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

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Identifying Ligue 1’s Next Breakout Talent: Tanguy Ndombele

March 18, 2018

“This feels like an annual thing I do with Lyon, where at least one of these type of posts is dedicated to their young starlets. It’s a credit to them that even though they’re having a mildly turbulent season, you can’t help but be excited at the young talent at their disposal. A lot of that is due to them having one of the best youth academies in European football. When the club was in a dire financial situation earlier this decade, they relied on their kids coming through and some of the academy graduates included Alexandre Lacazette, Nabil Fekir, and Corentin Tolisso. Their academy has been ridiculous for quite some time in churning out elite young talents, and they’ve got even more talent coming up with Willem Guebels and Amine Gouiri. …” Stats Bomb (Video)


The Sensational Rise and Expensive Fall of a Paris Superclub

March 13, 2018

“PARIS — The transfer fee was eye-catching, the salary eye-watering, and the impact jaw-dropping. It seemed to be the move and the moment that signaled a power shift, a change in soccer’s established order. One of the brightest South American talents of his generation, heralded as the next best player in the world, moving to a rising force in Paris, drawn by money and glamour to a club long on cash and short on patience. …’ NY Times


The ‘Two Worlds’ of the Champions League Keep Drifting Apart

February 22, 2018


Sadio Mané and Liverpool put five goals past F.C. Porto last week.
“As he readied his players to face Manchester City in the last 16 of the Champions League last week, F.C. Basel Coach Raphaël Wicky realized he had a problem. Ordinarily, Wicky would dedicate one training session shortly before a game to a shadow match: On one side, his likely starting team, and on the other, 11 squad members slotted in to simulate Basel’s forthcoming opponent. They would line up in the same system, adopt the same style, play in the same patterns. The aim of the exercise is to familiarize the first team with the challenge that lies in wait. …” NY Times


From Marseille to Leeds United, what’s the future for football’s fallen giants?

February 13, 2018


Leeds take on Bayern Munich in the 1975 European Cup final
“‘Give your blood!’ demands a banner behind a goal. But on a chilly Mediterranean winter night, Olympique Marseille’s Stade Velodrome (capacity: 67,000) is scarcely half-full for the game against Troyes. ‘OM’, as Marseille are popularly known, were European champions in 1993. (Their triumph was later tarnished when they were stripped of their French league title that year because of match-fixing, but few locals worry about that.) These days, though, OM have been left behind by their hated rivals, Qatari-funded Paris Saint-Germain. This month, while PSG meet Real Madrid in the Champions League, Marseille face little Braga of Portugal in the unglamorous Europa League. …” FT – Simon Kuper


St Étienne’s unlikely band of misfits may keep them in Ligue 1

February 9, 2018

“Three months have passed since Lyon visited the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard and destroyed St Étienne 5-0, a mauling that will go down as one of the worst defeats in the club’s 99-year history. Ôscar Garcia, who was only appointed manager in the summer but had clashed with the board over transfer targets, resigned soon after the defeat – and the man brought in to replace him, Julien Sablé, proved to be a disastrous appointment. …” Guardian


Racing to the bottom – RC Paris and the failed quest for glory

February 4, 2018

“Fast cars, fast planes and deadly weapons all led one French business magnate to football, and his dream of elevating a small club to the pinnacle of the sport, as MARK GODFREY explains. As egotistical multimillionaire French businessmen with an interest in sport go, Bernard Tapie pretty much broke the mould. The former owner of Olympique Marseille, famous for buying the club unprecedented glamour and success in the early nineties – including the 1993 Champions League – saw it all come crashing down around him after the match-fixing scandal which resulted in OM being relegated from Ligue 1 as punishment. …” Football Pink