Santos-Estudiantes in the Copa Libertadores brings to mind what might’ve been

April 6, 2018

“Estudiantes of Argentina and Santos of Brazil fought out an entertaining clash on Thursday night in the Copa Libertadores. The Argentines pressed for most of the match, but were caught on the break in the first half and conceded the only goal of the match — a clear case of offside that nonetheless sent the visitors home 1-0 winners. …” ESPN – Tim Vickery


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)


Featured: Copa90 in Profile

November 6, 2016

Copa 90 - Sarejevo Match Day
“With over 1 million subscribers, COPA90 has become the home of football culture. Travelling the planet to tell the story of football through the fans, they have, as they say themselves, been welcomed into people’s homes, bars, and stadiums, making films that celebrate the greatest game on Earth. They sat down with Póg Mo Goal.” Pog Mo Goal


El Nene – The hope of a nation

May 17, 2016

“South America has produced many fantastic footballers over the generations, players such as Garrincha, Jairzinho, Pele, Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Carlos Valderrama and Enzo Francescoli to name just a few. However, there is one South American country which is not renowned for its production line of producing world class football talent – Peru. But on the 8th March 1949, one did trundle off the assembly line; his name was Teofilo Juan Cubillas Arizaga, better known as Teofilo Cubillas.” Football Pink


Global Series | Top 10 South American Players of 2015: Alexis, Neymar and Suarez feature

December 21, 2015

“In this new annual feature, we at Outside of the Boot aim to unearth the best performing footballers from each of the 5 primary Confederations in the past calendar year. Rather than do the work ourselves, we had the bright idea of crowd-sourcing the answers and the football-sphere has spoken with its votes. Drum roll please. And the winners of Global Series: South America is…” Outside of the Boot


River vs. Boca ’68 – The tragedy of La Puerta 12

May 27, 2015

“The Superclasico between River Plate and Boca Juniors is a fixture in the world football calendar that’s steeped in history, one that halts all activity in Buenos Aires but also captures the imagination of football fans around the globe. It has witnessed some of the game’s greats take part on either side: Alfredo Di Stefano, Diego Maradona, Enzo Francescoli, Juan Roman Riquelme and Gabriel Batistuta to name just a handful and is credited with being one of the most incredible spectacles in sport.” Football Pink


Never forget your roots – Palmeiras’ illustrious history

February 25, 2015

“One of the most successful clubs in Brazil, Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras have won eight league titles, as well as two Copa do Brasil trophies. The champions of South America in 1999, having beaten Colombian side Deportivo Cali to claim the Copa Libertadores, with their success culminating in the awarding of ‘Best Team of the 20th Century of Brazil’ by the Sao Paulo State Football Federation, they are a club of immense power and wealth. Palmeiras’ team is predominantly Brazilian, with ex Bayern Munich and Inter Milan defender Lúcio among their ranks. Apart from a smattering of Chilean, Argentinian and Uruguayan players, their squad is entirely made up of footballers from the ‘Futebol Nation’.” backpagefootball


The Unseen Tournament: AFR Captures the Copa Centroamericana

October 3, 2014

“It can be tempting to write off any football tournament not named the World Cup, Copa America or European Championship as something of an excess. Without the most prominent international sides taking part, it can seem to the casual observer that tournaments outside of the most prominent few lack major stakes, with a trophy given out for the sake of giving out a trophy.” A Football Report (Video)


Football’s answer to the Ashes

July 16, 2013

“Should Stuart Broad have ‘walked’ after wrongly being given not out in the first Ashes test? I have no idea, and not just because I did not actually see the incident (listening via radio in Rio de Janeiro hardly qualifies me as close enough to give an authoritative opinion). It is not an easy issue. On the one hand, there are days when he will be given out in dubious circumstances, and the fielding side will certainly not call him back. So why not leave the decision up the umpires? On the other hand there is the code of ethics which applies in each sport, the unwritten rules of conduct to which the players generally adhere, and which Broad could be accused of breaking.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Brazil’s Confederations outsiders face uphill battle to be included

