England 1 – Iceland 2

June 27, 2016

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“England suffered their worst humiliation since they were knocked out of the 1950 World Cup by USA in Brazil as Iceland shocked them in the last 16 of Euro 2016. Manager Roy Hodgson resigned after the abject embarrassment of losing to a nation ranked 34th in the world – and with a population of just 330,000 – despite taking the lead through Wayne Rooney’s fourth-minute penalty. Iceland equalised within a minute as England failed to deal with a trademark long throw and Ragnar Sigurdsson bundled home from close range. England’s shameful performance was summed up by Iceland’s 18th-minute winner when goalkeeper Joe Hart was badly at fault – just as in the win over Wales – as he let Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s shot through his hand.” BBC (Video)

Iceland’s toppling of England at Euro 2016 is a triumph for the little guys
“Takk fyrir Island. Thank you Iceland. Thank you for Gudmundur Benediktsson’s epic falsetto commentary, for bringing one-tenth of the population to France to take part in this odyssey, for making Cristiano Ronaldo uppity and reminding the rest of us of the essential valour of the little guy’s right to his aspirations, for competing so fearlessly to defeat England, for blowing our minds. Thank you for your co-manager’s other job in dentistry, your class and determination in searching for a first win at a major finals, your exemplary coaching system, your comradeship within the team, your inspired hothousing of young talent in a weather-beaten place. Thank you for showing us imaginative ways of doing things can bring extraordinary achievements.” Guardian


Italy dominant, special in ousting reigning Euro champion Spain

June 27, 2016

“From Italy, this was magnificent, a display of intelligence and swagger to eclipse anything seen at this tournament so far. The 2-0 victory over two-time reigning European champion Spain in the Euro 2016 round of 16 was revenge for the final four years ago, for this was a victory every bit as comprehensive as Spain’s 4-0 win in Kyiv. For Spain, meanwhile, there was confirmation that the World Cup was not a one off. The magic has gone. This is a good side, but no longer a great one.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Soccer With Vikings

June 27, 2016

“Gretar is shaking out a handful of fish oil and applying it to his hamstrings and quadriceps, smearing the putrid substance in circles over his pale white skin to warm up his muscles. We are in a locker room about fifty miles south of the Arctic Circle preparing for a soccer match in Iceland’s second division. The coach goes over the starting line-up and gives the team’s eleven starters and six substitutes a guttural pep-talk—incomprehensible to me, an American who speaks no Icelandic—that builds to a chorus of affirmations. I join the affirmations. Then I reach for Gretar’s bottle.” Roads and Kingdoms


Toxic psyche clouds Argentina as team hits mental breaking point

June 27, 2016

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“Argentina has more psychologists per capita than any country in the world—one can’t go out in Buenos Aires without meeting bunches of them—and not a single one of them can fix the toxic psyche of its national team. The latest example came on Sunday, when Lionel Messi and an Argentina team that had lorded over the Copa América Centenario failed to seal the deal again and came away losers in another final. The third straight major final in as many years, to be exact, this time to Chile on penalty kicks after a 0–0 tie. And whether or not Messi follows through on his stunning words that he’s probably retiring from the national team at 29, his drastic response is only a manifestation of a larger psychosis surrounding this team.” SI
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Second straight Copa America win solidifies Chile as one of world’s elite
“Claudio Bravo dropped to his knees in the corner of MetLife Stadium, raising his arms toward the sky as his teammates swarmed the field behind him, then shifted quickly in his direction. The team arrived to greet the goalkeeper in that corner, jumping and hugging and yelling in a joyous mass, all while stadium workers began to erect the the stage upon which they would celebrate. In the mass of hardware and fencing, the workers inadvertently pinned Chile’s team in its own corner.” SI
Lionel Messi and Argentina Miss Again as Chile Wins Copa América
Lionel Messi had the collar of his shirt pulled up to his nose. With his eyes peeking out just over the fabric, he watched a nightmare unfold. Argentina and Chile had played 120 minutes of ruthless, scoreless soccer on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium. Penalty kicks would be needed to decide the winner of the 45th Copa América. Up stepped Messi, widely regarded as the best player in the world, to take the first shot for Argentina, and he missed, sending the ball sailing over the crossbar and into the crowd. Moments later, he watched as Francisco Silva of Chile buried a shot inside the left post to give his team a 4-2 shootout win. All of the Argentine players hung their heads near the center circle as the Chileans erupted in celebration. But Messi took a slow, solitary walk across the grass and took a seat on the far end of his team’s bench.” NY Times


