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

December 4, 2021


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


Portugal on collision course with Italy after Qatar World Cup play-off draw

November 27, 2021


Italy and Portugal have been drawn in the same pathway for the European FIFA World Cup play-offs, meaning only one will be able to secure qualification for next year’s tournament in Qatar. Italy are the defending European champions, after beating England on penalties in the final of Euro 2020 in the summer. Portugal meanwhile won Euro 2016, overcoming France in Paris to win the tournament for the first time. But one — or both — will miss out on a place in Qatar after Friday’s play-off draw. …”
The Athletic


World Cup 2022: ranking the top 10 contenders a year before Qatar

November 19, 2021


“With just over a year to go until the World Cup kicks off, 12 teams have qualified alongside hosts Qatar. All four semi-finalists from 2018 have sealed their spots and are joined by former world champions Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Spain, while recent European champions Portugal and Italy still have more to do. With most of the big hitters now able to prepare for the tournament, we assess where they stand as the countdown to Qatar begins. …”
Guardian
The Athletic: CONCACAF World Cup qualifying: Where USMNT, Canada, Mexico and Panama stand with six matches left
World Cup 2022 Power Rankings: France & England the early favourites as Portugal & Italy falter


World Cup 2022 qualification: Who will be in Qatar and who is in play-offs?

November 16, 2021


Gareth Southgate’s England are heading to Qatar 2022, while Wales and Scotland have a play-off place secured
“England have qualified for the 2022 World Cup finals while Wales and Scotland are heading to the play-offs along with some surprising names. European champions Italy and Portugal will also have to go through two rounds of play-off games next March after failing to win their respective groups. Heading to the World Cup so far are: Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland. The Netherlands, Norway and Turkey are the three teams left who can still qualify automatically. The winners of each group secure a place at the World Cup, with the 10 runners-up joining two Nations League teams in the play-offs, where three further places are up for grabs. …”
BBC


Kisvárda, Hungarian football’s mystery contenders

October 28, 2021


“Over the past six years, Budapest-based clubs have won the Hungarian league title, with the country’s biggest name, Ferencváros, crowned champions in the past three seasons. After a period in which the likes of Videoton and Debrecen sat at the top, the capital city has regained its power in the Hungarian game. This season, there is a new challenger in the form of Kisvárda, a provincial club from a small town in the Northern Great Plain region of the country that sits on the Budapest to Ukraine railway line. Kisvárda has a population of 16,500 and was once a strong Jewish town until the second world war. Tragically, many were sent to Auschwitz and as a result, there are very few Jews in Kisvárda today. Kisvárda, which was originally founded in 1911 and now carries the full name Kisvárda Master Good FC, are top of the Hungarian OTP Bank Liga after 10 games, a point ahead of Ferencváros and Puskás Akadémia. …”
Game of the People
W – Kisvárda FC


Portugal in the 21st Century – The Cost of Gold

October 17, 2021


Atlas Van der Hage
“The European Championships this summer were a lesson in team play, for both the robust attacking outfits and the overly conservative. Disregarding his country’s catenaccio history, Roberto Mancini looked to dominate play even against the brilliant Spanish, the summer’s premier ball-hoggers, and Italy were crowned eventual tournament winners on the back of brilliant team goals. Roberto Martinez’s Belgium set up with three defenders and focused heavily on attacking play, as did a somewhat lackluster Germany. On the flipside, France were unable to repeat their 2018 triumph with Didier Deschamps sticking to a pragmatic tactical setup. Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions similarly played deep and found few moments of true attacking promise, but their cohesiveness worked wonders. And then there was Portugal. They, like France and England, typically played deep, negative football, but their only respite came from one man, not their teamwork or cohesion. …”
Football Paradise


Jack Grealish must play the system to be an England regular for Southgate

October 14, 2021


“Jack Grealish could not hide the frustration. And nor could pockets of the England support inside Wembley on Tuesday night, some of whom booed the decision. There were 62 minutes on the clock, the team were level at 1-1 with Hungary and Gareth Southgate had substituted Grealish, replacing him with Bukayo Saka. The TV cameras lingered on Grealish as he took his seat. The midfielder shook his head before putting it down and running his fingers through his hair. It was the night when Southgate tried a different blend, dispensing with his usual minimum of six defensive-minded outfield starters and going with five whose first instinct is to attack. It was Phil Foden and Mason Mount as the No 8s in the 4-3-3, leaving only Declan Rice in front of the defence, and there is no doubt that it was what the fans had demanded. …”
Guardian
Guardian: Southgate must not ditch newfound attacking intent. Fail again. Fail better the same way
“We didn’t play at the level we need to play” – Five things learned as England slump to a 1-1 draw with Hungary


