An Arsenal Fan and a Manchester City Fan Walk Into a Bar

August 11, 2014

“Jason Concepcion: In life, you have to take every scrap of happiness as it comes, even if that happiness comes during the preseason, in a glorified friendly, against an uninterested side playing mostly its reserves. Arsenal beat Man City to win the FA Community Shield on Sunday morning. While it’s hard as an Arsenal fan to get too excited over an essentially meaningless piece of silverware against a City team with bigger things on its mind, I think I can do it.” Grantland


Putin Beats Billionaires at Soccer

August 11, 2014

“Will Russia’s ruling elite splinter under Western pressure and push President Vladimir Putin toward de-escalation in Ukraine? The leaked transcript of a Moscow conversation about the nation’s soccer league embracing Crimean teams suggests not. Novaya Gazeta, a Moscow weekly, has published what it says is the transcript of a Russian Soccer Union executive committee meeting held on July 30. While the recording’s authenticity is impossible to establish, sports reporters in the Russian capital are convinced it’s genuine. While I tend to agree, it might be wise to treat the transcript as a play with characters based on actual personalities.” Bloomberg View


Bookmakers Sponsorship in the Bundesliga: A Missed Opportunity?

August 9, 2014

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“It is not often that the Bundesliga and German sports in general, get a decision wrong, but back in March of 2006, that may well have been the case – the repercussions of which may still be unfolding. After deliberating on the issue of whether to allow private companies to offer sports betting and gambling operations within Germany, the German High Court decided against breaking up the state monopoly on sports gambling, then controlled by Oddset. The High Court’s decision was not a universally approved one. Each year, Oddset brings in around 500 million euros in tax revenue, which was then paid to the German government. This money is then distributed around the country to local sports associations – a vital lifeline in promoting sports at local, regional, as well as national levels.” Bundesliga Fanatic

John Fisher: Does the Bundesliga’s Financial Fair Play System Add Up?; The Price of Being a Bundesliga Fan; The Bundesliga and German Society – A Virtuous Circle


Analysis: Why Marseille have reason to be hopeful under Bielsa’s tactics

August 9, 2014

“Olympique de Marseille had a very underwhelming season last time out. They finished the league in sixth position and without European football to offer in the next edition. It was almost strange that their sub-par campaign was well, so sub-par. They started the season extremely well, with six wins on the trot. They finished the season decently; their last six results read WWWWLD. It was the bad run in the middle, which constituted alternative losses and wins on too many occasions that eventually cost a good Marseille team, a European berth.” Outside of the Boot


Scottish football: Who will win what in season 2014-15?

August 9, 2014

“The new Scottish football season is just hours away and there have been some major changes since this time last year. No Neil Lennon in the Celtic dugout after leading the Parkhead men to three successive titles. A top-flight without Hearts and Hibernian after both suffered relegation last term. The promotion of Dundee at the end of last season does, however, mean they will face city rivals Dundee United in highly-anticipated derby matches in the Premiership. And the top flight’s loss is the Championship’s gain in terms of the Edinburgh derby, with the two capital clubs joining Rangers in what should be a hotly-contested battle for promotion. So, how will the new campaign pan out? Here, BBC Scotland reporters and pundits offer their opinions on who will take the four league titles and the two major cups.” BBC


Arsenal’s defensive midfield still vulnerable

August 9, 2014

“What happens in the Community Shield each year is rarely indicative of how the upcoming season will pan out. Last year, Wilfried Zaha started at Wembley and Anderson appeared from the bench as David Moyes comfortably led his new Manchester United side to silverware; the year before, Fernando Torres and Ryan Bertrand were Chelsea’s goal scorers as they lost to a Manchester City side that went on to win no other trophies that season; in 2011 United came from two goals down to beat their rivals thanks to a Nani brace, but it was City that would go on to dramatically usurp United on the final day of the Premier League season.” ESPN


Season Preview 14/15: MANCHESTER CITY

August 9, 2014

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“Manchester City come into the new season on the back of a second Premier League victory in three years. The title was won in dramatic fashion and spirits are high at the club and there is a determination not to give up the crown in as feeble a fashion as in the 2012/13 season. City developed a fluid, inventive, and aggressive style of football last season which was both easy on the eye and incredibly destructive. The sheer number of goals scored on the way to the title, particularly in the few months around Christmas, speaks for itself.” backpagefootball, Season Preview 14/15: MANCHESTER UNITED


