Caoimhin Kelleher: the new prince of Cork


“… It would be inaccurate to suggest Cork has been waiting for another footballer to come along and take the game by the throat, as [Roy] Keane did. There have been good, solid careers but nothing like Keane’s – or even Irwin’s. The feeling, however, is a bit different when Caoimhin Kelleher is mentioned. That Jurgen Klopp has the confidence in the 23-year-old to start him in the Carabao Cup final this weekend, even though Alisson is available, reflects his potential. Klopp is not doing him a favour. In 2018, Alisson briefly became the most expensive goalkeeper in the world. Liverpool have since won the Champions League and, for the first time in 30 years, the Premier League. …”
The Athletic
W – Caoimhín Kelleher

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Bruno Lage finds right connections at Wolves to shrug off Portuguese struggles


“The temptation when Bruno Lage was appointed by Wolves was to assume it would just be more of the same: another Portuguese manager, another Jorge Mendes client, at a club with a strong Portuguese core. If managers from the German school of hard-pressing are the most modish appointment for an aspirational modern club, Portugal’s disciples of Vítor Frade and periodisation are not far behind. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson
W – Bruno Lage

Scotland: 2021-22 Premiership Scotland


“2021-22 Premiership – Location-map, with: Seasons-in-1st-Division for the current 12 clubs, Scottish titles list, and 25 largest Metro-areas and Localities in Scotland listed. The map shows the locations of the 12 Scottish football clubs which are currently in the Premiership [2021-22]. The map itself is a topographical map with built-up areas shown (shown in a pale-pink colour). Included on the map are the locations of the two recently-relegated sides (Hamilton Academical & Kilmarnock), and the two recently-promoted sides (Dundee FC & Heart of Midlothian). The 25 largest metro-areas and localities in Scotland are shown on the map, and populations are listed (see Part C, below). …”
billsportsmaps
W – 2021–22 Scottish Premiership
BBC: Scottish Football

Champions League Final Will Be Played in Paris, Not Russia


“European soccer’s governing body on Friday voted to move this season’s Champions League final, the showcase game on the continent’s sporting calendar, to Paris as punishment for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The game, on May 28, had been scheduled to be played in St. Petersburg, in a stadium built for 2018 World Cup and financed by the Russian energy giant Gazprom, a major sponsor of the governing body, UEFA. It will take place instead at the Stade de France, in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. It will be the first time France has hosted the final since 2006. UEFA said it had made the decision as a result of ‘the grave escalation of the security situation in Europe.’ …”
NY Times
****New Republic: European Soccer Only Has Itself to Blame for Its Russia Problem
***NY Times: Stranded Soccer Stars, Frantic Phone Calls and a Race to Flee Kyiv (Video)
NY Times: The Roots of Ukraine’s War: How the Crisis Developed
NY Times – Maps: Tracking the Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The Athletic: Footballers should not be asked to do a politician’s job
NY Times – Soccer, Russia and a Line Drawn Too Late

St. Pauli: Another Football Is Possible – Carles Viñas and Natxo Parra (2020)

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“… St. Pauli: Another Football Is Possible chronicles the journey of one of world football’s most captivating mavericks in stunning, historic detail. While the publication is marketed as a sports book, it serves as an excellent contribution to the historiography of German social history. The reader is taken on a socio-economic odyssey through the history of Hamburg, which is a fascinating topic in itself. In a city renowned for its liberal decadence, political engagement and eclectic mix of subcultures, there is plenty to unpick. Of course, there’s also the small matter of St. Pauli and its rivalry with HSV Hamburg, a fallen giant of European football. …”
St. Pauli: Another Football Is Possible – Chronicling the history of Hamburg’s one of a kind institution
Football Pink
amazon

New Year, New Me: The Biggest Changes in Stats Perform’s Power Rankings


“The return of European knockout football has us once again watching teams from across the continent go up against one another. But tournament football, clearly, doesn’t see every team play each other, and the beauty of it is that the best team doesn’t always win. And that’s absolutely fine. But what if there was a global league system, rather than one-off knockout ties, that could help us gauge the comparative strength of teams across the world? Well, that’s exactly what Stats Perform’s Power Rankings seek to do. …”
The Analyst

