Scotland v England and the peculiarly divergent stance on football crowds

December 31, 2021


“At is not the case that followers of Scottish football gaze enviously at the Premier League. Camera phones capturing goal celebrations and public investment funds bearing gifts mean Scots revel in their own authenticity. It may be thud and blunder but it is our thud and blunder. In recent days, though, there have been wistful glances across the border. After Nicola Sturgeon, the Scotland first minister, implemented a limit of 500 people at outdoor sporting events the Scottish Professional Football League’s board took the unusually smart decision to expedite its top-flight winter break. At what traditionally is a hectic, joyous time it was deemed better to close the gates. …”
Guardian


It’s Too Soon to Panic for Manchester United and Ralf Rangnick

December 30, 2021


“Earlier this month, in the 54th minute of a Champions League draw against Young Boys, Manchester United fans serenaded Ole Gunnar Solskjaer—and not for the first time since he was sacked. This was strange for two reasons: First, it offered a loving kiss goodbye that no Premier League manager really gets to have—particularly one who was posted to the position for less than five years, and whose only contribution to the trophy cabinet in that time was a Europa League runners-up medal. Second, the future without Solskjaer looks brighter than it has on the Red side of Manchester in eight years, since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. For real this time. …”
The Ringer (Audio/Video)
The Athletic: What made Sir Alex Ferguson so successful? (Audio/Video)
The Athletic: ‘You win nothing without kids’ – Alex Ferguson’s obsession with youth
Guardian – ‘Not a problem of formation’: Rangnick bemoans Manchester United physicality
YouTune: Alex Ferguson: The Man, The Myth, The Manager


Tactical Theory: Analysis on marking systems

December 30, 2021


“With the constant evolvement of football tactics and with the defensive systems becoming more and more structured and organised, any football fan needs to understand the basics of defending in football. Defending is applying pressure, both as a player and as a whole team, on the opponent to prevent him from progressing forward to your own goal. A team can mark and press every player, but then there will be no room for error because when the marker gets passed, the team is immediately outnumbered. Then you can defend zonally, but you can’t let the opposition have all the time they want on the ball too. So there are a lot of defensive strategies applied by any team and for any particular match, according to the current circumstances. Football teams in the modern era defend as a unit, and every player is getting a particular defensive task in every game. …”
Total Football Analysis (April 2020)


Explained: How and when the Premier League will reschedule its postponed fixtures

December 29, 2021


“The Premier League postponements just keep on coming. After gameweek 18 on December 18 and 19 was decimated by COVID-19 outbreaks at several clubs, with six of the round’s 10 fixtures being pushed back, the Premier League’s Boxing Day programme was also hit by a further three postponements among the nine scheduled games. Further disruption is inevitable as the highly transmissible Omicron variant continues to spread. Gameweek 20, on December 28 to 30, already shorn of two fixtures and increased uncertainty over Everton’s home match against Newcastle United on Thursday. The postponements present the Premier League officials with a problem. …”
The Athletic


Africa Cup of Nations to Go on Despite Virus, Club Concerns

December 29, 2021


“African Cup of Nations organizers insist the tournament will begin as planned in Cameroon despite the fast-spreading omicron variant adding to an extensive list of concerns. Perhaps the biggest doubts now are when national teams will have their full 28-man squads to prepare for Africa’s biggest football event early next month. European clubs have been threatening not to send any players at all after raising doubts about coronavirus health protocols put in place by the Confederation of African Football….”
SI


Ademola Lookman steals in to give depleted Leicester win over Liverpool

December 29, 2021


“For the second time in three days Manchester City could savour the result in a Leicester game. A title race that threatened to go down to the tape could now have a runaway favourite. Liverpool’s defeat, only their second in the league since March, means they might be 12 points behind Pep Guardiola’s team by the time they play again. And yet, as the euphoric scenes at the final whistle showed, the real winners were Leicester. In a year when they belatedly lifted the FA Cup for the first time, this will not be their most famous victory. Yet the lap of honour illustrated that 2021 concluded with an extraordinary triumph. …”
Guardian
BBC: Leicester City 1 – 0 Liverpool (Video)


Introducing the no-touch All-Stars

December 28, 2021


“For a minute this weekend against Chelsea, it looked like Conor Coady might have to come off. He had just made what could have been a game-saving tackle, reaching a perfectly timed toe around Christian Pulisic to snuff out an open shot from the top of the box, but Coady twisted his ankle while going to ground and had to be helped off the pitch. As play restarted without him, the TV crew talked about how rare it was to see Wolves without their captain. Since the start of this season, Coady has played 1,788 out of a possible 1,800 minutes for his club, plus three World Cup qualifiers for England. …”
The Athletic


