Fifa corruption report: Who is to blame and what happens now?

November 14, 2014

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“At 09:00 GMT on Thursday, Fifa published a report that cleared Russia and Qatar of any wrongdoing during the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Instead, the English Football Association came under fire for flouting bid rules. Less than four hours later, it was all change when the Fifa report was criticised by the man who spent two years investigating claims of corruption on behalf of football’s world governing body. What is the background to this story, who is to blame for the controversy and what will happen now?” BBC (Video)


When all the off-field distractions are set aside, Ireland to edge a tight encounter

November 14, 2014

“This was a fixture that, from the outset, seemed destined to be overshadowed by events off the field rather than the actual football being played. There was always bound to be a hostile reception for Glasgow-born Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy on their first visit to the city in the green of Ireland – though Scotland manager Gordon Strachan, to his credit, did his best to defuse the situation by calling for a ‘pantomime’ atmosphere. McCarthy’s withdrawal owing to a persistent hamstring injury – the same injury that kept him out of the previous games with Gibraltar and Germany – has defused the situation somewhat, though McGeady is likely to receive a mixed reception at the stadium he elated for years with Celtic. Wednesday night’s bizarre scenes whereupon a known associate of Jack Charlton managed to do himself a mischief, which required hospital treatment, while making some sort of elaborate protest against Roy Keane has added an uncalled-for element of the bizarre.” backpagefootball

Gordon Strachan v Martin O’Neill: More than Celtic connections
“Football followers with a romantic notion could be forgiven for finding themselves overwhelmed by Scotland’s meeting with the Republic of Ireland on Friday. Martin O’Neill, if anyone needs reminding, returns to Celtic Park, a stadium where he was, and still is, worshipped for the success he brought to the club. He will come up against his successor as Celtic manager, Gordon Strachan, who, though not held in quite the same regard by the supporters as O’Neill, nevertheless achieved a great deal in his time in charge.” BBC


Slovenia’s Srecko Katanec is back and still prickly before England game

November 14, 2014

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“Gwangju, 2 June 2002. Slovenia were 1-0 down to Spain in their first ever World Cup match when, after 63 minutes, Srecko Katanec took off Zlatko Zahovic for Milenko Acimovic. What followed has become Slovenian football’s equivalent of the Zapruder footage, a clip replayed endlessly on television in search of a meaning. Zahovic walked from the pitch, slapped hands with Acimovic, and then, out of focus in the background, kicked out at a bottle of water. Somewhere in those three or four seconds, the first golden age of Slovenian football came to an end.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Lionel Messi showing some promising signs in a new Argentina role

November 14, 2014

“Whenever the subject of the greatest player in the history of football is debated, the 47th minute of this year’s World Cup final might figure highly in the argument. It was that minute when Lionel Messi dragged a left-footed shot wide of the far post, his best opportunity to win a tense, tight final, and put himself alongside Pele and Diego Maradona as World Cup winners. Messi can, of course, still be considered the all-time greatest without a World Cup to his name, especially because in the modern age, the European Cup is played at a higher standard than the World Cup. To some, however, his lack of international honours remains crucial — it’s not an insurmountable barrier, but a significant caveat.” ESPN – Michael Cox


U.S. grades: Yanks fail to hold on to early lead yet again vs. Colombia

November 14, 2014

“The U.S. men’s national team tried to take a page out of its World Cup playbook against World Cup quarterfinalists Colombia, one that relied on gritty defending to escape with a result. But Los Cafeteros proved to have too many attacking weapons, and scored twice in the second half to claim a highly deserved 2-1 victory. Jozy Altidore opened the scoring courtesy of a first half penalty, but Carlos Bacca equalized 15 minutes into the second half, and Teofilo Gutierrez nodded home the game-winner in the 87th minute. While the match did feature some moments where the U.S. looked threatening in attack, and there were some youthful elements in the U.S. lineup, it did little to stop questions about when the proactive style that Jurgen Klinsmann has long promised will begin to emerge.” ESPN


Turkish Column: Kartal’s positive changes shadowed by supporter unrest while Ersun Yanal returns

November 14, 2014

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“Despite poor form and alerting performances, İsmail Kartal’s men finally prevailed at home against Çaykur Rizespor to make it 5 wins out of 5 games at home, despite coming back from an early 0-1 deficit. Kartal’s men were down early into the game via an own goal from Michal Kadlec, but showed signs of aggression right away to take the game to their opponents. Particularly Alper Potuk and Diego, who were deployed as left winger and central play maker respectively, influenced the game, as Potuk’s dribbling and Diego’s creativity were crucial.” Outside of the Boot


Checking In on Europe’s World Cup Heavyweights: What’s New in the Old World?

November 14, 2014

“… But guess what? We’ve got another international break on our hands, so there’s no club soccer until next weekend. And since it’s the last such intermission of the year, let’s check in with your favorite European World Cup squads as they’re about to put a bow on 2014.” Grantland


The significance of Turkey v Brazil this week

November 14, 2014

“Turkey hosts Brazil in a match-up of the two teams that contested the 2002 World Cup semi-final, but will the occasion be a celebration of the heights they scaled in Japan and Korea? Or tinged with melancholy at the dwindling football fortunes of both nations in the years since?” The World Game – Tim Vickery