World Cup stunning moments: The Battle of Santiago

March 22, 2018


English referee Ken Aston sends off Italian player Mario David, while an injured Chilean player lies on the ground, during the 1962 World Cup meeting.
“It took two days for highlights of the match that was christened, even during the commentary, the Battle of Santiago, to be flown from South America and broadcast in Britain. Two days in which the game became, in its own brutal way, legendary, spoken of in ways which must have sent anyone with a combined interest in football and mild gore into a frenzy of excitement. …” Guardian (Video)


World Cup stunning moments: Cameroon shock Argentina in 1990 World Cup

March 22, 2018

“Of the great World Cup upsets – the USA’s victory over England in 1950, North Korea’s over Italy in 1966 and Algeria’s over West Germany in 1982 probably push it close – this one stands alone in myth and memory. It was not a perfect match but it was an irresistible narrative, as the World Cup champions, led by the great Diego Maradona, were vanquished by an unheralded team largely assembled of journeymen players from the French lower divisions – though for some of them even that was either an impossible dream or a distant memory. …” Guardian (Video)


#IBWM100 For 2018

March 22, 2018

“As always, we’ve stuck with the format that served Don Balon so successfully for decades; 100 names and details of where each player is from. We’ll revisit the list next December to assess how 2018 has panned out for each of the players concerned. The process we use for selection remains exactly the same: We identify players born on or after 1/1/1996 and talk to scouts, coaches, players, journalists, fans and bloggers from around the world to get a clear a picture of exactly who we should be watching and why. This information forms our long list. …” In Bed With Maradona


The Men Who Stare At Goals By Alex Stewart

March 22, 2018


“The opening line of The Men Who Stare At Goal instantly resonates with every single Football Manager fan, lover or former player. Why do we love Football Manager? I, like many I’m sure, have spent countless hours of rage at the simulation game. Why aren’t my tactics working? Why does my star player want to a transfer? Does he not know we’ll build something special here? …” In Bed With Maradona, amazon


Football and conflict: The story of FC Pristina and the Kosovo War

March 22, 2018

“Kushtrim Munishi takes a sup of beer and rests his broad shoulders against his chair. The clunk of the glass on the table as he replaces it punctuates the momentary quiet between two unmistakably trans-Atlantic pop tunes being pumped into the bar. It’s a place which isn’t deliberately themed, but it’s still been decked out in a typically Western style. In Pristina in 2018, that’s just the way things are done. …” The Set Pieces (Video)


Victory from the Jaws of Triumph: Ireland’s Euro 2012 So Far

March 22, 2018

European Championship qualifying group B was a strange one: Ireland beat Armenia who beat Slovakia who beat Russia who beat Ireland (while poor fourth-seeded Macedonia looked on and whimpered). The logical progression would have been for a match to be played out between twenty-two footballs kicking a man around the pitch. That man turned out to be Richard Dunne, and the final score was Russia 0-0 Ireland, a result you could only call miraculous if you consider Dunne to be a gift from heaven. …” Run Of Play (Oct. 2011)


Champions League quarter-finals: tie-by-tie analysis

March 18, 2018


“We run the rule over the last-eight matches, including the all-Premier League duel between Liverpool and Manchester City, and predict who will triumph …” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Memo to Theresa May: In Premier League, Russian Roots Run Deep

March 18, 2018

“LONDON — The Russian flag has been there so long now that it hardly attracts any notice, just another familiar piece of background scenery in the global, cosmopolitan Premier League. It hangs from the upper deck of the Matthew Harding Stand at Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea Football Club. In its central blue band, spelled out in white block capitals, are the words ‘The Roman Empire.’ …” NY Times


