World Cup 2018: The Boys From the Banlieues

June 9, 2018


“BONDY, France — Speak to those who saw Kylian Mbappé as a child, who watched him take the first steps in his skyrocket of a career, and they will tell you the same thing: All they needed was one glimpse. That was enough, even then, to know. When Jean-François Suner, the general manager of A.S. Bondy, the first club on Mbappé’s journey to Monaco, Paris St.-Germain and the World Cup, first saw him play, he simply said, ‘Wow.’ The sensation, he said, must have been the same for those who, a decade or so earlier and an ocean away, first watched Lionel Messi.” NY Times


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


Football: Three Impressions – By Jean-Philippe Toussaint

June 7, 2018


“WONDER. Football, like painting, according to Leonardo da Vinci, is a cosa mentale; it is in the imagination that it is measured and appreciated. The nature of the wonder that football provokes derives from the fantasies of triumph and omnipotence that it generates in our minds. With my eyes closed, whatever my age and my physical condition, I am the star striker who scores the winning goal or the goalkeeper who throws himself in slow motion into the ether to make a crucial save. As a child, I scored stunning goals (in my mind’s eye, admittedly).” The Paris Review, Fitzcarraldo Editions


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


France 3 – 1 Italy

June 2, 2018

“France continued their impressive build up to the World Cup with a comfortable victory over Italy in Nice. Samuel Umtiti set the hosts on their way after Kylian Mbappe’s effort was parried by the Italian goalkeeper, Salvatore Sirigu. The French doubled their lead when Antoine Griezmann converted a penalty after Lucas Hernandez had been fouled. Leonardo Bonucci reduced the arrears for Italy but Ousmane Dembele’s chip rounded off a fine French display. …” BBC


France’s World Cup Snubbed XI

May 27, 2018

“France boss Didier Deschamps recently announced his 23-man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, for which he snubbed many household names. Here is a formidable starting line-up made up of Les Bleus players who were left out of the squad. As a player, Deschamps represented France on 104 occasions, and also enjoyed a great club career during which he wore the colours of Nantes, Marseille, Bordeaux, Juventus, Chelsea and Valencia. …” Soccerladuma


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)


Paolo Rossi: Redemption and the crushing of the Brazilian dream

May 23, 2018


“In nature there’s a brutal truth about something beautiful always getting its comeuppance. Whether it’s a doe-eyed mammal striding elegantly across the plain or a beatific panfish darting deep between the oceans, there is always the waiting mechanics of a set of teeth ready to devastate its backbone. Football always comes full circle like that too. The beautiful game can’t defy the laws of the system forever, nor its progression. In a thrilling game in the 1982 World Cup, that philosophy would play out beautifully. …” Football Pink (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


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


No Ne-exit For Neymar

January 30, 2018

“1) Neymar pledges PSG future. Time for a bit of a giant media reverse with beep-beeping and hazard lights in full effect. Neymar is going nowhere next summer except to Russia for the World Cup and no doubt a lengthy vacation in Brazil. His club boss says it, his manager says it, the footballer’s ‘people’ say it and heck, the football says it too. The player is ‘2000% percent’ going to be playing with PSG next season, whether the French club wins the Champions League or not. ‘I’m happy with my team-mates and I’m happy at PSG,’ was Neymar’s message after Saturday’s 4-0 win over Montpellier. So back off, Real Madrid and pack away any sneaky ideas in a bag marked, ‘not in a million years’.  …” Bein-Sports (Video)


If You Like Phibsborough You’ll Love Paris…

January 26, 2018

“The night before had quickly, and without invitation, morphed into the morning after; and throwing twenties at the barman for two European-sized bottles of Heineken in an all-night bar along the River Seine that was a mash up of Fibbers and Bruxelles was becoming less appealing as the weak winter Parisian sun chased the night through Boulevards and side streets. Leaving, I waded through the flea markets near Bastille weaving my way through the early rising selfie taking couples and back to my temporary abode. Paris needs no introduction. …” Pog Mo Goal


