Jamie Vardy and Leicester City climb every hurdle when doubts are raised

April 12, 2016

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“All season, it feels as if it has been a case of the world waiting for Leicester City to slip up. Modern football is a place in which dreams melt to air; fairytales were for the 70s. And yet every time it appears they may falter, they somehow find an inner resolve that carries them through. Leicester may be the mice that roared – but they are mice with the strongest of backbones. On Sunday Leicester looked as if they had run out of attacking ideas. Sunderland had begun to look as though their vague threat might become something more substantial. Even with Jamie Vardy, thoughts had drifted away from which non-league side he scored against four years ago to doubts about his form.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

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Russia’s Leicester City: How FK Rostov are spearheading an unlikely title challenge

April 12, 2016

Rostov-on-Don, a quiet city based in the South-West part of the Russian Federation with a population of just under 1.1 million people. Not a place known by many outside of Russia and within Russia, both the city and the region are most well-known for its agricultural industry which produces one-third of Russia’s vegetable oil from sunflowers. However, in the last few months, this has changed considerably thanks to the efforts of the town’s football club FK Rostov. When analysing Rostov’s history in post-Soviet era Russian football since 1991, their record has been unremarkable.” Outside of the Boot


Group of death: FIFA officials’ financial secrets exposed in new Wikileaks-style trove

April 12, 2016

“Mossack Fonseca, a prominent law firm headquartered in Panama—with offices in 36 other jurisdictions—sprung a leak last year. That leak produced approximately 11.5 million documents revealing over 200,000 entities and 14,000 clients, surfacing relationships that had remained behind a veil of secrecy and attorney-client privilege. The leaked emails and documents reveal a wide spectrum of clientele—from politicians to celebrities, athletes, the ridiculously wealthy and powerful, and corporations—who have been turning to the firm for decades to create offshore shell companies, corporate vehicles that leave virtually no ownership footprint.” Fusion


Around Europe: Barcelona burnout; Ben Arfa makes his Euro case

April 12, 2016

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“There were decisive moments in the title race in England and Germany, as respective leaders Leicester City and Bayern Munich came closer to the finishing line, though a shock result in Spain has opened the door to the pack chasing defending champion Barcelona. A new coach with a familiar name enjoyed a successful start at Lazio, while in France, a new hat trick hero has given national team boss Didier Deschamps a selection dilemma leading into Euro 2016. Here is what caught our eye this week from Around Europe.” SI (Video)


Can Southampton Become A Force In The Premier League?

April 12, 2016

“In a more normal Premier League season, the wider media would probably be spending more time rehashing the same clichés they’ve used for Southampton over the past couple of years. They’re hanging around the top eight having survived another summer of key departures (Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne) and there’s no real signs of danger as they’re once again above average in controlling shot numbers for and against. Perhaps the quality of attacking football hasn’t quite been to the standard of the previous two seasons but it’s still been satisfactory. Their goal difference is fine enough at +11 and in a year of chaos and turbulence, Southampton are being their steady selves.” Stats Bomb (Video)


Tactical Analysis: Barcelona 2-1 Atlético | Red card = Atleti pseudo-compactness, Suarez and Messi capitalise

April 12, 2016

“In a repeat of the 2013-14 quarter final, Barcelona were pitted against Diego Simeone’s stubborn Atletico side who were riding high in La Liga, 6 points off their opponents on Tuesday night in 2nd place, having just swept aside Real Betis 5-1 at the weekend. Barcelona, on the other hand, came into this fixture on the back of their first defeat in 39 games to none other than their arch rivals Real Madrid at the Camp Nou. Facing the other team in Madrid just a few days later, who on their day have proven just as difficult to beat as Real, ideally wasn’t what they were looking for in terms of a confidence booster. However, considering the absence of key Atleti’s centre-backs Jose Gimenez and Stefan Savic and Barca’s quite phenomenal record against los Rojiblancos (6 consecutive wins), Barca would likely have come into this game, as they do in every other game, believing they could come away with the victory.” Outside of the Boot


Book Review: When Football Came Home

April 12, 2016

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“In June this year, Henry Winter will publish Fifty Years of Hurt , a volume that will use England’s 1966 World Cup victory as a springboard to examine the fortunes of the national XI over the subsequent half century. We’ll have to wait and see as to whether Winter can manage to get through the exercise without spinning a specific narrative – be it about Charles Hughes, too many league fixtures, penalties and the practising thereof, foreign players in English football or the antiquated nature of the FA – but suffice to say, it’s often easy to use vague patterns and trends to shoehorn an argument. As Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski displayed in Why England Lose, later rechristened Soccernomics , England actually punch at about the weight they should do given the raw materials they have to work with and Hartlepool United fans might argue with the use of the word ‘hurt’ to describe a period that has actually come with more than a few high points.” thetwounfortunates, amazon, Guardian – When football came home: England’s rapture against Holland at Euro 96