The Premier League is back and so is its race problem

August 9, 2014

“Football in England has a race problem. And it’s not the one you’re probably thinking of. The recent high profile cases involving racial abuse on the pitch by Luis Suarez and John Terry were disturbing, and not handled impressively by the English FA and Premier League authorities, but such incidents are notable largely by their rarity. In the stands, there has been no replication of the vile behavior of some supporters in Italy and Spain that have led to stadium closures and (paltry) fines for racist chanting. English football’s race problem is in the dugout.” Fusion


Talent Radar: Top 10 Best Young Argentinian U21 Prospects

August 9, 2014

“The economic reality for most clubs means that almost as soon as a star is born they are whisked off abroad, resulting in a domestic scene in which youngsters are regularly given an early taste of first team football. Such is the turnaround from unknown to wonderkid that many players who would have appeared on the list below last year have already been snapped up by European clubs. Prospects such as Angel Correa, Rodrigo de Paul, Geronimo Rulli, Luciano Vietto, Bruno Zuculini, Jonathan Silva and Hector Villalba are all already on the move this summer and as such don’t feature, while those starlets already in Europe like Lucas Ocampos, Juan Iturbe, Mauro Icardi, Fede Cartabia and Leandro Paredes also miss out.” Outside of the Boot


From QPR to Barcelona: When Terry Venables became El Tel

August 9, 2014

“As Barcelona’s board convened at the Nou Camp earlier this summer, flicking through CVs and debating who should replace Gerardo Martino as manager, it is highly unlikely that anybody suggested “that guy from QPR” as a possible contender. Indeed, as admirable as Harry Redknapp’s achievement of guiding the Hoops back to the Premier League was last season, it is hard to imagine any English coach swapping Shepherd’s Bush for the beaches of Sant Sebastia again.” BBC


New characters introduced to familiar Premiership story

August 7, 2014

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“Unpredictability remains the most elusive quality in the Scottish Premiership. Nobody supposes that Celtic will fail to win the title for the fourth consecutive season, even if there is a new manager in place who will have to adapt to working in a different country as well as at a new club. The presence of Ronny Deila at Celtic Park does, though, add diversity to the intrigue that the top flight is capable of. The Norwegian suffered a major setback as Celtic were eliminated from the Champions League at the third qualifying round stage on Wednesday against Legia Warsaw. He must now hope that the effects of that disappointment do not linger.” BBC


Manchester United’s Back Three, and the Changing Face of Premier League Defending

August 7, 2014

“As the summer of Louis van Gaal turns into the season of Louis van Gaal, the Dutch manager seems set to put a tactical stamp on the Premier League, bringing the three–center back system he used at the World Cup to Manchester United. And it’s a harbinger of things to come; outside of England, the back three (or five) has been making a comeback. Here’s what’s behind van Gaal’s — and a handful of other coaches’ — thinking.” Grantland


Soccer in Oblivion

August 7, 2014

“The first cylinders of German chlorine gas were released on Allied soldiers during the Second Battle of Ypres, in northwestern Belgium, on April 22, 1915. The soldiers were Algerian and Moroccan, colonial forces fighting for France. The Germans — this is how sophisticated chemical weapons were in the first year of World War I — used the wind as their delivery mechanism; they simply opened several thousand containers of the poison and let the breeze convey it toward the enemy. When combined with water, chlorine gas turns to acid. If you inhale it, first you smell pineapple, then your lungs burn away from the inside. If it gets in your eyes — well, you can imagine. It’s heavier than air, so at Ypres a dense yellow fog of it settled in the French trenches. The soldiers crawled out onto the field to escape the gas. The field was being strafed with German machine gun fire.” Grantland


Versatility is Alexis’ greatest weapon

August 7, 2014

“Managers will be particularly busy over the next couple of weeks: assessing their budgets, drawing out their ideal starting XI, making ruthless decisions about who to drop and predicting the impact of new signings. And this, alas, is simply supporters considering their fantasy teams. Fantasy leagues are up and running around the world, and one of the most surprising decisions of the Premier League’s official game is the status of Arsenal’s 30 million-pound signing Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean international is somewhat peculiarly categorised as a midfielder, which seems like something of an administrative error, but also says a lot about Arsene Wenger’s approach to solving his goal-scoring worries.” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)


