Real Madrid rallies; Manchester City, Dortmund cruise in Champions League

September 15, 2016

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“Defending European champion Real Madrid scored twice in the final minutes to turn defeat into victory on a Champions League night that was far livelier and less predictable than the first half of Matchday 1. After a string of thumping wins for the elite clubs on Tuesday, Wednesday brought tension and drama. A Bruno Cesar goal had had Sporting Lisbon dreaming of an improbable victory, but Cristiano Ronaldo leveled with an 89th-minute free kick against his former club before Alvaro Morata’s injury-time header delivered the three points.” SI – JONATHAN WILSON


Gulf in class evident for Barcelona, Bayern Munich in Champions League openers

September 15, 2016

“The build-up to this season’s Champions League was dominated by talk of the disparity in resources between the haves and the have nots of European football and two of the superclubs playing on the first day of this season’s group stage did nothing to dispel that. Favorites Bayern Munich and Barcelona cruised to 5-0 and 7-0 victories over Rostov and Celtic, respectively, to kick off this season’s competition in style.” SI – JONATHAN WILSON


Arsenal Are Performing Like Football’s Version of the Jonah Complex

September 15, 2016

“A Paris Saint-Germain side struggling to come to terms with their new manager; Edinson Cavani struggling to recapture form and to come to terms with filling the enormous hole that Zlatan Ibrahimovic left. It was a perfect opportunity for Arsenal, in what was their hardest game of the group phase, on paper, to get their Champions League campaign off to a positive start. And within 44 seconds, Cavani had given PSG the lead.” Bleacher Report – Jonathan Wilson


Club Brugge 0 Leicester 3: Riyad Mahrez’s penalty and stunning freekick add to Foxes’ fairytale in Champions League premiere

September 15, 2016

“The Leicester City fairytale clearly has a few more chapters to come, after this stunning Champions League premiere in Bruges. Claudio Ranieri cannot have envisaged such a stress-free evening as last season’s miracle men produced an emphatic statement in their first ever game at this rarefied level. Leicester had the swagger of seasoned European veterans and from the moment Riyad Mahrez curled in an exquisite free kick, to extend their lead in the first half, the latest entry into Foxes history never looked in doubt.” Telegraph (Video)


NutMeg

September 15, 2016

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“It’s not a book, it’s not a magazine. It’s somewhere inbetween, and something completely new in Scotland: a quarterly subscription-only long-form publication filled with top-quality writers, great articles and fascinating stories. And it’s all about Scottish football.” NutMeg, Facebook, twitter


Belgium – The Farce FIFA Needs To Fix

September 15, 2016

“Belgium must have some kind of special glamor power with football’s governing body, or the country collectively holds an awful lot of photos of top FIFA bods at Christmas Karaoke parties going through an enthusiastic Abba medley.  The most under-achieving country in terms of talent vs results are still being rewarded for their purely theoretical footballing prowess by holding fast in the FIFA rankings in second place. Second!” BeinSports – Tim Stannard


‘Some of those Dundalk players wouldn’t look out of depth within the Irish squad’

September 15, 2016

“FORMER REPUBLIC OF IRELAND captain Kenny Cunningham believes some of the Dundalk players wouldn’t look out of place if called up to Martin O’Neill’s international setup for next month’s World Cup qualifiers. Despite their domestic dominance over recent seasons, it’s the club’s displays against higher-calibre European opposition in the last few months that has significantly raised the profiles of the likes of David McMillan and Daryl Horgan.” The 42


Uno: La Historia De Un Gol (One: The Story Of A Goal)

September 15, 2016

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“While a bloody civil war rages at home, El Salvador’s national team travels to Spain for the 1982 World Cup — one of only two World Cup tournaments the nation has ever qualified for. In their opening match, they lose to Hungary, 10-1 – still the most lopsided defeat in World Cup history. But that goal, that one goal, scored by Luis Ramirez Zapata, remains a symbol of pride and joy for the tiny nation. This is the story of that goal and its continuing legacy.” Kicking and Screening (Video)


