Monthly Archives: May 2016

SI’s Copa America Centenario picks

“Copa America Centenario is a unique competition, one that pits South America’s 10 sides against each other and some of the best CONCACAF has to offer. Despite some of the stars who won’t be participating this summer–namely Neymar–and some of the nations who missed out, this is as close as it gets to a World Cup-style competition reserved for the Western Hemisphere. With that said, there can only be one winner. Argentina is out to end a trophy drought that is in its third decade. Mexico is out to make a statement against its South American foes. The U.S. is out to achieve material success under Jurgen Klinsmann for the first time since the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.” SI

Copa America Centenario group previews

Chicharito has been loved, hated and loved again
“HE’S THE FIRST player out of the clubhouse. The Mexican reporters are unprepared, chatting with each other behind the metal barricade. They turn their heads when the door scrapes open, lunging for their microphones. A camera stand nearly topples. Javier Hernandez is small and slight. At 28, his body seems barely removed from boyhood. Yet even in an unadorned black tracksuit, charisma flies off him like sweat off a boxer. As he strides through the mixed zone underneath Vancouver’s BC Place, someone calls his nickname: ‘Chicharito! Hey, Chicharito!'” ESPN

Copa America Centenario – News


A Victory in the End, but Not a Just One

“Time, and the record books, still divide the city of Madrid when it comes to soccer. It is written that Real is the imperious one, the club that since 1955 has won the European Cup or the Champions League an unprecedented 11 times, while its neighbor, Atlético, has never worn that crown. Sports, like life, isn’t always fair. Atlético fans call themselves and their team ‘El Pupas,’ the Cursed Ones, and that remains their fate after Saturday’s Champions League final in Milan. Real Madrid did not win that final; it won the penalty shootout that even Cristiano Ronaldo, the man who struck the last decisive kick, has said is always a lottery.” NY Times

Liverpool’s lack of leaders cause for concern

“Take, for example, Sevilla’s 3-1 win over Liverpool in the recent final of the Europa League. While they were in the first half ascendancy, Liverpool could have been awarded one, or even two penalties. To this extent, luck was against them. There is no doubt, though, that they were over-run in the second half. Here it is arguable that tactical and technical issues were important. Liverpool lined up with Daniel Sturridge, Phillippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino. The attacking trio combined to give the English club a first half lead.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)

Good, bad, ugly – Moscow football club style

“Lokomotiv Moscow’s last home game of the season was against crisis club Mordovia Saransk, who needed a win for a relegation play-off, and the choice of which Moscow football club to watch was narrowed to two. CSKA were away to poor Rubin Kazan and beat them as they strolled to another title. Spartak were also on the road, at Ufa, and the only other option was to go to Khimki and watch Dynamo look for a favour from Zenit. Apart from being Tim’s favourite team, it was a no-brainer to go to Cherkizovo.” backpagefootball

Dynamo Moscow – An historic failure, a long time coming
“A 3-1 defeat in Naples meant that Dynamo Moscow’s chances of making it to the quarter finals of the 2015 Europa League looked slim; but after some solid performances in the competition already, turning the tie around was not out of the question. In the end a fairytale comeback wasn’t meant to be – Rafael Benitez’s side held on despite Dynamo’s best efforts with the second leg ending 0-0, though this was a performance and a team that the fans could be proud of after years of mismanagement and under-achievement.” backpagefootball

Tactical Analysis: Marseille 2-4 PSG | Brave Passi’s tactics undone by choice of personnel

“While credit must go to Franck Passi for trying to make a fist of a cup final, especially with it being his final match in charge of Marseille, there is also something to be said for logic. The interim manager (it now appears he will remain in charge pending a change in ownership) tried a number of different formations in an attempt to thwart the all-conquering Paris Saint-Germain. His various tactics certainly displayed an innovative touch, but could things have gone a bit better as regards personnel, or with a more holistic approach?” Outside of the Boot

Pep, Mourinho, Simeone and more: Ranking world’s top 10 club managers

“Just as the Champions League format has allowed an elite group of clubs to dominate in recent years, the coaching landscape, too, is overshadowed by the personalities of a revered few who are hired at a huge expense with the guarantee of trophies. The perfect example of that is in the Premier League, where all the attention is going to be on Manchester’s clubs City and United when next season kicks off, despite their recent fourth and fifth respective finishes in the league. City will have Pep Guardiola in charge, while United looks set to have Jose Mourinho. It’s a personal rivalry that dominated Spanish football when the pair locked horns during two controversy-laden years at Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively.” SI (Video)

Serie A 2015/2016: Final Review

“The 2015/2016 edition of Serie A had an unforeseen start and a wacky development, but still ended in the most predictable way, with pre-season favourites of Juventus clinching their 5th Scudetto in a row with 2 games to go. Allegri’s team had their worst start in history, collecting just 5 points in their first 6 games (1W-2D-3L, 6GF-7GA), and they were already considered doomed by most of the media and the public. While Juve continued to struggle accumulating a meagre 12 points tally after 10 games, four other teams led the league outright, a record for Serie A: in chronological order Inter, Fiorentina, Roma and Napoli.” Stats Bomb