Season Preview 14/15: LIVERPOOL

August 7, 2014

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“Modern football has become a clichéd phrase in recent years with many connotations, often negative. As money takes over the once democratic game we love many teams are facing a destiny without success in any tangible form. While Liverpool could never be said to be a club ran by paupers, their recent past of near administration and mid-table mediocrity make what transpired last season so breathtaking and special, not just for Liverpool fans but football fans all over.” backpagefootball, Season Preview 14/15: CHELSEA, Season Preview 14/15: ARSENAL


The glory days may be back at SV Darmstadt

August 7, 2014

“There is something that feels so totally unpretentious about SV Darmstadt 98 that it’s really hard not to like them. The club itself shouldn’t be in the second division this season, and not because of anything that happened on the field, most there will readily admit that. At the conclusion of the 2012-2013 3. Liga season, Darmstadt were relegated to the fourth-tier regional leagues, before financial trouble at arch-rivals Kickers Offenbach meant OFC would be losing their 3. Liga license. Darmstadt would take Offenbach’s place in the third division as the team with the most points previously slated to go down.” backpagefootball


TTU Go Predicting: a Club-by-Club Championship Preview 2014-5

August 7, 2014

“Following on from John McGee’s freeform assessment of League 1 yesterday, here is a somewhat more plodding assessment of the level above. That, however, is no reflection on the ins and outs of this season’s Championship – a competition where extortionate transfer fees, underqualified managers and frankly terrifying owners hold sway, where parachute payments warp the competition and everyone is indulging in the filthy scramble for Premier League riches – apart from Blackpool. If the written word isn’t enough, all three of our previewers can be heard expounding in person on the same issues on three special editions of the We Are Going Up! podcast this week. Anyway, without further ado…” thetwounfortunates


Sami Hyypia: ‘If you are tough that doesn’t mean you can’t play football’

August 7, 2014

“‘When you move somewhere it is important you get to know the area,’ Sami Hyypia says as he confirms that he recently visited the Lord Nelson Inn, a pub located near Brighton’s North Laine area renowned for serving locally brewed real ale. He was spotted there by a group of the town’s sports reporters and the hope for Hyypia is that they will largely be writing good things about him in the coming months. Appointed Brighton manager on a three-year contract in June, the spotlight well and truly falls on the towering, blond Finn on Saturday when his side take on Sheffield Wednesday at the Amex Stadium.” Guardian


The Bundesliga and German Society – A Virtuous Circle

August 5, 2014

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“In parts 1 and 2 in my series, I first looked at how the financial fair play rules in German football have an effect on the strengths of German soccer and then looked I looked at the cost of being a German football fan, particularly when contrasted with the fan experience in the English Premier League. However, there is an over-arching theme even greater that football itself that I will discuss in this article. Namely, the role of football, in particular the Bundesliga, within German society. It is very interesting to examine this relationship apart from the statistics, facts and figures that can be represented in different ways. While it is fair to say football does hold an important social place in countries like Germany and England, it is also fair to say that the nature of the relationship is vastly different in either country.” Bundesliga Fanatic


Newcastle United’s Facundo Ferreyra has quality but needs confidence

August 5, 2014

“There are few things more likely to damn an Argentinian player than playing in Argentina. Even before the latest economic turmoil there was no money in the game and that – the wisdom of the talent doughnut has it – means any Argentinian who found himself in the Primera was either under 20, over 30 or not very good. Facundo ‘Chucky’ Ferreyra, who completed a loan deal to Newcastle United on Sunday, bypassing the need for a work-permit through his Italian heritage, did not leave till he was 22, which is indicative of the doubts that have always surrounded him.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


How Chelsea Ruined Football

August 5, 2014

“First of all, let me state that, beyond the tense rivalries of recent years, I harbour no grudge with Chelsea Football Club per se. Let me be clear: I am fully aware that it could just as easily have been Liverpool FC that Roman Abramovich purchased in 2003, and then, like any fan, I’d have enjoyed the decade of undoubted success that would have followed. Back in 2003, neither Liverpool nor Chelsea were geared towards great success. Both clubs were outside the top three (4th and 5th) and well off the pace, managed by good but not exceptional bosses. Neither club was getting close to the £30m Manchester United had already spent on a single player; at the time, Chelsea and Liverpool could spend around £15m tops. That’s how much the Russian oligarch changed things.” Tomkins Times


