Uefa Nations League – as it stands: Who are the winners and losers following the opening rounds of group games?

September 12, 2018

“A goalless draw on the opening day of the tournament may not have been the result the suits in Nyon had wanted, but the point earned by France in Munich provided the world champions the foundation to build upon. Goals from Kylian Mbappé and Olivier Giroud in their second game, the 2-1 defeat of Holland, leaves Didier Deschamps’ side top ahead of their return leg against Germany in Paris next month.” Telegraph


World Cup 2018 Best XI: France’s Champions Lead the Top Players in Russia

July 17, 2018


“After 64 games and more drama than any World Cup in at least 20 years, there’s one piece of business left to do: Pick a team of the tournament. It’s been picked as a team that might function together rather than just the 11 best players, and to avoid the temptation of packing it with France’s champions, a limit of four players per country has been self-imposed. In a 4-3-3 formation fit for the world stage, here is our 2018 World Cup Best XI.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


For all the ills of the world, World Cup 2018 showed that a bit of football done right can make the planet smile

July 17, 2018

“Monday morning dawns with a grim and crushing inevitability. Unless you’re peeling yourself off a Paris pavement, or drowning your sorrows in a Dubrovnik dive bar, the 2018 World Cup is over. As a month of sporting hedonism slips from present tense to past, real life and its hard borders re-sharpen their focus, bringing with them a cruel reckoning. It was only football, after all. It felt like more than that when Kylian Mbappe was burning through opposition defenders, or Lionel Messi was fighting back the tide, or Russia and South Korea were pulling off the unfeasible, or when England’s town squares throbbed with rasping songs and nervous tension and the prickly spines of a faint dream. But no: ultimately, it was only football, no more and no less.” Independent


World Cup 2018 goal celebrations: A statistical analysis of unbridled joy

July 17, 2018


“How would you celebrate if you scored at a World Cup? A jig by the corner flag, an emphatic sprint, jump and punch of the air, an emotional tussle with the goalnet, or just run as fast and far as you can until someone finally, gleefully leaps on you? Whether you’re a Milla, a Josimar or a Tardelli kind of guy, there are plenty of ways with which to physically revel in what, for most players, is the once-or-twice-in-a-lifetime act of scoring on the world’s biggest stage. Goal celebrations – often just as complex, slow-motion-worthy and memorable as the goals themselves – are an art form. But, just like everything else, they’re moulded by cultural trends, context and just pure momentary instinct.” Telegraph


France’s Benchwarmers Are Worth More Than Most Starting Lineups

July 10, 2018

“France enters today’s semifinal match against neighboring Belgium as the favorite to win the 2018 World Cup. At least on paper, though, France has been the least remarkable team of the four that remain: Les Bleus have scored fewer goals than each of the other semifinalists, they’ve possessed less of the ball than two of the other semifinalists, and they’ve taken the fewest shots.” FiveThirtyEight


Croatia 1 – 1 Denmark (Croatia win 3-2 on penalties)

July 1, 2018

“Danijel Subasic saved three penalties as Croatia knocked out dogged Denmark in a nerve-shredding shootout to set up a World Cup quarter-final tie against hosts Russia. It came at the end of a largely disappointing tie – and one that had seen Luka Modric spurn a golden chance to snatch a late winner when his penalty shortly before the end of extra-time was superbly saved by Kasper Schmeichel. The Leicester City goalkeeper also saved two penalties in the shootout at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium but he could not prevent Ivan Rakitic slotting home the decisive 10th kick.” BBC (Video)


Argentina Gets a Clean World Cup Slate After Marcos Rojo’s Heroic Volley

June 27, 2018

“Day 13 of World Cup 2018 is done, and the second night of simultaneous group finales brought another evening of memorable drama. Argentina got the victory and help it needed to survive and advance in a thrilling 2-1 win against Nigeria, while Iceland lost to Croatia 2-1. And in Group C, France and Denmark played a dreadful 0-0 tie that allowed Denmark advance to the knockout rounds as a second-place finisher, while Australia squandered its chance to make things interesting in a 2-0 loss to Peru.” SI


World Cup 2018: Is Saransk the most unusual host city in Russia?

June 24, 2018

“I was only in town half an hour before I saw him – a man taking his overweight cat for a walk, down the road and under a bridge on a makeshift lead. Nobody could really tell me what Saransk, the capital of Mordovia and about 430 miles east of Moscow, would be like, but this was an interesting start. Welcome to the city nobody expected to host the World Cup. … The next day, after Denmark beat Peru 1-0, the roads were reopened. Metal-box buses clanked and chugged along as a souped-up hatchback with one lime-green tyre rim raced past, blaring techno music as it went. Maybe the closures did make sense.” BBC


Punchless Argentina Barely Hanging on, Pogba Comes to Life at World Cup

June 21, 2018

“MOSCOW — Day 8 of World Cup 2018 was defined by Lionel Messi’s continued frustration and the suffering of Argentina fans, who saw their team lose 3-0 to Croatia in a one-sided headliner of the day’s triple-header. Thursday was also defined by the resurgent Paul Pogba and France, which clinched advancement to the knockout stage along with Croatia following a 1-0 win over Peru; and by a brave 1-1 tie earned by Australia against Denmark that keeps the Aussies alive in Group C.” SI


