Liverpool 1-0 Brighton


“Manager Jurgen Klopp said he still has ‘a lot of work to do’ after Liverpool’s hard-fought 1-0 victory over Brighton sent them top of the Premier League. Mohamed Salah, who scored 32 league goals last season, scored with a clinical strike midway through the first half at Anfield. … Liverpool, the only Premier League side with a 100% record after three games, are two points clear of champions Manchester City, who drew 1-1 with Wolves earlier on Saturday.” BBC (Video)

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Sergio Agüero embraces defending to erase Pep Guardiola’s doubts

“Manchester City beat Huddersfield 5-1 in an FA Cup fifth-round replay in March last year. Sergio Agüero scored twice but post-match discussion centred largely on whether he had a future at the club. Pep Guardiola had made it clear he felt there were elements of the Argentinian’s game that did not fit with his vision and had brought in Gabriel Jesus with a view, it seemed, to easing him out.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Is Harry Kane Fine Now?

“Harry Kane scored a goal against Fulham last Saturday. It wasn’t a remarkable goal. Erik Lamela did most of the work driving through Fulham’s defense before freeing Kane on the left side of the penalty box. The Spurs striker cut back onto his right foot, shaking a defender to create enough space to finish precisely across the keeper, tucking the ball inside the right post. Fairly standard Kane type stuff. What makes that goal important is that for months Kane hasn’t been doing the standard stuff that turned him into a superstar.” StatsBomb

Trained to Find Players, Bundesliga Insider Scouts for Scouts, Too


“LEVERKUSEN, Germany — The challenge, as Jonas Boldt sees it, is that soccer no longer has any secrets: no territory left uncharted, no stone left unturned, no gems still hidden. He knows, for example, that the coup that transformed his own career — which kick-started a journey that took him from intern at his boyhood club to his current post as sporting director of one of Germany’s biggest teams — almost could not happen now. The world has changed too much, become too small, too busy.” NY Times

Ronaldo’s wait for a goal continues as Juventus edge past Lazio

“TURIN, Italy — Along with the iconic Mole Antonelliana, Cristiano Ronaldo can see the tricolour dappled pylons of the Allianz Stadium from the balcony of his hillside “mega villa” overlooking Turin. Ever since the 33-year-old moved in, Juventus fans in the city below have been in reverential awe of him as if the green slopes behind the Gran Madre church were Piedmont’s own Mount Olympus; the home of a god, not a footballer.” ESPN

Manchester United lack clarity on and off the pitch – nowhere is that clearer than in the centre-back department

“DIEGO Godin, Harry Maguire, Yerry Mina, Toby Alderweireld… as each Brighton goal flew in on Sunday, Manchester United’s inability to land a centre-back came to seem more and more of an error. United were shambolic at the back, lacking leadership and organisation, an open door through which Brighton seemed not quite to be able to believe they could keep walking. For United that is a deeply worrying sign, for if there is anything Jose Mourinho has historically been good at, it is organising his back four.” Unibet – Jonathan Wilson

Unwavering in his philosophy, Marcelo Bielsa’s unique approach to the game is taking off at Leeds United


Marcelo Bielsa has never compromised his philosophy for anyone, after 30 years of coaching, and as he sits on top of a league he was told would be beyond him, why would he start now? Even after Leeds’ worst performance of the season last night at Swansea City, their 2-2 draw puts them just ahead of Middlesbrough at the top of the table on goal difference. It was a credit to their resilience, digging out a result when not playing well. But also to their ruthless manager, who hauled off key holding player Kalvin Phillips after 28 minutes, and left-winger Gjanni Alioski at the interval.” Independent (Video)

The Illusion Train

“As the referee’s whistle signaled the end of the 2018 World Cup final between France and Croatia, I confess that I wept, more from relief than from joy. The blunder by French goalie Hugo Lloris that allowed Croatia its second score had struck me as suicidal. It reminded me of Zinedine Zidane’s narcissistic, self-destructive foul in the 2006 final World Cup match, when the Italian defender Marco Materazzi allegedly insulted the French superstar and Zidane responded by attacking him, causing Zidane to be ejected and weakening his team to a degree that I felt cost France the game. Was there something in the collective unconscious of les Bleus that didn’t want France to win its second world title, following on the great triumph of 1998?” Harpers

Grounds for closer inspection, part 10: Genoa and Milan

“The 1986 FIFA World Cup was supposed to be held in Colombia. In late 1982, the prospective host withdrew from its commitment, citing ‘economic difficulties’ (read as asymmetric internal armed conflict) and Mexico was awarded the privilege in their place. From the perspective of the sport, the tournament went on to be a great success – the collected images of Diego Maradona are some of the most iconic of the sport – but it’s been said that the physical infrastructure was found wanting.” Football Pink

