Milan late show keeps them in distant contact with Napoli’s ‘Martians’

“It was the 91st minute at San Siro when Milan scored the goal that might have rescued the Serie A title race. Technically the Fiorentina defender Nicola Milenkovic scored it for them – deflecting Aster Vranckx’s cross into his own net – but few were dwelling on the fine details as Zombie Nation’s Kernkraft 400, a German dance track older than some players on the pitch, blared out across the public address. …”
Guardian

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The Rise of Thierry Henry

Graceful yet powerful. Predictable yet unstoppable. Thierry Henry was an artist of a striker. He scored goals that should be framed and hung in a gallery. He was extraordinary. But he wasn’t always. This is the story of Thierry Henry’s rise, from the housing projects of Paris, to the glittering lights of Highbury, via left wing-back in Italy. Written by Seb Stafford-Bloor, illustrated by Henry Cooke.
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Arsenal’s US tour: What I learned – daily table plans, transfer clauses and staff changes


“In the lobby of Arsenal’s Orlando hotel lodge, there was evidence of footballers at rest: a table tennis table, a pool table, and — plugged into the widescreen television — the ubiquitous PlayStation. Even in their downtime, competition continues. A tour is a very particular experience for a footballer — the training is intense and the regime relatively strict. There are media commitments and matches. The fans come to party; the players are there to work. …”
The Athletic

The Unrecognized

“It was an incongruous chant from the small crowd at a rudimentary soccer field nestled between the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea, but one that over the week would be regularly and passionately echoed from the stands. The Somaliland National Football Team, a gregarious squad representing a controversial disputed territory in East Africa, made up mostly of the children of refugees living in Europe, had become the hometown team of Gagra, a past-its-prime resort town in the similarly controversial and disputed pseudo-state of Abkhazia.” Roads and Kingdoms

A Soccer Team, Its Foreign Owner and Local Discontent

“A new Chinese owner arrived at the Dutch soccer club ADO Den Haag in early 2014, promising multimillion-dollar investments and better days ahead. Fans of the club liked the sound of that. Yes, the money to buy the team arrived a few months late, but it did arrive in the end, along with firm deadlines for further investments and a handful of new signings. Even if the most ardent fans were wary of the new owner’s intentions, they held their tongues. ADO, a 110-year-old club, has not won the top Dutch league, now known as the Eredivisie, since the end of World War II. But the new owner, a wealthy businessman named Wang Hui, promised to turn the team into a powerhouse — one that could challenge the likes of Ajax, P.S.V. Eindhoven and Feyenoord, clubs that have long dominated Dutch soccer, and play well enough to qualify for top European competitions like the Champions League.” NY Times

Van der Vaart’s drawn out goodbye – The story of a disappointing end

“He should have been one of the last missing pieces of the puzzle when Hamburger SV purchased him back in 2012. Rafael van der Vaart was the long-lost son of the HSV fans and he finally made a return to the Imtech Arena on the last day of the transfer window during the 2012/13 season. The club’s sugar daddy, Klaus-Michael Kühne, opened his wallet to extend a loan for the purchase of one of his favourite players. The Red Shorts paid 13 million Euros for the Dutch playmaker, which to this day is still the record transfer fee paid by the club. Back then things were seemingly getting sunnier for the club.” Bundesliga Fanatic

The state of the Portugal national team [Part 2] Second chances and the final squad

Carvalho-Tiago
“Now that we have settled in the last part exactly how Portugal arrived at the situation in which they find themselves, we take a look at the short term future of the Portuguese senior National Team. On October 3rd, new coach Fernando Santos revealed the list for the first call up of his tenure, which broke every taboo and controversy Paulo Bento had stirred in one way or another, by bringing back some very familiar names along with some new blood.” Outside of the Boot

For World Cup Heroes, Back to the Day Job

“There are times when it seems as if the World Cup never ended, and that it is being played out every weekend in England’s Premier League. That was the impression at Turf Moor, where Burnley’s underdog spirit prevented Manchester United from getting either a goal or a win, despite United’s fielding its new purchase, the Argentine winger Ángel di María, whose annual salary (let alone his $100 million transfer fee) exceeds what it cost to assemble Burnley’s entire roster.” NY Times

How will James fit at Real Madrid?

