Roma 0-0 Milan – a lack of invention, or quality defending?

March 6, 2010
Roma 0-0 Milan – a lack of invention, or quality defending?

A frustrating game, this one. Not merely because it finished 0-0, but because it was a game where a draw was the least exciting outcome as far as the title race is concerned. Second versus third, and the big winners at the the end of the game were the leaders, Inter. Read more »

Theo Walcott provides his eagerly-anticipated ‘end product’ against Burnley

March 6, 2010
Theo Walcott provides his eagerly-anticipated ‘end product’ against Burnley

Theo Walcott has started consecutive home games for Arsenal now, and has looked lively in both. His performance against Sunderland was promising but was typical of his stereotype – he showed great pace but rarely provided a good ball into the box. Read more »

The 1998 World Cup Final – on reflection…

March 6, 2010
The 1998 World Cup Final – on reflection…

Extended highlights of the 1998 World Cup Final is currently on repeat on a particular British television channel showing ‘classic’ sporting encounters. Most famous for Zidane’s two headers and Ronaldo’s pre-match breakdown, it’s not a game that is generally held up as a great tactical victory. Read more »

Teams of the Decade #5: Roma, 2007

March 5, 2010
Teams of the Decade #5: Roma, 2007

Some great inventions were the result of years of design and graft, eventually producing something roughly approximating the design brief. Others, like Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, were an happened upon by complete accident. In that sense, Luciano Spalletti is modern football’s Alexander Fleming, and the 4-6-0 was his great discovery that he never intended on inventing. Read more »

The top ten most strongly-contested World Cup positions

March 5, 2010
The top ten most strongly-contested World Cup positions

Some international selection dilemmas are a case of “Who is the least bad?”. Others are a little more positive, and often result in top-class players being left out of squads. Here is a list of ten positions featuring tremendous competition ahead of the World Cup. (Leighton Baines v Stephen Warnock missed the cut.) Read more »

Analysing Brazil’s fluid system at close quarters

March 3, 2010
Analysing Brazil’s fluid system at close quarters

Dunga’s Brazil side isn’t popular back home. The use of two holding midfielders, the tendency to play on the counter-attack and the overlooking of the likes of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Pato have all seen him accused of playing in an un-Brazilian way, by ditching the classic Brazilian principles of yesteryear for a more patient, less spectacular way of playing. Read more »

Michael Carrick demonstrates why he could be crucial to England’s World Cup hopes

March 3, 2010
Michael Carrick demonstrates why he could be crucial to England’s World Cup hopes

It’s difficult to make the case for Michael Carrick being in the England side without coming across as a pretentious, know-it-all bore. Comments like “He does the quiet things well”, “He keeps things simple”, and “He brings the best out of his team-mates” are all classic ‘underrated player’ arguments. But like it or not, they’re all true in Carrick’s case, so it’s pretentious, know-it all bore time. Read more »

Benfica – the most attractive side in Europe?

March 2, 2010
Benfica – the most attractive side in Europe?

Is there a side in Europe at the moment that plays more attacking, exciting football than this Benfica side? With two forwards, three attacking midfielders and two extremely offensive full-backs, the side is packed with creativity and energetic runners, making them extremely difficult to defend against. Read more »

Atletico Madrid 4-1 Valencia – Atletico eventually tire nine-man Valencia

March 1, 2010
Atletico Madrid 4-1 Valencia – Atletico eventually tire nine-man Valencia

A strange game. Atletico dominated it from the outset and yet still went behind, to a classic rapid Valencia counter-attack. They equalised through a Forlan penalty, an incident in which Marchena was dismissed, and then Atletico had an hour of football with an extra man, and yet only went ahead within the last 15 minutes. After that, Miguel was also sent-off for Valencia, and Atletico added two more.

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Stoke v Arsenal – a passing comparison

February 28, 2010
Stoke v Arsenal – a passing comparison

Stoke against Arsenal offers the most blatant difference in playing styles you will encounter in any major European league game. Stoke are the scrappy long-ball team who rely on set-pieces, Arsenal play a short, quick, neat passing game. Read more »