Big Weekend Preview: Real Madrid’s mayday and Barça show true colours

September 12, 2014

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“That was a long two weeks of nothingness with only a Ronaldo/Pérez spat-and-backtrack to keep the blog going for a fortnight. Spain’s rebuild is underway, nobody got fired and as far as La Liga can recall, Barcelona managed to avoid being investigated for some kind of tax/contract/signing misdemeanour. All very disappointing. Aside from all the posers detailed below ahead of the weekend to come, LLL is also pondering whether Valencia’s promising start to the season can continue at home to Espanyol and is keen to see if Villarreal can live without the injured Giovani dos Santos at Granada. In the meantime, here are some bigger fish to fry.” FourFourTwo


Talking Points: A big weekend for Torres, Hernández and Bielsa

September 12, 2014

“With the international programme officially over Andy Brassell, James Horncastle and Julien Laurens bring you their Talking Points ahead of this weekend’s action” Guardian


Scout Report | Bernardo Silva: AS Monaco and Portugal’s Young Attacking Midfielder

September 12, 2014

“Portugal has for some time now looked at itself as a country that competes far above its weight class in international football. It has produced three World Footballers of The Year. Its best result at a World Cup was third-place in 1966. And it lost a European Championship Final on their home soil just a decade ago. The so-called ‘Golden Generation’ that emerged in the early 2000s lifted many Portuguese fans spirits after several dark decades. However, this talented group of players that included Luis Figo failed to deliver the elusive senior title. But currently, there is a new generation of talented youngsters that could finally propel the modest European nation into the elite of global football.” Outside of the Boot


Manuel Pellegrini: How ‘The Engineer’ quietly fixed Man City

September 12, 2014

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“Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini had two players in tears at the club’s training ground five days before the Premier League opener at Newcastle. Yes, they were only 11. And yes, they were tears of joy at being invited by Pellegrini to watch City’s first team train at close quarters. But this touching little scene at Carrington provides a small insight into the affection in which he is held and the quiet, understated but tranquil atmosphere Pellegrini has brought to City in his 14 months in England. It is all in stark contrast to the turbulence of his predecessor Roberto Mancini, whose tenure was a boom time for local photographers. Daily they pitched up with their ladders, strode down the public right of way that runs down the side of City’s training complex, climbed the steps and waited for the explosion.” BBC


Scout Report | Damjan Bohar: Maribor & Slovenia’s lightning fast winger

September 12, 2014

“Maribor placed Slovenia on Europe’s elite football map once again. The smallest club in this year’s Champions League edition is preparing to fight the elite clubs as an underdog. Champions League football is a lifetime opportunity for the Slovenes, especially for the in-form winger Damjan Bohar, one of Maribor’s biggest prospects.” Outside of the Boot


Three Points: Portugal vs. Albania

September 12, 2014

“Three quick points on Portugal’s 1-0 loss to Albania in their opening qualification fixture for the 2016 European Championship: 1. Finding creativity minus Cristiano. After the painful sight of seeing him strain every frayed sinew at the World Cup, it was almost a relief that the indefatigable Cristiano Ronaldo dropped out of this Euro 2016 qualification tie through injury.” ESPN


Johan Cruyff: How will ‘militaristic’ Louis van Gaal manage all the egos at Manchester United?

September 12, 2014

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Johan Cruyff has come home to Amsterdam and, on a cloudy day in the old city where he was born, grew up and made his professional debut for Ajax 50 years ago this November, he moves with good-humoured elegance through the crowds calling out his name and trying to touch him. At the Olympic Stadium, walking around an arena which has been taken over for the day by his Foundation, this is an exercise in the familiar art of being Johan Cruyff. The 67-year-old reacts to the adoration, and even being cuddled by a grown man dressed up as a ‘Cruyffie’ mascot, with a wry smile. This is how it feels to have been a football icon for five decades.” Guardian


Interview with footballski.fr about Polish football

September 12, 2014

“I answered some questions for the excellent French language website Footballski.fr which deals with football in Eastern Europe. I present the English version here – it was a chance for me to clarify my views on a number of different issues, the Polish FA, fan culture in Poland and the enigmatic Zbigniew Boniek. Read on for more.” Rightbankwarsaw


Why Wayne Rooney’s world-class status is misunderstood, not rubbish

September 12, 2014

“A decade on from Euro 2004 and England’s teenage messiah in Portgual has become a fully-fledged pariah. Wayne Rooney was an exciting blur of brutal, brilliant potential 10 years ago. Today he is cast as some tragic disappointment. But what if the problem is that perception rather than his performances? Rooney became one of Europe’s most interesting and modern forwards during the mid-to-late 00′s. Though he arrived from Everton as an already versatile and prodigious young striker, the needs of his new team led to him to progress into being an even more complete and multi-functional player.” Squawka