How U.S. Soccer and Its Players Solved the Equal Pay Puzzle

May 20, 2022


“The new collective bargaining agreements approved this week by the United States Soccer Federation and its men’s and women’s national teams will, at last, bring an end to a decades-long, emotionally exhausting and wildly expensive fight over equal pay. For the first time, the women’s team, which has won the last two Women’s World Cups and four overall, will be paid at the same rate for game appearances and tournament victories as the men’s team, which has historically (and persistently) failed to even sniff that kind of success. In addition to those new (and higher) per-game payments, the new contracts also include an unprecedented redistribution of the millions of dollars in World Cup prize money the men’s and women’s teams can earn by playing in the tournament every four years. …”
NY Times
The Athletic – USWNT, USMNT achieve equal pay: How they reached a historic benchmark
NY Times: U.S. Soccer and Top Players Agree to Guarantee Equal Pay


From Soccer to Football: Jesse Marsch in Yorkshire

May 13, 2022


“In a recent interview with The Athletic, the newly appointed Leeds United head coach Jesse Marsch said, ‘To grow up as I did and where I did, to be here now feels almost impossible.’ His hiring as Leeds United’s next head coach has sparked a sensation in both sport and popular culture. For the past two years, an American TV series streaming on Apple TV has not only dominated the Emmys but has also piqued the interest of football fans who wonder what would happen if this were to happen in real life. …”
Football Paradise
The Athletic – Jesse Marsch interview: ‘To grow up as I did and where I did, to be here now feels almost impossible’ (March 24, 2022)
W – Jesse Marsch


Canada men’s national soccer team

May 13, 2022


“The Canada men’s soccer team has qualified for the World Cup, for the first time in 36 years. It is only Canada’s second qualification for a World Cup. (Their first came in the 1986 World Cup, in Mexico, when Canada went scoreless in their 3 first round games, and left the tournament dead last.) Canada will play in 2022 FIFA World Cup Group F (vs: Belgium, Morocco, and Croatia). You can see how far the Canada men’s soccer team has come in the last 20 years by simply looking at their home venues. Twenty years ago, for 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification, Canada were playing in places like the 2,000-capacity Winnipeg Soccer Complex, and the 5,000-capacity Varsity Stadium in Toronto. …”
billsportsmaps
The Athletic: The tactical factors behind Canada’s rise to the CONCACAF elite in the Octagonal (Video) Jan. 2022
W – Canada men’s national soccer team
Aljazeera: Canada changes football narrative with Qatar 2022 qualification (Video) March 30 2022


Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp Era Is Ascending and Shows No Signs of Slowing Down

May 10, 2022


“It’s a good time to be a Liverpool fan: They reached their third Champions League final in five years following Tuesday’s win over Villarreal, their 63rd game of 2021-22. They’ve played in every possible fixture available this season, they’re in contention to win a historic four trophies, and Jürgen Klopp recently signed a contract extension committing himself to the club until 2026. …”
The Ringer


Outbreaks of chaos expose fatal flaw that keeps denying Guardiola European glory

May 7, 2022


“At what point does just one of those things become more than just one of those things? If Manchester City’s defeat to Real Madrid on Wednesday night were a one-off, it could be written off. What can you do about luck like that? If you have nine shots on target to the opposition’s none in the first 90 minutes and still lose 2-1 what, really, have you done wrong? Especially when you’ve dominated the first leg as City had done. But this keeps happening. Season after season, Pep Guardiola finds his teams dominating Champions League ties and losing. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Andrea Pirlo Is Timeless

May 7, 2022


“Officially, whenever Andrea Pirlo has watched soccer over the course of the last year or so, it has been for work, rather than merely for pleasure. It might be almost a year since his first foray into management was ended, abruptly and unceremoniously, by Juventus, but being a manager is less a job and more a lifestyle choice, like being a monk, or a double agent. It cannot be switched off. …”
NY Times


Cox: Like Ancelotti, Guardiola got his subs right. There’s not much more he could have done

May 6, 2022


“Even by the standards of Champions League semi-finals, the most action-packed and dramatic stage of any competition in modern football, Real Madrid’s comeback against Manchester City last night was truly extraordinary. For 85 minutes at the Bernabeu, City were largely faultless and seemed set to record a controlled 1-0 victory that would take them into the final against Liverpool on May 28. Then, suddenly, a late blitz saw the Spanish champions score two goals, both through Rodrygo, and at 5-5 on aggregate, the momentum was with Madrid. It wasn’t a surprise they opened the scoring in extra time, and it wasn’t a surprise that they held out. City were shellshocked. Is it possible to make sense of such a chaotic ending? Let’s see. …”
The Athletic: Michael Cox
Guardian: Systemic flaws of Guardiola’s City keep Champions League out of reach (Video)
NY Times: Real Madrid Stuns City, Seizing the Moment as Only It Can
Guardian: Real Madrid’s latest miracle is a tale of 88 seconds and one Ancelotti video (Video)
The Athletic: Camavinga, Rodrygo, Vinicius: Real Madrid’s big bets on rising stars are paying off