July 9, 2013

“Brazil was obviously joyous at winning the Confederations Cup in such convincing style — but it would only be natural if there were some places where joy was somewhat confined. Those players outside the squad, for example, now face a much harder time getting back in.” ESPN – Tim Vickery (Video)


Deal with it: Brazil will host the World Cup

July 4, 2013

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“If you were in Beijing or New York last week, you would have to be sitting down when reading the news. According to a report by Folha de S. Paulo, a leading newspaper in Brazil and Latin America, that was obviously replicated by international outlets, there was a chance that the FIFA Confederations Cup semifinals and final would be hosted by one of those cities. Other reports also revealed plans for next year’s World Cup to be moved to safer pastures after FIFA and international authorities were scared by the scale and intensity of the protests on Brazilians streets during this summer’s test event. Yours truly was even asked to take part in a discussion themed ‘Brazil should give up the World Cup.'” ESPN (Video)

The Brazilian lesson: shout
“It’s a peaceful winter’s day in the favela of Monte Azul, São Paulo. Customers sit chatting around the hot-dog stand (which accepts credit cards). A state “health agent” patrols the undulating main street, looking for sick people to advise. At the crèche, the purple curtains are closed to let the children nap. And the rain runs neatly into the gutters, instead of flooding the street. A lot has changed since 20 years ago, when some local men worked as ‘security guards’ for bakeries and supermarkets – which meant they were paid to murder suspected thieves.” FT – Simon Kuper


Hasn’t the Confederations Cup been great?

July 4, 2013

“Well, hasn’t it been great? From the opening minutes of that opening game when Neymar was firing home that impeccably executed volley, through the thrills and fun of the group games and semi-finals, to the final. I honestly cannot recall one bland game in over the 2 week duration of this year’s Confederations Cup. If this competition is merely Brazil’s supposed warm-up for the real deal of the 2014 World Cup, then we are in for a treat. Here are my 6 reasons why I believe the Conferedations Cup has been so flipping fantastic.” Outside of the Boot


Is the need for speed more important than tika-taka tactics?

July 4, 2013

“The Confederations Cup final between Spain and Brazil was a highly anticipated clash of two opposing brands of football. In fact, while Spain are well known for playing a possession based style of football, Luis Felipe Scolari has reshaped a traditionally flamboyant Brazilian side into a more defensive minded, counterattacking team.” Think Football


Brazil 3-0 Spain: Spain unable to cope with Brazil’s pace and power on the break

July 1, 2013

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“Brazil won the Confederations Cup at the Maracana after a convincing demolition of the world champions. Luis Felipe Scolari stuck with his usual side – in five games he only deviated from this XI once, when Paulinho wasn’t 100% fit for the final group game. Vicente Del Bosque brought in Juan Mata on the left of his 4-3-3 system, but otherwise the side was unchanged. Brazil yet again started superbly – but Spain failed to mount a significant fightback.” Zonal Marking

“Brazil produced a breathtaking performance at the Maracana to overwhelm Spain and claim their third consecutive Fifa Confederations Cup. Driven on by the passion of a fiercely partisan crowd, the five-time world champions signalled their intent ahead of next summer’s World Cup by ending Spain’s 29-match competitive unbeaten record with a majestic display. Fred scored twice, but Neymar again stole the show, scoring Brazil’s second goal with a rasping left-foot shot. To compound Spain’s misery, Sergio Ramos missed a second-half penalty before Gerard Pique was sent off for bringing down Neymar as last man, with 22 minutes remaining.” BBC

Dream final a sub-plot to urban uprising (June 28)
“And so the 2013 Confederations Cup has its dream final – Brazil against Spain, the match the world has been waiting years to see. It is a clash of two philosophies. For the Brazilians, the star player (known over here as the ‘craque,’ from the English ‘crack’) tips the balance with a moment of individual inspiration. For the Spaniards the collective idea is all important – the constant passing at pace, the continuous formation of triangles, each one opening up new possibilities for a new combination, until a runner can be slipped through on goal.” The World – Tim Vickery

