Monthly Archives: July 2014

Where do Atletico go from here?

Chelsea v  Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Semi Final
“After a fantastic season which saw them crowned as La Liga Champions, Atletico Madrid is now starting over from scratch. Diego Simeone’s squad lost many talented players as Striker Diego Costa and Left Back Filipe Luis departed to Chelsea as Los Colchoneros received €58M  for the two players combined (Diego Costa 38M, Filipe Luis 20M).” Outside of the Boot


How Did Liverpool Improve in 2013/14?

“Brendan Rodgers forged his managerial reputation at Swansea City on the back of a possession-heavy philosophy, and it was widely expected that this approach was to be a permanent feature of his time at Anfield. Early in his tenure, the Ulsterman famously told a fansite briefing: I’ve always enjoyed and worked with the statistic that if you can dominate the game, with the ball, you have a 79% chance of winning a game of football. If you’re better than the other team, with the ball, you’ve got an 8 out of 10 chance of winning the game.Tomkins Times

Does James Rodríguez Fit In at Real Madrid?

“Normal rules do not apply to Real Madrid. President Florentino Pérez laughs at your Moneyball. He mocks your concerns over things like value. Real Madrid are different. They are the best team. They have the most money. Whoever they want, they get. Pérez is the man who brought Ronaldo (both of them) and Zidane to Madrid. Last summer he bought Gareth Bale. This summer is no different. World Cup superstars James Rodríguez and Toni Kroos are the latest addition to the current iteration of the Galacticos, while Ángel di María seems to be on his way out. This is what Real Madrid does. Will it work? That’s another question entirely.” Grantland

Renard the man for Ivory Coast regeneration job

“Brazil 2014 followed an all too familiar script for the Ivory Coast, with the Elephants of West Africa once again buckling at the key moments. For over a decade the Ivoirians have been plagued by an inability to mould their array of talent into a unit resembling anything near the sum of their parts. At the same they have consistently struggled psychologically with the mental challenges associated with tournament football – their failure to win any of the last five African Cup of Nations (AFCONs) in spite of entering them all as resounding favourites being vindication of that flaw.” backpagefootball

Should Vladimir Putin and Russia Be Stripped of the 2018 World Cup?

“Most of the bad press has revolved around Qatar 2022, but after the tragedy of Malaysia Flight 17, some politicians in Europe are asking that the next tournament to be reconsidered. Thousands of students gathered in the plaza, protesting peacefully and planning their next moves after a summer of anti-government unrest. Then the soldiers came and the shooting started. Police and the military opened fire, killing dozens, perhaps hundreds. This was Mexico City, October 2, 1968: ten days before the Mexican capital held the summer Olympic Games and less than two years before the country hosted what proved to be one of the most fondly-remembered World Cups. Despite the bloodshed, the world played on.Fusion

Premier League ticket prices defy the very culture that built the game

“The Football Supporters’ Federation is calling on fans to join a march on the Premier League and Football League headquarters on 14 August to protest against spiralling ticket prices and demand “affordable football for all”. This demonstration, setting off from London’s Marble Arch, has become an annual fixture, as clubs have shown no inclination to use their TV rights windfalls to reduce historically inflated ticket prices.” Guardian

Franck Ribéry’s Race against Time

“While a nation rejoiced in the city of Berlin as Die Nationalmannschaft returned home with the coveted World Cup for the first time since reunification, a calming aura was captured in the heart of Munich: Franck Ribéry completed his first training session with FC Bayern since an unfortunate back injury ruled him out of participating in Brazil. The moment Bayern Munich defeated Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Pokal final, a colorless Ribéry first began to trudge into his own abyss of doom. A man once known for his bombastic celebrations (he attempted to lightheartedly escape with the DFB trophy after winning it in 2010), Ribéry was uncharacteristically reserved throughout this celebratory night. Caught in two minds, his aloofness may have stemmed from a physically damaged state and an overwhelmed psychology.” Bundesliga Fanatic

A Tiny Club’s Uneasy Rise

“This month, Toni Kroos and Lionel Messi played in the World Cup final in front of nearly 75,000 people at Rio de Janeiro’s Estádio do Maracanã. Soon, however, these star players will discover the challenge of playing at Ipurúa, a hillside stadium with 5,250 seats that is home to Eibar, the new kid on the block in Spanish soccer. Tiny Eibar has needed more than just victories to join La Liga, Spain’s top division, and earn the right to challenge Kroos and his Real Madrid teammates or Messi and his fellow Barcelona players. After winning promotion in late May from the second division, Eibar faced a race against the clock to raise 1.72 million euros, or $2.32 million, and meet regulations on how much capital a top-division club should have.” NY Times

Hack to the future for Brazil

“It remains to be seen whether Brazil’s new coach Dunga, a vocal critic of the possession game in the past, has learned anything from Spain and Germany’s eight-year domination of international football. During an appearance on The World Cup Show, as events in Brazil unfolded before our eyes, Les Murray, Craig Foster and I tried to dissect what had gone wrong with the football played by the host. We did not limit ourselves to the 7-1 thrashing by Germany in the semi final. We commented that even while the Brazil team was winning games it was losing friends. I told the story of the Copa America final, seven years earlier in Venezuela. Brazil caused a surprise by beating Argentina 3-0.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)

