France attacks: Sporting fixtures postponed after attacks

November 16, 2015

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“Several sporting fixtures in France have been postponed after a series of attacks across Paris in which 129 people were killed. Three suicide bombers died in blasts outside the Stade de France while France played Germany on Friday. With fans unable to leave, many poured on to the pitch, while both national teams spent the night in the stadium. All European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup matches set to be played in France this weekend are off. However, the French Football Federation (FFF) said Tuesday’s international friendly against England at Wembley would go ahead following three days of national mourning.” BBC (Video)

As Paris Attacks Unfolded, Players and Fans at Soccer Stadium Remained Unaware
“Shortly after 9:45 p.m. Friday, at halftime of an exhibition soccer match between France and Germany, the players on both teams went to their locker rooms to rest while the coaches, who normally would have been reviewing their strategies, instead received shocking news. Everyone had heard the two explosions outside the stadium during the first half of the game, and Didier Deschamps, who leads the French team, and Joachim Löw, Germany’s manager, were told by French officials that there was a developing crisis, with violence reported near the stadium as well as around the city. President François Hollande, who had been at the match, had already been rushed from the stadium, they were told, but the second half would proceed.” NY Times

Wembley to welcome France for England friendly in spirit of defiance
“So, the show goes on then. As news of the atrocities in Paris on Friday night filtered through to Alicante during the second half of England’s friendly against Spain – a tumorous, spreading sense of horror with each fresh round of details – football became an instant irrelevance. At the time it seemed certain that Tuesday’s game against France, at Wembley, would be cancelled. In part because of the obvious pressing security concerns, but above all because of the sheer rawness of the occasion, the sense of unnecessary intrusion on a period of pain and grief.” Guardian


The Academy Series | 10 best Barcelona products: Xavi, Iniesta, and Messi feature

November 16, 2015

“FC Barcelona’s La Masia is renowned in football and with good reason – it is undoubtedly one of the best youth academies in the world. The training regime at La Masia focuses on performance over results. With good performances, victories and trophies will arrive in due time. Parents are instructed to ask the youth players, their kids, whether they played well instead of ‘did you win?’. This has bred a philosophy-centric education system at Barça. The implementation of concepts from Total Football by Johan Cruyff focuses on technical ability and football intelligence – players being trained to make the best decisions on the pitch, having the technique to execute ideas which were seen and thought of a few steps in advance of their opponents. Out-thinking and out-playing rather than out-muscling the opposition.” Outside of the Boot


Euro 2016 play-offs: How the ties stand – and who is through

November 16, 2015

“The 2016 European Championship play-offs are over halfway through, with Hungary becoming the 21st team to qualify for France. The Republic of Ireland and Sweden are among the six teams competing for the final three spots. How do the ties stand?” BBC


Goal Analysis: How Sevilla’s pressing worked against Real Madrid

November 16, 2015

“Real Madrid travelled to Sevilla as La Liga leaders and started far brighter than the Andalucians; who have struggled to find the form they hit in the 2014-2015 term, seeing them finish in a highly respectable 5th position and lift the Europa League trophy, mustering up only 3 wins from their first 10 fixtures this season before this encounter.” Outside of the Boot


Tactical Analysis: Dortmund 3-2 Schalke | Dortmund keep changing to pick up the win

November 16, 2015

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“In the first Ruhr derby of this season, Borussia Dortmund emerged victorious while Schalke’s poor run of results continued. Thomas Tuchel started out with a 4-3-3 system. For the visitors, Andre Breitenreiter continued with the 4-4-2 system.” Outside of the Boot


Brazil fail to reach World Cup? Don’t rule it out as they head to Argentina

November 16, 2015

“That if Brazil failed to qualify for the World Cup? The prospect seems incredible but it is one that football may have to try to come to terms with. It is still a distant possibility but, given how awful the side have been at their last two major tournaments and given how they have started qualifying for Russia 2018, it is not as preposterous a scenario as it would once have seemed. With Argentina also stuttering off the blocks there will be an unexpected sense of anxiety about Thursday’s meeting in El Monumental.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Euro 2016: Are Spain over their World Cup hangover?

November 16, 2015

“Despite a solid record in qualifying of nine wins from 10 games, European champions Spain are facing several dilemmas as they prepare for the defence of their title in France next summer. Veteran coach Vicente del Bosque faces selection problems in several areas, and there is also a more general concern over La Roja’s playing style as they continue to address the lingering hangover from last summer’s World Cup finals campaign, where they made a shock group-stage exit. Going into Friday’s friendly with England, these are the main issues.” BBC


West Ham – New Gold Dream

November 16, 2015

“West Ham’s 2014/15 season was like the proverbial game of two halves under Sam Allardyce, as a promising start took the club into the top four at Christmas, before a wretched slump produced just three victories in the next 21 games. The Hammers still finished in a comfortable 12th place, which should presumably have satisfied joint chairman David Sullivan, as he described “retaining our Premier League status” as one of his highlights of the season. The club also qualified for Europe for the first time since 2007, albeit only by finishing top of the Fair Play table.” The Swiss Ramble