No Happy New Year for Brazilian Football

January 2, 2014

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“The war cry of Ronaldo, Sepp Blatter, the President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff and the rest of Brazil and FIFA’s great and good is about as considered a pronouncement as a turkey’s gobble. And yet in its sunny patriotism and glossing over of the cold reality of delays, mismanagement, overspending and dead construction workers it neatly captures a chunk of the troubled optimism/pessimism dichotomy that lies at the heart of Brazilian society. Everything may be a mess and there isn’t much sign of improvement on the way, but hey — God is Brazilian, carnaval is coming, we’re still pretty good at football and the weather is nice most of the time. So things could be worse. Life in Brazil can sometimes seem not so much a case of if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it; but rather it’s always been broken, so there’s not much point in trying to fix it.” ESPN

Are Brazilian managers an endangered species?
“For Latin American and Portuguese news crews running around the Costa do Sauipe resort in northeastern Brazil during the buildup for the 2014 World Cup final draw, life was hectic. Argentines, for example, needed to be sure they kept tabs on the Albiceleste manager Alejandro Sabella; at the same time they “doorstepped” fellow countrymen Jorge Sampaoli and Jose Pekerman for a reaction on Chile’s and Colombia’s expectations before and after the draw. The Portuguese had to worry about ‘Quinas’ manager Paulo Bento, but also make sure that former Real Madrid commander and Sir Alex Ferguson deputy Carlos Queiroz, now in charge of Iran, would also be covered, as well as Greece’s ‘mister’ Fernando Santos.” ESPN


Tactical review of 2013: Strike partners in crime are bad news for defenders

January 2, 2014

“For a decade or so, it seemed inconceivable that a top team could play with a pair of forwards and still prosper. Operate with two forwards, the logic ran, and you surrender control of the midfield. International football always lags behind club football when it comes to innovation, but even there, by Euro 2008, 4-2-3-1 had become the default. Yet this season, front pairings seem to have returned to fashion. When Manchester City pair Álvaro Negredo and Sergio Agüero, that is a strike duo: it’s true that they may not play exactly alongside each other at all times, but neither can it be argued that one is operating in an attacking midfield role, as would be required legitimately to describe the formation as 4-2-3-1. Liverpool, similarly, have used Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge to great effect. At Atlético Madrid, Diego Costa and David Villa have thrived, while the Paris Saint-Germain pair Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani. Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez are working well as a pairing for Juventus – although in a system that uses a back three rather than a back four.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson Part 1, The false nine is an accepted role but with different interpretations – Part 1


The top 13 stories from American soccer’s unforgettable 2013

January 2, 2014

“The year in American soccer was bracketed by bitter cold, which brought out the best in those who rose to the occasion and helped shape the sport in 2013. Way back in January, Jozy Altidore exuded dignity and determination during a Dutch Eredivisie game that featured snowballs and racial abuse cascading from the stands. In March, a beleaguered U.S. national team began its dramatic climb to the top of CONCACAF in a fearsome Colorado blizzard. And in early December, Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake contested an unforgettable MLS Cup final that was hampered, yet somehow heightened, by a frozen field and record-low temperatures.” SI


Losing the battle of the mind

January 2, 2014

“I was recently doing a spot on a London-based radio where the presenters were asking listeners to send in examples of activity they considered more important than the FIFA Club World Cup. Amongst the answers; turning out the lights after the monthly meeting of the church authorities. Or picking up the washing after a gust of wind had blown it off the line. Amusing? Perhaps. Infuriating? No doubt about it!” The World Gage – Tim Vickery


Unlike Moyes and AVB, simple approach has paid off for Sherwood

January 2, 2014

“Tottenham’s dreadful record at Manchester United was once one of the Premier League’s most famous pieces of trivia. Like no Englishman ever winning the Premier League as manager, Robbie Fowler scoring the Premier League’s fastest-ever hattrick, or Dennis Bergkamp coming first, second and third on Match of the Day’s Goal of the Month competition in September 1997, Spurs’ failure to win at Manchester United was legendary.” ESPN – Michael Cox


The Best and Worst in German Football in 2013

January 2, 2014

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“It has been a great year for German football. The Champions League final this spring featured for the first time in the competition’s history two German teams on the pitch, Bayern have been breaking records left, right and centre and the Bundesliga seems to produce exciting story lines and talents almost on a weekly basis it seems. But, what have been the stand out players and moments, both good and bad, in the calendar year 2013? Our team of editors sat down to give their views about the subject!” Bundesliga Fanatic

Best XI of the 2013/14 Bundesliga Hinrunde
“With half of the season out of the way, there has been no shortages of surprises, excitement and the usual and expected Bayern Munich dominance in Germany’s top flight. The league maintained its reputation for great fan support, youthful exuberance and goals galore. Most of all, the Hinrunde was characterized by several outstanding individual performances. Unsurprisingly, a lot of those came from Bayern players but there were also many players who surprised and really took their game to the next level. Some were veterans who had somewhat of a comeback year while certain young players kept on making a name for themselves. Here are the standout performers of the 2013/14 Bundesliga season so far.” Bundesliga Fanatic


Premier League mid-term report

January 2, 2014

“This weekend’s fixtures marked the mid-way point in this season’s Premier League, as a perfect time if any to take stock of this season’s participants and cast cruel judgement over their respective performances thus far. So without further-a-do…” Back Page Football – (part one), (part two)


FC Barcelona: Five of the Best Individual Performances of 2013

January 2, 2014

“With 2013 behind us, it’s time to remember five of the best individual performances of 2013 according to the Barca Blaugranes Community Player Ratings”
Barca Blaugranes (Video)


Premier League: 2013 in numbers

January 2, 2014

“Thirteen Premier League titles, 27 years, 1,500 matches managed at Manchester United – Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement was the biggest story of the year. But what else happened in 2013? English football said goodbye to Gareth Bale and hello again to Jose Mourinho, while Luis Suarez provoked plenty of headlines – good and bad. Statisticians Opta have crunched the year’s numbers for us.” BBC


David Moyes – A half year in review

January 2, 2014

“Sixth in the league, six wins in a row, sixth in the form table and six months on, David Moyes’ time as manager of Manchester United could be summed up in many ways – Indifferent. Underwhelming. Inept. Transitional. Promising. From the first day that Moyes got the job the expectations of the vast majority of United fans seemed to drop dramatically and it became apparent very quickly that this was rubbing off on the everybody else connected with the club, especially the players. It all started so poorly.” Back Page Football