Monthly Archives: February 2023

The Premier League runout songs – from Star Wars to the Stone Roses


“One of the most memorable and/or toe-curling scenes from the documentary series Sunderland ’Til I Die came when budding Ministry Of Sound DJ/new club director Charlie Methven discussed mixing things up music-wise. To replace Dance Of The Knights, the foreboding Prokofiev piece which had been a staple at the Stadium of Light since it was built in the 1990s, Methven got out the figurative glow sticks and suggested they play Tiesto’s 2005 club smash Adagio For Strings. All while affecting a ‘Yeah, sure, I used to spin a little in my time… before I went to work for JP Morgan’ vibe, which didn’t quite mesh with the locals. …”
The Athletic (Video)

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Pressure builds on PSG players, coach and director despite late win over Lille

“When PSG were trailing Lille 3-2 with 15 minutes to play, coach Christophe Galtier was joined on the touchline at the Parc des Princes. Famed sporting director Luis Campos, who engineered Lille and Monaco’s recent title-winning squads, left his usual seat in the stands to bark orders and complain about decisions. Although known to be fiercely opinionated, Campos’ ire spilling over in such a public fashion is unprecedented. After three consecutive defeats in three competitions last week, pressure is growing on Galtier. Campos, it seems, feels it too. …”
Guardian

How Should Fans Feel About Newcastle United?

“As he walked out of the tunnel and onto the field at St. James’ Park, Eddie Howe paused for a beat. Much of the time, Newcastle United’s manager makes a conscious effort to maintain the distance between himself and the effects of his work. It is a natural instinct, a self-defense mechanism. But for once, Howe could not stop himself from taking in the tableau. All around him, the steep banks of seats were filled with striped black-and-white flags. In the Gallowgate, the grandstand that serves as the stadium’s heart and lungs, there were banners for heroes current and past. …”
NY Times

Gladbach celebrate Groundhog Day after upsetting Bayern yet again

“Borussia Mönchengladbach’s social media team couldn’t resist it. As the final whistle blew on their result of the season, probably, of most seasons, there was a post to acknowledge the victory over Bayern Munich. Then, straight away, there was a still of Bill Murray’s misanthropic TV reporter Phil Connors, waiting for Punxsutawney Phil to pop his furry head out of the hatch, with no further comment. This was their, and the champions’, Groundhog Day. Because even against Bayern, Die Fohlen have been here before. …”
Guardian

The Oligarchs’ Derby


“Olympiacos called it the Match for Peace. On April 9 last year, a little more than a month after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Greek club staged a friendly with Shakhtar Donetsk. It was a heartfelt, poignant sort of occasion, the first game Shakhtar had played since it had fled a war in its homeland. Before the game, each of Shakhtar’s players emerged with Ukraine’s flag — cornfield yellow, summer blue — draped over their shoulders. Both teams’ jerseys were adorned with the slogan: ‘Stop War.’ All proceeds from ticket sales for the game, held at Olympiacos’s Karaiskakis stadium in Piraeus, would be used to help support refugees from the fighting. …”
NY Times

Manchester United takeover: ‘No assurance’ the Glazers are going anywhere

“For all the talk of a Qatari revolution or a local-lad-turned-billionaire buying Manchester United, it has been quite the week at Old Trafford. Season ticket prices are going up for the first time in over a decade, the club’s share price on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has taken a turn for the worse after a positive spike before Friday’s soft deadline for potential bidders and, oh yeah, the Glazer family are still firmly in control. …”
The Athletic

Ain’t Got No History? The Most Successful English Clubs

“A football club’s history is wielded as both a source of validation and a sad lament for the passing of better times. Arsenal fans concerned that their club haven’t been league champions for 17 years should think about how Sheffield United supporters feel about the 123 years that have passed since their club finished top of the pile in England. Can we definitively prove Preston supporters think about the year 1888 more than anyone else? No, but it’s true. …”
The Analyst

How Arsenal control games

Goals win games, and defences win titles, as Sir Alex Ferguson once said. But when a team concedes, or scores is just as important as conceding in the first place. In the first half of the season, during Arsenal’s ascent to the top of the Premier League, there has been a distinct pattern to when their goals have been scored. Jon Mackenzie analyses the data and suggests why Arsenal are so good at managing their games. Written by Henry Cooke.
YouTube

