The good thing about the Qatar 2022 date change

March 31, 2015

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“When cities put forward a bid to stage the Olympics, the date of the Games is an explicit part of the proposal. IOC members know what they are voting for. This, of course, was not the case in the race to stage the 2022 World Cup. An inspection group carried out a detailed study into the bids, and put the information at the disposal of FIFA’s Executive Committee – which proceeded to take little notice. They chose Qatar with barely a thought for the logistical problems and world football has been in a bind ever since. It would seem that some sort of compromise is being worked out. A conventional June/July World Cup presented the obvious problem of extreme heat, and so the tournament is set to be staged in November and December.” The World Game – Tim Vickery

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Can Gerardo Martino end Argentina’s cup drought with Copa América glory?

March 31, 2015

“When Santiago hosts the final of the Copa América on 4 July this year, it will be 22 years to the day since Gabriel Batistuta received a quick throw-in from Diego Simeone, turned away from Mexico’s Raúl Gutiérrez and curled a brisk left-foot finish into the bottom corner of Jorge Campos’s net. It was a goal that meant Argentina defended their continental crown; it was also the last time that any Argentinian scored a winner in a major international final.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Against sanitised football – part 1

March 31, 2015

“It is awful, jarring, a scraping fish bone stuck in a football fan’s gullet. It is a cringe-worthy television advert produced by Qatar Airways, starring the players of F.C. Barcelona. If the advert did not exist, it would have to be invented. There is no other existing piece of media that better encapsulates the worldview of football in the market age. It is forty seconds of distilled ideology, crystallised at its purest. The advert begins by zooming in on a mystical never-never land ‘F.C. Barcelona Island’- an island taking the form and colours of the Blaugrana crest. On this island, Lionel Messi and co. arrive at the airport. It is one of those ultra-modern airports, a sparkling structure of flowing glass so universal in its blandness that it could belong to any country. An IKEA airport. The sort of airport that countries build to try to prove to the world that they’ve made it.” backpagefootball, backpagefootball – Against sanitised football – part 2


Netherlands and Spain’s recent World Cup meetings have grown a rivalry

March 31, 2015

“Most football rivalries originate from geographic or political concerns, but the most intriguing are often those based purely upon football. In this respect, the 2010 and 2014 World Cup matches between the Netherlands and Spain, who meet again in Amsterdam on Tuesday night, have been significant enough to form a brand-new rivalry on the international stage. Before the 2010 final, these two countries had never previously met at a major tournament. They’d faced one another in friendlies, in qualifiers and in the Olympic Games of 1920, but there were no previous encounters to set the scene, to provide a backdrop for a chance of competitive revenge.” ESPN – Michael Cox


A Journey off the Beaten Track to Unterhaching

March 31, 2015

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“Having booked my trip to Munich to see FC Bayern take on Borussia Mönchengladbach at the Allianz Arena, I started to consider my schedule for the weekend. With Bayern playing on the Sunday evening and my arriving on the Saturday morning, my immediate thought was to look for a game taking place in the city that afternoon. Having trawled through the fixture list, I found two matches: Regionalliga Bayern side VfR Garching against FC Eintracht Bamberg 2010, and the third division match between SpVgg Unterhaching and Stuttgarter Kickers.” Bundesliga Fanatic


Eight wins out of eight – are Brazil a team reborn post-World Cup?

March 31, 2015

“When they sadly packed away their yellow shirts last July, most Brazil fans must have thought that it would be some time before they would be reaching back into the wardrobe for that particular item. The astonishing 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat to Germany was then followed by the reappointment of the snarling Dunga as national team coach. Morale was low. Fast forward eight months, though, and the mood is more upbeat. Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Chile at the Emirates Stadium in London means that Brazil have now won eight consecutive matches.” BBC – Tim Vickery


Montenegro v Russia – Nightmare on Black Mountain

March 31, 2015

“I honestly thought I was dreaming as I followed the events on Friday night. I was on the overnight train back to Voronezh, still suffering from a wee bit of a fever, and honestly believed that I was watching an amazingly bad action movie from the 1980s. The idiots who turned up to put on a show of ‘Slavic’ force on Friday night in Podgorica, made a mockery of what sport should be. From inappropriate chants to throwing flares, knives, coins and stones, what should have been a straightforward international match between two not-unfriendly nations, turned into an inferno.” backpagefootball