply unable to continue.” Zonal Marking


‘And now he has gone, far too soon’

October 15, 2013

“Last week, the internationals having opened up a little time, I sorted through some old photographs. I came upon a stack from the African Cup of Nations in 2002, in the days when I still fancied myself as somebody who could take a picture, and lugged an SLR camera with me wherever I went. There were shots of the mobilettes that lined the streets outside the main stadium in Bamako, of Taribo West singing at George Weah’s retirement party and, poignantly, of Bruno Metsu, looking fresh and eager in the garden behind the Senegal team hotel.” The National – Jonathan Wilson


Eidur Gudjohnsen lifts Iceland ‘golden boys’ to the brink of World Cup play-offs

October 15, 2013

“Iceland have never qualified for a major tournament. They have always had to sit and watch their bigger, stronger Scandinavian siblings go to the ball. And it has not been much fun. Their best performance so far, the closest they have come to qualification, was when they were squeezed out by one point for a play-off spot for Euro 2004. Squeezed out by Berti Vogts’ Scotland. But this time things are different. Iceland are on the brink of a World Cup play-off place, second in Group E. Tonight they travel to Norway knowing that a win would send them into the final round.” Independent


World Cup Qualifying: Standings and scenarios for Tuesday’s games

October 15, 2013

edin-dzeko-bosnia-herzegovina-world-cup-qualifying
“World Cup dreams will be realized, dashed or deferred on Tuesday as qualifying continues around the globe. On the home front, the U.S. booked passage to Brazil last month and then clinched first place in CONCACAF’s Hexagonal with Friday’s 2-0 win over Jamaica. The only thing left to play for on Tuesday night in Panama is a seed next summer. Unfortunately for Jurgen Klinsmann and Co., chances are slim. The top seven sides in next month’s FIFA ranking (beside Brazil) will be anointed. According to ESPN statistican Paul Carr, the U.S. would have to defeat Panama while the Netherlands loses at Turkey, Switzerland loses to Slovenia, Poland ties or beats England, Ecuador ties or beats Chile and Uruguay misses out on qualifying altogether. Here’s a summary of what’s at stake elsewhere. Ties in group play are broken by goal differential in all games, goals scored in all games and then assorted head-to-head criteria.” SI


The Real Journey Is Just Beginning for World Cup-Bound Belgium

October 15, 2013

“Qualifying for major tournament finals for the first time in a decade is certainly a cause for celebration. It was clear Belgium’s players saw it as such at the final whistle in Croatia on Friday night, as they danced and sang in a raucous huddle in the rain and mud of the Stadion Maksimir pitch in Zagreb. Belgium’s golden generation may have been feted for a while, but the manner of their qualification for the 2014 World Cup is some achievement, and one that we need to pause to recognise. Marc Wilmots’ team sealed the deal with 25 points from a possible 27 in their opening nine qualifying matches, in a group containing an experienced Croatia and an unpredictable but talented Serbia—not to mention the potential banana skins laid by Wales and Scotland, with the latter managing to upset Croatia in Zagreb in June.” Bleacher Report


Turbulent World

October 15, 2013

“… As is often the case, the advent of the Arab Uprisings in 2011 was bathed – in the media and in Western academic circles – with a roseate glow and the belief that Arab exceptionalism had been shown to be a myth so that the Arab world would now enter into the generalised emergence of democratic governance worldwide. There was, to be sure, a residual anxiety, as new governments began to emerge, that the challenge of political Islam as a new force shaping regional political dynamics might find democracy difficult to accommodate. Confidence, however, was placed in the political maturity that such movements seemed to show, a confidence that was not dented by the sudden and unexpected emergence of a new gamut of Salafist movements and parties throughout the region.” Turbulent World