No fanfare: Raphaël Varane’s Manchester United arrival is typically low-key

July 31, 2021


“In the 10 years since Raphaël Varane joined Real Madrid, he hasn’t done much. Apart from win the Copa del Rey, three league titles and four European Cups. There’s the World Cup, too; 360 games at the biggest club of all, and 79 more for France. But that’s about it. In his first clásico, a Copa del Rey semi-final at the Camp Nou, he cleared one chance one off the line, stopped Lionel Messi taking another and scored a superb header; in the second leg he scored again, taking Madrid to the final. He was 19, and it was all downhill from there. Varane is 28 now, has racked up 18 winners’ medals, and has gone. …”
Guardian
Raphael Varane to Manchester United: The deal that even surprised the club and what to expect for the player and his team-mates
W – Raphaël Varane
YouTube: Raphaël Varane Welcome to Manchester United


The Athletic’s football analytics glossary: explaining xG, PPDA, field tilt and how to use them

July 30, 2021


“Our use of data and statistics has been ever-growing within the articles that we write at The Athletic, drawing upon different metrics to highlight strengths, weaknesses, or patterns observed in a certain team or player. Some of these analytics metrics will be very familiar to you by now, while others might need a little bit more explanation. Much like the NFL analytics glossary from The Athletic, this is our attempt at explaining some of the most common football metrics and how to use them. So let’s dive in… ”
The Athletic


2021–22 Scottish Premiership

July 29, 2021


“The 2021–22 Scottish Premiership (known as the cinch Premiership for sponsorship reasons) will be the ninth season of the Scottish Premiership, the highest division of Scottish football. Rangers are the defending champions. Twelve teams will contest the league: Aberdeen, Celtic, Dundee, Dundee United, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Livingston, Motherwell, Rangers, Ross County, St Johnstone and St Mirren. The season begins on 31 July 2021. …”
Wikipedia
YouTube: Scottish Premiership 2021-22 Stadiums


Football Ideologies: ITALY

July 29, 2021


Federico Chiesa
“As part of our special series on football ideologies, culture and tactics in the European Cup and UEFA Champions League, we sit down with Renzo Ulivieri, President of Italian Football Managers’ Association, and hear from some of the biggest names in the Italian game.”
YouTube: Football Ideologies: ITALY (Feb 14, 2021)  11:45


UEFA Euro 1972 Final

July 27, 2021


“The UEFA Euro 1972 Final was a football match played at Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium, on 18 June 1972, to determine the winner of the UEFA Euro 1972 tournament. It was the fourth UEFA European Football Championship final, UEFA‘s top football competition for national teams. The match was contested by West Germany and two-time tournament finalists, the Soviet Union. En route to the final, West Germany finished top of their qualifying group which included Turkey, Albania and Poland. After beating England over a two-legged tie in the quarter-finals, they progressed to the final after defeating tournament hosts Belgium in the semi-final. The Soviet Union won their qualifying group which included Cyprus and Spain, before beating Northern Ireland in the two-legged quarter-final and Yugoslavia in the single-match semi-final. …”
Wikipedia
EURO 1972: all you need to know (Video)
YouTube: West Germany v USSR: 1972 UEFA European Championship final highlights


What to expect from Fabio Paratici, Tottenham’s new Director of Football

July 26, 2021


“… The announcement of Fabio Paratici being hired as Tottenham’s new ‘Managing Director of Football’ starting July 1st was understandably overshadowed, as football and Tottenham news cycles were distracted by Christian Eriksen’s collapse only minutes after the announcement was formally made. However, Fabio Paratici soon made his best attempt to wrest back the attention of Tottenham fans days later by reportedly torpedoing advanced negotiations with Paulo Fonseca to hire the newly available Gennaro Gattuso. …”
SD Nation (Audio)
Guardian – ‘I don’t know when he sleeps’: the workaholic world of Fabio Paratici
Fabio Paratici – the story of the man who has hired Nuno and is Tottenham’s future
W – Fabio Paratici
YouTube: “We are all looking forward to getting started.”


USA 1 – 0 Jamaica, Mexico 3 – 0 Honduras

July 26, 2021


Matthew Hoppe rose up, got his head on a deflected cross and, by the time his feet hit the ground, the United States had a 1-0 lead against Jamaica in the Gold Cup quarterfinals. The decisive 83rd-minute goal was Hoppe’s final involvement in the game, capping his first breakthrough international performance. …”
ESPN: Matthew Hoppe rises to the occasion as USMNT withstands Jamaica test (Video)
“Saturday’s 3-0 win over Honduras in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup quarterfinals was a big night for a pair of Mexico players, but for varying reasons. For DF Alan Cervantes, it marked his debut in a Gold Cup, as he played the final nine minutes of the match after replacing Edson Alvarez. Appearing in an official Concacaf tournament for the first time is something the 23-year-old will always remember. …”
Concacaf: Mexico make more memories, while Honduras turn the page


