Tactical review of 2017: Pep Guardiola reasserts his version of post-Cruyffianism

December 29, 2017


“The year ends with Pep Guardiola ascendant, his juego de posición, evolved over time and amended and slightly repackaged for England, cutting a swathe through the Premier League, just as it overwhelmed all in La Liga and the Bundesliga. There will be the usual complaints about how much money has been spent and, more pertinently, about the origin of that money, but English football has never seen anything quite like this. …” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

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Alexis stars as Arsenal’s three-man defence excels in win at Palace

December 29, 2017

“Three quick thoughts from Arsenal’s 3-2 Premier League win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Thursday. …” ESPN – Michael Cox


Swapping your soul for a soulless bowl – lamenting the loss of old stadia

December 29, 2017

“My interest in football lessens every time a traditional ground with personality is replaced by a faceless bowl. As Tottenham Hotspur prepare for their first match at Wembley Stadium, I thought as a football fan, I’d express my feelings towards clubs who make the move from their respective grounds. A part of my football soul dies when a club thinks it’s a sensible idea to move from their current ground and replace it with a faceless, uninspiring arena in order to modernise. …” Football Pink


The Barca Way Spreads Far From Catalonia

December 29, 2017


“Everywhere you look, the fingerprints are visible. They are there in those places where the lights shine brightest, and they are there where the lights don’t shine at all. At the summit of the Premier League; among the rich and famous of the Champions League; at suburban schools in the United States; at provincial, second-tier clubs in China; at village teams in Africa: In every corner of the world and at every level of soccer, there are indelible traces of Barcelona. Wherever they are found, they are present for the same reason. Across the planet, the word Barcelona — the idea of Barcelona — has over the last decade come to connote not just success but beauty, too. That has inspired countless clubs, large and small, to try to distill and import the magic, to find someone to sprinkle a little of that stardust on them. …”
NY Times


From Pogba to Mbappe: Why Greater Paris is the world’s top talent pool

December 29, 2017

“PARIS — Nearly a decade ago, Arsene Wenger ranked the Paris region as the second-best talent pool in soccer after Sao Paulo in Brazil. But by now, the French capital surely ranks top. Here are just a few of today’s players raised in Greater Paris: Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, N’Golo Kante, Kingsley Coman, Blaise Matuidi and Kylian Mbappe, plus three other regular Paris Saint-Germain starters, the Algerian internationals Riyad Mahrez and Yacine Brahimi, and various Senegalese and Moroccan internationals who will play at the coming World Cup. In fact, the Ile-de-France (as Greater Paris is known) probably produces more talent than Asia, Africa and North America combined. Why? I ask myself that question every weekend. …” ESPN – Simon Kuper


Tartan trousers on the terrace: Why Scottish football needs to be punk

December 29, 2017

“Football in Scotland has remained a purist’s pursuit, our hallowed grounds are filled with hardened fans. The weather isn’t attractive and neither is the football. So what keeps people going? Pure and simple – it’s the love and passion of the game. The average attendances are high and getting higher, but the quality of football just isn’t improving, if anything, it’s in a decline and the light at the end of the tunnel is farther away than ever, so what’s the problem? The Scottish Premier League exports very few players to foreign leagues. …” Foolball Pink