Real Madrid, Mbappe and the story that won’t go away. Get ready for more smoke and mirrors

Real Madrid have not forgotten about Kylian Mbappe and Mbappe has most definitely not forgotten about Real Madrid. From the outside, things might appear to be quite different. Madrid have talked down the prospect of signing the 24-year-old striker — both publicly and privately — because they do not want this topic to be in the media. After what happened with their failed attempts to sign Mbappe last summer, they are proceeding with caution. …”
The Athletic (Video)

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Nice’s embarrassing Coupe de France exit shows how big a mess they are in


Le Puy players celebrate after their victory over Nice in the Coupe de France.
“There are moments in a season that can provoke profound self-reflection in a club. Nice’s shock 1-0 defeat to Le Puy-en-Velay Foot 43 Auvergne in the round of 64 of the Coupe de France represents one of those moments, laying bare the incoherence of Ineos’ project. Flashback to last May and Nice, under the stewardship of now-PSG manager Christophe Galtier, were playing in the Coupe de France final against Nantes. …”
Guardian

Will Still has made the jump from Football Manager to Preston to Ligue 1


Will Still / Reims
“Stade de Reims’ defeat to Marseille on the opening day of the season is looking increasingly far away these days and not just because of the World Cup break. Reims’ 3-1 win over Rennes on Thursday night was their eighth match in a row without defeat, a run that has coincided with the installation of Will Still as their manager. Some of the games in that run have been against the league’s lesser lights – and Reims were not majorly disrupted by the World Cup, with only Junya Ito playing in Qatar – but the evidence of the young manager’s positive influence continues apace. …”
Guardian

Confusion, exasperation and dating apps – my month as a gay reporter at the Qatar World Cup Confusion, exasperation and dating apps – my month as a gay reporter at the Qatar World Cup


“The morning after Germany were dramatically knocked out of the World Cup in the group stage, I took a walk around the backstreets of Doha. For the first time in my life, I was confronted, in person, by a sign telling me I was not welcome. Across Qatar’s capital, we often saw flags, usually for the 32 nations competing at the World Cup. This time, alongside Qatari national flags and a banner saying, ‘Welcome’, I saw a piece of paper: a rainbow flag with a no-entry symbol over the top of it. Beneath it, in red letters, the sign said: ‘Not allowed in Qatar’. In Britain, I had read about signs like this, whether they were against black people, Irish people or immigrants in years gone by. I am not making a direct comparison; I am not trapped in a hostile environment. For me, this was merely a moment in time. For others, it can be a lifetime. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Ligue 1 Rest of Season Predictions 2022-23

“All eyes will be on Ligue 1 when football returns after the World Cup. Ah, wait. Hold on a second. All eyes on Ligue 1? More precisely, all eyes will be on Paris Saint-Germain. The club’s two biggest stars headlined possibly the best World Cup final ever. Given the stakes and the drama, it might have been the greatest game of football ever but soon Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé will turn their attention away from each other and onto their French league opponents as they look to torture them into submission during the club’s quest for honours in 2023. …”
The Analyst

Today I Have Very Strong Feelings – Jonathan Wilson

“A month ago, Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, made his now infamous ‘I am Spartacus’ speech at the World Cup’s opening press conference. ‘Today I have very strong feelings, today I feel Qatari, today I feel Arab, today I feel African, today I feel gay, today I feel disabled, today I feel a migrant worker,’ he said, before adding, ‘Of course, I am not Qatari, I am not an Arab, I am not African, I am not gay, I am not disabled. But I feel like it, because I know what it means to be discriminated, to be bullied.’ Two days before Sunday’s final, he returned to the microphone to announce, a bit prematurely, that this had been the ‘best World Cup ever.’ It pains me to say it, n terms of pure football, and especially given the galactically great final—a game that will remain, as everyone pretty much agrees, unsurpassed in the annals of football history—he was right on the money. …”
The Paris Review

World champions but second: Why Argentina are below Brazil in FIFA’s world rankings

Argentina will not go into 2023 as FIFA’s number one ranked team. Fresh off lifting the World Cup, you might expect Lionel Scaloni’s side to move top of the leaderboard but they have had to settle for second. It is Brazil — one of the sides knocked out in the quarter-final in Qatar – who have retained top spot, their only consolation from a rather forgettable fortnight. …”
The Athletic