How to Strengthen Cross-Border Ties Between U.S. and Mexican Pro Soccer


“You’d be forgiven for not knowing what the Leagues Cup is. The annual series featuring eight teams—four from Liga MX and four from Major League Soccer—hasn’t garnered much enthusiasm since it began in 2019. It has the feel of an exhibition tournament awkwardly placed on the calendar, lacking the history and high stakes necessary to make it a credible competition. The Leagues Cup was in many ways more significant for what it represented: the possibility of a union between the two largest professional leagues in North America. Consolidating Liga MX and MLS makes a world of sense. It would bundle the popularity and prestige of the Mexican league with the commercial power of the American and Canadian markets. …”
The Ringer (Audio)

Premier League title race has finally regained its intrigue as Man City falter


“As if from nowhere a title race has appeared. Manchester City’s 12-point lead is down to six which means that if Liverpool win their game in hand and if Liverpool win at the Etihad Stadium in April, the two clubs could be level on points. City are still in the better position, particularly given they have not lost a league game at home against Liverpool under Pep Guardiola. But what had started to look like a procession has, quite unexpectedly, regained a sense of intrigue. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Football Manager: Answering the questions you’ve always wondered


“When you’re deep into a game save in Football Manager, sometimes you often wonder how many other people are carrying out the same actions as you. You’ve just signed a new player, but how many other people are backing that wonderkid your coaching team says has five-star potential? It’s 3pm on Monday but you’ve already spent 15 hours of that day playing FM. How many others are in that boat? We spoke to the team at Football Manager to answer the questions you’ve always wanted to ask. All data below relates to information derived from Football Manager 2021. Football Manager 2022 is still a “live title”, so concrete data is not yet available yet. …”
The Athletic

Old Firm


“The Old Firm is the collective name for the Scottish football clubs Celtic and Rangers, which are both based in Glasgow. The two clubs are by far the most successful and popular in Scotland, and the rivalry between them has become deeply embedded in Scottish culture. It has reflected, and contributed to, political, social, and religious division and sectarianism in Scotland. As a result, the fixture has had an enduring appeal around the world. Between them the two clubs have won 106 Scottish League championships (Rangers with 55 and Celtic with 51), 73 Scottish Cups (Celtic with 40 and Rangers with 33), and 47 Scottish League Cups (Rangers with 27 and Celtic with 20). Interruptions to their ascendancy have occurred rarely, most recently with the challenge of the New Firm of Aberdeen and Dundee United in the first half of the 1980s. …”
Wikipedia
NY Times: Old Rivals, New Ideas and Why Some Clubs Are Reluctant to Try (Jan. 2021)
Soccer Politics – The Old Firm: Scotland’s Claim to Football Fame (Dec. 2011)
The Old Firm – April 2019) (Video)
The Old Firm Derby: A Tale of Politics, Religion and Scottish Sectarianism (Oct. 2019

Celtic and Rangers players observe a moment of silence before their match on December 29, 2018

Van Dijk’s dominance and Konate’s best performance make Liverpool good bets to reach the Champions League final


“In a tactical sense, Liverpool’s 2-0 victory away to Inter Milan felt like a very modern contest. The game was played at a frenetic tempo, both sides looked to push up and press the opposition whenever possible, and there were various moments when the defences seemed set to play themselves into trouble on the edge of their own penalty areas, such was the defensive effort of the attacking players. In situations like that, sometimes the defenders themselves are slightly anonymous — they hold a high line, position themselves to sweep up if the press is beaten, but find that their job title is slightly misleading and they don’t have to do much actual defending. …”
The Athletic (Audio)

Reading boost survival hopes with win as Paul Ince takes interim charge


“Paul Ince has made a shock return to the dugout after agreeing to take interim charge of Reading, the troubled Championship club his son, Tom, joined on loan last month. Ince has not managed since being sacked by Blackpool in January 2014 but will take over from Veljko Paunovic, who took charge of Saturday’s 3-2 win at Preston – their first in 14 matches – while the club search for a new permanent manager. Reading are at risk of relegation to League One, five points and one place above Derby County, who have been administration since September. …”
Guardian

Forge FC 0-1 Cruz Azul – Match Analysis


“While they won’t be overly pleased with the result, Forge FC continue to showcase just how far soccer has come in Canada, going toe to toe with Cruz Azul in their first appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League this season. Cruz may have dominated the match, but Forge put up a valiant fight to the end, and could have easily secured an important result on a different day. Here is our tactical analysis of Forge’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Mexican giants Cruz Azul, and how the Hammers should progress into the second-leg. …”
Mastermindsite