Soccer capitalism

May 4, 2022


“Soccer academies are springing up across Africa with remarkable speed, evidence of the immense popularity of the sport and the many aspirations it arouses. These academies—institutions that at their core combine a sportive and an educational system—first arrived in Africa from Europe in the late 1990s, following three interrelated processes: (1) the mistreatment by unscrupulous agents of young African players who migrated to Europe; (2) the Bosman ruling of 1995 that further increased the migration of African players to Europe; and (3) the introduction of new transfer regulations by FIFA in 2001 that aimed at curbing the abuse of young migrant players by making it harder for clubs to sign players under the age of 18. …”
Africa Is a Country


Liverpool beat Villarreal: How the Reds came back from the brink in Champions League semi-final

May 4, 2022


“They were outplayed during the first half of their semi-final second leg in Villarreal, the Reds producing surely their worst half of the season in a game that threatened to derail their quadruple hopes. But – as is so often the case – Jurgen Klopp’s side found a way. Liverpool looked in control of the tie after a comfortable 2-0 win last week at Anfield but the Spanish side cancelled out that lead by the break. At the hour mark it was still 2-2 on aggregate, but Fabinho, half-time substitute Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane scored to send Liverpool to Paris – where they will play either Real Madrid or Manchester City. …”
BBC
NY Times: Liverpool’s Dream Delivered, Only After Villarreal’s Is Dashed
Guardian: Díaz turns tide at Villarreal to send Liverpool to Champions League final
NY Times – Champions League Updates: Liverpool Beats Villarreal to Reach Final (Video)


VAR in Scottish Premiership: What will it solve? What won’t it fix? Who will foot bill? When will it come into force?

May 3, 2022


“VAR has arrived in Scottish football. On Tuesday, the SPFL’s member clubs passed the motion to introduce video assistant referees to the Premiership from midway through next season — after the winter break for the World Cup finals in November and December. While VAR is, and almost certainly will continue to be, a divisive topic among supporters, all 12 of Scotland’s top-flight clubs enthusiastically supported its implementation in the league. Here is what has happened so far, and what comes next. …”
The Athletic


Cox: Liverpool broke down Villarreal by learning not to foul them

April 30, 2022


“The tactical battle between Liverpool and Villarreal was one of contrasts. It was attack versus defence, width versus narrowness, high pressing against a deep block. But above all else, it was about tempo. Liverpool wanted a high-intensity, 100mph game. Villarreal attempted to slow it down whenever possible. A key factor in Liverpool’s eventual breakthrough was Jurgen Klopp’s side not allowing Villarreal breaks in play. …”
The Athletic


A Clash of Civilizations in the Champions League Semifinal

April 29, 2022


“It is easy to see a clash between Manchester City and Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinal as the ultimate contrast of footballing cultures: If City are the brash young upstart of European football, then Madrid are its landed gentry. The latter have been crowned its kings on 13 occasions, while the former still await their first European title. Historians might see this as a reductive reading of the situation—as a club, City were actually founded several years before Madrid, but in terms of prestige, the Mancunians are still playing catch-up. The pattern of Tuesday’s first leg, which Manchester City won 4-3, perfectly illustrated this dynamic. …”
The Ringer
NY Times: Superclubs and Spring Nights
Tactical Analysis: Manchester City 4-3 Real Madrid


When Borussia Dortmund Nearly Went Bankrupt

April 29, 2022


In 2004 Borussia Dortmund revealed the news that no football fan wants to hear of their club, they were bankrupt and faced the point of no return. How did a club, that these days is regarded as a ‘model-club’ get into such a state they needed a loan from their nearest rivals? Explained by Seb Stafford-Bloor, illustrated by Craig Silcock.”
YouTube


Paul Mitchell: Innovator, workaholic, organiser – one of the most wanted signings in football

April 25, 2022


“Those who were there remember it as quite an innocuous challenge. MK Dons were leading narrowly at Meadow Lane just after the half-hour mark and repelling a Notts County attack when Paul Mitchell, hacking the loose ball up-field, collided with an opponent and ended up in a heap, flailing around on the turf in agony. The lower part of his left leg hung limply, his ankle dislocated. His foot was dangling at an unnatural angle. …”
The Athletic


United’s pitiful goal kicks, Liverpool’s triangles and a difference in desire

April 23, 2022


“Four minutes on the clock and Liverpool have the first goal kick of the game. Thirteen passes later and Liverpool have scored the first goal of the game, too. That passage of play proved to be yet another example, both with and without the ball, of the chasm between these two teams. Manchester United had three goal kicks inside the opening 25 minutes. David de Gea kicked two balls straight out of play — Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool’s manager, had to take cover on one of them — and on the third occasion, when United tried to play out from the back, it was car-crash football. If we’re being generous, United managed three complete passes across those three restarts. …”
The Athletic


