Choupo-Moting thwarts Serbia to cap Cameroon’s wild World Cup comeback


“Chaos. Two teams historically wedded to chaos. A Serbia team in chaos because of injury. A Cameroon team plunged into chaos by the expulsion of the Internazionale goalkeeper André Onana. The result, inevitably, was a match of high chaos. But what chaos! It was chaos that yielded drama, remarkable goals, an implausible fightback, a truly exceptional finish that will be remembered long after the match is forgotten and, in the end, a thrilling draw that didn’t really suit either side. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

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Argentina 2-0 Mexico: Messi delivers, Fernandez’s impact and Martino’s ultra-defensive tactics


“When Argentina needed him most, there was Lionel Messi. And then Enzo Fernandez. Mexico were resolute defensively in the first half but Messi broke the deadlock in the 64th minute with a drilled shot from outside the box, then one of Argentina’s substitutes Fernandez scored an excellent individual goal, curling the ball past Guillermo Ochoa. Tata Martino’s Mexico failed to offer much in response and are yet to score in Qatar. Argentina, meanwhile, grew in confidence after Messi’s opening goal. …”
The Athletic
NY Times: Lionel Messi Scores as Argentina Saves Its World Cup
SI: Messi’s Mastery of the Moment Breathes New Life Into Argentina’s World Cup – Jonathan Wilson
Guardian: Tears follow tension as Lionel Messi and Argentina find redemption

Kickoff: The World Cup By Jonathan Wilson

“The World Cup kicks off today in Qatar. To many people the entire extravaganza is one giant laundromat, a sports-wash of global proportions, designed to rinse clean the dirty laundry accumulated during the gulf state’s decade-long preparation for the event. An estimated six thousand five hundred migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka were reportedly killed during the stadiums’ construction in the last ten years. To memorialize them, the Danish team will wear subdued colors and hold black in reserve as its third strip. …”
The Paris Review

Just like the hat, football’s grip could suddenly go out of fashion after Qatar – Jonathan Wilson


Hardly a bare head to be seen as Billy the white police horse helps hold back the crowd spilling on to the pitch at the 1923 FA Cup final.
“Look at a photograph of the crowd at the 1923 FA Cup final and pretty much everybody is wearing a hat. Fast-forward a quarter of a century and a rough estimate would be that a little under half the crowd at the 1948 final are similarly clad. Go forward another 25 years to 1973 and although Bob Stokoe, the Sunderland manager, topped off his tracksuit-and-mac look with a trilby, almost nobody in the stands at Wembley has their head covered. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Salah shines as Klopp earns tactical triumph amid his touchline theatrics


“Towards the end of this thrilling, slightly wild afternoon at Anfield, Jürgen Klopp could be seen with his arms outspread, a tableau of pathos, disbelief, astonishment, bewildered to find himself handed a red card by Anthony Taylor and sent from his touchline. As Klopp whirled away, almost sprinting from pitchside, air‑guitaring wildly, still barking and yelping and pointing, it was hard to disagree with his look of stunned surprise. This made no sense at all. How exactly had Klopp managed to last 85 minutes out there? …”
Guardian (Video)
SI: Liverpool Proves It Has Plenty of Fight Left in Drama-Filled Win Over Man City – Jonathan Wilson
BBC – Liverpool 1-0 Man City: ‘Why Liverpool had to wait for Joe Gomez to get back to his best’ – Martin Keown analysis
Liverpool 1-0 Man City: Player ratings as magic Salah fires Reds to win
Liverpool vs. Manchester City score: Mohamed Salah nets winner at Anfield as Jurgen Klopp sees red (Video)
Guardian: Klopp’s reliance on the undroppables reveals Liverpool’s soft underbelly

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

Liverpool have lost balance and confidence. Regaining both is not easy

“It’s never just one thing. Football, whatever the cliche may say, is not a simple game. A team is a hugely complex organism: a malfunction in one area can have profound consequences elsewhere. Everything is connected and contingent; nothing is independent. Jürgen Klopp must feel at the moment as though he is engaged in a game of Whac-A-Mole, bashing at problems here and there, and yet also knowing that these moles are related, that a mole in one corner is breeding moles elsewhere. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Read this if you want to understand the Trent Alexander-Arnold Liverpool v England ‘debate’


“Whenever there’s an England squad, especially with the World Cup on the horizon, the eternal debate rises: should Trent Alexander-Arnold start for England? Critics will point out his defensive frailties, others will argue that Alexander-Arnold’s game shouldn’t be judged on those weaknesses and Jurgen Klopp will explain why his No 66 is so vital to Liverpool. And round we go again. But what if everyone is right? And what if that is OK? …”
The Athletic
Guardian: Faltering Liverpool are at a crossroads and Klopp is hard-pressed to find answers – Jonathan Wilson

Against all odds, Lionel Messi has one last shot at World Cup glory with Argentina