Euro 2016 Tactical Analysis: Hungary 0-4 Belgium | Superior transitions take Belgium to the last 8

June 27, 2016

“Belgium and Hungary came into this game with different expectations. On one hand, Belgium tried to prove their doubters wrong by looking to comfortably beat Hungary and meet Wales in the next round. With Wilmots’ coaching credentials being questioned by journalists and fans, much of the pressure was on the golden generation of Belgium to perform when it mattered after improved performances against Ireland and Sweden.” Outside of the Boot


Germany’s Low pushing right buttons with Gomez, Draxler, Kimmich

June 27, 2016

“After all the doubts facing Germany, if a 3-0 rout of Slovakia in the Euro 2016 round of 16 didn’t answer them all–Slovakia was too insipid for that–it at least offered a comprehensive victory and a statement that the Germany that won the World Cup is beginning to re-emerge. Germany started fast, got an early lead and, after that, it was simply a matter of how many goals it would score. As a contest, the game was over as soon as Jerome Boateng volleyed in after eight minutes. Mario Gomez added a second just before halftime and Julian Draxler hooked in a third. It was so easy there was even the opportunity for Lukas Podolski to be brought on for a sentimental 20 minutes at the end.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Euro 2016 Tactical Analysis: Croatia 0-1 Portugal (AET) | Dark horses crash out of the tournament

June 27, 2016

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“Croatia, everyone’s favourite to win or at least reach the finals of Euro 2016, crashed out of the tournament after losing to Portugal. Ricardo Quaresma netted in the rebound of Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot in the 117th minute, which was the first shot on target in the entire game – which only speaks how boring and dull the fixture was. Tactically there were a few developments that were quite intriguing. Here’s my tactical analysis of Croatia 0 – Portugal 1.” Outside of the Boot


Drab match aside, Wales makes history reaching Euro 2016 quarters

June 27, 2016

“Last time Wales reached the quarterfinal of a major tournament, 58 years ago against Brazil at the World Cup in Sweden, the decisive goal was scored a quarter of an hour from full time by Terry Medwin in a playoff against Hungary. The timing here was the same, but it’s hard to imagine Gareth McAuley’s own goal against Northern Ireland being recalled by future generations with quite such fondness. Nonetheless, Wales is in the last eight after a 1-0 victory in the Euro 2016 round of 16 and there will play either Hungary of Belgium.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Russian turmoil – football in crisis

June 27, 2016

“Russia crashing out of the Euros on Monday night came as no surprise to anyone, inside of Russia. Aside from the brave showing put on by the gobshites in the street and stadium of Marseilles against their fellow inadequates from England and Wales, it was a real tournament to forget. The words Russian Turmoil will be heard regularly in the coming two years.” backpagefootball


Euro 2016 Power Rankings: Final 16 teams in France

June 23, 2016

France's Paul Pogba (2nd L) celebrates with team mates after scoring against Portugal during their friendly soccer match at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis near Paris October 11, 2014. REUTERS/Charles Platiau (FRANCE - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) - RTR49T0J
“The dramatic end to the group stage couldn’t disguise the fact that, for the most part, this has been a slightly disappointing opening to the tournament, yielding just 1.92 goals per game and precious few games of real quality. No side won all three group games, while many of the less-fancied sides troubled their supposed betters. The suggestion is that this is a very open tournament, although there remains the possibility that one of the top sides will suddenly click into gear and surge through to success on July 10. The knockout bracket has yielded an unbalanced final 16, with powers France, Germany, Spain, Italy and England on one half, while Belgium and Portugal benefited from underperforming in the group stage by being given a more favorable rout to navigate on the road to the Stade de France.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Chile Soccer Team Strengthened by Forays Away From Home

June 23, 2016

“Regardless of what happens when Chile plays Colombia on Wednesday night, one thing is plain: The world now knows that Chile’s soccer team is for real. Fresh off a 7-0 thrashing of Mexico, arguably the best team in the North American region, Chile has used this month’s Copa América Centenario to erase any doubts over its emergence as a power player from South America. While few doubted the quality of Chile’s current roster, flecked as it is with talent from Barcelona, Arsenal and Bayern Munich, there still was a sense that Chile’s best moments had always occurred on home soil, or close to it. Chile advanced to the knockout stage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and it entered this summer’s Copa América as the defending champion, a title won when it hosted last year’s tournament. The country’s best moment at a World Cup came in 1962, also a tournament played at home.” NY Times


