Dynamo Moscow looking to rise again in the Russian Premier League

August 29, 2014

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“As the characteristic cold air engulfs the stadium and snow relentlessly falls onto the names on the back of shirts, the hazardous weather continuously threatens to disrupt the natural flow of a game. The severity of the climate change is a stark reality check for those who bravely attempt to forge out a footballing career in the unforgiving terrain of Eastern Europe. The difficulties involved in adapting to this harsh footballing environment pertain to more than just the extremities of the weather conditions. Political imbalances and power struggles have long been associated with sport in this corner of the earth. Despite these negative perceptions the potential ceiling is relatively high.” Outside of the Boot


Why is Louis van Gaal so hell-bent on using 3-5-2 at Manchester United?

August 29, 2014

“The question, often, is not the what or the how but the why. On Sunday, after Manchester United had staggered to a 1-1 draw against Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers had been hammered 4-0 by Tottenham, there was much carping about 3-5-2, the formation United had used in taking one point from their first two Premier League games of the season, and QPR in losing both their opening matches.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


The smallest team in the Bundesliga employs an ex-con and plays in a tin box and you should root for them

August 29, 2014

“Of all the storylines poised to develop during the 2014-15 Bundesliga season — Is Dortmund’s spending spree enough to bring them level with Bayern? (No.) Will Robert Lewandowski come back to haunt his former team? (Yes.) Can Borussia Mönchengladbach or VfL Wolfsburg push for the Champions League? (No.) Will Hamburger SV remain terrible? (Yes.) — the one I’m most excited about is the promotion of little SC Paderborn 07. Can the mouse roar? (Maybe!)” Fusion


Brits or Foreigners: Who Are Better Buys?

August 29, 2014

“A couple of years ago, with the aid of Graeme Riley’s immense database, I devised the Transfer Price Index Coefficient (TPIC), as a means of measuring transfer success rates. Our work together with TPI – which converts all transfer fees to ‘current day money’ with an index-based inflation model – led to so many possibilities beyond its initial aim, as it evens up the most expensive signings of, say, 1994 with 2003 and 2014; so that rather than £5m – which was the transfer record 20 years ago – you can ‘see’ it as a value that makes sense in today’s market. (Chris Sutton’s move to Blackburn now equates to £28.7m.)” Tomkins Times


Serie A preview: Juventus face new challenges for fourth straight title

August 29, 2014

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“Last season, Juventus won Serie A by 17 points. The season before, Juventus won Serie A by nine points. The season before that, Juventus won Serie A by four points. Juventus is the best-placed Italian club (ninth overall) in the 2014 Deloitte Money League, a ranking of Europe’s top-earning clubs. It’s Italy’s biggest club and recent record suggests it has the best squad. The only question in Serie A is whether anybody can prevent Juve making it four in a row.” SI – Jonathan Wilson (Video)


Season of firsts lays ahead for Gibraltar

August 29, 2014

“Since May 24th, 2013, the Gibraltar national football team have achieved many firsts, and have written their names into the history books. On November 19th of that year, Allen Bula’s squad represented the British colony in their first official UEFA fixture against Slovakia, earning a commendable 0-0 draw. Against the Faroe Islands in March of the following year, Roy Chipolina scored their first official goal in a 4-1 loss and three months later a strike from Kyle Casciaro earned Gibraltar a first official win against Malta. Next month, the national team will reach another milestone when they line up against Poland for their first official qualifier for Euro 2016 in France.” backpagefootball


The end of the Rafa Benitez revolution at Napoli?

August 29, 2014

“At the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao there’s an olive tree. Tourists write down their wishes on pieces of paper and tie them to its branches. Before the second leg of his team’s Champions League play-off on Wednesday night, Napoli owner Aurelio de Laurentiis made one of his own. His wish? ‘That Napoli win against Athletic.’ No Italian team had ever claimed victory at San Mames but Napoli coach Rafa Benitez was defiant before the game: ‘We aren’t here to be the victim,’ he said on the eve of the game, which began with the two sides level 1-1 on aggregate.” ESPN


Florentino Perez sold the two players who held Real Madrid together, is an idiot

August 29, 2014

“Florentino Perez is an idiot. In a span of two days Real Madrid sold Angel Di Maria and Xabi Alonso, arguably the two most important players (outside of Cristiano Ronaldo, of course) in last year’s historic Champions League and Copa del Rey double. It’s just the latest depressing sign that, at the Bernabeu and especially in President Florentino Perez’s mind, splashy headlines and #marketing always trump the on-the-field necessities of the team. If you took a time machine way back to Oct. 26, 2013 you would be surprised to see that as Real Madrid visited Barcelona for the first Clasico of the season, the team was mired in doubts and confusion.” Fusion