Authoritarian Rules Football: When sport becomes a political weapon

“On the surface at least, this line from John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi explains the relationship between soccer and political power, except, obviously, the tennis balls are soccer balls, and the stars are ruthless tyrants swinging the racquets. Whether it is the 1974 Zaire World Cup squad (today’s Democratic Republic of Congo) that was a pawn of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, Argentina’s 1978 World Cup team that became unwitting poster boys for the country’s military junta, or the army and secret police-backed clubs of the former USSR and the Communist states of Central and Eastern Europe, the stories of autocratic leaders manipulating teams and players to boost their popularity or egos are legion.” fusion (Video)

American Dream

“The United States has always fascinated me. I grew up in Rosario, the Second City of Argentina, and have lived in Barcelona since the age of 13. But from what I have seen on brief visits, there is nothing like the U.S.: how Americans live, what they have. It’s a unique country. The stadiums are incredible, and I can’t imagine a better place to host a special Copa América, a 16-team mini–World Cup bringing together all the top national teams from South America and the U.S. and Mexico over 24 days in June. People tell me it will be the biggest men’s soccer event in the U.S. since the 1994 World Cup.” SI (Video)

Tactical Analysis: Bayern Munich 0-0 Borussia Dortmund (Pens 4-3) | BVB Press Breaks & Bayern Width

“Berlin’s Olympiastadion played as the venue for what turned out to be an incredibly intense finale to the DFB-Pokal Cup and also Pep Guardiola’s reign as Bayern Munich manager. It was an evening of goodbyes as Mats Hummels also bid farewell to the club where he shot to stardom, playing 219 times before agreeing to return to Bavaria where the 27-year old began his career. However, it was the Catalan Coach that got the fairytale ending as 74,322 packed the capital’s stadium from west and south to see the Bundesliga champions complete the double in a captivating penalty shootout against old foes Borussia Dortmund, Brazilian Douglas Costa converting the winning kick.” Outside of the Boot

2015-16 Olympique Lyon Season Review

“The common joke about Ligue 1 is that instead of asking “who will win the title”, it’s more so “how many points will PSG win the league by”. As it turns out, PSG can win the league by a crap ton. But if you rewind it back to late July, there were the faint whispers that Lyon could be the team that pushed PSG for the majority of the season, kind of in a similar way to what Napoli did for Juventus. I was a bit skeptical of that happening seeing as quite a few things had to break in Lyon’s favor last season for Ligue 1 to be as competitive as it was, and they benefitted from conversion luck especially in the 2nd half of the season.” Stats Bomb

Back to the future: how football’s tactical evolution has begun to invoke the past

“For a time, the orthodoxy was that the only way, at least for clubs that saw themselves as part of the elite, was the Barçajax way. Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona were seen as the model, producing football of extraordinary brilliance, pushing the boundaries of what had previously been thought possible in terms of control of possession. Others followed, many of them directed by coaches who had, like Guardiola, been at Barcelona in the late 90s and who represented the blossoming of Johan Cruyff’s ideals into orthodoxy.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Defoe v Rashford & Wilshere v Noble: Is Hodgson’s England Euro 2016 squad right?

“Marcus Rashford instead of Jermain Defoe; Andros Townsend ahead of Theo Walcott; Jack Wilshere in, but no Mark Noble. So did Roy Hodgson get his provisional England Euro 2016 squad right? Opta statistics suggest an England squad based on data alone would have Watford’s Troy Deeney right in contention, with Bournemouth’s Steve Cook and Simon Francis competing to partner Manchester United’s Chris Smalling in the heart of defence. BBC Sport takes a look at the statistics around key England selection decisions.” BBC (Video)

Euro 2016 – Get ready for the French renaissance

“This summer, France will host Europe’s biggest international football tournament, and their fans will be quietly hopeful that their team will be able to repeat the heroics of 1998 and 2000, and deliver an international trophy. They might well have every reason to be expectant, France find themselves with arguably the best pool of players to choose from since that World Cup success in ‘98, and with the luck usually afforded to tournament hosts, it might just be their year.” backpagefootball

The final Bundesliga MatchDay 2015/2016 Team of the Week

““Why do all good things come to an end?” That is the question, as noted contemporary thinker Nelly Furtado pondered but they do and we have arrived to the end of the 2015/16 season in which the final matchday of the Bundesliga brought us 29 goals and a lot of weird results. Bayern lifting the trophy and Robert Lewandowski breaking the 30 goal mark was almost a foregone conclusion , but ‘dogs were whistling a new tune, barking at the new moon’ as Hannover’s inexperienced defense made Mario Götze look like Neymar. A hearty congrats to Mario who scored 66% of his season total today! Let us hope that BVB will not be tricked into resigning him, after picking up Dembele and getting a 2-2 draw against Cologne, which picked up two goals on just six shots.” Bundesliga Fanatic