Brazil on the verge of greatness
“Forget history and superstition. You have to be pretty twisted to believe that because Brazil won the Confederations Cup in 1997 and 2005 and 2009 and then failed to win the big one the following year, beating Spain and lifting the trophy at the Maracana was anything but a good thing. Anyone who witnessed the performance against Spain, who felt the goose bumps from the Torcida, who saw Fred, then Neymar, then Oscar, then just about every member of the Selecao vault the pitch-side barriers and celebrate with the supporters will know just how important this was.” ESPN (Video)


Confederations Cup: police clash with protesters outside Maracanã

July 1, 2013

“Protests against the rising cost of hosting the World Cup and a raft of other social inequalities in Brazil see police and demonstrators clash outside the Maracanã on the night of the Confederations Cup final. Brazil won the game against Spain 3-0 to win the trophy. Protests have taken place for the duration of the tournament, involving hundreds of thousands of people” Guardian (Video)


Spain beats Italy on penalties

June 28, 2013

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“Jesus Navas scored the decisive penalty as World Cup holder Spain beat Italy 7-6 in a shootout Thursday after extra time ended 0-0, setting up a showdown with host Brazil in the Confederations Cup final. Nobody missed in the shootout until Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci shot over the bar to give Navas an attempt at the winner. The recently signed Manchester City midfielder coolly beat goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to end a top-class battle and send Spain to another major final.” ESPN (Video)

Scolari to mull over Hulk dilemma ahead of final
“We cannot yet declare that Luiz Felipe Scolari has turned Brazil into a successful side, and it would be unrealistic to consider them an overly entertaining one. Nevertheless, among encouraging performances and positive results, the main feature of Brazil throughout the Confederations Cup so far has been the sheer consistency of selection.” ESPN (Video)


Incitement

June 27, 2013

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“‘Tear gas is a magic potion,’ writes Chris Gaffney from the streets of Rio. ‘Those who launch it are weakened while those forced to inhale it are strengthened.’ For those of you interested in the politics of football in Brazil, his blog – as well as his excellent book on Stadia in Argentina and Brazil – is a key place to go to understand the ways in which preparations for the 2014 World Cup have served as a trigger for what may become a major political and social movement in Brazil. As is often the case, the state’s response to what were initially small protests has energized a movement that is tapping into a powerful vein of dissatisfaction in the country.” Soccer Politics

Can Brazil protests can be traced back to a 2003 Fifa decision?
“Of all the unimportant things in life, as the wise old saying puts it, football is the most important. Which means, wonderful as it is, that the global game comes below education, health and public transport in any rational list of governmental priorities. It is the poor standard of these public services which has brought millions of Brazilian people onto the streets. No-one saw this protest movement coming and no-one knows where it will end. Most agree that the complaints are justified.” BBC – Tim Vickery


As opponents adapt, Jordi Alba helping to give Spain a new dimension

June 27, 2013

“The beauty of this Spain team is that it keeps evolving. After technical skill and the ability to retain possession finally overcame the neurosis of past failure at Euro 2008, there came the years of control in 2010 and 2012, as World Cup and another European Championsip were collected playing safety-first keep-ball. For all the criticism of its supposed negativity in Poland and Ukraine there were signs of another Spain emerging, one that had begun to come to terms with the problem posed by an opponent that sits deep against it.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Brazil 2-1 Uruguay: Brazil through to the final after substitutes help increase the pressure

June 27, 2013

“Brazil weren’t on top form, but Paulinho’s late header sends them through to the final. Luiz Felipe Scolari brought back Paulinho after injury kept the Tottenham target out of the victory over Italy – so Hernanes dropped to the bench. Having changed his entire side for the win over Tahiti, Oscar Tabarez reverted to the side that defeated Nigeria. This was a disappointing match in technical sense, with none of the attacking players sparkling, although it was interesting in tactical sense.” Zonal Marking

Brazil reaches Confed Cup final
“Brazil’s players wept with joy inside the stadium, and Brazilian protesters were sprayed with tear gas outside it as the country’s national football team reached the Confederations Cup final despite another wave of mass demonstrations on the streets. Brazil beat neighbors Uruguay 2-1 with an 86th minute header from Paulinho in a performance that failed to reach the commanding heights of earlier games. As thousands of anti-government protesters clashed with police nearby, inside the Mineirao Stadiujm, Brazil’s footballers reached Sunday’s final in Rio de Janeiro with a patchy display.” ESPN (Video)