Portsmouth FC – The sleeping giant failing to wake up from its slumber

April 21, 2022


“For the 806 Portsmouth fans that travelled all the way up to Morecambe on Easter Monday and saw their beloved side held to a frustrating 1-1 draw, nothing was too different from what they’d witnessed throughout the campaign; nothing would have shocked them; and, in different circumstances, nothing would have sunk spirits to deeper depths than they’d already reached over the past seven months or so – sorry, the past five years or so. …”
Backpage Football
W – Portsmouth F.C.
YouTube: The Fall & Fall of Portsmouth FC (2016), YouTube: Portsmouth FC


Serie A: Five players who could decide relegation race including Genoa’s Mattia Destro, Cagliari’s Joao Pedro

April 18, 2022


“The Serie A season is fast approaching the finish line, and there are still many teams left with something to play for. While the title and European races are open, with multiple teams still competing for spots, there is also a very exciting relegation battle with many teams involved. At least six teams that have yet to mathematically guarantee themselves a spot in next year’s Serie A, and they are desperate to not finish in the bottom three and see their future be in Serie B. … Here are players who will be critical if their team is to stay up. …”
CBS Sports


The art of the third-man run (feat. Son, Smith Rowe and De Bruyne)

April 18, 2022


“Xavi knows a thing or two about passing and movement patterns, and about how to navigate a way through the opposition press. … The third man is a relatively simple but fascinating concept to explore in terms of freeing up a player to receive possession in between the lines, or in some cases to break through on goal, after two team-mates exchange passes. Essentially, how player A passes to player B, who is marked and unable to receive the ball from him directly, via player C. Picture a defender playing the ball into the striker, who lays it off for a midfielder. …”
The Athletic


The education of Erik ten Hag

April 14, 2022


“Erik ten Hag’s family home is in Oldenzaal, a small town about seven or eight miles outside Enschede, not far from the Dutch-German border. It’s one of those places where you can tell there’s a bit of money kicking around, but people aren’t flash about it. It’s an incredibly peaceful town. You can’t really tell whether it’s rush hour on a Monday morning or 3pm on a Wednesday, and you’re more in danger of getting knocked over by a bike than a car. …”
The Athletic (Audio)
W – Erik ten Hag


Serie A Season Predictions

April 12, 2022


“Whilst there were no direct clashes between the title contenders in Serie A across the last matchday, the situation at the top has changed a lot following the results. 2021-22 is proving to be one of the most exciting Serie A seasons in recent memory in the battle for the title, with Milan, Internazionale and Napoli all separated by just two points. Never before in the three-points-for-a-win era has the gap between first and third in the table after Matchday 32 been fewer than two points. The previous closest came in 2001-02 (two). …”
The Analyst


Alan Shearer analyses Man City 2 Liverpool 2: Quick free-kick aids De Bruyne, Klopp’s clear message, screaming at Ederson

April 11, 2022


“Electric, relentless, scintillating, towering standards and brutal in its intensity; Jurgen Klopp likened this match to a boxing match and so it was, with these two exceptional teams slugging it out toe-to-toe at the top of the Premier League, each committed to their own style and principles, utter belief in what they do, and refusing to change for them or for anybody. It was everything we hoped for and expected. Blimey, Manchester City against Liverpool was good. …”
The Athletic
Guardian: Manchester City’s strive for perfection goes on as Liverpool highlight flaws – Jonathan Wilson


Broken down: How Klopp’s Liverpool and Guardiola’s Manchester City play football

April 9, 2022


“Manchester City vs Liverpool. Pep Guardiola vs Jurgen Klopp. A 4-3-3 vs ….well, a 4-3-3. Whichever angle you look at it from, City and Liverpool have barely given each other an inch as they set record-breaking limits in the modern Premier League era. … The numbers certainly support Klopp’s assertion. Only one point separates the two sides in terms of Premier League points accrued since the beginning of the 2018-19 season. After 143 games each, City are just edging it 338 to 337. …”
The Athletic (Video)
The Athletic: How Guardiola and Klopp left the rest of the Premier League trailing in their wake (Video)
The Athletic: One day, Jurgen Klopp will leave Liverpool – will all he has built last once he has gone? (Audio)
Guardian: Foden, the flanks and key battles that will decide Manchester City v Liverpool – Jonathan Wilson
BBC – Man City v Liverpool: Tiny margins involved in Premier League’s title-defining rivalry (Video)
NY Times: Liverpool, Manchester City and a Bar Set Too High
NY Times: Classic Games, Lingering Scars and the Finish Line in Sight


Union vs. Hertha: why is the Berlin derby such a special fixture?