The five reasons Liverpool have a broken defence

“For all the talk about Liverpool’s impending midfield rebuild this summer, it is becoming increasingly clear they need to strengthen their backline, too. Defensive errors heavily contributed to Tuesday night’s chastening Champions League thrashing at the hands of Real Madrid. “I think we gave all five goals away and that means we could have done better,” admitted Jurgen Klopp. The sight of Liverpool capitulating wasn’t a one-off. Alarmingly, it was the eighth time in all competitions this season they have conceded three times or more. …”
The Athletic (Video)
NY Times: Real Madrid Leaves Liverpool Chasing Shadows of Itself
Guardian: Liverpool and Klopp face big task to limit fallout from Real Madrid fiasco

The Football Sustainability Index: How well run is your club?

“The coming days and weeks will bring the moment that sees English football forced to embrace change. The government’s white paper is expected imminently, crystallizing the key recommendations proposed by the exhaustive fan-led review of the national sport’s governance. Those in power have now concluded that football cannot carry on as it was. Too many clubs have been allowed to unravel. Some irretrievably so. Increased regulation, despite the Premier League’s lobbying, will finally be introduced in 2023. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Napoli attack space. So how did they adapt when Eintracht Frankfurt didn’t leave them any?

“… Glasner does not set Frankfurt up to dominate European games but Napoli had 70 per cent possession, outshot the hosts 18 to five and created three big chances — a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score — (including a penalty) without conceding any. This extends Napoli’s run to six straight wins, scoring at least twice in each and conceded just once. How did Napoli adapt their approach away to Frankfurt? …”
The Athletic

Pep Guardiola ‘delighted’ with Manchester City’s draw at RB Leipzig

“Pep Guardiola launched a characteristically counterintuitive defence of his approach after half-time in Manchester City’s draw against RB Leipzig. City were held to a disappointing 1-1 score in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, but despite being dominated for long periods of the second half Guardiola refused to make a single substitution, and afterwards explained that he was wary of Leipzig’s danger on the counterattack. …”
Guardian (Video)

How goalkeepers react to high-profile mistakes – according to the goalkeepers’ union

Loris Karius is set to make his first appearance in nearly two years in the Carabao Cup final for Newcastle this weekend. It comes in the same week Thibaut Courtois and Alisson both made high profile and uncharacteristic mistakes during Real Madrid’s Champions League win over Liverpool. So how will Karius, whose career has been defined by the errors he made against Real in the Champions League final in 2018, be preparing for a game he didn’t expect to be playing in? …”
The Athletic

Did the World Cup break PSG?

PSG’s seasons follow a similar pattern; summer full of big-name transfers, start the season with a bang, trail off towards the end of the season, and crash out of the Champions League. However, they have started to trail off even earlier this season, and look like losing out on the Champions League even earlier than usual. So what is different about this season? Has the mid-season World Cup had an impact? Jon Mackenzie writes, Marco Bevilacqua illustrates.
YouTube

Why Liverpool keep failing to beat Real Madrid: ‘They were almost mocking us’

“… As he basked in the glory of winning the Champions League last summer, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti’s reflections were telling. Their path to victory had included knockout ties with Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City, yet the Italian deemed Jurgen Klopp’s side the easiest to prepare for tactically. … The pair have faced each other four times during three Champions League campaigns between 2017-2018 and 2021-2022. On each occasion, Liverpool have been second best. If they have any hope of winning silverware this season, they need to change the narrative when the two meet in the first leg of the last 16 of the Champions League tonight.”
The Athletic

Liverpool not for sale: FSG have ruled out a full takeover, so what happens next?

“If the battle to assume ownership of Manchester United continues to intensify, Liverpool have quietly accepted now is not the time for their own takeover. Fenway Sports Group (FSG), it has become abundantly clear, are here for the foreseeable future. John W Henry, Liverpool’s principal owner, confirmed as much on Monday. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Youth, muscle and attitude: Lecce win at Atalanta validates Baroni methods


Fans celebrating the club’s eighth promotion to Serie A in May 2010
“On paper, it looked like a game Atalanta should win. They had been rounding into form since the start of 2023, piling up goals and muscling their way back into the fight for Champions League places. Last weekend, a 2-0 win at Lazio leapfrogged them into fourth, so Sunday’s fixture at home to 13th-placed Lecce should have been straightforward by comparison. Football matches, however, are not played on paper. Nor, as the Lecce manager, Marco Baroni, reminded us recently, are they played on a video game console. …”
Guardian
W – U.S. Lecce

Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

“1) Potter faces uphill task to convince fans. Stamford Bridge was not a happy place after Chelsea’s insipid defeat by Southampton. There was no holding back. Loud boos greeted the final whistle and the mood near the dugout was ugly. A fair few fans were bellowing abuse at Graham Potter and the worry for Chelsea’s head coach, who has been in the job only since September, will be that he has already lost the crowd. Chelsea supporters loved Thomas Tuchel and many do not see Potter as an upgrade on the German. …”
Guardian

Manchester United takeover: Sheikh Jassim, Qatar and just enough separation

“Separation (noun): the act of separating people or things; the state of being separate. Ten letters, four syllables and dozens of different interpretations of what it means when it comes to football. Manchester United fans are going to hear and read a lot about these interpretations in the coming weeks, and the debate is going to be loud, impassioned and partisan. But it will also be irrelevant. …”
The Athletic

The art of staying onside

“Anyone who’s familiar with football is likely also familiar with dads screaming from the sidelines at referees when that flag goes up to catch a player offside. When it comes to the professional level, it’s not just dads screaming, but millions of fans. Unfortunately for those screaming dads (and millions of fans), chances are, the attacker should have timed their run better to avoid the question even being asked in the first place. Since Graham Potter took over at Chelsea, this has been a reoccurring issue for the Blues (staying onside; not screaming parents). …”
The Mastermindsite (Video)

European Super League: This week was a glimpse of what that world could look like

Liverpool vs Everton, Paris Saint-Germain vs Bayern Munich, AC Milan vs Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal vs Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund vs Chelsea, Barcelona vs Manchester United. From Monday to Thursday, this week’s football fixtures have offered night after night of glamorous, high-profile match-ups between some of European football’s elite clubs. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Liverpool’s right-side triangle returns just in time for Real Madrid tie

“During Liverpool’s run towards Champions League glory back in 2019, one adjustment paved the way for future success. After introducing Jordan Henderson as a right-sided midfielder for the last 31 minutes against Southampton in April 2019, Jurgen Klopp started the English midfielder on the right side of his midfield against Porto four days later in the first leg of the quarter-finals of the Champions League. …”
The Athletic

Joining Wrexham fans group London Reds for an away day – ‘it’s rarely simple’

“Kick-off is a little under an hour away as the train hurtles towards Aldershot. Onboard are the London Reds, Wrexham’s official supporters club in the capital. About 30 members are making the trip, plus a couple of interlopers. One of the interlopers is Sion Jones, who hails from Felin-fach, not far from Aberaeron in west Wales. He’s supposed to be enjoying a family weekend in London, but has instead become an honorary member for the day, leaving his wife, kids and mother-in-law to explore London without him. …”
The Athletic

European roundup: Neymar carried off before Messi’s late winner for PSG

“Lionel Messi scored a stunning free-kick in added time to earn Paris Saint-Germain a 4-3 comeback win over Lille and lift them eight points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 standings. PSG, who have struggled for consistency since their return from the World Cup break, extended their lead over second-placed Marseille who travel to Toulouse later on Sunday. …”
Guardian (Serie A, Germany, Video)

Frontline football: ‘We try to show the same fight as the Ukrainian soldiers fighting for us’

“Celtic Park in Glasgow is among the most partisan football grounds in Europe – you don’t want to be on the wrong end of this crowd. But Celtic fans know the world, and last September was different: home supporters lined the approach to the stadium, to greet and applaud the visitors’ coach as it arrived for a big night in the Champions League. Aboard it: Shakhtar Donetsk, the Ukrainian champions who had not played a game at home for nine years, since Russian separatists and armed forces occupied their city in 2014. The crowd cheered the bus, and – poignantly – among the home fans’ Irish tricolours were flags of blue and yellow, those of Ukraine, waved by a group of children – refugees from the war that ravages their homeland, now settled in Glasgow. …”
Guardian

Newcastle 0 Liverpool 2: Klopp’s top-four bid alive, Pope’s agony, Alisson’s excellence

