How Julian Nagelsmann made his mark at Bayern Munich

October 31, 2021


“The tactician has started his stint brightly for the Bavarian club. Julian Nagelsmann arrived at Bayern Munich this summer with a reputation as someone who is not afraid to make changes to ensure success. The 34-year-old hasn’t tinkered as much as expected, however, and a star-studded squad have responded to his promptings with a dominant start to the season. If this is what Bayern are like now, just think about how good they will be when their players are fully used to every little aspect of Nagelsmann’s coaching manual. The former Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig supremo moved to Munich in the summer having proven his ability to bring the best out of players, and now he looks to have earned the respect of some of the biggest names in the game. …”
How Julian Nagelsmann made his mark at Bayern Munich (Video)
W – Julian Nagelsmann
YouTube: Julian Nagelsmann’s Bayern Munich Tactics Explained | Bayern Munich 2021/22 Tactical Analysis


How Barcelona lost their soul

October 31, 2021


“‘This won’t last forever,’ Pep Guardiola said during his final season as coach of Barcelona’s first team in 2012. ‘Sooner or later, we will stop winning. Then is when we will have to see if we have faith in the way we are and the way we play.’ Barcelona had grown used to winning at that point — during Guardiola’s four years as coach they lifted 14 of the 18 trophies available, including two Champions Leagues and three La Liga titles. Everyone around the club was also proud of achieving such success with a team based around homegrown youth products, while playing an attractive style of football they believed was rooted firmly in their club’s unique ‘Barca DNA’.  Almost a decade later, it is fair to say that Barcelona have stopped winning. …”
The Athletic (Video)


Tactics and Thunder: Analysing Antonio Conte’s suitability for Manchester United

October 31, 2021


When deeper, Conte’s teams prioritise compactness over pressure and work to block spaces centrally and force the opponent wide. When the ball is moved, all players move across in unison.
“No one can have missed that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems to be on the brink at Manchester United and clinging onto his job as the club’s manager. It’s being reported that the Norwegian needs positive results in the coming matches to remain in charge of United, highlighting United’s indecisiveness regarding their managerial situation. Surely, if the club officials were 100% behind Solskjaer, they would keep him regardless of the result at Tottenham on Saturday, or Manchester City next week? Equally, if they doubt him, why is he still in charge? …”
Running the Show (Video)


Tough at the top – mixed fortunes for Premier League’s top three

October 30, 2021


“For the first time since September 2017, the Premier League’s top three all played at 3pm UK time on a Saturday and it resulted in a gripping, action-packed afternoon full of mixed fortunes for the English top-flight’s title-chasers. The big winners were Chelsea, who earned a 3-0 victory at Newcastle to lead the division by three points. Liverpool sit second after throwing away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Brighton, while 10-man Manchester City suffered a shock 2-0 home loss to Crystal Palace. …”
BBC (Video)


Zonal Marking: From Ajax to Zidane, the Making of Modern Soccer – Michael Cox

October 29, 2021


August 24, 2019: “In life, it takes time to create successful ideas and concepts. Scientists and researchers spend years, even decades, analyzing and studying data to create trials or a study before publishing the results to the world. … I mention this because it may seem odd at first to take a 17-year period and be able to identify seven overarching and different tactical revolutions in soccer in Europe. However, Michael Cox has long established himself as a tactical observer par excellence and his new book argues that the dominant soccer cultures in Europe in the recent past have existed for merely 2-4 years. Zonal Marking: From Ajax to Zidane, the Making of Modern Soccer makes the claim that we have seen six dominant styles of soccer in Europe since 1992 with each based around a national soccer culture. …”
World Soccer Talk
Intelligent football: Michael Cox and the rise of tactical analysis (Oct 2020)
Zonal Marking
Vox in the Box: Michael Cox
amazon
YouTube: Football Tactics with Michael Cox (Zonal Marking)(Aug 13, 2019)


Why Can’t Man City Fill Their Stadium?

October 29, 2021


“Following the high octane clash between Man City and RB Leipzig in the Champions League that ended with 9 goals, Pep Guardiola called out the fans for their lack of attendance. And there were a lot of empty seats, but why? Written by Seb Stafford-Bloor, illustrated by Marco Bevilacqua. …”
YouTube


Why outswinging corners lead to more chances but inswingers lead to more goals

October 28, 2021


“A corner. A roar goes up from the crowd. It puzzled Jose Mourinho when he first came to England how fans reacted to their team winning a corner kick ‘with the same applause as a goal’. Yet corners are a valuable weapon in an attacking team’s armoury. But should they be inswinging or outswinging? In the past 10 Premier League seasons, 3.4 per cent of corners resulted in a goal. So far this season, we are slightly above average at 4 per cent. In fact, last weekend, six teams in separate matches scored goals from a corner. Arsenal, Southampton, Newcastle, Watford, Brentford and West Ham all profited while Chelsea also won a penalty from a corner, which they converted. …”
The Athletic


Barcelona, Drifting, Fires Ronald Koeman as Coach

October 28, 2021


“Ronald Koeman knew even before he arrived in Barcelona that his journey as the club’s manager had ended. His team had just lost for the second time in four days, beaten by Real Madrid on Sunday and then by modest Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday. It was marooned in ninth place in La Liga. There could be, the club decided, no way back. The decision to fire Koeman was made while he and his players were still in transit. Barcelona’s president, Joan Laporta, had spent the flight back from Madrid consulting with several executives, according to Sport, the Catalan newspaper, and then informed Koeman that he had decided to end his 14-month tenure. A statement from Barcelona made the decision official a little after midnight. …”
NY Times