James Rodríguez
“The summer transfer window never fails to be a chaotic, ridiculous and erratic mess, but there are some entirely predictable stories every year. Chelsea will sign a couple of talented youngsters but immediately loan them out. Juventus will embark upon a relentless campaign to acquire a percentage of various young Italian prospects, the majority of whom will never play for the club. But, most predictable of all, every four years, Real Madrid will sign a star — often the star — of the World Cup.” ESPN – Michael Cox

What does the James Rodriguez signing mean for Real Madrid?
“For the seemingly umpteenth summer in a row, Real Madrid have stuck to their policy of signing at least one high-profile player name to their already star-studded roster. This summer, that name is James Rodriguez of AS Monaco and Colombian fame. Rodriguez was arguably the standout player at this year’s World Cup having netted six goals for his nation, including a stunning off-the-chest volley against Uruguay. While Colombia eventually lost to Brazil in the quarterfinals, James’ flamboyant play made him an instant superstar and attracted the Spanish giants and reigning Champions League winners. Florentino Perez, president of Real Madrid and aficionado of paying big money for marketable stars, made his move instantly and offered a reported €80 million for the starlet, an offer Monaco simply could not refuse. So what does this mean for Real Madrid?” Outside of the Boot

James Rodriguez’s Real Madrid move adds to options for talent-rich club
“A World Cup summer usually throws up a different recruitment strategy for Real Madrid, whose preference to sign a Ballon D’Or winner every year hasn’t been able to be maintained since Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have been its only winners since 2008. After the 2006 World Cup, Real Madrid signed Fabio Cannavaro, captain of Italy’s victorious side, while in 2002 it was Brazil’s Golden Boot winner Ronaldo. This month, the reigning European champion has signed two players who starred at the World Cup: Germany midfielder Toni Kroos, and, as confirmed Tuesday, James Rodriguez. It also is reportedly close to confirming a third star from Brazil, Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas. James will cost around €80 million and will wear the No. 10 shirt that has been vacant since Mesut Ozil left 12 months ago.” SI

Football is all the easier to love, or hate, because it is unquantifiable

July 9, 2014. “Sometime around the fourth goal, I descended into hysterics. No exaggeration – as Toni Kroos nicked the ball from Paulinho on the 25th minute and slotted the ball into the back of the net, almost from kickoff, moving and passing around Brazil’s backline like cones laid out on a training pitch, I convulsed with hysterical laughter. When the rational disappears, we must confront the irrational and unexpected, and there was little as unexpected as Brazil capitulating as they did last night. When the fifth went in I had to leave the room.” News Statesman

Steven Gerrard: England captain ‘broken’ before retirement

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“When England captain Steven Gerrard revealed he had been left “broken” by the failure of a World Cup campaign in Brazil that effectively only lasted six days, there was nothing that would fix the pain. It meant a decision that was already in the making even before he left for South America was merely confirmed by England’s exit – only two games into a tournament he hoped would provide a perfect finale to his international career. Gerrard, looking mentally and physically shattered at England’s Urca Military Base a short drive from Copacabana, claimed only he knew what was going on in his mind. One look at his face meant everyone else could have a very good guess.” BBC

Explaining the difference between Germany’s and Italy’s World Cup wins

July 15, 2014. “As Germany evens Italy’s four World Cups, Brazil 2014 teaches us a lesson on the difference between Germany and Italy: the former win when they should, the latter win when they shouldn’t. On the day in which Germany pulled even with Italy, winning their fourth World Cup (they both trail Brazil with five) the two European football giants have never been so distant. And this isn’t just because the Nationalmannschaft literally dominated this Brazilian edition while Italy languished miserably, failing to qualify for the R-16 for the second straight time. This World Cup actually teaches us a lesson on how deeply different the Azzurri and the Germans are, even at football.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Can Mateo Kovacic Become a Regular at Inter Milan This Season?

“After what turned out to be a disappointing World Cup for him and his Croatian side, Mateo Kovacic returned to his club duties with Inter Milan last week. Manager Walter Mazzarri included him in to the starting XI in the 1-0 win over minnows Prato, in what can be seen as another sign of Inter’s determination to reject all the offers and keep Kovacic for the season that approaches. It is no secret that there is massive interest in a midfielder who turned 20 in May and has been considered one of the brightest prospects of world football.” Bleacher Report

Siberian Suncream and FK Tyumen

“Did that just happen? A glance over at the scoreboard, then down below it at the group of downtrodden visiting supporters, confirm that the seemingly impossible really has taken place. It is a sensation fans of lower-league teams may have experienced, a sensation that only those fans can experience. As the capacity crowd begins to filter out, it is all we can manage to simply gaze around and soak in the closing moments of the final act of what has been an absorbing performance of pure sporting theatre. Despite the surreal stunned silence, there it is. We, a lowly team with no international caps to speak of, have conquered the Zenit St.Petersburg of Andrei Arshavin, Axel Witsel, Neto, Domenico Criscito, Roman Shirokov, Anatoliy Tymoschuk and Oleg Shatov 2-0.” backpagefootball

