Everything you need to know about the 2015 Copa Libertadores

February 23, 2015

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“With the last of the group spots now finalised, the 56th edition of the Copa Libertadores – South America’s equivalent of the Champions League – properly gets underway this week and, as ever, it promises to be full of drama, excitement and shocks. The vast distances, not to mention the range of altitudes and climates, make it a highly challenging, unpredictable and captivating contest, while also offering the opportunity to catch a first glance at some of the continent’s emerging prospects. Argentinian side San Lorenzo won their first ever title last year, breaking the run of Brazilian triumphs and capping a remarkable turnaround for a club on the brink of relegation just two years before. With the last three victors being first time winners, could we see another maiden champion? Or will one of the established giants reclaim the continent’s top club prize? The following comprehensive group by group guide will take you through all the contenders.” Outside of the Boot (Part 1), Everything you need to know about the 2015 Copa Libertadores (Part 2)

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Human rights official identified as one of fans involved in Chelsea race storm

February 23, 2015

“A human rights official has apologized for his part in an alleged racism incident involving Chelsea supporters on the Paris Metro, but has insisted he is not a racist. Richard Barklie was one of three men identified by the UK’s Metropolitan Police in a video showing what appears to be a group of Chelsea fans preventing a black man from entering a train, following the English club’s UEFA Champions League game against Paris Saint Germain last Tuesday. The group of supporters can be heard chanting on the train: ‘We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it.’ A director of the World Human Rights Forum, Barklie has issued a statement through his lawyers admitting his involvement ‘in an incident when a person now known to him as Souleymane S. was unable to enter a part of the train.'” CNN (Video)

Extreme behavior is still tolerated in the name of supporters culture
“‘So-called fans’ is a phrase that springs into action when clubs want to separate a tiny minority of badly behaved supporters from the rest. It suggests that miscreants who heap shame on themselves, and by association their club and their sport, are divorced from the game: not really part of it; an extremist fringe of interlopers. The phrase has been aired frequently in the wake of the racist incident involving Chelsea fans on the Paris metro. The usage is understandable, but it’s naive at best, disingenuous at worse. Because in my experience of attending maybe 700 matches in England, it’s precisely their status as fans that encourages a small percentage of people to believe they have the right to behave badly.” Soccer Gods


Comeback at Cruz Azul hints Chivas may not be terrible

February 23, 2015

“It was a tactic Chivas manager Chepo de la Torre had tried before. Mostly out of options in Saturday’s match at Cruz Azul, he turned to it again. Down 1-0 late, one of Mexico’s greatest clubs was in a position that’s become all too familiar – one of desperation. Without a result against La Máquina, de la Torre’s team would be even with Puebla near the bottom of the relegation table, with only recently-promoted Universidad de Guadalajara separating the Guadalajara giants from Liga MX’s relegation spot.” Soccer Gods


Parma’s downfall pains a city and its people and there is little cause for hope

February 23, 2015

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“Faustino Asprilla is not a man who prefers to dwell on the negatives in life. Not if his Twitter account is anything to go by, at any rate. A quick scan of his last 10 days online reveals a chaotic mix of Oscars commentary, support for Colombian athletes, and coarse visual gags. That and photos of himself grinning. Grinning at a carnival, grinning on a boat, grinning while surrounded by half-naked women (warning: the last one is not something to click on at work). On Friday he posted a photo of himself grinning on a football pitch, too, and wearing the colours of his former club, Parma. But for once, Asprilla’s accompanying words lacked their customary exuberance. ‘Very sad to see what’s happening to Parma,’ he wrote.” Guardian


Javier Mascherano: Barcelona’s Voice in Defence?

February 23, 2015

“Mascherano’s quality is not in doubt. He is one of the best defensive midfielders in the world and proved that in last year’s World Cup in Brazil as one of the best players in the tournament. So highly was he rated as a teenage talent that he prodigiously made his senior Argentina debut before his senior club debut for River Plate. The bite, aggression and intensity that he plays with is married to leadership and an exquisite level of tact that comes from his perceptive game-reading ability. Allied to all that is the technical ability and technique to contribute positively to his team’s build-up play from the back, which was one of the prerequisites to him joining Pep’s Barça.” Outside of the Boot


Barca woes return, Real Madrid extend lead: Five things we learned in La Liga

February 23, 2015

“Things are not well at Barcelona again after a defeat to Malaga, while in Madrid, Real are firing on all cylinders and Mario Mandzukic and Antoine Griezmann are impressing for Atletico. Here are five things from the weekend’s La Liga action.” ESPN


Four things we learned from Liverpool’s impressive 2-0 win away to Southampton

February 23, 2015

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“A fascinating battle between two of the Premier League’s greatest tacticians made for a match of constant tactical tweaks and two vastly different halves of football. Ronald Koeman may have shown greater tactical nous initially, but Brendan Rodgers – reacting and adapting as the game developed – proved to be the greater strategist.” Squawka