Being Branislav: How Ivanovic Became One of the Best (and Unique) Players in the Premier League

March 19, 2015

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“Look at Branislav Ivanovic and you won’t see the modern conception of a full-back. He’s no Dani Alves, getting to the end line, pumping in crosses, and pinning back opposition wingers. No, he’s a physically intimidating slab of Serbian sinew, with a questionable haircut and legs like two Doric columns. A glance at Ivanovic recalls the days when everyone who played defense really wanted to play defense — to make two-footed tackles, to launch clearances into the stands — and not do much else. Except Ivanovic defies that old-school classification, too. In fact, the 31-year-old seems to defy any classification. A right back on the team sheet, Ivanovic has become one of the best in the world by doing it his own way.” Grantland


Swansea City – A Design For Life

March 19, 2015

“The past few years have been pretty successful for Swansea City. After becoming the first Welsh club to gain promotion to the Premier League in 2011, they have since firmly established themselves in England’s top tier, finishing 11th, 9th and 12th in the three seasons since then. During this period, they have also won the Capital One Cup, which qualified them for the Europa League, where they reached the knockout stage before being eliminated by Napoli. In the process, they have continued to follow a prudent financial strategy As the club explained after promotion: ‘Our long term goals will cater for Swansea City remaining as a top flight club, but not in any way that puts the company’s financial stability at risk. This remains paramount in our management philosophy.’” The Swiss Ramble


Dortmund 0-3 Juventus: deep defending and quick countering

March 19, 2015

“Juventus produced a classic away performance to win this tie comfortably. Jurgen Klopp named his default 4-2-3-1 formation. Kevin Kampl made his Champions League debut on the right, with Henrikh Mikhitaryan on the left flank – neither are natural wingers, and both prefer to drift inside. Soktatis Papastathopoulos started at right-back, with Lukas Piszczek still out following the injury he collected in the first leg.” Zonal Marking


Manchester City Was Ready for Lionel Messi, or So It Thought

March 19, 2015

“The moment that encapsulated the game came after about 40 minutes. Lionel Messi, Barcelona’s wizard in residence, had the ball near the sideline. James Milner, a sturdy Manchester City midfielder, approached. Messi caressed the ball with his foot. Milner tried to shuffle along. Suddenly, the ball was through Milner’s legs, Messi was off behind him and Milner collapsed onto his rear end, unable to stand up against Messi’s bag of tricks.” NY Times


Tactical Analysis : Marseille 0-0 Lyon | Tactical variety on display in captivating draw

March 19, 2015

“Despite being marred by crowd trouble and a fair bit of controversy surrounding several key refereeing decisions, Sunday’s scoreless draw between Olympique de Marseille and Olympique Lyonnais may be even more important for what it can tell us about each squad’s approach. Billed as one of a pair of massive matches on the weekend, the other being Paris Saint-Germain’s visit to Bordeaux, the stakes were raised considerably when Les Girondins managed to scrape a 3-2 win in a match similarly marred by poor refereeing. A win by the home side would move them ahead of PSG, only one point behind their rivals, while a victory for Les Gones would see them seven clear of Marseille with just nine matches to play. Coupled with Lyon’s vastly superior goal difference, a loss would see Marseille all but eliminated from the title race. Thus, the stakes were high, and, buoyed by a record crowd at the Stade Velodrome, we were treated to a deliciously feisty encounter.” Outside of the Boot


English failure in Europe is an indictment against the Premier League

March 19, 2015

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“There are wholly unrelated and individual reasons why England’s clubs all failed to achieve positive results this week in the Champions League. There always are. Arsenal throwing away a 3-0 lead at home was a freak result (in statistical terms, at least), Liverpool seemed to play for a narrow defeat in Madrid, Chelsea weren’t under any real pressure to win at Maribor and Manchester City … God knows. But a look at recent seasons suggests that these shocks should no longer come as a surprise. Since leading UEFA’s country coefficient rankings in 2007-08 — the year of the all-English Champions League final in Moscow — Premier League clubs have slowly but steadily chalked up less impressive results in European competitions.” ESPN


Team Focus: Home Providing No Comfort for Stuttering Roma

March 19, 2015

“Full of himself, Sky Italia’s garrulous orator in chief Fabio Caressa made a gag at Roma’s expense before Monday night’s game with Sampdoria at the Olimpico. Doing a shift on the network’s sports news channel, he claimed to have exclusive pictures of the team’s final training session. ‘Very intense,’ he said as a cue to roll the VT. It was a promo of zombie drama The Walking Dead. As a joke it didn’t go down particularly well with the club and the fans, a precious few of whom, perhaps taking themselves a little too seriously, threatened to tear up their subscriptions.”  WhoScored?


Attendance worries have quietly disappeared for Major League Soccer

March 19, 2015

“Worrying about attendance figures has long been an American soccer obsession. Supporters religiously fretted over single-game crowd counts, average attendances, season tickets sold, advance ticket sales for that upcoming friendly, and the rest. We all did a little touchdown dance every time a big soccer crowd filled the bowl or whenever an attendance record fell. I’m not sure what comparing MLS attendance figures to leagues around the world ever told us about actual, popular appeal – but that sure didn’t stop us, did it? But these soccer times, they are a-changin’. Seems so, anyway.” Soccer Gods


Scotland’s newest player has never been to Scotland

March 19, 2015

“Standard practice when being called up to a play for a country other than your birth is to stress your heritage, your love of your adopted land and how its blood courses through your veins and its culture through your mind, despite the terrible luck that saw you exit the womb elsewhere. Such a stance is a little tenuous from Bournemouth winger Matt Ritchie, though, as Scotland’s latest call-up has admitted that he has never actually been to Scotland.” Fusion