German teams to face tough oppositions in the Europa League

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“Today’s Europa League draw in Monaco ended in disappointment for VfB Stuttgart. The Swabians had a chance to be drawn as the team replacing Fenerbace Istanbul, but were unlucky. The two German teams were also handed tough oppositions in the group stage, but both Eintracht Frankfurt and SC Freiburg are in with a good shout of surviving the group stages. Christian Streich’s Breisgau Brazilians have probably been handed the toughest draw out of the two German teams. Freiburg are going to face off against two-time Uefa Cup winners FC Sevilla, three-time Czech champions Slovan Liberec and GD Estoril. Frankfurt on the other hand side are facing 6 times French champions and Uefa Cup finalists Girondins Bordeaux, 2012 Champions League quarter finalists APOEL Nicosia and Maccabi Tel Aviv.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Mignolet is Reds’ hero

“Striker Daniel Sturridge got Liverpool’s season off to a winning start but it was new goalkeeper Simon Mignolet who was the hero with a late penalty save. The hosts had dominated throughout but had only the one goal to show for their efforts when Daniel Agger handled former Reds midfielder Charlie Adam’s free-kick three minutes from time.” ESPN

The Importance of home grown players

“Over the past few years, spending on transfers and wages by football clubs has increased dramatically. 7 of the 10 most expensive transfers have taken place in or after 2009, 3 of them occurring in this (incomplete) transfer window. Higher fees, and the greater brand value of every star footballer has also led to an inflation in the wage rate for footballers. While this is all good news for the players, it gives the boardroom staff a right old head-ache. The higher costs lead to lower profits (if any), leaving a number of clubs closer to insolvency. In order to stem the rot, UEFA introduced Financial Fair Play, a scheme that prods clubs to live within their means. So, with a sort of cap enforced on their transfer spending, clubs are forced to look inwards for their supply of players, as a result of which, greater emphasis is suddenly being placed on youth academies, and academy products.” Outside of the Boot

When The Beautiful Game Turns Ugly

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“VERONA, Italy — Right up until he started quoting Hitler and dropping N-bombs, my new friend was a great dude. I’ll call him The Hooligan. A more generous host would be hard to find. Soon after we met, he made sure we stopped at the one place in town that served Campari correctly. He speaks eight languages, and seemed nothing like the Hellas Verona fans I’d read about, the neo-fascist, neo-Nazi, racist thugs. The Hooligan insisted the Veronese just have a dark sense of humor and refuse to wear the yoke of modern political correctness. Now we are headed toward the terraces of the stadium. Soon I’ll be packed in with the hard-core fans, three people for every seat, chest to back, eyes burning from smoke bombs. Near the entrance to the stands, I ask The Hooligan to translate any chants hurled down at the players.” ESPN

Why are so many black ex-pros unable to land managerial jobs?
“What’s worse than being an unemployed black coach? Being an unemployed black coach who employers believe has a chip on his shoulder when it comes to race. The above became pretty obvious to me when I reached out to black ex-pros who have since gone — or tried to go — into coaching. If I wanted honesty, I couldn’t get on-the-record quotes. If you seek the answer to an age-old question — Why are black coaches so underrepresented in the English game? — and want straightforward views from certain people, you need to go on background.” ESPN (Video)

ESPN – Press Pass Extra: Italy hands out racism punishment (Video)

England’s World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore: 20 years gone, but never forgotten

“Across town at Wembley, setting for Moore’s finest hours, the flag of St George will fly at half-mast. A skilled surgeon operated on Moore’s colon in 1991 but the cancer would not yield. It spread to the liver. Moore never complained. He simply set about delaying its pitiless impact. Eventually, on Feb 15, 1993, England’s World Cup-winning captain released a statement, revealing his illness was terminal. Two days later he was at Wembley, commentating on England’s game against San Marino for Capital Radio, his collar turned up to hide his paleness. A week later, on Feb 24, 1993, Moore passed away. He was only 51.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

The Bundesliga in 2012 – A Statistical Overview

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“The end of the Hinrunde and this past week’s German Cup matches rounded off an action packed and interesting calendar year in German football. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund were the Bundesliga’s most talked about and dominant teams while Germany made all the headlines in the summer (some good, some bad) with their record breaking run of games and the contentious loss to Italy at the EUROs. Bild.de collected some of the most interesting stats of 2012 in the Bundesliga, ranging from the fastest goal scored, the quickest sending off, the most fouled players and much much more.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Everton 2-2 Liverpool: surprising levels of pressing, while Rodgers switches to a back three