Peru 0 – 1 Denmark

June 16, 2018

“Denmark began their World Cup campaign with a hard-fought victory against a Peru side that had earlier missed a penalty. The South Americans were awarded a spot-kick after consultation with the video assistant referee but Christian Cueva, the man fouled, shot over the crossbar. That miss proved crucial as the Danes hit Peru on the counter-attack in the second half with Christian Eriksen releasing Yussuf Poulsen, who had conceded the penalty, and he fired past Pedro Gallese.” BBC


World Cup favourites choosing defensive-minded midfielders over deep-lying playmakers

June 11, 2018


“The most fascinating tactical development over the past few World Cups has been the increased popularity of the deep playmaker. Having nearly become extinct around the turn of the century, it’s notable that recent World Cup winners have generally depended upon a great creative influence from deep.” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)


World Cup Preview 2018: Messi vs. Ronaldo, Magic Cats, Iceland!!, and the Entire Emotional Context in Which Much of Human Life Transpires

June 10, 2018

“Ladies and gentlemen, start your psychic octopuses. The biggest and strangest sporting event in human history resumes next week in Russia, where thirty-two men’s national soccer teams will begin the monthlong competition for the strangely un-cup-like trophy given to the winners of the FIFA World Cup. For many of the world’s best soccer players, the tournament offers a chance to become legends in their home countries and icons in the history of the game. For billions of soccer fans, the tournament offers a chance to participate in modernity’s most sweeping collective frenzy, a spectacle that will shape the emotional context in which much of human life transpires for the next few weeks. For the United States men’s national team, which did not qualify, the tournament offers a chance to feel gloomy while eating Cheetos on the couch.” New Yorker – Brian Phillips


Who’s the Best No. 10 at the World Cup?

June 9, 2018


“In Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics, Jonathan Wilson describes the symbolism of the no. 10 as “the ‘free-spirited epitome of the artistry of soccer.’ And while free-spirits have become fewer and farther between as more money’s been poured into the game and managers have systematized their tactics, the no. 10 is still typically given to the most creative player on the team. Or, in Poland or Nigeria’s case, it’s given to a defensive midfielder best known for his ability to make tackles and pass the ball sideways. But each team has its reasons, and so with all of the World Cup squad lists now officially released, we each ranked all the nos. 10 set to play in Russia this summer, tallied the results, and came out with the following list. No. 1 is obvious, but that’s about the only spot we came close to agreeing on. Yes, someone, who shall remain nameless out of our sheer fear for his safety, didn’t put Lionel Messi first.” The Ringer


France’s Group-Stage Tuneup Will Tell Us Whether It’s A Contender

June 9, 2018

“Group C is all about France. The issue isn’t so much whether the team will qualify for the knockout stage of the World Cup. Rather, it’s what France’s play over its matches with Peru, Denmark and Australia will say about its chances of winning the whole tournament.” FiveThirtyEight


World Cup groups A-D preview – Football Weekly

June 9, 2018

“Max Rushden is joined by voices from around the world to preview World Cup groups A-D, including Danish royalty, Peruvian vigour and the prospect of a tournament without a French meltdown.” Guardian (Audio)


Your complete guide to all 736 players at the 2018 World Cup

June 7, 2018

“Biographies of every player in all 32 squads in Russia, including caps, goals, nicknames, hobbies and, once the tournament starts, ratings for every performance. We strive to give you an unbiased, trustworthy and in-depth view of the world’s most prestigious football tournament. If you think that’s worth something, then you can support The Guardian from as little as £1 – and it only takes a minute.” Guardian


Meet the Five Most Exciting Prospects at the 2018 World Cup

June 6, 2018

“Yes, club soccer has overtaken the international game. And sure, all of the best players play for the best club teams, where they get coached by the best managers, who get to use the best facilities on a daily basis. Meanwhile, national teams congregate only a few times per year, for a friendly there or a qualification match here—and most sides get to play in a competitive tournament only once every 24 months. That’s why a tactic like pressing—swarming your opponent while they have the ball in their own defensive third—has dominated the club game but will be a rare sight in Russia this summer.” The Ringer (Video)


Who Will Win the 2018 World Cup? SI’s Expert Predictions and Knockout Brackets

June 4, 2018


“The World Cup kicks off June 14 in Moscow with a meeting between the two lowest-ranked teams in the field, which, in some ways, is quite appropriate. The competition is meant to be a crescendo, one whose drama and defining moments don’t occur until the very end. With the way the draw and schedule worked out, that’s precisely how Russia 2018 is shaping up to play out. Russia vs. Saudi Arabia will be a massive 90 minutes for the host nation, which can set its tone for the tournament in front of its partisan crowd. But once it’s over, the focus will shift to the traditional powers and the individual superstars who figure to have plenty of say in determining the 2018 world champion. …” SI


Russia 2018: Group C

June 4, 2018

“Judge the 32 World Cup sides purely upon the overall standard talent within the squad, and France might be the most feared squad. But despite – or perhaps because of – Didier Deschamps’ strength in depth across the pitch, he’s struggled to decide upon his best XI or formation. The problems from Euro 2016, where France reached the final but Deschamps struggled to choose between 4-3-3 and 4-4-1-1, might be apparent again here. In a team blessed with versatile, quick attackers and energetic box-to-box midfielders, one of France’s key players might be someone completely different – Olivier Giroud. There’s no guarantee he’ll start, especially because he’s such an effective Plan B, but Giroud is perfectly suited to the slower nature of international tournaments, especially in matches where France will play against a deep defensive line. …” oddschecker – Michael Cox