The Reason for the 3pm Saturday Blackout


“The Premier League is the most-watched football league in the world. Mega TV rights deals have meant that fans across the planet can sit down at 3pm GMT on a Saturday and watch the games unfold. Except in the UK… But why? As Seb Stafford-Bloor explains, a little-known legislation is preventing fans in their own country watch Premier League games live. Illustrated by Henry Cooke.”
YouTube

The rise of the decoy penalty taker


“You may have noticed a slightly unusual event during the final of the Club World Cup between Chelsea and Palmeiras. After Chelsea were awarded the extra-time penalty that would eventually seal the trophy, Cesar Azpilicueta grabbed that ball and stood by the spot, for all the world looking like a man who was about to take the kick. Around him swarmed mild chaos, with the Palmeiras players vehemently protesting against the VAR-awarded penalty while also doing their best to put off the man with the ball in his hands. …”
The Athletic

Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend


Douglas Luiz midfielder Aston Villa
“… 4) Gerrard seeks Villa midfield spark. Steven Gerrard has lost more matches than he has won as Aston Villa manager. There were redeeming qualities in the defeats to Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, but nothing to admire in last week’s awful performance at Newcastle. The centre-backs performed competently but their attackers were hardly involved, principally because Villa’s midfield allowed Jonjo Shelvey and Joelinton to run the show. That is damning of John McGinn and Douglas Luiz and helps explain why Gerrard was so keen to sign Brighton’s Yves Bissouma in January. …”
Guardian

The road to Arsenal runs through the community


“Even in his wildest dreams Nico Manduzio couldn’t have imagined how great things would pan out for him when, ambitiously, he began sending his CV around the world in 2020. The then fitness coach of Hout Bay United in South Africa was on the hunt for a new job during tough economic times. He endured several rejections before English giants Arsenal came with the offer of a role as one of their community coaches. …”
New Frame

Is Your Striker’s Scoring Streak Legit?


“Diogo Jota controls an inch-perfect clipped through ball from Trent Alexander-Arnold expertly on his chest, his first touch taking the ball across Ben White who now knows he cannot possibly touch the Liverpool man. Aaron Ramsdale rushes out and flings himself at Jota’s feet, but not before the Portuguese striker deftly dinks the ball over him into an empty net. It’s Jota’s second of the game, and Liverpool now have a commanding 2-0 lead over Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-final. No Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane – they’re both at the African Cup of Nations. No problem. Jota has picked up the slack brilliantly. …”
The Analyst

Lyon beat Nice and set sights on returning to the Champions League


Lucas Paquetá enjoys the moment as Lyon beat Nice.
“Lyon looked vulnerable before their massive game against in-form Nice this weekend. A renewed focus on defence in 2022 had helped them creep up the table, picking up a draw against PSG and wins over Troyes, St Étienne and (most crucially) Marseille, but that unbeaten run came to a grinding, creaking halt in Monaco last weekend. Injuries played their part in their 2-0 defeat to Monaco. Karl Toko Ekambi, Houssem Aouar, Jason Denayer and Damien Da Silva were among the absentees, with new arrivals Romain Faivre and Tanguy Ndombele only on the bench. …”
Guardian

Cox: Rangnick and Hasenhuttl’s shared philosophy has a shared weakness


“Unsurprisingly, the first meeting between Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick and Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl, formerly colleagues at RB Leipzig, felt a lot like a Bundesliga contest. There were lots of turnovers, quick transitions and end-to-end moves. Southampton’s bravery in possession was responsible for most of the chances — at both ends. Hasenhuttl started with the 4-2-2-2 formation he’s generally persisted with throughout his time in the Premier League — and the formation Rangnick failed to successfully install at Manchester United. The away side’s ‘box’ midfield caused Manchester United problems, because it left them outnumbered in central areas. …”
The Athletic: Michael Cox

The rise of Mohamed Salah


Mohamed Salah has a claim to be one the best players in the world on current form. He is one of the most recognisable players on the planet. But how did he get to this point? Alex Stewart charts Salah’s rise from a small village in northern Egypt, avoiding military service, and being rejected by Chelsea, to becoming Premier League and Champions League winner, and captaining his country. Illustrated by Philippe Fenner.
YouTube

The Rebuild: Celtic’s Class of 2021-22 Could Achieve Greatness


“2020-21 was miserable for Celtic. Rangers won the Scottish Premiership title at a canter, with their tally of 102 points 25 more than their city rivals – a record gap by the Gers over Celtic in a league season. It ended nine years of Celtic dominance in the league, while they failed to win a trophy for the first time since 2009-10. Celtic’s season was such a disaster, that next week marks a year since that Neil Lennon resigned as manager after leading them to back-to-back Premiership titles in 2018-19 and 2019-20. …”
The Analyst (Video)