From Pogba to Mbappe: Why Greater Paris is the world’s top talent pool

December 29, 2017

“PARIS — Nearly a decade ago, Arsene Wenger ranked the Paris region as the second-best talent pool in soccer after Sao Paulo in Brazil. But by now, the French capital surely ranks top. Here are just a few of today’s players raised in Greater Paris: Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, N’Golo Kante, Kingsley Coman, Blaise Matuidi and Kylian Mbappe, plus three other regular Paris Saint-Germain starters, the Algerian internationals Riyad Mahrez and Yacine Brahimi, and various Senegalese and Moroccan internationals who will play at the coming World Cup. In fact, the Ile-de-France (as Greater Paris is known) probably produces more talent than Asia, Africa and North America combined. Why? I ask myself that question every weekend. …” ESPN – Simon Kuper


The Three Epic, Early Champions League Showdowns

December 14, 2017


“The draw for the Champions League round of 16 is set, and even though the first games will not be played for two months, we already know that at least one true European power will be eliminated before the quarterfinals kick off, and a couple more elite clubs could be in trouble. This is because the Champions League draw pitted some of the best teams in the world against each other in early clashes. According to Soccer Power Index, six of the nine best teams to make the knockouts have been drawn against each other. These three matchups — each of which consists of two games, one at each club’s home grounds — should give the Round of 16 a new level of drama. … ” fivethirtyeight, NY Times: Real-P.S.G. and Barcelona-Chelsea in the Champions League, YouTube: The Three Epic, Early Champions League Showdowns


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


Identifying Ligue 1’s Next Breakout Talent: Houssem Aouar

December 3, 2017

“The summer of 2017 was when big named players from Olympique Lyonnais left for greener pastures. Alexandre Lacazette finally made his long-awaited move to Arsenal, Corentin Tolisso left for Bayern Munich, Maxime Gonalons took his talents to Italy and signed for Roma. Even Rachid Ghezzal, a player who was equally as frustrating as he was brilliant, left for Monaco on a free transfer. While it might be a bit much to claim that this was going to be a new era, it was clear that there was a distinctly youthful approach occurring, with the club once again tapping into its famous academy along with the youthful players they bought as replacements for the departed. …” Stats Bomb (Video)


Keita Baldé is slowly helping Monaco forget about Kylian Mbappé

October 31, 2017

“Keita Baldé Diao, the Senegalese forward who joined Monaco from Lazio this summer for €30m, was prepared to be compared with Kylian Mbappé. ‘I was expecting it,’ he said recently when asked about Mbappé. ‘We’re both young players. But I’ve come to write my story, to play my game. I don’t want to be compared with anyone. My goal is to play as many matches as possible, to score and provide.’ After his recent performances, Keita may find those comparisons harder to avoid, particularly if Monaco sustain their title challenge into the new year. …” Guardian


World Cup 2018 power rankings: Germany on top among qualified 23

October 12, 2017


“Twenty-three nations have booked their places for the World Cup in Russia, with the holders and Brazil looking in good shape but we rank England in 13th place, below Iceland.” Guardian (Video)


The Best Soccer Teams in History to Miss Out on Qualifying for the World Cup

October 8, 2017


France, 1994
“As World Cup qualification reaches its final stages, a number of major nations find themselves in danger of missing out on Russia 2018. As Argentina, the Netherlands, Chile and Ghana struggle to make it, and with reigning African champion Cameroon already eliminated, we look back at the most shocking failures to qualify in World Cup history. …” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Carlo Ancelotti’s Firing a Strike Against Complacency Threatening Bayern Munich’s Reign

October 1, 2017


“From the outside, it doesn’t look like much of a crisis, but this is Bayern Munich, and at a modern superclub what appears to be a gentle blip can feel on the inside like a seismic convulsion. Carlo Ancelotti was sacked on Thursday in response to Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat at Paris Saint-Germain, but in truth the discontent has been building for some time. …” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Bordeaux and the Chase for the Champions League