Tactical Analysis: Argentina 4-1 Venezuela | Messi equals record, runs the show

June 23, 2016

“As the centenary edition of the Copa America reaches its knock-out phases, the competition has really begun to hot up. High-profile casualties Brazil and Uruguay have already fallen by the wayside, while Chile destroyed the fancied Mexico 7-0 in what has been a tournament of shocks so far. Venezuela were hoping to spring another surprise when they took on Argentina in the quarter final at the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts but were ultimately unable to find a way of stopping Messi and co.” Outside of the Boot


Tactical Analysis: Mexico 0-7 Chile | Mexico’s lack of coherent shape exposed by brilliant Chile

June 23, 2016

“This Copa America was supposed to be Mexico’s coming out party, when they would announce to the world that they are a legitimate team and on equal ground with their big brothers in South America. The Mexicans have long lived with the stigma of playing in CONCACAF and being alleged flat track bullies. They’ve also long sought to vindicate the quality of their team, with guest appearances in Copa America and at the World Cup. But this Copa America Centenario, in America, in front of 95% Mexican crowds, coming off a great year, was supposed to be different than the previous ones. Finally Mexico would prove itself on the world stage. Chile also came in with a chip on their shoulder. The defending Copa champions, the Chileans felt they should have gotten more than just a year to hold the cup. On top of that, Argentina had fairly easily beaten them in their first game, and Chile wanted vindication, as people focused on other international teams.” Outside of the Boot


First Look: Argentina vs. Chile in Copa America final rematch

June 23, 2016

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“The Copa America final is set, and it’s a familiar one. Argentina and Chile will vie for the Copa America title for a second straight summer after each easily dispatched its semifinal opponent. Argentina overran the USA in a 4-0 result on Tuesday night, while Chile blitzed Colombia out of gate, picking up where it left off in the quarterfinal against Mexico and advancing after a weather-delayed 2-0 win.  In addition to meeting in last year’s final, which Chile won on penalty kicks, the two sides engaged in one of the more entertaining games of this Copa America, opening group play against one another. Argentina prevailed, 2-1, with Angel Di Maria and Ever Banega scoring and assisting for each other before Chile nicked one in the last minute.” SI


Tactical Analysis: USA 2-1 Ecuador | Americans Once Again Survive with 10 Men

June 23, 2016

“The Americans opened their first match against Colombia by attempting to control the run-of-play through emphasizing possession in a progressive 4-3-3 formation. The Colombians ceded control of the ball but exploited the fissures that formed between the American lines when the forward players pushed too high up the pitch. The result was a decisive 2-0 victory with the visitors perhaps unlucky to not collect a third goal.” Outside of the Boot


Six things we’ve learned from the Euro 2016 group stages

June 23, 2016

“Fears that lowly ranked sides like Albania and Northern Ireland might dilute the quality of the competition have not materialised. Cynics might say the overall quality was so low that nobody noticed anyway, but the fact is that some of the more fancied teams – the likes of the Czech Republic, Austria, Turkey, Ukraine and Rumania – couldn’t make it past these minnows. The extended format has brought plenty of colour and amazing stories like Iceland’s success to the tournament, and have helped more than make up for the lack of excitement felt elsewhere. But UEFA also got very lucky. Groups E and F were clearly at an advantage, knowing just how many points were needed to advance ahead of other third-placed teams.” red bulletin


Euro 2016 group stage grades

June 23, 2016

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“The group stages of Euro 2016 have provided goals and controversies, outrageous skill and dreadful mistakes. With no team able to win every game, but only one side losing all three matches, the tournament has proved more competitive than anyone could have expected. After 36 matches, the action is only just hotting up, but having played three times each, we now have a decent idea about what shape the teams are in.” Daily Mail


Cristiano Ronaldo’s roller-coaster Euro group stage ends with heroics

June 23, 2016

“When Cristiano Ronaldo’s celebrations having headed the ball into the net against Austria in the second group game were cut short by a linesman, those at the Parc des Princes laughed. The sound of several thousand people laughing is a strange one and that that was the response suggests two things: firstly that Ronaldo, with his preening and his demand that he or at least his immaculate abs are always at the center of attention provokes a remarkable level of Schadenfreude for one so gifted. And secondly, that his misfortune in that game had reached the level of the absurd.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