‘What they think is what we think, to go through’ – Ancelotti ready for PSG test


Kylian Mbappe – Paris Saint Germain
“‘What Mbappé thinks is what Benzema thinks, which is what Vinícius thinks, which is what Messi thinks,’ Carlo Ancelotti said, pretty much saying it all, or at least trying to. And he hadn’t named half of them yet, the list lengthening a few minutes later even without citing Neymar when he added Marco Verratti, Ángel Di María and Mauro Icardi. … ”
Guardian

£3 tickets, no Man City fans and VAR controversy – what Abu Dhabi football is like away from the glamour


“One man is bashing a drum at an incessant rhythm, another is singing through a megaphone and two more have taken it upon themselves to get the rest of the crowd around them to clap to the beat. Anyone who ignores them is getting a steely glare. ‘You must join in!’ a young man named Abdul Kadir shouts excitedly to me before turning back to his friends sitting next to him. There are only about 300 people in this section of the stadium, so how could The Athletic refuse? This is where the most fanatical fans have come to watch their beloved Baniyas play Al Wahda. …”
The Athletic

Bundesliga 2021/22: An early look at Domenico Tedesco’s RB Leipzig – tactical analysis


“This is a difficult season for RB Leipzig, who lost the head coach Julian Nagelsmann with key players leaving during the summer. Fresh faces such as Jesse Marsch from RB Salzburg, Achim Beierlorzer returning from Mainz 05, with new players including André Silva, Joško Gvardiol, Mohamed Simakan, and Benjamin Henrichs joined the team. However, things did not go according to plan as they never looked like a side that could challenge the second place in the Bundesliga, while they were knocked out very early in the UEFA Champions League group, after losing to Manchester City and PSG. Therefore, the higher-level authority of Leipzig decided to react by parting ways with Marsch. Soon, they appointed Domenico Tedesco as the new head coach and handed him a contract until June 2023. In Tedesco’s first three games, he obtained 1W1D1L, which was not particularly impressive, but there were interesting tactics behind it. …”
Total Football Analysis (Dec. 2021)
Domenico Tedesco – RB Leipzig – Tactical Analysis
W – Domenico Tedesco

Investigating the rise in football fan violence: missiles, cocaine and political agendas


“Kick-off is still 90 minutes away but Stoke City are ready. The car parks are open, the sniffer dogs have done their rounds and safety supervisor Craig Burton has just briefed the 100 or so stewards who will be working in the Bet365 Stadium’s South Stand. … Burton has been doing this for more than five years and before that, he spent 30 years as a copper on this patch. He is a Stoke City fan and loves his job. Even this season, despite it being… well, harder than most. Not as bad as at the start of his career, when he had to break up fights between 200 or more fully grown hooligans, but worse than the seasons immediately before COVID-19 arrived and clubs had to shut their doors for 18 months. …”
The Athletic

Sensational Bochum sink Bayern Munich’s battleship


“Bochum came from a Robert Lewandowski goal down to stun leaders Bayern Munich 4-2 in one of the biggest Bundesliga shocks in living memory. The writing appeared to be on the wall when Lewandowski controlled Kingsley Coman’s knockdown and fired in on the turn after nine minutes, but Bochum hadn’t read the script. Christopher Antwi-Adjei converted Gerrit Holtmann’s inch-perfect cross to level, though the hosts did need a goal-line clearance from Cristian Gamboa to prevent Lewandowski restoring Bayern’s advantage soon after. …”
Bundesliga (Video)

Notorious match-fixer Solti’s game of fine margins echoes down the years


Liverpool – Ron Yeats
“For Liverpool, Wednesday’s Champions League tie against Internazionale will inevitably conjure memories of 1965. Leading 3-1 from the first leg of their first European Cup semi-final, Liverpool went to San Siro and lost 3-0 in a game that players insist was fixed. The first Inter goal was scored direct from a free-kick they believed to be indirect, the second after the ball was nicked from the goalkeeper Tommy Lawrence as he bounced it before clearing. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Brighton’s Brussels Blueprint: Union Saint-Gilloise


“In the outskirts of the south of Brussels, an underdog story like no other is taking place. After an almost half-century exile from the Belgian First Division A, Royale Union Saint-Gilloise sit top of the table in their very first season back in the top-flight for 48 years. However, this is not a typical tale of the rise of a minnow, this is the renaissance of a fallen giant. With 11 league titles to their name, Union Saint-Gilloise are the third most successful club in Belgium. …”
The Analyst

What Kind of Club Would Everton Like to Be?