Huge crowd forces Argentina victory parade to be completed by helicopter


Argentine soccer fans descend on the capital’s Obelisk to celebrate their team’s World Cup victory over France, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“Argentina’s triumphant World Cup-winning squad were forced to complete their victory parade in Buenos Aires with a helicopter flyover after a crowd of millions brought their open-top bus to a standstill, with reports suggesting 18 people were injured in the celebrations and footage appearing to show one fan diving on to the squad’s bus. The streets of the capital were thronged by millions of ecstatic supporters, with the homecoming of Lionel Messi and company having been declared a national holiday following their thrilling penalty shootout win against France in Qatar. …”
Guardian

This was the Angel Di Maria final — then he came off and Argentina very nearly fell apart


“For one hour, three minutes and 52 seconds, Angel Di Maria was the best player in the world. This was the same day that 35-year-old Lionel Messi would kiss the World Cup trophy to seal his place as the greatest footballer of all time, and his historic performance would deserve it. Kylian Mbappe, the outstanding player of the tournament, would score three goals after the 80th minute and leave not even a baguette crumb of doubt who will take over when Messi is gone. …”
The Athletic (Video)

World Cup tactical trends: Lots of width, set-piece goals down, and who needs possession?


“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. Thirty-two teams, 28 days, 64 games and they saved the best one until last. Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina lifted the trophy last night after a pulsating penalty shootout victory against France. Across the whole tournament, we had on-field drama, off-field controversy and even a half-time cameo from Chesney Hawkes. There is barely enough time to reflect and take stock of the past month before we swiftly pivot back to domestic football, but let’s take all take a minute to indulge ourselves in some numbers, shall we? Allow The Athletic to walk you through some of the data trends we have spotted in Qatar. …”
The Athletic

Argentina, caught in economic depression, gets something to cheer in World Cup win


Argentina will hold general elections in October next year
“BUENOS AIRES — An incredibly tense World Cup final, if not the best of all time. An extraordinary victory for Argentina that crowns the career of superstar Lionel Messi. A new hope for a country in deep crisis. Argentina beat France in a penalty shoot-out after the match ended tied 3-3, causing hundreds of thousands of citizens to pour into the streets of Buenos Aires to celebrate, chant and dance. The obelisk, the landmark monument of the South American capital that houses over 17 million people in its broader agglomeration, was quickly covered in a sea of people. …”
POLITICO
NY Times: Argentina Hits the Streets for Long-Awaited Celebration

Argentina beat France on penalties to win World Cup: Messi’s legacy, Mbappe’s hat-trick


“One of the most exciting World Cup finals of all time was won on penalties by Argentina after Kylian Mbappe had scored a hat-trick to force the shootout. Argentina were coasting to victory with an hour gone with the score at 2-0 thanks to goals by Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria. But when Di Maria came off in the 64th minute the game changed, and France and Mbappe’s confidence grew and grew. … Argentina went ahead through Messi’s close-range finish but Gonzalo Montiel’s handball gave Mbappe the chance to complete his hat-trick. He went the same way with his second penalty, hard to Emiliano Martinez’s right. Martinez was Argentina’s hero in the shootout, saving a spot kick from Kingsley Coman before Aurelien Tchouameni put his effort wide. Montiel, who had given away the penalty in the 117th minute, scored the one that sealed the victory. …”
The Athletic (Video)
The Athletic: Argentina are the most tactically flexible World Cup winners we have ever seen – Michael Cox
The Analyst – Argentina 3-3 France: Debate Over as Lionel Messi Finally Wins The World Cup
SI: Argentina, Messi Win Epic World Cup Final in PKs, Overcoming Mbappe’s Hat-Trick Heroics (Video)
Guardian – Argentina 3-3 France (aet, 4-2 on pens): World Cup final player ratings
CNN: Stepping out of Maradona’s shadow. How Lionel Messi won over the hearts of all of Argentina
The Athletic: Lionel Messi doesn’t need the ball to hurt you (Video)