“Argentina went to Russia in 2018 with a sense it was now or never. They had lost in the final of the previous World Cup. A great generation of attacking talent was ageing. Lionel Messi was 31 and two years earlier had flirted with international retirement after a second successive Copa América final defeat to Chile. And at last the Argentinian Football Association had managed to appoint, in Jorge Sampaoli, a dynamic and progressive coach who promised to restore the days of Bielsista optimism. Messi scored one brilliant goal, against Nigeria and there was a spirited exit against France in the last 16, but the last World Cup was a huge disappointment. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Analysing Mohamed Salah’s stuttering start to the season


“The stage looked set for Mohamed Salah to hit new heights for Liverpool this season. It was a summer when the uncertainty over his future was ended as he signed a new three-year contract worth upwards of £350,000 per week. He finally had the kind of deal that he felt recognised his elite status in world football. In the absence of a major international tournament, the Egyptian forward also got a proper break. He returned to Merseyside refreshed, both physically and mentally, and on a mission to break more records. Yet so far, it hasn’t happened for him. …”
The Athletic (Video)
Guardian: Liverpool running out of wriggle room and Salah’s struggles are not helping – Jonathan Wilson

David Moyes’s bubble is in danger of bursting at downbeat West Ham


“Individually, none of West Ham’s first three Premier League games of the season have been that bad. They were extremely unfortunate to lose at Nottingham Forest, there’s little shame in losing to Manchester City, and Brighton can be awkward opponents for any side, but especially West Ham, who now haven’t beaten them in 11 attempts. All together, though, these three defeats with no goals scored have West Ham bottom of the table. Sunday’s meeting with a struggling Aston Villa comes with a distinct sense of pressure. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Manchester United Powers Through in Win Over Liverpool Amid Transfer Chaos, Protests


“Football has a remarkable habit of making fools of us all. When it was pointed out after Liverpool’s surprise draw against Crystal Palace last Monday that Manchester United could go above Liverpool if it beat Jürgen Klopp’s side, it was with a smirk. Even after Liverpool’s patchy start to the season, such a thing seemed implausible. After all, United had beaten Liverpool only once in the last 12 league meetings, Liverpool had lost only one game—the Champions League final—all year and United had produced probably its worst performance in half a century at Brentford last Saturday. And yet United was good value for its 2–1 win. …”
SI – Jonathan Wilson
Guardian: Why have Liverpool made such a slow start to the Premier League season?
Liverpool’s Biggest Rival in 2022-23 is Father Time

Has Nottingham Forest’s sudden ascent led to too many changes?

“When was it that alarm bells began to ring? Was it when Omar Richards arrived from Bayern Munich for £8.5m to become Nottingham Forest’s sixth summer signing? Was it Lewis O’Brien’s £6m switch from Huddersfield? Or perhaps Remo Freuler, signed this past week from Atalanta for £7.6m, was one signing too many – and that was before a £20m fee was agreed for Emmanuel Dennis. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Mohamed Salah, Real Madrid and revenge


“It’s a question — like, ‘You don’t mind, do you?’, or ‘Does size matter?’ — that is very rarely answered honestly. When the BT Sport gang asked Mohamed Salah, in the immediate aftermath of Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final win over Villarreal, which of Manchester City or Real Madrid he would prefer to play in the final, they probably thought he would give the standard, stock answer. ‘I don’t mind, both are great teams, I’m just happy we’re in the final, either will be a tough game,’ blah, blah, blah. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic: Konate or Matip? Liverpool’s big Champions League final decision
SI: Champions League Final Brings Elixir for Liverpool, Real Madrid’s Fresh Setbacks – Jonathan Wilson
The Athletic: Luis Diaz: The remarkable rise of ‘Luchito’, Liverpool’s ‘true miracle’
Guardian: ‘It’s not easy to score against me’: Courtois the key to Madrid’s wild ride (Video)
The Athletic: Carlo Ancelotti — the Galactico whisperer and king of cups
The Athletic: What makes Eduardo Camavinga the perfect super-sub for Real Madrid

How Mino Raiola Became a Super Agent


Mino Raiola passed away in April 2022 at the age of 54. He had become the most infamous football agent in the world, broker deals for some of the games biggest player, including Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But how did he become a footballing super agent? How did a restaurant worker from Naples connect Serie A with the Eredivisie? How did he inspire such loyalty in his clients? James Horncastle writes, Philippe Fenner illustrates. …”
YouTube
SI: Mino Raiola Was an Unorthodox, Transformative Force, Adored by His Players – Jonathan Wilson
W – Mino Raiola

Outbreaks of chaos expose fatal flaw that keeps denying Guardiola European glory


“At what point does just one of those things become more than just one of those things? If Manchester City’s defeat to Real Madrid on Wednesday night were a one-off, it could be written off. What can you do about luck like that? If you have nine shots on target to the opposition’s none in the first 90 minutes and still lose 2-1 what, really, have you done wrong? Especially when you’ve dominated the first leg as City had done. But this keeps happening. Season after season, Pep Guardiola finds his teams dominating Champions League ties and losing. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Alan Shearer analyses Man City 2 Liverpool 2: Quick free-kick aids De Bruyne, Klopp’s clear message, screaming at Ederson