The Rise of Ivan Perišić at Euro 2016

June 23, 2016

“It is the 45th minute of the Group D match between Croatia vs Spain, and Spain are 1:0 up. Most expect that Spain will carry the 1:0 lead to halftime, but then Ivan Perišić wins the ball on the left side and storms toward his box. His perfect cross then finds Nikola Kalinić, who is able to execute the ball perfectly with his back heel to make it 1:1 going into halftime. Up to this point Spain had been the better team, but a talented Croatia side was able to launch several pinpoint attacks that threatened the Spanish back four, which, at the time, seemed complacent.” futbolgrad


Unhinged Melody: Euro Soccer Fans Enliven Stadiums With Song

June 19, 2016

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“In a sporting sense, the European soccer championship is a gathering of tremendous talent, artful craftsmen and bubbling drama, a delicious recipe that produces one of the most remarkable events on the calendar. The extraordinary nature of the soccer, however, is surpassed only by the extraordinary nature of its soundtrack. For in a musical sense, the European Championship is a gathering of bizarrely discordant overtures, cheesy riffs, synthesizers and, quite often, rhymes that schoolchildren would struggle to comprehend. And yet it is somehow irresistible.” NY Times (Video)


What Makes a Great Soccer Rivalry?

June 19, 2016

“On June 14, the Austrian and Hungarian national teams met for the 138th time, making it the second-most-contested rivalry in soccer. For me, and possibly only me and a few other history teachers, Austria vs. Hungary was a matchup of great historical import, not because of any understanding on my part of any of these 137 previous games, but because, come on, there used to be an Austria-Hungary, or, if you prefer, an Austro-Hungarian Empire. There had to be some bad blood between the two nations that used to be one big empire and might still be if it weren’t for nationalism and World War I. I’m a history teacher by trade, so what could possibly be better than this?” Slate (Video)


Lionel Messi superb as Argentina ease into Copa semis, thrashing Venezuela

June 19, 2016

“Argentina booked their spot in the Copa America semifinals with a 4-1 win over Venezuela on Saturday. Lionel Messi scored once and had two assists. Gerardo Martino’s side now prepare for a meeting with hosts the U.S. on Tuesday in Houston, Texas.” ESPN – Tim Vickery


Italy’s defensive message gives Sweden deep burn at Euro 2016

June 19, 2016

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“That, perhaps, will calm some of the more excitable reactions to Italy’s victory over Belgium. After the high of that Euro 2016 opening performance came victory in a drab 1-0 win over Sweden, a side whose only two efforts on target in the entire tournament have come from Ireland defender Ciaran Clark. All those gloomy assessments of this Italy side as the worst it has ever sent to a major tournament seemed a lot more accurate than they had on Monday night.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Juan Carlos Osorio’s tinkering with Mexico fails as Chile find their feet

June 19, 2016

“In a warm-up friendly just before the Copa America Centenario — it seems a long time ago now — Mexico beat Chile by a single goal. But maybe the seeds of the extraordinary rout at Santa Clara were sown there? That 1-0 scoreline did not really reflect the balance of play. In the first half, especially, Chile could have scored plenty of their own. So there was plenty for Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio to think about as he contemplated meeting Chile for a second time — no longer a friendly, but now with a place in the Copa semifinals at stake.” ESPN – Tim Vickery


Switzerland quell Paul Pogba storm to earn France draw and last-16 spot

June 19, 2016

“France finished top of Group A, not quite at a gallop but convincingly enough after an initially boisterous, ultimately slow-burn draw with Switzerland in Lille. The Swiss are also through and showed some real muscle and craft after Paul Pogba had looked like making this game all his own in an early burst of all-round midfield power-play. Didier Deschamps will welcome another clean sheet for his new-build defence. By the end, though, with the real business of this two-part Euros now booked in, the suspicion remains there is still some clicking into place needed for that talented chop-and-change midfield.” Guardian


Eduardo Vargas’ four goals set Chile up for stunning 7-0 win vs Mexico

June 19, 2016

Chile’s Eduardo Vargas celebrates after scoring against Mexico during a Copa America Centenario quarterfinal soccer match at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, June 18, 2016. Chile won 7-0. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
“Chile booked a place in the Copa America Centenario semifinals with a 7-0 thumping of Mexico. Eduardo Vargas scored four goals, while Edson Puch scored twice. Alexis Sanchez did his bit as well, by scoring one goal and adding two assists. Here are three thoughts on a stunning night.” ESPN


Tactical Analysis: Germany 0-0 Poland | Polish defence nullify German attack

June 19, 2016

“In one of the most anticipated group games of Euro 2016, Germany faced Poland in what would surely decide who finished top of Group C. The Poles have one of their strongest teams of all time, while Germany continue to impress following their 2014 World Cup win. At the Stade de France, two teams with many tactical possibilities battled for superiority.” Outside of the Boot


Cristian Cueva a symbol of Peru’s frailty after defeat to Colombia?