Chelsea Tactical Analysis: Thomas Tuchel vs Previous Managers

July 25, 2021


“Thomas Tuchel’s entry into the Premier League as Frank Lampard’s replacement is seen with a lot of hope by the Chelsea faithful. Tuchel is a coach who has proven himself at the highest level and has managed the very best in the business over his last four stints. The German manager is an out-and-out football coach and he works quite intricately with the teams he has managed and the personnel he has worked with. … Antonio Conte would deploy a three-man defense with two wide centre-backs. The wing-backs would shuttle up and down the flanks. They’d join in attack and that’s why Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses were a hit under the Italian’s tutelage. Now, Tuchel has taken a bit of both worlds and fused them together into a system that has worked like a charm so far. …”
sportskeeda (Feb 2021)
YouTube: The Difference Between Tuchel & Conte’s 3-4-3 | Tuchel’s Tactics vs Conte’s Tactics (July 2021)
W – Thomas Tuchel, W – Antonio Conte
Thomas Tuchel – Chelsea – Tactical Analysis (March 2021)
Kante’s renaissance: How Tuchel restored him to role he starred in under Ranieri and Conte (May 2021)


Nestor Araujo: “To win the Gold Cup is an amazing feeling”

July 24, 2021


“Mexico continue their quest for a ninth Concacaf Gold Cup title on Saturday with a quarterfinal clash against Honduras in Glendale, Arizona. Mexico are fresh off a group stage in which they conceded zero goals in their three matches. A key member of that Mexico back line is center back Nestor Araujo, who played in the 0-0 draw with Trinidad and Tobago and the 3-0 win over Guatemala. …”
CONCACAF
W – Néstor Araujo


How Barcelona’s wage bill has gone from highest in the world to on a par with AC Milan and Tottenham

July 24, 2021


“… That was Joan Laporta, Barcelona’s new president, who has essentially walked into a financial nightmare devised by Sir Alfred Hitchock. Speaking to La Vanguardia after his recent election victory, he painted a bleak picture. ‘We’ve encountered a squad with old-fashioned contracts and we will have to work out what to do,’ he added. ‘The existing contracts can be changed or restructured. After that, there are more drastic measures that we hope we don’t have to adopt.’ Barcelona are not alone in their struggles, as Real Madrid are finding things a little warm under the collar too. As The Athletic’s Dermot Corrigan has outlined in concise detail, Barcelona and Real Madrid find themselves in a bit of a mess when it comes to their salary cost limits for next season. …”
The Athletic (Video)


The True Value of Gold

July 23, 2021


“Daniel Alves has seen it all, done it all. He has won league titles in three countries, picked up nine cups, conquered Europe with his club and South America with his country. He has 41 major honors to his name, officially making him the most decorated player in history. But still, when André Jardine asked him to take on one last job, his eyes lit up. Jardine, the manager of Brazil’s Olympic men’s soccer team, had framed his pitch smartly. ….”
NY Times
W – Dani Alves


2015 Africa Cup of Nations Final

July 23, 2021


“The 2015 Africa Cup of Nations Final was a football match that took place on 8 February 2015 to determine the winner of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, the football championship of Africa organised by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). The match was held at the Estadio de Bata in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, and was contested by Ghana and Ivory Coast. Ghana qualified for the final by finishing as the winners of Group C and then defeating Guinea and Equatorial Guinea in the quarter-final and semi-final, while Ivory Coast qualified as winners of Group D, after which they beat Algeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The final finished 0–0 at the end of normal time, and there were also no goals in extra time, with few clear-cut chances for either team. Ivory Coast had the game’s only shot on target on 12 minutes, when Yaya Touré cleared the Ghanaian wall with a free kick, but his shot went straight to Ghanaian goalkeeper Brimah Razak. …”
Wikipedia
YouTube: Cote d’Ivoire vs Ghana Penalty Shootout HD 08/02/2015 African Cup of Nation 2015 Final


Player Analysis: Dembo Darboe

July 21, 2021


“The stench of brutal police intervention at anti-Lukashenko protests around Belarus festered long after the protests themselves, clouding opinions worldwide of the former Soviet republic. Once that became old news, plans to assassinate the much-maligned dictator emerged and were quickly foiled by his friends at the FSB. And last but not least, the fiasco at ten-thousand feet saw a Belarusian fighter jet force a Ryanair plane to land in Minsk so that Belarus could detain a pair of well-known activists, despite having no right but plenty of creedence. 2020 and 2021 have not been kind to Belarus, but as famously said, ‘no publicity is bad publicity.’ Belarus’s football scene saw a mini-boost in popularity when it was the sole league operating during the worldwide spring lockdown of 2020 though the attention was sadly short-lived as it dispersed as soon as the announcements of EPL and Bundesliga reopenings emerged. …”
Breaking The Lines (Video)


Konate’s debut, Matip’s return and Elliott’s progress: What to expect from Liverpool’s first pre-season friendly matches

July 20, 2021


“The Reds get their summer schedule underway with 30-minute mini-games against FC Wacker Innsbruck and Stuttgart in Austria on Tuesday. Two games, two different opponents, plenty of chances to impress. Liverpool return to action on Tuesday night. It has been 58 days since the Reds ended last season, and the mood around Anfield is a positive one, as preparations for the new campaign continue. …”
Goal


How America Is Producing Great Players | How USA Revolutionized Their Youth System

