La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1: Who will win titles?

August 14, 2015

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“From managerial changes at some of the continent’s biggest clubs to long-running transfer sagas, it has been a hectic summer of activity across Europe. The season has already begun in France, Germany kick off their league campaign this weekend, while Spain and Italy start the following week. So what has changed? Who are the new faces to watch out for and, crucially, what does it all mean for the title races in Europe’s major leagues?” BBC


Record fourth straight Bundesliga title all but a given for Bayern Munich

August 14, 2015

“No team has ever won four German titles in a row before. Not in the Bundesliga, and not in the complicated days before the national league when the champion was decided by regional tournaments feeding into a knockout. When Bayern won a third straight title last season, it was the fifth time since a national championship was inaugurated in 1903 that a team had completed a hat trick. But nobody’s ever done four. This should be the story of a great quest, of a champion struggling against the entropic imperative to register the greatest run of sustained success in history, but it’s not. Bayern will, almost certainly, win the title.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Henrik Larsson: Humble and hungry for success as a manager

August 14, 2015

“He walks into the room overlooking the pitch at Helsingborg’s Olympia stadium, sticks out his hand and apologises for being late – about two minutes late. To most of us, it’s nothing but, then, Henrik Larsson has never been like most of us. To a footballer whose greatness was built, in part, on the back of impeccable timing, two minutes is two minutes too long. He hasn’t changed, not much at any rate. He’s 43 but still looks fit enough to waltz on to the pitch at Celtic Park and light the place up one more time. Football is now something he plays for fun with his mates once a week in an over-35s league. But his new life as a manager? That’s a different story. That’s the thing that envelops him now.” BBC


Juventus – From A Whisper To A Scream

August 14, 2015

“By anybody’s standards Juventus enjoyed a highly successful 2014/15 season. Not only did they capture the domestic league and cup double, winning the Serie A title for the fourth year in a row, but they also shone in Europe. There was a reminder of past glories as they eliminated Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund on the way to reaching the Champions League final, where they only succumbed to mighty Barcelona after a closely fought encounter. These achievements represented something of a triumph for the Juventus board and especially Andrea Agnelli, who had been appointed President in May 2010 after a disappointing season when the club only finished seventh, thus failing to qualify for the lucrative Champions League.” The Swiss Ramble


Tactical dilemmas for Pellegrini and Mourinho before Man City vs. Chelsea

August 14, 2015

“Manchester City vs. Chelsea might be a title decider if it were played on the second-to-last weekend of the season, rather than the second overall. It’s highly unusual to encounter such an important match so early in the new campaign and this is a meeting between the past two Premier League champions, who happen to be the two favourites to win it again.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Summer in Milan and another changing of the guard

August 14, 2015

“The last two seasons have not been kind to AC Milan. In 2013/2014, Massimiliano Allegri’s ability to get the best out of his average side ended, as he was sacked after a 4-3 defeat to Sassuolo in January 2014. Clarence Seedorf came, saw and did nothing and was replaced in the summer of 2014 by Filippo Inzaghi. Perhaps Milan were hoping for a similar effect that Antonio Conte had at Juventus, a legendary ex-player to galvanise a stagnant club. Whilst Conte had spent a number of years coaching in Serie A and B, Inzaghi’s managerial experience consisted of one year as coach of the Milan primavera side. His inexperience quickly showed, Milan’s season was simply atrocious on every level. The Rossoneri, with their eighteen league titles and seven European Cups, came a miserable tenth place, winning just 13 of 38 games.” backpagefootball


Tactical Analysis: Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur | United superbly compact, Spurs struggle in build-up

August 14, 2015

“The first game of the Premier League season matched up Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United against Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur. Many supporters looked at this clash and saw it as one which was very suitable for the Barclays Premier League opener. Two managers who favour aggressive high pressure and attacking, proactive football along with a host of quality players on either side made this a tantalizing clash on paper. However, although the game promised much as a spectacle in the end the game was far from tantalizing. Both teams appeared nervy, wary of the ramifications that a poor start to a league season can have.” Outside of the Boot


England: Premier League [1st division], 2015-16 location-map with: 14/15 attendances, all-time seasons in 1st division + major titles listed./ Plus, a few words about each of the 3 sides promoted for 15/16 (Cherries, Hornets, Canaries).

August 14, 2015

England: Premier League [1st division], location-map with 14/15 attendances, all-time seasons in 1st division + major titles listed   Links… -Teams, etc…2015–16 Premier League (en.wikipedia.org).  -News, fixtures, results, table, etc…Premier League page at BBC. -My fav site for articles on the Premier League, etc…The Guardian.com/football (theguardian.com/football). -Table, fixtures, results, stats, etc…soccerway.com/national/england/premier-league. -Kits…Barclays Premier League 2015 – 2016 [home, away & alternate kits] (historicalkits.co.uk).” billsportsmaps


Is it time for Rafinha Alcantara to have his Barcelona moment?

August 14, 2015

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“Following on from Rafinha Alcantara’s goalscoring performance in the Uefa Super Cup final, the 22- year-old will be hoping for and expecting more opportunities in the Barcelona starting 11 this coming season. The final was a feather in the cap of Rafinha as he started such a high profile, important game in a position that is usually taken up by the great Neymar. However, due to the extraordinary condition of mumps that the member of last season’s record breaking forward trio was diagnosed with, Rafinha was somewhat surprisingly called upon to take his place as a left sided attacker alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.” Outside of the Boot


The Crisis of Noncrisis: Petr Cech and the Sorrow of Being an Arsenal Fan

August 14, 2015

“You know what soccer club isn’t in crisis this week? Arsenal, that’s what. Arsenal’s noncrisis, its state of not being caught in an irrevocable collapse, is the main talking point from the Gunners’ shock 2-0 home loss to West Ham on Sunday in their first game of the Premier League season. A disappointing result? Yes. Bad? Certainly. The sign of a club hurtling over the cliff’s edge toward the purple tentacles thrashing in the churning sea beneath? Not so fast, says the English soccer media.” Grantland – Brian Phillips


A new dawn at Newcastle United?

August 14, 2015

“The aftermath of a summer, which as Mike Ashley promised, was not devoid of activity at Newcastle United, began on Sunday with a credible two all draw against last season’s surprise package, Southampton. Any residual sympathy for the memory of John Carver and Steve Stone had vanished quickly with an encouraging first half display. New signing Georginio Wijnaldum quickly endeared himself to the fans soon after half time with a quite sensational header. Despite this, new manager, sorry head coach, Steve McClaren seemed to be frantically reaching for the phone at every break in play. Rumours his Geordie accent is already almost as broad of Paul Gascoigne’s have yet to be confirmed.” backpagefootball