September 28, 2017

“2017-18 in Ligue 1 was never going to be about a title race in France, because that was sewn up the minute PSG bought Neymar from Barcelona (and just to rub it in, they got maybe the best prospect in world football as well). Rather, where the intrigue in Ligue 1 came from was the cluster of six or so teams below PSG fighting for two Champions League spots. At least for this writer, there was a genuine curiosity about how the standings would shake out in positions 2 to 7 considering the massive changes that had gone on. After seven games where are we? Monaco have been fine despite selling the majority of their title winning squad, Lyon have produced attacking numbers that are quite middling compared to the talent at their disposal, while Marcelo Bielsa and Lille are Ligue 1’s travelling circus act. …” Stats Bomb


Faded Orange – The decline of a footballing superpower

September 25, 2017

“The Netherland’s recent dismantling by France symbolized the frightening predicament the national team now finds itself in. The side that gave us ‘total football’, previously a staple fixture in the latter rounds of major tournaments, now faces the prospect of failing to qualify for two in a row. In truth, the 4-0 score line flattered the Dutch, who were overran in midfield, ponderous at the back, and unimaginative up top. New manager Dick Advocaat was clueless as how to line up against a technically superior side, in stark contrast to his predecessors van Gaal and van Marwijk. Their problems go far beyond the manager however, and at the present moment Dutch football is facing an identity crisis and a lost generation of talent as they desperately attempt to scramble their side into the World Cup finals next summer. …” Backpage Football


Tactical Analysis: Nice 4-0 Monaco | Favre’s efficient approach

September 25, 2017

“After interesting transfer windows from both OGC Nice and AS Monaco, the sides would meet in the Ligue 1, with both having been part of the title race the previous season. Lucien Favre and Leonardo Jardim’s 4-4-2 systems, which share many similar traits, would clash in a battle between two teams who will undoubtedly be aiming for some of the highest positions in France’s most prestigious domestic league. A relatively poor start by Nice contrast to their opponent’s Monaco, who have been unstoppable as they have picked up the maximum of twelve points from their four games so far. …” Outside of the Boot


Pierre Mony: the footballer so popular he got away with murder

December 22, 2016

The following is an extract from issue 23 of the Blizzard, which is on sale in December. The Blizzard is a quarterly football journal available from www.theblizzard.co.uk on a pay-what-you-like basis in print and digital formats. The first full international match between France and England was played on 15 May 1923 at the Stade Pershing in the Bois de Vincennes in Paris. It was an interesting game, attended by an impressive 30,000 spectators, despite driving rain and hail. France had beaten an England Amateurs team at this same venue in 1921 but a similar result was not expected against the full England side.” Guardian, W – History of the France national football team


Tactical Analysis: Arsenal 2-2 PSG | Thrilling night ends in a stalemate

December 1, 2016

arspsg
“Despite being a thrilling encounter in terms of its result and implications, the lesson learned from Paris Saint-Germain’s trip to Arsenal should ultimately be one of two limited teams doing battle in a way that did little to inspire confidence. The Gunners were sloppy in possession, unadventurous and limited in wide areas. Paris Saint-Germain, as they have since the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, lacked a reliable focal point in attack, with Edinson Cavani getting only one of eight shots on target. They somewhat surprisingly controlled possession, but with Blaise Matuidi, the nominal left winger, playing in a deeper role than the teamsheet would suggest, there was little venom from the French side.” Outside of the Boot


The death of possession football

November 18, 2016

guardiola
“Former Bayern Munich manager and current Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, speaking after Bavarian side’s 5-1 triumph over Arsenal last season, was famously said: What I want, my desire, is to have one hundred percent possession. Bayern Munich had enjoyed sixty nine percent of possession in that game as goals from Robert Lewandowki, Thomas Muller, David Alaba and Arjen Robben gave Arsenal nightmares that probably suggested the extent of damage that possession football can usually do.” backpagefootball


Tactical Analysis: Juventus 1-1 Lyon | Allegri’s correct tactics aided by stellar strike duo

