Romania: a team of ageing journeymen somehow ranked No7 in the world

September 8, 2015

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“On the face of it, everything looks rosy for the Romania national side. They’re ranked seventh in the world and they sit top of their qualifying group for Euro 2016, having conceded only one goal in six games. If they beat Hungary away on Friday, they’d be a win from securing their place in France next summer.
Roy Hodgson tells England they can pull off Euro 2016 success. The president of the Romanian Football Federation, Razvan Burleanu, has been happy to take credit for Romania’s rise, saying that he had a plan to take Romania into the world’s top 20, then the top 15, then the top 10, and merrily asserting that his country is ahead of schedule.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Tom English: Poland challenge next for fighting Scotland

September 8, 2015

“For Scotland, the sensible thing is to look forward in hope, but the irresistible urge is to look back in anger. The contrasting images of intensity and energy and goals against the world champion Germans on Monday night compared to the meek surrender in Georgia three days before is just the latest manifestation of Scotland being a footballing parody of itself. The fluctuation is a brand of torture that has been reduced to a fine art in Scotland, a form of water-boarding, just for football fans. The prevailing agony of the Scottish supporters leaving Hampden after the 3-2 loss to Germany might have taken the shape of the contention – ‘If only we’d played like that in Tbilisi we wouldn’t be in such a hole.'” BBC

Germany v Poland – The Water Battle of Frankfurt
“The plaque underneath the statue of Poland’s legendary national team coach, Kazimierz Górski, outside Warsaw’s new national stadium reads: ‘As long as the ball is in play, everything is possible.’ On the occasion the biggest match of Górski’s time in charge of the national team, whenever the ball was in play it would be repeatedly stuck in deep pools of rainwater.” backpagefootball


What is a ‘False 10’?

September 8, 2015

“In recent seasons, and particularly at the beginning of the current campaign, a trend is emerging which could eventually see the extinction of the no.10 in its traditional role. Many have written about what they perceive to be the false no.10 position. Most of these pieces claim that the role comprises of a player who starts just off the main striker but ends up in the box to score. My argument is that this is either a mere misinterpretation of the second striker role or else it is simply a false nine playing behind a striker that drifts wide or drops off to create space for the false nine. The false nine position is based on the principle that it is better to arrive in a location of threat to the opposition than to start in it. My interpretation of the false no.10 is someone who starts elsewhere with the intention of arriving in the no.10 position. In doing so, they are running into a space where their threat is heightened, instead of beginning in this zone and having to leave it to find space.” Outside of the Boot


Wales, Iceland, and Wait, Who? Your Not-Quite-Last-Minute Guide to Euro 2016 Qualifying

September 8, 2015

“You know what’s not fun? Having to go a weekend without club soccer, yet this is the reality the gods1 of FIFA and UEFA have cast upon us over the next few days. But you know what is fun? International tournaments. You might remember exciting events such as last summer’s Women’s World Cup, when the USWNT kicked ass and Carli Lloyd finally became a household name. Or perhaps you recall the summer before, when Germany made David Luiz cry. If evoking either of those memories makes you yearn for the past, do not fret: After two summers of World Cups, the European Championships kick off in June 2016.” Grantland


Gritty comeback win over Peru gives USA a foundation to build on

September 8, 2015

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“In sports, team identity can be a tricky thing. What do you want to be about? What are your fundamentals? Your bedrock? And do you achieve the defining characteristics that you’ve set out as a goal for your outfit? Jurgen Klinsmann announced some audacious plans when he took over the U.S. men’s national team in 2011. He wanted nothing less than for the U.S. to become a proactive team that initiated the attack against elite opponents and made them react. That kind of transformation takes time, of course—lots of it—but it doesn’t mean you have to throw out all the good things that defined the U.S. team pre-Klinsmann.” SI


The coming of age of Jonjo Shelvey

September 8, 2015

“While football fans are generally an angry bunch, Liverpool fans might be slightly worse. In the last three years, there haven’t been many decisions or instances that they have all agreed upon. The decision to let go of a bald, talented 21-year-old was such an occasion. Liverpool have seven points on board and have won two games and drawn a tough away fixture against Arsenal. But a major issue with the Reds is the dearth of creativity, especially in the midfield. No wonder Liverpool fans feel like it was criminal to let the player go. But in fairness to Brendan Rodgers (and Steven Gerrard), the midfielder admitted that the Liverpool manager tried his best to make him stay.” Outside of the Boot


Philipp Lahm and Germany’s full back problems

September 8, 2015

“As the modern game drifts ever-further infield, infatuated with in-swinging widemen and central playmakers, the full-back role has undergone unrivalled reconstruction. No longer the abode of the physically challenged, the final name on the team sheet; their roles have evolved, their importance increased to the point where Dani Alves became one of the game’s most feared attackers, Luke Shaw a £30million teen. It’s fitting, therefore, that Europe’s most progressive footballing nation embraced this very modern love affair long before the mainstream considered their importance a rival to the jet-heeled wingers and laser-eyed frontmen.” Outside of the Boot


Randomness And The Fog Of Goals

September 8, 2015

“Short termism is rife in football coverage these days. From the insatiable desire to learn 5 things from each match day to the pendulum swing in Falcao’s perceived talent level between last summer and this. It’s common to hear strikers’ peaks and troughs talked about in terms of confidence, hunger and desire, as though each change in output is the result of some tweak in the internal machinery of the player’s mentality and training. But how much of this is true and how much can be attributed to statistical noise? Take these three players, for instance. Goal-scoring in 6 consecutive season adjusted for minutes played. Who do you think they are? Which player is the best?” Stats Bomb