Kisvárda, Hungarian football’s mystery contenders

October 28, 2021


“Over the past six years, Budapest-based clubs have won the Hungarian league title, with the country’s biggest name, Ferencváros, crowned champions in the past three seasons. After a period in which the likes of Videoton and Debrecen sat at the top, the capital city has regained its power in the Hungarian game. This season, there is a new challenger in the form of Kisvárda, a provincial club from a small town in the Northern Great Plain region of the country that sits on the Budapest to Ukraine railway line. Kisvárda has a population of 16,500 and was once a strong Jewish town until the second world war. Tragically, many were sent to Auschwitz and as a result, there are very few Jews in Kisvárda today. Kisvárda, which was originally founded in 1911 and now carries the full name Kisvárda Master Good FC, are top of the Hungarian OTP Bank Liga after 10 games, a point ahead of Ferencváros and Puskás Akadémia. …”
Game of the People
W – Kisvárda FC


UEFA Euro 2012 Group B

October 28, 2021


Joachim Löw
Group B of UEFA Euro 2012 began on 9 June 2012 and ended on 17 June 2012. The pool was made up of the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and Portugal. Germany and Portugal progressed to the quarter-finals, while Denmark and the Netherlands were eliminated from the tournament. Group B was dubbed by many the ‘group of death’ of Euro 2012. All four teams were in the top 10 of the FIFA World Rankings at the start of the tournament. … Ultimately, Germany defeated Denmark 2–1 after Lukas Podolski and Lars Bender scored for Germany in the 19th and 80th minutes, respectively, despite an equalizer from Michael Krohn-Dehli in the 24th minute. …”
Wikipedia
W – Joachim Löw
W – 2014 FIFA World Cup Final
Guardian: German model bangs the drum for club, country and the people’s game (Dec. 2012)

Germany and Argentina face off in the final of the World Cup 2014


Visions of the Dutch Big Three

October 27, 2021


“Over the previous international break, we all laughed as Louis van Gaal shot back at a journalist deriding the Netherlands manager for supposedly defensive football. ‘You have a vision for newspapers and that’s fantastic,’ he said. Once the Dutch coasted past Turkey 6-1 the next day, that unspoken next sentence became obvious. It was Van Gaal himself, the man in control of his selection and team tactics, who was the one in the room with the best vision for a football team. Fiery encounters with Dutch journalists are far from confined to the international scene. …”
Football Paradise
W – Big Three (Netherlands)


The origins of football: a game born of savagery

October 26, 2021


“Football, in the contemporary sense of the term, can be traced back no further than the mid-19th century, after it became, in 1863 to be precise, a game of clear structure. Though a primitive counterpart of the modern game, many of the stipulations outlined by the then-newborn Football Association remain in some form to this day – kickoffs following a goal, forbidden use of the hands and an early offside rule – any attacking player ahead of the ball was deemed offside, though this was quickly revised to closer resemble the rule today. Hence, there can be little argument to oppose the suggestion that football began in England, at least as an organised sport. …”
These Football Times


2021-22 Bundesliga – the 18 clubs, with the 14 largest cities in Germany…

October 26, 2021


“The map page is pretty self-explanatory, it being my usual basic location-map. The map-page also includes 2 charts – one chart which shows each current club’s Seasons-in-1st-division; the other chart shows the full German football titles list (including the pre-Bundesliga/amateur years from 1903 to 1963). There is one small addition I have made: on the map I have shown the promoted and relegated teams, via small color-coded boxes…green-edged boxes for the two promoted sides (Bochum and Fürth), and red-edged-boxes for the two relegated sides (Schalke and Bremen). Also shown, not on the map-page but further below, are captioned photos of the promoted clubs’ venues [Bochum and Fürth]. …”
billsportsmaps
W – 2021–22 Bundesliga


Manchester United 0 Liverpool 5: Salah hits hat-trick, United’s midfield goes missing and pressure mounts on Solskjaer

October 26, 2021


Manchester United were booed off the pitch at Old Trafford after suffering a 5-0 humiliation at the hands of their fierce rivals Liverpool. The pressure mounts on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose side were outclassed in every area of the pitch during Sunday’s match. Mohamed Salah was the star for Jurgen Klopp’s team, scoring a 12-minute hat-trick (either side of the break). Liverpool remain unbeaten in 13 matches this season across all competitions, and are one point behind Premier League leaders Chelsea. Here, Oliver Kay and Dominic Fifield analyse the key talking points from Old Trafford… ”
The Athletic
Guardian: Salah’s crowning glory for Egypt in sight after feats for club and continent
NY Times: Goals Rain on Manchester United, Covering the Boss With Blame
Guardian: Manchester United rout had been coming: nobody has a clue what they are doing (Jonathan Wilson)
SI – Manchester United 0-5 Liverpool: Mohamed Salah Reaction To Sensational Performance On Instagram (Video)
BBC: Manchester United 0 – 5 Liverpool
The Athletic: Liverpool humiliation should be the death knell for Solskjaer’s reign
The Athletic: Rest, right-side connection, mentality: Lijnders on how Salah has become ‘unstoppable’ for Liverpool (Video)(Oct. 2021)


Cox: Italians are defending free kicks differently to the rest of Europe – is it a good idea?