June 19, 2016

“Peru so nearly snatched a win in their Copa America quarterfinal right at the end. Colombia were rattled and frustrated when Christian Ramos met a corner from the right with a header that forced a fine save from Colombia keeper David Ospina. The absence of extra time in these games favours the weaker side, the one less inclined to take the initiative, and the clock had been ticking down, with Colombia looking less and less likely to break the deadlock. Then came Ramos’ chance — clawed away by the Arsenal stopper.” ESPN – Tim Vickery


Euro 2016: How Teams Can Advance to the Next Round

June 16, 2016

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“The group stage of Euro 2016 is well underway: From Wednesday until Saturday, all 24 teams will complete their second of three games of group play. And the minute those games are over, many serious fans will start to do math – in their heads, on cocktail napkins or even on spreadsheets – to determine what their teams must do to ensure a place in the knockout stage of the competition. It can be complicated, particularly in this expanded 24-team tournament, where four third-place teams will advance, but we’re here to help you sort through it all. This page provides a big-picture overview in real time, and as soon as teams have completed their first two games – as the teams in Group A and Group B have – we’ll publish a detailed page just for those teams, showing you all the ways they can make the Round of 16.” NY Times


Germany struggles to find attacking, defensive balance vs. Poland

June 16, 2016

“The good news, perhaps, for a Germany team whose defense was suspect throughout qualifying, is that it kept its second straight clean sheet of the tournament. The bad news is that it did so in the first half by an approach that lacked much in the way of attacking threat and in the second by riding its luck and through the excellence of Jerome Boateng in a 0-0 draw with Poland. Poland probably had the better of the game, certainly had enough chances in that second half to win, but will probably be content enough with a draw that all but guarantees it a place in the last 16 of Euro 2016.” SI – Jonathan Wilsona


Michael O’Neill’s gambles pay off with Northern Ireland win against Ukraine

June 16, 2016

“All roads lead to Lyon for Northern Ireland. Michael O’Neill’s squad set themselves up in Saint-Jean-d’Ardières, in Beaujolais, some 40 minutes’ drive to the north of the city. Many of the team’s supporters have based themselves in town, using the same logic of this being the perfect midpoint between Nice, the venue of the opener with Poland, and Paris, where they face Germany on Tuesday. Now, after a vital win against Ukraine in the city of the Gauls, they could well all be back here to face France in the last 16 on Sunday week.” Guardian


The Unrecognized

June 16, 2016

“It was an incongruous chant from the small crowd at a rudimentary soccer field nestled between the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea, but one that over the week would be regularly and passionately echoed from the stands. The Somaliland National Football Team, a gregarious squad representing a controversial disputed territory in East Africa, made up mostly of the children of refugees living in Europe, had become the hometown team of Gagra, a past-its-prime resort town in the similarly controversial and disputed pseudo-state of Abkhazia.” Roads and Kingdoms


Euro 2016: Russia given suspended disqualification

June 15, 2016

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“The Russians have also been fined 150,000 euros (£119,000) following violent scenes at the game against England in Marseille on Saturday. The suspended disqualification and fine relate only to incidents that happened inside the stadium. There were reports of minor disturbances between rival fans in Lille on Tuesday evening. Russia play Group B rivals Slovakia in the city on Wednesday, while England fans are congregating there before Thursday’s match against Wales in the nearby town of Lens.” BBC (Video)

Is Russia exporting a new breed of football hooligan?
“Violence has been part of Russian football for many years. Clashes inside stadiums and organised fights away from them are common. But this weekend’s mass disturbances in Marseille have thrust Russian hooliganism into the international spotlight. The Russian Football Union expressed regret over the fighting and Russia’s sports minister described those involved as a disgrace. But other senior officials have praised the hooligans openly as ‘real men’. Meanwhile the fans themselves seem largely unrepentant, even proud.” BBC (Video)