Newcastle’s meeting with Liverpool always had the look of the game of the weekend, and it duly delivered the drama to justify that status. A 2-0 win for Jurgen Klopp’s side reignited their previously fading hopes of securing a place in the top four, but of arguably more significance was a red card to Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope that leaves Eddie Howe desperately short of goalkeeping options ahead of next weekend’s Carabao Cup final. …”
The Athletic

European roundup: Bayern beaten again by bogey side Mönchengladbach

“Borussia Mönchengladbach beat 10-man Bayern Munich 3-2 on Saturday, stretching their unbeaten run over the Bundesliga champions to five games in all competitions. Gladbach went ahead through Lars Stindl in the 13th minute after Bayern got off to a nightmare start, with Dayot Upamecano bringing down Alassane Pléa outside the box and being shown a red card in the eighth minute. Stindl missed a golden chance to double their lead in the 24th but sent his close-range shot wide. …”
Guardian

How Manchester United’s speed and directness ripped through Barcelona’s defence

“When Pep Guardiola took his Manchester City team to Old Trafford in November 2021, he had one thing on his mind when it came to stopping Manchester United’s threat. … More than a year has passed and United’s prowess on the offensive transitions is still there. The profiles of their attackers give United the upper hand in situations when they have just won the ball back and want to attack quickly. That is also helped by improvements off the ball under Erik ten Hag. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic: Barcelona’s Raphinha changed the game against Man United — so why did Xavi replace him?
The Athletic: Manchester United and Barcelona are on upward arcs — this was a worthy chapter in their rivalry

Reputation Meets Reality in the Champions League

“… Sure, Chelsea and Tottenham had both lost the first legs of their Champions League round of 16 ties, but that was nothing to worry about. There are the home games to come in a few weeks. Things will be better then. Wrongs will be righted. Everything is breezy. Neither manager’s pose was particularly ludicrous. Neither team had played especially badly. Both sides might have felt just a little unfortunate to have lost. Chelsea, still feeling its way to a settled identity after its winter excess, created a raft of chances against Borussia Dortmund. …”
NY Times

Why is illegal streaming so popular?

The illegal streaming of football matches remains a problem for the football industry and there are few signs that that’s about to change. But why is illegal streaming so popular? And why is it even an option? Tifo conducted its own survey, alongside industry research to find out why football fans illegally stream, and what the authorities are doing about it. Written by Seb Stafford-Bloor, illustrated by Craig Silcock.
YouTube

Why Silva at left-back vs Saka was a mistake and how moving Ake gave City control

“Pep Guardiola’s way of surprising Mikel Arteta was by not surprising him. Instead, Guardiola maintained the system he’d used in a comfortable weekend win over Aston Villa, which was most notable for the presence of Bernardo Silva as a left-sided ‘half-back’: a central midfielder when his team was in possession, a left-back without it. …”
The Athletic – Michael Coxfo

Inside Barcelona’s day of chaos as new scandal breaks – this one looks really bad

“It was the first thing everyone seemed to be asking as soon as the news broke. Are Barcelona going to be docked points like Juventus? Also, could they even be dropped down the leagues? It sounds really bad: prosecutors are investigating payments totalling €1.4million (£1.2m; $1.3m) the club made to a company owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira who, at the time, was vice-president of Spanish football’s refereeing committee. …”
The Athletic

The best goalkeeping performances in Champions League history – ranked

“There’s been plenty of brilliant individual performances in the UEFA Champions League down the years. Lionel Messi vs. Man Utd, Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Juventus, Ronaldo (R9) vs. Manchester United are some of the standouts from the outfield players, but what about goalkeepers? Well, here’s the five best from the boys between the posts. …”
90min

Liverpool, Real Madrid and terror at the Champions League final: Fans’ stories


“The Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid should have been one of last year’s great sporting showpieces — a meeting between two of European football’s aristocrats, in one of Europe’s grandest venues, in one of its finest cities, for arguably club football’s greatest prize. Instead, the day turned into a nightmare for thousands of supporters. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Barcelona’s ban on opposition colours and their fear of another Camp Nou takeover

“‘I am ashamed of what I’ve seen. We will take action.’ These were the words of Barcelona president Joan Laporta after the second leg of last season’s Europa League quarter-final with Eintracht Frankfurt. In April 2022, his club had just suffered their second European embarrassment of the season. The first was elimination at the Champions League group stage that autumn. The second saw them knocked out of the Europa League at a Camp Nou overflowing with away fans. …”
The Athletic