“Here’s a list of Everton’s managers since Farhad Moshiri became the club’s biggest stakeholder in 2016: Ronald Koeman, David Unsworth, Sam Allardyce, Marco Silva, Duncan Ferguson, Carlo Ancelotti, Rafael Benítez, and, as of the end of January, Frank Lampard. Setting aside the turnover, there’s a breadth of philosophy here that any big club with aspirations to be bigger would find ungainly: Each of these managers employ a vastly different approach to soccer, and taken together, their appointments tell us that Everton has no clue what kind of club Everton would like to be. Maybe that’s the problem? …”
The Ringer (Video)

Remembering What Draws You In


“Let’s start with the bad: Tottenham Hotspur has not won a trophy in the 13 years I have watched nearly every one of its matches. It did not win one while I was in high school in Illinois, where I settled on my Tottenham fandom after selecting the club at random in the FIFA video game. It did not win one while I was in college, when I was a regular at early-morning gatherings of the first Tottenham Hotspur Supporter’s Club in Wisconsin. The early years of Mauricio Pochettino happened when I lived in Boston. Back then, I would sneak away from my desk at city hall to watch matches at a downtown pub. No trophy. …”
NY Times

Don’t look down: the battle to avoid the drop


“Will Sean Dyche steer Burnley to safety again? How much of an impact will Newcastle’s January signings have in their bid for survival? Can Bruno Guimaraes be their saviour? And what about Frank Lampard and Everton — are they too good to go down? With at least 15 games to play for the teams in the Premier League’s bottom seven there is still so much to play for. Burnley are bottom but are only three points off safety, and they have plenty of games in hand over some of their rivals. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Cold-blooded Barcelona subdues Atletico with Tiki-Taka brilliance: Data and Tactical Analysis


“Barcelona dismantled Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou by becoming the first team to score four goals past them, since December 2012. This was Atletico’s one of the worst defensive performances in the Diego Simeone era. Colchoneros took an early lead in the 8th minute through Yannick Carrasco but it lasted just three minutes. The breath-taking equalizer by Jordi Alba assisted the Catalans to maintain the impetus in the first half and score another two goals, in the remaining half. …”
News 9 Live
YouTube:Tactical Analysis : Barcelona 4-2 Atletico Madrid | Xavi And Simeone’s Tactical Battle

2022 Copa Libertadores: location-map for the 47-team tournament, with Club Histories


“This map includes the Preliminary-Stage teams: there are 19 preliminary-stage teams…and only four of those 19 teams will advance to the Group Stage. … The first of 3 Preliminary stages start on 8th & 9th February, 2022 Copa Libertadores, Qualifying stages. The Group Stage starts on 5th-through-7th April. The draw for the Group Stage is on the 23rd of March. 2022 Copa Libertadores, Group Stage. Qualified teams by country: •Brazil has 9 teams (7 + Copa Libertadores holder + Copa Sudamericana holder). •Argentina has 6 teams. •The eight other countries all have 4 teams each, in the tournament (Uruguay, Colombia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela). …”
billsportsmaps

Premier League without VAR: Arsenal in Champions League places; Everton soar to safety


“It’s now five long years since Arsenal last played in the Champions League, and in fact this season is their first without any kind of European football since 1995-96. Mikel Arteta is trying to put that right, but finds his team in sixth place which, at best, is only going to be good enough for a place in the Europa League — where the Gunners were marooned for the past four seasons. But ESPN can reveal that without the decisions of the VAR, Arsenal would already be sitting pretty in fourth spot and dreaming of that place back among Europe’s elite. This season we’re looking at all VAR (video assistant referee) decisions across the Premier League, and seeing how they might have affected the outcome of games. …”
ESPN (Video)

Football Positions Are Evolving


Are positions relevant in the modern game of football? How can Alexander-Arnold, Matty Cash and Tomiyasu all be listed by the same position? Do we need more terms to describe players? Or do we need to look at the game in a different way? Alex Stewart explains that to better understand the game, we need to think about roles rather than positions. Illustrated by Henry Cooke.
YouTube

Birmingham City: A club at breaking point


“Perhaps Birmingham City’s most recent results can explain why supporting such a chaotic club is draining for even their most ardent followers. After 85 minutes of laborious, turgid, football against relegation candidates Peterborough United last Tuesday night, Lee Bowyer’s team somehow clawed back a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 at home. Although half of the ground was unoccupied, the noise that followed their 88th-minute equaliser felt like a blast from the good old past. The stadium, on the outskirts of the city centre, has seen some wonderful days and there are not many venues in the country that can whip up an atmosphere like a packed-out St Andrew’s. …”
The Athletic
W – Birmingham City F.C.