2021 was the year when football’s silent majority finally found its voice

December 27, 2021


A mural in Rome depicting Juventus president Andrea Agnelli puncturing a football with a knife. Juve backed the doomed European Super League breakaway.
“Remarkably, the website is still live. Eight months after the European Super League disintegrated in an embarrassing fireball, you might think its founders would be minded to erase all trace of their hubris and humiliation. But perhaps that would be to credit them with too much competence. And so there it remains to this day: ‘The Super League is a new European competition between 20 top clubs comprised of 15 founders and five annual qualifiers.’ Well, good luck with that. There is, of course, an alternative theory. After all, the Super League is still not quite dead in a legislative sense; certainly not if you believe the loud and persistent avowals of Andrea Agnelli at Juventus, Joan Laporta at Barcelona and Florentino Pérez at Real Madrid, the three remaining hoarse men of the apocalypse. …”
Guardian


How Atlas FC broke a 70-year title drought and completed its ‘transformación’

December 27, 2021


“When Atlas FC striker Julio Furch stepped up to the penalty spot in the Liga MX final against Club León last Sunday, he was poised to end 120 minutes of intense football and 70 years of anguish for the Guadalajara-based club. The capacity crowd at Atlas Estadio Jalisco were in the beginning stages of celebratory fervor. Atlas’ Colombian international goalkeeper Camilo Vargas, who joined the club in 2019, had just saved León’s fifth penalty in a shootout. A make from Furch would seal the title for Atlas. …”
The Athletic (Video)


The Premier League’s Influence Extends to Title Races Abroad

December 27, 2021



“That first meeting told Alex Muzio all he needed to know. Not long after he and his business partner, the gambling tycoon Tony Bloom, bought Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, a Belgian soccer team, Muzio sat down with the club’s coach. He wanted to discuss potential recruits. Muzio had never been a soccer player. He had never been a scout. He had spent his career working for Bloom’s Starlizard consultancy, the firm many consider to be the largest betting syndicate in Britain. Starlizard’s business model is using data to find an edge. It has information on tens of thousands of players from across the world. …”
NY Times


Tifo video: A guide to 3-4-3

December 26, 2021


“… Using a 3–4–3, the midfielders are expected to split their time between attacking and defending. Having only three dedicated defenders means that if the opposing team breaks through the midfield, they will have a greater chance to score than with a more conventional defensive configuration, such as 4–5–1 or 4–4–2. However, the three forwards allow for a greater concentration on attack. This formation is used by more offensive-minded teams. The formation was famously used by Liverpool under Rafael Benítez during the second half of the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final to come back from a three-goal deficit. It was also notably used by Chelsea when they won the Premier League under manager Antonio Conte in the 2016–17 season and when they won the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final under Thomas Tuchel. …”
W – 3–4–3
YouTube: Tifo video: A guide to 3-4-3
YouTube: Why is Germany’s 3-4-3 working so well? (June 2021)


Fear and Falsehoods Fill the Premier League’s Vaccination Gap

December 24, 2021


For athletes sensitive about anything they put into their bodies, even the debunked claims can still seem persuasive.
“The report spread like wildfire. Premier League players shared the link among their peers. Some passed it to their family members and closest confidantes. A handful were sufficiently troubled by what it seemed to suggest that they presented it to their clubs’ in-house medical teams, seeking advice. It had been produced by a website that says it tracks the number of ‘young athletes who had major medical issues in 2021 after receiving one or more Covid vaccines.’ The report claimed to list 19 ‘athletes’ — mostly in the United States — who it said had experienced heart attacks after being inoculated. Some of the attacks, the site noted ominously, had been fatal. …”
NY Times


Nutmeg Magazine – The Scottish Football Periodical

December 24, 2021


Central Park, home of Cowdenbeath FC. It is one hour before kick off and the turnstiles have just opened for the new season.
“Published every three months, it is a high-class home for quality articles about Scottish football’s past, present and future. It offers opinion, reflection, interviews, insight, illustration, photography and poetry. It is a unique blend between 196 uniquely elegant pages. …”
Nutmeg Magazine


The Premier League Chose Festive Fixtures Over Safe Fixtures

December 23, 2021


“So, things are a bit of a mess in the Premier League: On Monday, Tottenham were bounced from the Europa Conference League by the governing body itself, UEFA, which awarded a 3-0 win to French side Rennes in the final game of the group phase. The match was supposed to be played on December 9, but a COVID outbreak among Tottenham’s players and coaching staff forced Spurs to postpone—the team’s third such postponement in just over a week. …”
The Ringer


Bruno Lage: Profiling Wolves’ Manager

December 23, 2021


“Wolves are consistent again this season under new manager Bruno Lage who arrived in the summer from Benfica, replacing his fellow countryman Nuno Espirito Santo who moved on to Tottenham Hotspur. Similar to Espirito Santo, Lage aims to play a hyper-compact system with three central defenders providing a strong foundation and wingbacks who provide width just behind or level with three forwards who lead the line. Examining Wolves’ season up to this point will tell you one thing concretely, they haven’t really skipped a beat since switching managers. At the time of writing, the club sit 8th in the Premier League with 24 points after 17 games played. Almost halfway through the season, Wolves look solid, consistent and difficult to break down, despite having not scored a ton of goals. …”
Breaking The Lines
The Athletic (Aug. 2021)
W – Bruno Lage


Premier League: Man City on top but no team in control of title race – Alan Shearer analysis

December 22, 2021


“Manchester City will be top at Christmas after winning eight straight games but I don’t think any team will take control of this Premier League title race for a long time yet. At the moment, it is City’s turn to make everyone say ‘wow’ at the way they are playing. Some of their football is amazing and they are strolling through many of their matches. They currently look the team to stop, but I have thought the same about Liverpool and Chelsea at different times this season and I am sure we will soon be talking again how strong those two look….”
BBC (Video)


How do Julian Nagelsmann and Hansi Flick’s Bayern Munich teams compare?