A Soviet Story in an Alternative Football Manager Universe

September 15, 2016

“Eastern European football fans have long pondered what a Soviet national team (Sbornaya) would have looked like, had the Socialist camp not collapsed in the early 1990s. A 1990s team consisting of a young and bright Andrey Arshavin supporting Ukrainian figurehead Andriy Shevchenko would surely be a team that would live long in the hearts of football hipsters everywhere.” futbolgrad


David Luiz is the devil Chelsea know, equally capable of greatness and gaffes

September 15, 2016

“By the time the deal was done, after a summer of vaunted arrivals and improbable returns, Chelsea’s deadline-day signing of David Luiz didn’t feel like that big a deal. He was a deadline‑day headline, an intriguing subplot bringing light relief to the fraught soap opera of this season’s Premier League. Yet, really, even in the context of Chelsea’s habit of revisiting former beaux, the second coming of David Luiz is remarkable.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Pep Guardiola wins tactical battle with José Mourinho in Manchester derby

September 12, 2016

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“José Mourinho was quick to criticise his players after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat by Manchester City. ‘A few players were below the level,’ he complained. ‘Sometimes players disappoint managers.’ But Mourinho’s tactical blunder was equally to blame for Manchester United’s poor first-half performance and their improvement after the break owed much to his change of formation. City’s most dangerous players in Pep Guardiola’s 4-3-3 system are the two advanced central midfielders, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.” Guardian – Michael Cox

José Mourinho’s faith in Wayne Rooney faces biggest test in Manchester derby
“It’s probably just as well the Manchester derby is happening so early in the season. There’s only so much fevered anticipation, so much guarded politeness, so many unconvincing insistences that they get along fine that a league can take. Certainly, there’s only so often it can be pointed out that beating Bournemouth, Southampton and Hull or Sunderland, Stoke and West Ham is all very well but the real test will come in the derby.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Klopp and Liverpool – Sowing the Seeds of Something Special?

September 12, 2016

“During the summer I noted on this site that, excluding the first couple of months of following his arrival, almost every time Jürgen Klopp fielded a strong team in his partial debut season he got a performance (and usually a win). The immediate form after he took over was very mixed – in part due to fitness issues, and tactical misunderstandings – but the later form was almost always excellent, except when he had to resort to weaker line-ups to balance the insane number of games.” Tomkins Times


We Could Crush the World – Yugolavia’s Shattered Dreams

September 12, 2016

“Football so often is a tale of journeys, of teams, individuals and clubs. For some, those journeys end in glorious triumph; the Germans’ victory in the World Cup last year was the culmination of 14 years extraordinary work following their awful performances in Euro 2000. For most though, the journey ends in failure and the empty feeling of what might have been. One team that had so much promise to be cruelly wrenched away from them by politics and civil war was the Yugoslav team of the early 1990’s, and in particular, its team at the 1990 World Cup in Italy.” Football Pink


The enduring bond between Torino and River Plate

September 12, 2016

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“When Lucas Boyé struck a looping wonder goal from the edge of the box on his Torino debut last month, he did much more than announce himself on the Italian football scene. The Argentine’s dipping effort – spectacular as it was – also carried the weight of history behind it. Boyé, after all, arrived in Italy from River Plate, the Buenos Aires club whose links to Torino go back more than half a century to the most tragic day in Italian football history, 4 May 1949. That was the day the Grande Torino died, an entire squad wiped out when the plane carrying them home from a friendly game at Benfica crashed into the Superga hillside overlooking Turin amidst the thick fog that hangs so often above the Po Valley.” the set pieces (Video)