April 9, 2022


“Hertha Berlin and Union Berlin will meet three times in 2021/22 and when they do, the eyes of the world will fall on the German capital for a fixture that brings together football, politics and history in a once divided city. Union won the first top-flight meeting of the sides in November of 2019/20, when substitute Sebastian Polter got the only goal from the penalty spot late on, while Hertha romped to a 4-0 victory in the return on Matchday 27. The Old Lady got the better of things in the first encounter of last season, winning 3-1 at home, while the return at the Stadion an der Alten Försterei ended 1-1. This year’s first league meeting on Matchday 12 ended in a 2-0 Union win, with Taiwo Awoniyi and Christopher Trimmel on the scoresheet, before a dramatic 3-2 DFB Cup last-16 victory for Die Eisernen across the city at the Olympiastadion. …”
Bundesliga (Video)
What makes the Berlin derby such a special fixture in Bundesliga? (Video)
The Analyst – Berlin Blues: Hertha’s Battle for Bundesliga Survival
W – Hertha BSC, W – 1. FC Union Berlin
****ESPN: Union thrash embattled Hertha 4-1 in Berlin derby

Berlin was a divided between the Allied powers after WWII and Checkpoint Charlie was one of the few access points between the East and West


How to score from a rebound

April 6, 2022


“Last summer, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gave an interview with The Athletic where he talked about the skill of getting on the end of shot rebounds. … Oxlade-Chamberlain stressed the importance of being proactive and ‘gambling’ to get to where the ball might fall rather than reacting at the same time as defenders.  … We’ve all seen attackers materialise out of nowhere at the spot where a goalkeeper tips the ball away, and it’s easy to believe some players have developed a nose for it. But how important are shot rebounds, really? And if players are going to train for them, what exactly should they be practising? …”
The Athletic


How Canada used the 4-4-2 to success in World Cup Qualifying

April 6, 2022


“After thirteen long, hard-fought games, the Canadian Men’s National Team have officially qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. With 8 wins, 4 draws and just 1 loss in the final stage of qualifying, John Herdman’s men sealed their spot with a game to spare, after thumping Jamaica by a smashing score-line of 4-0. In the final stages of the competition, Canada smartly stuck by a 4-4-2 formation, maintaining consistency and chemistry en route to an impressive run to the finish line. Here is our analysis of how Canada used the 4-4-2 to success, and stood strong to stand on guard for thee. …”
The Mastermindsite


Andrea Pirlo: The Metronome

April 5, 2022


“Il maestro, il arquitecto, il metronomo. Andrea Pirlo was a metronome. The beating heart of every team he played for. He’d get the ball, he’d give the ball. Flair and guile, dependable and unflappable. Andrea Pirlo had the authority to dictate the game. Seb Stafford-Bloor remembers Pirlo, Marco Bevilacqua illustrates. …”
YouTube
W – Andrea Pirlo


Inside the first 12 months of Laporta’s Barcelona presidency

April 3, 2022


“Amid the celebrations of Barcelona’s 4-0 Clasico victory at Real Madrid last Sunday, the club’s most powerful and influential figures came down to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu pitch to pose for a photo to mark the occasion. While club president Joan Laporta raised four fingers proudly, vice-president Rafael Yuste clenched a fist. Coach Xavi, his brother and assistant Oscar Hernandez and Sergio Alegre, another of the backroom staff, were grinning widely. Sporting director Mateu Alemany and international department director Jordi Cruyff were beaming too. …”
The Athletic


How Does the Style of Football Change as You Journey Down the English Football League?

April 2, 2022


“As someone who’s turning circle and acceleration make Per Mertesacker look like a 100-metre sprinter, I can assure you that the long ball over the top for a nimble striker remains the most potent weapon in Sunday League football. Forget your false nines, playing it direct to your quickest and often best player is the way to go. As a percentage play, going long also comes with a greater margin for error. Misplace the pass and while you’ve given the ball away, it’s probably in the opposition half and you can retain your defensive shape. The technical ball skills required to progress upfield through shorter, more intricate passing are not always easy to come by at that level, particularly on questionable playing surfaces. …”
The Analyst


An Ode to Francesco

March 28, 2022


“It’s the 1992-93 season and Roma are not having fun. Vujadin Boskov replaced Ottavio Bianchi as manager in the summer but the team, despite the presence of some illustrious names, are not performing. The Giallorossi will go on to finish the season with 31 points (in the two points for a win era), just four more than the four teams relegated to Serie B. On 28th March, Roma are away at Brescia – one of the four teams who will finish in the drop zone. They are already out of Europe but they are through to the semi-final of the Coppa Italia. …”
The Analyst


How Xavi’s new-style 4-3-3 is helping Barcelona rebuild

March 27, 2022


“… To some fans it sounded ridiculous to praise players for losing to their arch nemeses, especially given how little results had improved since Laporta fired Ronald Koeman as manager and brought in Pep Guardiola’s supposed heir-apparent in Xavi. But in the 12 games since — the last 11 of them undefeated — Laporta has been proven right. If you had to pick a single turning point in Barcelona’s season, the moment some hidden switch flipped from post-Lionel Messi malaise to the start of an exciting new project, that January Clasico was it. …”
The Athletic