December 22, 2021


“Hansi Flick’s Bayern Munich set a new benchmark for what it means to win at Germany’s already most successful club, claiming seven trophies in just over 18 months. That winning feeling has very much continued under successor Julian Nagelsmann, but how do the two teams compare after six months under the young tactician? …”
Bundesliga (Video)
W – Hansi Flick


‘It was like kicking a piece of concrete’ – When goalkeepers used to hoof it

December 20, 2021


“Ah, the life of a goalkeeper. Sometimes you’re the hero, you have to do a lot of shouting and one mistake makes you a high-profile villain. It’s a strange life. In better news, you get to wear gloves in cold weather without any old boy pundits asking whether you’re ‘soft’. On top of all of this, you have to be able to play out from the back these days, start moves, pick out passes under pressure and often play very high and act as a sweeper. You need a full skill set. But it wasn’t always quite the same. A video emerged last week of keepers from the 1970s and 80s hoofing it. You might have seen it. If not, here it is. …”
The Athletic


Zonal vs Man Marking

December 20, 2021


“How do you defend a corner? Traditionally there are two main ways, Zonal or Man Mark, or the more modern, Hybrid system. But what do all these terms mean? And which is the best for your team to use? Written by Eric Laurie, illustrated by Marco Bevilacqua.”
YouTube
W – Marking (association football)


Premier League Buckles In Amid Another Covid Surge

December 19, 2021


“That familiar feeling, the one we hoped we had left long behind, is swelling once again. There is a precariousness in the air, a sense that everything is hanging by a thread, that the next step might be the one over the edge. March 2020 seems a world away, a lifetime ago, but we are here again. In parts of Germany and in the Netherlands, the ghost games are back, those afternoons that offer an eerie simulacrum of sport’s emotion. When Feyenoord and Ajax meet for the most ferocious game of their seasons this weekend at De Kuip — one of Europe’s most intimidating, most evocative grounds — the stands will be empty, silent. The voices of the players will carry out of the stadium, into the still air. …”
NY Times
BBC: Premier League and government urge footballers to get Covid-19 vaccine (Video)


Swapsies and shinies: 60 years of Panini football stickers

December 18, 2021


“There are sticker collections gathering dust in lofts across the country, neglected for decades and destined for the charity shop or car boot sale. But it might be worth digging out those stickers as they could be worth a small fortune. British football fans have been collecting Panini stickers since the company launched its first album in the UK for the 1970 World Cup. …”
Guardian
SI: The Magic, Global Craze and Tradition of Panini’s World Cup Sticker Albums
Panini Premier League stickers: How much will it cost to fill 2021 album & how can you fill in missing players?
BBC: Haunted by recurrent football stickers
W – Panini Group


The Barcelona Inheritance – Jonathan Wilson

December 18, 2021


“… His new book is The Barcelona Inheritance: The Evolution of Winning Soccer Tactics from Cruyff to Guardiola. Wilson takes his tactical knowledge and applies it to a specific coaching tree, albeit one that is quite famous. Johan Cruyff has traditionally been attributed with creating the modern Barcelona style of play. Even today, with every new manager, the questions are asked whether the new man can keep Barcelona playing the same tika taka style while churning out the next great generation of soccer talent every year. Wilson explores Cruff’s legacy through the men who succeeded him at Barcelona and in the Netherlands. …”
Review of Jonathan Wilson’s new book, ‘The Barcelona Inheritance’
Jonathan Wilson and The Barcelona Inheritance
amazon


Who are the 10 best players in the Premier League?

December 17, 2021


“First things first. Let’s not even pretend this is a serious piece of journalism. It’s a game, a fun bit of distraction to force us all to argue with each other and berate everyone else’s bad opinions. So, please, enjoy it for what it is and join the debate — but be nice. It’s just football, right? Here’s the game: name the 10 best players in the Premier League. On general talent, not just the form they’ve been in for the past few weeks. And you have to put them in order, with No 1 the best. It’s actually really hard. Does Harry Kane deserve a place despite his nightmare of a season so far? Is Mohamed Salah plus nine Manchester City players a valid top 10? How do you compare apples and oranges? We asked our writers and editors to have a go, then averaged out the answers to come up with this. Outraged? Again, have a go yourself. We don’t mind being told we’re wrong. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic – Fantasy Premier League: The players on my watchlist for the festive fixtures (Dec. 3, 2021)