Identifying Ligue 1’s Next Breakout Talent: Tanguy Ndombele

March 18, 2018

“This feels like an annual thing I do with Lyon, where at least one of these type of posts is dedicated to their young starlets. It’s a credit to them that even though they’re having a mildly turbulent season, you can’t help but be excited at the young talent at their disposal. A lot of that is due to them having one of the best youth academies in European football. When the club was in a dire financial situation earlier this decade, they relied on their kids coming through and some of the academy graduates included Alexandre Lacazette, Nabil Fekir, and Corentin Tolisso. Their academy has been ridiculous for quite some time in churning out elite young talents, and they’ve got even more talent coming up with Willem Guebels and Amine Gouiri. …” Stats Bomb (Video)


The Agony of Being an Arsenal Fan

March 18, 2018


“I’ve been a follower of Arsenal Football Club since I was ten years old. So often our sporting allegiances are shaped by family tradition, passed down like heirlooms. That is not how I fell in love with Arsenal. My mother often tells the story of how, at the end of a trip to London, she got into a cab on her way to the airport. Wanting to bring home a memento for her eldest son, she asked the driver for the name of London’s soccer team. …” New Yorker


Searching For the Root: Marley, Music and Football

March 18, 2018

“… Football is the only sport on earth that can be considered truly global. Simple and inexpensive, it is equally likely to be found in a tight Marseille banlieue, an obscure corner of a Lagos slum, and the heart of a Buenos Aires barrio. Marley’s music is similarly universal. It is the embodiment of the ghetto sufferah, the dispossessed street urchin whose never-ending battle for survival transcends continent and race. …” In Bed With Maradona


Curse of the second-choice Premier League striker: an unwinnable war?

March 18, 2018

“When it comes to impossibly handsome multimillionaire athletes, the natural feeling towards them tends not to be sympathy. Despite that, even the most cold-hearted onlooker might have harboured some pity for Fernando Llorente as Tottenham played Bournemouth last weekend. The Spaniard has endured a wretched season and barely kicked a ball in recent weeks, but when Harry Kane limped off after half an hour it looked like a rare chance to drum up some confidence. …” FourFourTwo


A case of Dejan vu all over again for Lovren the Liverpool fall guy

March 13, 2018


“A long ball. Dejan Lovren steps tight to Romelu Lukaku, tries to shove him, fails to move him and drops off. Lukaku wins the header and Marcus Rashford scores. A long ball. Lovren steps tight to Lukaku, fails to unsettle him. Lukaku wins the header and Rashford, after the brief intervention of a block challenge on Juan Mata, scores. For Liverpool it was a case of Dejan vu all over again. This was not as bad as his performance at Wembley against Tottenham, when Lovren played as though dazed, but it was another game in which Liverpool conceded goals that, from a defensive point of view, came through the Croat. …” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


The Sensational Rise and Expensive Fall of a Paris Superclub

March 13, 2018

“PARIS — The transfer fee was eye-catching, the salary eye-watering, and the impact jaw-dropping. It seemed to be the move and the moment that signaled a power shift, a change in soccer’s established order. One of the brightest South American talents of his generation, heralded as the next best player in the world, moving to a rising force in Paris, drawn by money and glamour to a club long on cash and short on patience. …’ NY Times


Tim Vickery’s Notes from South America: Venezuelans battle against the weight of history

March 13, 2018

“If Tottenham came close to glory before blowing the chance last week, then a club from Venezuela came even closer. Last Thursday Mineros were at home to Nacional of Paraguay in the second leg of their clash in the Sudamericana Cup, the Europa League equivalent. The game in Asuncion had finished goalless, and the same thing happened in Puerto Ordaz. The tie went to penalties. After three rounds, Mineros led 3-1. They could hardly be closer to a place in the next round. One successful penalty from their last two, or one more failure to convert from Nacional, and the Venezuelans would be through. The stadium was ready to celebrate. And then, one by one, the chances went begging. After two consecutive Mineros misses, and two consecutive Nacional successes, the scores were level at 3-3. Sudden death ensued. Mineros missed, Nacional scored and the Paraguayans were the ones doing the celebrating….” World Soccer – Tim Vickery


What are England’s options without Harry Kane?

March 13, 2018

“It wasn’t just Spurs fans wincing at the sight of Harry Kane’s foot trapped underneath Asmir Begovic at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The World Cup is only three months away, and Gareth Southgate will have been devastated to see his star striker shake his head and trudge off the pitch, defeated by a third ankle injury in two seasons. …” Telegraph


MSV Duisburg – Fortuna Düsseldorf review

March 13, 2018


“Fortuna wins the derby and increases the lead over Nürnberg. Ilia Gruev sent his team on the pitch in the expected 4-4-2 formation, with Bomheuer fit again replacing Blomeyer. Frontzek arranged his team in a 4-1-4-1 system. Raman was out of squad, not completely healed after a flu, while Neuhaus stayed on the bench, with Bodzek playing from the beginning. …” Bundesliga Fanatic


FC Koln – Another Bundesliga club to fall from grace

March 13, 2018

“20th May 2017, Rhein Energie Stadion. Koln are hosting Mainz in front of a sold-out crowd, anxiously awaiting their sides final game of the Bundesliga campaign. Win, and European football would be guaranteed for the first time since 1992. Tensions would have been rather calmer had they not blown a 2-0 first half lead the week before away at the BayArena to Bayer Leverkusen only to draw 2-2. …” Backpage Football


Great Reputations – Torino 1940s

March 13, 2018

“Torino’s first successful period was built on the back of the Cinzano empire, winning Serie A in 1928 with an expensive and exciting team. A decade or so later, Torino were taken over by Ferruccio Novo, an industrialist with a taste for sport. Novo took the advice of the great Vittorio Pozzo, who had won two World Cups with Italy, and brought a team of people he could trust to the club. His technical adviser was Ernest Erbstein, a Hungarian Jew who survived the holocaust. Antonio Jani and Mario Spur had the experience of winning Serie A in 1928, while a Brit, Leslie Lievesley, was named youth coach. …” Football Pink


The Man Who Brought You Christian Pulisic Has a Plan to Supercharge American Soccer

March 1, 2018


“Today, the phrase ‘Christian Pulisic to Barcelona’ would make for the ideal English tabloid headline. It’s plausible enough to allow you to briefly recast Barça’s Holy Trinity of Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, and Neymar with the young American attacker (say it with me: ‘M-S-P’), while remaining outlandish enough to ensure that you’d never utter the thought aloud to anyone except your browser’s history. But a few years ago, Pulisic did go to Barcelona. Only 14 years old at the time, and still several years away from exploding onto the American and European soccer scenes, he was invited to train at the fabled Catalonian club. A move to Barcelona — with the Camp Nou, tiki-taka, tapas, and Messi — would be a dream for any teeanger who’s laced up a pair of cleats and picked up a FIFA controller, but Rob Moore wasn’t sure that this was where Pulisic needed to be. …”
The Ringer


Is the Bundesliga in Danger of European Irrelevance?

March 1, 2018

“Far removed from the glory days of Borussia Mönchengladbach ruling the league in the 1970s, a dominant Hamburger SV controlling the early 1980s, and Borussia Dortmund dismantling opponents for much of the 1990s, the German top flight has become a one club league not only domestically, but internationally as well. How did it come to this and what can the Bundesliga do to avoid becoming the next Eredivisie? …” Bundesliga Fanatic


Chelsea’s struggles at both ends largely due to growing pains of Alvaro Morata, Andreas Christensen

March 1, 2018

“It’s been a peculiar and somewhat unusual week for Chelsea — two good performances in tricky contests against Barcelona and Manchester United, but little to show for their efforts. Having opened the scoring in both matches, Antonio Conte’s men will feel disappointed not to be taking a first-leg lead to the Nou Camp, and underwhelmed at being defeated 2-1 at Old Trafford. …” ESPN – Michael Cox