The Rise and Fall of Southampton

December 7, 2014

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“Just a week ago, Southampton sat in second place, comfy on 26 points, six goals conceded, and a seven-point cushion from the non–Champions League wasteland of fifth place. Then they played Manchester City and Arsenal, and now they still have 26 points, sit in third place, and are a too-thin-to-sleep-on two points from dropping out of the Champions League. So …” Grantland


Video Analysis: Barcelona’s Build-up Play

December 7, 2014

“Guardiola’s Barcelona and its tiki-taka way of play dominated Europe but soon enough, teams got around to figuring a way to make them ineffective. Successive Barcelona squads have had to deal with this and have started to incorporate certain tactical elements which are noticeable from where we sit. Luis Enrique’s Barcelona have often had to vary these tactical elements and tailor them depending on the team they were facing. One such game was back in September when Barcelona played Athletic Bilbao. While Suarez was still prohibited from playing at this point, the other big name signing, Rakitic, was seen playing a crucial role in their build up play.” Outside of the Boot (Video)


Stylish play from “plastic” challengers can’t cure the Bundesliga’s fatalism

December 7, 2014

“So you’ve heard about Bayern Munich, and what the Bavarian titans are doing to the Bundesliga? Vacuuming up the league’s best players. Hiring the brainiest guy in soccer, then letting him pull all kinds of tactical stunts. The club’s paid off all it’s stadium debt and now is now stacking money higher than the Allianz itself. It’s as if Bayern’s tap-dancing in golf shoes on the Bundesliga’s helpless mug. Just think of the puncture wounds when Dortmund star Marco Reus arrives this summer.” Soccer Gods


Favourites Algeria dealt AFCON minefield

December 7, 2014

“The pot compilation of yesterday’s 2015 African Cup of Nations draw always meant a strong viability for a series of heavy weight assortments, yet for the majority of sides assigned a spot in Group C their hand represented the nightmare assignment. The inevitably dubbed group of death compiles the intimidating quintet of Algeria, Ghana, South Africa and Senegal. If Algeria – undoubtedly Africa’s standout outfit in Brazil last summer and the continent’s highest ranked side – are to clinch a first crown in 22 years they must now do it the hard way. That being said as arduous as Algeria’s examination might appear, for their three opponents the Fennec Foxes represent the worst case scenario.” backpagefootball


Ballon D’Or: The Argument for Manuel Neuer

December 7, 2014

“1 out of 58. To the uninitiated, these are simple numbers, but those who know better, realise that this is representative of the number of goalkeepers that have been honoured by being handed a tag that says, ‘World Player of the Year’, or any such variation. A look at the list of winners will reveal that a few defensive players have won it, few enough to count on one’s left hand. Moving away from the point, most of us believe, and understand that football is a game that consists of two functions; score goals, stop the opponent from scoring goals. Most will agree that each function is as important as the other.” Outside of the Boot


How football shaped Brazil

December 7, 2014

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Brazil 1994
“England may have created football but Brazil made it an art form. Since the arrival of football in the South American country at the turn of the 20th century, Brazil have won eight Copa Americas and five World Cups. In doing so they have captured the hearts of millions of football fans and created a template for beautiful football. It’s impossible to dispute that as a nation Brazil has shaped football. What is often forgotten is how football helped shaped Brazil itself. Football’s beginnings in Brazil were humble. The game was first brought to the Samba Nation in the 1890s by British expatriates and returning Anglo-Brazilian students and at first it was played only amongst Brazilian elites.” backpagefootball


Why Mourinho smiled as Chelsea lost; more notes from Saturday’s EPL

December 7, 2014

“For Chelsea, there was a wry sideline smile in defeat. For Manchester City there were sideline tears in victory. After Chelsea lost 2-1 at Newcastle at lunchtime, City listlessly seized its chance with a dreary 1-0 home victory over Everton in Saturday’s evening game. Chelsea’s lead is now just three points. But as José Mourinho told BT Sports after his game ended: ‘We have to ask the other 19 teams in the Premier League if anyone wants to be in our position and I think they would all like to be. But leader there is only one and that is Chelsea.’” SI


Bored of Rodgers, Bored of Wenger

December 7, 2014

“In the future, managers will be given contracts on a game-by-game basis. Players will be voted off the pitch and out of the club, with new ones voted in and on. There has to reach a point where no one – players, managers, coaches – can withstand any bad form whatsoever. The quicker life gets, and the more disposable everything becomes, the less patience we can afford anything. Employment at a club will become ‘winner stays on’; fail just once and you’re gone.” Tomkins Times


The 1908 Olympics: When organised international football first kicked-off

December 7, 2014

“In 1896, the Modern Olympic games officially kicked off in Athens, Greece. It was a seminal moment in international sporting history and one that still affects us today. What if Pierre de Coubertin and his cohort of idealistic supporters had given up on the Olympic dream? What if stars such as Jesse Owens, Muhammad Ali and Usain Bolt were never given the opportunity to showcase their skills in front of the world? It’s a thought too unsettling to hold for too long. Yes the 1896 Olympics were a landmark moment in more ways than one…there is just one problem however. There was no football in 1896. In fact, football was most likely unheard of by many people in Greece in 1896. The beautiful game was still in its infancy in England and had not yet become the global phenomena it is today. By 1896 it had hardly become a regional phenomena.” Outside of the Boot