Ousmane Dembele – a guide to France’s incompletely brilliant winger


“In Paris, somewhere in the Louvre, in halls packed with tourists snapping selfies in front of all things beautiful and gift shop-worthy, there’s a sculpture that gets largely overlooked. Unlike the gods around it, this one is incomplete. ‘We cannot know his legendary head / with eyes like ripening fruit,’ Rainer Maria Rilke wrote of the decapitated marble torso. But the poet was fascinated by this broken, perfect body that seemed ‘suffused with brilliance from within’. He lingered on the ‘placid hips’, the shoulders, the way the stone itself ‘burst like a star’. The poem ends abruptly, with a command to the reader that is akin to a slap in the face: ‘You must change your life.’ …”
The Athletic (Video)
W – Ousmane Dembélé

‘Maybe I started his career!’ – The man that got Lionel Messi sent off on his Argentina debut

“Vilmos Vanczak will watch the World Cup final from his home in Hungary, willing Lionel Messi to succeed. Should the Argentina legend lift football’s biggest prize on Sunday in Qatar, Vanczak will, with his tongue pressed firmly in his cheek, smile and take a little of the credit. …”
The Athletic (Video)

France’s 2018 vs France 2022 – how have Deschamps’ side evolved tactically?


“‘You know that I don’t like comparing teams between the years,’ said France head coach Didier Deschamps after their quarter-final victory over England. But on Wednesday night they became just the fifth defending champions to reach the World Cup final and the first European side to do so since Italy in 1938. If they beat Argentina on Sunday they will become the first team in 60 years (Brazil in 1962) to retain the world crown. Deschamps might not like the comparison but, given their injuries and poor form coming into the tournament, how have they adapted their tactics to reach another final? …”
The Athletic (Video)
Slate: Nobody Can Stay in Front of These Frenchmen Forever (Video)

World Cup final tactical preview: Messi loves to exploit the exact spaces Mbappe leaves open


“Four years ago, France defeated Argentina 4-3 in a genuine epic of a World Cup second-round game. It was the day Kylian Mbappe transformed from a future great into one of the world’s best — his stunning 70-yard sprint to win a penalty ended up being the defining image of his World Cup, France’s World Cup, and World Cup 2018 overall. Lionel Messi, part of a shambolic Argentina side, was peripheral. It seemed Messi’s dominance was over. After 11 years in the top three, he didn’t finish on the Ballon d’Or podium that year. Neither, in fairness, did Mbappe — although he was obviously the coming force, set to become better and better. …”
The Athletic

World Cup 2022 briefing: Argentina v France will provide subplots aplenty


“Lisandro Martínez v Raphaël Varane, Leandro Paredes v Adrien Rabiot, Cristian Romero v Hugo Lloris and Nahuel Molina v Antoine Griezmann. These are subplots we can look forward to when Argentina face France in the final on Sunday. While everyone is thinking about Lionel Messi v Kylian Mbappé, there are plenty of clubmates preparing to do battle for the right to be champions of the planet, the entire planet. In theory, Martínez and Varane could team up as a centre-back pairing for Manchester United’s Carabao Cup tie against Burnley next Wednesday. You could imagine the relationship would be somewhat soured by the result in Qatar on Sunday. …”
Guardian (Video)

Morocco starting in a 5-4-1 system cost them their shot at the World Cup final


“Before Morocco’s semi-final with France, Walid Regragui made a surprise decision. Having guided Morocco further than any other African side in World Cup history with a 4-5-1 formation, he decided to start this contest with a 5-4-1. It owed much to the fitness problems of his defenders. Nayef Aguerd pulled out shortly before kick-off, Romain Saiss lasted 20 minutes, and Noussair Mazraoui didn’t make it to the second half. With concerns about the mobility of those defenders, and up against France’s speedy wingers, Regragui opted to load up on another defender. On paper, it made sense. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox

France beat Morocco to reach final: Mbappe v Messi, Amrabat’s tackle and a rare fast start