“Electric, relentless, scintillating, towering standards and brutal in its intensity; Jurgen Klopp likened this match to a boxing match and so it was, with these two exceptional teams slugging it out toe-to-toe at the top of the Premier League, each committed to their own style and principles, utter belief in what they do, and refusing to change for them or for anybody. It was everything we hoped for and expected. Blimey, Manchester City against Liverpool was good. …”
The Athletic
Guardian: Manchester City’s strive for perfection goes on as Liverpool highlight flaws – Jonathan Wilson

Roman Abramovich: What do Russian owner’s sanctions mean for Chelsea?


“The future of European champions Chelsea is uncertain after sanctions were placed on Russian owner Roman Abramovich on Thursday. The billionaire has been in charge since 2003 but had his attempts to sell the club halted by the UK government, which has frozen his assets. What does it mean for Chelsea’s fans, players and staff? BBC Sport explains how the situation will affect those associated with the club. Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government as part of its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The government believes the billionaire has had a ‘close relationship for decades’ with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, links Abramovich has always denied. …”
BBC (Video)
NY Times: At Chelsea, Nervous First Steps Into an Uncertain Future
NY Times: Britain Freezes Assets of Roman Abramovich, Creating Crisis at Chelsea
Guardian / Jonathan Wilson – ‘It was so emotional’: Yarmolenko on his tears for Ukraine after West Ham goal
Guardian: Stamford Bridge hosts dark day for those who care for football’s soul
New Republic: Is Soccer on the Brink of a Moral Awakening?

Hammers ahead Andriy Yarmolenko, born in Ukraine, scored his staff’s opening objective within the win. With Russia’s invasion on Ukraine persevering with, there isn’t a doubt that his coronary heart is heavy and hurting.

Russia exploits football as soft-power tool but it also helped forge Ukraine’s identity


“Josef Kordik was sitting in a cafe in Kyiv when a bedraggled man on the street caught his eye. That, he was sure, was Myklova Trusevych, the great Dynamo goalkeeper. He rushed outside. It was spring 1942, a few months after the city had fallen to the Nazis. Kordik was a Moravian who had been left behind after fighting for Austria-Hungary in the first world war. He had not enjoyed his new life and watching football had been his only joy, but the occupation had meant opportunity. He had falsely claimed Volksdeutsch status and been installed as manager of Bakery Number 1. But for most people occupation had brought suffering. Trusevych had sent his wife, who was Jewish, to Odesa to escape the fighting. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson
Guardian – ‘The worst possible nightmare’: voices from Ukrainian football as war rages

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

Mohamed Salah makes the difference in Egypt’s fightback victory over Morocco


“A solid defence plus Mohamed Salah equals progress. It might not be particularly edifying or good to watch but it does seem to work. This was a dismal game, two hours of spoiling with a dusting of football but, in the football that was played, Salah was decisive. He scored the equaliser and set up the winner, so Egypt will meet Cameroon in Thursday’s semi-final, a meeting of the two most successful sides in Cup of Nation’s history. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Mohamed Salah’s nerveless shootout penalty takes Egypt past Ivory Coast


“It ended, as it had for a long time seemed that it would, with penalties. And as has happened twice before at the Africa Cup of Nations in the past 24 years, Egypt beat Ivory Coast on penalties after a 0-0 draw. Eric Bailly, who had had an excellent game, saw his dinked effort pushed against the crossbar by Egypt’s substitute keeper Mohamed Abou Gabal. Combined with Mohamed Salah’s decisive spot-kick, it was enough for Carlos Queiroz’s Egypt to progress. …”
Guardian: Jonathan Wilson
BBC: Ivory Coast 0 – 0 Egypt

Everton and Its Identity Crisis


“In retrospect, Rafa Benítez was probably never going to work as manager of Everton. Certainly by the end, as he was sacked on Sunday after 200 days in charge, following a run of just one win in the club’s last 13 Premier League games, there was a feeling of inevitability about his departure. When you have been a successful manager of Liverpool, when you have been so closely identified with that half of the city, when you have made comments about Everton perceived as disparaging, the window for error is extremely small. And there was plenty of error. …”
SI: Jonathan Wilson (Video)

When football’s laws are so inflexible, referees’ gaffes are harder to swallow


Tunisia’s coach Mondher Kebaier remonstrates with the referee Janny Sikazwe at Africa Cup of Nations
Janny Sikazwe made a mistake and ended up blowing for full time after 85 minutes of Wednesday’s Africa Cup of Nations meeting between Mali and Tunisia. Forgetting to stop the watch during a water break (if that is what happened) is an understandable error – particularly given he was subsequently taken to hospital suffering from heatstroke – and one that could easily have been rectified. As it was, though, Sikazwe, an experienced referee who took charge of the 2017 Cup of Nations final as well as Belgium v Panama and Japan v Poland at the 2018 World Cup, looked rattled. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson
The Athletic: Three final whistles, two penalties, a dubious red card and a potential replay – the AFCON game mired in controversy (Audio)