Gerrard’s exit could bring change

“Steven Gerrard’s decision to retire from international football, announced on Monday, brought the England national team back into the consciousness of the media and public. Until now, it seemed that everyone had decided to overlook the disappointing World Cup experience altogether — there had been no outcry and no great fervent discussion about what went wrong in Brazil, where Roy Hodgson’s side claimed one point from three games.” ESPN – Michael Cox

World Cup 2014 best XI

“… Jerome Boateng, Germany.  Perhaps a controversial choice – Philipp Lahm is widely regarded as the best right-back of his generation, and captained Germany to victory. But Lahm spent the first couple of games in the centre of midfield, and didn’t play particularly well, making careless mistakes against both Portugal and Ghana. Had he played the entire tournament at right-back – a move which made Germany a better side – he’d be a shoo-in. Boateng, however, played well throughout the group stage at right-back – in the game against USA, for example, he was the man who led the attacking with some dangerous bursts and good crosses.” Zonal Marking

What is Americans’ Favorite Global Cuisine?

“During the World Cup, we wondered how the countries would fare if it wasn’t their soccer teams but their national cuisines playing for glory. So we launched the FiveThirtyEight International Food Association’s (FIFA) 2014 World Cup. The group phase of the competition identified a few front-runners. Some, such as Italy, are also good at soccer. (The Italians might have done better in the soccer World Cup, but Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, apparently confused about which tournament he was playing in, decided to take a bite out of one of them). Others countries, like Mexico, will have a chance to avenge their soccer disappointments. We also introduced a few ringers, such as China, that didn’t qualify for the soccer World Cup but that belong in any discussion of the world’s best cuisines.” fivethirtyeight

The Most Insufferable Fans in the Whole Wide World

“How the contemporary Arsenal supporter has become whiny and morally high-handed. This coming Saturday, Arsenal will play their first match on American soil in twenty-five years as they take on the New York Red Bulls to kick off their pre-season preparation. This represents a wonderful and rare opportunity for US-based Gunners fans to cheer their team on in the flesh, and also an opportunity for the rest of us to test our patience in coping with the arrogance of the modern Arsenal fan.” Fusion

Miroslav Klose: the last poacher?

“Ordinarily, a striker surpassing the all-time World Cup goalscoring record would be the major story of the day, but Miroslav Klose’s 16th goal came in Germany’s historic 7-1 thrashing of Brazil – so it was nothing more than a subplot. The man he surpassed, Ronaldo – who has since turned to a different sport as a PokerStars pro – was in the stadium to see his record defeated. There’s no question that Ronaldo was a far superior all-round footballer, but few strikers in history have shared Klose’s ability as a goalpoacher. There has been some snobbery towards Klose gaining this record, as if such a simple striker shouldn’t be entitled to such a status…but then that’s the very point of Klose. He doesn’t do anything apart from score – his link-up play is average, he’s never been particularly quick, he’s not very tall. He’s simply excellent at positioning himself, and finishing calmly.” Zonal Marking (Video)

Is Jérémy Mathieu an upgrade on Barcelona’s existing central defensive options?

“A major focus of Barcelona’s weakness last season was on their defensive side of the game. Though they landed up challenging Atletico right up till the last day of the season, their campaign was riddled with a string of sub-par performances and disappointing results. They stuck to their beliefs in their general approach, but the attack didn’t cover up the problems in defence quite well enough. With club legend, Carles Puyol, also having left once the season was done, Luis Enrique’s priorities turned to improving the defence.” Outside of the Boot

How Dunga Reflects Brazil

“Why a previous coaching failure is back to lead his country out of its current crisis. His hair is the color of tarnished steel, brushed into an aggressive flattop. There’s that chilling, perpetually angry gaze, the tightly clenched jaw. A single tense vein throbs furiously in his temple. I’ll be back, he might have growled in that dull metallic voice, all those years ago, and now here he is. But whereas the original Terminator had the relatively simple task of destroying humankind, Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verribut, better known as Dunga, faces a considerably more daunting challenge – how to restore dignity to the most storied soccer nation in the world after an especially harrowing public humiliation.” Fusion

Why Conte, Why?

“There was no warning. Like a stone thrown into a pond, the news shattered the serene peace of Turin’s grand Old Lady. Even in an age of twenty-four hour news coverage, Antonio Conte’s resignation as Juventus manager arrived like a lightning strike, the first whispers leaking less than fifteen minutes before the club confirmed the 44-year-old had quit. Later, a recorded interview from Conte, a former Juventus captain, confirmed his own departure, and an open letter from Juventus President Andrea Agnelli attempted to console ailing supporters, thanking Conte for the ‘three years in which we rewrote this club’s history’ and noting that the news had ‘saddened him greatly.’ Supporters felt exactly the same way, deeply shocked that the man responsible for transforming La Madama back into a serial winner was gone.” 8by8

How Manchester United could look in Louis van Gaal’s unorthodox 3-4-3 formation next season