Counter Attack

December 17, 2021


“Counter Attack is a football (soccer) strategy game which lasts for 90 minutes. The two players (‘managers’) each control a team of 11 players. Every player has a unique set of skills that the managers try to best utilize during play. Managers control how the players move, pass, dribble, tackle and shoot. Duels between players on the pitch – whether tackles, shots or headers – are determined by a combination of the unique player skills plus a dice roll. During movement phases, a sand timer is used to keep the pace of the game up. Counter Attack features everything you’d expect in a game of football, from corners to free kicks, penalties to red cards and injuries. …”
Revolution Beats (Video)
amazon


Stoppage-time sensations set up Tunisia-Algeria final

December 16, 2021


Egyptian players reacting to the last-minute loss to Tunisia
“Tunisia will battle Algeria for gold at the FIFA Arab Cup™ after semi-final victories packed full of passion, tension and late, late drama. The Eagles of Carthage prevailed in the 95th minute, scoring with almost the last touch of a last-four duel with Egypt that had looked to be heading inexorably towards extra time. But if we thought that match-winning Amro Elsoulia own goal had been dramatic, we hadn’t seen anything yet. In the second of the day’s semis, Algeria looked to be heading for a deserved and fairly routine 1-0 win of their own until Mohammed Muntari popped up in the 97th minute to send home a thundering headed equaliser. But the delays and VAR check that followed extended stoppage time yet further and, fully 17 minutes after the clock hit 90, Mohammed Belaili notched the winner on the rebound after his initial penalty had been saved. It made for an incredible conclusion to a truly remarkable day of action and set a high bar for Saturday’s final act. …”
FIFA (Video)


What happened to Philippe Coutinho?

December 16, 2021


“In 2017 Philippe Coutinho became one of the world’s most expensive transfers as he completed a move to Barcelona from Liverpool, where he had been the club’s joint top-scorer in the Premier League, and top assist provider. However, ever since then his career has fallen. What happened? Why? And where is he now? Seb Stafford-Bloor explains. Henry Cooke illustrates.”
YouTube
W – Philippe Coutinho


Plagued by Fan Violence, French Soccer Asks: Why?

December 15, 2021


PSG fans welcome Manchester City to Paris.
“Only 3 minutes 54 seconds into the match, Dimitri Payet jogged gingerly toward the corner flag at Groupama Stadium. The game between his team, Marseille, and the host, Lyon, was young and still formless. There had been no goals. There had barely been time for a chance. Everybody, fans and players alike, was still settling in. In the stands above him, Wilfried Serriere, 32, a food delivery driver, looked down and saw a half-liter bottle of water at his feet. It was full. Payet was placing the ball for a corner. His back was turned. In images captured by the stadium’s security cameras and later played in a courtroom, Serriere can be seen picking up the bottle, lowering his hood, and throwing it. A beat later, Payet fell to the grass, clutching his face. The bottle had caught him flush on the cheek. …”
NY Times
Guardian: Lyon are paying for their lack of a long-term plan


Can Napoli, Italy’s Romantic Title Challengers, Keep Their Dreams Afloat?

December 15, 2021


“It seems to be a law of football that, in each league and each cup competition each season, there must be a romantic challenger: a team that may not necessarily have the best chance of success, but plays the game in such a way that they attract the affection of the average fan. In the past couple of years in Serie A, it has been Atalanta; this year, that mantle has passed to Napoli. Coached by Luciano Spalletti, whose trademark of thrilling football was first widely evident at Udinese in the mid-2000s, the Southern Italian side has much to love about it. …”
The Ringer


WTF is Group G?

December 14, 2021


“… Needless to say, there was plenty more where that came from. Rightly or wrongly, the prospect of Lille, Sevilla, Red Bull Salzburg and Wolfsburg going head to head over the next four months was not exactly setting pulses racing. For The Athletic, that was only ever going to mean one thing: watching every minute of every Group G match. If you thought that would be a slog, prepare to be disappointed. Two Champions League records were set inside the first 45 minutes of the opening game, a Bulgarian referee made the worst penalty decision in living memory, a manager was sacked, a 28-match unbeaten run came to an end and a teenage striker showed why he is on the radar of every top club in Europe. …”
The Athletic


Tedesco goes against the grain to get RB Leipzig up and running

December 14, 2021


“… It was a significant game not just for the tyro Tedesco but, it felt, for the Bundesliga as a whole. Leipzig had adapted so smoothly to the top flight for the first time. Against the backdrop of an administrative model that deeply offended swathes of the Bundesliga’s fan community – and they were made to know by just how much on a regular basis – they made clear that they weren’t going anywhere in a hurry. The sporting side of the model not only made light of the leap between divisions, but they offered the promise of sustainability. Ralph Hasenhüttl’s team had the Bundesliga worked out in an instant. …”
Guardian


The whip, the timing, the genius – Alan Shearer analyses Mohamed Salah’s Liverpool goals