July 19, 2021


“Why is America suddenly becoming a football force?”
Football Made Simple: July 18, 2021 (Video)

“Why are MLS clubs getting paid for U.S. talent going to Europe, but not the youth teams that played a part in their development? (Sep 2020): … The reason why FCD was left empty handed was that for decades the U.S. Soccer Federation, for a variety of reasons, opted not to adhere to RSTP. When MLS was getting players from the college ranks, or on free transfers from abroad, this didn’t matter so much. But now that MLS was investing tens of millions of dollars every year in youth academies, it either wanted to see something in return for its investment or scare off foreign clubs from poaching their youth players and keep said prospects for themselves. …”
ESPN


2021 Copa Libertadores: map of Final Stages (16 teams)

July 18, 2021


The Round of 16. The first legs of the 2021 Copa Libertadores Round of 16 will be played from 13 to 15 July {click on the links at the top of this post for the fixtures}. The breakdown of qualified clubs-by-country… •Brazil: 6 clubs (Atlético Mineiro, Palmeiras, Flamengo, Fluminense, Internacional, São Paulo). This includes reigning champions Palmeiras. •Argentina: 6 clubs (Racing, Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Vélez Sarsfield, Defensa y Justicia, River Plate). •Paraguay: 2 clubs (Cerro Porteño, Olimpia). •Chile: 1 club (Universidad Católica). •Ecuador: 1 club (SC Barcelona). This is the most clubs – 12 clubs – that the Big 2 (Brazil & Argentina) have ever placed into the Round of 16. Last year, Brazil had 6 clubs in the Round of 16, while Argentina had ‘only’ 3 clubs. The previous most-ever-clubs placed by the Big 2 into the Round of 16 was in 2018, with 11 clubs (Brazil 5/Argentina 6). …”
billsportsmaps
W – 2021 Copa Libertadores final stages


Player Analysis: Kalvin Phillips

July 18, 2021


“In their first Premier League match in 16 years, with a breathtaking match against defending champions Liverpool, Leeds United have shown that they came to play football with love and fill the hearts of the spectators with the beauty of football. Leeds’s free-flowing football, holding the ball possession and constant attack gave immense rejoicing to the crowds. Leeds finished ninth in the table after displaying entertaining football. Where the other two teams Fulham and West Brom promoted with them became relegated to the second division. This success of Leeds owes to the contribution of several players in the team. …”
Breaking The Lines
W – Kalvin Phillips
My game in my words. By England and Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips (June 2020)(Video)
YouTube: Why Kalvin Phillips was England’s best player


Pep Lijnders’ Euro 2020 tactical diary: A young genius, why Grealish is dangerous and what went wrong for France

July 17, 2021


“Euro 2020 has been an absolute triumph for the collective. I’ve loved watching it every step of the way. I’ve loved the commitment of so many teams to an attacking style of football. I’ve loved the tactical battles between different systems. I’ve loved the sight of supporters back inside stadiums across Europe and the atmospheres that have been generated. Credit to England and Italy for making it this far. They deserve to be there. I wouldn’t bet on the outcome of Sunday’s final. It’s too close to call. Two evenly matched, well-balanced teams. …”
The Athletic (Audio)


Intimidation by Tunnel

July 17, 2021


Rajko Mitić Stadium
“… For some deranged reason, instead of shaking hands, my earliest youth teams lined up in pairs, held hands, and created human tunnels for the other team to walk through, while we cheered and jumped for them. This was, of course, reciprocated by the other team, so that we also got the chance to walk through a human tunnel before running off to meet our parents. The whole tradition baffles me to this day. There are other tunnels in soccer too- impressive, non-human ones. They are brick and concrete and wholly different from the tunnels of my youth. These tunnels mark the distance from the locker room to the field in most professional stadiums, and instead of wrapping players in splayed hands and warm cheers, they are meant impose and impress. …”
Soccer Politics (April 2020) (Video)


2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup

July 17, 2021


“The 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup is the ongoing 16th edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the biennial international men’s football championship organized by North America, Central American, and the Caribbean’s football ruling body CONCACAF. The tournament was originally scheduled to be held from 2 through 25 July 2021, but was later rescheduled for 10 July through 1 August. Mexico are the defending champions. For the first time, the video assistant referee (VAR) system is used at the tournament. …”
Wikipedia
CONCACAF Gold Cup


“Nine in a row”

July 15, 2021


Those were the days – Celtic seal their nine-in-a-row, 1974
“‘Nine in a row’ is a topic which has dominated football in Scotland at club level since the 1970s. The term refers to one club winning the national league championship nine times in a row, a mark which was first set by Celtic between the 1965–66 and 1973–74 seasons, during which they also became European champions in 1967. Their run was eventually stopped by Old Firm rivals Rangers, who later received significant financial investment and matched the achievement between 1988–89 and 1996–97 – Celtic were the team to win the next title and prevent their record being broken. …”
Wikipedia