StatsBomb: Premier League Round Up, Week 4

September 12, 2016

“We’re four games in and have a little more to chew on. Statistical categories are a fair way off providing strong answers and schedules are masking plenty of truths but the hints are getting stronger and even at this early juncture the new order is starting to look a hell of a lot like the old order, or at least the order we used to know before all the cards got thrown up in the air last season. Let’s have a quick spin around the league and see what we can pick up.” Stats Bomb


Inverted Full Backs and their benefits: A look at what we might see at Guardiola’s Manchester City

September 12, 2016

“Following the announcement in February that Pep Guardiola would take over from Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City ahead of the new season, football enthusiasts have been fantasising about what the Spaniard might bring to English football. A student of Johann Cruyff, Guardiola’s methods during his previous stints in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich gained plaudits from across Europe. In spite of this, many of the Pep’s ideas and innovations have remained foreign to the Premier League. Guardiola’s approach is an interpretation of the tactical system ‘Positional play’ or ‘Jeugo de Posicion’. The primary aims of which are to create quantitative, qualitative and positional superiority over the opposition. Starting with playing out from the back, it is essential that Guardiola’s teams always have a spare man over the opponents in order to make possession retention more seamless.” Outside of the Boot


‘Celtic have disappeared off into the distance and left Rangers behind’

September 12, 2016

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“All that was missing from the home fans was the collective, and mocking, cry of ‘Ole!’ as each pass found its target. It was late in the game at Celtic Park. Rangers were one down in numbers on the field after Philippe Senderos’ red card, one down on the touchline after Davie Weir, the Rangers assistant manager, was sent to the stand, and 4-1 down on the scoreboard after Moussa Dembele scored a hat-trick and Scott Sinclair scored in his fifth successive domestic match for his new club.” BBC


CM01/02: The Return (May ’08 featuring Cherno Samba)

September 12, 2016

“THE MISSION: You have returned to Championship Manager 01/02. You have won silverware with Everton. Now turn them into a genuine European powerhouse. THE CATCH: Everton were in financial trouble. You had to play for nearly three seasons without resources. The books are balanced now, but all the legendary players have been snapped up by your rivals. Respond.” the set piece


Tactical Principles: Half Spaces

September 12, 2016

“The term half spaces sounds like jargon used by people within football to make themselves sound smarter and more tactically aware than your typical fan. But the concept of the half spaces is really simple if you understand that in the attacking phase teams are looking to exploit spaces, then you’ve got a basic understanding of the half space. Half spaces are areas on the pitch which teams may look to exploit due to the advantages that arise when getting the ball in these areas, they’re found between the wide areas and central areas of the pitch.” Outside of the Boot


Chelsea ‘right to feel robbed by referee’ at Swansea

September 12, 2016

“Chelsea deserved to beat Swansea on Sunday and they feel they were robbed of victory by the referee. It is extremely difficult to argue with them. Yes, Antonio Conte’s side will rue the chances they missed in their 2-2 Premier League draw at the Liberty Stadium, but the bottom line is that Andre Marriner cost them two points. Marriner’s decision to allow Swansea’s second goal was an absolute shocker. There is no other way of putting it, because Leroy Fer’s foul on Chelsea defender Gary Cahill before he scored was as blatant as can be.” BBC


Claude Puel

September 6, 2016

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“The sight of Thierry Henry gliding in from the left before opening up his body to side-foot a precise finish inside the far post remains among the most alluring of all Premier League history. Rather less well known is how the seeds for what became such a trademark goal were painstakingly sown by Henry and Claude Puel on the spectacular Monaco training ground that nestles in the mountain village of La Turbie.” Telegraph, Wikipedia


Inverted Full Backs and their benefits: A look at what we might see at Guardiola’s Manchester City

September 6, 2016

“Following the announcement in February that Pep Guardiola would take over from Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City ahead of the new season, football enthusiasts have been fantasising about what the Spaniard might bring to English football. A student of Johann Cruyff, Guardiola’s methods during his previous stints in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich gained plaudits from across Europe. In spite of this, many of the Pep’s ideas and innovations have remained foreign to the Premier League. Guardiola’s approach is an interpretation of the tactical system ‘Positional play’ or ‘Jeugo de Posicion’. The primary aims of which are to create quantitative, qualitative and positional superiority over the opposition.” Outside of the Boot


Do South American World Cup qualifiers put the Champions League to shame?