December 13, 2021


Mohamed Salah is the best in the world right now. The best goalscorer and the best player, full stop. The little magician is doing his stuff in the best league in the world and he’s doing it against the best teams and in the biggest games, whether it’s Manchester City or Chelsea, Manchester United or Everton, Atletico Madrid or AC Milan. Week-in week-out, year-in year-out, Salah performs magic. How he came only seventh in the latest Ballon d’Or voting is anybody’s guess. There’s an obsession with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, which is understandable given how dominant they’ve been over the modern era, but if you gave me a choice of any player for my team today it would be Salah. …”
The Athletic (Video/Audio)


The World’s First Football Match

December 13, 2021


“The first ever football match did not take place between the Old Etonians and Darwen FC, it did not take place around the formation The FA (the oldest football association in the world), it did not even take place with a game of Cuju in ancient China. It dates back even further, and took place in Mesoamerica. As David Goldblatt explains. Marco Bevilacqua illustrates.”
YouTube (Video)


France: 2021-22 Ligue 1 – Location-map, with 2 charts…

December 13, 2021


The map shows the twenty clubs in the current season of the French Ligue 1 [2020-21]. The map features the locations and crests of the 20 current Ligue Un clubs, along with the 10 largest French cities, and the 13 Regions of Metropolitan France (aka European France). {Largest French cities’ metropolitan area populations from 2016 census, here}. The major French rivers are also shown {see further below, at the foot of this post, for more on that}. …”
billsportsmaps
W – 2021–22 Ligue 1
Get Football News France


Portland Timbers vs. NYCFC result: New York City FC wins first MLS Cup in penalty kick shootout

December 12, 2021


“New York City FC was seconds away from its first-ever MLS Cup, only to concede the latest goal in MLS Cup history deep in stoppage time. But it survived extra time and beat the Portland Timbers in a penalty-kick shootout to take the Major League Soccer title home to the Big Apple for the city’s first major sports championship since 2011 (New York Giants). NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson stopped the first two penalty kicks in the shootout to lead his team to a 4-2 triumph on PKs after the 1-1 draw persisted through extra time. …”
Sporting News (Video)/
New York City FC playoff dreams still alive after shootout win


Pharaohs fight back as Fennecs keep their cool

December 12, 2021


Morocco 2 (3) Algeria 2 (5)
“The last-four line-up at the FIFA Arab Cup is complete after Egypt and Algeria edged epic encounters to set up semi-finals against Tunisia and Qatar respectively. The North African duo emerged triumphant after two very different but equally thrilling matches, both of which ebbed and flowed before going into extra time and, in the later kick-off, beyond. Les Fennecs needed penalties to edge a titanic tussle with Morocco, while Egypt fell behind before battling back to dominate and, ultimately, overpower a valiant Jordan side. …”
FIFA (Video)
YouTube: Algeria vs Morocco 5-3 | Penalties Shootout – Arab Cup


What Do We Mean by Good Soccer?

December 11, 2021



“Jesse Lingard was streaking away, the ball at his feet, on the right wing. Their legs weary and their hopes dwindling, Arsenal’s defenders heaved and hauled to keep up with him, as if they were running into a stiff wind. And on the other side of the field, Cristiano Ronaldo started to sprint. It was a true sprint, too, a track sprint, a coached sprint: starting in a low crouch, his back straightening as he reached full tilt, head held high, arms pumping. The clock had just ticked past 90 minutes, but there seemed to be a magnet drawing Ronaldo to Arsenal’s penalty area, some elemental force. …”
NY Times


Will a biennial World Cup be good for Africa?

December 11, 2021


“If anything has defined the landscape of world football in 2021, it has been the desire to shift from the traditional to a new order of competition. In April, European football was hit with the unexpected, if not exactly unprecedented, news that a number of its most influential clubs had signed up for a splinter Super League. While fierce public backlash saw nine of the founding members back down from the idea, the stage was set for a year of upheaval. The second half of the year brought its own peculiar agenda, with world football governing body Fifa angling for a shift to a biennial World Cup tournament as part of a wider revamp of the football calendar. …”
New Frame


The Data Day No 15: Our Rolling Football Blog

December 10, 2021


December 9: Villarreal qualified for this season’s Champions League despite not finishing in the top six of La Liga, the cutoff for traditional Europa League qualification. They did so by beating Manchester United in the Europa League final. And although they couldn’t chase down United to win Group F on Thursday, they did more than they needed to in Bergamo to carry on to the Champions League last 16 despite sitting 13th in La Liga. …”
The Analyst
SI: Champions League Group Ouster Is Barcelona’s New Bottom – Jonathan Wilson


Christian Streich – SC Freiburg – Tactical Analysis (2021-22 Edition)

December 10, 2021


“After back to back top ten finishes, SC Freiburg are now flying high toward a Champions League position in the German Bundesliga. Christian Streich’s team have played some fantastic high pressing, high tempo football, beating some of the best teams in the league without any genuine stars in their side. So following up from our tactical analysis of the team last season, we take a look at how Christian Streich has revolutionized Freiburg in 2021-22. …”
The Mastermindsite


