Barcelona’s thrilling defeat of Real Madrid leaves La Liga race tight

March 24, 2014

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“Seven goals, three penalties, a Lionel Messi hat-trick, a red card for Sergio Ramos and three points for Barcelona. This was a classic clasico, full of attacking verve, controversy and incident, and it leaves the Spanish title race closer than ever after a 4-3 Barcelona win over Real Madrid. Atletico and Real Madrid head the table on 70 points, with Barcelona just one further back after Sunday’s game. By completing the double over the their greatest rivals, Barcelona’s Gerardo Martino has gleaned at least something in what is likely to be his only season as manager. And yet, exciting as it was, full of twists and turns including four lead changes, the defending was an asterisk on an otherwise memorable game. The harum-scarum nature of the game, the excellence of some of the attacking play, the sense of the stakes involved, made it thoroughly gripping, but the fact is that much of the defending was suspect.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Barcelona and Real Madrid produce the clásico of the century
“As one former Barcelona player puts it: ‘It is the game of the century, even if there are eight of them a year.’ It is a comment not just on the excellence and the expectation that comes with Real Madrid v Barcelona but also on their eclipse of all else, on the dominance and potential dilution of a rivalry in which they have played each other 19 times in the last four seasons and will meet at least once more this and in which they alone account for over 60% of Spanish football fans and millions more round the world; on the pressure, the power and the politics; on the way every meeting appears to end eras and close cycles, epochs defined in a day; and on the impossibility of ever living up to the hype.” Guardian

Show Your Neck to Dracula! Barça–Real Madrid Play a Clásico for the Ages
“I have never seen a Greco-Roman wrestling match between a ballistic missile and the world’s most prolific knitter of blankets, but I imagine it looks something like yesterday’s El Clásico, a.k.a. Wichita State–Kentucky, Except Everyone’s Getting Paid, a.k.a. WHY CAN’T I STOP MYSELF FROM SCREAMING IN LATIN?” Grantland (Video)

Barcelona’s thrilling 4-3 win in Sunday’s El Clasico
“Barcelona breathed new life into their La Liga title hopes as a Lionel Messi hat-trick helped fire them to victory in a thrilling match at 10-man Real Madrid. Andres Iniesta shot into the top corner before Karim Benzema’s brace put Real ahead. Messi restored parity soon after but Cristiano Ronaldo restored Real’s lead from the penalty spot. After Sergio Ramos was sent off, Messi won the game with two penalties.” BBC


Tactics Board: Eriksen roams free, Schuerrle’s pace

March 24, 2014

“One of the idiosyncrasies of Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood’s tactics is that he fields Christian Eriksen, a playmaker by trade, on the left, and Nacer Chadli, signed to be more of a winger, in the middle. In the space of four days, Sherwood received two endorsements of the role reversal. The Belgian scored twice against Benfica and then the Dane did likewise against Southampton.” ESPN


The Quality Steet Gang: The Greatest Celtic Team That Never Was

March 24, 2014

“As the ink dried on his Anfield contract in August 1977 and another record-breaking cheque was inevitably cashed by the Parkhead powerbrokers, the departure of Kenny Dalglish signalled the end of a golden era at Celtic Park. Only ten years earlier, his green and white hooped predecessors had blazed a trail around Europe, bringing the ‘Big Cup’ home to British shores for the first time after a spectacular, quintessentially underdog victory against the mighty Internazionale of Milan. In just two years, Jock Stein had worked his own brand of sorcery on this hitherto unspectacular group of footballers and crafted them into the champions of Europe with only the minimum of domestic acquisitions. But as he stood at the pinnacle of European football, Stein already had designs on Celtic’s next generation of home-grown talent.” In Bed With Maradona


In Praise Of Liverpool Football Club: Through Gritted Teeth

March 24, 2014

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“It happened without me even noticing on Friday afternoon. Gerry and the Pacemakers’, You’ll Never Walk Alone came on the car stereo and before I had time to adjust the dial, I was belting it out at the top of my lungs and with the knobs turned up to eleven. Maybe I’d been deluding myself all season but I couldn’t do it any longer. My subconscious was telling me in no uncertain terms that it was time to give Liverpool their dues. What follows is by no means a love-in but it is an acknowledgement of sorts. And to all those Evertonians whose club I have celebrated for many times in these posts, I am truly sorry. However, my sense of fairness dictates that I do this. Some might call it an affliction.” Dispatches From A Football Sofa


Money Talks: Why Manchester United’s brand may determine if and when David Moyes is sacked

March 24, 2014

“It has been a week since United’s dreadful mauling at the hands of bitter rivals Liverpool. After the loss to Liverpool, it looked like Moyes’ time at the club could be numbered with a few journalists claiming that for the first time, officials at the club were concerned. However, a week is a long time in football and United’s turnaround against Olympiacos followed by their encouraging away win against West Ham has quietened his most vocal critics, if only for the time-being.” Outside of the Boot


Cardiff 3 Liverpool 6: In-Depth Tactical Analysis

March 24, 2014

“Both managers made only one change from their previous league games. Solskjaer replaced Noone with Bellamy, which morphed Cardiff’s formation from the 5-4-1 diamond seen against Everton to a 3-1-4-2. For Liverpool Sterling was replaced by Coutinho at the tip of the midfield quartet.” Tomkins Times