Daily Archives: February 10, 2015

Ivory Coast win Africa Cup of Nations in penalty shootout against Ghana

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“Could there have been a more unlikely hero than Boubacar Barry? He was the reserve keeper, the relic of the past, the clownish figure so often blamed for Ivorian failure. Elevated to play in the final only because Sylvain Gbohouo had suffered a thigh strain, he seized his opportunity in a ridiculous, hilarious, remarkable way, saving two penalties and then scoring the decisive kick in the shootout himself.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

AFCON 2015 – the winners and losers
“The overriding theme of AFCON 2015 was undoubtedly one of Ivoirian redemption. Favourites for virtually every tournament across the last decade, Les Éléphants were perceived as being both fundamentally flawed psychologically and a disaster waiting to happen defensively. Yet under Hervé Renard – who in masterminding Ivory Coast’s victory becomes the first man to lift Africa’s most prestigious crown with two separate nations – they were a side reborn. The Frenchmen instilled both discipline and togetherness, alongside a sense of character that had long deserted the West Africans. A blend of youth together with the remaining fragments of the golden generation reaped dividends, as the previously much maligned Elephants visibly blossomed through the tournament’s progression – perhaps the seminal result, from a mental perspective at least, being a 3-1 quarter-final triumph over Algeria.” backpagefootball

Afcon 2015: Five lessons from the Africa Cup of Nations
“The 2015 Africa Cup of Nations came to a dramatic end on Sunday night when Ivory Coast sealed a thrilling 9-8 victory over Ghana on penalties. The win brought to an end a 22-year drought for Ivory Coast, and capped a tournament that was moved at the last minute and almost overshadowed by violence. But what did we learn? Here are five key lessons from this year’s competition.” BBC

Independent: In Pictures: Ivory Coast claims African Cup of Nations after epic sudden death 22 penalty shoot-out against Ghana


Deco’s Instrumental Display in Porto’s 2003/2004 Champions League Final Win

“‘He’s taught me many, many things. When he came to Porto he brought a new mentality. Many players didn’t believe it was possible to win the Champions League. I’ll never forget that. We had a good team but his narrow-mindedness showed us how to do well and win the big games.’ These were the words muttered by Deco as he mused upon the incredible belief that Jose Mourinho instilled into the Porto squad that won the 2003/2004 Champions League. And what a triumph it was. Along the way they knocked out the likes Manchester United, Lyon and Deportivo la Coruna before defeating Monaco in the final. The remarkable 3-0 win over Didier Deschamps’ men in the final showed just how far Mourinho had brought this side.” Licence to Roam

Tactical Analysis: Lyon 1-1 PSG | Spoils Shared at the Stade de Gerland

“Lyon may have dominated the French domestic scene in the noughties but times have changed and it has been PSG who’ve been the team to beat in the recent past. Lyon though have found the consistency they’ve been looking for since the turn of the decade and are right in the middle of a title race. To examine their credentials stood defending Champions PSG .” Outside of the Boot

Liga MX’s small city realities care not for improvement at Veracruz and Querétaro

“Friday’s match between Veracruz and Querétaro offered little to fans who prefer to spend their time near the top of the Liga MX standings, but average plods of the two not so good, not quite bad teams shed light on the tough times faced by the top flight’s smaller city clubs. While Veracruz has enjoyed a mini-renaissance so far in Clausura 2015, it is still near the bottom of the porcentaje (relegation) table. Dropping is more than a possibility. Meanwhile, Querétaro has new backers and brought in Ronaldinho but still languishes outside the Liquilla playoff spots. Both teams, badly needing a wins to kick-start their tournaments, were left sharing the spoils after a 1-1 draw. Can either really take heart in the result?” Soccer Gods

Soccer Gods – Liga MX

The continued doldrums of Lille LOSC

“It has been a disaster of a season for Lille LOSC. Through 24 weeks last season, Lille held down the third and final Champions League spot in Ligue 1 and had allowed the least amount of goals at that point. They were three points up on Saint-Etienne for third and eventually held off ASSE the rest of the way. Compare that to this season and the season has been a train wreck. Lille are 11th in Ligue 1 and are 17 points off both Olympique Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain for the second and third. It was fair to say that Lille would suffer some sort of drop off from form, seeing as they sold their best attacking player, Salomon Kalou in the summer transfer to Hertha BSC. Lille even with Kalou’s 16 goals last season only finished in a tie for ninth for goals scored.” backpagefootball

Tactical Analysis: Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal | Kane makes the difference in a competitive derby

“The 7th of February will be remembered at the end of the season as an important day for football, what with the sheer number of big games and derby matches on show. Fans had a ball with all the action on show. The day kicked off with Tottenham Hotspur entertaining their big London rivals, Arsenal. The atmosphere at White Hart Lane was charged, with fans looking to give their side any possible advantage in a game that was surely going to be very difficult. Both sides came into the match almost neck and neck. Just 2 points separated them, with the form books making for identical reading; Blue Square’s news feed showing exactly that.” Outside of the Boot

Messi, Neymar, Sanchez: In search of South America’s next star

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Angel Correa is leaving Argentina to play in Spain.
“For the crunch World Cup match against England last year, Uruguay were without their captain and centre-back Diego Lugano. In to replace him came Jose Maria Gimenez, a 19-year-old who had played in a grand total of one league match the previous season and one Copa del Rey fixture for Atletico Madrid. It is hard to imagine England, or another major European nation, throwing a youngster into the deep end in this way. But Uruguay had no qualms. Gimenez had been immaculate the previous year in the World Under-20 Cup, and that was good enough. This story helps to explain the importance of under-20 football in South America. There are plenty of others like it.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Hey, There’s a Yaya-Size Hole in Your Midfield: How Manchester City Fell Out of the Title Race With One Bad Month

“Shall we pour one out for Manchester City’s Premier League title hopes? Ah, the heady days of just a month ago, when City were gaining fast on Chelsea, climbing to within three points as the crowded festive period of the schedule got going. Now, six games later, Manuel Pellegrini’s side have slipped to seven points out of first, their title hopes generating only the faintest of blips on the life-support machine. A six-game stretch against Burnley, Sunderland, Everton, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Hull does not a title make — but win only one and earn only seven points, and you can just about kiss any dreams of a repeat championship good-bye. Simply put, any team with designs on taking the Premier League crown can’t afford to drop any points against relegation fodder like Burnley and Hull at home and shouldn’t make a habit of doing the same against bottom-half teams like Everton on the road, either. So where did it all go wrong?” Grantland

Ode to Riquelme

“There are two kinds of greatness in sport. There are the freaks of nature, and there are players like Riquelme—tall, lanky, shoulders hunched, no blinding speed or intimidating power to speak of. Riquelme’s greatness isn’t defined by the highlight reel. The Argentine found beauty in the more subtle moments of the game. He carved up opposition defenses without them being aware of what was happening, dragged around the pitch like a puppet being made to dance by its puppeteer. You couldn’t recreate the things Riquelme did—and you wouldn’t even think to try them in the first place.” 8 by 8