Joan Gamper: The man who founded FC Barcelona

August 5, 2014

“When Joan Gamper made a stoppage in Barcelona to meet his uncle on his way to try his hands in sugar trading business in Africa little did he know that he would end up founding one of the colossus of European football whose impact would be much beyond the realms of football and in time will symbolize hope and aspirations of a population reeling under the tyranny of oppression.” Outside of the Boot


World War One: Sporting stories of bravery recalled 100 years on

August 5, 2014

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Heart of Midlothian started the 1914-1915 season with a 2-0 victory over Celtic after giving their all.
“They were the sporting stars of yesteryear. Captains, team-mates, local heroes. Many of them went from the playing field to the battlefields of World War One, never to return. Monday marks the 100th anniversary of Britain’s declaration of war on Germany. It was at 23:00 on 4 August 1914 that Britain entered into one of the costliest conflicts in history, and the fighting continued until 11 November 1918. Here, BBC Sport recalls some notable stories – from whole teams who joined the armed forces to a modern-day international inspired by his ancestors’ wartime deeds.” BBC

Hearts, the team that went to war for Britain
“On 4 August 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. Eleven days later a full house at Tynecastle cheered Heart of Midlothian to victory over Celtic, the defending champions beaten by the young pretenders of the Scottish game. War seemed a long way off on that summer’s afternoon; somewhere for a foreign field, not the football field.” Independent


Steady As He Goes: Raheem Sterling Has Arrived at Liverpool

August 5, 2014

“In his second full season on Liverpool’s first team, 19-year-old prodigy Raheem Sterling lit up the Premier League with nine goals and five assists. He was an integral part of Liverpool’s unexpected title challenge and eventual second-place finish. He helped the team score a club record 101 goals, partnering in an almost unstoppable attack with Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge. You can get lost watching Sterling’s YouTube highlights from Liverpool’s 2013-14 season — so much so that it’s kind of remarkable to think that two summers ago, the most compelling Sterling clip was one of his manager dressing him down in front of his teammates.” Grantland


League Focus: Eredivisie 2014/15 Preview – Ajax’s Chance to Make History

August 5, 2014

“If one word could describe the Eredivisie it is “engrossing”. Unpredictability borne out of the annual summer upheaval – today’s economic reality means Dutch clubs find it difficult to retain the experience and cohesion forged over the past 12-18 months – leading to its competitive nature. Since the leagues inception in 1956 no team has managed to win five consecutive championships; the feeling among many observers is that it’s all about to change. History will be re-written by Frank de Boer and Ajax. The cornerstone behind their latest domestic supremacy has been De Boer’s system. No longer relying on individuals, anyone can be replaced, and reintroducing Ajax’s traditional game absent for much of the time between his departure as a player in 1998 and appointment as manager in December 2010.” whoscored


TTU Go Predicting: a Club-by-Club League 2 Preview

August 5, 2014

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“In the first of four divisional previews we focus today on who’s who in League 2, which once again looks set to be tight. The bookies are backing Bury, Luton, Portsmouth and Shrewbury – we think that they’ll each do well, but suggest that they’ll have plenty of competition, not least from Southend and York.” TTU


Premier League stars can still shine

August 5, 2014

“It wasn’t quite an action replay — the departing star bade farewell to Liverpool rather than London and he was headed for Barcelona, not Madrid. Otherwise, it was a case of deja vu: For the second successive summer, the Premier League lost the reigning Footballer of the Year. For Gareth Bale in 2013 read Luis Suarez in 2014. Whereas the Uruguayan stepped up seamlessly to replace the Welshman as the division’s dominant player, now Suarez leaves a vacancy, and not merely at Anfield. The English top flight has lost a marquee talent. One possibility is that the senior citizens will again assert their authority, but the fact is that Robin van Persie, Steven Gerrard and Yaya Toure are already in their 30s.” ESPN