September 6, 2016

“Now that Copa América and the Euros are behind us, the focus turns to World Cup qualification. For South American teams – who kicked off their campaigns last October – the road to the biggest football tournament in the world has always been tough and since 1996, when the current round-robin format was originally introduced, competition has improved tremendously. Historical powerhouses such as Brazil and Argentina are no longer shoe-ins to qualify as teams such as Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Paraguay and Ecuador, with star players of their own, are more than just also-rans.” Guardian


The sad story of Omar Orestes Corbatta, scorer of Argentina’s second greatest goal

September 6, 2016

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“Before Diego Maradona’s second goal against England in 1986, the greatest goal in Argentinian history had been scored by Omar Orestes Corbatta in a 4-0 win over Chile in qualifying for the 1958 World Cup. Argentina already led 2-0 when Corbatta beat his marker, took the ball round the goalkeeper, waited for another Chilean to approach, dribbled past him and then, as the crowd urged him to finish the move off, with the goalkeeper and two other defenders charging back, dummied to shoot, leaving all three on the ground before finally stroking the ball over the line.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Can Wales create more history with World Cup qualification?

September 6, 2016

“Later today, Wales will start their World Cup qualification campaign. For the Welsh faithful, it’ll be a strange feeling. No longer is history holding them back, no longer are they nearly men. Can the most successful Wales team in over half a century qualify for a World Cup? By the time the 2018 World Cup rolls along, it will be 60 years since Wales competed in their last one.” backpagefootball


Werder Bremen: Impressive Business yet sinking feeling?

September 6, 2016

“Junusovic with the free-kick, in to Pizarro, on to Ujah and Djilodobji, it’s in, it’s in! Never had the Weserstadion erupted to the sound of the Proclaimers’ 500 Miles quite like that last day victory over Eintracht Frankfurt. They had done it; Viktor Skrypnyk’s side had dragged themselves out of the relegation abyss in the most dramatic of fashions. After the jubilance of survival in that manner passes, the realisation that changes need to be made normally follows: Werder were no exception.” Outside of the Boot


Klopp’s less is more gamble could leave Liverpool struggling for goals

September 6, 2016

“The first three fixtures of this season’s Premier League exist almost in a form of purgatory. Interrupted by the international break they fail to build any momentum, whilst at the same time are subjected to the pressure cooker atmosphere that comes with the transfer window and fans’ heightened – and often – unrealistic preseason expectations.” backpagefootball


Solidarity at the Stadium

September 1, 2016

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Celtic fans on August 17, 2016.
“The headlines that reported on August’s Celtic–Hapoel Ber’er Sheva football match didn’t cover the importance of the game — although it was a qualifier for the Champions League — nor the quality of the play, despite it being an entertaining encounter that Celtic won by five goals to two. Instead, it was the Celtic fans who grabbed everyone’s attention. They had been warned that if they raised the Palestinian flag inside the stadium, the Union of European Football Association (UEFA), which prohibits political messages at matches, would fine the club. There had even been rumors that police would arrest those carrying the flag.” Jacobin


Brazil’s Olympic football gold is a step forward but decadent culture must be reformed Reconstructing Brazi

September 1, 2016

“Given the history, it is understandable Brazil were so delighted to win gold in the men’s football at the Olympics. Uruguay had won it (twice), Argentina had won it (twice), while they had lost three times in the final. “Finally, the champions of everything,” roared the newspaper Estado de Minas the morning after the final. It is a box that had needed ticking for a long time. The hope for Brazil is that winning the Olympics will restore self-esteem, that it has reminded them how to win after two miserable Copa Américas and a hugely disappointing home World Cup.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Tactical Analysis: Real Sociedad 0-3 Real Madrid | Madrid stay tactically disciplined to keep Sociedad at arm’s length