W – Antoine Griezmann
France withstood an impressive Morocco display to set up a World Cup final with Argentina on Sunday that pits Kylian Mbappe against his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Lionel Messi. Theo Hernandez, who came into the France side in the first game when his brother Lucas suffered a tournament-ending knee injury, scored the opening goal after just five minutes, acrobatically steering the ball past goalkeeper Yassine Bounou. …”
The Athletic
NY Times: Why Antoine Griezmann Is France’s Most Important Player
Guardian: France bring Morocco’s adventure to an end and reach World Cup final
Guardian: Antoine Griezmann’s devilment gives France the edge when it matters
The Analyst: France 2-0 Morocco: France Through to Fourth Final in Last Seven World Cups

How England kept France’s star forward Kylian Mbappe quiet


“‘There are a handful of players you need to consider for special attention,’ England assistant coach Steve Holland said before the quarter-final against France. ‘You’d have to put (Kylian) Mbappe in that category. We need to look at trying to avoid leaving ourselves in situations where he is as devastating as we’ve seen.’ On a night when Mbappe recorded just one shot and one key pass, and failed to score or assist for the first time when starting a game at this World Cup, here is how England managed to keep him quiet… ”
The Athletic

Alan Shearer: Kane’s penalty miss will hurt and haunt him every day for the rest of his life

“… Harry is an exceptional centre-forward, an exceptional player full stop. I know his position and I know his mindset and I know he will put his head on the pillow on this night and the next and a few more besides and he will blink and stare at the ceiling. He will re-live his penalty over and over. He will revisit it, he will re-take it and in his mind’s eye he will convince himself that this time, he’s scoring. And I promise you, it will stay with him forever. …”
The Athletic

England 1-2 France: Kane’s penalty miss, Lloris breaks record, Saka dominant on the right


Harry Kane missed an 84th-minute penalty as England were beaten 2-1 by the reigning champions France in the World Cup quarter-finals. The skied spot-kick, six minutes after Olivier Giroud had restored France’s lead, meant the game finished in 90 minutes. England captain Kane had earlier scored a penalty — and been denied one in the first half after a foul by Dayot Upamecano just outside the area. Aurelien Tchouameni put France ahead in the first half with an impressive strike from distance and Didier Deschamps’ side will now play surprise package Morocco in the semi-finals on Wednesday. …”
The Athletic (Video)
NY Times: Kane’s Miss Will Be Another Ghost to Haunt England
Guardian: Cruel on Kane but England should feel no disgrace at losing to world’s best

Pochettino: Only man to coach Kane and Mbappe on their rare talents – and how to stop them

“One of the turning points in Harry Kane’s career came a few weeks into my first season as Tottenham manager. I had started with Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado as our two first-choice strikers — great players, senior players, and deserving of respect. Harry was only starting in the Europa League. On September 18, we played at Partizan Belgrade, but Harry struggled and we drew 0-0. Three days later, when we played West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League, I didn’t even put him on the bench. …”
The Athletic (Video)

World Cup 2022 power rankings: how the remaining eight teams shape up

“We cast our eye over the quarter-finalists’ key strengths and assess who is most likely to lift the trophy in Qatar. 1 – Brazil.  The Seleção are in full flight and, as you may have heard, enjoying themselves in the process. Their first-half evisceration of South Korea felt like a throwback, moments such as Richarlison’s seal impression offering reminders of those days when nobody could rival Brazil for sheer fun. Even without Gabriel Jesus they retain a depth of attacking talent few can match, partly thanks to Neymar’s Lazarus-like recovery from injury. …”
Guardian

France 3-1 Poland: Giroud’s new record, fine margins and how do you stop Mbappe?


France are through to the World Cup quarter-finals after comfortably beating Poland 3-1. Olivier Giroud opened the scoring on the 44th minute — a goal that also made him France’s all-time top goal scorer. And then Kylian Mbappe happened. The mercurial Frenchman scored two stunning goals to give France a 3-0 lead. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic: Breaking down the brilliance of Kylian Mbappe, the man who can score any type of goal
NY Times: Mbappé and France make a statement in extending their title defense.

