Applause at the Draw, but Will Russia Keep Cheering?

December 3, 2017


“MOSCOW — Half a million fans — by current, suspiciously optimistic, estimates — will descend on Russia next year for what Gianni Infantino, the FIFA president, has already decreed will be the ‘best’ World Cup in history. Every single fan, he has decided, will have “an amazing experience.” Billions of dollars have been spent on new, or renovated, stadiums to host the finest players in the world: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, on Friday promised a ‘major sporting festival of friendship and fair play.’ …” NY Times, The Ringer: The Four Must-Watch Games of the 2018 World Cup Group Stages (Video), NY Times – World Cup Draw: Group-by-Group Analysis

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Identifying Ligue 1’s Next Breakout Talent: Houssem Aouar

December 3, 2017

“The summer of 2017 was when big named players from Olympique Lyonnais left for greener pastures. Alexandre Lacazette finally made his long-awaited move to Arsenal, Corentin Tolisso left for Bayern Munich, Maxime Gonalons took his talents to Italy and signed for Roma. Even Rachid Ghezzal, a player who was equally as frustrating as he was brilliant, left for Monaco on a free transfer. While it might be a bit much to claim that this was going to be a new era, it was clear that there was a distinctly youthful approach occurring, with the club once again tapping into its famous academy along with the youthful players they bought as replacements for the departed. …” Stats Bomb (Video)


Take It Easy: The Politics of Walking Football

December 3, 2017

“In February this year, the FA released a comprehensive set of rules and regulations – the ‘Laws of the Game’ – centered around the principles of no running, no over head-height kicks, and minimal contact – for Walking Football. First played in 2011 by the Chesterfield FC Community Trust to prevent the social isolation of older men and help them get more exercise, the popularity of the sport took off after a 2014 Barclays TV ad. Today there are nearly a thousand walking football clubs (WFCs) registered in the United Kingdom. A year ago, Chitra Ramaswamy, writing for the Guardian, somewhat prophetically connected the ever-growing sport to the increasing popularity of the ‘slow movement’. …” In Bed With Maradona


Next Generation 2017: 60 of the best young talents in world football

December 3, 2017


“From Vinicius Júnior, who has already signed for Real Madrid, to ‘the Romanian Donnarumma’ the Guardian identifies 60 of the best players in the world born in 2000. Check the progress of our 2016 class | 2015 | 2014 … and check out our Next Generation 2017 picks for the Premier League …” Guardian


Copa Libertadores 2017: Classy Gremio Worthy Winners

December 3, 2017

“With the first half of the decisive Libertadores final second leg drawing to a close, Gremio’s excellent Luan produced a moment worth of winning any competition. The 24-year-old support striker found space on the left and drifted in-field towards a retreating and uncharacteristically ragged Lanus backline, before effortlessly waltzing past a couple of defenders and exquisitely dinking the ball over Esteban Andrada to make it 2-0 on the night and three ahead on aggregate. …” Outside of the Boot


Arsenal served up familiar mistakes and Jose Mourinho ensured Manchester United were waiting for them

December 3, 2017

“Arsenal are never as vulnerable as when they’re optimistic. Three wins in a row and no goals conceded, added to Tottenham’s recent woes, had nudged the Arsene Wenger crisis-o-meter away from ‘must go’ towards ‘may have another campaign in him’ but whatever hope may have been beginning to kindle within the Emirates were brutally stamped out within 11 minutes. What makes it worse is that it was all so familiar as Arsenal’s Jonah Complex struck again. …” Independent – Jonathan Wilson (Video)