“A frantic first half, followed by a more subdued second half. David Moyes was without Steven Pienaar so used Kevin Mirallas on the left, where he was the first half’s brightest player. Steven Naismith started on the right, while Marouane Fellaini returned behind the main striker. If looking for betting tips click here. In the absence of Glen Johnson, Brendan Rodgers fielded Andre Wisdom at right-back and Jose Enrique at left-back. Brad Jones was in for Pepe Reina. Liverpool stormed into a 2-0 lead, before Everton pulled it back to 2-2 shortly before half-time.” Zonal Marking

Total Football Comes To Loftus Road – The 1975/76 Season

“QPR fans disillusioned with their recent state of affairs (Four Year Plans, F1 moguls, narcissistic midfielders and the rest of it) will always hark back to the 1970s as the most glorious period in the club’s history. The pinnacle of this was the 1975-6 season, their ‘annus mirabilis’, in which Rangers finished runners-up in the First Division, to this day their highest ever finish.” In Bed With Maradona

The State of Analytics: Crosses “are not an efficient way to score goals”—Kuper

“Won’t be a full column this week, but I wanted to point readers to Opta Pro’s interview with Soccernomics co-author Simon Kuper. I’ve written in the past that the perception of Soccernomics as ‘a book on soccer analytics’ has had unfortunate consequences for the popular understanding of statistics in football, reducing it to a set of curious ‘freakonomics’ style tidbits that have little to do with how teams play but instead how many fans kill themselves during tournaments, or why England doesn’t win World Cups.” The Score

Oligarchy, Football, Ethics

“With the protracted takeover of Reading FC by Thames Sports Investment having finally gone through and the imminent signing of Pavel Pogrebnyak on the point of being rubber stamped, now would appear to be the appropriate time to consider the background to the impact oligarchy has had on the ownership of British football clubs. You’ll remember that Anton Zingarevich has assumed the ownership of the Berkshire team, laying down £12.7 million for a 51% share this summer while obligated to stump up the remaining 49% (amounting approximately to £12.3 million) by September 2013.” The Two Unfortunates

Italy-Spain Euro final promises to be clash of polar opposites


“The final was supposed to be a battle between the two schools of proactive soccer. On the one side Spain, the increasingly cautious protectors of the ball, a side that has used its mastery of possession to prevent the opposition from playing; on the other, Germany, having moved away from the reactivity of the last World Cup, playing in a more carefree way. It’s a battle, in a sense, between the bloodless purists and the more visceral entertainers.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Euro 2012: Now Spain have entered the pantheon of greatness
“It has been repeated over and over that no side has ever won three major tournaments in a row – which is true so long as you exclude the Olympic Games. That may be reasonable in recent times when it has been an Under-23 tournament with added overage players, or even in the years after the second world war when differing definitions of amateurism gave the Eastern Bloc sides a huge advantage. But in the years up to the second world war, the Olympic Games was at least as serious a tournament as the World Cup. If Spain win the Euro 2012 final on Sunday, they will set a new record for the modern era but their feat will only equal that of Uruguay, who won the Olympics in 1924 and 1928 and the World Cup in 1930, and of Italy, who won the World Cup in 1934 and 1938 and the Olympics in 1936.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Wolfsburg 1-0 Stuttgart


Charles Le Brun, Horatius Cocles Defending the Bridge
“Stuttgart’s poor form at Wolfsburg continued as young Sebastian Polter’s goal handed the hosts a priceless 1-0 victory to end the first half of the season on a high. The striker came on as a sub to tap in a 74th minute winner, put on a plate for him by Wolfsburg’s scruff-of-the-neck-grabbing, swashbuckling and technically sound left-back Marcel Schäfer. Bruno Labbadia’s side actually enjoyed the best of the first half, and looked much the better team. However, even then it was Felix Magath’s team who were having most of the chances, with Stuttgart’s inability to test Diego Bengalio proving just as big a problem in the second half. Wolfsburg move up to 12th courtesy of this result, while Stuttgart stay in seventh sot (for now).” Defensive Midfielder

Violence Reigns In Paraguay


“Six games in 2011, four in just over a month, have been suspended in Paraguay due to crowd violence. The latest suspension came on last weekend’s crunch game between league leaders Libertad and title chasers Cerro Porteño, two points behind with three games to play. With Cerro Porteño leading one-nil at half time the players and officials came out ready for what was set to be a thrilling and potentially season-defining 45 minutes of football. But before the second half could begin a flare thrown from the Cerro Porteño end struck the linesman who had to leave the stadium in an ambulance.” In Bed With Maradona

Napoli 2-1 Manchester City: Cavani double puts Napoli on the verge of qualification

“City dominated possession but Napoli broke typically well to record a crucial victory. Few managers rotate as little as Napoli – Walter Mazzarri named his usual side and his usual formation, a counter-attacking 3-4-3. Roberto Mancini went for roughly his usual system too, though Sergio Aguero was only on the bench. Pablo Zabaleta and Aleksandar Kolarov started rather than Micah Richards and Gael Clichy.” Zonal Marking