France 2-1 Denmark: Sparkling Dembele and why this is Mbappe’s tournament for the taking

Denmark have been France’s bogey team in recent years, but Kylian Mbappe had other ideas in their World Cup clash at Stadium 974, scoring twice to secure a 2-1 victory that makes it two wins from two for the reigning champions. Denmark had beaten France twice in 2022 and looked to be on course for a draw before Mbappe struck for a second time in the 86th minute. Early on, his opening goal had been cancelled out by an Andreas Christensen header. …”
The Athletic

Why some World Cup managers are using their full-backs to do very different jobs


“Louis van Gaal, the Netherlands head coach, has described his asymmetric lateral defenders as a ‘steering wheel’. That is, when Daley Blind (left wing-back) pushes forward, Denzel Dumfries (right wing-back) has to drop deeper and vice-versa. Full-backs, or wing-backs, being pivotal to a team’s chance creation is no longer novel at club level but is underpinning the attacking success of many sides in the first round of World Cup fixtures. …”
The Athletic

The Radar – The Athletic’s 2022 World Cup scouting guide


“Welcome to The Radar — the World Cup edition. Last year, for Euro 2020, we profiled 60 players that people were talking about — or would be by the end of the competition. Thirty-four of those players have since moved club. More teams means more players, so for the World Cup we’ve upped that to 100. The result is below, a carefully crafted guide to some of the best footballers on show in Qatar listed alphabetically by country — the heavyweight names, the rising stars and the under-the-radar players who could be coming to an elite club near you. …”
The Athletic

Art of saving a one-on-one: The spread, the block, the smother and the wait

“There was no World Cup call-up for Illan Meslier, even in the absence of AC Milan’s Mike Maignan, and no trip away with France’s Under-21s either. Leeds United would have been thrilled to see Meslier in Qatar but in the absence of that, common sense said that rest would do him good. The French Under-21s have a friendly against Norway planned for Saturday and Meslier, ordinarily, would have been part of the squad but clubs were not obliged to release players for the fixture and the decision was taken to sit him out, giving him a week’s holiday like most of Leeds’ dressing room. …”
The Athletic (Video)
W – Illan Meslier

Who Will Be This Year’s World Cup Supernova?

“Michael Owen, Mario Götze, and Kylian Mbappé anointed themselves as stars with stellar World Cup performances. Will any young players usher in a new era at this year’s tournament? There are very few moments in world history that can unite entire generations in awe. At the head of that very short list, you will find the moon landing. A couple of lines further down, but still on the same page, you will see an athletic feat of rare brilliance: say, Usain Bolt breaking the sound barrier in the Olympic 100-meter final. …”
The Ringer

Mapping out Brazil’s Potential Route to the World Cup Final

“What if Brazil’s preparation for the 2006 World Cup in Germany had been more intense? What if Felipe Melo hadn’t received a red card in 2010? What if Neymar hadn’t been injured ahead of the semi-final in 2014? What if Thibaut Courtois hadn’t saved that shot from Renato Augusto in 2018? Brazil supporters are always looking back at the past, imagining a scenario where the Seleção have already won their sixth World Cup title. But now, with the help of our tournament simulator model, we can estimate the probabilities of the ‘Hexa‘ happening in Qatar 2022. …’
The Analyst

World Cup 2022 Group D guide: France’s high press, Denmark’s inverted wingers and an Australian giant

“How will France set up under Didier Deschamps? What is Australia’s biggest weakness? What can we expect from Tunisia? The 2022 World Cup is nearly upon us and The Athletic will be running in-depth tactical group guides so you will know what to expect from every nation competing in Qatar. Liam Tharme will look at each team’s playing style, strengths, weaknesses, key players and highlight things to keep an eye on during the tournament. …”
The Athletic (Video)

World Cup 2022 Groups: The Predictions


“The 2022 World Cup is finally here, with the tournament in Qatar being the first held in the months of November and December since the first World Cup finals in 1930. The 22nd men’s FIFA World Cup tournament will see 32 teams battle it out in the group stage after qualifying via five different regions – Asia, Africa, South America, North America/Central America and Europe (no nation from Oceania qualified). From there, 16 will make it through to the knockout stages. …”
The Analyst

Deschamps interview: France’s ‘complicated’ World Cup defence, filling Pogba and Kante void

“Didier Deschamps contemplates the perception of problems around the French camp with the tenacity anyone who watched him patrolling a midfield would expect. His expression, as a series of issues are laid before him, is determinedly dismissive. What of the controversies? The scandals? The endless polemics about Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and so on? …”
The Athletic