Euro 2020: our writers select their highs and lows from the tournament

July 15, 2021


“Italy’s performances and goals from Patrik Schick and Paul Pogba illuminated a wonderful championships. Sadly, some England supporters let the country down. Match of the tournament. Ed Aarons: It was going to take something to beat Spain’s thrilling 5-3 victory over Croatia after extra-time but the sequel on a crazy Monday evening was even better. Paul Pogba’s elaborate celebration having scored France’s third goal came back to haunt him as Switzerland scored twice in the last 10 minutes to force extra time before Kylian Mbappé missed from the spot to eliminate the star-studded world champions. …”
Guardian


English football’s day of embarrassment and why it has damaged the 2030 World Cup bid

July 14, 2021


England fans tore down barriers outside the stadium
“It was the morning after the night before and, on Wembley Way, a sense of calm was slowly returning. The debris — broken bottles, cans and piles of rubbish — was being gathered up and the streets were being hosed down. Euro 2020 was over and the clean-up operation was well advanced. There was no escaping what had happened, though. The final of Euro 2020 had been billed as the greatest day in English sport since the 1966 World Cup final. ‘Football’s coming home’ and all that. Instead, it turned into a nightmare. Not because of the outcome on the pitch — as agonising as it was for England to lose on penalties to Italy and miss out on a first major trophy in 55 years — but because of the ugly, chaotic scenes that ruined the occasion for so many of those present. …”
The Athletic (Video/Audio)
BBC: Met denies Wembley police operation failed (Video)
The Shameful Story Of English Supporter Chaos At Wembley On Football’s Big Day (Video)


Can we reclaim football from below?

July 14, 2021


“In Europe, we recently saw mass protests by the supporters of Liverpool, Manchester United and other English Premiership clubs against the proposed European Super League. This action sank the proposed elite League and demonstrated the potential power of supporters, which reached all the way to the inaccessible boardrooms controlling European football. In South Africa, such action is unimaginable. The famous, popular, and solidarity-based Iwisa Charity Spectacular tournament was killed by the commercial interests of the once-dominant Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs. And there was no action by football supporters. The season-opening tournament existed for more than 15 years and participation in it was always based on the popular vote of at least two million football supporters each year determining which four teams competed. …”
Africa is a Country
Mr. Big Bucks and the Mamelodi Sundowns (2014)


How statuesque Donnarumma made it so hard for England’s penalty takers

July 13, 2021


“From the moment the referee blew his whistle to when Marcus Rashford finally made his first move to begin his run-up on England’s third kick of the Euro 2020 final penalty shootout, 11 seconds had passed. For the entirety of those 11 seconds, Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma stood like a statue, his feet wide apart and his arms loose at his sides, as everyone else in Wembley Stadium held their breath. Rashford then swung his body to his left and made a stuttering approach while Donnarumma waited, waited, and waited even more. It wasn’t until right before the England attacker made contact with the ball that Donnarumma finally made his first move. During the entirety of his approach, Rashford kept his eyes on the goalkeeper, waiting for Donnarumma to dive early, but he never did. …”
The Athletic
“An impassable brick wall” – Player ratings after a defensive battle as Italy beat England 3-2 on penalties to win Euro 2020
Breaking The Lines
YouTube: Tactical Analysis : England 1 – 1 Italy | How Mancini won the Euros


Breaking down England’s penalty heartbreak: At 10.49pm, Maguire slashes penalty home. At 10.54pm, everything changes

July 12, 2021


“It’s brutal sometimes, football. One by one, the players went to Bukayo Saka. They told him it would be OK, that they were proud of him, and that he should be proud of himself, too. They told him there was no blame and, even as they were saying it, they must have known their words made little difference. Maybe, in time, Saka will come to understand that, yes, he ought to be proud he played with such distinction during Euro 2020 that he was trusted, at the age of 19, to be part of the penalty shootout which decided the final between England and Italy. For now, though, what can anyone say to console a player who has suffered this kind of professional trauma? …”
The Athletic
NY Times: How Italy Beat England to Win Euro 2020 (Video)
Leaving Euro 2020 – Brian Phillips
BBC: ‘Out of despair, Italy have brought joy to a nation’
NY Times: After Defeat, England’s Black Soccer Players Face a Racist Outburst
Marcus Rashford mural vandalised after England lose Euro 2020 final
Guardian: England battle for survival instead of control as deep-lying issue resurfaces – Jonathan Wilson
W – UEFA Euro 2020 Final
NY Times: In the Big Euro 2020 Game, I Knew the England I Was Rooting For


Lionel Messi and Argentina Beat Brazil in Copa América Final Image

July 11, 2021


The Copa América victory was Lionel Messi’s first major title with Argentina’s senior team, and the team’s first since 1993.
“Lionel Messi finally ticked the last empty box in his glittering soccer career on Saturday night, leading Argentina past host Brazil, 1-0, in the final of the Copa América in Rio de Janeiro.The trophy was Messi’s first with Argentina after a string of painful, agonizing, maddening failures, including perhaps the most demoralizing defeat of his career — against Germany in the World Cup final — inside the same stadium, Rio’s hulking Maracanã, in 2014.When the whistle blew to end the final, Messi — his relief palpable — dropped to his knees and was immediately surrounded by his teammates. Moments later, they were lifting him above their shoulders and tossing him in the air. …”
NY Times (Video)
YouTube: Celebrations in Buenos Aires as Argentina claim Copa America title, Buenos Aires erupts as Argentina beat Brazil in Copa América final
ESPN: Copa America final preview: Will Neymar, Brazil beat Messi’s Argentina?
NY Times: Lionel Messi Tries to Slay His Ghosts (July 9)
Head to Head: Comparing Tite and Scaloni’s numbers ahead of the final (Video)