Manchester City and the Bruising Battle to Avoid Losing It All


“The phone rang at 8 a.m., and the Manchester City communications official answered right away. A reporter was on the line, requesting comment on the news emanating from the Middle East that morning in 2008: that City, a Premier League soccer team with an unremarkable history and dust gathering in its trophy cabinet, had just been purchased by a wealthy Arab sheikh, the brother of the ruler of the United Arab Emirates. … Within an hour, the news that Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan had become the owner of Manchester City was out. A new era had begun. With the stroke of a pen, a venerable, well-liked and occasionally tragicomic member of English soccer’s establishment had become one of the richest teams on the planet, a usurper-in-waiting to the game’s elite. …”
NY Times
YouTube: Could Manchester City be relegated?

Valencia hurtle towards relegation as another protest engulfs Mestalla

“Most of Valencia’s fans didn’t see the goal that momentarily pulled them clear of the relegation zone but they did see the goals that pushed them back in again. They were at Mestalla on Saturday night but not in Mestalla when Samu Castillejo’s 16th-minute shot put them one up against Athletic Club. Instead, they were still outside, desperate to escape the abyss. Beyond the wall, Castillejo’s first goal since September came to a backdrop of empty seats and packed streets, yellow everywhere, but at least offered brief hope of a first win in three months; when those fans finally headed in, it was taken away again, a 2-1 defeat deepening their desperation. …”
Guardian

Bayern switching the play tormented PSG’s exposed defence — and Coman made them pay


“For many years, the Champions League has decided the narrative of the whole season for Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain, regardless of their domestic performances. In this one, that applies more than ever. The turbulence both of these European giants are experiencing in their own leagues has put more pressure on the playing squads and their respective managers, Julian Nagelsmann and Christophe Galtier, going into their face-off in the Champions League’s round of 16. …”
The Athletic
Guardian: Kingsley Coman returns to haunt PSG and give Bayern Munich the edge

1930 FIFA World Cup Group 1

“Group 1 of the 1930 FIFA World Cup was one of four groups in the opening round of tournament. The group featured Argentina, Chile, France and Mexico. Play began on 13 July 1930 when France defeated Mexico 4–1 in the opening match. Lucien Laurent scored the first goal in World Cup history after 19 minutes to give his side the lead. France played again in the second fixture, suffering defeat against Argentina in a controversial match which saw the referee mistakenly blow the whistle for full-time six minutes early.  …”
Wikipedia

Champions League last-16 preview: Analysing each team’s tactics

“Europe’s top competition is back. For those who have missed the soothing tones of the Champions League anthem, fear not. The knockout stage is upon us and we have 16 more games to feast on over the next four weeks. Using FiveThirtyEight’s well-respected prediction model, Bayern Munich stand as favourites to win the competition, edging ahead of Manchester City, Real Madrid and dark horses Napoli. However, we all know how knockout football works — do not expect things to go the way you might predict. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Uefa had ‘primary responsibility’ for Champions League final chaos, damning report finds

“Uefa bears ‘primary responsibility’ for the catastrophic organisational and safety failures that turned last season’s Champions League final into a horrific, traumatic experience for thousands of supporters, Uefa’s own review has concluded. That central finding, and alarming criticisms of the culture and operations at the confederation of European football, and of the French police, are made in a damning report produced by the panel Uefa appointed to review the chaos that engulfed the final between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Paris last May. …”

Arsenal’s consistent selection has helped them but evolution may be required

“In the first half of the season, the consistency of Arsenal’s selection provided the foundation for their success. From pre-season through until January, manager Mikel Arteta was largely able to keep his preferred XI on the field. But after taking just one point from their last two Premier League games, Arteta must be toying with the idea of whether to twist rather than stick. …”
The Athletic

League Two: Buoyant Bantams bash Boro

“There is a little, cautious buzz in Stevenage at the moment; in January the club pulled off a momentous FA Cup giant-kill when they won 2-1 at Premier League Aston Villa and there is genuine hope the club can win promotion back to League One this season. They lost to Stoke City in round four, but even in defeat they had already added to the club’s impressive record in the competition. …”
Game of the People

