I think I’m starting to get excited for the World Cup. Finally. Nice read here on John Obi Mikel. I definitely have to agree with the title.
The talent that teams like Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and the Ivory Coast have produced at various times could certainly have won the World Cup if they didn’t continue to shoot themselves in the foot for various reasons. That Ghana side in 2010 were so close to the semis and Ivory Coast had some tough groups in 2006 and 2010. The likes of Senegal, Cameroon and Nigeria had their moments in the past.
I think Nigeria will be the standard-bearers for Africa in this World Cup but it will be interesting to see what Morocco, Senegal, Egypt and Tunisia do.
I’ll do some more World Cup stuff on the CONCACAF sides and the teams I’m cheering for and probably a bigger overall preview right before as well.
Really fantastic read here. Well worth it.
Some tactical talk from two of my favorite tactical writers. I don’t think 3 at the back will ever become a regular thing in the Premier League but it is interesting that mostly big teams have used it in recent times. That will likely be the tactical trend of the year, in the Premier League at least, especially if Chelsea continue to have such success.
I’ve been thinking about this since the beginning of the season. It’s still early days but some of the performances and results have been fascinating, and hopefully they hold up.
The topsy turvy nature of the Premier League is old news at this point but there is a valid argument that things are going as expected as the top six sides in the country currently occupy the top six spots. They’ll vary position etc throughout the season but you get the feeling that overall that won’t change.
As the article points out, there’s plenty going on in Europe’s other top leagues.
Newly promoted Red Bull Leipzig is right on Bayern Munich’s coattails while Borussia Dortmund sit in fifth. That’s down to underwhelming performances from those two. In France, Nice leads all comers with Mario Balotelli heading the attack, though their lead was cut to three points before the international break. Still, Monaco look likely to give Paris Saint-Germain a good run for their money this season. The Serie A remains the least suspenseful league with Juventus’ four point lead. AC Milan’s bright start to the season has made things exciting and there’s always the possibility that Roma and/or Napoli finally put up a good challenge. And La Liga is fun as always. Six points separate first from fifth and the performances of Sevilla, Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao mean things won’t be easy for Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. They’ve all suffered shock results to lower teams already as well so there’s sure to be more drama as the season goes on.
Football Manager is the one game that sometimes supersedes FIFA as far as I’m concerned. The level of detail etc just continues to amaze.
I don’t agree that FM 17 is only for dedicated fans but I’m like an Apple customer at this point, I buy newest product every year with regardless of changes/improvements and am baffled when anyone criticizes it. I think the improved menus, increase in up front information and improved AI makes it a fun game for newcomers too, especially with the little helper thing on. I do agree that the addition of the social media feed and the lack of real explanation of the sports scientist and data analysts required more thought but I expect FM will improve upon these things as usual.
I’ll have my Arsenal first season update posted in a bit.
FIFA’s new boss, Gianni Infantino, definitely picked up some tricks from his predecessor.
It’s a given that campaigning in for any form of office comes with promises that are highly unlikely to be filled, right? One such promise that isn’t going away as far as Infantino is concerned, as reported by the Guardian, is the possibility of expanding the World Cup. In that sense he’s definitely taking things further than Sepp Blatter who seemed to mostly filled with talk when it came to this topic.
Sure, it was nice to see teams like Iceland and Albania perform admirably, or really well in Iceland’s case, in the recently expanded Euros but the flip-side was the overall level of football was very watered down. That was mainly due to team’s eyeing results with a microscope to navigate their way to the knockout rounds in a tournament that f$*#(@g Portugal won. I wasn’t a huge fan of the CONMEBOL/CONCACAF mashup in Copa America either but it was at least more entertaining. (Admittedly, I think Iceland is no fluke as their start to 2018 World Cup qualifying has shown and that’s down to how they’ve built their program from the ground up in recent years).
Of course, the promise of expansion helps win a few more votes from countries that would very much like the chance to trot out in the world’s biggest sporting event besides the Olympics. At what cost though? Certainly the level of play, issues with scheduling etc. and the small fact that the current proposed deals would see a majority of teams play two years to take part in one game to fly back home. Would those playoffs bring plenty of interest? Yes. One could also argue that the countries new to the experience will get better the more they come up against top opposition. Would that really be the case if the majority of them are playing one-off games to even make it into the tournament proper? I doubt it but Infantino doesn’t.
“Whether it will be 40 or 48, it was a positive discussion. I don’t agree it will dilute the quality,” Infantino said. “I would like to remind you that in the last World Cup, England and Italy were eliminated by Costa Rica. The level of football is increasing all over the world.
“In a 48 team format, the quality would be higher because the 32 teams would have a play off. The quality would improve and not decrease in any way.”
The quality wouldn’t be higher because of one-off games though ratings probably would and FIFA’s pockets may bulge a bit more. And, to be honest, there’s only one expansion that makes sense. If you want more teams, Infantino, and more games and more money(which is what you really want) why not just go to 64 teams and rename it June/July Madness with the same top 2 from each group going through and then a knockout round of 32 onwards? I’m sure one of your successors will bring that up so let’s just get straight to it. Except, we’re forgetting one thing. Increased workload for the players after grueling club seasons would undoubtedly drain the competition of its increased quality.
Let’s not forget that some of these teams already play in playoffs to get to the big show. They may not mind the possibility of an automatic spot but that really wouldn’t be the case as they are likely to be first in line for one of those playoff spots. So what’s the difference?
I should be happy with the idea of more football every four years but seeing as I’ll probably be sneaking to watch those games at work or, staying up late/waking up early, I’m not sure my schedule can take it. I think 32 teams and a month-long tournament is enough, and especially so when we’re talking about a one-game playoff.
I’ve said my piece but the articles below offer some interesting, and contrasting, views on the proposed changes and its something we’ll continue to hear about until a decision is made.
What do my fellow former college soccer players think?
Aand, we’re back. Just going to ignore the fact I haven’t done shit for about 6 months.
Figure this is a decent way to start. Nice look at some of the future young talents in world football. Interesting to see the updates on the 2014 and 2015 lists.
I’ll be doing a lot more writing both here and other sites but posts like this will still be on here occasionally.
Huge Euro 2016 preview here. Some really good articles. Looking forward to a good tournament. Copa America has been decent so far.
Might be the last post for a while.
Really good read here. So annoyed with Jeff Webb words can begin to express. Hopefully things do start to change both in CONCACAF and CONMEBOL.