‘Racism’: Qataris decry French cartoon of national football team

“A cartoon by a French newspaper depicting Qatari footballers as terrorists has sparked outrage on social media, with users calling out its ‘blatant Islamophobia’ and ‘racism’. The caricature was published by Le Canard enchainé in its October issue, which focuses on Qatar and its role as the FIFA World Cup 2022 host. The image depicts seven bearded men with ‘Qatar’ written across their chests above big numbers. They appear to be chasing a football in the sand while carrying machetes, guns and rocket launchers. One wears a belt laden with explosives. Five are wearing blue robes and two are wearing black shirts and pants with balaclavas covering their faces. ….”
Aljazeera (Video)

European roundup: Filip Kostic inspires Juventus in defeat of Internazionale

“Filip Kostic set up both goals as Juventus beat Internazionale in Serie A on Sunday in a challenging game where both teams had chances to win. Kostic took advantage of a cleared Inter corner and raced into the box, where Adrien Rabiot guided the assist elegantly into the bottom corner in the 52nd minute. Kostic then fed an unmarked Nicolo Fagioli six minutes before full time for the second goal. Juventus are fifth on 25 points, 10 behind leaders Napoli. Inter are seventh on 24 points. …”
Guardian

World Cup provisional squads explained: What are the rules and will they be made public?


“A month from today, it all begins. The World Cup in Qatar looms ever larger on the horizon and the countdown is on to the first of 64 games that will crown a winner at the Lusail Stadium on Sunday, December 18. Doubts persist over the suitability of Qatar to host this World Cup, as well as its readiness to welcome more than one million visitors, but the biggest names in football are about to descend on a tiny Gulf nation that’s half the size of Wales and roughly as big as the US state of Connecticut. …”
The Athletic
The Analyst: World Cup 2022 Guide to Each Group

France: 2022-23 Ligue 1 – Location-map with 3 Charts

“The map shows the twenty clubs in the current season of the French Ligue 1 [2022-23].
The map features the locations and crests of the 20 current Ligue Un clubs, plus the recently-promoted and -relegated teams are noted. (Promoted in 2022: Toulouse, Ajaccio, Auxerre; relegated in 2022: Saint-Étienne, Metz, Bordeaux.) Also shown on the map are 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 on the map, and at the foot of the map the 10 longest rivers in France are listed (with brief descriptions). …”
billsportsmaps
W – 2022–23 Ligue 1
Get Football News France

Kylian Mbappé’s tantrums and feuds a fresh twist in tiresome PSG pantomime

Was there a moment, back in August, when Christophe Galtier wondered what the fuss had been? Did he watch his Paris Saint-Germain team smacking in 21 goals in their first four games of the season and think how easy this all was? Take what is probably the starriest forward line in the history of the game, let them play and watch the brilliant goals stack up. Lionel Messi, after a disappointing first season in Paris, was re-energised. Neymar, playing alongside his mate, was thriving. And Kylian Mbappé …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Wissam Ben Yedder’s hat-trick shows Didier Deschamps what he is missing

“Wissam Ben Yedder’s hat-trick for Monaco against Nantes on Sunday evening at the Stade-Louis II was a brilliant repudiation of Didier Deschamps’ decision to drop him from the France squad last month. A regular for two years, the diminutive Ben Yedder has won 19 caps under Deschamps and, while he’s only scored three goals for his country, his imperious form in Ligue 1 and the fact that he offers France a different type of attacking option made him a likely member of the World Cup squad. …”
Guardian

UEFA Champions League Preview: Big clash in Lisbon, while Juventus need a win

“While Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez claims there are too many inconsequential matches, the Champions League group phase pushes ahead with matchday three. Matches that look quite appetising can be found right across Europe, from London to Leipzig to Lisbon. …”
Game of the People

World Cup 2022 news round-up: Nkunku and Lewandowski shine as Argentina put faith in Scaloni

“Club football is back and with fewer than 50 days for players to find form and fitness before the World Cup kicks off on November 20, Poland’s Robert Lewandowski, Leandro Trossard of Belgium and USA forward Ricardo Pepi laid down a marker at the weekend. Off the pitch, coaches are already being rewarded before the tournament kicks off with Wales extending Rob Page’s contract and Argentina set to keep Lionel Scaloni as head coach until the 2026 World Cup in the USA, Canada and Mexico. …”
The Athletic

