World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi shines after tactical change

June 16, 2014

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“On the eve of the Argentina-Bosnia game, a Brazilian newspaper came up with a cruel statistic. In one World Cup game, Neymar had scored more World Cup goals than Lionel Messi had managed in his entire career. The Brazilian was leading by two to one. The little wizard has now levelled the score, and did it in style in his first ever game in Rio’s iconic Maracana stadium. His strike, which turned out to be the winner in Argentina’s 2-1 victory over Bosnia, is the moment a packed crowd will guard in their memories of Sunday’s game. It was Messi at his best, cutting in with the ball tied to his left foot, exchanging quick passes with Gonzalo Higuain and curling a shot in off the post. Without a slight deflection off a Bosnian defender the ball would probably have gone just wide, but few would complain – apart from Bosnians, and some Brazilians.” BBC

Lionel Messi lights up World Cup with stunning strike in Group F victory as Argentina triumph against Bosnia
“Messi at Maracana: what an event. This was part-homage to one of the game’s greats and part-launch of Argentina’s World Cup campaign. The two themes were inevitably intertwined as Lionel Messi embarked on his mission, using his phenomenal footballing capabilities to try to guide his country to victory in these finals that are already being hailed as one of the finest ever. The tone of the tournament has been on attacking and here it was Messi’s turn. He was short of his highest standards, short of the brilliance that has defined his Barcelona career but he still created Argentina’s first and then scored their second, giving the feeling of a special cameo being performed in front of an audience of 74,738, the majority enrapt by his work. It was astonishing to think that this was only his second ever World Cup goal in nine games.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

World Cup Tactical Analysis: Argentina 2-1 Bosnia
“In a game that was expected to be Argentina’s announcement of intent in this World Cup, the favorites met stern opposition in the form of Bosnia and Herzegovina. And though Argentina certainly did the business by walking away with the 3 points, it may have been Bosnia and Herzegovina who perhaps made the bigger statement.” Outside of the Boot

Argentina vs. Bosnia in GIFs
“Messi strikes in Argentina’s opener at the Maracanã. What else could a fan ask for? Argentina and Lionel Messi in Brazil’s greatest stadium, the Marcanã in Rio. Will Argentina be there on July 13? Maybe, maybe not, but it would start today for Argentina against talented World Cup first-timers Bosnia. Let’s look at our favorite GIFs.” Fusion (Video)

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World Cup 2014: England Squad Selector – pick your 23 then compare with our choices

May 6, 2014

“Ever wanted to be Roy Hodgson? It’s a common condition. His is a life of easy charm, muted bookishness and lovely warm coats. But there’s one unenviable task looming for the England manager ahead of Fifa World Cup 2014 in Brazil, and that’s picking 23 men to make up a squad capable of avoiding humiliation. With Hodgson set to announce his provisional list of players on Monday May 12, we’ve cast the net wide for potential England squad members, from the players who are on the plane barring a late metatarsal injury (Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Joe Hart), the youngsters who may or may not have done enough to impress (Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley) and the longshots (Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, ideally both at once).” Telegraph – Henry Winter


Arsène Wenger at Arsenal and Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United prove the value of the ‘manager’

December 22, 2013

“Some self-admiring owners invade the dressing room, diluting the power of the manager, a damaging trend. If Arsène Wenger guides Arsenal to glory in the Premier League it would be a wonderful, well-timed triumph for the managerial profession. Managers are not just for Christmas. Even Wenger’s rivals would surely acknowledge privately the long-term benefit for their industry of the success of a manager who will have been in his job almost 18 years, who alone decides recruitment and loan policy, whose influence is so all-pervading at the Emirates that he even chose the wall colours.” Telegraph – Henry Winter


Burnley manager Sean Dyche eager to take Championship leaders into the Premier League

December 15, 2013

“Sean Dyche strides from Burnley’s training pitch on the banks of the River Calder, having taken his Championship-leading players through a detailed and energetic session in advance of Saturday’s trip to third-placed Leicester City, and marches into a modest building that resembles a Lancashire village hall on the outside but Nasa on the inside. It is all sports science, mission statements on the wall and borrowed hi-tech running machines. It is clear there is far more to Dyche, the 42-year-old former centre-half, than the general perception. His shaven-headed, physically imposing presence belies a sophisticated approach to the game, a hunger for knowledge and a determination to change critical views of English coaches.” Telegraph – Henry Winter


World Cup draw set to reveal unique magic

December 1, 2013

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“Day after day, reports from the land of the next World Cup send shudders through the soul. A collapsing crane claims the lives of two construction workers at the stadium in Sao Paulo. The Brazilian FA, the CBF, makes the sad announcement that the legendary left-back Nilton Santos has passed away after a lung infection. Concerns rise over local companies fleecing visiting fans over accommodation and internal flights. Anger at socio-economic problems is expressed through protests. The 2014 World Cup is currently associated with many issues, few relating to the promise of an on-field spectacle.” Telegraph – Henry Winter (Video)


West Bromwich Albion 2 Aston Villa 2: match report

November 26, 2013

“With one decision, Paul Lambert changed the destiny of this thunderous West Midlands derby. With one bold move, a triple substitution after 57 minutes, Lambert re-energised Aston Villa, seizing the initiative back from a West Bromwich Albion side who had been magnificent until then. Lambert had had to act. Albion were leading 2-0 and should have been over the horizon. Shane Long was so good, almost unplayable at times. He scored two fine goals, the first full of power, the second full of deftness.” Telegraph – Henry Winter


Arsenal 2-0 Napoli: Arsenal win the game early by attacking down the right flank

October 2, 2013

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“Arsene Wenger fielded five natural central midfielders, but Napoli were opened up repeatedly in their left-back zone. Wenger was without a variety of players comfortable in wide roles – Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – while Jack Wilshere was rested, with Mikel Arteta coming into the side and Arsenal’s three attacking midfielders playing fluid roles. Rafael Benitez was still without Christian Maggio, and also lost Gonzalo Higuain through injury. Arsenal were dominant from the first whistle, and Napoli rarely offered a goal threat.”
Zonal Marking

Arsenal 2 Napoli 0: Mesut Özil sets the tone as Arsene Wenger’s side turn on the style against Napoli
“When Arsenal play with the precision, pace and elegance that spiced some of their mesmerising first-half movement here the feeling grows stronger and stronger that the long, soul-searching, inquisition-scarred wait for a trophy might yet end this season. If it does, the player who should touch the trophy first should be Mesut Özil, who impressed again in a 2-0 victory. The German has strengthened Arsenal psychologically and as an attacking, trophy-threatening force. He has brought belief, assists and now his first goal for the club, a strike that celebrated his sumptuous technique. Özil was almost unplayable at times, gliding hither and thither, twisting away from opponents, the ball merrily snuggling his left foot, leaving Napoli bewildered and bewitched. Telegraph – Henry Winter