November 11, 2016

“Lyon came to the Juventus Stadium on Wednesday evening with their backs against the wall. They had played a decent match against the Italian side at home on Matchday Three, only to be stunned by Juan Cuadrado’s rasping winner. Gianluigi Buffon was the real hero of the match, though, and while Juventus did ride their luck at times a fortnight ago, this time around, manager Massimiliano Allegri seemed to have absorbed a lesson or two from the previous encounter. Having to settle for a draw was no doubt disappointing for the hosts, but facing a must-win match against Sevilla, the Bianconeri should take pride in the success of their adjustments.” Outside of the Boot


2016-17 Ligue 1 (France/1st division) location-map, with: 15/16 attendance data… Plus the 3 promoted clubs (Nancy, Dijon, Metz).

November 2, 2016

“… New Regions of France (effective 1 Jan 2016/final decree of names on 1 Oct 2016). Regions in France have been reduced from 27 regions to 18 regions…Regions of France [1982-2016] (en.wikipedia.org). The 3 promoted clubs in the 2016-17 Ligue U.” Bill Sports Maps


Ligue 1’s Tale of the Tape

October 31, 2016

ligue-1-clubs
“A glance at the Ligue 1 table and you might notice some surprises at the top of the table. Nice are first with a sparkling GD of +13. Toulouse are 4th and since Pascal Dupraz took over late last season they’ve had the statistical profile of an above average side. PSG are meandering in a way that’s not been seen since segments of the 2014-15 season while Lyon have looked dominant at times yet find themselves with only 13 points in 10 games. In comparison to the cakewalk that was Ligue 1 last season, this season has been much more parity driven.” StatsBomb


Tactical Analysis: Sevilla 1-0 Lyon | Fluid home side victorious

October 10, 2016

“If Lyon harbor any hopes of progressing from Group H after their 1-0 defeat to Sevilla on Tuesday evening, they will at least be grateful of having kept the score down, so to have half a chance of reversing the result in early December. Despite Lyon having hit the woodwork twice, Sevilla were firmly in control, especially in the second half. Manager Jorge Sampaoli made two initial decisions that, while they perhaps took a while to settle in, were key to the hosts bossing the game.” Outside of the Boot


Arsenal Are Performing Like Football’s Version of the Jonah Complex

September 15, 2016

“A Paris Saint-Germain side struggling to come to terms with their new manager; Edinson Cavani struggling to recapture form and to come to terms with filling the enormous hole that Zlatan Ibrahimovic left. It was a perfect opportunity for Arsenal, in what was their hardest game of the group phase, on paper, to get their Champions League campaign off to a positive start. And within 44 seconds, Cavani had given PSG the lead.” Bleacher Report – Jonathan Wilson


Over/Under: European club, season predictions for 2016-17

August 20, 2016

“With the new top-flight seasons set to kick off in Italy and Spain this weekend–and Germany one week later–and the Premier League just underway, there are lots of predictions to be made and questions to be answered. Will the competitive imbalance in France, Germany and Italy continue to be a problem? Will we see a surprise winner in any league? Will there be an outsider who cracks the Champions League elite? And just who will Jose Mourinho fall out with next? With all of those questions–and more!–in mind, we take a look at the European club landscape in the over/under prism to provide as much clarity as possible entering a nine-month quest for trophies and championships…” SI


The New Manager Effect – Five Under the Radar European Managerial Changes to watch in 2016/17

July 30, 2016

Unai-Emery-2016-17
“The conclusion of the European football season, a time for fans to sit back and reflect on the season just passed for their club. To assess and debate whether or not it was a good, bad or merely average season. The owners and board members of clubs will also spend the summer months doing exactly the same thing, however, the one crucial difference is they must make a decision whether to continue with the incumbent manager or whether to make a change. For those that choose the latter option and make a change, there is no such thing as a summer break, negotiations and interviews remain ongoing until a suitable replacement has been found. Criteria is weighed up such as past success at clubs, experience, past performances at clubs counter-balanced alongside the financial situation said individuals inherited and whether or not a new inexperienced manager could add a breath of fresh air to a football club.” Outside of the Boot


The Question: was Euro 2016 the death of possession football?