October 25, 2021


“When an attacking side have a wide free kick, around 40 yards from goal, there is a very established way to defend that situation. The defending team positions themselves in a line, holding an offside trap to keep the opposition away from goal, and then run back and attempt to head the ball clear. Here’s Liverpool doing that away at Atletico Madrid in midweek. This is how almost all big clubs defend this type of situation. Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter, Paris Saint-Germain all do pretty much the same thing. Chelsea and Manchester City are more aggressive with their positioning, defending higher up, but it’s the same idea. But now, there are outliers — and they’re almost all in Serie A. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox


Life After Leo

October 24, 2021


“Even by the most charitable estimate, Camp Nou is barely more than a third full by the time the teams stroll on to the field. The Champions League anthem blares, drowning out the thin applause that had greeted the players. Fans pockmark row upon row of sun-bleached seats, stretching into the sky, lost in the vast stadium. On the far side, Barcelona’s motto, its statement of self — més que un club — is spelled out in the seats. As the players fan out, taking their positions, the lettering is still readable. To the left, in the arena’s second tier, where there was once a club sponsor’s logo, a yellow patch has spread. …”
NY Times


How Brentford’s Moneyball Approach Works

October 24, 2021


“Brentford have already shown the Premier League that they will be tough opponents. The fact that they run their club differently to most others has been widely reported. But what do they do differently? How have they adapted the ‘Moneyball’ theory? What other staff departments have they introduced? Written by Alex Stewart, illustrated by Alice Devine. …”
YouTube: How Brentford’s Moneyball Approach Works, The Rise Of Brentford, Barnsley & Moneyball In The Championship! | Explained (May 2021)
W – Brentford F.C.


Football Performance Analysis How Mauricio Pochettino Readapted PSG’s Structure to Reflect His Football Philosophy

October 24, 2021


“Since replacing Thomas Tuchel in early January, Mauricio Pochettino has been able to stamp his mark on Paris Saint-Germain. This is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. The former Spurs boss hasn’t changed the team radically and it was hard to see a replica of his Tottenham too, as he barely had time to coach the team into his playing style, as PSG played a game every four days since his appointment. The team is made by the players and Pochettino has the exact same ones that Tuchel had, as PSG haven’t signed a single player during the winter transfer window. It’s no surprise then that Pochettino relied heavily on the legacy of Tuchel’s work at the club, only changing small details. Marginal details maybe, but still important enough to shape PSG playing style in a different way, making the new manager’s touch visible on the pitch. …”
Hudl (March 2021)
Five ways PSG could line up with Lionel Messi
YouTube: Pochettino PSG 4-2-3-1 MASTERPIECE | Mauricio Pochettino PSG Tactical Analysis


The great betrayal: how the Hillsborough families were failed by the justice system

October 23, 2021


After 32 years of establishment lies, media smears, inquests, trials and retrials, the families of the Hillsborough dead have yet to see anyone held accountable, October 21, 2021: “On a grey morning in May this year, the English legal system’s epic failure to secure justice for the families devastated by the Hillsborough disaster finally ground to its dismal conclusion. Ninety-seven people were killed due to a terrible crush on an overcrowded terrace at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough football stadium on 15 April 1989. Since then, the families have endured a 32-year fight for the truth to be accepted – that the main cause of the disaster was police negligence, and for those responsible to be held accountable. …
Guardian


‘Why Always Me?’ 10 years on: The fireworks, the 6-1 and the madness of Mario Balotelli

October 23, 2021


“Amid the rolling countryside of rural Cheshire, the village of Mottram St Andrew belongs to a footballers’ enclave known locally as the ‘Golden Triangle’. Prestbury, the neighbouring village, was once calculated to have the highest number of millionaires per head in the country. Wilmslow, a couple of miles in the other direction, is another place for the people who could be described as the haves and the have-yachts. Nowhere, though, is showier than Alderley Edge, where car enthusiasts gather every weekend to take pictures of the souped-up Ferraris and Lamborghinis that roar up and down the high street. … Then, on the night of October 21, 2011, the peace was shattered. …”
The Athletic (Video)
W – Mario Balotelli
YouTube: Manchester United 1-6 Man City – Highlights & Goals – Mario Balotelli: Why Always Me?


How the back-pass rule changed football in England almost overnight

October 23, 2021


“Football is a simple game. Besides perhaps the offside rule, which may be complicated to an outsider who doesn’t watch the game, the rules are pretty self-explanatory. You learn these from the first moment you kick a football around your garden or schoolyard, and they transition into second nature fairly quickly. Often, however, you may hear anecdotes of ancient football that seem unthinkable now, potentially via Alan Smith tediously explaining to you via commentary on a video game that we used to have square goal-posts, where a lot more bounced out than went in. …”
These Football Times
W – Back-pass rule
ESPN: Football was (re)invented in 1992: the early chaos of the backpass law (Video) Aug. 2017


Manchester United’s Perfect Feedback Loop

October 22, 2021


“Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was in the mood to play the hits. Manchester United’s most ardent fans, he said, were ‘the best in the world.’ The players who had the privilege to wear the team’s colors were the ‘luckiest’ on the planet. And, of course, there was the inevitable nod to history, to the club’s ‘habit’ of clawing victory from the maw of defeat. Solskjaer was glowing, and with good reason. United had just given Atalanta a two-goal head start in the Champions League and recovered to win regardless. Cristiano Ronaldo had delivered, yet again. United had been at the bottom of its group at halftime, flirting with elimination, but now it sat comfortably at the top. The fans sang Solskjaer’s name as he gave his postmatch television interviews. …”
NY Times


Corner kick

October 21, 2021


“A corner kick is the method of restarting play in a game of association football when the ball goes out of play over the goal line, without a goal being scored and having last been touched by a member of the defending team. The kick is taken from the corner of the field of play nearest to the place where the ball crossed the goal line. Corners are considered to be a reasonable goal scoring opportunity for the attacking side, though not as much as a penalty kick or a direct free kick near the edge of the penalty area. It is legal to directly score from the corner kick. When a goal is scored in this fashion it can be called an Olympico goal, and less commonly the English equivalent Olympic goal. …”
Wikipedia
YouTube: Corners really aren’t that effective. Here’s how they could be better.

