Euro 2016: Qualifiers for the tournament in France

October 14, 2015

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“The group stage of qualification for Euro 2016 is over and the make-up of next summer’s tournament is taking shape. There will be 24 teams competing in the finals. France were assured of a place as hosts, and a further 19 countries have qualified automatically – 18 by finishing either first or second in their group and one more as the highest third-placed finisher. There will also be four play-off ties to determine the final four teams competing in France – and we now know who will be competing in those ties.” BBC


Albania v Serbia – Fans’ dreams sacrificed to political goals

October 14, 2015

“Tonight sees the biggest game in Albanian football history take place at the Elbasan Arena. The Balkan nation have the opportunity to qualify for a major international tournament for the first time in their history. All that is required is a win in their penultimate match and for Denmark to simultaneously fail to win in Portugal and they’ll be home and hosed. In a qualification process littered with extraordinary performances by smaller nations – Iceland, Wales and Northern Ireland all spring to mind – Albania’s campaign still holds up as one of the most impressive. At the time of the draw last February, Albania were ranked as the 40th best team in Europe and allocated in seeding pot 5, alongside such footballing greats as Moldova, Azerbaijan and neighbours Macedonia.” backpagefootball


Euro 2016 countdown begins for Wales and Chris Coleman

October 14, 2015

“If qualifying for Euro 2016 in front of 750 hardy Welsh fans in torrential Bosnian rain was an intimate ordination ceremony for a select few, Wales’ campaign finale at home to Andorra was the moment the doors were thrown open for the ultimate party. This was a celebration 57 years in the making, the chance for 33,000 success-deprived supporters to welcome home their heroes at a cacophonous Cardiff City Stadium.” BBC


Tactical Analysis: Argentina 0-2 Ecuador | Argentina fail shamefully in the opener

October 14, 2015

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“Ecuador was the surprise on the first day of the South American qualifying, winning in Buenos Aires against the Argentine national team, which played without L. Messi but with a very strong squad, against a modest Ecuadorian national team. Ecuador scored a historic victory by a 2 -0 margin, to mark the first occasion in 22 years that Argentina lost in Buenos Aires.” Outside of the Boot


The peaceful invasion that London feared – England vs. Germany, 1935

October 14, 2015

“The mid-1930s was a time of growing fear in Europe, indeed the world. Germany, in particular, was a major concern for the rest of the continent. In 1935, a number of events pointed the way towards the conflict that was World War Two. This was the year that the German air force, the Luftwaffe, was formed. A few days later, Adolf Hitler ignored the Versailles Treaty and announced that Germany would re-arm. And in September, the Nuremberg Laws, an anti-semitic doctrine that made it illegal for Jews and non-Jews to have any form of relationship, came into effect. The rest of the world was scared of Germany and its intentions.” Football Pink


European Chance Maps and Taking a Look at Some Early Extremes

October 14, 2015

“After such a draining international break for us Americans, there will be no hard-core analysis here this week. It’s a nice time to introduce and use a few new tools to take a look at some of the more extreme early teams as far as chance creation. Following Paul Riley’s lead, I’ve opened up chance/deep completion maps for the big 4 European Leagues (he’s taken care of the EPL quite nicely). It’s a tableau workbook with every pass ending within 30 yards of goal for every team with all kinds of filters available. If you want to see only long-balls that wind up incomplete tried by Sassuolo, you can. If you want to see only chances created from the left half-space by Koln, go ahead. These will ideally be updated every two weeks.” Stats Bomb


Euro 2016 – Are the minnows really getting better?

October 14, 2015

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“After each round of international matches, particularly with one where a major upset occurs, one often hears the phrase, ‘there are no minnows anymore.’ But is this really true? Can any team really beat any other? Does Andorra stand a chance in a match against Germany, or could Guam beat Argentina? Most likely this is no but it does raise the question – are these so-called footballing minnows really improving or is it simply good teams getting beaten on bad days?” backpagefootball


Mario Gaspar and Marcelino: A match made in heaven

October 14, 2015

“For Villarreal, standing atop the La Liga summit for the first time in their history, 2015/16 represents a culmination of an extraordinary rejuvenation. European semi-finalists three times since 2003, domestic runners-up in ’08, yet relegated in 2011; they are perennial overachievers beset by an implausible penchant for self-destruction. Never the bride, yet their presence on the guestlist is achievement enough.” Outside of the Boot


Hump Day Dumpster Dive: Manchester United must free political prisoner Victor Valdés

October 14, 2015

“Is the international break over yet? This one felt like it lasted for an eternity, and we should all be happy to see the back of it. Sport fandom is hysterical enough as it is without the added dangers of fervent nationalism. Mexico beat U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! in the Border Wall Cup, the Netherlands joined Vatican City as literally the only countries in Europe not to qualify for the newly-expanded Euro 2016, and your favorite club’s best player probably picked up an injury. What a time to be alive. Let’s dive into the dumpster, shall we?” Fusion