Afcon 2021: Cameroon beat Burkina Faso 2-1 before Cape Verde see off Ethiopia


Vincent Aboubakar is looking to lead Cameroon to a sixth Nations Cup title
“Cameroon came from behind to beat Burkina Faso 2-1 in an incident-packed opener at the Africa Cup of Nations. An acrobatic volley from Gustavo Sangare put the Burkinabe ahead midway through the first half in Yaounde. But two unerring penalties from captain Vincent Aboubakar turned the game around for the hosts before half-time. Indomitable Lions keeper Andre Onana made two crucial second-half saves as Toni Conceicao’s side opened their Group A campaign with victory. …”
BBC>
Guardian: Relief and atmosphere as Cameroon open Africa Cup of Nations in style – Jonathan Wilson

The Barcelona Inheritance – Jonathan Wilson


“… His new book is The Barcelona Inheritance: The Evolution of Winning Soccer Tactics from Cruyff to Guardiola. Wilson takes his tactical knowledge and applies it to a specific coaching tree, albeit one that is quite famous. Johan Cruyff has traditionally been attributed with creating the modern Barcelona style of play. Even today, with every new manager, the questions are asked whether the new man can keep Barcelona playing the same tika taka style while churning out the next great generation of soccer talent every year. Wilson explores Cruff’s legacy through the men who succeeded him at Barcelona and in the Netherlands. …”
Review of Jonathan Wilson’s new book, ‘The Barcelona Inheritance’
Jonathan Wilson and The Barcelona Inheritance
amazon

The Data Day No 15: Our Rolling Football Blog


December 9: Villarreal qualified for this season’s Champions League despite not finishing in the top six of La Liga, the cutoff for traditional Europa League qualification. They did so by beating Manchester United in the Europa League final. And although they couldn’t chase down United to win Group F on Thursday, they did more than they needed to in Bergamo to carry on to the Champions League last 16 despite sitting 13th in La Liga. …”
The Analyst
SI: Champions League Group Ouster Is Barcelona’s New Bottom – Jonathan Wilson

West Ham display the virtues of manager Moyes to shock Liverpool


“As Pablo Fornals ran on to Jarrod Bowen’s through-ball midway through the second half, the London Stadium fell into one of those pregnant silences that were probably the greatest loss of the time without fans. Over the course of what can only have been two or three seconds but felt far longer, you could almost hear the thought processes. First, was he going to get his shot in? Yes. Then, was he set to measure his finish? He was. Then, was his shot going to beat Alisson? It did, just about, carrying on into the net despite a hefty touch by the keeper. Is the London Stadium still disliked by West Ham fans? Perhaps it is. …”
Guardian: Jonathan Wilson
Guardian: Kurt Zouma earns West Ham victory as Liverpool run ends with Alisson errors
West Ham United 3-2 Liverpool – Tactical Analysis – How Moyes’ Men Claimed Victory

The Blizzard (magazine)


The Blizzard is a quarterly football magazine edited by Jonathan Wilson, published in both download and hard copy formats by Blizzard Media. The magazine was originally sold on a pay-what-you-like basis. The Blizzard took its name from an eclectic Victorian Sunderland-based newspaper set up by Sidney Duncan, which ran for 12 issues and was established in 1893. Wilson, who also comes from Sunderland, wanted to replicate the eclectic nature of this publication. The Editor’s Note, which began Issue Zero, set out the magazine’s ethos as an alternative to that which was currently available in football media. … The Blizzard accommodates longer articles than a typical football magazine, with pieces up to 8000 words long. Topics are often more obscure and esoteric than other magazines, aiming to either cover little-explored components of football culture, or to take new perspectives on previously well explored issues. …”
Wikipedia
The Blizzard

El Gráfico


Heleno de Freitas (Boca)
El Gráfico is an Argentine online sports magazine, originally published by Editorial Atlántida as a print publication between 1919 and 2018. El Gráfico was released in May 1919 as a weekly newspaper, and then turned to a sports magazine exclusively. It began to be scheduled monthly from 2002, and was discontinued in 2018, continuing only on internet. El Gráfico is widely the most regarded sports magazine in Argentina and Latin America. The magazine was nicknamed La Biblia del deporte (‘The Bible of sports’) due to its chronicles, notable journalists and collaborators and its photographies. … The best selling era of El Gráfico was during the 1986 FIFA World Cup when Argentina crowned champion, with 690,998 sold. The second place in the ranking of all-time best seller magazine is for the 1978 FIFA World Cup with 595,924. Diego Maradona was the sports man with the most appearances on the cover: 134, followed by Daniel Passarella (58) and Norberto Alonso (54). …”
Wikipedia
Angels with Dirty Faces – Jonathan Wilson: 15 – Our Way
Diego Maradona: A genius and the soul of a nation – Jonathan Wilson
El Pibe del Barrio: Understanding the Latin American archetype and what it means for U.S. Soccer