Italy vs. England – Euro 2020 Final – Tactical Preview

July 10, 2021


4-3-3 Italy
“After the craziness of the Round of 16 resulted in France, Germany and Portugal all being eliminated from the competition, the match that was expected to take place in the Euro 2020 final will now come to fruition. Italy and England have been the two best teams at the tournament, and the only two teams to go unbeaten in all of their games up to this point. Here is a tactical preview of the Euro 2020 final battle between Italy and England. …”
The Mastermindsite
Out wide, substitutions and set-pieces: Where the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy will be won and lost (Video)
YouTube: Tactical Analysis : England vs Italy | Southgate vs Mancini
YouTube: England vs Italy Tactical Preview


Were these the best games at UEFA EURO 2020?

July 10, 2021


Spain celebrate their fifth goal in the absorbing 5-3 win against Croatia
“From group stage thrillers to knockout phase goal fests, UEFA EURO 2020 has been jam-packed with pulsating contests from start to finish. We decided to pick out our favourites ahead of Sunday’s final at Wembley Stadium – do you agree these were the choice cuts? …”
UEFA (Video)


Mancini’s Manchester City legacy: messiah, maniac or misunderstood?

July 10, 2021


“If there comes a time on Sunday evening when Roberto Mancini stomps along the Wembley touchline repeatedly shouting, ‘Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you’ at his Italy players, then we can safely say he hasn’t changed much after all. But throughout the summer of Euro 2020, Mancini has cut a far more relaxed figure than the one anybody at former employers Manchester City might remember. The now 56-year-old, tailored jacket slung over his shoulder, is the figurehead of perhaps the most urbane coaching staff ever to grace a football stadium, but more importantly he is the man who has guided Italy from their footballing ‘apocalypse’ — failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup — to the final of this European Championship. …”
The Athletic
Guardian: How Mancini’s quest for joy rebuilt Italy from the wreckage of 2018
BBC: ‘Out of despair, Italy have brought joy to a nation’
W – Roberto Mancini
Esquire: Giorgio Armani, Italian Football and the Perfect Summer Suit


A New England: Gareth Southgate, Cultural Revolutionary

July 9, 2021


“‘The standard of leaders in this country the past couple of years has been poor, looking at that man [Gareth Southgate], he’s everything a leader should be, respectful, humble, he tells the truth,’ Gary Neville said as cameras panned over England’s celebrating players and coaching staff at the end of a glorious Euro 2020 semi-final win against a courageous Denmark. It felt like a pertinent intervention: here was his old running mate in England’s celebrated mid-90s back four, leading a team of young footballers into territory uncharted for almost six decades. More than that, here was a man of quiet integrity who had led a national side used to buckling under the weight of not just history, but a thousand tabloid headlines. …”
The Quietus
Gareth Southgate, the man who made a shrinking job bigger (June 12, 2021)
If Gareth Southgate knows his England XI for Euro 2020 it should be this… (March 17, 2021)
Dear England (June 8, 2021)
W – Gareth Southgate


Brazil’s Top Clubs Are Planning a Breakaway League

July 9, 2021


Flamengo has been playing on without some of its best players, who were called up by their national teams for the Copa América.
“Whenever Rodolfo Landin has turned on his television over the past few weeks to watch matches from this summer’s Copa América, he has done so with mixed emotions. As the president of Brazil’s most-popular club team, Flamengo, Landin has felt pride in seeing five members of his roster line up for their national teams in the tournament. But he also has watched with increasing frustration because Flamengo has had to make do for a month without those same five key players in the Brazilian championship. …”
NY Times


Sterling and Saka lead charge as England throw off old anxieties

July 8, 2021


“Gareth Southgate values control almost above anything else. For England, this has been a tournament about control. He has talked about aping Portugal at Euro 2016 and France at the World Cup, of learning how to manage games. But there are two ways of controlling games. There is controlling games by attacking, as England did with remarkable intensity and consistency between the start of the second half and the end of the first half of extra time, and there is controlling the game as England did in the second half of extra time, keeping the ball away from Denmark with such efficiency that they managed only one touch in the England box in that period. Control, it turns out, doesn’t have to be boring. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson
Pickford’s positioning at fault for Denmark’s clever free-kick and wall routine? It’s not that simple…
Slate: The New Strategy That Put England Into the Euro 2020 Final (Video)
Two footballs, a laser pointer and Sterling’s penalty: The England vs Denmark controversies explained
Tactical Analysis: England vs. Denmark
YouTube: Tactical Analysis: England 2 – 1 Denmark | How Southgate’s Central Overload Prevailed