“According to The Daily Mail, Louis van Gaal intends on basing his new era at Manchester United around a 3-4-3 formation after finding success with it at the World Cup with the Netherlands, but should such a radical set-up worry or excite the fans at Old Trafford? The basic tenets of the Dutchman’s preferred way of playing, and how they could translate to his new job in the Premier League, has already been covered by Squawka in three parts, looking at how his tactical approach could affect how United’s defence, midfield and attack are deployed come August, albeit in the 4-3-3 system he has favoured throughout his career.” Squawka

I Say Futbol, You Say Soccer

“Why the U.S. and Mexico should bid to co-host the 2026 World Cup. The ties between the United States and Mexico make up one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world today, with profound implications for the prosperity, well-being, and security of the people of both nations. Some in Mexico and the U.S. may not enjoy reading this, but there is one inescapable truth, one that has developed over time since the early 1990s and accelerated in the decade after NAFTA’s approval, and that could fundamentally alter the nature of our relationship and have a profound impact for North America and, dare I say, for the global community as well: Mexico and the United States are converging, as societies and as economies.” Fusion

Barça sign “230-year-old” defender in potentially disastrous deal

“FourFourTwo’s Spanish football expert Tim Stannard assesses Barcelona’s big summer signing… And there you have it. A fine lesson in being very careful what you wish for. Barcelona had not signed a centre-back for five years, but the Catalan club went and ended that dry spell on Wednesday by bringing in Valencia international Jeremy Mathieu. Of course, La Liga Loca is being a tad literal with the term ‘international’. The ginger stopper has turned out twice for his country, probably back in the last century, so old is the doddery Mathieu.” FourFourTwo

Football in Brazil

A Brazilian man plays football in Porto Seguro
Wikipedia – “Football is the most popular sport in Brazil. The Brazilian national football team has won the FIFA World Cup tournament a record five times, in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002, and is the only team to succeed in qualifying for every World Cup competition ever held. It is among the favorites to win the trophy every time the competition is scheduled. After Brazil won its 3rd World Cup in 1970, they were awarded the Jules Rimet Trophy permanently. But 365 days before World Cup 2014 begins, Brazil’s rank dropped to 22nd, an all-time-low position. … The governing body of football in Brazil is the Brazilian Football Confederation. Brazil is currently hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup, in which they were knocked out by Germany in the semi-final with a humiliating 1-7 defeat.Wikipedia

Futebol Nation: The Story of Brazil through Soccer – David Goldblatt
“No nation is as closely identified with the game of soccer as Brazil. For over a century, Brazil’s people, politicians, and poets have found in soccer the finest expression of the nation’s collective potential. Since the team’s dazzling performance in 1938 at the World Cup in France, Brazilian soccer has been revered as an otherworldly blend of the effective and the aesthetic. Futebol Nation is an extraordinary chronicle of a nation that has won the World Cup five times and produced players of miraculous skill, such as Pelé, Garrincha, Rivaldo, Zico, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho. It shows why the phrase O Jogo Bonito—the Beautiful Game—has justly entered the global lexicon. Yet there is another side to Brazil and its game, one that reflects the harsh sociological realities of the ‘futebol nation.’ David Goldblatt explores the grinding poverty that creates a vast pool of hungry players, Brazil’s corrupt institutions exemplified by its soccer authorities, and the pervasive violence that has seeped onto the field and into the stands.” amazon

The Country of Football.
Politics, Popular Culture, and the Beautiful Game in Brazil – Edited by Paulo Fontes and Bernardo Buarque de Hollanda
“Brazil has done much to shape football, but how has football shaped Brazil? Despite the political and social importance of the beautiful game to the country, the subject has hitherto received little attention. This book presents groundbreaking work by historians and researchers from Brazil, the United States, Britain and France, who examine the political significance, in the broadest sense, of the sport in which Brazil has long been a world leader. The authors consider questions such as the relationship between football, the workplace and working class culture; the formation of Brazilian national identity; race relations; political and social movements; and the impact of the sport on social mobility.” Hurst Pulishers

The Country of Football: Soccer and the Making of Modern Brazil – Roger Kittleson
“Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, and the Brazilian national team is beloved around the planet for its beautiful playing style, the jogo bonito. With the most successful national soccer team in the history of the World Cup, Brazil is the only country to have played in every competition and the winner of more championships than any other nation. Soccer is perceived, like carnival and samba, to be quintessentially Brazilian and Afro-Brazilian. Yet the practice and history of soccer are also synonymous with conflict and contradiction as Brazil continues its trajectory toward modernity and economic power.” amazon

The Enigmatic Case of Mario Götze

“It was a scene and dialogue which could have been scripted in Hollywood. The underachieving golden boy with the silver-screen looks gets the terse and pithy motivational speech from the embattled veteran coach needing just one more big moment to complete a widely unexpected legacy-rehabilitating championship run. ‘Prove that you are better than Messi. You can decide the match today.’ And with those words of encouragement, Joachim Löw sent Mario Götze into the overtime period of the World Cup final and toward his destiny, which was to plaster his name among those of Helmut Rahn, Gerd Müller, and Andreas Brehme, as men who provided the title-clinching goal to bring a world championship to Germany. You won’t find many 22-year-old footballers with a resume as accomplished as that of Götze.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Russia 2018: Major challenges for next World Cup hosts

“After what was largely considered to be a successful World Cup in Brazil, international attention now turns to the next hosts, Russia. Whether current political tensions between Russia and the West will have any bearing on the staging of the tournament remains to be seen. What does seem assured is that the 2018 World Cup is set to top Brazil 2014 as the most expensive in history, with Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko saying the budget for the tournament could total $40bn, having earlier estimated it at $19bn. The estimated cost of the stadiums alone in Brazil, in comparison, was in the region of $4bn.” BBC

How will James fit at Real Madrid?