July 19, 2016

zzz
“So, it’s over then, the worst of the 15 European Championships to date, a tournament so bereft of quality that Wales’s mildly diverting win over an inept Belgium was raised to the status of minor classic. Of 51 games, perhaps one, France’s victory over Germany, will be remembered by neutrals – and it, in truth, was utterly unrepresentative of the rest of the tournament. Many have questioned whether Portugal were worthy winners but in a sense they are the most worthy of winners: no champion ever, perhaps, has been so representative of the ethos of a tournament.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Euro 2016 Tactical Analysis: France 0-1 Portugal (AET) | Substitutions the key for Portugal

July 19, 2016

“The Euro 2016 final saw the home nation favourites France take on Portugal. France, who played in a 4-2-3-1 for almost the entirety of the match, dominated the match but were unable to put away their chances. Portugal stuck with the 4-4-2 diamond that had got them to the final and put on yet another disciplined display, made even more impressive following Ronaldo’s early exit from the match. Combined with the goalkeeping heroics of Rui Patricio, excellent substitutions, and France’s profligacy in front of goal, Portugal was able to record their first ever major tournament victory. This tactical analysis will look at how the teams set up to play, Portugal’s tactical change, and key substitutions that affected the outcome of the match.” Outside of the Boot


After unorthodox path, Griezmann has France on cusp of Euro 2016 title

July 8, 2016

c4e3.image
“‘They didn’t create any chances,’ Germany manager Joachim Low moaned following the Euro 2016 semifinals. And yet somehow France scored two goals in the 2-0 victory, both from its newest hero with the unique backstory, Antoine Griezmann. One, admittedly, was a penalty awarded after a handball following a set piece, but the other was a classic piece of poaching. There was something very old-fashioned all around about that second strike–a cross, a goalkeeper stretching with a striker bearing down, the loose ball prodded in. It felt anachronistic, which perhaps goes some way to explaining Germany’s greatest problem in this tournament–and also why Griezmann has had such an impact.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Euro 2016, ISIS, and France

July 8, 2016

“On March 29th, 2016, France played Russia in the first football match to take place in the Stade de France since the terrorist attacks on November 13th. Before the game, the media coverage centered as much on the increased security presence as on the game itself. Commentators wondered: would fans feel safe returning to the stadium? Would the stadium be full? Would the atmosphere be lively or sober? The players were attuned to the extraordinary circumstances as well: speaking about returning to the site of the attacks, French striker Olivier Giroud said that ‘we are human beings before being sportsmen…It will obviously affect us to go there.’” Soccer Politics


Sister of French Soccer Star Antoine Griezmann Recalls Terror of Paris Attacks

July 8, 2016

“Maud Griezmann walked into the concert hall and looked around. It was a little before 9 p.m. on Nov. 13 at the Bataclan in Paris, and she admired the grand stage. She looked at the growing crowd. She watched, for a few moments, as a man at the souvenir stand sorted T-shirts and posters and CDs for the band Eagles of Death Metal, which was just about to begin its set. Then Ms. Griezmann looked quickly at her phone. Her brother Antoine Griezmann is a star forward for France’s national soccer team, and he was playing that night at the Stade de France, just outside the city limits. It was an exhibition match against Germany. The game and the concert were scheduled to start around the same time. Ms. Griezmann put her phone away. She wanted to listen to the music.” NY Times


France overcomes Germany at last in impassioned Euro 2016 semifinal

July 8, 2016

“Euro 2016 at last had its great game, not quite an all-time classic perhaps, not Seville ’82 certainly, but a minor epic of passion and controversy played out on a balmy evening in front of a febrile crowd in the most striking of French stadiums. It ended with France having beaten Germany in a competitive game for the first time since 1958, two Antoine Griezmann goals taking the host through to Sunday’s final against Portugal after a 2-0 victory over the reigning World Cup champions.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Euro 2016 Tactical Analysis: France 5-2 Iceland | France overpower incoherent Iceland

