Manchester City finds way through, Barca tops PSG in Champions League

December 12, 2014

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“The final day of the Champions League group stage saw Manchester City produce probably the best Champions league performance in its history to book its place in the last 16 for only the second time. Barcelona outlasted PSG for first in their group behind goals from Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, and Schalke 04 also secured its place in the knockout phase on a night when John Obi Mikel broke a long-standing personal drought.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


History has become a burden for Germany’s struggling powers

December 12, 2014

“It’s no secret that the 2014-15 Bundesliga season has been a rough one for Borussia Dortmund. After a few seasons of success, the tradition-rich club has spent much of the fall slumming it in the table’s depths, at one stage bottoming out in dead last. It’s been a shock for everybody, especially considering the team’s good form in the Champions League, but a closer look at the standings reveals a wider truth: Many of German’s traditional powers are in terrible shape.” Soccer Gods


Bielsa’s tactics have Marseille competing for French glory again

December 12, 2014

“The revolutionary Marcelo Bielsa has Olympique de Marseille at the top of the Ligue 1 table just over half a calendar year after finishing sixth. Hired in May, he was tasked with restoring OM to the glory it hasn’t seen since winning the league in 2009-10. Bielsa, 59, brought with him his uncompromising style and unique philosophy that has influenced some of the world’s top tacticians, including Pep Guardiola, who called him “the best coach on the planet” in 2012. When Bielsa and Guardiola coached against each other in La Liga, Guardiola spoke of his intrigue at Athletic Bilbao’s almost militaristic sense of work rate.” SI


Late paychecks and job insecurity are now facts of life in Brazilian soccer

December 12, 2014

“It wasn’t long ago that we were watching the great and good of world soccer parade their talents here in Brazil. Fittingly, and in defiance of the naysaying that surrounded the country’s often shambolic World Cup preparations, Brazil provided an idyllic stage for talents like Neymar, Lionel Messi, and Toni Kroos to perform their magic – perfect playing surfaces, gleaming, modern stadiums, and packed stands filled with shiny-toothed fans. Brazil’s domestic season was never going to live up its Mundial, but at times, when the stadiums have been full and the country’s better sides have been on display, the splendor of the World Cup seems like more than a brief visitor from another soccer galaxy. A recent survey showed the country’s top flight players are the seventh best paid in the world, and the new World Cup arenas have given clubs an excuse to jack up prices to dizzying levels.” Soccer Gods


Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson backed by peers after fan with row: ‘You said what rest us want to say’

December 12, 2014

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“Nigel Pearson is one of the most measured, thoughtful managers in the country so it was a warning sign of the pressures his profession is under when even he snapped at an abusive fan, an offence that brought a Football Association charge on Thursday. The Leicester City manager remained phlegmatic when being alerted of the FA’s decision in the afternoon, just as he stayed calm earlier in the day despite the deep frustration after one of his best players this season, Kasper Schmeichel, broke a metatarsal in training. Leicester’s goalkeeper undergoes an operation today and will be out for ‘four to six weeks’, according to his manager.” Telegraph – Henry Winter


Why Are You So Bad, Tottenham?

December 12, 2014

“Tottenham just seem like they should be a better team. The club has a ton of players who were very good before they came to North London, in addition to a manager who’s a proven commodity in England. Spurs aren’t Liverpool, who’ve lost their two best players since last season, or Arsenal, who are struggling with depth, injuries, and a gaping hole at the defensive midfield spot. Tottenham aren’t even Everton, a team fighting to match the overachieving levels it hit last year when everything possible went right.” Grantland


Promotion Tales: Bradford’s City’s Top-Flight ‘Fairy Tale’

December 12, 2014

“Continuing this series of posts on clubs promoted to the top-flight of English football after a considerable gap or, in some cases, the first time ever, Michael Wood turns the clock back to the year 2000. The location? Bradford.” thetwounfortunates