James Rodríguez
“The summer transfer window never fails to be a chaotic, ridiculous and erratic mess, but there are some entirely predictable stories every year. Chelsea will sign a couple of talented youngsters but immediately loan them out. Juventus will embark upon a relentless campaign to acquire a percentage of various young Italian prospects, the majority of whom will never play for the club. But, most predictable of all, every four years, Real Madrid will sign a star — often the star — of the World Cup.” ESPN – Michael Cox

What does the James Rodriguez signing mean for Real Madrid?
“For the seemingly umpteenth summer in a row, Real Madrid have stuck to their policy of signing at least one high-profile player name to their already star-studded roster. This summer, that name is James Rodriguez of AS Monaco and Colombian fame. Rodriguez was arguably the standout player at this year’s World Cup having netted six goals for his nation, including a stunning off-the-chest volley against Uruguay. While Colombia eventually lost to Brazil in the quarterfinals, James’ flamboyant play made him an instant superstar and attracted the Spanish giants and reigning Champions League winners. Florentino Perez, president of Real Madrid and aficionado of paying big money for marketable stars, made his move instantly and offered a reported €80 million for the starlet, an offer Monaco simply could not refuse. So what does this mean for Real Madrid?” Outside of the Boot

James Rodriguez’s Real Madrid move adds to options for talent-rich club
“A World Cup summer usually throws up a different recruitment strategy for Real Madrid, whose preference to sign a Ballon D’Or winner every year hasn’t been able to be maintained since Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have been its only winners since 2008. After the 2006 World Cup, Real Madrid signed Fabio Cannavaro, captain of Italy’s victorious side, while in 2002 it was Brazil’s Golden Boot winner Ronaldo. This month, the reigning European champion has signed two players who starred at the World Cup: Germany midfielder Toni Kroos, and, as confirmed Tuesday, James Rodriguez. It also is reportedly close to confirming a third star from Brazil, Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas. James will cost around €80 million and will wear the No. 10 shirt that has been vacant since Mesut Ozil left 12 months ago.” SI

The Post-Mortem: World Cup 2014 – Colombia

“Brazil 2014 was Colombia’s best ever World Cup for several reasons. For the first time the team reached the quarterfinals of the tournament and, in doing so, delighted fans both at home and abroad with their exciting brand of football, their skill and their talent. Not only did Colombia have the top goal scorer, James Rodríguez, they also won the Fair Play award. When things became difficult, the Colombians picked themselves up and rose to the occasion. They went out fighting and without relinquishing their style of play. It was a most fantastic time for Colombian football. The doubts that had crept-in over the previous months were quickly washed away by the dazzling pace of the Colombian attack, the team’s confidence and its prolific goal-scoring. Memories of the tournament will endure for decades in the Colombian mindset.” Just Football

The Post-Mortem: World Cup 2014 – Ghana
“An impressive 2-2 draw with eventual winners Germany in what was touted one of the best games of the tournament had seemingly shot Ghana high up the favourites list for a round of 16 spot, after a 2-1 loss to the USA in their opener. And Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal were to be the patsies. However, a lacklustre showing twinned with a series of camp agitations at the Estadio Nacional meant the Black Stars would be heading home at the group stages for the first time, following a 2-1 reverse.” Just Football

How to Follow Soccer Now that the World Cup Is Over

“The World Cup is over, and the quadrennial outbreak of American soccer fever is slowly subsiding. In the aftermath of the most-popular soccer tournament in U.S. history, though, there are signs that some are sticking with the sport. There’s been a post–World Cup spike in Major League Soccer viewership, according to ESPN, and MLS streaming packages are reportedly up 300 percent. If you’re still feeling that soccer itch but don’t how to scratch it, here are the many ways to keep up on the sport between now and 2018. The obvious place to start is the already-underway MLS season. There are 15 American metropolises with teams, and new franchises are coming to Orlando and New York next season and to Atlanta in 2017.” Slate (Video)

Football is all the easier to love, or hate, because it is unquantifiable

July 9, 2014. “Sometime around the fourth goal, I descended into hysterics. No exaggeration – as Toni Kroos nicked the ball from Paulinho on the 25th minute and slotted the ball into the back of the net, almost from kickoff, moving and passing around Brazil’s backline like cones laid out on a training pitch, I convulsed with hysterical laughter. When the rational disappears, we must confront the irrational and unexpected, and there was little as unexpected as Brazil capitulating as they did last night. When the fifth went in I had to leave the room.” News Statesman