World Cup 2018 team previews: what you need to know about all 32 teams (ESPN)

May 25, 2018


“The 2018 World Cup might be missing some big nations, but that’s what makes this tournament the best in sports. Brazil are looking to bounce back from a travesty in 2014, while Spain, Argentina and France are hoping to dethrone defending champions Germany and their typically deep squad. Can Belgium or Portugal make a splash? Do England have what it takes to challenge too? ESPN FC is previewing every team ahead of the opening game on June 14 in English, Spanish and Portuguese to give a truly global feel to our team profiles. Here’s what you need to know about the 32 teams set to do battle in Russia beginning on June 14. …”
ESPN


2018 FIFA World Cup

May 25, 2018

“The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be the 21st FIFA World Cup, a quadrennial international football tournament contested by the men’s national teams of the member associations of FIFA. It is scheduled to take place in Russia from 14 June to 15 July 2018, after the country was awarded the hosting rights on 2 December 2010. This will be the first World Cup held in Europe since the 2006 tournament in Germany, and the first ever to be held in Eastern Europe. All of the stadium venues are in European Russia, to keep travel time manageable. The final tournament will involve 32 national teams, which include 31 teams determined through qualifying competitions and the automatically qualified host team. Of the 32 teams, 20 will be making back-to-back appearances following the last tournament in 2014, including defending champions Germany, while Iceland and Panama will both be making their first appearances at a FIFA World Cup. A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities. The final will take place on 15 July at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. …” Wikipedia


World Cup 2018 squad guide: Latest news and updates ahead of Russia (Independent)

May 25, 2018

“The 2018 World Cup is now only weeks away. The 32 countries have until the May 14 deadline to name their provisional squads for Russia with managers all over the globe currently scratching their heads as they bid to whittle down their long list of possibles and probables in time for the final June 4 cut off, just 10 days before the opener in Moscow. However, many teams – England included, – have already pledged to name their lucky few earlier with Gareth Southgate set to pick his 23 before the final pre-tournament friendlies with Nigeria and Costa Rica. …” Independent (Video)


World Cup 2018 groups: Your complete guide to the teams

April 5, 2018

“The World Cup draw is done and dusted with England drawn against Belgium, Panama and Tunisia. Here is your guide to the eight groups for the 2018 World Cup…” Telegraph


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


Michael Laudrup: a portrait of an icon

November 21, 2017

“The theory of collective intelligence is well-established. The “wisdom of the crowd” principle states that the averaged answer of a group of individuals outweighs that of a single expert on matters of spatial awareness, quantity estimation and general knowledge. It was first mooted by Aristotle, and has been continued by philosophers, statisticians and economists pretty much ever since. It is one good reason why juries and panels exist. Without offending Aristotle, the Marquis de Condorcet and Francis Galton, Michael Laudrup’s lack of international recognition erodes confidence in the principle. Between 1989 and 1996, Denmark’s greatest ever player was European football’s finest footballer. …” Guardian


Euro 2016 Playoffs

December 10, 2015

“This weekend the eight remaining teams in Euro 2016 qualifying will be fighting it out for the final four places available for France next summer. 20 teams have already booked their tickets for France, but who else might find themselves sipping Bordeaux at a cafe on the Champs-Élysées next June? The Euro 2016 playoffs start Thursday and finish Tuesday. Here are what the coaches have to say about the upcoming matches.” Total Soccer Project


Outplayed once again, Klinsmann’s USA sees repeated theme in Denmark

March 27, 2015

“The U.S. national team was outplayed comprehensively during Wednesday’s 3-2 loss in Denmark. But the fact that the Americans were so close to leaving NRGi Park in Aarhus with a win or tie would surprise only those who haven’t been watching coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s team over the past couple of years.” SI


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


Coaching’s greatest seminar: how Louis van Gaal shaped five top managers

August 13, 2014

Barcelona manager composite
“In 1997, Louis van Gaal arrived at Barcelona. He had initially been approached to be youth coordinator but with Bobby Robson’s side struggling in the league – despite winning both the Copa del Rey and the Cup Winners’ Cup – he was asked to take over as manager, with Robson taking on an ambassadorial role, becoming, as he put it ‘the world’s highest-paid scout’. On Robson’s recommendation, Van Gaal took on José Mourinho, who had become far more than a translator, to be his ‘third assistant’. In his midfield, he had Pep Guardiola and Luís Enrique.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


League Focus: Eredivisie 2014/15 Preview – Ajax’s Chance to Make History

August 5, 2014

“If one word could describe the Eredivisie it is “engrossing”. Unpredictability borne out of the annual summer upheaval – today’s economic reality means Dutch clubs find it difficult to retain the experience and cohesion forged over the past 12-18 months – leading to its competitive nature. Since the leagues inception in 1956 no team has managed to win five consecutive championships; the feeling among many observers is that it’s all about to change. History will be re-written by Frank de Boer and Ajax. The cornerstone behind their latest domestic supremacy has been De Boer’s system. No longer relying on individuals, anyone can be replaced, and reintroducing Ajax’s traditional game absent for much of the time between his departure as a player in 1998 and appointment as manager in December 2010.” whoscored