Italy’s Resurgence Leaves Them on the Cusp of European Glory

July 8, 2021


“The road toward triumph in a major soccer tournament must at some point take the form of an epic quest, and so the manner of Italy’s win over Spain was duly mythical. They defeated their Mediterranean rivals in a penalty shootout, prevailing by four successful kicks to two, and in doing so they showed an astonishing level of resilience. Against Belgium in the previous round, a match many of us thought featured the two best teams at Euro 2020, Italy were supreme for long periods; against Spain, they were thoroughly human. It is hard to imagine a midfield of Marco Verratti, Nicolò Barella, and Jorginho being consistently on the back foot against anyone, but this is what they experienced against Spain, assailed by the often majestic trio of Koke, the swiftly aging but still sublime Sergio Busquets, and, of course, the prodigy that is Pedri. …”
The Ringer
Italy 1-1 Spain – Euro 2020 Semi-Final – Tactical Analysis
Quick Take: Italy’s Shield is the Euro’s Sharpest Sword
Technical view: flying wingers and back-three success
Guardian: Giorgio Chiellini, the grinning warrior, gives Italy psychological edge
YouTube: Tactical Analysis : Italy 1 – 1 Spain | How Enrique Dominated Mancini


‘Denmark robbed blind!’ – Kane equals England scoring record as penalty call sees Euro 2020 semi-final erupt in controversy

July 8, 2021


“Harry Kane tied Gary Lineker’s record for the most combined England goals at European Championships and World Cups, but his extra-time winner against Denmark came with huge controversy. Raheem Sterling dashed through Denmark’s defence in extra time of the Euro 2020 semi-final and went down in the box after what appeared to be minimal contact. But the referee still pointed to the spot and although Kasper Schmeichel saved Kane’s penalty, the England captain buried the rebound to send the Three Lions to the final with a 2-1 win. …”
Goal
England 2-1 Denmark: A final at last as England get that little bit of luck that’s been missing for 55 years
Ignore the Kane penalty controversy: Southgate’s England deserve their shot at Euro 2020 glory
NY Times – Euros 2020: Highlights From England’s Triumph Over Denmark
BBC: England v Denmark – how you rated the players


Relief as Argentina reach Copa America final to give Messi another shot at glory

July 7, 2021


“The tension was almost too much for Argentina’s veteran players to take — they have traumatic memories of penalty shootouts in the Copa America finals of 2015 and 2016. But new first-choice goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez rose to the occasion, made three saves and after a 1-1 draw Argentina overcame Colombia on penalties to make it through to Saturday’s final. …”
ESPN: Tim Vickery (Video)
ESPN: Tim Vickery – Brazil books berth in Copa America final, but Peru might have exposed the Selecao’s weakness (Video)
Copa America: Argentina beat Colombia on penalties to set up a final against Brazil


Italy suffer for shootout win in emotional and authentic tournament tussle

July 7, 2021


Federico Chiesa
“That train just keeps on running. On a gripping night under the gloom of high-summer London skies it looked for a while as though Roberto Mancini’s Italy might have hit a dead stretch of track. At Wembley Italy were dominated for the opening hour. Then they were dominated for the final half hour. They suffered, and ran, and suffered a little more. It was, once again, exhausting and also uplifting, the controlled intensity of a team playing right at the edge of its emotions. And of course this semi-final went to penalties. This was always going to penalties. As we moved into extra time, as this became a game of lunges and twists, screaming muscles, heaving lungs, this was going to penalties. And somehow, Italy, outplayed at times by a peppy, tactically smart Spain, were always winning them when we got there. …”
Guardian
NY Times: Italy Bars the Door and Keeps the Party Going
Guardian: Italy into Euro 2020 final after Jorginho penalty settles shootout against Spain
ESPN: Italy beat Spain by reverting to type as Morata’s regression defines La Roja’s Euro 2020 elimination (Video)
UEFA: Italy 1-1 Spain. (4-2 p) (Video)


No Semifinalist Is an Island

July 6, 2021


“Kalvin Phillips came home, for the first time, as a fully fledged England international with four jerseys as souvenirs. He had asked his new teammates to autograph one, destined to be framed and mounted on a wall at home. Two others were reserved for his mother and grandmother, as tokens of gratitude for years of support. The final one he earmarked as a gift for the man who, he felt, deserved the bulk of the credit. A couple of years earlier, Phillips had been a promising but inconsistent midfielder in the Championship, England’s second-tier league. Now, despite having not yet played a minute in the Premier League, he had been called into a gathering of the country’s finest players. Without the intervention of Marcelo Bielsa, the Leeds United manager, Phillips said, none of it ‘would really have been possible.’ …”
NY Times


How Kasper Hjulmand has united a nation behind Denmark at EURO 2020

July 6, 2021


“… It is hard to believe right now that it has been less than a year since Hjulmand took command, with one of the big surprises in his first Denmark squad being the selection of Joakim Mæhle. The then 23-year-old right-back had limited experience at youth level with Denmark and was playing in Belgium with Genk. Fast forward to July 2021 and Mæhle is one of Denmark’s brightest stars at EURO 2020, an emblem of how the team has moved on since Hjulmand assumed control. A successful Danish league coach with Lyngby and Nordsjælland, Hjulmand should not by rights have been in charge at these finals. …”
UEFA (Video)
From North Florida to national hero: How Kasper Hjulmand became Denmark’s emotional leader (June 25, 2021)
Kasper Hjulmand ‘proud’ of courageous Denmark players (June 12, 2021)
W – Kasper Hjulmand