Alessandro Del Piero taking a corner kick for Sydney FC.


Disentangling memory from truth

October 20, 2021


“Soccer is the global sport. It is so universal that it often intersects with global events. One can read 20th-century world history through international soccer. A major theme of the century—European colonialism—is written all over the sport. In 1974, as the last African countries were winning their independence, colonial dynamics erupted on the biggest soccer stage of all. The 1974 World Cup in West Germany was the first time a Black team made it to the tournament, won eventually by West Germany. (They beat the Netherlands in the final.) In fact, it was two Black teams: Zaire, the first sub-Saharan African team to qualify, and Haiti. In the collective consciousness of football history, both teams are remembered for their dismal performance. But is this legacy justified? …”
Africa Is a Country


Brutal Bayern Munich show their rivals just how high the mountain is

October 19, 2021


“Existential angst over competitiveness shouldn’t overshadow the fact we are looking at possibly the best team in Europe. We’ve seen it before, but it’s still difficult to know exactly how it should be characterised. It was brilliant, beautiful, ugly, deflating, awe-inspiring and a huge letdown all at the same time. Bayern Munich’s hegemony shows no sign of letting up and neither does it show any potential for being less of a source of conflicting feelings and views. …”
Guardian (Video)


Why Ronaldo is giving Solskjaer a huge tactical problem

October 19, 2021


“In one sense, Manchester United’s 4-2 defeat by Leicester could be considered something of a freak result. The scoreline was 1-1 for the majority of the game, both sides significantly overperformed their xG, and four of the game’s six goals came in the frenetic final 12 minutes — three of them scored by Leicester. It was one of those brilliant periods where strategy and tactics go out of the window, giving way to chaos and luck. … The poster boy for their current malaise, of course, is Cristiano Ronaldo. …”
The Athletic


Portugal in the 21st Century – The Cost of Gold

October 17, 2021


Atlas Van der Hage
“The European Championships this summer were a lesson in team play, for both the robust attacking outfits and the overly conservative. Disregarding his country’s catenaccio history, Roberto Mancini looked to dominate play even against the brilliant Spanish, the summer’s premier ball-hoggers, and Italy were crowned eventual tournament winners on the back of brilliant team goals. Roberto Martinez’s Belgium set up with three defenders and focused heavily on attacking play, as did a somewhat lackluster Germany. On the flipside, France were unable to repeat their 2018 triumph with Didier Deschamps sticking to a pragmatic tactical setup. Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions similarly played deep and found few moments of true attacking promise, but their cohesiveness worked wonders. And then there was Portugal. They, like France and England, typically played deep, negative football, but their only respite came from one man, not their teamwork or cohesion. …”
Football Paradise


When Hollywood came for Wrexham FC

October 17, 2021


“Ryan Reynolds and Wrexham. Two names that would have never been associated with each other. But thanks to an inherent entrepreneurial instinct, an Always Sunny In Philadelphia actor, and the Netflix documentary, Sunderland ‘til I die, Ryan Reynolds is now the co-owner of the National League outfit. How did this happen? Matt Slater writes, Craig Silcock illustrates. …”
YouTube: When Hollywood came for Wrexham FC
ESPN: Wrexham AFC have Hollywood owners, Premier League hopes and TikTok sponsors. But first, Tamworth


Which player at your club should be getting more minutes?

October 17, 2021


“As the Premier League returns, there is a player at every club (well, apart from Crystal Palace apparently) that you feel should be getting more minutes on the pitch. He might have battled back from injury, struggled to make an impact since joining last summer, or be a teenager who is still developing but he might just be the difference — if only your manager takes a chance on him. The Athletic’s data analyst Tom Worville has produced squad profiles for each club to show the number and percentage of minutes played when set against the age of the player in question. You can expect to see most of the footballers our writers have chosen in the bottom left-hand corner — i.e. they’re young and have not had many minutes so far this season — but there are exceptions. Let us know whether you agree with the selection for your club in the comments section below… ”
The Athletic


Le Tigre: André-Pierre Gignac and a Mexican revolución

October 16, 2021


“Football is nothing without its mavericks. Unfathomable men and women whose exploits on and off the pitch keep opponents and teammates alike guessing. Players whose downright unpredictability forces fans to fall in love with them. In 2015, coming off the back of an impressive 21-goal haul for Marcelo Bielsa’s Marseille, André-Pierre Gignac rejected El Loco’s offer to prolong his time on the French Riviera and did something thoroughly unexpected, moving 6,000 miles west to Monterrey, Mexico. Narrative is a powerful thing. … Turning down such offers ensured that Gignac had carved his name into the heart of every Tigers fan before he even kicked a ball. …”
These Football Times
W – André-Pierre Gignac
YouTube: Gignac Scoring the most Outrageous Goals in Mexico !!