Olympiakos 1-1 Panathinaikos: game based around pace in wide areas
“A good Athens derby ended all square, with two very similar goals. Ernesto Valverde chose Hungarian Balazs Megyeri rather than Franco Costanzo in goal, and used David Fuster on the right of midfield, coming inside. In the centre Valverde was without creator Ariel Ibagaza, so Francois Modesto and Jean Makoun played. Jesualdo Ferreira played his expected side, with a flexible front four that saw Quincy Owusu-Abeyie and Zeko switching for much of the game. This was a decent game that saw the majority of the chances – including both goals – coming from pace, particularly when the wide players moved high up the pitch and got in behind the full-backs to get on the end of diagonal balls from midfield.” Zonal Marking

Athletic 2-2 Barcelona: Bielsa stifles Barca by telling his players to stick tightly to opponents


“Marcelo Bielsa’s tactics managed to hold Barcelona to a draw in an exciting match at the San Mamés. Bielsa went with a 4-3-3ish shape, with Javi Martinez at centre-back, and Iker Muniain out on the right – a slight surprise, given the winger has started on the left for much of the season. Pep Guardiola picked a 4-3-3, but with a front three featuring a deep-lying forward, a central midfielder and a wing-back, as David Villa was left out. This was a match that could have gone either way – Barcelona had four times as many attempts as Athletic, yet needed a last minute goal to snatch a draw.” Zonal Marking

Athletic Bilbao 2 – 2 Barcelona
“Lionel Messi scored in injury time to preserve Barcelona’s unbeaten start to the season as they struggled in heavy rain in Bilbao. Barcelona conceded for the first time in 900 minutes of football and appeared destined for defeat when Gerard Pique’s own goal gave Athletic the lead with ten minutes to go. But Messi took advantage of a slip from Gorka Iraizoz in a drenched penalty area to lash home a late equaliser. Cesc Fabregas had earlier cancelled out Ander Herrera’s opener.” ESPN

Barcelona will never be for sale, says club president Sandro Rosell
“Sandro Rosell, the Barcelona president, has criticised the corporate and foreign ownership of major Premier League clubs, saying that while he is in charge his club, which is owned by its 180,000 members, will ‘never, ever be for sale’.” Guardian

No longer underdogs, Ghana need to become a more complete attacking force

“When you’re an unfancied side, playing reactive football is natural. It’s how successful underdogs at international level have set out over the past decade, with Greece in 2004 the obvious example. In aesthetic terms they were mundane, but their strategy of defending solidly and breaking quickly was clearly extremely useful. Their key goals came from set-pieces, but they did have an emphasis upon direct football in open play. Venezuela and Paraguay both overachieved at this summer’s Copa America with a not dissimilar style of play, and for various reasons, it makes sense for the underdogs to play this way.” Zonal Marking

2000s Month: Istanbul


“It was the night which saw Liverpool born again. The 25th of May 2005 is now synonymous with the European Cup’s most marvellous and fairy tale. Despite the great lustre and rich history surrounding Liverpool, the side were a distant second best to Carlo Ancelotti’s AC Milan boasting some of the best world’s greatest talents. Indeed, the route to Istanbul for Liverpool contained enough twists and turns for the Kopites to perhaps feel it was their team’s destiny to march on and claim their fifth European Cup.”The Equaliser

2000s Month: The Power of Anfield
“In the UK in the early May of 2005, there was a clash between two different ideologies, cultures and backgrounds as Liverpool played Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final second-leg at Anfield. A few days later there was a general election. Although it was a match low on technical excellence and even tactical nous, the drama of the night more than made up for it.” The Equaliser

The Day We Went To Belgrade


“Stefano peers out at the sparsely-populated stadium from under his disapproving brow. To our left and right stand two entirely empty curve, where the hardcore home and away ultras would normally be. In front of us is the tiny posh stand where OFK Beograd’s directors and WAGs gather, while most of the couple of hundred fans who have bothered to show up are sat alongside us in the main stand, which is set into a hill and towers over the rest of the ground.” In Bed With Maradona

The TwoHundredPercent Premier League Previews: Liverpool


Luis Suarez
“When Paul Konchesky was sold to Leicester City earlier this summer, one of the strangest and most stressful periods of the past two decades in Liverpool’s history came to a close. Seen as the embodiment of the mediocrity that had somehow become the norm at the club, Konchesky’s departure was deemed as confirmation that the standards that had been allowed to drop were now being pushed upwards again.” twohundredpercent