El Nene – The hope of a nation

“South America has produced many fantastic footballers over the generations, players such as Garrincha, Jairzinho, Pele, Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Carlos Valderrama and Enzo Francescoli to name just a few. However, there is one South American country which is not renowned for its production line of producing world class football talent – Peru. But on the 8th March 1949, one did trundle off the assembly line; his name was Teofilo Juan Cubillas Arizaga, better known as Teofilo Cubillas.” Football Pink

Talent Radar: Bundesliga Young Players Team of the Season 2015-16

“For three years now, this website has continued to focus on the younger generation of footballers, often over-looked by mainstream media. For three years we’ve also published a Talent Radar Team of the Season across Europe’s top six leagues, having monitored these players in our Team of the Week and Player Rankings feature” Outside of the Boot

Talent Radar: La Liga Young Players Team of the Season 2015-16

“For three years now, this website has continued to focus on the younger generation of footballers, often over-looked by mainstream media. For three years we’ve also published a Talent Radar Team of the Season across Europe’s top six leagues, having monitored these players in our Team of the Week and Player Rankings feature. You can read this for all details on Talent Radar, who is eligible under it and what else we publish within this feature.” Outside of the Boot

An Old-Fashioned Plan and Perfect Execution Key to Leicester’s Amazing Success

“When Greece won the UEFA European Championship in 2004, Otto Rehhagel had his side man-marking. Forwards brought up to play against zonal systems found themselves unable to cope, and over the six-game span of a tournament, no opponent was able to rediscover the art of bypassing man-markers. What Claudio Ranieri has done at Leicester City has a similar sense of invoking an old style of play and discovering that modern sides have no answer.” Bleacher Report

Claudio Ranieri: from inveterate tinkerer to do-nothing tactical master?
“Everybody had known the end was coming for Claudio Ranieri at Chelsea but the moment at which the decision seemed made – and, more than that, was made to seem justified – came in Monte Carlo in April 2004 when he presided over a substitution that appeared baffling at the time and proved disastrous in retrospect. It is easy to pick fault with hindsight but this was one of those rare occasions when everyone reacts as one. After 62 minutes the board went up: Mario Melchiot off and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink on. What was he doing?” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Premier League Diary: Leicester City emerges from a sea of failure to win historic title
“There are ways to fail to win a title, and then there are ways to fail to win a title. Chelsea, for example, failed to win this season’s title by being, broadly, total garbage. Despite starting with the advantage of being champions — and so, in theory, as the best team in the country — they quickly started to look like a collection of strangers who actively resented one another’s company. Like the inhabitants of an overfilled train carriage that’s ground to a halt at the peak of rush hour, they squirmed and chafed and sweated against one another until it became too uncomfortable to bear, and then Jose Mourinho got sacked. That’s probably the equivalent of opening a window or something.” Fusion

How La Liga can prove it’s got bigger cojones than the Premier League tonight

“Although the reality is largely as inaccurate and wayward as Roberto Soldado’s shooting, there is a deep-seated perception of the social divide between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid fans across Spain. Especially from folk peering in from abroad. The Madridista is commonly seen as a royalist, Spanish-flag waving member of the elite. The horrible boss with the ‘Hala Madrid!’ ringtone. The aristocratic toff that won’t even let you eat cake as they want to hoard it for themselves.” FourFourTwo

Hump Day Dumpster Dive: Crisis-hit Barcelona is crumbling to a domestic double

“By the time you read this, it may or may not be Wednesday. “Hump Day” is a cute concept, but some meaning is lost when you’re a functional alcoholic who treats Tuesday as the start of the weekend. But enough about your dad. Let’s dive into the dumpster together.” Fusion

Rivals: Chivas vs América

“Mexican football has multiple local derby matches in the cities of Guadalajara (Clásico Tapatío), Monterrey (Clásico Regiomontano) and Mexico City (Clásico Joven and Clásico Capitalino), but the game worthy of the title Clásico Nacional is a cross-city clash. Games between Chivas of Guadalajara and América of Mexico City, known as Clásico Nacional, El Súper Clásico or El Clásico de Clásicos, grab the attention of people across the nation, as well as expatriates  outside of Mexico. With the large Mexican-American population in the US, the game has become a major event in the US as well as Mexico, with this year’s match the most watched game in the US since 2010.” Outside of the Boot

Werder Bremen rules our Bundesliga Team of the Week

“With the Monday Night Massacre in Bremen, the Bundesliga has reached the month of May, but is still without a champion, as a diet Bayern side were held to a draw at home by Gladbach. That and a late Eden Hazard goal created a strange situation in which Leicester City’s dream season somehow culminated in a championship before the fait accompli Meisterschaft of FCB. Take that EPL snobs!” Bundesliga Fanatic

Danny Is The Turnstile – Rayners Lane FC Vs Cockfosters FC, Middlesex Senior Charity Cup Semi-Final, The Tithe Farm Social Club, 21/04/16.

“I thought Rayners Lane was just a place on the far extremities of the Piccadilly line, not somewhere that unless I happened to fall asleep, and awoke post public dribbling or perhaps I was plucked from my bed by a great tornado with my small dog, and dropped on a witch with snazzy shoes, I would never have any reason to visit. As I step off the tube I realise I’m not in Finchley anymore.” Beautiful Game