Manchester United 0 Liverpool 5: Salah hits hat-trick, United’s midfield goes missing and pressure mounts on Solskjaer


Manchester United were booed off the pitch at Old Trafford after suffering a 5-0 humiliation at the hands of their fierce rivals Liverpool. The pressure mounts on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose side were outclassed in every area of the pitch during Sunday’s match. Mohamed Salah was the star for Jurgen Klopp’s team, scoring a 12-minute hat-trick (either side of the break). Liverpool remain unbeaten in 13 matches this season across all competitions, and are one point behind Premier League leaders Chelsea. Here, Oliver Kay and Dominic Fifield analyse the key talking points from Old Trafford… ”
The Athletic
Guardian: Salah’s crowning glory for Egypt in sight after feats for club and continent
NY Times: Goals Rain on Manchester United, Covering the Boss With Blame
Guardian: Manchester United rout had been coming: nobody has a clue what they are doing (Jonathan Wilson)
SI – Manchester United 0-5 Liverpool: Mohamed Salah Reaction To Sensational Performance On Instagram (Video)
BBC: Manchester United 0 – 5 Liverpool
The Athletic: Liverpool humiliation should be the death knell for Solskjaer’s reign
The Athletic: Rest, right-side connection, mentality: Lijnders on how Salah has become ‘unstoppable’ for Liverpool (Video)(Oct. 2021)

Louis van Gaal may be rude and stubborn but his vision should be celebrated


“… The 70-year-old glares from behind the desk. ‘You have no idea at all,’ he says to the 58-year-old Valentijn Driessen, who writes for De Telegraaf, wants the Netherlands to play 4-3-3 and has implied a back three is inherently defensive. ‘I’m sorry to say it, but you’re just a journalist. You want to implement your vision, but you have no vision in football. You have a vision for the newspaper, fantastic.’ Louis van Gaal’s third stint in charge of the Netherlands national team has only just entered its third month, but already there have been a series of moments of memorable directness. Could it be that Van Gaal is even more blunt than before, that age has made him even less tolerant of the failings of the rest of the world, that he cares even less for diplomacy? …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson
W – Louis van Gaal

FSG and the culture wars at Liverpool


“The smell of ale usually hits you as the doors of the Twelfth Man on Walton Breck Road swing open but not on this Saturday afternoon. It is 50 minutes before the Premier League game between Liverpool and Crystal Palace and the pub is half-empty. On the walk up to Anfield from the direction of the Mersey river, pints have already been sunken at the Saddle Inn on Fountains Road and it was quiet there as well. Closer to the ground, any bar is normally two or three deep. Yet last month, you could walk into the Twelfth Man and get served more or less straight away. …”
The Athletic (Video/Audio)
Guardian – ‘It’s the package’: how Liverpool’s rhythm got the goals flowing again
Guardian – Liverpool v Manchester City: great games in the Klopp-Guardiola era
Guardian – A striker isn’t everything, but might solve Pep Guardiola’s all-or-nothing problem (Jonathan Wilson)
Pep Guardiola record vs Liverpool is a myth, and Man City boss’ own comments prove it
W – John W. Henry
******Guardian: Manchester City make spitting complaint after thrilling Liverpool draw

Pep Guardiola says Jurgen Klopp

Defender (association football)


“In the sport of association football, a defender is an outfield player whose primary roles are to stop attacks during the game and prevent the opposing team from scoring goals. Centre backs are usually in pairs, with two full-backs to their left and right, but can come in threes with no full backs. There are four types of defenders: centre-back, sweeper, full-back, and wing-back. The centre-back and full-back positions are essential in most modern formations. The sweeper and wing-back roles are more specialized for certain formations depending on the managers choice of play and adaptation. … The sweeper (or libero) is a more versatile centre-back who ‘sweeps up’ the ball if an opponent manages to breach the defensive line. This position is rather more fluid than that of other defenders who man-mark their designated opponents. Because of this, it is sometimes referred to as libero, which is Italian for ‘free’. …”
Wikipedia
Guardian – The Question: Could the sweeper be on his way back? (Jonathan Wilson – Sep. 2009)
Football Tactics for Beginners- The Sweeper Keeper: From Lev Yashin to Manuel Neuer (Dec. 2017)
YouTube: What Happened to Sweepers in Football?, What is a Libero?, What is a Sweeper Keeper?