Celtic and Dundee United close on Scottish lead as Hearts deny Rangers

October 16, 2021


Celtic’s David Turnbull is congratulated after scoring on his return to Motherwell.
“A last-gasp goal from Craig Halkett gave Hearts a 1-1 draw with leaders Rangers at Ibrox. John Lundstram’s wonderful first-half strike from 30 yards had given the home side a deserved interval lead but they could not add to it as the game went on. And after Jambos boss Robbie Neilson was sent off by referee Don Robertson with three minutes remaining, a mistake by home keeper Allan McGregor from a corner allowed Halkett to nod in at the back post to keep the visitors unbeaten in the league and still a point behind the champions. …”
Guardian


Luciano Spalletti – Napoli – Tactical Analysis

October 16, 2021


“Since taking over from Gennarro Gattuso in May 2021, Luciano Spalletti has turned Napoli into one of Serie A’s most formidable units. While a fifth place finish in the 2020-21 season was a fine result for Gli Azzurri, it wasn’t what they had hoped for, nor what they could have achieved. In came Spalletti and POOF(!) the team are now on an unbeaten run at the start of the 2021-22 season, winning seven from seven. After Inter Milan broke Juventus’ long-standing record last season, the Napoli faithful will now be hoping Serie A might be theirs for the taking this year. Here is a tactical analysis of Luciano Spalletti’s new-look Napoli. …”
The Mastermindsite
Forbes: Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli Top Early Serie A Table, But Can They Challenge For The Scudetto? (Video)
Napoli appoint Luciano Spalletti as new head coach
W – Luciano Spalletti
The Moments that Cost Roma the 2010 Scudetto (Video) (April 2020), Where Did It All Go Wrong for Luciano Spalletti? Part II: 2008-2017 (Video)


Brazil cruise past Uruguay with Neymar goal, Raphinha double

October 15, 2021


Raphinha turned in another eye-catching performance for Brazil on Thursday by scoring twice in the home side’s 4-1 victory over Uruguay in a World Cup qualifier. Brazil took the lead after 10 minutes when Neymar chested down a pass from Fred and rounded the keeper before firing low between two defenders on the goal-line. …”
ESPN
ESPN: Loss to Neymar’s Brazil leaves Luis Suarez’s Uruguay with fight to reach World Cup (Tim Vickery)
YouTube: Brazil vs Uruguay 4-1, Argentina vs Peru 1-0, Chile 3 Venezuela 0 (Resumen Completo)


Who invented the red card?

October 15, 2021


Referee Horacio Elizondo of Argentina shows the red card to Zinedine Zidane 2006 World Cup … Berlin, Germany, July 09, 2006.
“… Yet that law was only instigated in 1992. Those that watched football throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s still find themselves wondering why the defence doesn’t kick the ball back to the goalkeeper to waste some time. Of all the rules that have been introduced to football over the years, perhaps none have been as influential as the decision to issue players with yellow and red cards for infractions of the rules of the game. The backpass rule that we’ve just mentioned is widely considered to be one of the game’s most successful changes, but it has never had the ability to influence a match in the same way that a sending off has, for example. …”
Yellow And Red Cards In Football
Who has more red cards in their career: Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?
W – Fouls and misconduct
YouTube: Who invented the red card?


France’s Win Over Spain Was a Prelude to an Epic Rivalry in the Making

October 14, 2021


“If the UEFA Nations League final between France and Spain was a trailer for the next era of international soccer, then I can’t wait for the feature film. Here were two teams that, when playing at their peak, could make a good claim to be the best on the planet. We had Spain, whose intricate patterns of passing bewildered Italy during this summer’s European championships, and who were the only team to make Roberto Mancini’s champions look consistently vulnerable. … To be reductive, this final was poetry against pragmatism: and France duly and sometimes dully prevailed 2-1. Still, some might say, it was only the Nations League, right? A tournament formed as no more than a series of glorified friendly fixtures. Who truly cares? …”
The Ringer


Andrew Watson: The ‘most influential’ black footballer for decades lost to history

October 14, 2021


Watson is also depicted in a mural at the site of the original Hampden Park
“There are two murals of black footballers facing one another across an alleyway in Glasgow. One helped shape football as we know it, the other is Pele. Andrew Watson captained Scotland to a 6-1 win over England on his debut in 1881. He was a pioneer, the world’s first black international, but for more than a century the significance of his achievements went unrecognised. Research conducted over the past three decades has left us with some biographical details: a man descended of slaves and of those who enslaved them, born in Guyana, raised to become an English gentleman and famed as one of Scottish football’s first icons. And yet today, 100 years on from his death aged 64, Watson remains something of an enigma, the picture built around him a fractured one. …”
BBC


Jack Grealish must play the system to be an England regular for Southgate

October 14, 2021


“Jack Grealish could not hide the frustration. And nor could pockets of the England support inside Wembley on Tuesday night, some of whom booed the decision. There were 62 minutes on the clock, the team were level at 1-1 with Hungary and Gareth Southgate had substituted Grealish, replacing him with Bukayo Saka. The TV cameras lingered on Grealish as he took his seat. The midfielder shook his head before putting it down and running his fingers through his hair. It was the night when Southgate tried a different blend, dispensing with his usual minimum of six defensive-minded outfield starters and going with five whose first instinct is to attack. It was Phil Foden and Mason Mount as the No 8s in the 4-3-3, leaving only Declan Rice in front of the defence, and there is no doubt that it was what the fans had demanded. …”
Guardian
Guardian: Southgate must not ditch newfound attacking intent. Fail again. Fail better the same way
“We didn’t play at the level we need to play” – Five things learned as England slump to a 1-1 draw with Hungary


U.S. Suffers First Defeat in World Cup Qualifying

October 13, 2021



“Continuing the good vibes from one performance to the next can be tough, it turns out, when you switch out all of your top performers. That was one of the harsh lessons learned by the U.S. men’s soccer team on Sunday as it fell limply to host Panama, 1-0, in its fifth qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup. Things had looked so different on Thursday, when the Americans stomped to a 2-0 win against Jamaica in Austin, Texas. But with a quick turnaround between matches — and a third game to play on Wednesday night in Columbus, Ohio — U.S. Coach Gregg Berhalter made seven changes to his lineup. …”
NY Times (Video)