Ronaldo endures inauspcious Euro 2016 start as Portugal draws Iceland

June 15, 2016

“Cristiano Ronaldo is by far the best player in this Portugal side. He is also probably the reason why it so consistently under-performs. For 45 minutes, everything was going well for the Portuguese. They had played extremely well in the first half of their Euro 2016 opener and gone ahead through Nani. Iceland looked like the minnow it is. And then Portugal disintegrated. Iceland celebrated a 1-1 draw–secured through Birkir Bjarnason’s 51st-minute volley–with understandable uproariousness, but this was a take of Portugal’s collapse.” SI – Jonathan Wilson (Video)


Tactical Analysis: Belgium 0-2 Italy | Belgium struggle against Italy’s position-oriented marking

June 15, 2016

“Belgium and Italy played against each other in what was the best match of the round on paper. Despite the lack of star names in the squad, Italy are very much a big name and on the night faced one of the best international teams in the world who initially failed to impress. Even though the second half saw an awakening from the Red Devils, their performance wasn’t suited to the caliber and style of play of the players at hand.” Outside of the Boot


Tactical Analysis: USA 4-0 Costa Rica | Americans Catch Fire in Chicago

June 15, 2016

“Having registered a rather uninspiring performance in their opening game against Colombia, the host nation needed to earn at least a point against Costa Rica or face the embarrassment of elimination only a week into the tournament. Meanwhile, the Costa Ricans successfully collected a point in their goalless draw against Paraguay, and victory against the Americans would all but secure advancement to the quarterfinals.” Outside of the Boot


Dimitri Payet stars for France in Euro 2016 opener vs. Romania

June 12, 2016

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“Just as Euro 2016‘s opening match was threatening to end in with an anti-climactic draw, Dimitri Payet delivered what may wind up being one of the competition’s signature moments. The West Ham United midfielder’s 89th-minute left-footed blast delivered a 2-1 win to France over Romania at the Stade de France and brought a host nation to its feet. Payet, used here on the left, was a slightly controversial selection ahead of Anthiny Martial, but he was by far France’s best player on the night, and, just when something special was required, he conjured a shot of startling quality, arrowed into the top corner from the edge of the box.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


After winning Copa group, USA has chance to prove knockout chops

June 12, 2016

“Now a new Copa América begins for the United States. The U.S. has persevered through the group stage, shaking off an opening loss to Colombia and winning twice against Costa Rica and Paraguay to reach the knockout rounds of another major tournament, even winning the group with a late helping hand from Los Ticos.” SI (Video)

U.S. Advances to Copa América Quarterfinals After Surviving an Ejection
“The United States knew the Copa América math days before it took the field against Paraguay on Saturday. A win or a tie would mean advancement to the quarterfinals. A loss would mean elimination. It was the solution to that problem that was surprising: 10 men and one goal equaled a second life. Riding a first-half goal by Clint Dempsey and overcoming the second-half ejection of defender DeAndre Yedlin, the United States held off Paraguay, 1-0, to seal its place in the quarterfinals later this week. Instead of the Americans’ facing the ignominy of a first-round exit, it was the Paraguayans heading home.” NY Times


Euro 2016: England and Russia fans clash in third day of violence

June 12, 2016

“Two England supporters have been seriously injured in Marseille after violent clashes with rival fans in the hours leading up to England’s opening Euro 2016 group match against Russia. Police had to resuscitate one 51-year-old fan after he was repeatedly kicked in the head on Saturday, apparently by several Russian fans, leaving him unconscious. Witnesses claimed he had also been attacked with a small axe leaving his head bleeding ‘like a tap’, although the allegation could not be immediately verified.” Guardian (Video)

Russia and England Fans Clash Repeatedly at European Championships
“Fights broke out Saturday before and soon after Russia earned a 1-1 draw against England with a stoppage-time goal in a Group B match at the European Championships in Marseille, France. Fans of the two teams rioted before the game in Marseille’s Old Port district and briefly outside the nearby Stade Vélodrome in a third straight day of violence in the city. The police fired tear gas and water cannons at the fighting fans.” NY Times (Video)


Argentina, sans Messi, makes Copa America statement vs. Chile

June 12, 2016

“When Argentina and Chile last met in Copa America, it was last summer to decide a champion, and host Chile came out on top. It was Argentina’s time on Monday, with the two neighboring South American nations opening Group D play in Copa America Centenario. Angel Di Maria and Ever Banega each scored and set up the other in an eight-minute span, as Argentina made an opening statement with a 2-1 win in front of a capacity crowd at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Lionel Messi sat out the match, still recovering from a back injury suffered in Argentina’s pre-Copa friendly against Honduras. He was said to be available off the bench, but with Argentina seizing control in the second half, forcing him into the match became unnecessary.” SI (Video)