football blogging

August 5, 2014

“Over the past couple of days a number of people have been blogging about blogging. Rather than it being some meta-analysis of the practice, many instead opted to discuss why we do it. This, is my two cents. The wave first came to my attention when Jonathan Fadugba, of Just Football fame, asked us all “Is football blogging dying? Or just morphing into something new?” Instead of immediately following Betteridge’s law of headlines – the principle where every headline can be answered with a succinct ‘no’ – I instead opted to responded by (internally) saying ‘yes’ and then ‘yes’ again. As Jonathan points out bastions of this ‘industry’ have, sadly, fallen by the wayside: Ian King of Two Hundred Percent released a public service announcement on the future of that esteemed website and shortly after so did Michael Cox, formerly known as Zonal Marking and now known as that guy who discuss tactics everywhere. In Ian’s case it was, for want of a better word, burnout; in Michael’s it was the cold hard fact that his personal blog doesn’t pay the bills and yet he has suitors knocking on his door every waking hour.” Chris Booth


The Curious Case of Hungarian football

August 3, 2014

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“There was a time where Hungarian football was a global force, it’s clubs reckoned with and it’s players among the elite of the sport. It’s now a shadow of what it once was. Ilija Trojanovic takes a look at what happened to the country in the beautiful game, and how the political situation had a positive and eventually negative role to play.” Outside of the Boot


Diego Costa vs Romelu Lukaku: Are Chelsea right to let the young forward go?

August 3, 2014

“A few years ago, a young striker was creating waves around Europe, and was quickly labelled ‘The New Drogba’ by plenty of people. With pace, and power, Romelu Lukaku certainly bore the physical resemblance. His healthy goal scoring averages for club and country only added to the aura he had built up, and a mad race began, as Europe’s top clubs all wanted to snap him up. Eventually, Lukaku signed for Chelsea, a team he supported growing up, and earned the chance to train and play with his hero, Didier Drogba. He was the new leader of a new Chelsea attack that was going to change its ethos and style under the talented, and watchful eye of Andres Villas Boas.” Outside of the Boot


The Rise and Possible Fall of Southampton’s Saints

August 3, 2014

“In professional sports there are saints, sinners and opportunists who take their chances for a better life. Southampton F.C, known as the Saints, is the only team on England’s southern coast competing in the Premier League. Four years ago, the club faced bankruptcy. It was saved by a German-Swiss businessman, and four months ago Southampton dared to threaten the elite teams vying for Champions League spots. But sometimes a rapid rise begets instability.” NY Times


As concerns continue to build, will a Qatar World Cup really happen?

August 3, 2014

“The city that will host the 2022 World Cup final doesn’t yet exist. And so, on a relatively temperate day in Qatar—97 degrees at 3:45 p.m.—you drive a half hour north from Doha, past all the construction cranes, past the billboards heralding the future (Lusail City, Iconic City, We Will Make It Happen) to the patch of bare desert sand that, eight years hence, will stage the planet’s biggest Big Game. You step out of the car, and your sunglasses fog up instantly. In the distance you can make out a white school bus carrying migrant workers—from Nepal, perhaps, or India—to a nearby job site.” SI


Is Ligue 1 Ready For Prime Time?

August 3, 2014

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“The French league has gotten some good P.R. of late (thanks to a certain player on a certain club), but it’s still a long way from Europe’s elite. If some segments of the soccer press are to be believed, Paris Saint-Germain, with its record transfer fees, big-name stars, and Zlatan-mania, is leading French football into a new, vibrant era. Despite the club’s undeniable glamour, though, Ligue 1 is still not ready to crack Europe’s big four: the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, and Serie A.” Fusion


Howler #5 | World Cup edition | Summer 2014

August 3, 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 #5


The Lineups They Carried: Reviewing the Bundesliga’s Tactical Formations from 2013/14

August 1, 2014

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“The 2014-15 Bundesliga season starts in a matter of weeks. The transfer market is humming along to its usual dadaist tale, while our jangled nerves rest after the extra summer assignment of World Cup viewing. Meanwhile, in picturesque country towns, Bundesliga clubs are training and even playing friendlies. Bayern has even already won its first trophy this season. While all these things are true, I still have last season on my mind. Particularly, I’m thinking about the lineups featured by all 18 Bundesliga clubs during the 2013-14 season, especially as we move into the 2014-15 season. It’s always interesting to see where the league left off a year ago, as we anticipate news trends for this upcoming season.” Bundesliga Fanatic


Kroos and Rodriguez sign. What now for Xabi Alonso?