Analysing Europe’s free-kick takers: the good, the bad and the brilliance of James Ward-Prowse

March 25, 2022


Harry Kane
“My favourite would probably have to be Roberto Carlos, against France in 1997. Others might refer to Cristiano Ronaldo against Portsmouth in 2008, maybe Paul Gascoigne against Arsenal in 1991, or draw from the back catalogues of David Beckham, Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho or Juninho Pernambucano. Yes, we’re talking about free kicks. We love them — or rather, we love it when they fly into the back of the net. It feels as though fans’ expectations are often quite high when you see a player line up a direct free kick but, across Europe’s top five leagues, the average conversion rate of a direct free kick has been just six per cent since 2016-17. …”
The Athletic


A Brief History of Dimitar Berbatov

March 23, 2022


“One the original luxury centre forwards, Dimitar Berbatov entertained all those that paid to watch him live. But run-ins with gangsters, and playing in the shadows of some of the game’s best players perhaps held him back from being one of the game’s greats. This is the story of Dimitar Berbatov. Written by Seb Stafford-Bloor, illustrated by Craig Silcock.”
YouTube
W – Dimitar_Berbatov


Domenico Tedesco’s RB Leipzig Revival

March 22, 2022


“On the 5th of December Jesse Marsch was relieved of his duties at RB Leipzig, becoming the first Bundesliga manager to learn of his dismissal whilst in a COVID enforced quarantine. The peculiarities of Marsch’s departure stole headlines, but the fact that it had come to this dreary conclusion left few surprised. Back in December, Leipzig had taken just 1 victory in their last 6 matches, and the squad’s discontent with the American’s radical tactical shift seemed to foreshadow the downfall long before it eventually happened. Thus, a new, but simultaneously well-known, face returned to the Bundesliga dugout. …”
Breaking the Lines (Video)


Being Oneself: Marcelino and Athletic Bilbao

March 19, 2022


“For fans across the world, football has long been a game through which they can seek a subconscious identity. Through what their clubs represent and what they stand for, fans look to find themselves somewhere there, and through appropriation, it becomes an extension of themselves. With that in mind, the potential success of a club like Athletic Bilbao will send a lasting message across the globe—largely because of its distinct social identity in Spain. …”
Football Paradise
Football Paradise: When Barca bowed to Athletic Bilbao – Giant-killing legacy of Fred Pentland (March 2018)
W – Athletic Bilbao

On this day but in 1930, Athletic Club achieved our Cup number 11. On June 1, 1930, the lions met Real Madrid CF in the final played at Montjuic (Barcelona) and won 3-2.


Passive or aggressive? Spread or smother? Using body poses to understand goalkeeper technique

March 17, 2022


“When Ryan Beal played as a semi-pro goalkeeper in Hampshire, there were a lot of things he had to figure out for himself. If a through ball put a striker in one-on-one, should he charge out or wait? Spread his body to block a shot or go to ground to smother it? Outfield players had experienced coaches to teach them the finer points of their position but a goalkeeper coach at that level was rare. Data wasn’t much help, either. Beal got involved with football analytics while studying for a PhD and now works with two start-ups in the field, AI Abacus and Sentient Sports. But the event data he could get his hands on as a student only recorded on-ball actions and players’ coordinates on the pitch, not the body movements that a researcher would need to study technique. …”
The Athletic


Evolving Expected Goals (xG)

March 16, 2022


Expected goals, or xG as it’s also known, provides fans with an insight into the quality of every chance in a game, and the likelihood of a goal being scored from them. Fast forward nearly a decade since Stats Perform first introduced the metric, and xG is now even more sophisticated. The advancement and depth of data collection in football is a process that is continually evolving. With each addition and improvement, we gain more powerful insights into what is happening on the pitch. These data points can be used as inputs to power more complex models and evaluate chance quality more accurately than ever before. …”
The Analyst


Remember Michu?

March 15, 2022


“Perhaps no player has had such a sudden and unexpected impact at a team like Michu had at Swansea. A bargain from Spain that Sir Alex Ferguson had ‘never really heard of’ lit up the Premier League in his only full season in South Wales. But how did Swansea find him? And what happened to him after that season? Seb Stafford-Bloor writes, Henry Cooke illustrates.”
YouTube
The Athletic: Michu on his friend Haaland & turning down more Premier League riches ‘for love’(March 2020)
W – Michu


Roman Abramovich: What do Russian owner’s sanctions mean for Chelsea?

