2014 Fifa World Cup draw: Guide to Group B

May 14, 2014

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Sergio Ramos
“Gary Lineker’s verdict. … Style & formation: Spain’s possession game, coupled with their determination to quickly win the ball when they don’t have it, has been wearing down the opposition for over seven years. Spain typically play 4-3-3, with full-backs Jordi Alba and Alvaro Arbeloa attacking like wingers and centre backs Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique often joining in play beyond the halfway line. Strikers only tend to enter the box at the last minute for the element of surprise.” BBC – Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia


Brazuca: Secrets of the new World Cup ball

May 14, 2014

“It’s one of the stars of the World Cup – the paintbrush with which the world’s greatest footballing maestros must create their art. But is it up to the task? The Brazuca, the official ball of Brazil 2014, is the 12th ball created by Adidas for the World Cup. The company came under fire four years ago for the Jabulani, the official ball at the 2010 competition in South Africa, which was heavily criticised.’It’s trajectory is unpredictable,’ claimed Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, while Brazilian striker Luis Fabiano branded it ‘supernatural’. Adidas claims the Brazuca has improved touch and accuracy.” BBC


Tactical trends of 2013-14 Premier League season

May 14, 2014

“The Premier League isn’t generally considered a division that places a great emphasis upon tactics, but this season was different. With a variety of new managers in place, there were some genuinely fascinating developments, particularly in terms of formations. Here’s a tactical review of the 2013-14 campaign.” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)


World Cup 2014: police will wear ‘Robocop’ style suits of armour to protect themselves

May 14, 2014

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“World Cup police in Rio de Janeiro will be kitted out in a ‘RoboCop’ style suit of armour to protect officers in the event of violent protests during the tournament. Members of a special unit set up for the World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Rio received 200 sets of the special 22lbs (10kg) protective equipment, which is flame resistant to up to 427C.” Telegraph


Liverpool & Roma’s job is only half-done. Consistency & sustainability now key

May 14, 2014

“7th place with 61 points. 6th place with 62 points. That is what Liverpool & Roma’s 2012/13 league position spelled. The unpleasant factor in that is that it wasn’t even a surprise. Both these traditionally competitive clubs had fallen well off their high horse and into uncharted territory, with the risk of near perpetual mid-table obscurity. Both have now found their feet, and certainly the club’s ideology, as they rescued themselves from a faltering status and emerged as shock contenders, league leaders and eventual runners-up in their respective leagues. But while fans and management can certainly chuckle at their success, their happiness should be no more than that. To have achieved their remarkable league positions is quite incredible, but the job is only half done. The rest test begins now to ensure this season’s efforts weren’t in vain.” Outside of the Boot


Europa League final an historically charged affair

May 14, 2014

“The Europa League final makes its way to Italian shores for the first time in its current guise this Wednesday, although the showpiece is tinged with disappointment for the host city. The Mayor of Turin has been trumpeting the slogan ‘scegli lo sport, sorridi!’ (choose sport, smile!) in the build-up to the game, but Torinese grins are through gritted teeth. Hometown heroes Juventus — the dominant force in Italian football for the past three years — fell at the penultimate hurdle, a semifinal defeat to Benfica denying the Bianconeri a chance to extend their record haul of three titles in the competition.” ESPN