Brave Nigeria bow out as Spain soldier on

June 24, 2013

“A courageous Nigeria team exited the Confederations Cup with their dignity very much intact despite being on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline against European and world champions, Spain. At the final whistle, the Super Eagles left the field as the spectators’ clear moral victors with the crowd chanting ‘Nigeria! Nigeria!’ albeit in suspiciously Brazilian accents.” ESPN (Video)


Scarred Brazil still hopeful of World Cup success

June 23, 2013

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“Football supporters fleeing tear gas and rubber bullets. Angry mobs torching banks and buses. Gleaming new stadiums encircled by activists. These are images few Brazilians would have predicted they would see on the streets of their country just 10 days ago, images the organisers of the next year’s World Cup could not have imagined would blight the Confederations Cup.” BBC


Neymar scores, Brazil tops Italy 4-2 to finish Confed Cup group play

June 23, 2013

“Neymar scored for the third straight Confederations Cup game, curling in a delightful free kick, as Brazil beat Italy 4-2 to complete Group A with a perfect record on Saturday. Dante, who replaced the injured David Luiz, put Brazil ahead in first-half stoppage time but Emanuele Giaccherini levelled six minutes after the re-start after being sent clear by Mario Balotelli’s clever back-heeled flick.” SI


Uruguay 2-1 Nigeria: Tabarez switches to a back three, then to a back four, then to a back five

June 23, 2013

“Diego Forlan hit the winner on his 100th international appearance, as Uruguay unconvincingly defeated Nigeria. After a terrible performance against Spain, Oscar Tabarez brought back Diego Forlan into his starting XI, completely changed his midfield duo, and switched to a back three. Stephen Keshi swapped his two central attackers – Ideye Brown replaced Anthony Ujah, and John Ogu came in for Sunday Mba. Uruguay were a little fortunate to win this one – over the course of the game they hardly outplayed Nigeria, although they unquestionably had more quality in the final third.” Zonal Marking


Italy 4-3 Japan: Italy start terribly but Prandelli makes an early change to prompt a comeback

June 23, 2013

“Italy were rather fortunate to win an amazingly open match. Against Mexico, Italy were superb down the left but disappointing down the right, so Cesare Prandelli kept the left flank intact and changed two players on the right of his 4-3-2-1 – Christian Maggio replaced Ignazio Abate, while Alberto Aquilani came in for Claudio Marchisio. Alberto Zaccheroni, up against his home country, brought in Ryoichi Maeda upfront, moved Shinji Okazaki to the right, and dropped Hiroshi Kiyotake. Japan were excellent in the first half hour, but a combination of Prandelli’s substitution and a crazy, end-to-end game somehow let Italy back in.” Zonal Marking


Brazil 2-0 Mexico: Brazil start strongly but fade

June 20, 2013

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“The opening suggested Brazil would win comfortably – but they spent the majority of the second half clinging onto a one-goal lead. Luiz Felipe Scolari kept the same XI that defeated Japan in the opening game. On the right flank, Jose Manuel de la Torre stuck with the duo that ended the defeat to Italy – Gerardo Flores on the wing and Hiram Mier at full-back, with winger Javier Aquino on the bench. Carlos Salcido switched from left-back to the centre of midfield, with Jorge Nilo coming into the side. Brazil started ferociously and pinned Mexico back into their own half, but their overall performance was disappointing.” Zonal Marking

Mexico continues frustrating, sluggish form at Confederations Cup
” There has been good news for Mexico during the Confederations Cup this week, but little of it has come from any of the match outcomes in Brazil. Victories for the USA over Honduras and Costa Rica over Panama have kept Mexico in the third automatic qualifying slot from the Concacaf hexagonal, but the team’s own form continues to frustrate. There is nothing shameful about losing to Italy and Brazil and if that were all there was to it, there’d be little reason for concern. The problem is context. Mexico has now won just one of its last 11 games — admittedly eight draws mean it was unbeaten in nine before the tournament — but the sense of optimism stimulated by its success in last July’s Olympic Games has all but evaporated. The crispness and rhythm of the team’s performance in London last summer has been replaced by sluggishness, despite the fact that six of the players who faced Brazil on Wednesday were in that same Olympic squad.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