Premier League preview No8: Liverpool
“The voice of reason is often muted at Liverpool pre-season by improbable title predictions (except when the club stares into the financial abyss and asks Roy Hodgson to steady the ship) and this summer’s extravagant spending has fuelled a revival. Praise be then for John W Henry, the man who has so far sanctioned over £100m of investment in Kenny Dalglish’s squad since January yet did his manager another, cheaper favour this week by confirming common sense prevails at the top at Anfield.” Guardian

Why Suarez should lead Liverpool’s attack and not Carroll
“With Liverpool adding Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson to their midfield this summer, much attention has centred upon what Kenny Dalglish will do with that area of his side. There has been less discussion about what will happen upfront. It has been widely assumed that Luis Suarez will play alongside Andy Carroll, but after the Uruguayan’s excellent performances at the Copa América – where he won the Player of the Tournament award – he might be better off alone. … Video: Aquilani deal proves that Premier League is a soft touch. Video: Is Henderson the most under pressure player at Liverpool? Video: ‘This is a bigger summer for Comolli than Dalglish’. Video: ‘Liverpool will be genuine title contenders next season'” Lifes a Pitch

CSKA Moscow v Spartak Moscow

“Upon the announcement in November that Prince William was to marry Kate Middleton, my overriding thoughts were not of joy for the happy couple, but of nausea and a desire for escape. Attention quickly turned to football: ‘where on earth could I go to get away from this inevitable show of unbridled patriotism?’ A scour through the European fixtures, shortly thereafter, showed that CSKA would host Spartak Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium that very weekend. The Russians would surely not care about Kate and Wills, and instead, I could watch two of the biggest teams in the Russian Premier League meet in the first derby of the season.” European Football Weekends

He Was A Paraguayan

“Guess the player? He made his debut aged fifteen. He holds the Argentine record for goals scored in one season, forty-seven in thirty-four games. He is the joint highest scorer in Argentinian football history with 293 goals, yet he never represented his country. Alfredo Di Stefano who watched him growing up described him as circus artist, a compliment on his incredible ability to jump.” In Bed With Maradona

Black Stars light up Wembley


“Sir Alex Ferguson should try telling Ghana fans that international friendlies are a “waste of time”. A day after the Manchester United boss also labelled the fixtures “worthless”, 21,000 ecstatic Black Stars supporters celebrated Asamoah Gyan’s last-gasp Wembley equaliser as though it had erased all the heartache of last summer’s World Cup quarter-final exit in an instant.” ESPN

England fans are given a glimpse of the future by Fabio Capello
“The pace of change is quickening in this England side, and though Andy Carroll may not be swift in his current half-fit state, the country’s most expensive home-born footballer led the way in an entertaining friendly with his first international goal. A B-team went home with an A for enterprise.” Guardian

England 1 Ghana 1: match report
“Fabio Capello may have 100 words to elucidate his tactical vision but Asamoah Gyan had the final word. Just when England looked to have secured a good victory through Andy Carroll, Gyan equalised brilliantly in the dying moments of one of the finest friendlies in living memory.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

England 1-1 Ghana – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Friendly
The 90th Minute

Sunderland 0 – 2 Liverpool

“Dirk Kuyt and Luis Suarez fired Liverpool to a 2-0 victory at Sunderland as the Reds made amends for their beachball disaster on Wearside last season. Kuyt set the visitors on their way with 33 minutes gone when he converted a hotly-disputed penalty, and Suarez completed the job with 13 minutes remaining.” ESPN

Luis Suárez gives Liverpool the edge over Sunderland
“Liverpool’s hopes of hosting Europa League football next season remain extremely slim but, as long as Luis Suarez continues playing as cleverly as this, Tottenham Hotspur will not be able to sit comfortably in fifth place.” Guardian

Sunderland 0-2 Liverpool – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – EPL
The 90th Minute

The Rough Guide to Cult Football


The Rough Guide to Cult Football is the ultimate companion to the beautiful game. The only football book of its kind, it goes beyond the usual back page material to uncover the most amazing stories and unlikeliest personalities on Planet Football. It reveals the stories behind the mavericks and cult figures that make up the real heroes of the game – from cultured mid fielders to jailbirds, drinkers to hard men, local legends to international wanderers.” amazon, Cult Football

Players These Days, Sitting on Their Stolen Toilet Seats, Throwing Money and Shooting at People


“Fernando Torres, the £50 million mercenary, can’t score goals. Ashley Cole shoots people, Glen Johnson steals toilet seats, and Wayne Rooney probably shuns direct deposit just so he can wrap his grubby, calloused hands around somewhere in the neighborhood of £250,000 every week. In Rooney’s case, his astronomical paycheck is his reward for verbally accosting referees, assaulting fellow professionals, and the occasional exquisite bicycle kick. At least that’s what the interwebs and media outlets tell me when they aren’t telling me how special he is.” Nutmeg Radio