Robust Liverpool show signs they are learning how to win the hard way


“On a testing night for Liverpool at a raucous Selhurst Park, fans of dramatic title races were pleased to witness further confirmation that Jürgen Klopp’s speedsters remain the best bet to keep pace with Manchester City. Even at this early stage none of the other pretenders look as ready as Liverpool to sprint alongside Pep Guardiola’s champions now that steel accompanies their raw ability.” Guardian (Video)

Brazilian Championship Paying For Losing Talent Abroad

“Tim Vickery’s Notes From South America: Brazilian Championship Paying For Losing Talent Abroad. The Brazilian Championship reached the half way stage at the weekend, with the table looking very different from this time last year. In 2017 Corinthians had the title all but sown up after 19 of the 38 rounds. The 2018 version offers the prospect of a much more exciting home straight.” World Soccer – Tim Vickery

Liverpool: Why Trent Alexander-Arnold can back up the hype

“A Champions League final and a World Cup appearance at 19 years old – Trent Alexander-Arnold is doing big things at a young age. So what is it about the Liverpool teenager that has got everyone excited? The boy who grew up just minutes away from Liverpool’s training ground and has been at the club since the age of six has already made 47 first-team appearances, as well as representing England at every age group from under-16s upwards.” BBC

Carlo Ancelotti at Napoli: Tactical Approach & Key Players


“After three intense seasons in the Southern part of Italy, the love story between Maurizio Sarri & Napoli came to an end: despite the fact that they didn’t win any trophies (they eventually lost last season’s Serie A title race to Juventus despite racking up 91 points at the end of the campaign) under his tenure, Sarri built one of Europe’s most exciting teams to watch, using a 4-3-3 formation with a possession-based and attacking style of football. Despite losing the Tuscany-born coach this summer, the Partenopei found a rather decent substitute in the figure of Carlo Ancelotti.” Outside of the Boot

La Liga: Why Real Madrid and Barca changes could pave way for Atletico Madrid

“The new La Liga season gets under way this weekend amid plenty of intrigue, especially for Real Madrid – as the three-in-a-row European champions begin life without iconic duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane. Real are by no means the only team going through a period of change, however, with similar – although less dramatic – transitions being experienced by their biggest rivals, Atletico Madrid and domestic champions Barcelona.” BBC (Video)

Harry Kane’s versatility for Tottenham makes him more than a pure goal scorer

“Let’s begin with a quiz question. Which club’s shirt number has been responsible for the most Premier League goals since the competition started in 1992? If you guessed Newcastle’s No. 9 shirt — they love their goal scorers at St James’ Park — you’d nearly be right. Were it not for a couple of seasons outside the top flight, Newcastle’s No. 9, with 298 goals, would be top dog. Manchester United’s No. 10 also features highly, with 297 goals, but was handicapped by being left vacant for a couple of seasons, while Arsenal’s No. 14 shirt (248) has been prolific this century but beforehand was worn by the somewhat rare goalscorer Martin Keown.” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)

Bundesliga clubs set for big battle to finish in the top four


“The new Bundesliga season gets underway on August 24 and Bayern Munich are long odds-on to win the title for a seventh successive time. Bayern finished 21 points clear of Schalke last term and it’s difficult to imagine them not finishing top of the pile once again this season, even with a new coach in Niko Kovac. However, there is a likely to be an almighty battle to claim a place in the top four, with numerous clubs holding a genuine chance of qualifying for the Champions League. We take a look at some of the main, top four contenders.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Barcelona Season Preview: Messi the Great Facilitator

“By any realistic measure Barcelona had a dominant season last year. They won their domestic league by 14 points, while losing only a single game. They also won their domestic cup. But Barcelona are a club destined to fail to live up to expectations that only they can set. And what came to define their season, more than the raging success of their domestic campaign, was a stunning Champions League quarterfinal defeat to Roma. And so it is that the team which ran up 93 points in La Liga set about correcting for a failed season.” StatsBomb

NYCFC’s Bronx Stadium Would Use City Parks Land — Sorta

“When the owners of the New York Yankees announced, on a June day in 2005, plans for a new stadium to replace the 82-year-old Yankee Stadium, they had a special treat for New Yorkers who’d been hearing for more than a decade how the public would need to pay for a new home for the ball club: Steve Swindal, George Steinbrenner’s son-in-law at the time, declared, ‘There will be no public subsidies.’ That turned out to be not quite so much true.” Voice

Ligue 1 season preview: PSG will be even stronger under Thomas Tuchel


“Anything other than an eighth Ligue 1 title in PSG’s history would be huge surprise. Although PSG have skirted the transfer spotlight so far this summer, with FFP still a concern, they have quietly made a few shrewd moves. Thomas Tuchel will make them a more proactive and tactically diverse team and Gianluigi Buffon could be the dressing room leader (and quality keeper) they have long lacked. Their 4-0 win over Monaco in the Trophée des Champions confirmed the gap is only widening.” Guardian – Ligue 1, Guardian – PSG expect European excellence after letting Thomas Tuchel make his mark