The Inscrutable Intensity of Zinedine Zidane’s Glare

“The Ringer’s 22 Goals: The Story of the World Cup, a podcast by Brian Phillips, tells the story of some of the most iconic goals and players in the history of the men’s FIFA World Cup. Every Wednesday, until the end of Qatar 2022, we’ll publish an adapted version of each 22 Goals episode. Today’s story involves Zinedine Zidane, a headbutt, and a delicately placed Panenka in Germany in 2006. …”
The Ringer (Video)

World Cup 2022 power rankings: how the 32 look with two months to go

“With most teams having played their final matches before the tournament in Qatar, who appear most likely to lift the trophy? …”
Guardian

France’s World Cup preparations: Harassment allegations, scandal and injuries


“There have been six World Cups in the past quarter of a century and France have reached the final in half of those tournaments, winning in 1998 and 2018 and losing to Italy on penalties in 2006. One of those six ended in respectable failure, a 1-0 defeat to eventual winners Germany at the quarter-final stage in 2014. But the other two were epic disasters. …”
The Athletic (Video)

World Cup health check: The issue each country must address before Qatar


“The September international break is normally relatively relaxed — a chance to tweak tactics and focus on formations. Not this time. For almost all 32 competing nations, this is the final set of international fixtures before the World Cup begins in Qatar on November 20. So that you can go into the break feeling prepared, The Athletic has identified one issue every team need to try to fix this break…”
The Athletic (Video)

How the Champions League final descended into chaos – visual investigation

“On 28 May 2022 the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool took place at the Stade de France in Paris. But the showpiece match between two great clubs was disfigured by chaotic organisation, in which Liverpool supporters suffered a near disaster and riot police teargassed spectators while failing to protect people from violent attacks by local thugs. Yet the French government, police and Uefa united instantly to put the blame on Liverpool supporters, claiming that the chaos was caused by thousands seeking entry with fake tickets. …”
Guardian (Video)
Guardian – ‘I had to leave’: concerns raised over state of Uefa amid cronyism claims
Guardian: Uefa pre-prepared Champions League final statement blaming ‘late’ fans

Most Goals Scored in a FIFA World Cup by One Player


“The only players to score nine or more goals in a single FIFA World Cup did so between 1950 and 1970 – a competition with nearly a century of history cramming its one-tournament stars into two decades. It seems the game’s defensive focus and organisation had yet to catch up to its emerging individual attacking skill. It was a time of free goals, and in some places free love, and if you weren’t around to experience it in person, you’re left with grainy video – and of course the numbers. None of the five players to score that many did it in more than six games while the modern-day format for World Cup tournaments has made it possible for top goalscorers to get seven in should they reach the last four. …”
The Analyst

World Cup 2022 news round-up: Jesus’ Brazil snub, Pepi’s debut and Queiroz’s return

England and the USA have goalkeeper injury concerns, Ricardo Pepi has made his debut in Holland but Arsenal’s in-form Gabriel Jesus is suddenly out of favour with Brazil. With the transfer window shut and September international fixtures looming, a relentless domestic and European calendar is providing opportunities for players to shine and prepare for Qatar. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Lorient are seizing the moment and challenging the elite in Ligue 1

“There was always going to be one club who made the most of the World Cup interruption and challenged the elite this season. A few clubs on the fringes of Europe made this calculation in the summer transfer window and, instead of selling players, they held firm. Lens and Strasbourg were chief among these sides in Ligue 1. …”
Guardian

European roundup: Bayern held by Stuttgart, Napoli and Milan grab wins

“Bayern Munich conceded a stoppage-time equaliser scored by the VfB Stuttgart striker Serhou Guirassy from the penalty spot, as the champions endured a third consecutive Bundesliga draw. The game started well for Bayern, with Mathys Tel scoring their opener in the 36th minute. The France youth international Tel, who at the age of 17 years and 136 days became the youngest player to start a league game for Bayern, had already scored in the German Cup first round. He scored his first league goal by drilling in a low drive from an Alphonso Davies cutback. …”
Guardian