Scandinavian weekly round up

April 9, 2014

“At the end of Round 25, we have a new name at the top of the Danish Superliga table. Aalborg have finally snatched first place from Midtjylland, and nobody can argue that they do not deserve to lead the way with only eight games left to play. To make it even sweeter for the boys from Nordjyske Arena, it was their victory against Midtjylland on Saturday that allowed them to take top spot, as they saw off early pressure by the former league leaders to beat them 3-2 in front of 11,500 fans at MCH Arena in Herning.” backpagefootball


England renew continent’s oldest football rivalry with visit of Denmark

March 7, 2014

“England’s friendly against Denmark on Wednesday is not just the much-discussed final audition for players hopeful of forcing their way into Roy Hodgson’s squad for the World Cup, but also another episode in the oldest rivalry in international football – other than those between teams from Britain and Ireland. It was never, it must be admitted, a particularly ferocious rivalry, but England (representing Great Britain) did beat Denmark in the finals of both the 1908 and 1912 Olympics, while no continental European nation took football as seriously as Denmark did in the years up to the first world war.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Bergkamp Statue Revealed: “Henry Himself, Would Argue That Dennis Was Better.”

February 23, 2014

“This weekend, whilst a lot of the British press are passing judgements on Arsenal’s current star signing, arguably the greatest Gunners arrival of them all is set to be honoured outside Emirates Stadium. As a big name with a similarly big price tag in 1995, Dennis Bergkamp had a slow start adapting to a new league, but went on to be revered by Arsenal fans. Certainly in the Wenger-era, few would argue that Thierry Henry is the greatest player for the Gunners. Henry himself, would argue that Dennis was better.” Sabotage Times


A Stadium in Greenland That’s More Than a Stadium

January 8, 2014

“On my recent trip to Copenhagen, Jennifer and I had the pleasure of visiting the Danish Architecture Centre, which sits near the quays of Nyhavn, surrounded by gleaming, angular buildings and the brick and timber structures of the old dock area. The Centre featured an exhibition on attempts by a quorum of Danish architects and their Greenlander cousins to develop homes and civic buildings for Greenland, which included a wonderfully bold cruciform airport and a multipurpose civic centre, which would include both space for theatre and local government, along with sports facilities. Much has been made of Iceland’s recent run in World Cup qualifying to an ultimately unsuccessful play-off place against Croatia. Iceland, like Greenland, struggles with bitter temperatures and frozen pitches, which can stymie attempts to play football all year round.” Put Niels In Goal


The Danish Fairy Tale

December 3, 2013

“A friend of mine is a fan of F.C. København, the most successful Danish league side of the last 10 years. København have won 7 of the last 10 Danish Superliga titles, but are more famous for being a Cinderella team that beat Manchester United and drew Barcelona and Manchester City in the Champions League. Remarkably, however, København is not the most successful Cinderella that Denmark has produced. That honor belongs to the Danish team that won Euro 1992 against all odds, which wrote a fairy tale that can rival any work by Hans Christian Andersen.” Soccer Politics


Inside Meulensteen’s Time at Brøndby

December 1, 2013

“Meulensteen was appointed Anzhi coach yesterday to much surprise and fanfare. His last head coaching position was a fairly unsuccessful stint at Danish club Brøndby IF. We get to know a little more about Meulensteen as a head coach through his former player at Brøndby, Per Nielsen, from Nielsen’s recent autobiography. Per Nielsen played his first match for Brøndby IF in June 1993 and between his debut and 2008 he played 548, only eight less than Bjarne Jensen, who holds the club record for most matches played with 556. Nielsen played as a center defender. Per Nielsen has never played for any clubs other than Brøndby, where he won the Danish championship in 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2005 and the Danish cup in 1993, 1998, 2003, 2005 and 2008. He also played 10 matches for the Danish national team, earning his first cap in 2004.” Russian Football


Akademisk Boldklub vs Brønsøj – a visit, a match, and a conversation

November 20, 2013

“This blog is named after a Danish physicist, Nobel laureate, and erstwhile goalkeeper Niels Bohr. Bohr won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1922 for pioneering work on atomic structure, positing that atoms orbiting a nucleus had discrete energetic properties and could jump between orbits. He was also a footballer, though less successful than his brother Harald, who represented Denmark at the 1908 Olympics as a right-back. Niels’ son Ernest was also an Olympian, playing field hockey at the 1948 London Olympics. Both Bohr brothers played together in the University sports club team, known as Akademisk Boldklub, which had teams for cricket, handball, and basketball, as well as football.” Put Niels In Goal


Nürnberg’s New Coach Gertjan Verbeek: A good, tough man and manager

October 24, 2013

“FC Nürnberg have announced that Dutch coach Gertjan Verbeek, 51, will take over the coaching duties at Der Club following the dismissal of Michael Wiesinger two weeks ago. Verbeek, a former SC Heerenveen defender, will coach his first game outside of Dutch football this weekend against VfB Stuttgart as 16th place Nürnberg seek their first win of the season. Veerbeek began his coaching career at Heracles Almelo in 2001, and has also led Heerenveen, Feyenoord and AZ Alkmaar in Dutch competition.” Bundesliga Fanatic