Maurizio Sarri: Chelsea’s Tuscan Son

“STIA, Italy — The road from Faella, down in the Arno valley, winds up and up into the hills, beyond the vineyards, with their military precision, beyond the tangled olive groves and into the woods, thick and dark and untamed. At Consuma, the highest point of the pass, the view stretches all the way west to Chianti; Arezzo lies south, Florence north. Consuma is not where the journey ends. It takes an hour, and countless tight hairpins shaded by slender cypresses, before the road descends into the village of Stia, its terra-cotta roofs nestled in an ocean of green, a little Tuscan idyll nestled in the valley. The soccer field, overlooking the river and screened by a chain-link fence, is the first thing you see as you arrive. Most days, for more than a year, Maurizio Sarri made the trip twice.” NY Times

Fenerbahce lead the way as young players take centre stage in Turkey

“After the feast, the famine. This has been a summer of austerity in Turkey. A combination of the weakening Turkish Lira, Financial Fair Play regulations and new policies introduced by the Turkish Football Federation to hold free-spending club presidents accountable for the clubs’ debt has had a dramatic effect.” Guardian

New season, same Mo Salah as Liverpool make flying start with 4-0 win over West Ham


“So, Mohamed, where were we before Sergio Ramos rudely interrupted? After a detour via the Real Madrid defender’s much-discussed stretching exercises – and several Russian cities at an unfulfilling World Cup – Mo Salah is back on Premier League duty doing what comes naturally. Fully fit, scoring in front of The Kop, delivering on the promise of pre-season and ensuring even if this is not the most successful Liverpool team yet, it will continue to be the most talked about when lavish predictions are made.” Telegraph

Arsenal 0-2 Manchester City

“Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says his side will get even better as they deservedly beat Arsenal on the opening day of the Premier League season. The Gunners were playing their first competitive game without Arsene Wenger in charge since 1996 but were well beaten by the defending champions. Raheem Sterling put City ahead in the 14th minute when he got the ball on the corner of the box, cut beyond two players and rifled home from 20 yards.” BBC (Video)

Berwick Rangers: England’s forgotten football club

“There are football clubs around the world who are defined by a single incredible result or one remarkable season. Once Caldas winning the 2004 Copa Libertadores. Alcorcón beating Real Madrid 4-0 in the Copa del Rey in 2009. Hereford United knocking Newcastle out of the FA Cup in 1973. Decades pass and what was once the physical – stretched muscles, crunching challenges, tireless chasing – metamorphoses into a folklore that will never be forgotten or topped.” The Set Pieces

A Rebuilt Liverpool Hopes to Reach New Heights With Its Soul Intact


“At the start of the last Premier League season, Liverpool fans had some fun online passing around a picture labeled ‘Liverpool F.C. as a car.’ The image showed one vehicle Frankensteined together from the parts of three: The front was a sports car, the center a boring family sedan and the back a rusted junker missing its wheels. And for the first half of last season, the image seemed to be a perfect metaphor for their team. Liverpool’s attack, headlined by the transcendent Mohamed Salah and the almost-as-good Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino, blitzed through the league terrifying opposing defenses. The midfield, typified by the stereotypically English grit of Jordan Henderson and James Milner, did its job capably if unspectacularly.” NY Times

Manchester City Sizes Up Its Toughest Premier League Opponent: Complacency

“It was not a goal that clinched a title, or secured a trophy, and it was not a victory that was needed, not a win that changed very much at all. On the surface, when Gabriel Jesus scored in injury time against Southampton on the final day of last season, it was just another goal, just another win. Manchester City had scored 106 times over the previous 10 months; on the way to the Premier League title, Pep Guardiola’s team had won 32 of 38 games.” NY Times

Talent Radar: 5 breakthrough players to watch in the Premier League

“As is the case every year, a brand new Premier League campaign already has an aura of excitement around it. Along with this comes the chance for young players to break into the senior sides. Here are 5 breakthrough players to watch this season.” Outside of the Boot

Premier League: 10 things to look out for on the opening weekend


Clockwise from top left: Rafael Benítez, Manuel Pellegrini, Claude Puel, João Moutinho, Mohamed Elyounoussi and José Mourinho.
1) Manchester United and Leicester need to start brightly. José Mourinho and Claude Puel are under more pressure than most to start the season strongly. Both have large numbers of sceptics among their club’s supporters, and doubts also persist about the popularity of their methods with players. So both managers need their teams to perform brightly as soon as the season kicks off in order to lift the mood. …” Guardian