August 1, 2014

“The double signing of midfielders Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez for a combined fee of over £100m signals brilliant news for Real Madrid but Xabi Alonso will be seeing increasingly stiff competition for places as he looks around Los Blancos’ dressing room in preseason. Alonso is currently facing a one-match ban from European football for invading the pitch during May’s Champions League final, which will see him miss the Super Cup against Sevilla in August.” Outside of the Boot


Deep-Pocketed Bayern Munich Is Open for Business in U.S.

August 1, 2014

“Bayern Munich, the mightiest of the clubs in Germany’s Bundesliga, picked an appropriate time to begin building a year-round presence in the United States. It won five titles last year, including the trophies for the Champions League and the European Super Cup, and the Bundesliga signed a global television deal with 21st Century Fox. Germany won the World Cup last month with seven Bayern players; eight others were also on World Cup rosters.” NY Times


Will Chivas Rise Again?

August 1, 2014

“A great Mexican club fights to stay relevant. Fernando Arce, Chivas’s new midfield ace, stood over a free kick Sunday at Mexico’s Estadio Olímpico Universitario, measured up the 30-yard attempt, and fired it past Pumas goalkeeper Alejandro Palacios. The goal handed Chivas a 1–0 win, making it undefeated in its first two Liga MX matches. Several years ago, that wouldn’t have been news. Now, as supporters of the team forage for nuggets of positivity during this dark period, it’s a big story and reason for optimism. But while Chivas’s first win at Pumas since the 2004 Apertura may be seen by as a forerunner of good results, the club still has long way to go before it transitions out of this bleak era that has seen them go without silverware in the last 15 tournaments.” Fusion


Goalkeepers ‘gambler’s fallacy’ impacts penalty shoot-outs

August 1, 2014

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Brazil’s Julio Cesar saves from Chile’s Alexis Sanchez in a second round shoot-out
“Goalkeepers facing penalty shoot-outs make a predictable error that could influence the outcome say researchers. Psychologists studied videos from World Cups and European Championships between 1976 and 2012. They found that after three kicks in the same direction, keepers were more likely to dive the opposite way on the next shot. Luckily for them, penalty takers have so far failed to exploit this predictable pattern. Four knockout games in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were decided by penalties – a record shared with Italy in 1990 and Germany in 2006.” BBC


Vanishing foam

August 1, 2014

“Vanishing foam is a substance applied to an athletic field in order to provide a temporary visual marker. Its use in association football is not regulated by the Laws of the Game, authorisation being in the hands of the governing body of a match, league, or tournament. In association football, referees use the foam to enforce the rules as to the minimum distance that members of the opposing team must remain from the ball during a free kick, as well as the spot from which the kick is taken. …” Wikipedia


The Baroque Entanglements of Valencia

August 1, 2014

“An investment fund, a super agent, and a Singapore businessman: What will it all mean on the field for Los Che this season? While the summer’s silly-season headlines have mostly focused on big names like Luis Suarez, James Fernandez, and Diego Costa, La Liga’s most interesting transfer business has been taking place at Valencia. Los Che have brought in promising attacker Rodrigo and young midfielder Andre Gomes from Benfica, and were widely reported to be tracking even more high-profile targets like Argentina’s World Cup midfielder Enzo Perez and Colombia’s $53 million-rated striker Jackson Martinez.” Fusion


How Liverpool can adapt to Suarez departure

August 1, 2014

“As Tottenham discovered last season, regardless of how much money you receive for your star man, it’s extremely difficult to replace him. For Tottenham and Gareth Bale last season, read Liverpool and Luis Suarez this season – it’s difficult to imagine how Liverpool can replace a player who scored 30 league goals last season. Will suarez departure from liverpool present problems? In reality, however, Spurs’ transfer approach was entirely correct. Their problem in Bale’s final campaign was that they relied on him too much – which was understandable given his incredible goalscoring contribution, but meant that when he was off-form, or injured, the rest of the side struggled to function. Bale was effectively handed a free role, which meant he produced some stunning moments of genius with his license to roam, but the structure of the rest of the side fell down.” Free Bets