World Cup Bid: 2018 and 2022

Wonder why England is still a top choice ahead of the USA? Because we decided it was a good idea to send Drew Carey as our United States of America representative. We might has well have just told FIFA that we are clearly still incapable of hosting the world’s most prestigious sporting event because we sent a gimp to prove them otherwise. I would rather have sent Mimi than Drew Carey, at least she’s obnoxious. Nothing good has come out of the state of Ohio and certainly not a US Soccer representative that suddenly decided to become a figure in the domestic game.

nice glasses

I’ll be honest, Seattle has been the best city in the entire nation for soccer support, but that does not make it right to send their minority owner as the entire nation’s representative. He knows nothing about the game and is not a big enough celebrity to make anyone do a double take. I would at least say hello to Ryan Stiles.

Even after all the scandals and bribing, England still has the upperhand over the USA. Interest in the game still plays a big role, but we needed to send someone who could at least sell the idea to FIFA that the USA will quickly build a proper following. Looks like I will be waking up very early to watch the World Cup in 2018 and 2022 because Russia and Spain will both play host.

Evolution of the Sport: Anti-Football

At the end of the night, all they’ll remember is the win. Whatever the sport, defense will win you championships. Great attacking abilities are always given the credit for wins because of flashy talent and ball control. We must remember and credit the ones who break up the play and distribute the ball to the front players.

Just to name a few examples for a need for defensive minded players:

The last time Arsenal brought home some silverware was also the last time they had a true defensive midfielder in Patrick Vieira. Liverpool’s current slump came sharply after they separated their CDM pairing of Mascherano and Xabi Alonso. Barcelona have been very successful in the past few years with the addition of the skill-less gump, Sergio Busquets, while last year Inter Milan put together a historic season and gathered The Treble with the elderly DM pair of Cambiasso and Zanetti.

The derogatory term ‘Anti-football’ has been a frequent topic in the last few years since Jose Mourinho came into the spotlight. He took U.D. Leiria, a bottom table Portuguese team, to a 4th place finish then took control of FC Porto the following year, bringing in the UEFA Cup and Champions League Trophy the following year.  His usage of the reducer roles and overall style of Anti-football allowed him to finish a record season at Stamford Bridge having only conceded 15 goals all year. In under 10 years, Mourinho has accomplished more than any other current manager with multiple league cups and league titles, but most of all 2 Champions League trophies. His use of Costinha, Makelele, Zanetti, and Cambiasso have brought him success, but far too many do not appreciate their roles.

The role of the ‘reducer’ is to break up plays by sniffing out passes and tackling at will. The reducer is not known for their skill, keen vision, nor their scoring ability, but rather their bulldog mentality, eye for the tackle, and simple passing. Every great European team has made use of the reducer role and during those time periods have taken home some silverware.

At The Santiago Bernabeu, Mourinho is now being called out for his boring, defensive style that the fans of Los Blancos are not used to. The fans have become used to flashy football, outstanding individual efforts, and a shelf full of decade old trophies. In his first 7 competitive matches with Real Madrid, they managed to score only 9 goals, far from the old Real Madrid standard. Fans booed and jeered until their most recent win of 6-1 in La Liga. None of these fans took a second to realize that 6 of their 8 competitive matches have been clean sheets. With 15 goals for and only 2 goals against, the new Real Madrid already looks to have improved on paper.

Efficient is an adjective that isn’t used enough when characterizing teams, but I guarantee that this year’s Champions League winner will be described by that word one way or another.

EPL Injury List: September

Already, this year we have seen far more injuries to international players than the previous season.

Always dealing with injury, Arsenal have three out until the middle or end of October and two without an actual return date. Nicklas Bendtner finally returns from his continuous struggle with his groin, however hat-trick hero Theo Walcott is out til the final week in October with an ankle issue, as well as RVP who always has something. Vermaelen and Diaby have not been given an actual return date, but I assume it should be soon. Samir Nasri is recovering from knee surgery and also has not been given a return time. Youngster Frimpong is dealing with his ACL and will be back hopefully in February.

I don’t expect Fulham to be able to keep up as they lose both Senderos and Zamora until the second week of February. Bobby Zamora just recently broke his leg, while Philippe Senderos had his Achilles tendon rupture.

Recently, Jermaine Defoe suffered an ankle injury while playing for England. He is set to return after the Christmas break. Tottenham will finally return keeper Gomes next week along with Luka Modric and newly acquired Rafael Van Der Vaart.

Newcastle are missing six in total, but three are vital to surviving in the top league. Andy Carroll and Dan Guthrie return in the next week, but Dan Gosling is gone until after the Xmas break with an ACL injury.

Man City don’t need mentioning as they have a roster full of stars, but Adebayor returns alongside newcomer Jerome Boateng. Balotelli will return at the end of October when he recovers from his knee injury.

Louis Saha suffers from old age and Jack Rodwell is out for three months due to an ankle injury that was found to be worse than it looked. Hopefully, Everton will be fine without Saha. Glad to see Arteta back in the starting XI.

Manchester United just recently saw a terrible ankle break with Antonio Valencia. He is ruled out until February and will hopefully have a quick recovery. Owen Hargreaves is attempting to make a comeback this season, but is unsure of when it will be. Having ailments for most of his recent career, his surgeon in the USA is finally clearing him for the next month.

Chelsea is fine. Lampard has been out for a little, but is in full form as of today. Apart from having a huge unibrow, Bowingwa will be fully fit by the beginning of October and should be back.

Liverpool have been missing Dirk Kuyt due to a shoulder injury, but he will return at the end of October, while Fabio Aurelio should be back October 3rd from his ankle injury.

