“In the first of a new series, JAMES EVANS examines the evolution of pairs of stadiums across the world; starting with the Spanish city of Seville and its two clubs – Sevilla and Real Betis. …” Football Pink, Grounds for closer inspection, part 2: Portsmouth and Plymouth Argyle, Grounds for closer inspection, part 3: Barcelona and Real Madrid
“I’m standing just outside the Barcelona dressing-room door at Wembley, about an hour after Manchester United have been defeated 3-1 in the 2011 Champions League final. The dancing, singing and beer-drinking in the Catalan dressing-room have only just died down. I’ve been charged with interviewing two of the winning players, with the trophy, for the final Champions League Weekly television programme of the season and there is a desperate need for a player to emerge from the fiesta. Getting them agree to the damn request is another thing again. …” The Blizzard (2012)
“In 1946, Peter Adolph applied for a patent for a table football game that would go on to become the most recognisable across the world. We’re talking about Subbuteo of course; the game that could be found in most football fanatics’ households and which today is going through another renaissance, with fathers passing down their much loved sets to their children. There is, however, room in the market for a new type of bespoke table top soccer that draws its inspiration from Adolph’s original creation. The company is called FlickForKicks and is the birth child of Gareth Christie, a self-confessed Subbuteo fanatic who has drawn inspiration from his love of the game to produce his highly acclaimed bespoke tables for both young and old. …” Football Pink
“In the protracted campaign for World Cup qualification, a little luck can go a long way. Panama are one of only two teams that will make their debuts in the finals this year – the other is Iceland – but unlike the men from the very margin of Europe, virtually nothing is known about the Central Americans. Which is partly because they haven’t done a great deal in the past century. But they did knock out the Americans to get to Russia, albeit not without a touch of controversy and good fortune. …” Football Pink
“The big news should have been the magnificent goal that Vinicius Junior scored for Flamengo in the Rio de Janeiro derby against Botafogo. Cutting in from the left onto his stronger right foot, he curled a superb shot into the far top corner, clinching a 3-1 win for his side. It was an indication of the quality of a 17-year-old who is already bound for Europe. Real Madrid caused a splash last year when they agreed to pay an astonishing 45 million Euros for such an unproven talent. Still with Flamengo, Vinicius is having to grow up in public. He is, understandably, very raw. …” World Soccer – Tim Vickery
“The first leg, you suspect, went just as Antonio Conte would have wanted it to go – apart from the bit about not playing a square ball across your penalty area to Andrés Iniesta with 15 minutes of a Champions League match remaining. But that is the problem with great tactical plans: they always rely, ultimately, on that most fallible of species: humans. …” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson
Sadio Mané and Liverpool put five goals past F.C. Porto last week.
“As he readied his players to face Manchester City in the last 16 of the Champions League last week, F.C. Basel Coach Raphaël Wicky realized he had a problem. Ordinarily, Wicky would dedicate one training session shortly before a game to a shadow match: On one side, his likely starting team, and on the other, 11 squad members slotted in to simulate Basel’s forthcoming opponent. They would line up in the same system, adopt the same style, play in the same patterns. The aim of the exercise is to familiarize the first team with the challenge that lies in wait. …” NY Times