Steven Gerrard: England captain ‘broken’ before retirement

“When England captain Steven Gerrard revealed he had been left “broken” by the failure of a World Cup campaign in Brazil that effectively only lasted six days, there was nothing that would fix the pain. It meant a decision that was already in the making even before he left for South America was merely confirmed by England’s exit – only two games into a tournament he hoped would provide a perfect finale to his international career. Gerrard, looking mentally and physically shattered at England’s Urca Military Base a short drive from Copacabana, claimed only he knew what was going on in his mind. One look at his face meant everyone else could have a very good guess.” BBC

Explaining the difference between Germany’s and Italy’s World Cup wins

July 15, 2014. “As Germany evens Italy’s four World Cups, Brazil 2014 teaches us a lesson on the difference between Germany and Italy: the former win when they should, the latter win when they shouldn’t. On the day in which Germany pulled even with Italy, winning their fourth World Cup (they both trail Brazil with five) the two European football giants have never been so distant. And this isn’t just because the Nationalmannschaft literally dominated this Brazilian edition while Italy languished miserably, failing to qualify for the R-16 for the second straight time. This World Cup actually teaches us a lesson on how deeply different the Azzurri and the Germans are, even at football.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Can Mateo Kovacic Become a Regular at Inter Milan This Season?

“After what turned out to be a disappointing World Cup for him and his Croatian side, Mateo Kovacic returned to his club duties with Inter Milan last week. Manager Walter Mazzarri included him in to the starting XI in the 1-0 win over minnows Prato, in what can be seen as another sign of Inter’s determination to reject all the offers and keep Kovacic for the season that approaches. It is no secret that there is massive interest in a midfielder who turned 20 in May and has been considered one of the brightest prospects of world football.” Bleacher Report

Siberian Suncream and FK Tyumen

“Did that just happen? A glance over at the scoreboard, then down below it at the group of downtrodden visiting supporters, confirm that the seemingly impossible really has taken place. It is a sensation fans of lower-league teams may have experienced, a sensation that only those fans can experience. As the capacity crowd begins to filter out, it is all we can manage to simply gaze around and soak in the closing moments of the final act of what has been an absorbing performance of pure sporting theatre. Despite the surreal stunned silence, there it is. We, a lowly team with no international caps to speak of, have conquered the Zenit St.Petersburg of Andrei Arshavin, Axel Witsel, Neto, Domenico Criscito, Roman Shirokov, Anatoliy Tymoschuk and Oleg Shatov 2-0.” backpagefootball

The Post-Mortem: World Cup 2014 – England

“The Breakdown. This was not a tournament to remember for England. A miserly one point from three games was England’s lowest-ever return in a World Cup group stage and this was the first World Cup that England have been eliminated from at the group stage since 1958. Valiant defeat to Italy (2-1) gave way to a gut-wrenching late defeat to Uruguay (again, 2-1). So by the time Roy Hodgson’s team took to the field for their last game against Costa Rica, they were out – Los Ticos’ 1-0 win over Italy sealing England’s fate without a ball being kicked. Joe Hart was already back home sat on his settee while his ‘we all know it will go down to penalties’ adverts continued to run on our TV screens and Daniel Sturridge was back in time to replicate his own pre-tournament advert, order a six inch chicken teriyaki Subway, find a TV and watch the real teams contest the World Cup knockout stages. All in all, a pretty meek, dispiriting World Cup.” Just Football – England

Part I – Portugal, Part II – Italy, Part III – Ivory Coast, Part IV – Brazil, Part V – Spain

It starts here… Africa Cup of Nations 2015 – 2nd round qualification preview

“In early May the long journey towards Morocco and the Africa Cup of Nations 2015 began for the sizeable percentage of African sides – indeed for Mauritania that voyage started way back in April with a preliminary round fixture against Mauritius. Before Africa’s elite, including champions Nigeria, endure the rigors of qualification the rest must be whittled down to just seven – having seen 14 sides depart during May’s first round, that number will be halved once again in the second round.” Just Football

Howler #5 | World Cup edition | Summer 2014

“The World Cup issue, filled with everything you could possibly want to know about the tournament. A 36-page timeline of its history. Bin Laden’s plot to blow up France ’98. Ashley Cole, Philipp Lahm, Tim Howard, and Carles Puyol on how to stop Cristiano Ronaldo. Profiles of Aron Johannsson, Graham Zusi, and Matt Besler. Eight reasons we’re optimistic for the U.S. national team. The official songs and films of the Cup. So much more. $15 Howler

The unforgettable sea of blue and white

“After a major tournament, the global media fly off home with brutal speed. There is little chance of catching up with old friends and mulling over what has happened – Brazil 2014, then, was like a good meal when you are unable to prolong the experience with a leisurely chat over coffee.” SBS – Tim Vickery

Scottish Premiership ins and outs – summer 2014

“The World Cup has not even ended and yet the new season is already looming large for Scotland’s top club sides. Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes in particular has had little time to sit back and enjoy the action from Brazil, never mind the summer sunshine, with his charges first into action on Thursday 3 July, when they hosted Daugava Riga in the first round of Europa League qualifying. McInnes moved early to secure goalkeeper Scott Brown from Cheltenham Town and defender Ash Taylor from Tranmere Rovers while turning Shaleum Logan’s loan from Brentford into a permanent move.” BBC