The extent of the damage and work being carried out at St Andrew’s

Inter vs. Roma: five things spotted in Mourinho’s Meazza return


“It wasn’t Mourinho’s first match at San Siro since his return to Serie A. It wasn’t even his first game against the Nerazzurri this season. However, he had never returned to Milan to play against his ex club since he left in 2010 to join Real Madrid. It was meant to be a special night for José Mourinho and, to some extent, it was a night he would never forget. However, his first game as an Inter opponent in Milan did not end as he wanted as his Roma side were eliminated from the competition. The disappointment was visible in his eyes while he walked inside the tunnel after the final whistle. …”
Football Italia

Tactical Analysis: Jürgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund


“After spending the start of the decade in the shadow of the Premier League and La Liga, German football enjoyed a resurgence in the mid-2010s. 2013 saw an all-German Champions League Final between Jürgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund and Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern Munich, whilst the following year saw Joachim Löw’s Die Mannschaft write their names into the history books with the World Cup trophy in Brazil. When Klopp took charge of Dortmund in 2008, the club was in a financial hole and had been nothing more than a modest, lower-half side, finishing 13th in the previous season under manager Thomas Doll. Klopp, then 41, rejected interest from Bayern Munich to captain the ship at the Signal Iduna Park. …”
Breaking the Lines (Video)

Africa Cup of Nations review: sorrow, anger and Mané’s redemption


“Our writers relive their highs and lows of a tournament completely overshadowed by the Olembe Stadium tragedy. … This Cup of Nations was played under a shadow from the moment eight supporters died outside Olembe Stadium a fortnight ago. There is no excusing what happened at a venue surrounded by vast spaces and the depressing sense remains that its causes will be swept under the carpet. After driving back to Yaoundé the following day and speaking with Romaric, who had been in the ground and encountered people who had been caught up in the crush as he left, the horror of what had occurred started to become clear. A subsequent visit to the emergency hospital brought some harrowing testimonies; these are, sadly, the words and images that linger. …”
Guardian
The Athletic – Cox: Italy-esque Senegal shackled Egypt with five men – they were deserved winners (Audio)
****An African Cup of Nations Primer
NY Times – Africa Cup of Nations: Soccer Tournament Offers Joy Amid Coups and Covid
AFCON 2021: The Review
W – 2021 Africa Cup of Nations
YouTube: Senegal vs Egypt | AFCON 2021 FINAL HIGHLIGHTS | 02/06/2022, Cameroon vs Egypt – CAF African Cup of Nations 2022 2:10:39

Fans from Burkina Faso, which recently underwent a coup, rehearsed their dances and drumming before Wednesday’s semifinal.

Querulous Queiroz and his histrionic Egypt have the smarts to outwit Senegal


“Mohamed Salah against Sadio Mané, two great Liverpool forwards going head-to-head in Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nationsfinal. It’s the headline clash of Egypt against Senegal, the meeting of the most successful side in African history and a team that has never lifted the trophy. But to focus on them would be misleading: although both have had an influence late in games, neither Senegal nor Egypt could be said to be teams based around their attacking talent. There is an unavoidable sense that even to focus on the football is itself uncomfortable, given the tragic events of a fortnight ago when eight fans were trampled to death outside Stade Olembé, where the final will be staged. The quarter-final at the venue was moved, but after a review it was decided Thursday’s semi-final should be played there. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson
Guardian – Lions, Panthers and Pharaohs: the best photos from the Africa Cup of Nations
BBC – Senegal 0 Egypt 0, Senegal win 4-2 on penalties
The Athletic – Vote Salah: Why does Liverpool’s superstar struggle for global acclaim?