False 9 / El Clásico

October 13, 2021


“… The false 9, in some ways similar to a more advanced attacking midfielder/playmaker role, is an unconventional lone striker or centre-forward, who drops deep into midfield. The purpose of this is that it creates a problem for opposing centre-backs who can either follow the false 9, leaving space behind them for onrushing midfielders, forwards or wingers to exploit, or leaving the false 9 to have time and space to dribble or pick out a pass. The term comes from the traditional number for centre-forwards (nine), and the fact that normally a centre-forward traditionally stayed near the line of defenders until they got an opportunity to move past them toward goal. Key attributes for a false 9 are similar to those of a deep-lying striker: dribbling ability to take advantage of space between the lines, good short passing ability to link up with the midfield and vision to play through teammates making runs from deep to goal. The first false 9 in a World Cup was Juan Peregrino Anselmo in the Uruguay national team, although he could not play the match against Argentina in the 1930 World Cup due to injury. Matthias Sindelar was the false 9 of the Wunderteam, the Austria national team, in 1934. … By the end of 2012, the False 9 had gone “mainstream” with many clubs employing a version of the system. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has been an exponent of the false 9 position to much success in recent years, first under coach Pep Guardiola and later under his successor Tito Vilanova. …”
W – False 9
The Evolution of the False 9 Role
YouTube: What is a False Nine?, Why Is Every Team Using the False 9? | False 9 Tactics Explained
W – El Clásico
How Barcelona lost their soul
Barcelona’s eight greatest Clasicos


Attila Szalai

October 12, 2021


“Attila Szalai is catching the eye and attracting interest from some of Europe’s elite clubs. This is the story of how he was discovered in Cyprus. Sitting in a small bar in Mezőkövesd, Petros Konnafis was exhausted and drained. But most of all he was elated. It had taken months and weeks of negotiations and convincing the right people, but finally he had completed the deal he was certain was worth every penny. … When Petros watched Hungary U21s against Cyprus he did not expect to discover a hidden treasure back in 2018. But the more and more he watched the more he felt himself captivated by Hungary’s number 13. …”
The inside story of Attila Szalai: “Hungary’s Virgil Van Dijk” (Video)
W – Attila Szalai
YouTube: Attila Szalai is a BEAST… • Review Season of 2020/21


World Cup roundup: Denmark thrash Moldova to keep up perfect record

October 10, 2021


Denmark thrash Moldova
Denmark maintained their 100% record in Group F, with a 4-0 win in Moldova. Andreas Skov Olsen opened the scoring before Simon Kjær added a penalty. Christian Norgaard and Joakim Mæhle were also on target. Austria won 2-0 in the Faroe Islands to keep up their slim hopes of overtaking Scotland, who beat Israel 3-2 in a Hampden Park thriller. First-half goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk gave Ukraine a 2-1 win over Finland in Group D. The West Ham forward Yarmolenko put the visitors ahead less than five minutes after kick-off when he drove home from 20 yards past the Finnish goalkeeper. Norwich City’s Teemu Pukki levelled for Finland in the 29th minute but Ukraine regained the lead minutes later with a goal from Yaremchuk. …”
Guardian


Spain Loses World Cup Qualifier For The First Time In 66 Matches, 2-1 Against Sweden

September 6, 2021


“The Spanish national team tasted defeat for the first time in 28 years in a World Cup qualifying match after they lost to Sweden 2-1 on Friday in Stockholm. Sweden came back from a goal down to defeat Spain who lost a World Cup qualifying match after 66 games undefeated. The defeat means that Spain have lost a World Cup qualifying game after 66 matches and 28 years. During this undefeated run, they also managed to win 10 in a row before the 2010 World Cup which they ended up winning. A defeat that Luis Enrique would not have excepted as his men had done well in the Euro 2020 having made the semi-finals where they lost eventual Champions Italy on penalties. …”
Republic World
YouTube: Sweden stuns Spain 2-1 in World Cup qualifier | WCQ Highlights | ESPN FC
UEFA: European Qualifiers: England and Belgium rampant, Sweden stun Spain


Total Football

September 5, 2021


Johan Cruyff playing with Ajax in 1971
Total Football (Dutch: totaalvoetbal) is a tactical system in association football in which any outfield player can take over the role of any other player in a team. Although Dutch club Ajax and the Netherlands national football team are generally credited with creating this system during the 1970s, there were other sides who had played a similar style before, such as the Austrian Wunderteam of the 1930s, the Argentine side ‘La Maquina‘ of River Plate in the 1940s, the Golden Team of Hungary in the 1950s, English team Burnley in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and Brazilian side Santos in the 1960s. In Total Football, a player who moves out of his position is replaced by another from his team, thus retaining the team’s intended organisational structure. In this fluid system, no outfield player is fixed in a predetermined role; anyone can successively play as an attacker, a midfielder and a defender. The only player who must stay in a specified position is the goalkeeper. …”
Wikipedia
YouTube: Total Football Explained