Verratti, Barella, Jorginho vs Busquets, Pedri, Koke: let battle commence

July 5, 2021


“There was a time when watching Spain gave you whiplash. Your eyes quickly grew tired flitting from player to player hundreds and hundreds of times and you were left feeling sorry for their opponents as they chased the long shadows under the lights at the Bernabeu and the Nou Camp when the ball moved at breakneck speed, fizzing and popping like bubbles in a flute of crisp cava. The midfield was Spain’s strength when they last won the European Championship in 2012 and it’s probably their best chance of winning the competition next Sunday, too. But unlike in Ukraine nine years ago, when Spain did to Italy what Picasso did to his muses, disarranging their profiles beyond all recognition to win the final 4-0, the tables have unexpectedly turned. …”
The Athletic


Will striker shortcomings cost Spain when it matters most?

July 5, 2021


“Spain are into the semi-finals of Euro 2020 – but only just. They needed a penalty shootout to scrape past Switzerland in the quarter-finals, after surviving a scare against Croatia in the last 16. And Spain may be the tournament’s top scorers but could a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal ultimately cost them? Five of their 12 goals came against Slovakia in the group stages and they have played more minutes than any other team left in the competition, after needed extra time twice. In their other three games they have scored only once on each occasion. …”
BBC
YouTube: Tactical Analysis : Spain 1 – 1 Switzerland | How Spain Made It To The Semis


How Italy Has Rampaged Through Euro 2020

July 5, 2021


“The new-look Italy has survived its sternest test. Since Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, manager Roberto Mancini has rebuilt the national team by emphasizing quick passing, high pressing, and, most of all, goals. The culture shift has worked better than anyone could have dreamed. Italy was on a 31-game unbeaten streak going into Friday’s match against Belgium. The advanced numbers approved of its form; the eye test liked its cohesion and the speed with which it drove at the goal after forcing turnovers. Italy flooded opposing nets during the streak, scoring four, five, six, seven, and nine goals at various times. It was the complete opposite of the dour, boring Italy teams that had earned reputations for defensive cynicism and attacking opportunism for generations. …”
Slate (Video)


Tactical Analysis: Czech Republic vs. Denmark

July 4, 2021


“First off, it would be appropriate to finally bury the common narrative that this Danish team has made it this far into the Euros as a response to the Eriksen situation. Apart from being almost cynical in nature, that argument does Kasper Hjulmand’s side a huge disservice. Denmark are very, very good. They overcame an extremely difficult group thanks to a valiant, relentless display in a 4-1 win, then they steamrolled a Welsh team that looked solid in defense to set up this quarterfinal game against an odds-defying Czech side. And, with their 2-1 win, they once again proved to be an adventurous unit, with flying wingbacks who create overloads and find pockets of space (as shown by Joakim Maehle’s deep run and exquisite trivela cross to set up Kasper Dolberg for the second goal). …”
Beaking the Lines
Tactical Analysis: Belgium vs. Italy
Tactical Analysis: Switzerland vs. Spain


Messi, Neymar and the importance of this Copa América title

July 4, 2021


“Copa América has entered the knockout stage, and there are two clear frontrunners led by two clear stars: Brazil with Neymar and Argentina with Leo Messi. Messi and Neymar are widely accepted to be South America’s two best players and have reaffirmed that fact during the opening stage of this tournament, as they lead the competition in goals and assists (three goals and two assists for Messi, two and two for Neymar). The gap between them and the rest of the continent’s field has perhaps never been wider. …”
The Athletic (Video)
ESPN: Lionel Messi sends Argentina into Copa America semifinals as Colombia pip Uruguay – Tim Vickery


Revitalised Harry Kane turns England into powerful attacking machine

July 4, 2021


“Are you not entertained? Was this not what you wanted? So much was right for England it is tempting, for all the talk of hard-nosed tournament football, to luxuriate just a little in the beauty of it all. The staging was lovely, the night sky above the lip of the Stadio Olimpico a dusky thing down the feed from Rome. There were England fans in the ground, as there always will be England fans. From the start there was a delicious high-summer quality to the colours under that deep blue light. Ukraine wore yellow. England wore white. And it took just three minutes for the night to start bending decisively England’s way. Best of all, it had to be Harry. England’s opening goal was a thing of miniature beauty in its own right. It was conceived and made by Raheem Sterling, who had a wonderful game. But it was scored by Harry Kane, which carries its own significance. …”
Guardian
BBC: Ukraine 0 – 4 England


Euro 2020: Denmark continue to show they’re no underdogs, even without Eriksen

July 3, 2021


“There might be a temptation to think Denmark are riding a wave of goodwill at these European Championships after the world watched Christian Eriksen collapse on the pitch three weeks ago, but their run to the semifinals of Euro 2020 is being driven by more than just destiny and fairytale. There was nothing mysterious about their 2-1 win over Czech Republic on Saturday. Denmark are good players, well coached by Kasper Hjulmand, and are able to score goals of high quality and equally defend with grit. Denmark are ranked as the 10th best team in the world for a reason. …”
ESPN (Video)
Guardian: Denmark’s Euro 2020 run is built on class and coaching, not just team spirit