Ajax, Barca, Bayern among Europe’s great treble winners


“The Bavarians’ success was remarkable given they changed their coach earlier in the campaign, appointing Hans-Dieter Flick as head coach. Flick had been the number two at Bayern and had filled similar roles with RB Salzburg and the German national team. Prior to that, he was coach of Hoffenheim in the regional league. While Flick inherited a team, he rekindled the fire at Bayern and won three major prizes. Bayern Munich joined eight previous winners of the ‘treble’. …”
Game of the People

What it’s like to be a USMNT lightning rod for criticism: ‘It was overwhelming’


“It was midway through the first half of Sunday’s World Cup qualifier between the U.S. and Canadian men’s national teams when Gyasi Zardes charged forward toward goal. Canada had taken a 1-0 lead not long beforehand. An American equalizer would settle all of their nerves, maybe even quell the rising panic that a qualification disaster was happening to them again. This could’ve been Zardes’ moment, the play that would make him a hero whose goal put the team’s trajectory back on course for Qatar 2022. …”
The Athletic

The Cameroonians who don’t enjoy football


24 January 2022: Football fans watch the round-of-16 match between Cameroon and Comoros on television in Douala, Cameroon.
“The Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) buzz that has gripped Cameroon, which not even a stampede and eight people dying could damper, has yet to reach some parts of the country even as the tournament reaches its crescendo. In certain areas of the central African nation, watching football is a luxury. While most of Cameroon and the rest of the continent have been enjoying the football fiesta, fear and militarisation have gripped the English-speaking parts of the country. …”
New Frame

The End of the Transfer Fee



“The two transfers that drew all the oxygen from the summer of 2021 were both monuments to the past. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated their sport for a generation. That they are both, now, approaching their autumns did not matter; as soon as the chance to to sign them arose, neither Paris St.-Germain nor Manchester United paused for thought. Any doubt at all about what they might do, how they might fit, was assuaged by what they had done. …”
NY Times

Salah’s Egypt to face Mané’s Senegal in final after shootout win over Cameroon


“Africa’s two best players will square off in Sunday’s final but, before this tournament’s marketing team gets too excited about a clash between Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané, it would be best to expect a slow burner. Egypt revel in those, and showed it again here. They survived a series of first-half scares against Cameroon, who were enthusiastic but blunt, and then stretched proceedings to their elastic limit. Once penalties loomed there was a sense everyone bar the noisy 900 fans who had flown from Cairo might as well head home: Egypt simply do not lose them and, for the sixth shootout running, showed cool heads while others wilted. …”
Guardian
BBC: Cameroon 0 Egypt 0
The Athletic: Liverpool’s Salah and Mane to meet in AFCON final as Egypt beat hosts Cameroon on penalties
Guardian: Sadio Mané seals Senegal’s passage to Afcon final as Burkina Faso blown away – Jonathan Wilson

When Underdogs Fulham Nearly Won The Europa League


Roy Hodgson’s Fulham had just survived relegation from the Premier League by goal difference. Two season’s later they were 4 minutes away from winning the Europa League. This is the story of how Roy Hodgson assembled a team of experienced and responsible players, defied the odds by beating some of Europe’s giants, and fell at the very last hurdle in extra-time to Atletico Madrid. Written by Seb Stafford-Bloor. Illustrated by Craig Silcock.
YouTube

What Happened to Eden Hazard?


“Once again Real Madrid were playing Barcelona, the latest game in this greatest of rivalries; once again, two of their superstars stepped forward to give them the lead. Karim Benzema strode forward and delivered a pass into the path of one of the game’s most gifted wingers, one whose form had long ago made him undroppable, and he duly provided a superb finish, thrashing the ball high into the net. As Vinicius Jr. turned away in triumph, having scored his 15th goal of a thoroughly impressive season, Eden Hazard watched from the bench. …”
The Ringer (Audio)

Aubameyang, Xavi and Barcelona: Is this going to work?


“Xavi used to be an idealist. Two years ago, from the comfortable remove of Doha, he pontificated on what sort of forward suited Barcelona and who, in particular, did not: Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. ‘Aubameyang will kill you in open space,’ Xavi told the press. ‘But Barcelona need players who know how to move in small spaces. It’s not easy to think of players who have adapted well to Barca. Samuel Eto’o was perfect, as is Luis Suarez right now.’ Ah, well, nevertheless. …”
The Athletic

Reo Hatate hits double to help rampant Celtic replace Rangers at top of table


“Nine months on from the conclusion of a season which saw Celtic finish an embarrassing 25 points behind Rangers, the sense of a pendulum swing is impossible to ignore. The finest 90 minutes of Ange Postecoglou’s reign saw Celtic maul Rangers, with the added benefit of moving past their city rivals at the summit of the Scottish Premiership. Incredibly, given the earlier gulf between the teams, Celtic now have to be the favourites to win the league. …”
Guardian

