Saudi Stars Arrive in Spain, With One Eye on Russia

February 9, 2018

“VILLAREAL, Spain — After the website had crashed, but before the falcon arrived, Salem al-Dawsari was introduced by his new club. Inside the Estadio de la Cerámica, the banana-yellow-skinned home of the Spanish team Villarreal, a few dozen journalists had arrived to view Dawsari, a midfielder who had become something of a curiosity in the Spanish news media. For one, Dawsari was among the first players from Saudi Arabia to sign for a team in La Liga, Spanish soccer’s top league. But that was only part of the story. …” NY Times


Applause at the Draw, but Will Russia Keep Cheering?

December 3, 2017

“MOSCOW — Half a million fans — by current, suspiciously optimistic, estimates — will descend on Russia next year for what Gianni Infantino, the FIFA president, has already decreed will be the ‘best’ World Cup in history. Every single fan, he has decided, will have “an amazing experience.” Billions of dollars have been spent on new, or renovated, stadiums to host the finest players in the world: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, on Friday promised a ‘major sporting festival of friendship and fair play.’ …” NY Times, The Ringer: The Four Must-Watch Games of the 2018 World Cup Group Stages (Video), NY Times – World Cup Draw: Group-by-Group Analysis

World Cup 2018 power rankings: Germany on top among qualified 23

October 12, 2017

“Twenty-three nations have booked their places for the World Cup in Russia, with the holders and Brazil looking in good shape but we rank England in 13th place, below Iceland.” Guardian (Video)


Tactical Analysis: England 2-2 Spain | Start of a transition for both teams

November 18, 2016

“England’s international friendly against Spain on the 15th November marked Gareth Southgate’s fourth game in charge of the Three Lions and a chance for Spain to make one more step towards regaining their identity as ‘La Furia Roja’. Despite incredible depths of talent within the two camps, both teams are looking to rebuild their confidence after disappointing stints at the European Championships over the summer, but this time without the old guard.” Outside of the Boot


Uno: La Historia De Un Gol (One: The Story Of A Goal)

September 15, 2016

“While a bloody civil war rages at home, El Salvador’s national team travels to Spain for the 1982 World Cup — one of only two World Cup tournaments the nation has ever qualified for. In their opening match, they lose to Hungary, 10-1 – still the most lopsided defeat in World Cup history. But that goal, that one goal, scored by Luis Ramirez Zapata, remains a symbol of pride and joy for the tiny nation. This is the story of that goal and its continuing legacy.” Kicking and Screening (Video)


The New Manager Effect – Five Under the Radar European Managerial Changes to watch in 2016/17

July 30, 2016

“The conclusion of the European football season, a time for fans to sit back and reflect on the season just passed for their club. To assess and debate whether or not it was a good, bad or merely average season. The owners and board members of clubs will also spend the summer months doing exactly the same thing, however, the one crucial difference is they must make a decision whether to continue with the incumbent manager or whether to make a change. For those that choose the latter option and make a change, there is no such thing as a summer break, negotiations and interviews remain ongoing until a suitable replacement has been found. Criteria is weighed up such as past success at clubs, experience, past performances at clubs counter-balanced alongside the financial situation said individuals inherited and whether or not a new inexperienced manager could add a breath of fresh air to a football club.” Outside of the Boot


Italy dominant, special in ousting reigning Euro champion Spain

June 27, 2016

“From Italy, this was magnificent, a display of intelligence and swagger to eclipse anything seen at this tournament so far. The 2-0 victory over two-time reigning European champion Spain in the Euro 2016 round of 16 was revenge for the final four years ago, for this was a victory every bit as comprehensive as Spain’s 4-0 win in Kyiv. For Spain, meanwhile, there was confirmation that the World Cup was not a one off. The magic has gone. This is a good side, but no longer a great one.” SI – Jonathan Wilson