Luciano Spalletti – Napoli – Tactical Analysis (2022-23)

“Luciano Spalletti has worked wonders since arriving to the scene of Naples in 2021. The Italian manager helped Napoli to a third-place finish last season, and now prepares to lead the closing stages of their title charge in 2023. With some supremely smart acquisitions in the summer working their magic, Gli Azzurri currently sit ten points clear atop the table, and have more than double the points of Serie A’s historical dominator – Juventus. If Spalletti can continue to get his tactics right and maintain the remarkably positive culture he’s built since arriving, Napoli will walk away with the title this year. So with that, here is our analysis of the club from Naples so far in 2022-23.  …”
The Mastermindsite

Nathan Jones at Southampton: Inside the Welshman’s hiring and firing

“The writing was on the wall for Nathan Jones. Southampton had lost 2-1 at home to Wolves, having been a goal up and played with an extra man for over an hour. For the first time since 1998, it was five straight defeats at home. At the final whistle, as boos reverberated around St Mary’s and a supporter was thrown out for attempting to hand him a P45, Jones walked straight down the tunnel. …”
The Athletic

Jurgen Klopp turned doubters into believers once already at Liverpool. Now he must do it again

“… Barely a year after reaching the Champions League final, Dortmund went on a run that saw them lose 11 of their first 19 games of the Bundesliga season. In early February they were bottom of the table, an astonishing fall from grace for Klopp and his team. Eventually, they rallied to win five and draw two of their next seven games, moving away from the relegation zone and ending up in seventh position. But after seven years, two Bundesliga titles, a German Cup, two German Super Cups, one Champions League final and more magical moments than their fans could ever have dreamed when he arrived from Mainz in 2008, Klopp told the Dortmund hierarchy in early April 2015 that he, his players and the club needed a change. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic: The problems facing Liverpool in the biggest crisis of Jurgen Klopp’s reign (Video)

Special investigation: Cardiff City, an unhappy club on a downward spiral

“Sabri Lamouchi’s first media commitments as Cardiff City’s new manager brought a pertinent question about a figure he had yet to meet. With two predecessors sacked in a season only just beyond its halfway mark, was he aware of owner Vincent Tan’s impatience? … Lamouchi knows the eccentricities of the Championship after 15 months in charge of Nottingham Forest, a club familiar with volatility under Evangelos Marinakis, but Cardiff’s downward spiral has begun to chew up and spit out its managers at pace. …”
The Athletic (Video)

The English Soccer Streak That Is ‘Just Statistically Ridiculous’

“Maybe it’s bad luck. Maybe it’s unconscious bias. Maybe it’s subpar skill. Maybe it’s conscious bias. Maybe a new strategy is needed. Maybe it’s a far-reaching conspiracy. Maybe the fates are cruel and unknowable. The maddening streak currently playing out for Bristol City, a mainstay of English soccer’s second-tier league, the Championship, since 2015, has defied explanation for everyone involved, and the sense of grievance stacks higher with each passing game. It has left the team and its fans wondering: Will Bristol City ever earn a penalty kick again? …”
NY Times

Ranked! The 50 best football teams of all time

“Deciding the best teams in history is never easy, but FourFourTwo thrives on making the tough decisions. So, each staff member armed with their personal favourites, FFT gathered in a darkened room one evening to narrow things down. Deliberations continued long into the night. In between the bickering, name-calling and hair-pulling, one thing became apparent – this list had to be about more than just cold, bare trophy hauls. Football is also about intangibles: how cool a team is; what effect they have on future generations; their aura. …”
FourFourTwo

Big football names come in all shapes and sizes

“BEFORE football became the plaything of broadcasters, governments and corporates, big clubs could be found in almost every country in Europe. A club wasn’t considered big by merely having a huge bank balance, but more by its place in society. Hence, any list of the world’s most influential clubs would include those that were systemic in their own market – in other words, a giant in their domestic league and a force in European football. Today, a club’s revenues, wage bill, brand power and social media presence are every bit as important. This shift, coupled with the collapse of state-supported clubs in the old communist bloc, has changed the pecking order in global football. …”
Game of the People