2021–22 UEFA Champions League


“The 2021–22 UEFA Champions League is the 67th season of Europe’s premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 30th season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs’ Cup to the UEFA Champions League. The final will be played at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It was originally scheduled to be played at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany. However, due to the postponement and relocation of the 2020 final, the final hosts were shifted back a year, with Saint Petersburg instead hosting the 2022 final. The winners of the 2021–22 UEFA Champions League will automatically qualify for the 2022–23 UEFA Champions League group stage, and also earn the right to play against the winners of the 2021–22 UEFA Europa League in the 2022 UEFA Super Cup. …”
W – 2021–22 UEFA Champions League, W – 2021–22 UEFA Champions League group stage
Guardian – Champions League 2021-22 draw: group stage analysis and predictions

No surprise Leeds lost to Manchester United, just look at the wage bills


Marcelo Bielsa
“The easy thing is to blame the manager. It has become football’s default response to any crisis. A team hits a poor run or loses a big game: get rid of the manager. As Alex Ferguson said as many as 14 years ago, we live in ‘a mocking culture’ and reality television has fostered the idea people should be voted off with great regularity (that he was trying to defend Steve McClaren’s reign as England manager should not undermine the wider point). Managers are expendable. Rejigging squads takes time and money and huge amounts of effort in terms of research and recruitment, whereas anybody can look at who is doing well in Portugal or Greece or the Championship and spy a potential messiah. Then there are the structural factors, the underlying economic issues it is often preferable to ignore because to acknowledge them is to accept how little agency the people we shout about every week really have in football. …”
Guardian: Jonathan Wilson
Man United 5-1 Leeds – Tactical Analysis – Pogba’s Masterclass
YouTube: actical Analysis : Manchester United 5 – 1 Leeds United | Solskjaer’s Tactics vs Bielsa

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


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


“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
amazon

Breaking down England’s penalty heartbreak: At 10.49pm, Maguire slashes penalty home. At 10.54pm, everything changes


“It’s brutal sometimes, football. One by one, the players went to Bukayo Saka. They told him it would be OK, that they were proud of him, and that he should be proud of himself, too. They told him there was no blame and, even as they were saying it, they must have known their words made little difference. Maybe, in time, Saka will come to understand that, yes, he ought to be proud he played with such distinction during Euro 2020 that he was trusted, at the age of 19, to be part of the penalty shootout which decided the final between England and Italy. For now, though, what can anyone say to console a player who has suffered this kind of professional trauma? …”
The Athletic
NY Times: How Italy Beat England to Win Euro 2020 (Video)
Leaving Euro 2020 – Brian Phillips
BBC: ‘Out of despair, Italy have brought joy to a nation’
NY Times: After Defeat, England’s Black Soccer Players Face a Racist Outburst
Marcus Rashford mural vandalised after England lose Euro 2020 final
Guardian: England battle for survival instead of control as deep-lying issue resurfaces – Jonathan Wilson
W – UEFA Euro 2020 Final
NY Times: In the Big Euro 2020 Game, I Knew the England I Was Rooting For

Andriy Shevchenko’s modern methods have revolutionised Ukraine


“Five years ago, Ukraine lost 1-0 to Poland in Marseille to complete a miserable Euros campaign in which they lost all three games and failed to score. Their football was leaden and uninspired, predicated on three lumbering holding midfielders and the vague hope that either Andriy Yarmolenko or Yevhen Konoplyanka might do something spectacular. Yarmolenko remains but as Ukraine prepare for a European Championship quarter-final, almost everything else has changed beyond recognition. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Croatia 3-5 Spain (AET): Alvaro Morata scores in extra-time to book Euro 2020 quarter-final place


“Alvaro Morata’s extra-time goal helped Spain secure an extraordinary 5-3 victory over Croatia in a pulsating Euro 2020 last-16 tie in Copenhagen. In a game full of twists and turns, Luis Enrique’s side dominated the early stages but fell behind in bizarre circumstances when goalkeeper Unai Simon’s miscontrol caused Pedri’s 49-yard backpass to bounce into his own net (20). Spain fought back, scoring three goals without reply through Pablo Sarabia (38), Cesar Azpilicueta (57) and Ferran Torres (76), but Croatia, who appeared out of it at that point, staged a remarkable comeback to send the game into extra-time. …”
Sky Sports
Guardian: Luis Enrique’s Spanish revolution takes nerve-shredding step forward – Jonathan Wilson
ESPN – Euro 2020: Spain show character in spades again, as Morata, Simon inspire extra-time win vs. Croatia (Video)

Belgium 1-0 Portugal: Ronaldo draws a blank, Hazards come to the fore, Pepe loses his cool (again)