March 14, 2022


“The future of European champions Chelsea is uncertain after sanctions were placed on Russian owner Roman Abramovich on Thursday. The billionaire has been in charge since 2003 but had his attempts to sell the club halted by the UK government, which has frozen his assets. What does it mean for Chelsea’s fans, players and staff? BBC Sport explains how the situation will affect those associated with the club. Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government as part of its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The government believes the billionaire has had a ‘close relationship for decades’ with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, links Abramovich has always denied. …”
BBC (Video)
NY Times: At Chelsea, Nervous First Steps Into an Uncertain Future
NY Times: Britain Freezes Assets of Roman Abramovich, Creating Crisis at Chelsea
Guardian / Jonathan Wilson – ‘It was so emotional’: Yarmolenko on his tears for Ukraine after West Ham goal
Guardian: Stamford Bridge hosts dark day for those who care for football’s soul
New Republic: Is Soccer on the Brink of a Moral Awakening?

Hammers ahead Andriy Yarmolenko, born in Ukraine, scored his staff’s opening objective within the win. With Russia’s invasion on Ukraine persevering with, there isn’t a doubt that his coronary heart is heavy and hurting.


Five defeats in a row but Potter says it’s ‘not all doom and gloom’ for Brighton. Here’s why he’s right…

March 14, 2022


“A month ago, Brighton and Hove Albion had only lost four league matches all season. Suddenly they’ve lost five games in a row, four of them without scoring. This is the first time since Brighton’s promotion in 2018 that they’ve lost five straight Premier League games, and depending upon which Tottenham side shows up at the Amex on Wednesday, it could soon be six. Brighton have too many points on the board (33) to be nervously looking over their shoulders, and performances haven’t been wretched enough to consider this a full-blown crisis. And considering Liverpool’s current form — eight Premier League wins in a row — a 2-0 defeat here was hardly a disaster. So here are some reasons for positivity. First, Brighton started excellently on Saturday. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox


Paris Saint-Germain and the wreckage of another Champions League calamity

March 12, 2022


“On Wednesday evening, moments after the final whistle in Real Madrid’s Bernabeu, the Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and the club’s sporting director Leonardo descended into the bowels of the stadium. It is now almost 11 years since Al-Khelaifi’s state-backed Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) acquired PSG and, despite spending in excess of £1 billion on incoming transfers, the Champions League trophy remains elusive. This season, a devastating final half-hour from Real’s French striker Karim Benzema turned the round-of-16 tie in favour of the Spanish team, enabling a side led by former PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti to recover from a 2-0 aggregate deficit and eliminate them from the competition. …”
The Athletic (Audio/Video)


Milan: The Resurrection of the Rossoneri

March 8, 2022


“The iconic red and black silks, the cross of Saint Ambrose painted across their crest, the magnificent amphitheatre that is the San Siro – Milan are a side steeped in European footballing history. With seven European Cup and Champions League titles to their name, Milan are the second most successful club in the competition’s history behind only Real Madrid (13). The Rossoneri are also the third most successful club in Serie A, having won 18 league titles, yet the last of those came over a decade ago in 2010-11. Since Massimiliano Allegri departed for Juventus in 2014, Milan had seen seven permanent managers take to their San Siro dugout before the appointment of Stefano Pioli in October 2019. All this in addition to three different club owners in that same period, leading to a fall from grace for a club once considered among the European elite. …”
The Analyst


MLS season guide: Predictions for MLS Cup, MVP, Golden Boot and how to watch

March 6, 2022


“MLS is back, and earlier than ever before. The league’s 27th season starts this weekend with a full slate of games to close February – a start date that was necessary in order for the season to end in time for the 2022 men’s World Cup. The past offseason has seen a new expansion team – Charlotte FC – build its inaugural roster, and exciting new arrivals like Lorenzo Insigne, Xherdan Shaqiri, and too many high-potential signings from South America to list in full here. Our American soccer staff has been following all of these developments closely, and we’ll continue to do so all season long. …”
The Athletic (Audio)


Jürgen Klopp relieved as Liverpool ‘dig deep’ to sink West Ham and cut gap

March 6, 2022


“David Moyes took a few tips on Sevilla from Jürgen Klopp as he looked ahead to West Ham’s trip to Andalucía in the Europa League on Thursday. The Scot should have taken more from Anfield but Liverpool, as they must, found a way to maintain the pressure on Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title. Liverpool were far from their convincing best but that will not unduly concern Klopp when presiding over a run of 12 consecutive wins in all competitions. The club’s 600th victory in the Premier League owed as much to West Ham profligacy as Sadio Mané’s predatory instincts and several rescue acts from the Liverpool defence. …”
Guardian
Liverpool 1, West Ham United 0 – Match Recap: Reds Continue Racking Up Wins
The Athletic: This Liverpool juggernaut lives to compete for every prize
YouTube: LiverpooI vs Westt Hann 1−0 – Extеndеd Hіghlіghts & All Gоals 2022


Tactical Analysis: Napoli vs. Barcelona (Second Leg)

March 4, 2022


“Thursday night’s tie between Napoli and Barcelona saw the latter put on an absolute clinic in attack. It was a performance that pressed the rewind button, reminiscent of the philosophy which made Barcelona one of the most dominant teams of the 2000s. What were the dynamics behind this? Early in the game, Napoli implemented a 4-3-3 press in order to match/outnumber Barcelona in build-up. Here, Barcelona responded by matching Napoli’s 1st line of defense using a make-shift back 3. Using a back 3 allowed 1 fullback to advance creating a wide overload as such. …”
Breaking the Lines


Could this technology solve offsides forever?