The rise of the underlap

December 9, 2021


“Imagine you’re Andrew Robertson in the Merseyside derby and you see Sadio Mane up ahead about to gather a loose ball at the corner of the box and dribble at the defence. You’ve got a quick decision to make. One thing you could do is hang back and let Mane try to beat his man one-on-one. After all, you’re nominally a defender, and if Liverpool lose the ball someone will have to stop Andros Townsend and Richarlison from counter-attacking up your flank. …”
The Athletic (Video)


Zenit St Petersburg’s Ozdoev strikes late to deprive Chelsea of top spot

December 9, 2021


“Once again Thomas Tuchel was left to reflect on Chelsea’s inability to take care of the small details. The European champions are not playing with the right attitude at the moment and although they almost got away with it this time it was not a surprise when they ended up relinquishing top spot in Group H to Juventus after this chaotic draw with Zenit St Petersburg. …”
Guardian
Guardian – Champions League roundup: Atalanta v Villarreal snowed off; Juve top Group H
YouTube: Zenit St Petersburg vs. Chelsea: Extended Highlights | Group Stage


Who owns Barcelona?

December 8, 2021


“Barcelona, unlike their Champions League rivals, are not privately owned and cannot attract private investment. They are owned by their fans – known as members or socios. What are socios? Who makes the decisions at Barcelona? Why has this type of ownership led to their current financial predicament? Written by Alex Stewart. Illustrated by Philippe Fenner.”
YouTube (Video)


The English FA and a very uncomfortable relationship with Qatar

December 8, 2021


“After wrapping up their place in next year’s World Cup finals, the Danish Football Association (DBU) made an emphatic move. ‘The DBU has long been strongly critical of the World Cup in Qatar,’ its chief executive officer, Jakob Jensen, said in a statement. ‘But now we are further intensifying our efforts and critical dialogue so that we take advantage of the fact that we have qualified to work for more change in the country.’ The Danes committed to action, not only words. They announced that their two training kit sponsors have given up logo space on those jerseys to create room for ‘critical messages’ about alleged Qatari human rights violations. Additionally, commercial partners will not travel to Qatar. The federation also pledged to limit the number of trips it makes there in the lead-up to the tournament to avoid promoting the ‘World Cup organiser’s events’. …”
The Athletic


History of Boca Juniors

December 8, 2021


Boca Juniors 1919
“Origins of Argentine sports club Boca Juniors can be traced to the early 1900s, when a group of Italian immigrants decided to establish a football club in Buenos Aires. They were descendants from the first Italian (most of them from the city of Genoa) that had set in La Boca during the late 19th century. Because of that, the nickname Xeneizes is a derivative form of ‘Genoveses’ (in Spanish, it refers to people from Genoa). During the first years of its existence, the club developed a strong rivalry with then neighbor team River Plate, that would continue through the years, despite River Plate soon left La Boca to establish itself in Belgrano. In the 20th century, Boca consolidated as one of the most popular and successful clubs in Argentina, giving its first step in 1913 when the team promoted to Primera División. …”
Wikipedia
amazon: Blue & Gold Passion: A History of Boca Juniors
YouTube: History of Boca Juniors – Club Atlético Boca Juniors.


Aston Villa: Why Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard is heading back to Anfield next weekend on a high

December 7, 2021


“For Liverpool and England, Steven Gerrard was always a player who could change games. Now he is doing the same as Aston Villa’s manager. Sunday’s win over Leicester was Gerrard’s third in his first four matches at Villa, following a narrow defeat by defending champions Manchester City on Wednesday. He’s made an amazing start to life as a Premier League boss, but I am not surprised at all. I said when he got the job that I thought he was ready and would be a success, because of the job he did at Rangers. He put his own stamp on the club when he was at Ibrox, and he is already doing the same at Villa. …”
BBC (Video)


Dortmund and Bellingham cry foul in Klassiker but old failings remain

December 7, 2021


Jude Bellingham (L) could face sanctions from the German FA after criticising the referee following Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Bayern Munich
“This time, at least, there were grounds for debate. Der Klassiker has become the showpiece that retains attention but equally fuels the barbs of the critics, a symptom of Bayern Munich’s indefatigable dominance to pessimists and Bundesliga detractors. This time, the fixture’s usual chaotic energy synced with genuine jeopardy. Even if the current run was extended to Borussia Dortmund beating Bayern just once in their last 10 Bundesliga meetings (with six straight wins for the champions), Saturday’s latest edition oscillated wildly. …”
Guardian


Xavi gets tough: Basic hotels, communal meals and early arrivals demanded by Barcelona’s new head coach