Hipster Football: Who, How and Why

Jan. 4, 2014. “Hipster football: A sometimes pejorative shorthand for various forms of interest in football, from a love of obscure tactical facets of the game to an appreciation of teams you’ve never heard of but should love. Given the usually dedicated nature of football fandom, why do we develop crushes on certain teams, and why do we call that ‘hipster’ anyway?” Huffington Post

World Cup 2014: Tony Pulis – a Premier League manager in Brazil

“From watching how teams trained to seeing how they set up tactically, I learned a lot from my time in Brazil and it was a trip I will never forget. Plenty of players caught my eye too, although I did not go to the World Cup expecting to discover any amazing new talents. There just aren’t any unknown gems at major tournaments anymore. There were still some players I liked there that I didn’t know a lot about, however. For example, the Dutch side did well with a lot of young players who are still based in the Netherlands, which is not always the case with their international team. And there were players from some of the South American sides who are based in Spain who impressed me too.” BBC

Brazil’s World Cup Was Never Simple, Always Irresistible

“They had a soccer tournament, and the best team won. If only the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were as simple as that. Let’s look backward—before Germany’s extra-time victory over Argentina in the final, before the host country’s agonizing, indelible 7-1 loss in the semifinals, before the individual greatness of Lionel Messi, Miroslav Klose, James Rodríguez, Neymar Jr. and Tim Howard. Before 20,000 fans jammed Grant Park in Chicago to watch the U.S. team. Before Luis Suárez launched his infamous incisors. Let’s go back to the beginning, to the original idea: a World Cup in Brazil.” WSJ

Key Premier League matchup previews

“Behold, a new season is upon us. With it comes a fresh schedule, a fresh set of fixtures and a fresh set of challenges for all 20 Premier League teams. Yet it’s at the top of the table where the challenges are most heated. Manchester United’s rebuild is firmly underway with Louis van Gaal and some much-needed investment in midfield. Arsenal snared another big-money, marquee signing for the second summer in a row. Manchester City firmed up their title-winning squad from 2013-14, while Roman Abramovich finally gave Jose Mourinho what he always wanted — a proper striker — in Diego Costa.” ESPN

Zé Carlos: from selling watermelons to World Cup semi-final

“Zé Carlos knew he didn’t belong here. He stood out like a sore thumb. He looked across the training field at his squad mates: the laughing and joking duo of Roberto Carlos and Denílson, the lantern jawed Claudio Taffarel and Dunga both brimming with experience, the mercurial Ronaldo with the world at his feet. And Cafu, the legendary full-back who he was assigned to replace; whatever planet this was it wasn’t his.” World Soccer (Video)

Best of 2014 World Cup In Brazil: Games, Goals, Underdogs and More

“The people who don’t steadfastly admit that the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has been the best ever edition of the great tournament will at least grant this: It’s the best World Cup in ‘recent memory.’ Or, in other words, this may not be the best World Cup ever but I can’t remember a better one. It has been an incredible month. It’s been the event the World Cup needed, just as ridiculous claims that the Champions League was growing bigger and relegating the World Cup to a place of lesser importance. Never has the passion, drama, and heartening value of the World Cup been higher. Now, it’s time to celebrate the best of what we saw in Brazil. World Cup 2018 can’t come soon enough.” World Soccer Talk

Soccer The ‘World Cup Is Over, Now What?’ Guide to Soccer

“Just because the World Cup is over doesn’t mean soccer stops. Soccer never stops; that’s one of its biggest appeals. There are so many different teams, leagues, club competitions, and international tournaments that, if you want to, you can always find someone to cheer for or some team to root against. It can also be a bit daunting to wade into without any experience. Luckily, you have me, your Russian Premier League–watching, tactics board–chalking, Opta Stats–devouring Gandalf, to help you tailor your soccer-watching habits. And now I will answer some completely made-up questions to guide you along your soccer path.” Grantland

Would a 4-3-1-2 Formation work for Barcelona?

“Various Spanish media have today reported on Luis Enrique’s proposed adaption to Barça’s traditional 4-3-3 formation, but would it work? The hypothetical formation sees new signing Luis Suárez alongside Neymar as the two up the top with Lionel Messi sitting deeper. Andrés Iniesta plays behind the Barça number 10, while Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets make for a double pivote.” Barca Blaugranes

Germany’s Narrative Hangs by a Final

“The narrative is crafted: finally, Germany has been rewarded for its fußballing makeover. More specifically, the narrative unspools this way: over the last decade, Germany have transformed themselves from a stolidly “German” side of efficiency (and whatever other cliches apply) to one of exciting open football, thanks to revamping its entire development system. Like any narrative of this magnitude, there’s necessarily simplification and truth shading. However, dots of truth do indeed clot the cloth. Yet what’s even more remarkable is that the entire narrative of German’s makeover hangs on the vicissitudes of single football matches. Really, in the minds of us fußball lovers, the whole thing was contingent on what happened at the Maracanã on Sunday night. So much depends … Indeed.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Reassess transfer window timing