March 4, 2022


Ever since VAR was introduced, the area that has come under the most scrutiny is the application of the offside rule. FIFA have come up with an idea they hope can solve contentious offside decisions – semi-automated offsides. But what is that? How will it work? Seb Stafford-Bloor explains. Henry Cooke illustrates.
YouTube


Bruno Lage finds right connections at Wolves to shrug off Portuguese struggles

February 28, 2022


“The temptation when Bruno Lage was appointed by Wolves was to assume it would just be more of the same: another Portuguese manager, another Jorge Mendes client, at a club with a strong Portuguese core. If managers from the German school of hard-pressing are the most modish appointment for an aspirational modern club, Portugal’s disciples of Vítor Frade and periodisation are not far behind. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson
W – Bruno Lage


Football Manager: Answering the questions you’ve always wondered

February 22, 2022


“When you’re deep into a game save in Football Manager, sometimes you often wonder how many other people are carrying out the same actions as you. You’ve just signed a new player, but how many other people are backing that wonderkid your coaching team says has five-star potential? It’s 3pm on Monday but you’ve already spent 15 hours of that day playing FM. How many others are in that boat? We spoke to the team at Football Manager to answer the questions you’ve always wanted to ask. All data below relates to information derived from Football Manager 2021. Football Manager 2022 is still a “live title”, so concrete data is not yet available yet. …”
The Athletic


Van Dijk’s dominance and Konate’s best performance make Liverpool good bets to reach the Champions League final

February 20, 2022


“In a tactical sense, Liverpool’s 2-0 victory away to Inter Milan felt like a very modern contest. The game was played at a frenetic tempo, both sides looked to push up and press the opposition whenever possible, and there were various moments when the defences seemed set to play themselves into trouble on the edge of their own penalty areas, such was the defensive effort of the attacking players. In situations like that, sometimes the defenders themselves are slightly anonymous — they hold a high line, position themselves to sweep up if the press is beaten, but find that their job title is slightly misleading and they don’t have to do much actual defending. …”
The Athletic (Audio)


Forge FC 0-1 Cruz Azul – Match Analysis

February 19, 2022


“While they won’t be overly pleased with the result, Forge FC continue to showcase just how far soccer has come in Canada, going toe to toe with Cruz Azul in their first appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League this season. Cruz may have dominated the match, but Forge put up a valiant fight to the end, and could have easily secured an important result on a different day. Here is our tactical analysis of Forge’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Mexican giants Cruz Azul, and how the Hammers should progress into the second-leg. …”
Mastermindsite


The rise of the decoy penalty taker

February 18, 2022


“You may have noticed a slightly unusual event during the final of the Club World Cup between Chelsea and Palmeiras. After Chelsea were awarded the extra-time penalty that would eventually seal the trophy, Cesar Azpilicueta grabbed that ball and stood by the spot, for all the world looking like a man who was about to take the kick. Around him swarmed mild chaos, with the Palmeiras players vehemently protesting against the VAR-awarded penalty while also doing their best to put off the man with the ball in his hands. …”
The Athletic


Is Your Striker’s Scoring Streak Legit?

February 17, 2022


“Diogo Jota controls an inch-perfect clipped through ball from Trent Alexander-Arnold expertly on his chest, his first touch taking the ball across Ben White who now knows he cannot possibly touch the Liverpool man. Aaron Ramsdale rushes out and flings himself at Jota’s feet, but not before the Portuguese striker deftly dinks the ball over him into an empty net. It’s Jota’s second of the game, and Liverpool now have a commanding 2-0 lead over Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-final. No Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane – they’re both at the African Cup of Nations. No problem. Jota has picked up the slack brilliantly. …”
The Analyst


Cox: Rangnick and Hasenhuttl’s shared philosophy has a shared weakness

February 16, 2022


“Unsurprisingly, the first meeting between Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick and Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl, formerly colleagues at RB Leipzig, felt a lot like a Bundesliga contest. There were lots of turnovers, quick transitions and end-to-end moves. Southampton’s bravery in possession was responsible for most of the chances — at both ends. Hasenhuttl started with the 4-2-2-2 formation he’s generally persisted with throughout his time in the Premier League — and the formation Rangnick failed to successfully install at Manchester United. The away side’s ‘box’ midfield caused Manchester United problems, because it left them outnumbered in central areas. …”
The Athletic: Michael Cox