“Neymar produced a commanding performance as Brazil secured their place in the Confederations Cup semi-finals with victory at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza. This was not the dominant performance that some had expected but it was Brazil’s first competitive victory over Mexico in nine years and a third successive win under head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.” BBC


Italy 2-1 Mexico: Italy excel down the left flank

June 20, 2013

“Italy dominated for the majority of the match, and Mario Balotelli was a fitting matchwinner. Cesare Prandelli selected a 4-3-2-1 system, using Juventus duo Claudio Marchisio and Emanuele Giaccherini behind lone striker Balotelli. Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre used a standard 4-2-3-1 system, playing Giovani dos Santos behind Javier Hernandez. Mexico had some bright moments, particularly through the lively Dos Santos – but Italy were the better side, and created more goalscoring opportunities.” Zonal Marking

“Italy completed a superb fightback to knock Japan out of the Confederations Cup and book their place in the semi-finals in a hugely entertaining game. Japan went 2-0 up via Keisuke’s Honda’s penalty and Shinji Kagawa’s strike. But Italy responded in some style when Daniele De Rossi headed in before Atsuto Uchida’s own goal and Mario Balotelli’s penalty made it 3-2.” BBC


Spain 2-1 Uruguay: Del Bosque changes his midfield structure, Uruguay are disorganised

June 20, 2013

“Spain’s level of dominance should have resulted in a much more emphatic victory. Xabi Alonso is unavailable for the Confederations Cup because of injury, and in his absence Vicente del Bosque changed the structure of his side, using Sergio Busquets as the sole holder, moving Xavi Hernandez into the role he plays at Barcelona, and introducing Cesc Fabregas as a number ten who could drive forward at the opposition defence. Roberto Soldado played upfront. Oscar Tabarez left Diego Forlan on the bench, with Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez upfront. Gaston Ramirez and Cristian Rodriguez were the attacking midfielders, with Walter Gargano in the middle. Spain’s possession dominance was astonishing in the first period, as Uruguay struggled to get out of their own half.” Zonal Marking


Andrea Pirlo hands out reminder and celebrates Italy centenary in style

June 17, 2013

“Andrea Pirlo works hard at making football look easy. Whether picking out a team-mate with a 40-yard assist or converting a high-pressure penalty in a European Championship quarter-final, his default expression is one of studied nonchalance. So after marking his 100th international cap with a goal on Sunday, he made sure that his words matched his demeanour.” Guardian (Video)


Spain see off Uruguay in Confederations Cup

June 17, 2013

“Goals from Pedro and Roberto Soldado helped Spain to a 2-1 victory over Uruguay in the Confederations Cup in Recife on Sunday and reinforced their position as tournament favourites. Luis Suárez scored a late consolation for Uruguay but the European champions dominated the game from start to finish and could easily have won by more.” Guardian


Latest Story Brazil 3-0 Japan: Brazil start the Confederations Cup with an encouraging performance

June 16, 2013

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“Brazil scored at the start of the first half, at the start of the second half, and in the final minute. Luiz Felipe Scolari named his expected side, unchanged from the XI that defeated France 3-0 last week. Alberto Zaccheroni left out Ryoichi Maeda, using Shinji Okazaki as the lone striker, with Hiroshi Kiyotake playing on the right of midfield. Brazil got off to a tremendous start through Neymar’s brilliant strike from the edge of the box and controlled the majority of the game.” Zonal Marking

Demonstrations mar Brazil’s Confederations Cup win over Japan
“Brazil opened the Confederations Cup with a comfortable 3-0 win over Japan, but the event was marred when police clashed with protesters outside the Mane Garrincha National Stadium. A stunning third-minute goal from Neymar set the hosts on their way before Paulinho added a second three minutes into the second half, as they dealt competently with the Asian champions. The substitute Jo completed the scoring in stoppage time.” Guardian