July 8, 2016

“The sharks meet the minnows, David meets Goliath, underdog meets the host nation. Of the quarter finals, this was certainly the matchup with a greater disparity. France, a football powerhouse, facing Iceland, in their first major tournament. Although many thought that Iceland had an outside chance to keep their fairy tale alive, France crushed those dreams. It was a dominant performance from the French from start to finish.” Outside of the Boot


Zinedine Zidane’s World Cup final headbutt recalled, 10 years later

July 8, 2016

“Berlin’s Olympiastadion was hot and humid on July 9, 2006. There had been storms all week. Zinedine Zidane had converted a penalty early in the World Cup final. Marco Materazzi had headed an equalizer. Italy had hit the bar. France had been denied another penalty. The game went into extra time and seemed to be heading for penalties. Then, with 10 minutes to go, a France attack was thwarted. As the ball was cleared, I saw out of the corner of my eye, a blue-shirted figure collapse. Something clearly had happened. The game stopped.” SI – Jonathan Wilson (Video)


Brutally tough path suiting Italy’s strengths at Euro 2016

July 1, 2016

“This was, they said, the weakest Italy squad in half a century. The draw has been so unkind that, after facing Belgium in the group stage, Italy’s putative route to the final means taking on the world champion Germany after the defending European champion Spain with the host France–or the host-slayer Iceland–waiting in the semi. For other sides that might have been too daunting a prospect, but Italy seems almost energized by it. Antonio Conte’s side has produced highly astute tactical performances to beat Belgium and Spain. It wouldn’t even be true to say they were counterattacking displays, although that clearly is a strength of his side, because Italy matched Spain for possession in the first half of their last-16 clash. But it is a team that is at its best using an opponent’s strength against itself.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Six things we’ve learned from the Euro 2016 group stages

June 23, 2016

“Fears that lowly ranked sides like Albania and Northern Ireland might dilute the quality of the competition have not materialised. Cynics might say the overall quality was so low that nobody noticed anyway, but the fact is that some of the more fancied teams – the likes of the Czech Republic, Austria, Turkey, Ukraine and Rumania – couldn’t make it past these minnows. The extended format has brought plenty of colour and amazing stories like Iceland’s success to the tournament, and have helped more than make up for the lack of excitement felt elsewhere. But UEFA also got very lucky. Groups E and F were clearly at an advantage, knowing just how many points were needed to advance ahead of other third-placed teams.” red bulletin


Euro 2016 group stage grades

June 23, 2016

article-3656059-359654C400000578-931_964x417
“The group stages of Euro 2016 have provided goals and controversies, outrageous skill and dreadful mistakes. With no team able to win every game, but only one side losing all three matches, the tournament has proved more competitive than anyone could have expected. After 36 matches, the action is only just hotting up, but having played three times each, we now have a decent idea about what shape the teams are in.” Daily Mail


Unhinged Melody: Euro Soccer Fans Enliven Stadiums With Song

June 19, 2016

fans-undie
“In a sporting sense, the European soccer championship is a gathering of tremendous talent, artful craftsmen and bubbling drama, a delicious recipe that produces one of the most remarkable events on the calendar. The extraordinary nature of the soccer, however, is surpassed only by the extraordinary nature of its soundtrack. For in a musical sense, the European Championship is a gathering of bizarrely discordant overtures, cheesy riffs, synthesizers and, quite often, rhymes that schoolchildren would struggle to comprehend. And yet it is somehow irresistible.” NY Times (Video)


