Mikel and Anderson: victims of a distrust of creativity

January 17, 2014

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“In Chelsea’s match with Manchester United this Sunday afternoon, arguably the most fascinating battleground will be the central midfield zone. That is entirely common in matches between two big clubs, but usually because of the vast quality on display. This weekend’s match is different, as both teams are weakest in that very position: the central midfield, the heart of the side. There are injury problems: Chelsea may be without Frank Lampard while David Moyes will probably still be unable to call upon Marouane Fellaini.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Benfica 2-0 Porto: good midfield pressure and quick attacking from the home side

January 17, 2014

“Benfica went top of the league with a controlled, confident victory at the Estadio da Luz. Jorge Jesus played his usual outfield players, although in goal Artur Moraes was unavailable so back-up Jan Oblak played instead. This was Nemanja Matic’s final game before his return to Chelsea. Paolo Fonseca played Carlos Eduardo at the head of his midfield trio, with Lucho Gonzalez deeper, and Josue and Steven Defour on the bench. Nicolas Otamendi was at centre-back, rather than Maicon. Benfica were clearly the better side throughout this contest, more organised without the ball and more purposeful in possession.” Zonal Marking


The Basque Connection

January 17, 2014

“The Basque country is something of a historical relic. The region was never conquered by the Romans and the Basque language, bears no resemblance to any other living language. The Basque people are notorious for doing things their own way and have fought fiercely for decades to protect their local customs from the imposition of Spanish culture. This independent spirit extends to the region’s biggest football club, Athletic Bilbao. The club, nicknamed Los Leones (“The Lions”), are a unique organisation in world football, having achieved considerable success whilst preserving their core traditions and maintaining close ties to their local community.” Back Page Football


Are economic hardships in Brazil set to overshadow the 2014 World Cup?

January 17, 2014

“The lead up to a World Cup is a period where fans of the sport are filled with excitement and a child-like enthusiasm for a game; a game where nations compete in arguably the biggest competition in world sport. The years leading up to this colossal event are filled with building up hopes and expectations as they soar to an unrealistic level; hopes which come with the apprehension of the nightmare scenario which could be beheld or the joyous dream option which many will pray for well in advance. All this adds to the sheer spectacle a country puts on for the fans and players, and no other country has a carnival reputation like Brazil. However, in these modern times, it seems passion and zeal for the sport is not enough as money matters are playing a more important role than ever before. Brazil 2014 is not immune to this, and is possibly the most economically analysed World Cup in history.” Think Football


Julian Draxler: Scout Report | The next big Bundesliga talent

January 17, 2014

“We’ve learnt in the past few years that Germany produces some of the best talents of World football. It is the DFB’s insistence on home-grown talents that has seen the national team flourish, and clubs like Bayern Munich to dominate the European stage. A look through the sides in the Bundesliga throws up a whole host of emerging talents; but the one that catches the eye more than all the others, is a certain Julian Draxler.” Outside of the Boot


Juan Iturbe: Scout Report | The special ‘Juan’ from South America

January 17, 2014

“It’s taken a little longer than expected, but Juan Iturbe is finally starting to realise his enormous potential that led him to being dubbed ‘the new Lionel Messi’ only a few years ago. Of course, when any big talent emerges from Argentina, they are instantly dubbed and hyped up to be the next Maradona or the next Riquelme.” Outside of the Boot