World Cup qualifiers: Romelu Lukaku sends Belgium to Brazil

October 12, 2013

lukaku_belgium
“Romelu Lukaku scored twice as Belgium beat Croatia 2-1 to secure their place at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Striker Lukaku, on loan at Everton from Premier League rivals Chelsea, scored twice in the first half, with Niko Kranjcar grabbing a late consolation. Belgium were joined by Germany and Switzerland in qualifying for next year’s tournament. Germany defeated the Republic of Ireland 3-0, while Switzerland won 2-1 in Albania.” BBC


Top 10 Young Football Managers

July 22, 2013

“Football, over the last couple of seasons, has been witnessing a ‘change of guard’. Players who we adored in their prime have retired, managers that headed some of the greatest sides in history have resigned. All this has given rise to the next generation of football personnel ranging from talented young footballers to talented young tacticians. In this piece we will be focusing on the Top 10 Young Football Managers, that could be at the helm of some of the biggest clubs in World Football, in the not-so-distant future.” Outside of the Boot – Part 1, Outside of the Boot – Part 2


Altidore has found his form at AZ, but is he headed for another move?

May 14, 2013

“Jozy Altidore’s European club season is over, and the final eye-popping numbers are in: 31 goals in all competitions for AZ Alkmaar, including 23 league strikes and eight in the Dutch Cup, which AZ won last week with Altidore scoring the game-winner. AZ did struggle in the Dutch league, finishing a disappointing 10th, but the 23-year-old Altidore’s 31 goals broke Clint Dempsey’s year-old record for goals scored in a European club season by a U.S. national team player.” SI


Danish Blues: The Demise Of Brondby IF

December 3, 2012

brond5
“Last season the world of European football was mildly surprised to see a new name join the Champions League jet-set. Many words have already been written on the miraculous rise from regional cup final to the world’s richest club competition of FC Nordsjælland. Whilst the champagne corks were popping in the Farum, a sleepy northern Copenhagen suburb, back in May, the usual end of season soul-searching on the other side of the Capital of Cool began in earnest. Brøndby IF, for so long the title also-rans, had experienced a season from hell, finishing just two places and six points above the relegation zone.” In Bed With Maradona


Russia, England under scrutiny as World Cup qualifying resumes

October 12, 2012


Xabi Alonso, Franck Ribery, quarterfinal match
“1. Capello faces crunch match against Portugal. It’s far too early to call it a crisis, but for all the money that Russian football has lavished on players and coaches this summer, there has been precious little return — yet. The country’s two Champions League representatives, Zenit St. Petersburg and Spartak Moscow, are both pointless after two group games (despite Zenit spending €80 million on Hulk and Axel Witsel and Spartak playing Celtic at home), and now attention turns to the national team, World Cup hosts in 2018.” SI


The Best Football Shirts of Euro 2012

July 7, 2012

“Spain reigned supreme on the pitch, but which nation stole the sartorial show? Euro 2012 was a tame tourney for football kits when compared to some of the shock shirts of years past, but still had its fair share of gems which we will see again soon when World Cup 2014 qualifying begins this fall. And remember, all these shirts and more, including new Premier League releases for 2012-13, are available through epltalk.com.” EPL Talk


Devaluing the Euros

July 5, 2012

“After just over three weeks of football, the world’s second biggest football tournament has played out in front of our eyes in Poland and Ukraine. Sixteen of Europe’s best teams have competed in thirty nine games to determine who would win the Henri Delaunay and join the likes of France, Holland, Denmark, West Germany, Greece and Spain in being crowned the champions of European Football. A few weeks before the tournament the bookies suggested that you should look no further than 2008 champions Spain for the winner of the tournament and when Iker Casillas elbowed Platini out of the way to lift the trophy they proved that class and form were both well judged.” The Ball is Round


Internal strife forces Blanc, Van Marwijk to pay ultimate price

July 5, 2012

“The end of a major tournament often brings a rash of coaching changes. Euro 2012 has been no different. Some, like Franciszek Smuda (Poland), Dick Advocaat (Russia) and Slaven Bilic (Croatia) already were at the end of their contracts — but Laurent Blanc and Bert van Marwijk, who coached France and Holland, respectively, were two surprise coaching casualties following Euro 2012.” SI


ZM’s team of Euro 2012

July 5, 2012


Iker Casillas, Spain
“Iker Casillas, Spain. This wasn’t a tournament of particularly fine individual goalkeeping displays, but the best two goalkeepers of the tournament – and of the century – met as captains in the final. Until the, there was nothing to separate Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon, but after Casillas made a fine save from Di Natale and prompted Spain’s second goal with a good ball out to Alba, he must get the nod. …” Zonal Marking