December 6, 2021


“Three weeks back at Barcelona, after six years away in Qatar, Xavi has already begun to set in place the deep structural changes he has long planned to make on and off the pitch at the Nou Camp. The most visible immediate changes have been with the team — in Xavi’s first three games in charge Barcelona have been playing with more confidence and intensity, pressing higher and harder, taking more risks, breaking forward with more players. The doom and gloom that surrounded the Catalan club through the final stages of Josep Maria Bartomeu’s disastrous presidency has also been replaced by a wave of positivity and optimism — a feeling that despite the club’s huge debts and unbalanced squad they have turned a corner. That feeling is also shared by Xavi. …”
The Athletic
Guardian: Xavi is the epitome of Barcelona brilliance but times have changed


Midfielder

December 6, 2021


Kevin De Bruyne
“A midfielder is an association football position. Midfielders are generally positioned on the field between their team’s defenders and forwards. Some midfielders play a strictly-defined defensive role, breaking up attacks, and are otherwise known as defensive midfielders. Others blur the boundaries, being more mobile and efficient in passing: they are commonly referred to as deep-lying midfielders, play-makers, box-to-box, or holding midfielders. The number of midfielders on a team and their assigned roles depends on the team’s formation; the collective group of these players on the field is sometimes referred to as the midfield. Most managers assign at least one midfielder to disrupt the opposing team’s attacks, while others may be tasked with creating goals, or have equal responsibilities between attack and defence. Midfielders are the players who typically travel the greatest distance during a match. Midfielders arguably have the most possession during a game, and thus they are among the fittest players on the pitch. …”
Wikipedia
TOP 10 CENTRAL ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS IN FOOTBALL RIGHT NOW
The 10 best midfielders in world soccer right now


Three forgotten men and the birth of Iraq’s national football team

December 6, 2021


“In 2001, exactly 50 years after the Iraqi national team was formed, I made a discovery. I was reading a comment on the old sports forum about a player named Saeed Easho. It was the start to unearthing the story of Iraq’s first national team. Many years later I contacted the ex-footballer, and through him it seemed as if everything fell into place. He had spent the best part of 60 years living outside Iraq so no one knew what had happened to the centre-half of Iraq’s first national side. …”
Guardian
amazon: Birth of the Lions of Mesopotamia: The early years of football in Iraq


French football in crisis: Missiles thrown, fans invading the pitch and matches abandoned

December 5, 2021


“It is a cold, dark December evening in south-west Paris and kick-off in Paris Saint-Germain’s home game with Nice is less than two hours away. Beneath the white awning that overhangs the heated outdoor terrace at the Aux Trois Obus brasserie, just around the corner from the Parc des Princes, PSG supporters in parkas and puffer jackets while away the time before the match, their face masks pulled down below their chins as they sip from their glasses of beer and take drags on their cigarettes. At the entrance to the Porte de Saint-Cloud metro station, a ticket tout weaves his way through the crowd. …”
The Athletic


How Soccer Lost America (Then Got It Back) – Brian Phillips

December 4, 2021


“A strange feature of American exceptionalism during the 1980s and ’90s was that we wanted to import everything but culture. This is one way to understand the bizarre anxiety and contempt with which much of the American sports media regarded soccer in the late 20th century: It was the wrong kind of product. … American men in Bangladesh-made khakis could, without a whisper of cognitive dissonance, drive their German cars while listening to their Chinese-engineered radio consoles, where they’d spend drivetime deriding soccer as a foreign menace, a cosmopolitan threat to American strength—a ‘game for beret-wearers,’ as Ann Coulter once put it. …”
The Ringer
The Ringer: The Death of the American Soccer Troll – Bryan Curtis (July 2018)


Aberdeen 4 – 1 St Mirren

December 4, 2021


Christian Ramirez scored Aberdeen’s second within the opening ten minutes
“Aberdeen recorded back-to-back wins for only the second time this term and edged into the Scottish Premiership’s top six after ‘doing the simple things better’ in overwhelming St Mirren. Marley Watkins and Christian Ramirez both scored twice – once each in the opening nine minutes, before Watkins completed a first-half brace and Ramirez rounded off the thumping win. Scott Tanser did reply for St Mirren to make it 2-1, only for Watkins’ second to immediately snuff out the Paisley’s side’s hopes. And, when asked if momentum is building around his side, Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass said that ‘it feels like it’….”
BBC


ESPN FC 100: Messi, Lewandowski, Oblak among No. 1s; Premier League has most representatives

December 4, 2021


“For the sixth consecutive year, ESPN presents its annual ranking of the best men’s players and coaches in world soccer! Welcome to FC 100. As always, rankings are broken down into Top 10 lists for positions, plus a countdown of managers, in order to present the most meaningful look at talent on the pitch and the sideline. Whereas last year was dominated by Liverpool and Bayern Munich — the clubs combined for eight of the 10 No. 1 spots — the leaders in this year’s edition are spread across six teams, with none having more than two men on top of their respective category. …”
ESPN (Video)
Go to: Goalkeeper | Right-back | Centre-back | Left-back | Central midfield | Attacking midfield | Winger | Forward | Striker | Manager


The rise of Ralf Rangnick, godfather of German coaching, manager of Manchester United

