Non monsieur: why Michel Platini’s 40-team World Cup idea is misguided

October 30, 2013

Michel Platini, Uefa president
“Another day, another wearying proposal to ruin football. This time it was Michel Platini, the Uefa president who long ago surpassed Sepp Blatter as the global game’s greatest nonsense machine, who shook the kaleidoscope of self-interest and came up with a proposal to expand the World Cup finals from 32 to 40 teams. More games! More countries! More fans! More money! More votes! Hurrah!” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Time for Man United’s Moyes to start showing signs of progress

October 30, 2013

“Certain debates in soccer rapidly turn into meta-debates, as people stop discussing the point at hand and instead rehearse familiar arguments about the terms of the debate. The England national team is one: Anybody who has ever written anything about a recent game knows that within minutes the comments section will be full of predictable rants, most trying to take some half-baked historical theme and turn it into a panacea. That’s the problem with subjects on which everybody has an opinion: People usually stick to the same one and then repeat it.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Tactical Analysis: How have Liverpool performed in their 3-5-2 formation?

October 30, 2013

“Brendan Rodgers has been enjoying great success with Liverpool this season, most recently in a 3-5-2 formation that has seen his side rise to third in the league, just two points off the leaders Arsenal. Liverpool travel to The Emirates on Saturday to face Arsenal, but should they re-consider their 3-5-2 formation?” Think Football


Porto 3-1 Sporting: Porto more compact without the ball and more efficient with their attacking

October 30, 2013

“This was first against second in Portugal – champions Porto won, extending the gap to five points. Paulo Fonseca selected Silvestre Varela on the left, with Lica on the bench – otherwise, his side was as expected. Sporting coach Leonardo Jardim played Ivan Piris in an unfamiliar left-back role, in the absence of Jefferson Nascimento. Porto were the dominant force for the majority of this match, and deserved the victory.” Zonal Marking


Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City: counter-attack versus possession play but both attack in behind

October 30, 2013

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“Two ex-Atletico strikers – Fernando Torres and Sergio Aguero – were the most prominent players in a fast-paced, exciting clash. Jose Mourinho played Gary Cahill rather than David Luiz, and left out Juan Mata with Andre Schurrle and Eden Hazard on the wings. Torres started after his two goals against Schalke in midweek. Manuel Pellegrini used Martin Demichelis for the first time, played three central midfielders with Yaya Toure pushed to the top of the triangle, two ball-players on the flanks, and Aguero upfront alone. Joe Hart’s huge error in the 90th minute decided the game, and overall this was evenly balanced.” Zonal Marking


Barrilete Cosmico: Malvinas, Maradona, Argentina and England

October 30, 2013

“The scoreline is familiar, as is the fateful date, but surely the title for this article should be ‘The Hand of God’? Everyone knows that this was the game when England’s brave Three Lions and the hapless officials were slyly deceived by the diminutive Argentine, and thus any retrospective of the game must take this key moment as its starting point? Or perhaps not…the moment we always hark back to, with a characteristic tone of moral indignation, is remembered quite differently outside England. The Quarter Final game may occupy a similar space in the Argentine collective memory in terms of its significance, but the epithet that is more commonly used in the Southern Cone, invoking the Uruguayan commentator’s interest in cosmology, refers predictably to the ‘other’ moment of otherworldly intervention that day.” In Bed With Maradona


Hope for Hungary? Domestic revival targeted by Prime Minister

October 30, 2013

“Football east of the Danube is becoming by reputation a cradle for something unsavoury in the European diplomatic stakes. The season, still in its infancy but maturing quickly in its propensity to shock, has brought a cloud over this part of the continent with ethnic tensions across four countries spilling onto the terraces and further contaminating some already poisonous relations. Lech Poznan were hit with a 5000 fine for racially aggravated chanting during their Europa League match with Zalgiris Vilnius in August whilst Budapest Honved were reprimanded for similar offences in Vojvodina. But whilst both episodes chimed with jingoistic thuggery – the UEFA disciplinary panel don’t get out of bed for anything less than the most brazen lashes of a chauvinistic tongue– there is a more insidious line that threads them together.” World Soccer


Uruguay: World Champions

October 30, 2013

“The Uruguay national football team has undoubtedly had a rough year. After a promising start to qualifying for the next World Cup, a run of negative results put the team’s chances in jeopardy. Uruguay ultimately advanced to a two-game playoff against Jordan for a spot in Brazil in 2014. Their 5th place finish in CONMEBOL qualification derived from a paltry 2-1-5 away record, including a 4-1 loss to lowly Bolivia, and an additional 3 home draws to weaker opposition such as Paraguay and Venezuela. Finishing below a talented Colombia team and a young upstart Chile was somewhat disappointing, but losing the last automatic qualification spot to Ecuador was shocking after Uruguay finished in 4th place in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.” Soccer Politics