The Reducer: Euro 2012 Final Retro Diary

July 2, 2012


“When it was over, when Fernando Torres was wearing a look on his face that said, ‘Holy shit! I won the Golden Boot!?’ I didn’t want them to leave. I didn’t want it to be over. It had been a month, but it felt like it was just beginning. Some countries wait generations to win a major football tournament. Spain, for instance, waited 44 years. Then the right generation came along. On Sunday, Spain defeated a valiant, gassed Italy, 4-0, in Kiev, to win Euro 2012. They have now won two consecutive European championships and are the World Cup holders. They are the first team to ever successfully defend their European Championship. Spain’s victory on Sunday marked the third time they won the Euros. The only other country to pull off that feat is West Germany. In terms of accomplishments, this Spanish side can only be compared to the Brazil team, led by a young Pele, that won the World Cup in 1958 and 1962, or the early ’70s West Germany team that won the Euros in 1972, the World Cup in ’74, and placed as runners-up to Czechoslovakia in Euro ’76.” Grantland (Video)

Spain sheds ‘boring’ charges in Euro 2012 final, with Italy’s help
“Everything in football is relative. How one team plays is necessarily conditioned by how the opponent plays. When Spain was accused of being boring, the response was always that it was very hard for it not to be when opponents packed men behind the ball. Italy didn’t, and Spain showed just how unboring it could be, its 4-0 win the largest margin of victory in a European Championship or World Cup final. Spain’s game plan, essentially, was a game of chicken — and it never blinked first. When opponents sat deep against it — and in the past two tournaments only Chile and Italy have not — Spain held the ball.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Euro 2012: Perfect Spain justify Vicente del Bosque’s beliefs
“Playing without a defined striker remains a relatively novel concept but Vicente del Bosque was actually returning to Plan A. After unsuccessful attempts to incorporate a proper No9 into his side Del Bosque reverted to his initial system of six midfielders and Spain became the first side to win the European Championship by using the same XI in their opening game and the final.” Guardian – Michael Cox

Friedrich Nietschze Reflects Upon the European Championships
“We are honored at Futfanatico to welcome Friedrich Nietschze as a visiting scholar, classical philologist, philosopher, and soccer analyst. The German intellectual heavyweight took a break from his grueling publish or perish schedule to answer pressing questions on the European Championships, the gay science, post-nihilist studies, and the final between Italy and Spain. His answers will probably confuse (but may amuse) you.” futfanatico

Spain earns the big prize, but here are my Euro 2012 tourney awards
“Spain ended two debates once and for all with its master-class performance in a sensational 4-0 Euro 2012 final victory against Italy: No, it is not boring to play with six midfielders and no clear center-forward; and yes, it deserves to be called one of the greatest teams of all time after becoming the first side to win three major international tournaments in succession.” SI


The European Cup and the New Europe

June 26, 2012

“During international football competitions like the European Cup, eleven players briefly become their country, for a time, on the pitch. A nation is a difficult thing to grasp: unpalpable, mythic, flighty. Historians might labor away to define the precise contours of a country’s culture and institutions, and even sometimes attempt to delineate it’s soul, while political leaders try mightily (and persistently fail) to stand as representatives of it’s ideals. But in a way there is nothing quite so tactile, so real, as the way a team represents a nation: during their time on the pitch, they have in their hands a small sliver of the country’s destiny. And in those miraculous and memorable moments when individual trajectories intersect with a national sporting victory, sometimes biographies and histories seem briefly to meld. At such moments, the players who inhabit the crossroads of sporting and national history –Maradona in 1986, Zidane in 1998 — become icons, even saints.” Soccer Politics


Gavin Hamilton Euro 2012 diary, June 20, Warsaw

June 20, 2012

“The longer England stay in this tournament, the luckier they get. Last night’s win over Ukraine – the first time England have beaten the hosts at a tournament – included a huge dose of luck, with the match officials refusing to award Ukraine a goal after Marko Devic’s shot was cleared from behind the line by John Terry. However, England demonstrated a spirit and sense of togetherness that was lacking in South Africa.” World Soccer


Denmark 1 – 2 Germany

June 18, 2012

“Denmark were knocked out of Euro 2012 as they fell to a 2-1 defeat to Germany. Needing a win over the group favourites to progress, as Portugal beat Netherlands, the Danes went behind to a Lukas Podolski strike early on but equalised through Michael Krohn-Dehli’s header. However, defender Lars Bender popped up with ten minutes to go to end their hopes of qualification and left the Germans top of the group.” ESPN

Germany disposes of Denmark to win Group B, advance to quarters
“Germany advanced to a quarterfinal against Greece after beating Denmark 2-1 on Sunday in their last Group B match at the European Championship. The Danes were eliminated. Lukas Podolski opened the scoring for Germany in the 19th minute and Lars Bender slotted home the winner in the 80th after Michael Krohn-Dehli had equalized for Denmark in the first half.” SI

Euro 2012: Lars Bender takes Germany through and dumps out Denmark
“Germany, it turns out, do not do group stage nail-biters after all. On a clear, mild night in suburban Lviv a 2-1 defeat of Denmark that was not without alarms ensured it would indeed be Joachim Löw’s fluent and excitingly youthful Nationalmannschaft who escaped Group B without the indignity of last-ditch convulsions. Germany will now play Greece, who may feel – in every sense – they owe them one.” Guardian