The Rebuild: Celtic’s Class of 2021-22 Could Achieve Greatness

February 15, 2022


“2020-21 was miserable for Celtic. Rangers won the Scottish Premiership title at a canter, with their tally of 102 points 25 more than their city rivals – a record gap by the Gers over Celtic in a league season. It ended nine years of Celtic dominance in the league, while they failed to win a trophy for the first time since 2009-10. Celtic’s season was such a disaster, that next week marks a year since that Neil Lennon resigned as manager after leading them to back-to-back Premiership titles in 2018-19 and 2019-20. …”
The Analyst (Video)


Bundesliga 2021/22: An early look at Domenico Tedesco’s RB Leipzig – tactical analysis

February 14, 2022


“This is a difficult season for RB Leipzig, who lost the head coach Julian Nagelsmann with key players leaving during the summer. Fresh faces such as Jesse Marsch from RB Salzburg, Achim Beierlorzer returning from Mainz 05, with new players including André Silva, Joško Gvardiol, Mohamed Simakan, and Benjamin Henrichs joined the team. However, things did not go according to plan as they never looked like a side that could challenge the second place in the Bundesliga, while they were knocked out very early in the UEFA Champions League group, after losing to Manchester City and PSG. Therefore, the higher-level authority of Leipzig decided to react by parting ways with Marsch. Soon, they appointed Domenico Tedesco as the new head coach and handed him a contract until June 2023. In Tedesco’s first three games, he obtained 1W1D1L, which was not particularly impressive, but there were interesting tactics behind it. …”
Total Football Analysis (Dec. 2021)
Domenico Tedesco – RB Leipzig – Tactical Analysis
W – Domenico Tedesco


Brighton’s Brussels Blueprint: Union Saint-Gilloise

February 12, 2022


“In the outskirts of the south of Brussels, an underdog story like no other is taking place. After an almost half-century exile from the Belgian First Division A, Royale Union Saint-Gilloise sit top of the table in their very first season back in the top-flight for 48 years. However, this is not a typical tale of the rise of a minnow, this is the renaissance of a fallen giant. With 11 league titles to their name, Union Saint-Gilloise are the third most successful club in Belgium. …”
The Analyst


What Kind of Club Would Everton Like to Be?

February 12, 2022


“Here’s a list of Everton’s managers since Farhad Moshiri became the club’s biggest stakeholder in 2016: Ronald Koeman, David Unsworth, Sam Allardyce, Marco Silva, Duncan Ferguson, Carlo Ancelotti, Rafael Benítez, and, as of the end of January, Frank Lampard. Setting aside the turnover, there’s a breadth of philosophy here that any big club with aspirations to be bigger would find ungainly: Each of these managers employ a vastly different approach to soccer, and taken together, their appointments tell us that Everton has no clue what kind of club Everton would like to be. Maybe that’s the problem? …”
The Ringer (Video)


Don’t look down: the battle to avoid the drop

February 11, 2022


“Will Sean Dyche steer Burnley to safety again? How much of an impact will Newcastle’s January signings have in their bid for survival? Can Bruno Guimaraes be their saviour? And what about Frank Lampard and Everton — are they too good to go down? With at least 15 games to play for the teams in the Premier League’s bottom seven there is still so much to play for. Burnley are bottom but are only three points off safety, and they have plenty of games in hand over some of their rivals. …”
The Athletic (Video)


Cold-blooded Barcelona subdues Atletico with Tiki-Taka brilliance: Data and Tactical Analysis

February 11, 2022


“Barcelona dismantled Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou by becoming the first team to score four goals past them, since December 2012. This was Atletico’s one of the worst defensive performances in the Diego Simeone era. Colchoneros took an early lead in the 8th minute through Yannick Carrasco but it lasted just three minutes. The breath-taking equalizer by Jordi Alba assisted the Catalans to maintain the impetus in the first half and score another two goals, in the remaining half. …”
News 9 Live
YouTube:Tactical Analysis : Barcelona 4-2 Atletico Madrid | Xavi And Simeone’s Tactical Battle


Football Positions Are Evolving

February 10, 2022


Are positions relevant in the modern game of football? How can Alexander-Arnold, Matty Cash and Tomiyasu all be listed by the same position? Do we need more terms to describe players? Or do we need to look at the game in a different way? Alex Stewart explains that to better understand the game, we need to think about roles rather than positions. Illustrated by Henry Cooke.
YouTube


Birmingham City: A club at breaking point

February 9, 2022


“Perhaps Birmingham City’s most recent results can explain why supporting such a chaotic club is draining for even their most ardent followers. After 85 minutes of laborious, turgid, football against relegation candidates Peterborough United last Tuesday night, Lee Bowyer’s team somehow clawed back a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 at home. Although half of the ground was unoccupied, the noise that followed their 88th-minute equaliser felt like a blast from the good old past. The stadium, on the outskirts of the city centre, has seen some wonderful days and there are not many venues in the country that can whip up an atmosphere like a packed-out St Andrew’s. …”
The Athletic
W – Birmingham City F.C.

The extent of the damage and work being carried out at St Andrew’s