Timeless Marcelo Bielsa’s Argentina: Lost chances and broken hearts

“Over the last few weeks, Marcelo Bielsa has been in the spotlight over his new role as Leeds United’s manager. A man whose character often draws comparison to a great philosopher rather than a football persona, his radicalism and man management is worthy of any admiration in football. But long before Leeds United, 2 decades ago to be precise, El Loco was in charge of Argentina. Following their exit from the World Cup in France 98, Daniel Passarella had stepped down from his post. Prior to this, the 1978 World Cup winning captain had put together a team that was brimming with excitement.” FootyAnalyst

The Player Kylian Mbappe Really Plays Like


“Breakout performances seemed to be everywhere at the 2018 World Cup — young talents were launched to international fame, and established players had their names crystallized on the world stage. The world’s biggest soccer tournament gives players a chance to shine outside the club-level paradigm of consistency and — apart from the English Premier League — a largely domestic audience. On the back of a few impressive performances, players like CSKA Moscow’s Aleksandr Golovin, one of the key players in Russia’s run to the quarterfinals, can earn themselves the chance to move to one of Europe’s top clubs, even if this recruitment trend is less common than it once was.” FiveThirtyEight

Tactical Analysis: France 1-0 Belgium | Set Piece Decides Game Dominated by Determined Defences

“France sealed their place in the World Cup final for just the third time in their history after a narrow victory over Belgium on Tuesday. As is common in the latter stages of knock-out competitions, the reluctance of both teams to give anything away made for a cagey game with few risks taken, inescapably creating a situation where the first goal would essentially prove decisive. With both sides desperately trying to avoid being the team that makes the crucial first mistake, it is probably unsurprising that the source of the winning goal ended up being a set piece; a detached moment of attacking freedom away from the rigid, careful flow of open play.” Outside of the Boot

Tactical Analysis: Croatia 2-1 England AET | Tenacious Croatia punish England’s complacency

“Croatia reached their first ever World Cup final after a two-goal fightback against England. Goals in the second halves of normal & extra time from Ivan Perišić and Mario Mandžukić respectively cancelled out the Three Lions‘ initial advantage courtesy of a Kieran Trippier free kick in what proved to be a very intense game.” Outside of the Boot

End to end with 15 football phrases from around the world


“The 32 teams competing for the World Cup in Russia have each brought with them a distinctive football lexicon that reflects their country’s relationship with the sport. Tom Williams, author of Do You Speak Football?, picks up his commentary mic and weaves his way down the pitch with a selection of colourful football terms from around the world…” BBC

Tactical Analysis: Croatia 2-2 Russia | Modric and Rakitic make the difference

“You’d be forgiven if you didn’t expect the hosts Russia to reach the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup, yet here they were. After holding off Spain in the Round of 16, the Sbornaya met Croatia at Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, who were looking to advance to the semifinals for the second time in the nation’s history. Russia had been playing in a 4-5-1 formation for all but one match this tournament. In what was considered an easy group, the defensive setup of a deep block and playing long balls and counter attacks proved successful, as they scored the second-most goals in the group stage with eight, tied with Group G runners-up England. Croatia’s tactics have been more varied on a match by match basis, with manager Zlatko Dalic often switching the formation and personnel.” Outside of the Boot

Tactical Analysis: Brazil 1-2 Belgium | Belgium Nick a Fortunate Win Through Decisive Counter-Attacks

“Brazil entered the 2018 World Cup as one of the favorites thanks to their athletic and/or defensively astute central midfielders Casemiro, Paulinho, and Fernandinho, and the fearsome left-sided trio of Marcelo, Coutinho, and Neymar. Understanding the threat the latter threesome posed, Belgium manager Roberto Martínez instructed his side to overload the right section of their midfield. This ploy forced the three tricksters to play through clogged spaces or switch play to the under-supported Willian. Eventually, the difficulty of building these types of attacks led to losses of possession that Belgium looked to convert into dangerous counter-attacks; Hazard and Lukaku led the way in this department with their dribbling, hold-up play, and aerial duels. This strategy, along with a handy own goal, provided Belgium with a two-goal cushion – something they held onto for dear life as Tite’s second half adjustments allowed Brazil to created chance after chance in a valiant losing effort.” Outside of the Boot

Tactical Analysis: Sweden 0-2 England | Patient England seal a win over cagey Sweden

“Charles Onwuakpa writes a tactical analysis of the World Cup quarter final that ended Sweden 0-2 England. Sweden v England was certainly one of the unexpected quarter-finals at this World Cup considering both team’s performances so far at this tournament. England, who have showcased a very positive & proactive possession-based football under Gareth Southgate, finished second behind Belgium in group G and put to an end a 22-year jinx with penalty shootouts as they defeated Colombia in the Round of 16.” Outside of the Boot