Golden Team

September 1, 2021


W – Gusztáv Sebes, W – Ferenc Puskás
“The Golden Team (Hungarian: Aranycsapat; also known as the Mighty Magyars, the Magical Magyars, the Magnificent Magyars, the Marvellous Magyars, or the Light Cavalry) refers to the Hungary national football team of the 1950s. It is associated with several notable matches, including the ‘Match of the Century‘ against England in 1953, and the quarter-final (‘Battle of Berne‘) against Brazil, semi-final (against Uruguay) and final of the 1954 FIFA World Cup (‘The Miracle of Bern‘). The team inflicted notable defeats on then-footballing world powers England, Uruguay and the Soviet Union, before the 1956 Hungarian Revolution caused the breakup of the side. Between 1950 and 1956, the team recorded 42 victories, 7 draws and just one defeat, in the 1954 World Cup final against West Germany. …”
W – Golden Team, W – Total Football
The greatest teams of all time: Hungary 1950–56
Guardian – Hungary’s Golden Squad: the greatest football team never to win it all?
The Curious Case of Hungarian football
Remembering Josef ‘Pepi’ Bican, once Europe’s greatest goalscorer
The glory of Josef Uridil, the first man to transcend football and celebrity in Austria
Hungary 1950s (Video)
W – Match of the Century (1953 England v Hungary football match), W – Battle of Berne (1954 FIFA World Cup), W – 1954 FIFA World Cup Final


Wunderteam: Hungarian soccer team 1930s

August 22, 2021


1930: Beginning of the match.
Wunderteam (Wonder Team) was the name given to the Austria national football team of the 1930s. Led by manager Hugo Meisl, the team had an unbeaten streak of 14 games between April 1931 and December 1932. The style of the team was based on the Scottish school of football that focused on quick passing introduced by Englishman Jimmy Hogan. The forward line was complemented by wide half-backs and an attacking centre-half. Matthias Sindelar, Josef Bican, Anton Schall, Josef Smistik and Walter Nausch were the referents of the team that would dominate European football during that era. Matthias Sindelar, known as Der Papierene (The Papery Man) due to his slight build, was the star and captain of the team. In the early 1930s, Austria became a very celebrated team in Europe. … The cup was to be Wunderteam’s only championship win. …”
W – Wunderteam
Guardian – World Cup stunning moments: Austria’s Wunderteam go close, YouTube: Matthias Sindelar: The Footballer Who Defied The Nazis
Jimmy Hogan: the English pioneer who set Hungary up for greatness
How Austria’s Wunderteam defied the Nazis for one last act of greatness
Matthias Sindelar: the great pre-war footballer who danced before the Nazis
W – Austria–Hungary football rivalry
W – Jimmy Hogan, W – Béla Guttmann, W – Hugo Meisl, W – Márton Bukovi, W – Gusztáv Sebes, W – Izidor Kürschner

Matthias Sindelar


How Vienna coffee houses gave rise to a new era of intellectualism in football

August 11, 2021


Cafe Griensteidl in Wien
“The intellectual scene in football has taken a sharp upturn with the emergence of quality publications over the last half a decade that fearlessly delve into the niche and fascinating aspects of the game that may otherwise be overlooked. Alongside this, the rise of social media has allowed us to engage more intimately with tactical theoreticians and pundits, giving our understanding of the game’s nuances a chance to thrive. Essentially, we know more about football than ever before. It’s hard to imagine that we could trace the emergence of this facet of football culture all the way back to interwar Vienna’s coffee houses. It was here that the game became an intellectual pursuit, not just a sport, and it helped give rise to one of the most ephemerally wonderful international sides of all time. As well as being a movement about the unrelenting desire for growth and development, it was also one marred by tragedy. …”
These Football Times
Coffee Houses of Vienna: Birthplace of Intelligent Football – Jonathan Wilson
Coffee House rules – how football was shaped in Vienna’s cafes
BBC – Dancing over the edge: Vienna in 1914


The Names Heard Long Ago: How the Golden Age of Hungarian Soccer Shaped the Modern Game – Jonathan Wilson

August 2, 2021


“Jonathan Wilson’s eleventh book, The Names Heard Long Ago: How The Golden Age of Hungarian Football Shaped The Modern Game, once again sees the celebrated journalist and author delving into a fascinating part of football history, meticulously detailed, thoroughly researched, as one would expect from the architect of the football fanatic’s Bible, Inverting The Pyramid. The Names Heard Long Ago explores the revolutionary concepts found in early 20th Century Hungarian football and the subsequent spread of ideas, tactics and characters around the globe, often granting unprecedented success in the far-reaching countries in which they were adopted, and still found in the game today. It illuminates names of once-great teams MTK and Ferencváros, characters who had a profound influence on the game such as Béla Guttman, Dori Kürschner, and Imre Hirschl. …”
How 20th Century Hungarian Football Influenced The Game We Love Today
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