The Reducer: Orange Crushed

June 16, 2012

“Game of the Week: Germany 2, Holland 1. When the final whistle blew on this Group of B (B is for Death) match, one image in particular kept running through my head. There was Arjen Robben and his crinkled, baby Benjamin Button face, dickishly taking the long way around to the Dutch bench after being substituted for in the 83rd minute. He didn’t try to hype up his teammates, he didn’t shake hands with his sub, Dirk Kuyt, or give a quick man-shake to his manager. Nope, instead he tore off his jersey, parading past the famously passionate, good-traveling Holland fans, looking like a kid who’d just been Tasered while sucking on a lime.” Grantland


Euro 2012 Analysis – Day 1, Groups A, B, C, D

June 15, 2012

“This is the first piece in our Euro 2012 Analysis series, during which we’ll analyze all the matches based on our FootballrRating score. The app is currently in public beta. Register now to gain access to our match, player, and team analysis.” chimu solutions


Portugal 3-2 Denmark: No tracking from Ronaldo and Rommedahl means goals come from that flank

June 14, 2012


“Silvestre Varela grabbed a late winner as Portugal registered their first win of Euro 2012. Paulo Bento named an unchanged side from the team that lost to Germany – Helder Postiga continued upfront, despite Nelson Oliveira’s positive impact from the bench in the opening game. Morten Olsen also made no changes from Denmark’s surprise 1-0 win over Holland. Think of Portugal and Denmark – not just the current sides, but their style over the course of the century so far – and you think of width. That was the main story here, with little happening in the centre of midfield, and all the attacking thrust coming from the flanks.” Zonal Marking

Ronaldo struggles, but Portugal wins
“In this, the Group of Death, Portugal avoided a premature discovery of the afterlife. Unheralded substitute Silvestre Varela’s late goal earned them a 3-2 victory against a resilient Denmark. The game was an enormously entertaining affair, not least because of the fascinating clash of styles it presented as the wet, hair-gel look of Portugal, all ‘Night At The Roxbury,’ was pitched against Denmark’s Motorhead full-arm sleeve tattoos.” ESPN (Video)

Three thoughts: Portugal’s victory showcases great aerial play at Euro
“Three thoughts after Portugal’s 3-2 victory over Denmark in Lviv, Ukraine. 1. Heading is the new shooting. Portugal’s Pepe and Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner both scored on headers in Wednesday’s Group B match, raising the total to 12 headed goals — out of 30 — at Euro 2012. It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence. At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the quality of crossing was noticeably poor. Players blamed everything from the Jabulani ball to the high altitude in certain stadiums. Whatever the problem was, it seems to have been solved. Aerial assists from dead-ball situations and open play are markedly improved in this tournament, passes that gives forwards (and plenty of defenders, too) the opportunity to calculate flight paths and attack the ball accordingly. Are fullbacks attacking too much to defend properly? Or is the new Tango 2012 ball simply more stable? We certainly haven’t heard the usual complaints from goalkeepers yet.” SI

Euro 2012: Denmark v Portugal – as it happened
“Good afternoon everybody. If only there was some over-used, catchy but not entirely accurate phrase to describe the one group in a major football tournament in which four apparently strong teams with no obvious whipping boys were drawn together, then it could almost certainly be applied to Group B in Euro 2012. After the first round of games in The Group Of Four Apparently Strong Teams With No Obvious Whipping Boys, Germany and Denmark are cock-a-hoop with one win each, while Portugal and Holland have been forced to lick their wounds, regroup and set about playing catch-up.” Guardian


Gavin Hamilton Euro 2012 diary, Gdansk, June 10

June 11, 2012

“It was always a little premature to hail Denmark’s victory over Holland’s as proof of a new defensive mood enveloping the European game. First Chelsea win the Champions League, then Denmark provide the tournament’s first shock by keeping a clean sheet against much-fancied Holland.” World Soccer


Denmark 1-0 Holland: Krohn-Dehli goal provides the first surprise of the tournament

June 10, 2012


Michael Krohn-Dehli
“Holland had the majority of possession and chances, but Denmark snatched the three points. Morten Olsen chose the XI that was widely expected to start the game, in a rough 4-2-3-1 formation. Bert van Marwijk’s starting selection was also as predicted, with Ron Vlaar in the side to replace the injured Joris Mathijsen. Jetro Willems became the youngest player in European Championship history at left-back.” Zonal Marking

Three Thoughts: Denmark gives the Netherlands more to worry about
“1. The defensive worries for the Dutch were not overstated. The Netherlands created enough chances to win this game twice over. But at the back, things were actually worse than the pessimists had anticipated. Every time Denmark ventured forward in wide positions, the Oranje fullbacks looked vulnerable. The problem was partly due to the two “controllers” — Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong — being too slow to come out to center to cover. But that didn’t excuse the utter sluggishness from Gregory van der Wiel and Jetro Willems in the one-v.-ones against decent, but not exactly stellar, opposition.” SI

Dutch face uphill battle in Group B
“All week long the Dutch have said that nothing less than winning the European Championships will do. If they’re to end a 24-year drought at major tournaments, a drought that belies their immense talent, it’ll have to happen the hard way. After losing 1-0 to Denmark in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Saturday, simply advancing from the Group of Death will take some doing. The mighty Germans are up next and Dutch manager Bert van Marwijk knows it’s a must-win game.” ESPN (Video)

