“1984 is not only a great novel but also the year Johan Cruyff retired as a professional footballer. His decision to go into management forever altered the fortunes of his boyhood club Ajax and other love FC Barcelona – both competitively meeting for a third time on Tuesday – no individual has made a greater impact in both disciplines. Frank de Boer, with the way things are developing, ought to take a leaf out of Cruyff’s book and implement a 3-4-3 diamond or 3-1-2-1-3. Rinus Michels – whose ‘1-3-3-3’ system was the blueprint from which 3-1-2-1-3 derived – once described it as ‘spectacular but risky’. And that’s what’s missing from the Netherlands’ sole Champions League participant, a sense of vitality. The players seem to be just going through the motions, suffocated in the more rigid 4-3-3, when it is glaringly obvious – looking at the brand of football De Boer champions and the personnel at his disposal – that the Amsterdammers are better off going back to the future by deploying a 3-1-2-1-3.” Who Scored?
“If you were to sit down with anyone after Southampton’s own version of The Exodus, you would have been hard pressed to find many that would have argued the club would be where they are currently. Though the season is still in it’s early days, the early signs are promising that Soton are going to be just fine. After seven matches, the Saints have logged four wins, a draw and a pair of defeats – said losses came by way of two away trips to Liverpool and Tottenham, both of which are expected to finish above them in the table in the first place.” Outside of the Boot
“There aren’t many ways of looking at an 8-0 defeat that see anything other than an unmitigated disaster, which is right and logical. Sunderland were terrible in losing to Southampton on Saturday, a pitiful showing by a team who, by the second half, seemed to have given up. That is inexcusable and it’s entirely appropriate that the goalkeeper Vito Mannone – who was as much to blame as anybody – has suggested the players should club together to reimburse the 2500 Sunderland fans who made the trip to St Mary’s.” Who Scored? – Jonathan Wilson
“Real Madrid released a statement on Monday saying that Gareth Bale has an injury in the right pyramidalis muscle. After consulting Internet, M.D., we think this means he has, in technical terms, a sore butt. He’s now set to sit out a couple of games, presumably on padded furniture. Bale didn’t play in the 5-0 win over Levante on Saturday , and he’s reportedly going to miss the opportunity to twist Martin Skrtel’s blood at Anfield on Wednesday when Real face Liverpool in the Champions League.” Soccer Gods (Video)
“The Premier League has undoubtedly lost a little of its stardust over the last two seasons. The departures of Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez to La Liga have shorn the country’s greatest export of its two most globally acclaimed star players. The summer arrivals of Angel di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Alexis Sanchez were welcome steps in the right direction for a league which prides itself on being The Best In The World. But perhaps the league’s shining light was already staring us in the face?” The False Nine
“The Premier League might be only seven games old, but a common theme amongst some of the top teams is the lack of goals from upfront – only Chelsea, and Diego Costa, can be entirely satisfied with their goal return so far. Here are 5 misfiring Premier League strikers, and how they might turn their season around…” FreeBets
“Bayern are just cruising at the moment. In their latest match the Bavarians barely moved out of second gear, but nevertheless they managed to destroy Werder Bremen 6-0. Gladbach continue their good run of form and next week’s match between the Foals and Pep Guardiola’s team is a mouth-watering prospect. On the other hand side there is Dortmund, who are still not finding their form, as another loss for Klopp’s team means that they can kiss their chances to win the German championship good-bye at an earlier stage of the season than people had expected them to. There were many great individual performances in the Bundesliga this weekend, here is our top XI of the week…” Bundesliga Fanatic
“As fans streamed into football grounds at the weekend for the resumption of domestic fixtures, it wasn’t hard to argue that the national sport is booming. The Premier League points to stadiums filled to 95%-plus capacity. A new round of TV deals will top the £5.5bn raised last time. Football is omnipresent, seeping into every corner of life. And yet a paradox grips the game. As player wages have rocketed, fans feel increasingly disenfranchised. Ticket prices in the top flight have risen 16% since 2011 alone, and a season ticket at Arsenal can now cost more than £2,000. Supporters are beginning to doubt whether they can afford their passion. They gaze longingly at Germany’s Bundesliga.” Guardian