Borussia Dortmund v St Pauli


“Borussia Dortmund v St Pauli at the Westfalenstadion (Signal Iduna Park, if you must) was the first game I looked for when the Bundesliga fixtures were announced last summer. The Westfalenstadion was ‘The Big One’ (© Tony Pulis, probably.) Anyway, it was the one I desperately wanted to tick off my list of German grounds visited. I’d tried a couple of times to combine a trip to Dortmund en-route to watch St Pauli when we were in 2.Liga, and often played on different days to the Bundesliga, but the fixtures had never fallen for me. But to go there with St Pauli – that would be something else.” European Football Weekends

Netherlands


“Den Haag is located in Zuid-Holland and is the third largest dutch city after Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Despite being the home of dutch government, Den Haag is not the Netherland’s capital. For any pub quiz regulars amongst you, that is Amsterdam. Den Haag is the capital of the province of Holland. Direct trains from Amsterdam Central Station take about 50 minutes and a day return will set you back about 20 euros.” Budget Airline Football

Deconstructing Twitter Accounts: New York Red Bulls vs. Manchester City

“Twitter. All the kids were doing it. And then, all the adults were doing it. All the corporations decided they would do it. Then people decided to use it to overthrow dictators. And at some point during this process, all of our beloved sports teams caught Twitter fever. Today, if you’re a sports team without Twitter, you might as well be in black and white. That may explain why practically every professional team in a major sports league is ‘utilizing Twitter as an effective means of connecting with fans,’ or something like that. It’s probably not a stretch to think that in 2011, every team communications plan has a page dedicated to Twitter in the ‘Social Media’ section.” Nutmeg Radio

America and England Should Stick to Their Own Cultural Institutions, Complains Writer for British GQ


‘Jason Davis says most of what needs to be said about Andrew Hankinson’s crypto-snide piece on the Sons of Ben for British GQ. Hankinson’s piece somehow manages to sensationalize American supporter culture as out-of-control and scary (“There is no visible police presence today on the railway platforms…. Nothing to protect a vulnerable-looking couple in New York Red Bulls tops from a vicious assault”) while also mocking American supporter culture for being restrained and peaceful (“studenty,” “tame,” “laughable,” “hard to take seriously”).’ Run of Play, GQ – “A new breed of fan”, GQ – “America’s football factory”

A Tale Of Bristol City


“Few clubs can have endured such a tumultuous start to the season as Bristol City. Following a very promising finish to last season, when the Robins won five and drew three of their last nine matches, the summer had seen the arrival of experienced manager Steve Coppell and England’s World Cup goalkeeper, David James. Although “Jamo” is clearly now in the twilight phase of his career, this still represented a notable coup for the Championship team and was a clear sign of the club’s intent.” The Swiss Ramble

Happy New Year!

“Observant visitors will note that there has been a lack of new posts on Football Further over the past fortnight. Due partly to the traditional indulgences occasioned by the festive season, it is mainly down to the Ligue 1 winter break and the blog will thus remain dormat until the French top flight resumes in mid-January. In the meantime, I’ll post regular pieces of French football news (read: transfer tittle-tattle) on Twitter – as well as updates and insights from the Asian Cup in Qatar, where I’ll be reporting for AFP from January 8 onwards.” Football Further

What did the noughties do for you?


Portugal
“So ten years into the third millennium and football just keeps on changing. The last decade has seen the game become a huge global game where the amount of money in the Premier League itself is more than most countries GDP. Below are some of our regular contributors, and readers highlights of the last decade and our video of where we’ve been, but first 10 facts from 10 years ago…” The Ball Is Round

The 2010 Team of the Year
“2010 is likely to be a year remembered, in footballing terms, by Spanish fans most fondly after their side lifted the famous Jules Rimet trophy for the first time. It has also been a year in which a Barcelona side, possibly the greatest team of all time, have continued to revolutionise football with their style of play.” The Free Role

Barcelona to Rooney: the best and worst of 2010
” WSC contributors give their best and worst moments in football from the past year” WSC

Awards Season
“It’s awards season and never one to miss out on a way to reward my fellow man, here’s my own. In honour of this blog they shall be known as the ‘Nakys’” I Know Who Cyrille Makanaky Was

The Twohundedpercent Vault: 10 Must-See Football Films & Tv Shows
“Twohundredpercent is on its Christmas holidays for a a few days so, until then, we’re keeping the site ticking over with some of the best from our almost five year old archive. In this article, Ian King points you in the direction of 10 films and television shows which demonstrate that the relationship between the game and the box in the corner of your living room doesn’t have to be a fractious one.” twohundredpercent