Champions League: Tiki-Taka Teams

Are the scorelines not convincing enough for you? 6-0 Arsenal, 6-1 Barcelona. These results completely back the idea that tiki-taka football is the most effective 90 minute style of play.

From beginning to end Arsenal dominated play as they ran over Portuguese Liga finalists Braga. Inspired by a brace from captain Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal added 4 more from Carlos Vela (2), Arshavin, and Chamakh. As if keeping the ball 64% of the time was not enough, Wenger’s boys smacked home six goals and made a statement in London. After years of claiming that they have a young team, I think Arsenal might finally have a chance at something. Who have Chelsea played anyway? You can hardly compare their early season schedules. Maybe Blackpool will give them a run. Or a jog.

Barcelona was typical. Controlling all play… literally all play. Take a wild guess at the percent possession by the Catalan club. I have never seen such a one sided possession game in my life. Barcelona outplayed the current Greek champions by keeping the ball 86% of the game. Majority of the Panathinakos possession had to come from their keeper. First goal of the game was a punt from the keeper and cheekily flicked on for Sidney Govou to capitalize on the only shining moment for Panathinaikos. Losing to Hercules must have nudged Leo Messi the wrong way as he went on to put in a trick.

Wouldn’t be more happy to see these two teams play each other in the CL final.  At least it wouldn’t be as boring as last year’s.

Les Bleus feeling Blue

Maybe it was Blanc’s decision to make his national team sing the anthem that threw them off. Or the fact that the France Football Federation is too arrogant to choose a proper squad. Les Bleus managed to lose their first match under new manager Laurent Blanc. This guy used a typical youth team excuse ‘we weren’t effective in front of goal’. You’re the France National Team. OK maybe you don’t have Anelka or Benzema, but when you have the ability to choose a from Govou, Cisse, Ben Arfa, or Bafetimbi Gomis,

Chelsea's next star

scoring should not be an issue. The FFF better hope Gourcuff is the ‘next Zizou’ because they need him badly. Every team could use a Zidane, but France relied on him for over a decade. Like Barca without Xavi, but Zizou was better… so much better. Tell me how you lose 0-1 to Belarus, actually when you have the French midfield, how do you not destroy Belarus?!

Make Zidane your coach, remove those ridiculous bans on your captain, and call up Gael Kakuta.

Tribute: Francisco Varallo

On August 30th, Francisco Antonio Varallo, the last surviving participant of the inaugural 1930 World Cup Tournament passed away. Varallo passed in his hometown of La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina at the age of 100.

Born on February 5th, 1910, Francisco Varallo grew up in a province of Buenos Aires and made his professional debut at the age of 14. By the age of 18, Varallo was given the nickname ‘cañoncito‘ having scored 11 goals in 3 games for Estudiantes de la Plata. Being denied a chance to join Estudiantes, the little canon joined Gimnasio and had a breakout season earning him a call-up by the Argentinian National Team. At age 20, he was the youngest in the squad and would later find that he was the youngest in the 1930 World Cup. For his work with the national side, Boca Juniors picked up Varallo for a record fee of about 10,000 pesos($8000 US at the time). During his time with Boca Juniors, Varallo amassed 180 goals in 210 games, a record which stood in the club until 2008 when it was broken by Martin Palermo.

For his country, Varallo played in two World Cups earning 16 caps and scoring 7 goals. Throughout his career Francisco Varallo was known as a goal hungry forward and in 1933 was the leading scorer in all of South America with 34 goals in the season. His career came to an end in 1940 when he was forced to retire due to several injuries to his left knee, but continued to be an ambassador for the sport til the day he died.

This week the South American Football Confederation announced that all matches would have a minute of silence in honor of him.

Tiki Taka vs Route One Football

One nil down in the 75th minute. Do you ask your forwards to shuffle along their backline and wait for your center backs to spray long balls or do you continue to ask your midfield to connect between the two? With Zigic up front, the question is easily answered, but most don’t have the luxury.

Barcelona have perfected the possession style, Arsenal have created their own version, and we all know the Brazilians love it. The problem with route one football is the counter attack. Pushing forward five or six players leaves you with only your backline behind the ball and a recipe for disaster. Teams with the ability to exploit gaps on the counter will do so quickly:

Teams that play the tiki taka possession game are always labeled as more skilled, but can you honestly say that Clichy and Diaby have more skill than the majority of England’s top flight? The style works well for Arsenal and if it helps, looks far better than scramble inside the 18 or a long throw-in from Delap. For 90 minutes, you can’t really rely on Tom Huddlestone to blast long balls and expect the half chances to go in. Just look at the Spurs consistency in the Premier League. There isn’t any.

If I put a label on route one football teams people will just get angry. It’s more likely to get countered than score a goal and it just seems so desperate and painful to watch. Nonetheless, it is exciting with 5 minutes remaining or if you have Xabi Alonso on your side:

I guess route one football is effective when you have the names David Beckham or Xabi Alonso on your roster. The only positives to route one is a quick change of pace in the game or having the opposing team’s backline running towards their own net. An average long ball is easy to defend and gets ridiculously boring after a while, not to mention tires out the front players. Even Barcelona have done it from time to time, but at least they do it with style and spray textured balls in from the flanks with Dani Alves. Chelsea on the other hand just plays the typical English route one. Lucky for them Essien loves his wonder strikes:

I don’t think I really need to explain tiki taka football. The majority of the movements are off the ball and is sometimes slow, but patient in looking for the breakdown of a defense. Only few Premiership teams are patient in the final third, but none are better at possessing in all quadrants of the field like Arsenal. Wengerball is easily the next best form of football behind the style perfected by FCB. No better example than this:

Proof is in the video.