Andriy Shevchenko’s modern methods have revolutionised Ukraine

July 3, 2021


“Five years ago, Ukraine lost 1-0 to Poland in Marseille to complete a miserable Euros campaign in which they lost all three games and failed to score. Their football was leaden and uninspired, predicated on three lumbering holding midfielders and the vague hope that either Andriy Yarmolenko or Yevhen Konoplyanka might do something spectacular. Yarmolenko remains but as Ukraine prepare for a European Championship quarter-final, almost everything else has changed beyond recognition. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


At Euro 2020, Calculated Risks Reap the Greatest Rewards

July 3, 2021


“Euro 2020 may be the most arrogant and audacious major tournament in soccer history. It is certainly the most counterintuitive. It’s being played amid a global pandemic, brought on by a virus that is particularly spiteful and startlingly contagious. Yet our beloved sport has chosen not to remain within its cities and ride out that storm, but to swagger out of the gates and meet it. The plan for Euro 2020 to be staged in multiple countries at once, effectively a festival of burning fossil fuels, was a concern for environmental activists long before COVID-19 came on the scene. …”
The Ringer


Lorenzo Insigne’s stunning goal a defining moment for the new Italy

July 2, 2021


“If we needed one moment to sum up Italy’s transformation over the past four years, it arrived in the 44th minute at the Allianz Arena. Lorenzo Insigne’s goal was a thing of beauty, cutting in from the left and curling the ball from the edge of the area into the far corner of the net with such precision that Thibaut Courtois had no chance. The forward had started his run from the halfway line. This was Insigne distilled, a goal that he has scored countless times down the years. The finish might not always be so flawless, but the ambitious dribble, the move inside and the right-footed shot across goal have been foundation stones of a career. You could accuse him of being too predictable, but like Arjen Robben in his prime, Insigne has learned that it does not matter if defenders know what dance you’re doing if they still cannot match your steps. …”
Guardian
NY Times: Belgium’s Golden Team Searches for a Silver Lining
ESPN (Video)


Euro 2020: Spain ride their luck, Switzerland’s runs out after tense, tiring quarterfinal

July 2, 2021


“It was the game that had everything, followed by a penalty shootout that lurched one way and then another. By the end of an energy-sapping and psychologically draining 120 minutes, Spain rode their luck — and Switzerland saw theirs run out — to claim a place in the Euro 2020 semifinals after a 3-1 win on penalties following a 1-1 draw. … While the nerves affected both sets of players, the prize of a semifinal (and maybe yet a place in the final) ended up with Spain thanks to two shootout saves by goalkeeper Unai Simon and a wayward attempt by Swiss substitute Ruben Vargas, who sent his shot over the crossbar. …”
ESPN (Video)
Guardian: Unai Simón and Spain complete redemption tale in shootout
BBC: Switzerland 1 – 1 Spain, Spain win 3-1 on penalties


Hartlepool United 1 – Torquay United 1 : Hartlepool United win 5-4 on penalties

July 1, 2021


The Gander Green Lane ground, home of Sutton United
“Hartlepool United returned to the English Football League as they beat Torquay United 5-4 on penalties, despite Gulls goalkeeper Lucas Covolan scoring a stoppage-time equaliser. Luke Armstrong’s first-half strike looked to have sealed promotion for Pools after Torquay’s Kyle Cameron had headed goals disallowed in either half. Covolan headed in a 95th-minute cross to send the game into extra time. Torquay’s Matt Buse missed a sudden-death penalty to see Pools go up. In a game that had everything it was fitting that it ended with a sudden-death shootout – all four opening penalties were missed with Covolan saving from Nicky Featherstone and Armstrong while Billy Waters and Danny Wright missed for the Gulls. …”
BBC
The 2 clubs promoted to the Football League in 2021….
Football as it should be: Chasing the dream with Sutton United, their dancing kitman and tactics talks in the showers (April 22, 2021)
W – Sutton United F.C., W – Gander Green Lane, W – 2020–21 National League


Tactical Analysis: Netherlands vs. Czech Republic

July 1, 2021


“‘He knows why he is here and this is the most important thing,’ Netherlands head coach Frank de Boer said of Denzel Dumfries ahead of his nation’s last sixteen clash against the Czech Republic. ‘He will read about it; he will hear about it but I’m not scared he will do strange things because of rumours about his future.’ Although it was speculation regarding Dumfries’ fate that dominated the headlines before kick-off in Budapest, it was a strange play by defensive teammate Matthijs de Ligt that changed the course of the tie. Ten minutes into the second period, the Juventus starlet was dismissed for handling the ball on the edge of the Dutch penalty. Although the resultant free-kick was struck into the wall, De Ligt’s absence disrupted what had already been a topsy-turvy round of sixteen tie. Just moments before the 21-year-old denied Patrik Schick an obvious goalscoring opportunity, the Netherlands had one of their own – with Donyell Mallen inches from rounding Czech goalkeeper Tomáš Vaclík. …”
Breaking the Lines
YouTube: Netherlands’s Tactical Analysis Preview | Dumfries and De Jong to derail the Czechs’ campaign