Argentines Abroad bumper Christmas special
“This extended Argentines Abroad has been made possible by the fact that I didn’t have time to do one last week, but forgot to let my correspondents know – and as a result we’ve got two weeks’ worth of submissions from Spain and Portugal, as well as a very belated (my fault, not Tom’s) report on the climax of the Mexican top flight championship early this month. All this, plus the Carlos Tevez saga and news of a loan deal to Spain for Martín Demichelis. How I spoil you all, this festive season.” Hasta El Gol Siempre

Racism in Russia: It’s Time to Move Past Peter Odemwingie

“Jonathan Wilson’s Guardian article on Brazilians playing for Ukrainian team Shakhtar Donetsk is a fascinating read. Wilson primarily focuses on Douglas Costa’s journey from Brazil to Ukraine and the struggles that Brazilian players endure when they uproot from familiar surroundings and head to new frontiers. But perhaps just as interesting as the article are the exchanges in the comment section about racism in Ukraine and Russia.” Nutmeg Radio

Liverpool FC’s ‘Directorial’ Debut.

“The road that led to the manager’s position as it is currently understood – the man who is in charge of practically everything – has been a difficult and tortuous one. So domineering is the manager today that it is difficult to reconcile with the knowledge that it is a position that was born of the need to put a buffer between the team and those who owned it, one that was originally routinely carried out by the club secretary.” Tomkins Times

Football, Blogs, and Newspapers Unite? Part One


“When I was a precocious thirteen year-old, my favourite part of the morning was grabbing my dad’s Toronto Star on the front stoop, taking it inside and laying it flat out on my kitchen table, and opening it up on the editorial page. There, I would find the Letters to the Editor, featuring rebuttals, corrections, and general complaints about recent articles posted by staff journalists and columnists. I always found the letters more interesting than the carefully prepared screeds they were attacking, and was fascinated that the newspaper would devote an entire page to reader dissent. I even sent a few letters in myself, and some were printed, much to my astonishment.” (Pitch Invasion – Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3), (Part 4), (Part 5), (Part 6)

Club, Community and Consumerism: What Do We Support?

“What is the purpose of a soccer club? What, indeed, is the purpose of using the word ‘club’ in the name of so many Major League Soccer teams – to keep the question focused on these North American shores just for now. Are we supporters of clubs, or are we consumers of products? (This is a question Toronto Football Clubs have been asking themselves recently, as we will discuss). We should begin with a pathetically brief description of what a ‘club’ is.” (Pitch Invasion)

Bibliography


Futebol, Alex Bellos. The best book around about the most successful footballing nation in the world. As with many of these books, the obvious line is that it is ‘not just a book about Brazilian football, but also one about Brazilian culture’. But as interesting as some of the more general parts of the book are, it is at its best when discussing the actual football, after all, Brazil has probably the most distinctive way of playing the game of any national side. The parts about some of the great characters (the likes of Pele and Zico) and the great games, like the 1950 and 1970 World Cup finals – are excellent.” (Zonal Marking)

Torres grabs brace for Spain

“World champions Spain began the defence of their European Championship title with a thumping 4-0 win over outclassed Liechtenstein in Vaduz. Fernando Torres struck twice while David Villa and substitute David Silva were also on the scoresheet as the world’s top-ranked side, who this summer added the World Cup to the European crown they won two years ago in Austria and Switzerland, kicked off their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign in impressive style.” (ESPN)

Liechtenstein 0-4 Spain – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Euro 2012 Qualifying
“The defending Euro champions, Spain, begin their qualification for Euro 2012 with a match against Liechtenstein. Spain were heavily favored heading into the match and anything less than a win would be very surprising.” (The 90th Minute)

A Mental Game: Pain

“Author’s note: It’s that time of year again where I’m preparing to teach several sections of Intro Psychology, so I thought I’d try to combine purposes and put something together drawing on the section addressing sensation and perception. It is apropos of nothing in particular, but does fit with my occasional series on ‘a mental game’ where I’ve written about sports psychology, group conflict, and happiness.” (Pitch Invasion)

Magic Messi wins Supercopa for Barca

“Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as Barcelona turned around a 3-1 first-leg deficit to claim the Supercopa with an impressive win over an under-par Sevilla side at the Nou Camp on Saturday.” (ESPN)

FC Barcelona 4-0 Sevilla – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Super Cup
“The Spanish Super Cup wrapped up on Saturday, August 21, 2010 with FC Barcelona hosting Sevilla in the second leg. Sevilla had a 3-1 lead from the first leg which was played last weekend. The match highlights can be found here at Free Soccer Highlights.” (The 90th Minute)