Iceland’s place at Euro 2016 a result of calculated development, growth

September 10, 2015

iceland-national-team-euro-2016
“Iceland’s ascent as a footballing nation, falling at the final hurdle of 2014 World Cup qualification before become one of the first to qualify for Euro 2016, has been one of the big surprises in recent years. However, looking at the infrastructure the tiny island nation has built, it seems like less of a mystery and more of an inevitability. Despite an average daily temperature hovering around freezing for nearly half the year, Iceland has been slowly creeping toward the upper echelons of European football since the new millennium. Seven of the squad that pulled off a historic double against the Netherlands, winning 1-0 away from home on Sept. 3 after a 2-0 victory in Reykjavík in October, also qualified for the 2011 UEFA Under-21 Championship.” SI (Video)


FC Astana – The Kazakhstani minnows who are taking on Europe’s elite

September 10, 2015

“In beating APOEL Nicosia 2-1 on aggregate, FC Astana have become the first team from the former Soviet Union state of Kazakhstan to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League. The Kazakhstanis beat Maribor of Solvenia, HJK Helsinki of Finland and Cypriots APOEL on their way to the group stages for their maiden season with Europe’s elite after being drawn against Atlético Madrid, Galatasaray and Benfica in an almost impossible Group C.” backpagefootball


How will Liverpool shape up after the return of Daniel Sturridge

September 10, 2015

“The 2014-15 season for Liverpool felt like some kind of nightmare hallucination brought on by the euphoric rush that was experienced the year prior. A large part of this nightmare hallucination was that despite all the willing of the fans, and the support of medical staff between two continents and indeed two sports (football and baseball) Daniel Sturridge could not find his way back onto a pitch in playing condition. The argument that was put forth by Liverpool fans in pubs, offices, schools and streets worldwide was, ‘If Sturridge were healthy, this season would be completely different.’ This mentality has bled over into the current campaign, with Liverpool failing to make any kind of statement offensively in its first four games. However, this nightmare appears to be ending and so we will look at how Liverpool’s front line will line up with Sturridge in the lineup.” Outside of the Boot


Alexis Sanchez could be the forward Arsenal have been searching for

September 10, 2015

“The revelation that Danny Welbeck will miss half the season — days after the summer transfer window ended without Arsene Wenger’s buying a single senior outfielder — prompted anger from Arsenal fans frustrated by the lack of a superstar striker. Olivier Giroud has improved since joining in 2012, but he is unlikely to hit 20 league goals, while Theo Walcott still doesn’t look like a reliable out-and-out striker.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Manchester City – I Threw A Brick Through A Window

September 10, 2015

David Silva
“So Manchester City are once again spending big, with this summer’s transfer window seeing the arrivals of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Nicolas Otamendi, Fabian Delph and Patrick Roberts. This should have come as no surprise given comments from chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak earlier this year, ‘We want to go to the next level and a squad that has the capability and quality to win the Premier League and compete in and win the Champions League and go all the way in tow cup competitions in England.’” The Swiss Ramble


Der Kaiser Wears a Tracksuit: The Management Career of Franz Beckenbauer

September 10, 2015

“The lists compiling football’s best players nearly always include the Franz Beckenbauer fairly high up the order. The German World Cup winning captain of 1974 amassed 103 caps and with his nonchalant style invented the role of the ball-playing libero. His playing career saw the twilight of his days spent in the USA helping to raise the profile of the nascent NASL as well as a return to Germany at Hamburg SV. These moves, however, were not the end of der Kaiser as he moved into management.” Bundesliga Fanatic


FA Cup: Ilkeston goalkeeper’s journey from war in Ukraine

September 10, 2015

“Playing in the seventh tier of English football was probably not quite how Evandro Rachoni saw his career going when he left Brazil to seek fame and fortune. But then, being threatened by masked gunmen as a platoon of tanks drove by was probably not part of the plan either. That, though, is just one part of an incredible journey that has seen the Brazilian goalkeeper go from playing against Ballon d’Or winner Rivaldo in Angola, escaping war-torn Ukraine to now living in the small Derbyshire town of Ilkeston preparing to play in the FA Cup first qualifying round.” BBC