Daily Archives: January 26, 2015

In Winter, It’s Time for a Stoppage

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“F.C. Basel, the best soccer team in Switzerland, went to work one recent day on a glistening grass field set among chunky dirt mounds, overgrown vegetation and the construction site for what appeared to be a new Burger King. The circumstances seemed a bit incongruous: Basel, which leads the Swiss Super League standings, was preparing for a UEFA Champions League match, yet it was about 1,000 miles from home. On this particular afternoon, the team’s training consisted of a casual exhibition match on an unlikely field against a second-division team from Germany.” NY Times

Claude LeRoy: French coach is African legend

“Congo’s qualification for the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations was a remarkable achievement for an unfancied side, but also a personal triumph for coach Claude LeRoy – one of the grand old men of African football. Frenchman LeRoy, 66, has managed five different African national teams since first taking charge of Cameroon in 1985. He has coached at eight Cups of Nations and has now reached the quarter-finals on seven occasions, winning the trophy once. BBC Sport caught up with LeRoy to find out more about his extraordinary journey – and what continues to drive his passion for African football.” BBC

Russian football in crisis – part 1

“It was a typically Russian response, one that anybody who has worked here, or done business, with Russian companies will have experienced. Payday arrives, confidently you head out that evening and decide to remove some cash from the drinklink and you begin to boil. What was in your account the day before, hasn’t changed. It’s eight o’clock, so no good calling your boss or someone who can offer an explanation, worse, it’s a Friday and it dawns on you that your fridge is going to remain empty for another couple of days, at least. This is just the beginning. The end will be far more frustrating and depressing.” backpagefootball

What has happened to the Marseille attack?

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“In the grand scheme of things, it’s very much been a successful season for Olympique Marseille. Short of a massive collapse in form, Marseille have a real solid opportunity to finish in the top three in Ligue 1 (either the two automatic Champions League spots or the third place Champions League playoff spot). Marseille have at times been the most intoxicating offense to watch in Ligue 1, led by Marcelo Bielsa. The manager has infused an eccentricity into Marseille whether it’s through the fluidity of his tactics (the free flowing nature of how the team play three at the back within their 4-2-3-1) or the type of cooler that Bielsa will sit on during the match. But lately the spark has simmered. Marseille for a chunk of the season were on top of the table in Ligue 1 but their flamboyant offense has fizzled out.” backpagefootball

Boro Beat City and the Bantams Take the Bridge: How the FA Cup Lost Its Damn Mind

“In theory, the FA Cup gives England’s minnows a chance to upset their big Premier League brethren, but that’s so rarely the case. In reality, small teams give their fans a chance to watch their favorite club play host to some of the world’s best players. Or if it’s an away game, the club scores a nice cash infusion with the shared gate money from a big-time team’s big-time stadium. And then they lose and go back to grim Saturdays in the third division. This weekend, though, reality was turned upside down — and Middlesbrough and Bradford City stuffed it into a rocket and kicked it into outer space.” Grantland (Video)

Riquelme’s reminder: There’ll always be a place for art in soccer

“Call me old fashioned, but Juan Román Riquelme is my favorite kind of player. Riquelme was never the fastest, strongest, or even remotely close to the most athletic player on the field. But somehow, the Argentine midfielder made a career out of the remaining scraps, relying exclusively on technique, awareness, and an ability to read the game with such precision that at times he came off as a master puppeteer. The other 21 players on the field frequently looked like extensions of Riquelme, only there to be manipulated by his thoughts and movements. Riquelme created exquisite art. Last night, Riquelme announced his career as an artist was over. Eight weeks after his final appearances, the Argentine virtuoso announced his retirement. His work is done.” Soccer Gods