The Question: do football formations tell the whole story?

October 24, 2013

Niko Kovac was crucial to Croatia's success under Slaven Bilic
“It is rare that a month goes by without somebody emailing me or tweeting me to point out that John Giles has said on television that it’s not the formation that matters but the players. Many seem to offer the line aggressively, as though the assertion somehow invalidates the notion of tactics in football. To draw that conclusion, though, is to misunderstand what tactics and formations are, to fall into the trap of thinking that players can somehow be separated from the tactical framework. Nobody ever played a game of football without both players and tactics. It’s simply not possible: as soon as there is more than one player, there is necessarily a relationship between them and, however little thought goes into that, that is tactical. But that doesn’t mean, as some appear to think, that the formation outweighs the players whose distribution it describes.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Sergio Busquets has become an key component of the new Barcelona

October 24, 2013

“One of the fundamental principles of Barcelona’s philosophy is the consistent use of a 4-3-3 formation. It is their trio in midfield — the heart of any football side, but particularly one that insists upon possession dominance and bossing the centre ground — that has always felt most idiosyncratic. In that zone, the club have frequently played three Spanish La Masia graduates over the past four years: Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Real Madrid 2-1 Juventus: Real take the victory, but fail to impress

October 24, 2013

“Despite losing the contest, Antonio Conte can arguably draw more positives from this match after his side performed impressively with ten men. Carlo Ancelotti selected a 4-3-3 system for the second time this season, with Gareth Bale and Isco both on the bench. Iker Casillas returned in goal. Conte went for a 4-5-1 system with Claudio Marchisio and Carlos Tevez either side of the midfield, and Fernando Llorente upfront alone. Leonardo Bonucci was left out, and Angelo Ogbonna played at left-back. The game was fairly evenly balanced in the first half, with Giorgio Chiellini’s unnecessary penalty concession handing Real the advantage. After Chiellini’s dismissal, Real dominated possession but failed to put the game beyond Juve.” Zonal Marking


After the World Cup is gone

October 24, 2013

“Do we need a book on the 2010 World Cup already? That’s the first question I asked Peter Alegi and Chris Bolsmann, editors of the brand new volume, Africa’s World Cup (University of Michigan Press, 2013). … That’s a good enough reason, and Peter and Chris are uniquely qualified to edit the book. Peter teaches history at Michigan State University and has written two books about African football (here and here). He also runs a football blog and shoots videos of himself walking from his home to his office playing keepy uppy. Chris, a former club footballer in South Africa’s capital Pretoria, is a sociologist based in the UK. He has written a number of academic articles about football, including on the cultural significance of Mark Fish, one of a few white players to represent South Africa after Apartheid and who played for Lazio in Serie A (he’s one of a few South Africans who played in Serie A).” Africas A Country


UEFA charges CSKA Moscow over Yaya Toure’s racism claims

October 24, 2013

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“UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against CSKA Moscow after Manchester City’s Yaya Toure claimed he was abused by monkey chants from the stands in Wednesday’s European Champions League encounter with the Russian club. The Ivorian made his concerns known to the referee and said he was ‘furious’ after the Group D game at the Arena Khimki, which City won 2-1. But CSKA released a statement on its website denying there was any racist chanting and told CNN that UEFA’s match delegate wasn’t aware of any either. European football’s governing body UEFA told CNN it had no official comment to make on CSKA’s claim.” CNN (Video)


Nürnberg’s New Coach Gertjan Verbeek: A good, tough man and manager

October 24, 2013

“FC Nürnberg have announced that Dutch coach Gertjan Verbeek, 51, will take over the coaching duties at Der Club following the dismissal of Michael Wiesinger two weeks ago. Verbeek, a former SC Heerenveen defender, will coach his first game outside of Dutch football this weekend against VfB Stuttgart as 16th place Nürnberg seek their first win of the season. Veerbeek began his coaching career at Heracles Almelo in 2001, and has also led Heerenveen, Feyenoord and AZ Alkmaar in Dutch competition.” Bundesliga Fanatic


FC Arsenal 1 – 2 Borussia Dortmund: BVB Pickpockets the Gunners

October 24, 2013

“In a match that, at best, looked like it could be heading for a 1-1 draw, Borussia Dortmund found a Lewandowski goal on a stunning counter to win 2-1 in north London at Arsenal’s home ground in Champions League play on Tuesday. For BVB, a massive win and, for Arsenal, a disappointing and unexpected loss. Entering the contest, Arsenal led Group F with wins from its first two matches, while Dortmund sat in the group’s middle, thanks to its loss (against Napoli) and win (against Olympique Marseilles). Moreover, Arsenal also entered the match as the Premier’s hottest club, sitting atop the table on 19 points – unbeaten for seven matches now in domestic play. While many predicted a goal-fest – thanks to the attacking firepower on both rosters – these same folks also forgot that both clubs are also very good defensively, in terms of shots and goals conceded. After today’s result, Group F – the ‘group of death’ – has been blown wide open.” Bundesliga Fanatic


Celtic churn out mature Champions League win over Ajax

October 24, 2013

“The 2-1 victory over Ajax was achieved not as the result of a vintage performance by Celtic but one that reeked of Champions League know-how. Where last season Neil Lennon’s inexperienced side failed to defeat a very beatable Benfica team in their first outing, this time round they churned out a win that gives them genuine hope of repeating last year’s feat of reaching the last 16. Lennon may have lost the services of enormously important players like Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper since the last campaign, but there are increasing signs that, on this stage, Celtic now have a maturity that might yet compensate for the loss of such talent.” BBC