Florenzi boosts Roma; Bayern shines, Arsenal flops in Champions League

September 18, 2015

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“A brilliant goal from Alessandro Florenzi earned Roma a 1-1 draw against Barcelona in the highest-profile clash on the second half of Matchday One of the Champions League, while there was further disappointment for the Premier League as Arsenal was beaten away to Dinamo Zagreb, 2-1. Chelsea, though, did record a comfortable victory, 4-0 over Maccabi Tel Aviv to relieve some of the mounting pressure on Jose Mourinho, while there were a pair of comfortable wins for the two Bundesliga sides in action: Bayern Munich winning 3-0 away to Olympiakos and Bayer Leverkusen thumping BATE Borisov 4-1 at home.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Five-Game Superstars: Just How Good Are Riyad Mahrez and Andre Ayew?

September 18, 2015

“How to hang around the top of the Premier League while grabbing plenty of neutral support along the way? Five games into the season, the answer appears to be: ‘Get yourself a tricky winger.’ So far, Swansea and Leicester City have combined for five wins, four draws, and one loss — all while playing some of the most fun-to-watch soccer in England. Riyad Mahrez has led Leicester, a team that came into the season looking like possible relegation fodder (oops), to the only undefeated record outside of Manchester City. Eleven points from five games is one heck of a haul, and it’s probably enough to permanently remove them from relegation talk. Meanwhile, Andre Ayew has helped propel Swansea to a draw against Chelsea and a win against Manchester United.” Grantland (Video)


Analysis: Juventus’ struggles in midfield and the build-up phase

September 18, 2015

“Last season Juventus had one of the best seasons in their history, winning a fourth consecutive Serie A title, the Coppa Italia and coming only a step away from Champions League glory. The Bianconeri midfield was pivotal in their success: Andrea Pirlo led the likes of Pogba, Marchisio and Vidal, all definitively consecrated as world-class midfielders.” Outside of the Boot


Goal Analysis: How PSV Eindhoven defeated Manchester United in the Champions League

September 18, 2015

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“In a game with several plot lines— Memphis’ return to PSV, Luke Shaw’s injury, Martial getting his first start after a great debut, Wayne Rooney’s injury prohibiting him from playing, as well as PSV’s coach, Phillip Cocu, a former player under Van Gaal, the three goals all being scored between the 40th and 60th minutes were just another piece of an already interesting game.” Outside of the Boot


Style & substance: How Liverpool’s five teen talents got on against Bordeaux

September 18, 2015

“Liverpool kicked off their Europa League campaign on Thursday night with a tricky trip to Bordeaux and it was an evening that had plenty of positives, as well as a few negatives. It was clear to see from earlier in the week that Brendan Rodgers was going to use the competition to give some of his youngsters some game time, whilst also ensuring the right experience was moulded into the squad. The Northern Irishman left out a whole host of stars ahead of the trip, with Christian Benteke, Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren, James Milner, Lucas Leiva and Martin Skrtel all staying put on Merseyside.” Squawka


European Ennui: Surveying the Early-Season Worries of Juventus, Chelsea, Sevilla, and Gladbach

September 18, 2015

“The Champions League is here! And we’re so excited we’ll say it again: The Champions League is here! Starting today, the best of Europe’s best will square off every few weeks until the final on May 28 in Milan. Well, at least, that’s what is supposed to happen: For a quartet of qualifiers from the continent’s top four leagues, the first month and a half of the season has gone just about as poorly as anyone could’ve imagined. And as if to prove the validity of the cliché ‘misery loves company,’ three of them are in the same group. Let’s take a look at how worried each team should be.” Grantland


Homage to Murcia – A Season of Football Anarchy

September 18, 2015

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“Whilst the book is principally about travelling around Murcia ,with the fans CAP Ciudad de Murcia, I mixed with the ultras and hinchas of Cadiz, Athletic Club, Seville and SD Eibar as well meeting many British and Irish fans who get their kicks from following the Spanish games not so glamourous clubs. I went to over 50 matches in the 2013-14 and travelled to places as diverse as Bilbao, Gibraltar, Soria, Madrid and every nook and cranny of Murcia, searching for what makes the football sub-culture of Spain tick. I also discovered some of the lesser known football pioneers that brought football to Murcia and Spain in general including the Spanish Geordie Manny Pelegin who brought football to Lorca in the 1890s.” Homage to Murcia

Book review: Homage to Murcia – A Season of Football Anarchy by Tony Higgins
“Tony Higgins, long time friend of The Football Pink, has just released his first self-published e-book, Homage to Murcia: A Season of Football Anarchy, the title largely borrowed from George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia and chronicles Tony’s experiences of following Spanish lower league club Ciudad de Murcia, home and away, through the 2013/14 season. Immediately apparent in this book is his sense of disillusionment with modern football, something an ever-growing number of weary devotees are experiencing as corporate avarice continue its rampage across the values of the supposed game of the people.” Football Pink


Can Marco Verratti progress at PSG?

September 18, 2015

“Sometimes it is easy to forget that Marco Verratti is merely 22 years old. During his stay at Paris Saint-Germain, the Italian youngster has drawn constant comparisons with none other than Andrea Pirlo, and is widely expected to take over from ‘Il Architetto’ as the chief orchestrator in the Italian midfield. The diminutive Verratti has a unique skill-set. Blessed with a sharp footballing brain and equally nimble footwork, he usually uses these strengths to weave out of trouble in defensive areas. His ability to find wingers in advanced positions with 50-yard passes is exceptional, but he is equally adept at playing pass-and-move. Even more remarkably, he does his fair share of the dirty work and possesses a mean sliding tackle which can take an opposition player by surprise, given his 5 foot 5 inch frame.” Outside of the Boot


Death By Football?

September 18, 2015

“‘We’ve nothing to fear but fear itself’ – Franklin D’s great rallying call to the American people in the depths of the Great Depression. It’s a line that’s been on my mind since the horrible West Ham defeat. Naturally, it was amplified on Saturday evening as Liverpool played fear football again, lost again, and Twitter burned. Brendan Rodgers has the fear and it’s eating him and his Liverpool legacy game by game. And it’s sad. Remember ‘death by football’? Poor old Brendan is suffering death by football – but not his football. Instead, a football that goes against his blood.” Tomkins Times