Soccer Teams Raise the Curtain on the Live Show in Stadium Tunnels

June 12, 2016

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“There are cages. There are escalators. Sometimes there is claustrophobia. Usually there are children milling about, and in at least one instance, the whole setting (purposely) looks like a mine shaft. In most sports, the tunnel area leading from a stadium’s locker room to the field or court is a sacred space. The final few moments before top athletes head out to compete are, generally, a private preserve of calm introspection or frothy expectation, a sanctuary free from scrutiny where participants can engage in a final motivating message or a last, quiet confrontation with their nerves. Except in soccer.” NY Times


The Switzerland-Albania Match at Euro 2016 Told a Personal, Massive Balkan Story

June 12, 2016

“One Sunday in June 2000, I biked to The Abbey Pub on the northwest side of Chicago to watch Spain play Slovenia in the UEFA Euro Championship. Back in the day, it was much harder to find ways to watch the Euro Championship in the U.S. The Abbey, an Irish pub, was one of the few places showing the matches. I got there early—the game was to start at 8 a.m.—to have breakfast, but it was already packed with Irishmen clutching their pints, watching a live broadcast of an important game of hurling live from Dublin. Many of them were inebriated, shouting at the gigantic screen. It didn’t look good.” Slate


Uruguay desperately short of ideas in Venezuela upset

June 12, 2016

“This time there was no Luis Suarez to save the day. Two years ago, Uruguay lost their opening game in the 2014 World Cup to CONCACAF opposition, only for Luis Suarez to return from injury to inspire the team to consecutive victories which ensured the team’s qualification for the second round. Suarez wanted to try for a repeat. Having missed Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to Mexico he seemed anxious to come on in the dying moments of the 1-0 loss to Venezuela. But Uruguay clearly did not want to risk his muscle injury. After coach Oscar Washington Tabarez had made his third and last substitution Suarez remonstrated and punched the dugout wall in frustration — a feeling that all of his teammates will now share.” ESPN


This Is England: What Euro 2016 Means for a Country on the Brink

June 12, 2016

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“When Leicester City won the English Premier League in May, it was considered nothing less than a miracle. Nearly every story about the Foxes noted the 5,000-to-1 odds they were given of winning the title, and the list of likelier long-shot scenarios was as full of impossibilities as it was endless. Piers Morgan taking the reins at Arsenal, Elvis turning up alive, the discovery of the Loch Ness monster—all were deemed more probable by bookies than a Leicester championship, in most cases far more so, pushing the team’s feat into the realm of the supernatural.” New Republic (Video)


Albania – The Rise of the Balkan Eagles

June 12, 2016

“21st November 2007. Albania have just lost 6-1 to Romania in Bucharest in their final qualifying match for Euro 2008. Romania won the group, and subsequently qualified for that summer’s tournament, whereas Albania, who had never attended the European Championships in their entire history, finished 18 points behind them. In that qualification sequence, Albania had 2 wins from 12 games. Such performance had become the norm for a country with little to no competitive footballing success to speak of.” Outside of the Boot


Euro 2016: Defensive questions revolve around dark horses Belgium

June 12, 2016

“The Red Devils have never been a powerhouse on the international front. Despite their close links to France and the Netherlands, they have never won footballing honours as a country at the Euros, coming close in 1980, losing the final to a Rummenigge-led West Germany and 1972, finishing 3rd, bested by the prolific Gerd Muller of West Germany again. This time round in 2016 though, expectations are no longer middling. The so-called ‘Golden Generation’ created buzz leading up to the 2014 World Cup where they enjoyed their 2nd best position in a World Cup, reaching the quarter-finals. However they fell short of expectations of free-flowing football as they topped their group with 3 wins but with minimal goals scored, and struggled to squeeze past a Tim-Howard inspired USA.” Outside of the Boot


Can Diego Godin and Uruguay fight back at the Copa America?