False 9 / El Clásico

October 13, 2021


“… The false 9, in some ways similar to a more advanced attacking midfielder/playmaker role, is an unconventional lone striker or centre-forward, who drops deep into midfield. The purpose of this is that it creates a problem for opposing centre-backs who can either follow the false 9, leaving space behind them for onrushing midfielders, forwards or wingers to exploit, or leaving the false 9 to have time and space to dribble or pick out a pass. The term comes from the traditional number for centre-forwards (nine), and the fact that normally a centre-forward traditionally stayed near the line of defenders until they got an opportunity to move past them toward goal. Key attributes for a false 9 are similar to those of a deep-lying striker: dribbling ability to take advantage of space between the lines, good short passing ability to link up with the midfield and vision to play through teammates making runs from deep to goal. The first false 9 in a World Cup was Juan Peregrino Anselmo in the Uruguay national team, although he could not play the match against Argentina in the 1930 World Cup due to injury. Matthias Sindelar was the false 9 of the Wunderteam, the Austria national team, in 1934. … By the end of 2012, the False 9 had gone “mainstream” with many clubs employing a version of the system. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has been an exponent of the false 9 position to much success in recent years, first under coach Pep Guardiola and later under his successor Tito Vilanova. …”
W – False 9
The Evolution of the False 9 Role
YouTube: What is a False Nine?, Why Is Every Team Using the False 9? | False 9 Tactics Explained
W – El Clásico
How Barcelona lost their soul
Barcelona’s eight greatest Clasicos


Euro 2020: Wide players key as England beat Ukraine to book final semi-final spot – tactical analysis

October 13, 2021


“The Euro 2020 knockouts have featured some brilliant clashes that have been both entertaining from a visual as well as a tactical point of view. With three teams already having booked their semi-final berths, the final spot will be battled by Ukraine and world-cup semi-finalists England. This tactical analysis will discuss the tactics deployed by both teams and will look into how Gareth Southgate’s men triumphed over their opponents. Let’s begin the analysis. …”
Total Football Analysis


Attila Szalai

October 12, 2021


“Attila Szalai is catching the eye and attracting interest from some of Europe’s elite clubs. This is the story of how he was discovered in Cyprus. Sitting in a small bar in Mezőkövesd, Petros Konnafis was exhausted and drained. But most of all he was elated. It had taken months and weeks of negotiations and convincing the right people, but finally he had completed the deal he was certain was worth every penny. … When Petros watched Hungary U21s against Cyprus he did not expect to discover a hidden treasure back in 2018. But the more and more he watched the more he felt himself captivated by Hungary’s number 13. …”
The inside story of Attila Szalai: “Hungary’s Virgil Van Dijk” (Video)
W – Attila Szalai
YouTube: Attila Szalai is a BEAST… • Review Season of 2020/21


How many touches should a forward have in a game of football?

October 10, 2021


“It has become an increasingly common sight in football broadcasting. In the 50th minute of Manchester City’s trip to Liverpool, an in-game graphic popped up on the screen to reveal which player had made the fewest touches in the game so far. At that point, Diogo Jota’s 17 were the fewest, with Liverpool’s front three all among the bottom five. The question to ask when seeing such statistics is — is that good or bad? When using data in football, one of the key duties of care is to ensure it is surrounded in context, to better understand why these statistics are useful in the game. So with this in mind, how many touches should a forward have in a game of football? And importantly, do such numbers matter when assessing a forward’s performance? …”
The Athletic


Louis van Gaal may be rude and stubborn but his vision should be celebrated

October 10, 2021


“… The 70-year-old glares from behind the desk. ‘You have no idea at all,’ he says to the 58-year-old Valentijn Driessen, who writes for De Telegraaf, wants the Netherlands to play 4-3-3 and has implied a back three is inherently defensive. ‘I’m sorry to say it, but you’re just a journalist. You want to implement your vision, but you have no vision in football. You have a vision for the newspaper, fantastic.’ Louis van Gaal’s third stint in charge of the Netherlands national team has only just entered its third month, but already there have been a series of moments of memorable directness. Could it be that Van Gaal is even more blunt than before, that age has made him even less tolerant of the failings of the rest of the world, that he cares even less for diplomacy? …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson
W – Louis van Gaal


Tiki-taka

October 10, 2021


Tiki-taka or Tiqui-taca ([ˈtikiˈtaka]) is a Spanish style of play in football characterised by short passing and movement, working the ball through various channels, and maintaining possession. The style is primarily associated with Spain national team since 2006 by the managers Luis Aragonés and Vicente del Bosque. Tiki-taka methods were eventually embraced by the La Liga club Barcelona from 2009, especially during the era of manager Pep Guardiola; however, Guardiola distanced himself and the club from the style: ‘I loathe all that passing for the sake of it’, stating, ‘Barça didn’t do tiki-taka!’, adding, ‘You have to pass the ball with a clear intention, with the aim of making it into the opposition’s goal’. Its development and influence goes back to Johan Cruyff‘s tenure as manager in the early 1990s all the way to the present. The first goal using this game system is considered to be the one scored in the qualifying match for UEFA Euro 2008, played in Aarhus (Denmark) at October 13, 2007, by Sergio Ramos. …”
Wikipedia
SI: Positioning, possession, pressure define Barcelona’s famous philosophy (Video) (Feb 23, 2015)
W – Vicente del Bosque, W – Luis Aragonés
4-3-3 vs. 4-1-4-1: Tactical Flexibility (April 2019)
YouTube: What is Tiki-Taka?, Barcelona Tiki Taka That Shocked The World