Thorgan Hazard
“Cristiano Ronaldo had the all-time men’s international goal scoring record and the Euro 2020 quarter-finals in his sights, but he hadn’t reckoned on a stubborn and resilient Belgium side, who defended solidly and provided the game’s most outstanding moment of technical quality. Here, The Athletic’s Liam Twomey and Tim Spiers pick through the major talking points… The stage was set for Cristiano Ronaldo. His team, his tournament, his Euros, his next goal record… but for once, he failed to take the spotlight. … But while the elder Hazard brother’s improved rhythm should be cause for optimism among Belgium supporters, he wasn’t the hero of this particular night. Thorgan shattered Portugal’s ultra-cautious game plan from 25 yards with one magnificent swish of his boot late in the first half. …”
Belgium 1-0 Portugal: Ronaldo draws a blank, Hazards come to the fore, Pepe loses his cool (again)
Guardian: Thorgan Hazard strike sinks Portugal and puts Belgium in quarter-finals
Guardian: Cristiano Ronaldo exits but does not have the look of a man whose race is run – Jonathan Wilson
NY Times: Relief for Belgium Comes at Ronaldo’s Expense

Euro 2020’s flying full-backs show risk-free football is not the only path to victory


Lukaku & De Bruyne
“… Which is perhaps a polite way of saying a little bit boring. But then most successful international sides are, based on the construction of a solid base and a couple of gifted creators who can extemporise upon that – or at least they have been. The sophisticated models that dominate at elite club level take time to instil. To press effectively in the modern game takes weeks of repetitions on the training ground so that players know instinctively when to hunt the ball and when to ease off. And pressing is pointless if it isn’t coherent: it’s just players running about. It works only if conducted in packs: one or two men to the man in possession, a wave of others blocking off his options, either by closing down opponents or the passing lanes. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Belgium’s attacking riches bail out creaking back line against Denmark


Kevin de Bruyne, a second half substitute for Belgium, turned the game on its head.
“Perhaps this wasn’t the game for making proper judgments. Belgium were in the desperately awkward position of being the other team in the face of a great outpouring of Danish emotion, and for half the game they struggled in that role. But the introduction of Kevin De Bruyne, back after surgery on the facial injury he sustained in the Champions League final, changed everything. But beyond talk of the difficult emotion of the occasion or of De Bruyne’s brilliance, there are other issues for Belgium. Going forward after half-time, they looked like the side that had scored 40 goals in qualifying. Romelu Lukaku, the isolation of the first half ended, was exceptional. …”
Guardian: Jonathan Wilson
De Bruyne inspires Belgium comeback win after Denmark’s Eriksen tribute
The Athletic’s 10 Euro stars – Kevin De Bruyne: Belgium’s man on a mission (June 9)

France Doesn’t Stray From Its Championship Formula In Beating Germany to Open Euros


“There is something slightly odd about this France side, in that the scores of its games so rarely reflect what has just happened. No team seems quite so often to hammer an opponent by a single goal. Germany may have won the shot count and the possession battle in Tuesday’s 1–0 triumph for Les Bleus in the teams’ first match of what’s the competition’s most difficult group. But this was rarely a game Germany looked like winning, with it never quite able to put France under pressure and always appearing vulnerable to the counter. Ultimately, an own goal from Mats Hummels, who had scored the winner at the right end when Germany beat France in the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals, was enough, but Adrien Rabiot hit a post, Karim Benzema had a goal ruled out for a tight offside and Kylian Mbappé did as well, albeit for a slightly more obvious infraction. …” SI – Jonathan Wilson (Video), Guardian: Paul Pogba full of bite and craft even after Antonio Rüdiger tries a nibble, Joachim Löw’s Legacy (Video, June 12 2021), NY Times: France, So Deep and So Dominant, Finds One Goal Is Plenty

Euro 2020 Power Rankings: France the Clear Favorite—but Then What?


“Five years removed from Portugal’s coronation just outside Paris, the next European Championship begins on Friday, and with it comes the quest for the 2016 host and runner-up to make amends and follow a World Cup title with another triumph—and for 23 other national sides to do something about it. France is as good if not better than it was when it lifted the World Cup trophy in Russia three summers ago, and after an extra year’s wait due to the pandemic, it’s out to confirm its status as the world and region’s preeminent team—it’s No. 2 FIFA world ranking notwithstanding. Before the competition begins, with Italy facing Turkey in Rome, we examine team form, ability and outlook based on the draw to rank the 24 contenders vying to be crowned European champion (group opponents listed in order of when they’ll play in the opening stage). …” SI – Jonathan Wilson, Guardian: At the Euros, winning teams can start badly. It’s how they respond that matters, ESPN – Euro 2020 preview: Picks, scouting reports, must-see games, biggest ‘upset’ teams and much more (Video)

Joachim Löw’s flawed planning leaves talented Germany at the crossroads


“At least now there is no future to work towards. After 15 years as Germany manager, Euro 2020 will be Joachim Löw’s seventh and last major tournament. There is no need for him to have an eye on the next cycle: his only job is to get the best result possible in the here and now – and to rescue a reputation that took a battering in Russia. Löw is a World Cup winner who helped to oversee the great stylistic transformation of German football and for that, he deserves enormous credit. But he also led Germany to their worst World Cup in more than eight decades and, given the extraordinary quality of players available, it is hard to avoid the sense that he has underachieved in recent years. …” Guardian