Neymar, Brazil control Japan 3-0
“Neymar lit up the opening match of the Confederations Cup with a stunning early goal but the final scoreline reflected a more laboured victory over Japan than the home fans were hoping for.” ESPN (Video)

“Neymar’s spectacular third-minute goal set hosts Brazil on their way to a comfortable victory over Japan in the opening game of the Confederations Cup. The Barcelona striker met Fred’s knockdown on the edge of the area with a blistering shot into the top corner.” BBC


Confederations Cup: 39 injured & 30 arrests in Brazil protests

June 16, 2013

“Brazil’s opening Confederations Cup match was affected by protests that left 39 people injured. Up to 1,000 Brazilians demonstrated outside the country’s national stadium to vent their anger at the amount of money the country is spending on staging next year’s World Cup. Police used tear gas and pepper spray to control protestors before the match, in which Brazil beat Japan 3-0. There were also reports rubber bullets were used and 30 arrests were made.” BBC


Confederations Cup 2013: Spain remain team to beat in Brazil

June 14, 2013

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“Despite some resistance from the Republic of Ireland at the Yankee Stadium, they outgunned Giovanni Trapattoni’s men 2-0 in their last game before the Confederations Cup campaign gets under way in Brazil this weekend. On Sunday, the world and European champions play their first group game against Uruguay, as La Roja begin their bid to bring yet another international trophy back to Madrid.” BBC

Uruguay’s fighting spirit comes to the fore
“Uruguay turning up for a tournament on Brazilian soil is enough to send a shudder down the local spine. The other day Pele was remembering the World Cup final of 1950, and his father in tears as the sky blues came from behind to shock the host in Rio’s newly built Maracana stadium. Now Uruguay is back once more, this time for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.” The World Gane – Tim Vickery

Confederations Cup 2013: Spain team profile
“… Whether in a 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 or 4-6-0 formation, the modern-day Spanish side, with a little help from their free-flowing Barcelona contingent, have ripped up the formation book – even winning tournaments with the false number nine/strikerless line-up. Barcelona’s Victor Valdes is expected to start the tournament as Spain’s number one goalkeeper in the major change from Euro 2012, with Iker Casillas missing out.” BBC

Face of World Cup host Brazil? Look no further than Neymar
“When the World Cup hopes and dreams of arguably the world’s most successful footballing country rest on your skinny shoulders, you’re going to need all the help you can get. It is not known what great works of literature Neymar chose when packing his suitcases for Barcelona, but he could have done worse than to seek solace in a little Shakespeare. Dank and drizzly though it can sometimes be, Santos’ Vila Belmiro stadium, our hero’s erstwhile home, is a long way from the gloomy battlements of Hamlet’s Elsinore. Nevertheless, there are more than a few parallels between the life and times of Brazil’s current idol and Shakespeare’s classic paean to troubled young manhood.” SI

Confed Cup Preview: 5 storylines to watch
“The Confederations Cup (June 15-30) is the ritual eight-team dry run designed to give the World Cup hosts the chance to iron out any kinks in their stadia and transport systems a year before the big show begins. The tournament pitches the hosts, reigning World Cup holders and six confederation champions (with Italy qualifying as Euro runners-up to World Cup holders Spain) into battle.” ESPN (Video)

A rare Confederations Cup – all the teams, for once, want to win it
“Tournaments are like birthdays: they are as significant as you want them to be. To many the Confederations Cup is a meaningless intrusion on the football calendar, a rinky-dink competition that proves nothing more than Fifa’s greed. After all, the World Cup already exists to establish the best team on the planet so what, other than money and attention-seeking, is the point of a mini-tournament between the leading teams from each continent?” Guardian

Starting anew: Deeper Spain lacks strong XI
“While club football’s evolution from a ‘team game’ into a ‘squad game’ has been widely acknowledged the past two decades, the situation at the international level remains uncertain. After all, major international tournaments are decided during the course of four weeks, rather than eight months. Whereas the speed and intensity of modern football ensures club managers frequently rotate their squad to prevent burnout in the spring, international managers often squeeze every last drop out of their regular starting XI.” ESPN – Michael Cox