Serbia v Albania: Drones, flags and violence in abandoned match

October 17, 2014

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“Partizan Stadium was quiet, perhaps too quiet, as half-time approached. It was tempting to think Serbia’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Albania – the latter’s first visit to Belgrade since 1967 – was going to conclude without incident. Serbia had dominated a slow-paced game and looked favourites to win at 0-0. There had been little yet to rile a crowd that was bereft of away supporters after Uefa had stepped into a dispute over the terms under which travelling fans could attend the game.” BBC (Video)

Drone Stunt at Belgrade Soccer Match Stirs Ethnic Tensions
“On a region where ethnic nationalism is never far from the surface, a stunt at a soccer match between Albania and Serbia has escalated into a full-scale diplomatic incident, provoking suspected cyberattacks, violence and the lobbing of verbal insults with a fervor usually reserved for the field. What was expected to be a beautiful game overcoming historic enmities turned ugly Tuesday evening when a small drone trailing a nationalist Albanian flag helped set off a melee at a qualifying match in Belgrade, Serbia, for the 2016 European Championship. Video of the event showed some Serbian spectators — Albanian fans were barred from the stadium — shouting ‘Kill! Kill! Kill!’ Others ran onto the field, attacking Albanian players, sometimes with chairs, and forcing the Albanian team to escape through a tunnel at the end of the field. The game was abandoned while the score was still 0-0.” NY Times


Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen epitomise Belgian school of defending

October 17, 2014

“Not all sports blend international and club competition as seamlessly as football, where it’s become extremely common for players to be teammates, then opponents, within the same week. How do you spend Sunday, Monday and Tuesday working on understanding and cohesion with a teammate, before setting out to overpower them the following weekend? This Saturday’s contest between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, the weekend’s opening Premier League game, is a perfect example. A match between two squads packed with international talent means a meeting between various compatriots who played alongside one another earlier this week.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Video Analysis: Atletico Madrid’s Defensive Discipline

October 17, 2014

“2013-14 finally saw a break from Barcelona and Real Madrid hogging the La Liga limelight. It was Simeone’s Atletico Madrid that stole all the headlines, taking the league all the way to the last match day. A massive part of that success was their discipline and organisation in defensive. Last season saw Atleti concede just 26 goals in the entire campaign, 7 fewer than the next best team, Barcelona. Certainly Simeone’s team will look to continue this impressive defensive display. Krzysztof Sierocki has done an in-depth analysis of Atleti’s defensive organisation against Real in their recent fixture.” Outside of the Boot (Video)


The Auteur of Säbener Straße: A Book Review of Perarnau’s Pep Confidential

October 17, 2014

“‘At 3.30am he bids the party goers goodnight and walks off with Valentina asleep, curled up in his arms like a baby.’ Thus ends Pep’s first year as coach of Bayern Munich: during the wee morning hours with his young daughter asleep in his arms. Intimate scenes such as this one fill Pep Confidential: The Inside Story of Pep Guardiola’s First Season at Bayern Munich (BackPage Books and Birlinn Limited, 488 pages), written by popular Spanish football journalist and former Olympian, Martí Perarnau, who chronicles Pep Guardiola’s first year as Bayern Munich’s coach.” Bundesliga Fanatic


Departing Stephen Keshi finally pays the price of chaos in Nigerian football

October 17, 2014

Stephen Keshi
“Stephen Keshi was sacked as coach of Nigeria late on Wednesday night, bringing to an end a protracted and tawdry departure that has dragged on since the end of the World Cup. It’s a saga that reflects well on nobody and has left the African champions struggling even to qualify for next January’s Cup of Nations and it’s telling of how little football has had to do with the decision that it should have been taken a few hours after an impressive 3-1 win over Sudan that restored hope.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Delicate balancing act facing Alexis Sanchez

October 17, 2014

“Chile’s hopes in the upcoming Copa America – which it is hosting – rest largely on the diminutive shoulders of the sublimely talented Alexis Sanchez, whose performances for the national team over the next few months may rest on how much gas is left in the tank from his work with English Premier League club Arsenal.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Resting Sterling shows there is some common ground

October 17, 2014

“The most striking facet of the Hodgson Sterling kerfuffle of the last week is how what was essentially a matter between the two men was conflated into a club v country, England v Liverpool affair. Somewhere along the line, people seem to have confused the Sterling issue with Liverpool’s lingering displeasure at the handling of Daniel Sturridge by the England camp. The media must take a large part of the blame in this, being too quick to see it as an opportunity to stoke the enmity between Liverpool and Hodgson’s regime for the sake of some column inches and page views.” backpagefootball


Price of Football: 10 things we’ve learned from the BBC study

October 17, 2014

“BBC Sport’s fourth Price of Football study prompted a national debate about ticket prices, not to mention the sums clubs charge for pies and cups of tea. Football club owners, players, pundits and fans all had their say, but what did we learn? Here, we take a look at some of the key talking points.” BBC