Spanish third tier on brink of collapse as federation and club fallout continues

“Spanish football’s third tier could face collapse in the next 24 hours. A stand-off with the country’s football federation means the clubs must fall in line or risk funding being removed and the Primera Federación being abandoned just 18 months after it was set up. With at least 18 of the 40 clubs abstaining from voting on proposed economic controls and management of the two-group Primera Federación, a ballot was set up on Tuesday night. …”
The Guardian

What the new Super League is proposing ⁠- and how football has responded


BBC: Plans for a European Super League led to protests outside Premier League stadiums
“The European Super League is back. We told you it would be. On Thursday, organisers of the controversial project presented a long-promised new proposal for a ‘multi-division’ competition involving up to 80 clubs, operating wholly outside of the authority of UEFA, European football’s current governing body. … It didn’t take long for the proposal to make waves across the sport. Immediately after the document’s publication, The Athletic contacted a number of clubs, leagues, governing bodies and charities to gather their views. You’ll find their opinions below in our line-by-line breakdown of A22’s statement. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic: The Super League’s return explained: How it would work, the response — and what happens next (Video)
BBC – European Super League: New proposal would be open competition, say organisers
W – European Super League

How Erik ten Hag fixed Man Utd

Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson departed Manchester United the club has struggled to find a successful manager. That is until this season and the arrival of Erik ten Hag. The dutchman has revolutionised the way United play. Seemingly overnight he has moved the team from a counter-attacking style under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, to a possessional style similar to the Ajax team he created. So how has he done it? Which players have improved the most? How far are United from challenging the very best clubs? Jon Mackenzie explains. Henry Cooke illustrates.
YouTube

2023 Copa Libertadores: location-map for the 47-team tournament, with Club Histories


“… This is the 64th iteration of the Copa Libertadores, the most prestigious football tournament in South America. The 2023 tournament is the 7th since it was expanded in 2017, from 38 to 47 teams. Since then, no team from a country other than Brazil or Argentina has won the title (Brazilian teams have won it 5 times since the tournament-expansion, and an Argentinian team has won it once since then). And Brazilian sides have won the last four titles. … 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. …”
billsportsmaps
W – 2023 Copa Libertadores

Ajax 1-1 Volendam: An Alternative Match Report

“As the players finish their warm-ups prior to kickoff at the Arena, “Freed From Desire” blares out and the stadium shakes with Taadeech on fiiiire! It’s the same routine before every match, so even though I’m busy buying a pint, I know that Dušan Tadić, captain of Ajax, is the only remaining player on the pitch. I know that he gets the ball just outside the box and takes a few touches before cutting inside on his weaker right foot. He shoots, looks up towards the fans, and applause ensues. …”
Football Paradise

Jesse Marsch at Leeds: Don’t rely on a transition game if your team can’t defend them


“In life, transitional periods put us under pressure for a certain period of time. Moving from one state or condition to another can present difficulties and, if you aren’t prepared, it might hit you hard. Whether it’s transitioning from an old job to a new one, moving houses, or maybe a different head coach at your football club. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Manchester City May Fall, but Soccer’s Billionaire Era Lives On – Brian Phillips


“… I thought about Mrs. Grayle on Monday, when the Premier League quietly posted a statement on its website charging Manchester City, the most dominant club in the past decade of English soccer, with more than 100 violations of league financial rules stretching back to 2009. Man City is famously rich, but it hasn’t been rich all that long. … Which meant—to be technically precise again—money. …”
The Ringer

Gavi’s story: The spark, speed & spirit of Barcelona’s fearless star who plays with his boots untied


“It was in November 2021 that people started to talk about Gavi’s laces. A photo showed Nico Gonzalez tying the player’s boots for him during a Champions League match for Barcelona at Dynamo Kyiv. Gavi, then 17, stood with his hands on his hips, watching as his midfield team-mate apparently came to his aid. Later, Gonzalez posted the picture on Instagram with the caption: ‘It’s really time you learned…’ But the truth is there was no lesson going on, nor did the scene have anything to do with the Kyiv cold. …”
The Athletic
W – Gavi

The great Liverpool rebuild: Who deserves to stay and who should go?

“Sell them all. Rip it up and clear it out. Nothing is working and it just keeps getting worse. There are no other options. If you had not rage-quit your Football Manager play-through already with Liverpool’s season going so badly wrong, the next tactic would be listing as many players as you wanted on the transfer list and having a crazy summer window. …”
The Athletic