Life’s a Pitch for Leo Messi

March 23, 2016

“Pitch concerns increase for Leo Messi as Suarez promises no return to naughty corner. Although Barcelona have a cushion at the top of La Liga that could comfortably house the most impressive of posteriors, the Catalan club will still be fretting and fussing outside football’s school gates as they drop their MSN at the rough-and-tough daycare that is the international break. Perhaps the biggest worry is over Leo Messi who has a fairly tough battle against Chile on Thursday night, followed by a clash in Cordoba against Bolivia on a pitch that looks a little like a post-apocalyptic cabbage patch.” Bein

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Tactical Analysis: France 3-4 Belgium | Belgium’s fluidity in midfield and France’s shift to a 4-2-3-1

June 11, 2015

“Drawing ‘big picture’ conclusions from friendlies, especially after a long and gruelling European campaign, can often be an exercise in futility. This is doubly true with top teams such as Belgium and France, most of whose players were involved in additional 10-20 matches in lengthy European and cup campaigns. With key players such as Paul Pogba, Patrice Evra, Thomas Vermaelen, Vincent Kompany and Kevin de Bruyne missing from both sides, one might have hoped that rather than playing for the result, both teams might be given to a bit of experimentation on the day, with a chance to see some new faces or perhaps a bit of tactical innovation. After all, despite France being qualified as hosts of Euro 2016 and Belgium topping their group, neither have been as scintillating as one might expect.” Outside of the Boot


100 Best Young Players to Watch in 2015 | Forwards 10 – 1

December 29, 2014

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“It’s hard to accurately predict future Ballon D’Or nominees based on a players current exploits in the early part of his career. But given the propensity of usual Ballon D’Or nominees bearing rather conspicuous goal-scoring traits, you wouldn’t go too wrong in betting Memphis Depay as a potential future nominee.” Outside of the Boot


100 Best Young Players to Watch in 2015 | Midfielders 10 – 1

December 26, 2014

“Hakan Calhanoglu grew up in Mannheim of Germany, before moving on to Karlsruhe, Hamburg and Leverkusen while getting called up to the Turkish National team in 2013. An attacking midfielder by trade, Hakan’s style and elegance on the ball has seen him sought out by some of the world’s best. Mini-Analysis: Operating behind the striker or across the midfield, Calhanoglu’s style of play is easy on the eye. A mainstay in the Hamburg team that narrowly escaped relegation last season saw him bag 11 goals and assist 4 in 32 games.” Outside of the Boot


Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen epitomise Belgian school of defending

October 17, 2014

“Not all sports blend international and club competition as seamlessly as football, where it’s become extremely common for players to be teammates, then opponents, within the same week. How do you spend Sunday, Monday and Tuesday working on understanding and cohesion with a teammate, before setting out to overpower them the following weekend? This Saturday’s contest between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, the weekend’s opening Premier League game, is a perfect example. A match between two squads packed with international talent means a meeting between various compatriots who played alongside one another earlier this week.” ESPN – Michael Cox


World Cup Tactical Analysis : Argentina 1-0 Belgium | Argentina dominate midfield to enter the semifinals

July 7, 2014

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“In the first of the two intercontinental showdowns of the quarter-finals, two time winners and favourites Argentina took on the Belgians, looking to book a place in the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 24 years. The South Americans didn’t just have to face a strong Belgian team, but also a Brazilian crowd that would have loved to see their fierce neighbours falter in the quarters. With both the teams coming into the match having won all of their previous matches of the tournament, this one was certainly going to be a close call.” Outside of the Boot

Argentina 1-0 Belgium: Argentina become even more reliant on Messi
“In their fifth World Cup game, Argentina recorded their fifth one-goal victory. Alejandro Sabella was without Marcos Rojo so brought in Jose Basanta at left-back, and replaced Federico Fernandez and Fernando Gago with Martin Demichelis and Lucas Biglia. Marc Wilmots played Kevin Mirallas rather than Dries Mertens on the right flank, but otherwise the side was as expected. Belgium remain a group of individuals, while Argentina play to the strengths of one individual.” Zonal Marking


At Home Abroad, Argentina Shuts Down Belgium

July 6, 2014

“As unlikely as it may seem given the résumés of the two nations involved, including the seven combined world championships, Argentina and Brazil had never reached the semifinals in the same World Cup until this year. With a 1-0 victory over Belgium on Saturday thanks to a goal by Gonzalo Higuaín, Argentina joined Brazil, which beat Colombia on Friday, in the final four. The possibility exists that the two teams, South American giants and bitter rivals, could face off in the final in Rio de Janeiro, which many feel would provide the most fitting conclusion to this World Cup. Argentina, the winner in 1978 and 1986, is back in the semifinals for the first time since 1990, when a rough group coming off a title relied heavily on the skills of Diego Maradona and Claudio Caniggia, who did just enough to win, before losing to Germany in a desultory final.” NY Times

Argentina 1 Belgium 0
“Argentina reached their first World Cup semi-final since finishing as runners-up in 1990 with victory over Belgium in Brasilia. Gonzalo Higuain scored the only goal at Estadio Nacional, a thunderous early strike that ended his run of six international games without a goal. But Belgium’s so-called golden generation were undone by another quicksilver Lionel Messi performance, as Argentina set up a last-four encounter with Netherlands in Sao Paulo on Wednesday.” BBC