Lokomotive Leipzig, the 1987 Cup Winners’ Cup final and a rebirth from the ashes


“Picture the scene. A communist-era colossus of a stadium, the vast expanse of concrete stretching as far as the eye can see, enclosing a seething mass of humanity, congregating in their blue and yellow scarfs. They will need them tonight, for this open bowl is completely at the mercy of the elements. The fans do not care, however. This is the Zentralstadion in Leipzig and it is about to witness its finest hour. They have seen bigger crowds than this here, of course. The Turn-un Sportfest, the socialist government’s regular celebration of athletic achievement, can draw attendances of 100,000 or more. This is the largest crowd it will ever see for a football match, though – and that matters. …”
These Football Times
W – 1987 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final

Serie A: How Does Each Team Play?


“Internazionale have recovered well from the loss of manager Antonio Conte and star player Romelu Lukaku this summer, as they top the Serie A table by four points with a game in hand on the chasing pack. Despite the arrival of Simone Inzaghi as manager, Inter have largely stuck to the playing style that served them so well in 2020-21, with the club remaining one of the slowest and most intricate in style this season. However, it’s Napoli who have become the most patient in building the play in Serie A this campaign since the arrival of Luciano Spalletti in Naples – a change from last season’s more direct style under Gennaro Gattuso. …”
The Analyst

Mason Greenwood, Harriet Robson, and a World Designed to Protect Assaulters


“… In light of the video and audio clips published by Harriet Robson, implicating Mason Greenwood of physical assault and rape, Manchester United’s statement reads: ‘We are aware of images and allegations circulating on social media. We will not make any further comment until the facts have been established. Manchester United does not condone violence of any kind.’ This isn’t new territory for Manchester United. Their star player, a constant presence on social media channels, and team leader — Cristiano Ronaldo — has a pretty compelling case waiting against him in the United States. The world was different in 2009, and Cristiano’s case got neatly brushed under the carpet and everyone moved on. …”
Football Paradise
W – Mason Greenwood

The Making of Jurgen Klopp


We all know how Jurgen Klopp has turned Liverpool FC into a behemoth of a football club, and how he broke Bayern Munich’s monopoly of German football with his Borussia Dortmund team. But little is known about his origins at Mainz. How he was thrust into a team without a manager, how he made a relegation favourite of the second tier into a Bundesliga competitor, and how he reinvented the german-footballing-style. This is the story of Jurgen Klopp at Mainz, told by Seb Stafford-Bloor. Illustrated by Alice Devine.
YouTube

Newcastle Are Moving Fast and Breaking Things in a Bid to Stay Alive


“Look: Manchester City will win the Premier League title. If you’d like to foster the belief that alternative outcomes are possible, then by all means characterize the two-point swing in the title race just before the international break as ‘significant’ or even inconvenient for the reigning champions. Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters darting across City’s back line and striking a blow against Pep Guardiola’s Goliath; Hakim Ziyech’s magnum opus against Tottenham; Liverpool triumphing over Crystal Palace in a must-win game amid penalty controversy—this is all the kind of blockbuster stuff that suggests the pulse of the title race is quickening. It amounts to City now being just nine points clear at the top of the table now. …”
The Ringer

The rise and fall of three-man defences and what it tells us about the Premier League


“The two managers who have defined English football’s recent craze of using a three-man defence are Antonio Conte and Thomas Tuchel. In his debut campaign at Chelsea, 2016-17, Conte became the first manager in half a century to win the English league title with a back three. Four years later, Tuchel used a similar system at the same club, meaning Chelsea became the first team in two decades to win the European Cup with a three-man defence. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox

2021-22 FA Cup, 4th Round: Location-map, with fixtures list & current home league attendances.


“… The biggest upset in the 3rd Round: Kidderminster 2-1 Reading. 6th-division side Kidderminster Harriers (of Worcestershire) defeated 2nd division side Reading. At kick-off, Kidderminster were 5th in the National League North [#120 in the League pyramid; although normally that would be #121, but there are only 23, and not 24, teams in the 5th division this season]. Reading were in 21st place in the EFL Championship [#41 in the League pyramid]. So the difference between Kidderminster and Reading was 4 League-levels and 79 league-places. …”
billsportsmaps
2021-22 FA Cup, 4th Round: Location-map, with fixtures list & current home league attendances
FA Cup
BBC FA Cup