World Cup roundup: Denmark thrash Moldova to keep up perfect record

October 10, 2021


Denmark thrash Moldova
Denmark maintained their 100% record in Group F, with a 4-0 win in Moldova. Andreas Skov Olsen opened the scoring before Simon Kjær added a penalty. Christian Norgaard and Joakim Mæhle were also on target. Austria won 2-0 in the Faroe Islands to keep up their slim hopes of overtaking Scotland, who beat Israel 3-2 in a Hampden Park thriller. First-half goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk gave Ukraine a 2-1 win over Finland in Group D. The West Ham forward Yarmolenko put the visitors ahead less than five minutes after kick-off when he drove home from 20 yards past the Finnish goalkeeper. Norwich City’s Teemu Pukki levelled for Finland in the 29th minute but Ukraine regained the lead minutes later with a goal from Yaremchuk. …”
Guardian


Saudi Arabia, Newcastle and Soccer’s Worship of Money

October 8, 2021


“One single sentence, printed in block capitals, emblazoned on a laminated banner, captured it all: all of the pain and resentment and angst and fury of all those years spent under the turgid, wearying, bleak years of Mike Ashley’s ownership of Newcastle United, that decade and a half when the club’s owner seemed to take pleasure, after a while, in draining his own fans of spirit, and pleasure, and hope. The sentence on the banner made its first appearance nearly seven years ago, at what turned out to be just the halfway point of Ashley’s tenure. It was a reference to that dispiriting habit his club had developed of spurning England’s two domestic cups — the two trophies the club had even the slimmest chance of winning — so much that, often, the team looked as if it was trying to get knocked out early on purpose. …”
NY Times
NY Times: Saudi-Led Group Completes Purchase of Newcastle United
Guardian – Player’s view: Newcastle fans deserve change of fortune after long decline
Guardian: Saudi takeover of Newcastle leaves human rights to fog on the Tyne (Video)
BBC – Newcastle United takeover: Phil McNulty asks what Magpies should do in their new era (Video)
BBC – New era for Newcastle United (Video)
Guardian: Amnesty urges Premier League to block Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle
BBC – Newcastle United takeover: Fans reflect on Mike Ashley years
******English football should be different – it is in thrall to money, no matter where it comes from
*****Shearer: Ashley’s Newcastle was a shell of a club – now he’s gone I’m excited…but conflicted by Saudi involvement (Video)


Are Qatar any good at football?

October 7, 2021


“The decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was not, to say the least, a popular one. The objections can generally be split into two categories. One is the moral argument, the idea that the World Cup should not be played in a country with an abominable human rights record and in which an estimated 6,500 migrant workers have died in the last decade, a number of them while constructing stadia for the tournament. The second was that this was a country with no football heritage, that the hosts of the World Cup would be a terrible team who had no sporting place being there. This will, after all, be the first World Cup to be hosted by a country that had never qualified for one before since Italy staged it in 1934. The first argument still stands. The second, not so much. …”
The Athletic


One of the darkest moments in Brazilian football – and the divide that still runs deep

October 7, 2021


“It took Charles Fabian a good few minutes to get the full picture. The young forward had just finished dinner at Brazil’s team hotel in the north-eastern city of Salvador when the president of local side Bahia stormed in. ‘You can pack your bags because you are not staying here,’ yelled Paulo Maracaja as he grabbed Charles by the arm. It was June 1989. A home Copa America was about to begin and Charles, then 21 and a Bahia player, had not long since broken into the national set-up. He didn’t know what to do. Unable to find anybody from the Brazilian FA, he ended up following the order to leave. As it turned out, Maracaja had taken matters into his own hands after being told that Charles was among three to be cut from the final 20-man squad. He was furious his player had been dropped. The omission would have dramatic consequences. What happened next lives on in the national consciousness as one of the darkest moments in Brazilian sporting history. It felt like just another betrayal to a people who had long felt marginalised – and who continue to feel so today. …”
BBC


Tyler Adams Is the Captain Now

October 6, 2021


“The age of Tyler Adams is a matter of perspective. In a strict, chronological sense, of course, he is 22 years 8 months, but what that means — whether it is young, as it appears to be, or old, as odd as that seems — depends on the context. There are times, in fact, when even Adams finds it hard to date himself with any degree of accuracy. Sometimes, he is aware of his youth. He shares the locker room at RB Leipzig, for example, with a host of players who joined the club in the lower reaches of German soccer, and remain in place even now that it has become a fixture in the Champions League. …”
NY Times
W – Tyler Adams
YouTube: Tyler Adams 2020/21 Season Highlights | RB Leipzig (May 2021)


Why Do Football Teams Have 11 Players?

October 6, 2021


“Football is changing all the time, international tournaments are growing, wages and transfer fees continue to rise, and even VAR continues to evolve. But the number of players never does. Why are there 11 players on a team? Written by Seb Stafford-Bloor, illustrated by Craig Silcock. …”
YouTube: Tifo Football


2004–05 Chelsea F.C. season

October 6, 2021


“The 2004–05 season was Chelsea F.C.‘s 91st competitive season, 13th consecutive season in the Premier League and 99th year as a club. Managed by José Mourinho during his first season at the club, Chelsea won the Premier League title (their first league title in 50 years) and the League Cup. … In the Champions League, Chelsea aimed to improve upon their semi-final placing the previous year, but in the end only matched their achievement. They also exited the FA Cup in the fifth round to eventual semi-finalists Newcastle United. …”
Wikipedia
W – José Mourinho
YouTube: How Did Chelsea Win Their First Premier League Title? [And How Good Were Chelsea Before 2005?]