Euro 2012 Day 2: Dutch loss a big story, but don’t overlook the Danes
“There were two things that the managers of Netherlands and Denmark agreed on before the teams met on a clammy Saturday evening in Kharkiv, Ukraine: The Dutch were the favorites, and their players are ‘arrogant in a good way.'” SI


Why You Should Root for Denmark in Euro 2012

June 8, 2012

“International football tournaments follow a fairly predictable script. The two most predictable scenes, after England failing to live up to the hype and the Dutch being eliminated on penalties, are the precocious young player who impresses and the small country that captures the hearts and minds of casual fans. When Euro 2012 kicks off this weekend in Poland and Ukraine, those looking for an underdog to support and a young player to discover need not look any further than Denmark and their young star Christian Eriksen. There are many reasons to support both.” Grantland (Video)


Gavin Hamilton Euro 2012 diary: Warsaw, June 8

June 8, 2012

“Welcome to Warsaw! Euro 2012 is slowly cranking into life after yesterday’s bank holiday in the Polish capital; victory for the hosts over Greece in this evening’s match may be the tonic the tournament needs to capture the imagination of the Polish people.” World Soccer


Euro 2012 previews: general themes

June 6, 2012


Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Arjen Robbe
“Team-by-team previews are on their way later today. But, to save repetition in many articles, here are some general themes based upon recent international tournaments…” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Holland
“After a reputation for playing beautiful football was undermined by Holland’s brutal performance in the 2010 World Cup final, Holland’s strategy in the past two years has been an interesting balancing act – Bert van Marwijk wants to look as if he’s moved on to a more open style of football, but remains reluctant to abandon the structure and functionality that took Holland to the World Cup final in the first place.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Spain
“Spain didn’t win World Cup 2010 through pure tiki-taka. They won because they mixed tiki-taka with different options that brought more directness and urgency to their play.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Germany
“They didn’t win the competition, but Germany hit the greatest heights at World Cup 2010. While Spain embarked on a series of controlled but rather uninspiring 1-0 victories, Germany hit four goals past Australia, England and Argentina.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Czech Republic
“Michal Bilek hasn’t been particularly popular during his time as Czech Republic coach, but he has assembled a well-organised, functional side that mixes experience with youth.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Greece
“Greece aren’t overwhelmingly different from the team that shocked Europe to win Euro 2004. They’re not as extreme in their negativity, and not as effective, but are still broadly defensive and their main threat will come from set-pieces.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Italy
“In many ways, Cesare Prandelli isn’t a typical Italian coach. He’s a highly intelligent man, but one doesn’t think of him as a pure tactician like Marcello Lippi, Giovanni Trapattoni or Fabio Capello. He’s of an Arsene Wenger figure – he wants an overall, attacking philosophy rather than lots of specific tactics, and likes developing young players to suit his footballing identity.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: England
“Roy Hodgson was the right choice as England coach – at least in the short-term – but realistically, you can’t expect a side to play good football when their coach is appointed a month before the tournament.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Croatia
“Of the 16 teams in this competition, Croatia are one of the hardest to define. They seem trapped between a few different ways of playing, and don’t have a specific footballing identity.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Sweden
“For the first time since World Cup 1994, Sweden are at a major international tournament without Lars Lagerback. Now in charge of Iceland, Lagerback was at the helm for so long (first as a joint-coach with Tommy Soderberg, then in sole charge) that his footballing style -organised, defensive – became merged with Sweden’s footballing style, to the point where it was difficult to tell the difference between the two, at least to an outsider.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Denmark
“It’s impossible to think of Denmark at the European Championships without thinking of their astonishing victory 20 years ago. Then, they triumphed at Euro 92 despite not qualifying for the tournament initially…yet they’re even more of outsiders this time around.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Russia
“There are many lessons to take from Spain’s dominance of international football over the past few years, and an important one has been the importance of bringing a solid club connection to international level.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Ireland
“It is a decade since Ireland last qualified for a major international tournament, and the three biggest stars from the 2002 World Cup will represent Ireland again here – Shay Given in goal, Damien Duff on the wing and Robbie Keane upfront.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Portugal
“Such is their habit for producing a certain type of footballer, it rather feels like we’ve encountered a Portugal side with these strengths and weaknesses many times before.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012 preview: Poland
“Poland come into this tournament with the lowest world ranking of the 16 competitors, but they are certainly not the weakest side in the competition.” Zonal Marking


Spain: Euro 2012 preview

June 2, 2012


“Spain are the world and European champions. They qualified for this summer’s competition with an eight-wins-from-eight record. They hold the world record for winning 14 competitive games in a row. And they followed up their qualifying campaign with a stunning 5-0 victory in a friendly against Venezuela that showcased them at their very best. Success at Euro 2008 and in South Africa two years later did not just wipe out the past, it provided a road map for the future.” World Soccer – Spain: Euro 2012 preview, Ukraine: Euro 2012 preview, Sweden: Euro 2012 preview, Russia: Euro 2012 preview, Republic of Ireland: Euro 2012 preview, Portugal: Euro 2012 preview, Poland: Euro 2012 preview, Italy: Euro 2012 preview, Holland: Euro 2012 preview, Greece: Euro 2012 preview, Germany: Euro 2012 preview, France: Euro 2012 preview, England: Euro 2012 preview, Denmark: Euro 2012 preview, Croatia: Euro 2012 preview