Switzerland quell Paul Pogba storm to earn France draw and last-16 spot

June 19, 2016

“France finished top of Group A, not quite at a gallop but convincingly enough after an initially boisterous, ultimately slow-burn draw with Switzerland in Lille. The Swiss are also through and showed some real muscle and craft after Paul Pogba had looked like making this game all his own in an early burst of all-round midfield power-play. Didier Deschamps will welcome another clean sheet for his new-build defence. By the end, though, with the real business of this two-part Euros now booked in, the suspicion remains there is still some clicking into place needed for that talented chop-and-change midfield.” Guardian


Euro 2016: How Teams Can Advance to the Next Round

June 16, 2016

UPEURO-CUP-master768
“The group stage of Euro 2016 is well underway: From Wednesday until Saturday, all 24 teams will complete their second of three games of group play. And the minute those games are over, many serious fans will start to do math – in their heads, on cocktail napkins or even on spreadsheets – to determine what their teams must do to ensure a place in the knockout stage of the competition. It can be complicated, particularly in this expanded 24-team tournament, where four third-place teams will advance, but we’re here to help you sort through it all. This page provides a big-picture overview in real time, and as soon as teams have completed their first two games – as the teams in Group A and Group B have – we’ll publish a detailed page just for those teams, showing you all the ways they can make the Round of 16.” NY Times


Dimitri Payet stars for France in Euro 2016 opener vs. Romania

June 12, 2016

payet
“Just as Euro 2016‘s opening match was threatening to end in with an anti-climactic draw, Dimitri Payet delivered what may wind up being one of the competition’s signature moments. The West Ham United midfielder’s 89th-minute left-footed blast delivered a 2-1 win to France over Romania at the Stade de France and brought a host nation to its feet. Payet, used here on the left, was a slightly controversial selection ahead of Anthiny Martial, but he was by far France’s best player on the night, and, just when something special was required, he conjured a shot of startling quality, arrowed into the top corner from the edge of the box.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Euro 2016: England and Russia fans clash in third day of violence

June 12, 2016

“Two England supporters have been seriously injured in Marseille after violent clashes with rival fans in the hours leading up to England’s opening Euro 2016 group match against Russia. Police had to resuscitate one 51-year-old fan after he was repeatedly kicked in the head on Saturday, apparently by several Russian fans, leaving him unconscious. Witnesses claimed he had also been attacked with a small axe leaving his head bleeding ‘like a tap’, although the allegation could not be immediately verified.” Guardian (Video)

Russia and England Fans Clash Repeatedly at European Championships
“Fights broke out Saturday before and soon after Russia earned a 1-1 draw against England with a stoppage-time goal in a Group B match at the European Championships in Marseille, France. Fans of the two teams rioted before the game in Marseille’s Old Port district and briefly outside the nearby Stade Vélodrome in a third straight day of violence in the city. The police fired tear gas and water cannons at the fighting fans.” NY Times (Video)


In France, a Political Football

June 4, 2016

b
A protester faces police with a torch and a bouquet of flowers in Lyon, 26
“The French Socialist government is facing increasing unrest over its proposed labor reforms, which may disrupt the Euro 2016 soccer championship. In late March, the Nuit debout movement resurrected Occupy-style assembly tactics in response to the proposed reforms. In May the government attempted to use Article 49.3 to bypass parliament and force through the legislation. Now French rail workers are on strike and potential strikes by other unions loom, possibly threatening the Euro 2016 soccer championship. Strikes by power plant operators are causing blackouts. At one point, the only paper appearing in France was the left-wing L’Humanité due to action by the printers. Behind the strikes is France’s leading militant union, the CGT. In other news, the Louvre is closing due to recent flooding.” Metafilter


Tactical Analysis: Marseille 2-4 PSG | Brave Passi’s tactics undone by choice of personnel

May 31, 2016

“While credit must go to Franck Passi for trying to make a fist of a cup final, especially with it being his final match in charge of Marseille, there is also something to be said for logic. The interim manager (it now appears he will remain in charge pending a change in ownership) tried a number of different formations in an attempt to thwart the all-conquering Paris Saint-Germain. His various tactics certainly displayed an innovative touch, but could things have gone a bit better as regards personnel, or with a more holistic approach?” Outside of the Boot