The Barcelona Legacy: Guardiola, Mourinho and the Fight For Football’s Soul – Jonathan Wilson


“Wilson’s historical study gives fans a keen, thrilling insight into the philosophy of the game’ The New Yorker Manchester, 2018: Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho lead their teams out to face each other in the 175th Manchester derby. They are first and second in the Premier League, but today only one man can come out on top. It is merely the latest instalment in a rivalry that has contested titles, traded insults and crossed a continent, but which can be traced back to a friendship that began almost 25 years ago. Barcelona, late-nineties: Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team is disintegrating and the revolutionary manager has departed, but what will come next will transform the future of football. Cruyff’s style has changed the game, and given birth to a generation of thinkers: men like Ronald Koeman, Luis Enrique, Laurent Blanc, Frank de Boer, Louis van Gaal, and Cruyff’s club captain Pep Guardiola and a young translator, Jose Mourinho. …” Kinokuniya Book, The Barcelona Legacy Podcast (Audio), amazon

Champions League’s Last 16 Will Be Quite Telling


“By the time the UEFA Champions League’s knockout stage begins, much could change. A winter transfer window will have come and gone, though with COVID-19 impacting club finances across Europe and some already having spent big in the summer, it remains to be seen how substantial the forthcoming moves will be. Barcelona will have held its club presidential elections, a pivotal moment for a giant in turmoil and one that could have plenty of say in how the club operates moving forward. Influential players currently out injured should return, and the form, fitness and focus levels of clubs will certainly vary to what they currently are. …” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Liverpool show they have resolve to retain title in season of trench warfare


“Retaining the title is hard, proverbially harder than winning it the first time – although that clearly to an extent depends on what you’re up against. But if Liverpool do become the 27th side in English league history successfully to defend their crown, they will have done so in conditions more different to the initial success than any of their predecessors. Quarter of the way through the season, their record unbeaten home run extended to 64 games, they are level on points with the leaders and, despite all their injuries, look by far the most likely winners. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

The Barcelona Inheritance: The Evolution of Winning Soccer Tactics from Cruyff to Guardiola – Jonathan Wilson

“From Cruyff’s ‘Total Football’ to the epic rivalry between Guardiola and Mourinho, a gripping chronicle of the rise and fall of Barcelona’s dominance in world soccer. Barcelona’s style of play–pressing and possessing–is the single biggest influence on modern soccer. In The Barcelona Inheritance, Jonathan Wilson reveals how and why this came to pass, offering a deep analysis of the evolution of soccer tactics and style. In the late 1990s, Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team was disintegrating and the revolutionary manager had departed, but his style gave birth to a new generation of thinkers, including Pep Guardiola and José Mourinho. Today, their teams are first and second in the Premier League, marking the latest installment in a rivalry that can be traced back twenty-five years. The Barcelona Inheritance is a book about the tactics, the personalities, the friendships, and, in one case, an apocalyptic falling-out that continue to shape the game today. …”
amazon

Bayern Munich Maintains Its Bundesliga Dominance While Undergoing a Rapid Transition

“Confirmation of an eighth successive league title came with a 1-0 victory over Werder Bremen on Tuesday, secured with yet another Robert Lewandowski goal and a brilliant late save from Manuel Neuer. Bayern has clearly deserved it. In recent months, Bayern has been the best team in Germany. Since the Bundesliga’s restart, it has been remorseless, winning seven league games out of seven and racking up 22 goals in the process. …”
SI

Carlos’s 1986 World Cup foul and the value of rethinking our villains

“Football can give you completely the wrong idea about people. One incident in one match can skew the perception. For years I thought I hated Carlos, the Brazil goalkeeper who pulled back Bruno Bellone after the France forward had gone round him in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final and somehow went unpunished. How, four years after Harald Schumacher’s horrendous assault on Patrick Battiston, could that glorious France – Platini! Tigana! Giresse! – be cheated once again by a goalkeeper? Carlos’s offence had nothing like the raw violence of Schumacher’s, but it was cynical. And so, for compounding the injustice of Seville 1982, he went on the blacklist. …”
Guardian

Yuri Semin: the man who can’t say no when Lokomotiv Moscow call


“Never go back, they say, but Yuri Semin has never been somebody to place too much store by conventional wisdom. He is 71 now, his eyes more watery than ever, and this is his fourth stint in charge of Lokomotiv Moscow. In total, he’s managed them for more than two decades. To a large extent, Semin is the club and that they are playing Schalke in the Champions League on Wednesday is to a large degree down to him.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Sergio Agüero embraces defending to erase Pep Guardiola’s doubts

“Manchester City beat Huddersfield 5-1 in an FA Cup fifth-round replay in March last year. Sergio Agüero scored twice but post-match discussion centred largely on whether he had a future at the club. Pep Guardiola had made it clear he felt there were elements of the Argentinian’s game that did not fit with his vision and had brought in Gabriel Jesus with a view, it seemed, to easing him out.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson