Claudio Suárez picks his all-time Mexico XI

May 29, 2018


“In goal it has to be Jorge Campos. Like me, he played in three World Cups and also played in over 100 games for the Mexico national team. In my opinion, he was the best goalkeeper that Mexico has ever had. My first centre-back is Rafael Márquez because of what he has done in Europe with Barcelona, where he won four league titles and two European Cups. He has played over 140 games for the national team too – and he could feature in a fifth World Cup! Carlos Salcido was an extremely efficient centre-back and was so effective in over 120 appearances so he earns a place in my team. …” Guardian


Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool: freak goals hand Real their third straight European Cup

May 29, 2018

“Two crazy goalkeeping mistakes and an all-time great goal from substitute Gareth Bale earned Zinedine Zidane his third European Cup in three attempts. Zidane decided to use his diamond midfield here, meaning Isco started instead of Bale, with Karim Benzema leading the line. Jurgen Klopp’s side was as expected – injury problems meant he didn’t really have any selection dilemmas. …” Zonal Marking – Michael Cox


How to Find Footballing Beauty in the Age of Stats

May 29, 2018

“Can you really blame them? Technological advances meant that the most casual hobbyist could put up a blog that looked roughly as reputable as a specialist site and skim information from around the world. Distribution channels — social media, podcasts, and Fan TV-type video — multiplied. It’s a fun hustle for those who can make it work. This development hardly troubled traditional football media, which has always internalized the bare minimum from its challengers whilst fending them off. It did, however, change the language of football fandom. Your average fan now speaks in the sweeping, definitive language of a talking head, interpreting everything — who did what now; who should be signed; who should be fired, because someone should always be fired — through the prism of whether it helps a team. …” StatsBomb


Real Madrid’s Champions League Triumph Defined By Bale’s Heroics, Salah’s Injury

May 27, 2018


“KIEV, Ukraine – The decisive goal, scored with a Gareth Bale overhead kick moments after he had come off the bench, was brilliant, and the two Loris Karius mistakes that gifted Madrid goals either side of that were ghastly. But there was no doubting what had been the decisive moment as Real Madrid won its third European title in a row and its fourth in five years with a 3-1 triumph over Liverpool. As Keylor Navas went to take a goal kick, Mohamed Salah slowly subsided, sinking with a desperate sadness to the ground. It looked bad, and confirmation soon followed from Liverpool’s medical staff. He had not recovered from an injury suffered a couple of minutes earlier and his final was over after just half an hour. As Salah walked off, his face crumpled in tears, his right arm hanging awkwardly limp, Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos both consoled him, but the truth is his departure had been Ramos’s fault. …” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Nigeria’s Will Troost-Ekong: ‘If there is racism we will make a decision’

May 27, 2018

“When England face Nigeria on Saturday they will line up against a man with a more quintessentially English upbringing than anyone in a white shirt at Wembley. Will Troost-Ekong was educated at boarding school in Bishop’s Stortford and speaks with the accent his parents intended when they sent him to these shores at the age of 12. Troost-Ekong, the son of a Nigerian father and Dutch mother, received a privileged education at Hockerill college and it also set him on the path to his career, although not one usually associated with a boarding school alumnus. …” Guardian


France’s World Cup Snubbed XI

May 27, 2018

“France boss Didier Deschamps recently announced his 23-man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, for which he snubbed many household names. Here is a formidable starting line-up made up of Les Bleus players who were left out of the squad. As a player, Deschamps represented France on 104 occasions, and also enjoyed a great club career during which he wore the colours of Nantes, Marseille, Bordeaux, Juventus, Chelsea and Valencia. …” Soccerladuma


World Cup 2018 team previews: what you need to know about all 32 teams (ESPN)

May 25, 2018


“The 2018 World Cup might be missing some big nations, but that’s what makes this tournament the best in sports. Brazil are looking to bounce back from a travesty in 2014, while Spain, Argentina and France are hoping to dethrone defending champions Germany and their typically deep squad. Can Belgium or Portugal make a splash? Do England have what it takes to challenge too? ESPN FC is previewing every team ahead of the opening game on June 14 in English, Spanish and Portuguese to give a truly global feel to our team profiles. Here’s what you need to know about the 32 teams set to do battle in Russia beginning on June 14. …”
ESPN


2018 FIFA World Cup

May 25, 2018

“The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be the 21st FIFA World Cup, a quadrennial international football tournament contested by the men’s national teams of the member associations of FIFA. It is scheduled to take place in Russia from 14 June to 15 July 2018, after the country was awarded the hosting rights on 2 December 2010. This will be the first World Cup held in Europe since the 2006 tournament in Germany, and the first ever to be held in Eastern Europe. All of the stadium venues are in European Russia, to keep travel time manageable. The final tournament will involve 32 national teams, which include 31 teams determined through qualifying competitions and the automatically qualified host team. Of the 32 teams, 20 will be making back-to-back appearances following the last tournament in 2014, including defending champions Germany, while Iceland and Panama will both be making their first appearances at a FIFA World Cup. A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities. The final will take place on 15 July at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. …” Wikipedia


World Cup 2018 squad guide: Latest news and updates ahead of Russia (Independent)

May 25, 2018

“The 2018 World Cup is now only weeks away. The 32 countries have until the May 14 deadline to name their provisional squads for Russia with managers all over the globe currently scratching their heads as they bid to whittle down their long list of possibles and probables in time for the final June 4 cut off, just 10 days before the opener in Moscow. However, many teams – England included, – have already pledged to name their lucky few earlier with Gareth Southgate set to pick his 23 before the final pre-tournament friendlies with Nigeria and Costa Rica. …” Independent (Video)


Paolo Rossi: Redemption and the crushing of the Brazilian dream

May 23, 2018


“In nature there’s a brutal truth about something beautiful always getting its comeuppance. Whether it’s a doe-eyed mammal striding elegantly across the plain or a beatific panfish darting deep between the oceans, there is always the waiting mechanics of a set of teeth ready to devastate its backbone. Football always comes full circle like that too. The beautiful game can’t defy the laws of the system forever, nor its progression. In a thrilling game in the 1982 World Cup, that philosophy would play out beautifully. …” Football Pink (Video)


Paolo Guerrero’s Fight to Reach World Cup Spurs Protests in Peru

May 23, 2018

“LIMA, Peru — The thousands of fans arrived at the Estadio Nacional as a sea of red and white. For more than an hour, they had paraded through the avenues of central Lima, dressed in their national team jerseys, blowing their vuvuzelas and pushing their children ahead of them in strollers. Now, after filing inside Peru’s national stadium, they sang Peru’s national anthem, waved Peru’s flag and hoped — against the longest of odds — that their festive display of national camaraderie would not be in vain. For a week, their energies, and much of Peru’s attention, has been focused on the case of Paolo Guerrero, the star striker who helped lead his nation to its first World Cup in 36 years but now seems all but certain to miss the tournament because of a doping ban. …” NY Times


Lessons from Brazil’s 2014 World Cup Disaster

May 23, 2018

“… The extraordinary story of the next few weeks is essentially one of what happened to this confidence – ebbing away bit by bit until one scarcely believable afternoon in Belo Horizonte brought about a candidate for the most amazing result in World Cup history. Brazil prepared with a routine 4-0 win over Panama, followed by a laboured single goal triumph against Serbia. There was no cause for alarm. This was merely the warm up phase in a competition that usually goes to the side that peaks at the right time. …” World Soccer – Tim Vickery


Russia uncovered: writers on the World Cup host nation

May 20, 2018


Lokomotiv Moscow fans wave flags during the 2017 Russian Super Cup football match against Spartak Moscow
“With the World Cup kicking off in less than a month and tensions with the west at their worst level in decades, Observer writers and Russia experts go behind the spin to analyse the host nation’s social and political landscape. Part 1. Racism. ‘Young fans see the dominance of far-right chants. Anyone who challenges it faces a threat of violence’. It is the most politically charged World Cup in recent memory: Russia, resurgent under Vladimir Putin, is set to host the 32-team tournament next month amid scandals ranging from sports doping to spy poisonings. Relations between Moscow and London are at their coolest since the cold war and the recent events in Salisbury even led to brief speculation (aided by Boris Johnson) that England could skip the tournament, recalling the Olympics boycotts of the 1980s. …”
Guardian


Dani Alves Injury Opens the Door for Another Right-back

May 20, 2018

“An injury to one is always a chance for another to make a name for himself. Such is the situation now for Brazil’s right-backs. Russia was to have been the third and final World Cup in the career of Daniel Alves, and the crowning glory of his international career. After featuring in midfield in 2010 and losing his place during the course of the 2014 tournament, finally he would have a chance to shine for his country in a team well set up to use his talents. Fate has decided otherwise, with a knee injury ruling him out. …” World Soccer – Tim Vickery


World Cup 2018: Saudi Arabia to show all 64 matches illegally after banning Qatar channel beIN Sports in diplomatic row

May 20, 2018

“A diplomatic row means Saudi Arabia will be pirating all 64 matches of the World Cup after banning the sports channel in rival Qatar, which owns the broadcast rights. The extraordinary situation arose following a spat between the two countries last June which led to beIN Sports being caught up in a trade ban between the two countries. As well as the World Cup, the Doha-based channel owns the rights to broadcast the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup final across the Middle East. …” Independent


The World Cup in Russia is an unmissable diplomatic opportunity – for us and them

May 20, 2018

“One month to go, and the Anglo-Saxons are preparing their football fans for the truly horrible time they are going to have at Russia’s World Cup. Here in the UK, the police have warned England supporters about waving their St George’s flags too enthusiastically on the grounds that it risks coming across as “almost imperialistic”. It could even, said the head of football policing, Mark Roberts, ’cause antagonism’ – as though antagonism was somehow alien to what tournament football, indeed all sport, is fundamentally about.  …” Independent


Will Neuer make it to the World Cup?

May 18, 2018


“Manuel Neuer established himself as the embodiment of the modern goalkeeper at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. While he was by no means the first shot stopper capable of creating something with the ball at his feet and his exceptional skill was already beyond doubt to football fans across Germany, his courageous displays in South America four years ago captivated audiences around the world. He was ultimately rewarded with the World Cup Trophy and the adidas Golden Glove as the tournament’s best goalkeeper. …” FIFA (Video)


World Cup 2018 fixtures: Full schedule, match dates and TV channel information

May 18, 2018

“The Russia World Cup 2018 fixtures have been announced, meaning it’s time for all of us to start planning a mid-June/July which will include watching a highly indulgent number of football matches. Last December’s draw put England in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama and all three of the games have been scheduled at times which will please office workers country-wide. The full list of World Cup fixtures is below, with timings, venues and TV channels included. …” Telegraph, Telegraph – World Cup 2018: A stadium guide for this summer’s tournament


Coherent, convincing and modern: Gareth Southgate offers touch of hope

May 18, 2018

“Know ye by this press conference that we, the FA, consent to the contracting of World Cup squad-ship between our dearly beloved Gareth and his brave 23-man selection. Although obviously not Jack, Joe, Adam or Jonjo who are on this occasion gutted to miss out, but for whom the door is never closed, and all the lads are still very much in the frame going forwards. …” Guardian (Video)


10 Greatest World Cup Matches

May 18, 2018


The 1966 World Cup Final makes our list of the best matches in World Cup history.
“The World Cup has seen some of the greatest matches ever take place, so bearing that in mind we have put together ten of the best. From amazing goals, to spectacular moments, these matches have helped write World Cup history. …” World Soccer


27 days to go: Record-setting Mighty Magyars

May 18, 2018

“27 – With their exceptional individual skill and outstanding team play, this generation of Hungarian footballers were unsurprisingly known as the ‘Golden Team’ or the ‘Mighty Magyars’. Most of the side also played their club football for Honved in Budapest, which meant they could string together passes and find each other effortlessly when representing the national team. The legendary names of Sandor Kocsis, Nandor Hidegkuti and, above all, Ferenc Puskas, have been etched permanently in the history books of Hungarian and world football. …” FIFA (Video)


Grubby trade deals with strongmen now shape our foreign policy

May 18, 2018

“There is usually a protest somewhere near Downing Street, and if I really get into the nitty gritty of reading the banners, I always agree with them. I, too, think that pigs should be treated humanely, vivisection should be banned, territorial disputes should be solved without violence and, in the main, when people are demonstrating about someone in prison, that person probably shouldn’t be in prison. The demo against the visit of President Erdoğan, a man who has oppressed Kurds, imprisoned journalists and sent a creepy Big Brother-style voicemail celebrating himself to the mobile numbers of every Turkish citizen, was no different; except it was different. …” Guardian