Kylian Mbappé Is Coming for It All


“Kylian Mbappé will eventually turn up for his interview in an oversized vehicle outfitted with tinted windows, and accompanied by his mother, two P.R. reps, two lawyers, a small documentary crew, a stylist and a friend whose role is, initially, unclear. This is how one of the world’s biggest sports stars travels these days. Kylian Mbappé doesn’t just walk through the door. He arrives. But not just yet. …”
NY Times

Champions League: Michael Cox’s tactical guide to this season’s leading contenders

“Judging by the bookmakers’ odds, there are eight sides who stand a decent chance of winning this season’s European Cup. Broadly speaking, they look familiar from last season — few clubs have undergone a dramatic overhaul in terms of their starting XI and only one of these eight clubs appointed a new manager in the summer. If you haven’t watched any of the favourites since last season, here’s the lowdown on their approaches for 2022-23. …”
The Athletic

Franck Haise is doing something very special by maximising talent at Lens

“Tranck Haise welled up. The Lens manager was being interviewed on the touchline after his team had won a game last season when Thierry Henry, who was working as a TV pundit, broke into a glowing review of Haise’s “contagious and impressive” team. Haise, who had been completely unknown to most fans just two years earlier, struggled to contain his happiness when hearing a French football legend enthuse about his dynamic side. He is doing something special at Lens. When Haise took over two years ago, they were in Ligue 2. Now his players are breathing rarefied air at the top of Ligue 1. And this is his first senior management role. …”
Guardian

What the Champions League Is Lacking


“PARIS — There will be stories, of course. There are always stories. The Champions League delivers them so frequently and so reliably that it is impossible to dismiss the nagging suspicion that all of this might just be scripted, the product of some complex simulation being run from a secret lair in Nyon. Robert Lewandowski, clad in the blue and red of Barcelona, will return to Bayern Munich, only a few weeks after forcing his exit. Manchester City’s visit to Borussia Dortmund will see Erling Haaland standing once more before its Yellow Wall, that great force of nature no longer at his back but marshaled in his face. …”
NY Times
The Athletic: Champions League draw analysed – The biggest games, the shocks in store, the toughest groups

‘22 Goals’: Kylian Mbappé, 2018 World Cup in Russia

“The Ringer’s 22 Goals: The Story of the World Cup, a podcast by Brian Phillips, tells the story of some of the most iconic goals and players in the history of the men’s FIFA World Cup. Every Wednesday, until the end of Qatar 2022, we’ll publish an adapted version of each 22 Goals episode. Today’s story involves Kylian Mbappé announcing himself as a global superstar at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. …”
The Ringer (Video)

After a terrible season, Lyon now look like the second-best team in Ligue 1

“Rhetoric can be powerful but it also can be a double-edged sword, coming across as bluster if not properly backed up. Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas, who sold a controlling interest in the club to American businessman John Textor this summer, has never been one to mince his words. Having steered the club for 35 years, he has inevitably made the odd misstep, but their run of seven straight Ligue 1 titles in the 2000s and regular appearances in the knockout rounds of European competitions are firm evidence of his acumen. …”
Guardian

Rating the best and worst of Europe’s 2022-23 kits: From stunners to zany stripes

“We’ve rated the Premier League home kits. We’ve rated the Premier League away kits. So now it’s time to go Euro. It’s a big ask to review the design choices of an entire continent, but The Athletic has broad shoulders and is very happy to take on the job. Someone has to — you may think that this is not something that is absolutely vital for the smooth continuation of public discourse, but unfortunately, we’ve checked, and actually, it is. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Why the through ball is becoming a dying art in European football


“The number of through balls in the UEFA Champions League dropped 50 per cent between the 2018-19 and 2021-22 seasons. In Europe’s top five leagues, the number of through balls dropped on average 30 per cent over the same period. In the Europa League, it dropped 24 per cent. The through ball is not extinct, but it is endangered.Before examining why, we need to define the term. FBref data define a through ball as a: ‘Completed pass sent between the back defenders into open space.’ It is a complex pass to complete, hence the number of through balls is never particularly high and is in fact lower than the goals-per-game total in Europe’s top divisions. …”
The Athletic (Video)