“Transfer speculation dominates football like never before. An incredible amount of coverage is dedicated not to games themselves, but to the possibility that footballers might one day play them for another team. At this point of the year, it makes sense. The World Cup has finished, the club season is a month away and there’s nothing else to talk about. In the old days, newspapers would fill their pages with other sports, but football has become all-consuming, and fans demand constant information — seemingly regardless of whether it’s actually true. Once, the offseason meant no football stories: you’d load up Ceefax and discover nothing was happening. These days, football never stops.” ESPN – Michael Cox

Argentina Wins! (for Best Fans)

Argentina Soccer Fans in Copacabana
“They flooded the cities of their rival—an estimated 100,000 Argentines were in Rio for the World Cup Final on Sunday. They came in caravans and campers and old taxis and whatever could bring them from their homes in Rosário, La Pampa, Santa Fé, Santa Rosa, Buenos Aires, Cordoba and Mendoza. They slept and ate and screwed and drank and maybe even tangoed at their temporary home at the Samba-drome, a concrete dance pavilion where they had been sequestered for the city’s safety and their own. In Buenos Aires after the loss, Argentina rioted a little, but in Rio, the loyal fans took their loss in peace. Photographer Eduardo Leal spent the last weeks following the Argentines’ journey through the tournament, from the early tight games to the final wundervolley that sank them. There were other fervent fans that made a showing, from Iranians to Chileans, but for sheer determination, emotion, and size of pilgrimage, the supporters of La Albiceleste would clearly deserve this tournament’s Golden Winnebago, if such a thing existed.” Roads and Kigdoms

Bayern Munich players continue to break records at the World Cup

“Over the past couple of seasons, it has become a common sight to see Bayern München crush all the record books. At the start of the World Cup, the Bavarians had 14 players featuring in the World Cup, 7 of whom played for Germany. Over the course of the tournament, these players have made waves and grabbed several of the headlines all over the world. Here’s a look at some memorable stats just pertaining to Bayern München’s players.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Exeter City return to Brazil one hundred years after special trip

“It almost seems unthinkable that a century of samba football was borne out of a bunch of Devon boys, a misjudged skinny dip and a pair of knocked-out teeth. How Exeter City, who finished just five points outside the League Two relegation places in 2014, helped form the first ever Brazilian side is little known, to those in both South America or south-west England. But it all happened when, en route home from their 1914 pre-season tour of Argentina, the Grecians stopped off in Brazil, after Nottingham Forest and Southampton turned down requests to make the trip.” BBC

Another flood of exciting European talent arrives in the Premier League

“Every summer, the internet is set ablaze with speculation, rumours and counter-rumours of potential transfers once the window opens in July. Of course, with all the ‘on the verge’ and ‘set to’ headlines, the only stories that truly matter are the completed transfers. This summer has been no different in ushering in another breed of exciting young Europeans that will surely help keep the drama of the Premier League alive. Despite having only been officially open for a couple of weeks, some Premier League clubs have wasted no time in getting ahead of their rivals as manager’s study scouting reports from every corner of Europe before setting about strengthening the squad. Alan Pardew is eager to improve on last season’s 10th placed finish and has signalled his intentions of furthering the French revolution on Tyneside with the double acquisition of Remy Cabella from Montpellier and Emmanuel Riviere from Monaco.” backpagefootball

World Cup retrospective

“Well that was fun, wasn’t it? Previous World Cups have kind of come and gone from my consciousness: I was 8 for Italia ’90 and have very little recollection of it at all; I remember snatches from USA ’94, largely a grudging admiration for Taffarel; France ’98, a blur of blue and enormous jealousy that my sister was in Paris on a French exchange for the final; Japan and South Korea ’02, drunkenly going to first year university exams having watched games that started at 7, and manically cheering Senegal as my sweepstake team, especially after that win; and Germany ’10, revelling in that Spanish team. But, having started to write about football and, more importantly in many ways, become part of a community who talk and think about football, this is the first World Cup where I’ve really inhaled it, really been carried by the highs and lows of such a glorious celebration of football. So I thought I’d do a quick look-back. A good place to start would be the piece I did in The Football Pink: Issue 4 – The World Cup Edition, which was a group-by-group preview. And boy did I get some things wrong.” Put Niels In Goal

amazon: The Football Pink: Issue 4 – The World Cup Edition [Kindle Edition] $1.50, amazon: £0.97

World Cup 2014: BBC pundits pick their best moments in Brazil

“After 32 days, 64 games and 171 goals, there was only one winner. Germany are the new world champions after grabbing the glory at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The tournament will be remembered for its exciting games and spectacular goals but also some of the biggest shocks of recent times, with the hosts Brazil and defending champions Spain both suffering humiliating defeats. England, meanwhile, only lasted eight days and two games before being eliminated. BBC Sport’s TV and radio football presenters and pundits look back on the action and choose their best goal, best player and most memorable moment of the tournament, before considering how far away England are from being contenders.” BBC