September 1, 2016

“Real Madrid picked up where they left off last season with a comfortable 0-3 victory at the Anoeta against a Real Sociedad side who would normally provide tough opposition for most clubs in the division. Zinedine Zidane’s side understandably came in as favourites given the strength of their squad, however the absence of key players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema was sure to give Sociedad some hope that they could possibly snatch a win. Unfortunately, this was not to be as Real Madrid raced into an early lead when a Dani Carvajal cross met the head of Gareth Bale to put them ahead in just the second minute. After that, despite the best efforts of the Basque side, the away team remained in complete control of the game, defending compactly and resolutely to force Sociedad into wide areas and exploiting their high defensive line on more than one occasion.” Outside of the Boot


Anchors and Wankers: the Psychology and Reality of Transfer Prices

September 1, 2016

“While the price of a Premier League footballer does indeed get further and further away from the financial realities of the average fan, it’s not necessarily ‘insane’, as it still only rises at a fairly predictable rate of inflation. Based on our Transfer Price Index model, Graeme Riley and I could have told you at the start of the summer that the going rate (if there is such a thing) for an elite but not ‘top three in world’ player – at a good age – was £90m.” Tomkins Times


Book Review: Bendelow and Kidd’s Dictionary Of Football

September 1, 2016

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The army of terms required to talk convincingly about football has been a great source of mirth over the years. As far back as the 1970s, footballers were depicted as alternating between being ‘over the moon’ or ‘sick as a parrot’ depending on their feelings at 5 o’clock on a Saturday while Ron Atkinson let loose a whole new phalanx of phrases during his co-commentating days alongside Clive Tyldesley – to the extent that ‘crowd scene’, ‘little eyebrows’ and the daddy of them all, ‘early doors’ started to gain common currency. Ian Bendelow and Jamie Kidd are the latest to draw attention to the sheer glorious illogicality of soccer phraseology. That they are merely the latest is the one criticism one might level at their eponymous Dictionary of Football, for this exercise was carried out in pretty much identical fashion in Leigh and Woodhouse’s Football Lexicon published in the early Noughties and re-republished for as wider audience by Faber & Faber in 2004.” thetwounfortunates, amazon


2018 World Cup qualifiers: Coleman ready for next adventure

September 1, 2016

“It is a scene every Welsh football fan will recognise: rewatching goals from Wales’ historic Euro 2016 campaign in an attempt to relive the euphoria of an unforgettable summer. The moment has passed, the rapturous celebrations fading from view, but still they cling to the memories. As does the man who masterminded it all.” BBC


Hipster Guide 2016-17: Sevilla’s tactics, key players and emerging talents

September 1, 2016

“Sevilla made history last season by winning the UEFA Europa League for the third consecutive season and for the fifth time in the previous decade. Their comeback victory against Liverpool in Basel further proved that no team takes to UEFA’s second tier competition quite like Sevilla do, but as incredible an achievement as it was, it did paper over some cracks. Their Europa League run was born from the ashes of a failed attempt at the Champions League, only claiming third spot in their group with a last-gasp win against Juventus, and a 7th place finish in La Liga without a single win away from home was highly underwhelming for a team expected to challenge for 4th place.” Outside of the Boot


Bayern Relaxes, Dortmund Look Backward And Other Week One Impressions

September 1, 2016

“It’s one game. Never get too bold about season long team qualities on one game. But it’s the first game. The first actual games we’ve seen in months means there’s a lot to learn. We can at least start to sniff some stylistic choices from a few teams, see some potential problems for others, and can confirm that Andre Schürrle might lead Europe in both shots and key passes. Again this is week one so we are going with light impressions, no firm conclusions, but here are some things that caught my eye.” Stats Bomb