December 4, 2021


“This week wasn’t the first time Ralf Rangnick had been interviewed for a job at Manchester United. Or that’s how it felt to him, at least. In the autumn of 2019, United’s football director John Murtough travelled to Leipzig to study the Red Bull football group’s facilities and corporate strategy. A proud Rangnick, eager to show off a Champions League club he had essentially built himself, hosted Murtough for eight hours, at the end of which the German sensed that the real reason for the visit might have been him. His suspicion that he had been sounded out was strengthened when he got word that an unnamed club was conducting background research into his working methods, tapping into his mentor Helmut Gross, a trained structural engineer turned tactical maverick, and Lars Kornetka, a long-time Rangnick collaborator, for insight into his footballing beliefs and his character. …”
The Athletic
W – Ralf Rangnick
YouTube: Brief History Of: Ralf Rangnick


Marseille turn

December 3, 2021


“The Marseille turn, also known as the 360, the Spin, the Mooresy Roulette, the Roulette, the Girosflin, and the double drag-back, is a specialised dribbling skill unique to the game of football. With so many different names, still the exact origin of this trick is unknown. The Marseille turn was first popularized in Europe by French striker Yves Mariot in the 1970s. Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane are arguably the most notable exponents of the move, thus it has also been known as the Maradona turn and Zidane turn. Zinedine Zidane has been known to use different variations of the Marseille turn. Instead of using his sole to drag the ball back in the move’s first phase, he sometimes uses the inside of the foot, especially if he is performing the move while running at high speed. …”
Wikipedia
YouTube: HOW TO LEARN THE MARSEILLE TURN | The Zidane Roulette football skill


Semi-automated offsides: FIFA’s new baby and a bold step in the development of VAR

December 3, 2021


“A show of hands please from those who watched Tunisia hammer Mauritania 5-1 on Tuesday. Really? The opening game of the FIFA Arab Cup passed you by? More fool you. It had plenty going for it, honestly. Some classy finishes from Tunisia, particularly the cheeky backheel from Seifeddine Jaziri to break Mauritania’s resolve for 3-0. No way back from there when you are ranked 103rd in the world, that’s for sure. Arguably the most remarkable aspect of the match, though, was the 17 (seventeen) minutes of stoppage time played at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Qatar. Even more remarkable was that none of it was down to offside VAR checks. …”
The Athletic
FIFA: Semi-automated offside technology explained ahead of FIFA Arab Cup (Video) 24:21
W – Video assistant referee
The Athletic: Thicker VAR offside lines, new referees and away fans – what’s different for the 2021-22 Premier League season


Benítez and Rondón are symptoms, not cause, of Everton’s deep malaise

December 2, 2021


“Derbies, if received wisdom is to be believed, can be very handy for arresting a slump. They can jolt players out of a rut, or the heightened passions can occlude differences in class. Not at Goodison on Wednesday night, though: not only did the form book not go out of the window, not only did it stay resolutely in the room, but it made itself a feature and across its pages in enormous letters was written the simple message: Everton are in trouble. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


16 football clubs sitting outside the elite

December 2, 2021


“Should European football ever morph into a super league structure, the landscape will be substantially changed, no matter how any new league might manifest itself. For the past decade, a set of global, elite players have evolved, but beneath the top layer, there are a number of clubs who have scale and presence, some with back stories that belong to a more democratic age. Some of these glorious names may be dominant forces in their own backyard but do not have the financial clout to compete with Europe’s gargantuan institutions. Others were once feared names across the continent, metropolitan clubs from major cities such as Lisbon, Amsterdam, Rome, Rotterdam and Glasgow. …”
Game of the People


Scipio Africanus and the Carthaginians: The Flank Dilemma in the Premier League

December 2, 2021


“… As funny as this may sound, the famous general was actually right. But the question is, how do you make the other bastard look dumb? Well… you deploy the best tricks up your sleeve to fool them. Let’s rewind back to the Third Punic War when Scipio Africanus ran a ‘clever trick’ on the Carthaginians at the Battle of Ilipa. Both the Romans and the Carthaginians had armies composed of their well-trained, homegrown soldiers and not-so reliable Iberian allies, almost half/half for each. For a few days, the two armies were camped close to each other and would come out during the day and form up. Scipio always put his legionnaires in the center and positioned his Iberians on the wings, whilst the Carthaginians followed their lead and did the same with their army and engaged in a staring contest. …”
Breaking The Lines


Juventus’s season is going from bad to worse … on and off the pitch

December 1, 2021


“After losing 4-0 to Chelsea, Juventus’s week only went downhill. Tuesday’s Champions League drubbing was followed up by another loss at home to Atalanta on Saturday. In-between, the club’s offices were raided by police, who seized documents relating to player transfers and financial accounts. A statement from the Turin prosecutor Anna Maria Loreto explained on Friday that these searches were part of a wide-reaching investigation. The present focus, she explained, was to assess whether Juventus, a publicly listed company, had issued false communications to investors and invoices for non-existent transactions. But Loreto noted that further matters were also under scrutiny, including services offered by agents and intermediaries. …”
Guardian