Wednesday’s friendlies: What we learned

March 7, 2014

International talking points2
“The final international break of the season produced some interesting results, and perhaps more importantly, offered a few hints about how major contenders might play in Brazil. Here are four conclusions from the week’s matches…” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)


We Went There: A 72-Hour Whirlwind Tour of European Football

March 7, 2014

“Stuttgart’s Mercedes-Benz Arena used to be called the Gottlieb-Daimler Stadion, which used to be called Neckarstadion, which used to be called Century Stadium, which was first called the Adolf-Hitler-Kampfbahn when it was built in 1935. And it was in the shadows of this stadium that I was handed a VIP card — with ‘Einttritt frei!’ on it — for a strip club called Macabu Four Roses. I don’t know if it was because we didn’t speak German and therefore couldn’t say ‘no,’ but people kept trying to hand us stuff. Our hands were full of beers and bratwurst — we’re tourists, all right? — but that didn’t stop the women from Commerzbank from coming over, multiple times, and handing us schedules for the World Cup. And it didn’t stop the older woman in the German-flag smoking jacket from slipping us a card for the only-€84.95 Germany Jacket, which she casually suggested we buy as an ‘alternative jersey’.” Grantland


England renew continent’s oldest football rivalry with visit of Denmark

March 7, 2014

“England’s friendly against Denmark on Wednesday is not just the much-discussed final audition for players hopeful of forcing their way into Roy Hodgson’s squad for the World Cup, but also another episode in the oldest rivalry in international football – other than those between teams from Britain and Ireland. It was never, it must be admitted, a particularly ferocious rivalry, but England (representing Great Britain) did beat Denmark in the finals of both the 1908 and 1912 Olympics, while no continental European nation took football as seriously as Denmark did in the years up to the first world war.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


The Decline, Worries and Rejuvenation of Milan

March 7, 2014

MilanResurgence
“Much like Manchester United in England, A.C. Milan have been having a tough time this season in Serie A, with below par performances and baffling tactics leading to the sacking of Massimiliano Allegri after four years in charge of the Italian giants. His replacement, former Milan hero Clarence Seedorf has since seen a dramatic change in form and there’s a new sense of cautious optimism around the San Siro.” Outside of the Boot


Mixed emotions after latest El Tri friendly

March 7, 2014

“I’ve been replaying Rafa Marquez’s header from the first half over and over again in my head. It’s not a conscious decision, but every time I even begin to think about the Nigeria friendly, the replay rudely interjects and occupies my mind. The memory nudges its way past Guillermo Ochoa’s remarkable saves and shoves Hector Herrera’s movement forward out of its sight. I can’t help it.” ESPN

El Tri depth chart: Not much has changed for Herrera
“With fewer than 100 days until the World Cup kicks off in Brazil on June 12 in Sao Paulo, this is now a crunch time for coaches chiseling down their squads to be as effective as possible at the summer tournament. Players know that the window of opportunity is shrinking, but that it’s still there with a run of performances. It is a time when every slight injury to a player causes ripples of panic through nations, and a couple of bad games from a star striker becomes a topic of national conversation.” ESPN


Failed Auditions: Three thoughts on the USA’s 2-0 loss to Ukraine

March 7, 2014

“In an exhibition played under unprecedented circumstances, a U.S. national team comprised of players hoping to make their World Cup case was outplayed Wednesday by a Ukrainian side motivated by a whole lot more. There were only a handful of fans in attendance at Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium in Larnaca, Cyprus, but their blue-and-yellow flags and banners calling for Ukrainian unity set the stage. The ‘hosts’ were in gear early in the first half and eased to a 2-0 triumph over the Americans behind goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and substitute Marko Devic.” SI