Reality has displaced rivalry between Bayern and Dortmund

April 3, 2015

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“It’s inconceivable. Less than three years ago, Borussia Dortmund was its second consecutive Bundesliga crown. A year later, it was a second place finish, both domestically and in the Champions League final. And last season, Dortmund came second yet again. It’s inconceivable, then, that Jürgen Klopp’s side, ahead of Saturday’s Klassiker, is now 10th, 31 points back of first. But that word, to evoke a famous cinematic trope, may not mean what you think it means.” Soccer Gods


Cape Verde’s win in Portugal will reverberate and be remembered

April 3, 2015

“Let’s start with the caveats. There was no Cristiano Ronaldo, João Moutinho, Nani, Fábio Coentrão or Bruno Alves. There wasn’t even José Bosingwa. This was a young, experimental Portugal side. It was only a friendly. It was windy. And Cape Verde have improved immeasurably over the past decade; they are ranked 38th in the world, not quite as good as Wales but better than Scotland, and were denied a play-off for World Cup qualification only after they were penalised for fielding an ineligible player. But still, this is a result that will reverberate and will be remembered – the night when Portugal, semi-finalists at the last European Championship, hosted their former colony and lost 2-0.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Pressing, Lallana and the Future of Tactical Analysis

April 3, 2015

“The lack of tactical pressing by Liverpool under Rodgers, how this contrasts with perceptions about the Reds, and why the players’ individual attributes drive any pressing, rather than any coordinated plan. Which teams press well around Europe? Ruling out the issue of fatigue, especially over the long term. One player’s inability to press should not impact the team so significantly. The best ‘presser’ should be the manager, because a lack of mobility is not a good enough excuse for a inability to press.” Tomkins Times


Sunderland – Distant Sun

April 3, 2015

“These are tough times for Sunderland. Last season was also difficult, but finished on a high with an appearance in the Capital One cup final and the ‘great escape’ as a run of late victories avoided relegation. However, the club is currently just outside the relegation zone, leading to the sacking of Gus Poyet. As chairman Ellis Short explained, ‘Sadly, we have not made the progress that any of us had hoped for this season and we find ourselves battling, once again, at the wrong end of the table. We have therefore made the difficult decision that a change is needed.’ It remains to be seen whether former Dutch national team manager Dick Advocaat is the right man for the job, but it is clear that the club is completely focused on retaining its Premier League status, especially with the blockbuster new television deal on the horizon.” The Swiss Ramble


The Fun in France: Are We Set for a Boring End to the European Soccer Season?

April 3, 2015

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“Can you believe it’s April already? While there have been times over the past eight months when the season’s felt like an interminable drag — those weeks of domestic cup games, the handful of international breaks, consecutive weekends in which the best game involves Newcastle — we’re finally here. With just about two months left in most leagues across Europe, it’s the stretch run, where the rubber meets the road, the standings approach finality, and things become truly exciting. Except, maybe not this year.” Grantland


Valencia: Embarking on a new era?

April 3, 2015

“After losing more games than winning in the league last season, Valencia failed to qualify for either of Europe’s elite competitions. This season however, is a different story for the club as they’ve brought in a new manager and plenty of new players in their quest to become on of Spain’s finest once again.” Outside of the Boot


Barcelona and Real Madrid are on board, but Spain’s new television revenue plan is still stalled

April 3, 2015

“Share the wealth, we say, but when you’re as wealthy as Real Madrid and Barcelona, it might not pay to take that stance. La Liga’s upper class is strictly limited to those two clubs, and they each pocketed close to $174 million in television revenue last season. Leading the middle classes was Valencia, with $59 million, while league champions Atlético Madrid only had $51 million to show for toppling El Real and La Blaugrana.Soccer Gods


Italy at Argentina ’78 – Bearzot leads the renaissance

April 3, 2015

“When the Romantics of Brazil imploded in Barcelona’s Sarria Stadium against an unfancied Italy in the second group phase of the 1982 World Cup, the purists’ dreams died, and Italy’s eventual triumph in Madrid just days later was greeted with largely grudging acknowledgment. Italy’s victory in Spain is often advanced as some kind of immoral victory of Roundheads over Cavaliers. In truth, it was no such thing.” backpagefootball