June 6, 2016

MEX-celebrate
“Uruguay may well have felt that it was not going to be their night when they lined up before the game and were forced to listen to the national anthem of Chile. And things soon got worse when they went behind to the first CONCACAF goal of the tournament — and even that was scored by a South American player — with Uruguay left-back Alvaro Pereira inadvertently deflecting an early cross past his own keeper.” ESPN – Tim Vickery (Video)

Rafa Marquez heroics lead Mexico over Uruguay at Copa America
“Longtime Mexico captain Rafa Marquez was the hero in Mexico’s Copa America opener, scoring the game-winning goal in a wild 3-1 triumph over Uruguay at a raucous University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Uruguay had the trifecta of misfortune between the pregame festivities and halftime. Tournament organizers unfathomably played the Chilean national anthem for Uruguay, citing “human error” in a forced statement. Within four minutes, Alvaro Pereira had headed home Andres Guardado’s cross into his own net, and right before halftime Matias Vecino picked up his second yellow card for a reckless challenge on Jesus ‘Tecatito’ Corona.” SI (Video)


Show Your Copa Colors

June 6, 2016

“The 100th edition of the Copa America hits U.S. shores from June 3 to June 26, and all 16 nations from CONCACAF and CONMEBOL will be sporting some slick new kits. Check out their home/away looks and download your favorites.” ESPN


U.S. must rebound after falling to Colombia in Copa opener

June 6, 2016

“It was a pick play in the box. Nothing too complicated. Geoff Cameron said afterward that he sees them “fairly often” in the Premier League. On a Colombia corner kick in the eighth minute of the U.S.’s Copa América Centenario opener, Daniel Torres set a screen in the area. Cristián Zapata looped around it like a basketball player running a curl play, and the small amount of space it created between Zapata and Cameron allowed the Colombian to fire home a volley that put the U.S. on its heels right from the start. … After the U.S.’s 2-0 loss, in which Colombia scored on a corner kick and a penalty kick, Cameron couldn’t hide his frustration that a solid performance by the U.S. back line was marred by a couple decisive moments, including the pick in the box.” SI (Video)


Brazil need more than luck if they are to challenge for Copa America glory

June 6, 2016

“Whether it was down to luck or sheer refereeing incompetence, no matter how you look at it, Brazil walked out of the Rose Bowl after the opening match of their Copa America campaign with a result they didn’t really deserve. The 0-0 draw against Ecuador was a result that will do nothing but deepen the confidence crisis that has been running through the side since last year’s disastrous Copa America in Chile and their stumbling World Cup qualifying campaign (where they are currently sixth in the table after six games) in CONMEBOL.” ESPN


In France, a Political Football

June 4, 2016

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A protester faces police with a torch and a bouquet of flowers in Lyon, 26
“The French Socialist government is facing increasing unrest over its proposed labor reforms, which may disrupt the Euro 2016 soccer championship. In late March, the Nuit debout movement resurrected Occupy-style assembly tactics in response to the proposed reforms. In May the government attempted to use Article 49.3 to bypass parliament and force through the legislation. Now French rail workers are on strike and potential strikes by other unions loom, possibly threatening the Euro 2016 soccer championship. Strikes by power plant operators are causing blackouts. At one point, the only paper appearing in France was the left-wing L’Humanité due to action by the printers. Behind the strikes is France’s leading militant union, the CGT. In other news, the Louvre is closing due to recent flooding.” Metafilter


Argentina have the class and confidence to end 23-year Copa América drought

June 4, 2016

“Not everybody, it’s fair to say, will be taking the Copa América Centenario entirely seriously. There’s the Olympics to prepare for and, after a World Cup and an orthodox Copa America in the last two summers, it’s perhaps understandable if fatigue dulls the edge. But Argentina care. For them, every tournament is a chance to break a trophy drought that stretches back 23 years.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Copa América 2016: Who’s In, Who’s Hurt and Who Could Win It

June 4, 2016

“The Copa América Centenario, born in scandal and saved only by the promise of better behavior (and the presence of some pretty good soccer teams), kicks off Friday night when the United States faces Colombia in Santa Clara, Calif. The 16-team event is being played outside South America for the first time as a celebration of its 100th anniversary, and while a handful of top players have been left out or ruled out by injury, there is plenty left in the cupboard, including four of the eight quarterfinalists from the last World Cup. Here’s what you need to know before the tournament begins.” NY Times


Copa America 2016: 10 Young Player to Watch

June 4, 2016

“As the centenary version of the Copa America gets set to kick off this Friday, we here at Outside of the Boot are excited to present this list, featuring ten youngsters (22 and under at the start of the tournament) who could play an important role over the coming month. Admittedly, this isn’t the best tournament for young players, as several intriguing players (Paulo Dybala, most notably) weren’t selected while a handful of others (Jesus Manuel Corona, John Brooks) narrowly miss the age cut-off. Nevertheless, much as the likes of Derlis Gonzalez and Romel Quinonez impressed last summer, seemingly from out of nowhere, there are sure to be a few breakout stars this summer.” Outside of the Boot