Brazil’s national team, club woes are rooted in complex, long-term issues

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“Now that the dust has settled and the visiting fans and teams have packed up and gone home – their suitcases filled with for the most part happy memories – it is time to look back and reflect. And, most importantly, it’s for Brazilian soccer to ask the question with the complex answer: What went wrong? It is perhaps fitting that in this country blessed with such abundant gifts but cursed with a luckless history – colonization and slavery bleeding into a 21-year military dictatorship and now this modern Brazil, where a stable democracy is tainted by an often grubby and corrupt governing class – that the team left with the most regrets after this kaleidoscopic tournament is the host nation. Like the high school student with no date to the prom, Brazil was left looking sadly on from the porch as Germany and Argentina donned their best tuxes, climbed into the limo, and drove off into the night.” SI

2014 FIFA World Cup Awards: Best Player, Best Young Player, Best XI and many more

“With the World Cup drawn to a close, many are left disappointed while others celebrate their achievements. Germany won the World Cup, but many other individuals & teams left admirers in their wake. While FIFA gave out it’s individual honours with Messi the choice for Golden Ball particularly bewildering football enthusiasts. We at Outside of the Boot thought long & hard before deciding our choices which might just be a bit more fair & rational than FIFA’s choices! There are some surprises, and also occasions where the hipsters may not be pleased. Nevertheless, here are the best performers at the World Cup divided into Primary Awards, Talent Radar Awards and Secondary Awards.” Outside of the Boot

Die Größte Show Der Welt

“It’s staring at me, that wallchart. It’s a little bit frayed and crumpled now since the move back from Greece and after finding its way around Jesse’s sticky fingers and teething gums. Since Sunday, I haven’t been able to summon the requisite will to complete the final vacant space. The one that states that Germany beat Argentina, one-nil, AET. It’s the finality that daunts me; the knowledge that once complete it becomes a historical artefact, no more a tantalising map of an unknown future. All those games, all those goals, all those hours. Gone forever.” Dispatches From A Football Sofa

The Ninjas in Brazil

“‘Stop. Stop. Stop, stop, stop,’ Caio says. He’s seen something. We’re on a side street in Rio de Janeiro — within walking distance of Maracanã Stadium, where Argentina is taking on Bosnia-Herzegovina in the first World Cup game the city is hosting — and a protest that had been marching on, compact and peaceful for the past hour, has just splintered. The packs of Rio police officers, who had been treading silently and steadily alongside the banner-waving protesters, suddenly formed a cordon. The tear gas quickly followed, sending the protesters helter-skelter. Now I follow Caio, a member of the independent media collective Mídia Ninja, a veteran of this kind of thing, out of the scrum. ‘It’s dangerous what they decide to do,” he says of the protesters. “The street is very small. There is no strategy.’” Grantland

Writing the World Cup

“There’s nothing like a World Cup to nail down some narratives, and flip the finished product through the other door at a substantial mark-up (marketed, of course, as self-evident truths). Man vs. machine, Messi vs. Maradona, pragmatism vs. idealism. Let’s kill ‘em all.” blogistuta

The Ball

“Omar Larossa played over 400 times for Boca and Argentinos Juniors, Huracan and Independiente, winning four domestic titles and the 1978 FIFA World Cup.  Now, flanked by Boca and national team luminaries Alfredo Rojas, Silvio Marzolini and Antonio Rattin on a low stage inside La Bombonera, he begins to explain how it felt to lift the trophy to his lips. “I wish I could tell you, to put into words, but whenever I think of that moment…”  His voice wobbles, tears begin to well.  Unprompted, a Special Olympics athlete – one of 35 young players Boca provide free weekly training sessions for – moves out of the crowd to give the world champion a hug.  “It’s ok,” he says as the two remain interlocked, the rest of the room silent. “Thank you,” Larossa replies. “Thank you.”In Bed With Maradona

Was Lionel Messi Tired?

“In Argentina’s final match of the World Cup, Lionel Messi — on whom Argentine hopes have rested for over a decade — only touched the ball at a rate of once every two minutes. One of those touches was a great opportunity to win the game near the end of regulation, which he failed to even put on goal. Despite this, and despite a decrease in goals and assists as the tournament progressed (four goals in his first three games, an assist in his fourth, and nary a goal or assist since), he won the World Cup’s Golden Ball award (essentially the tournament MVP). That prompted Diego Maradona, Messi’s Argentine forefather and foil, to say, “It’s not right when someone wins something that he shouldn’t have won just because of some marketing plan.” The sharply worded op-eds, so plentiful on Sunday and Monday, are dying down — for now — but even Messi’s fans may start to wonder what was going on, and whether Messi was playing like his usual self.” Five Thirty Eight

Why the United States Needs a Football Revolution

“It was great fun, wasn’t it? The determination, the refusal to quit, the passion, the belief that running until it was physically impossible to run anymore was easier than acceding to defeat. Oh, yes, the United States at this World Cup gave Americans a team to be proud of, but it did not deliver on Jurgen Klinsmann’s 2011 promise to play progressive, attack-minded football. While the U.S. had grit, it lacked a coherent national style. The development of a national playing style, or even general philosophy of how the game should be played, is an important moment in a country’s footballing history.” 8 by 8