Barcelona’s Suffering Shows No Signs of Abating

October 5, 2021


“It’s been a while since the Wanda Metropolitano was near full capacity. More than 60,000 fans, the largest crowd since before the pandemic began, watched Atlético Madrid welcome Barcelona on Saturday night, though welcome might be the wrong word, as the hosts were anything but hospitable to a Barcelona side arriving in the Spanish capital like a wounded animal following their humbling loss to Benfica on Wedneesday. The home fans could smell blood: The atmosphere in the Wanda was as feverish as it’s ever been, and the occasion marked a reunion between Atlético forward Luis Suárez and his former team. …”
The Ringer


Chasing New Revenue, FIFA Is Considering Major Move to U.S.

October 4, 2021


FIFA officials toured the United States in September, visiting possible host cities for the 2026 World Cup.
“Looking to expand its global footprint beyond its cloistered headquarters next to a zoo on the outskirts of Zurich, soccer’s governing body, FIFA, is studying the feasibility of moving its financial engine, the commercial operation that produces billions of dollars in revenues for the organization, to the United States. The possible move will be determined by technical factors including the suitability of locations on both coasts, the ease of acquiring work visas for overseas staff members and tax rules, according to an official with direct knowledge of the discussions who declined to speak publicly because a final determination had yet to be made. The operations involved represent a vital part of FIFA’s business: They oversee FIFA’s sale of sponsorships and broadcasting rights, which represent some of the most lucrative properties in global sports. …”
NY Times


Primeira Liga

October 4, 2021


“The Primeira Liga ([pɾiˈmɐjɾɐ ˈliɣɐ]; English: Premier League), also known as Liga Portugal Bwin for sponsorship reasons, is the top professional association football division of the Portuguese football league system. It is organised and supervised by the Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional, also known as Liga Portugal. As of the 2014–15 season, the Primeira Liga is contested by 18 teams, with the three lowest placed teams relegated to the LigaPro and replaced by the top-three non-reserve teams from this division. Founded in 1934 as an experimental (now official) league called Campeonato da Liga da Primeira Divisão, it was named Campeonato Nacional da Primeira Divisão from 1938 until 1999, when it was changed to its current naming. Over 70 teams have competed in the Primeira Liga, but only five have been crowned champions. Among them, the ‘Big Three‘ teams – Benfica (37 wins), Porto (29 wins) and Sporting CP (19 wins) – have won all but two Primeira Liga titles; the other winners are Belenenses (1945–46) and Boavista (2000–01). …”
Wikipedia


Analyzing Leeds’ Tactics Under Marcelo Bielsa

October 3, 2021


“Since returning to the Premier League after a 16-year absence, Leeds United have become one of the most entertaining teams to watch in Europe, and whilst they have struggled early on with three points from their first six games, they were able to get their first win of the season as an early Diego Llorente goal saw them pick up three points against Watford. Leeds’ devotion to Marcelo Bielsa’s buccaneering style of attacking football has been a great spectacle to watch — a great respite from the dark ages of the past two decades at Elland Road. In this article, I will analyse the tactics which have built Leeds’ free-flowing footballing style, and also the problems which come with it. I will do this by looking at Leeds both in possession and out of possession, beginning with an analysis of their ideas off the ball. …”
Breaking The Lines
W – Marcelo_Bielsa


FSG and the culture wars at Liverpool

October 3, 2021


“The smell of ale usually hits you as the doors of the Twelfth Man on Walton Breck Road swing open but not on this Saturday afternoon. It is 50 minutes before the Premier League game between Liverpool and Crystal Palace and the pub is half-empty. On the walk up to Anfield from the direction of the Mersey river, pints have already been sunken at the Saddle Inn on Fountains Road and it was quiet there as well. Closer to the ground, any bar is normally two or three deep. Yet last month, you could walk into the Twelfth Man and get served more or less straight away. …”
The Athletic (Video/Audio)
Guardian – ‘It’s the package’: how Liverpool’s rhythm got the goals flowing again
Guardian – Liverpool v Manchester City: great games in the Klopp-Guardiola era
Guardian – A striker isn’t everything, but might solve Pep Guardiola’s all-or-nothing problem (Jonathan Wilson)
Pep Guardiola record vs Liverpool is a myth, and Man City boss’ own comments prove it
W – John W. Henry
******Guardian: Manchester City make spitting complaint after thrilling Liverpool draw

Pep Guardiola says Jurgen Klopp


12 teams, 38 games: Why Scotland’s League Is So Complicated?

October 2, 2021


“The Scottish Premiership is the top-flight of Scottish football and comprises 12 teams. And yet each season is 38 games long. 38 into 12 doesn’t go, obviously, so how does that work? More importantly, why does it work that way?”
YouTube


Xavi, Pirlo Or Conte? Who’s The Right Manager For Barcelona As Koeman Nears Exit?

October 1, 2021


“It was predictable. After the summer shambles and behind the scenes chaos that unfolded at the Camp Nou, Ronald Koeman’s position has constantly seemed under threat and now after a Champions League hammering at the hands of Benfica, it appears he will leave the club. His brief spell at Barca saw them win the Copa del Rey last year and finish third in La Liga, but without Lionel Messi and co, they have found life more difficult. Their Champions League campaign has consisted of two 3-0 defeats and although they are still unbeaten in the league, three draws against the likes of Cadiz and Granada have left fans frustrated. So with Koeman’s departure all but sealed, which candidates can lead the club through this rebuild? …”
The Sportsman