Posts

Mexico Strike 'Oro' as the USMNT Live in the Shadow of Rapinoe and Co.

Image
Sunday started and finished as many US citizens had predicted, their women's national team lifting their fourth World Cup and the men's team succumbing to their fiercest rivals. 

As the USWNT confirmed the notion of being the world's best on Sunday afternoon, their counterparts confirmed they are not even the best in their own continent. The defeat to Mexico underlined, again, the recent failings of the men's team which has become the butt of jokes for soccer fans across the States. Their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia was a national disaster, and their exploits in the Gold Cup hardly convincing on the whole.

The USMNT's humbling at Soldier Field, Chicago in front of a heavily pro-Mexico crowd further disenfranchised their following, as their women continue to stride on. During his seven months at the helm of the USMNT Gregg Berhalter has slowly but surely began to rebuild a side that crashed out of World Cup Qualifying in spectacular fashion a…

Athletic Club - An Example Of Identity Off The Pitch, But Not On It

Image
When you think of identity within football, one team springs to mind: Athletic Club. One of the oldest and historical clubs in Spain, known worldwide for their truly unique policy of using only Basque players, or those with Basque heritage. Everything about Athletic screams heritage; from the museum in San Mames, the Lezama training complex that has produced over 300 academy graduates and the bars in the city-centre that are adorned with Athletic flags as the locals spill out in to the streets before the match. On the pitch, however, Athletic have struggled to make their mark under new coach Jose Angél "Kuko" Ziganda and look a shadow of their former-selves.

Since Kuko's appointment, Athletic have scrabbled and floundered their way through a patchy season that started well, but has tailed off considerably with fans growing considerably restless. Whilst there have been contributing factors to the downturn in form, losing the creative Iker Muniain to a season-long knee inju…

Godfathers of Football: Marcelo Bielsa - Eccentric Influence And Laying The Foundations For So Many

Image
Football is blessed with some astonishing characters, those who have helped shape the game in a manner so radical that it ill never be the same again. None are more astonishing that Marcelo Bielsa, the relentless eccentric who laid the foundations for managers worldwide with his expressive, high risk football. 

Bielsa is well known for his eccentricity, from resigning at Lazio after just 48 hours, to using a cool-box as a touchline perch during his time in Marseille. But no story can sum Bielsa up as eloquently as when he was held at gunpoint during an Argentina training camp in 2001. It's 2am and the Argentinian national team has used an army barracks as a training base in preparation for an upcoming match, in the darkness a small figure huffs and puffs around the perimeter of the barracks. An old CD player hangs out of his baggy tracksuit bottoms and his old trainers pound at the wet ground. Bielsa isn't listening to 'Santana' or 'Led Zeppelin' - he is listeni…

Soccernomics: Los Angeles Football Club and Carlos Vela - The New King of LA

Image
It seems absurd that a football franchise can gain a million fans overnight, but that is just what Los Angeles Football Club managed to achieve when they signed Carlos Vela back in August. Despite the club never having played a competitive match and only having a handful of players on the roster their future looks bright. 

Vela begins his tenure with his new teammates on January the 1st, and the run up to the franchises first match accelerates over the next four months before they take on the Seattle Sounders at home. Their home which hasn't yet been built. 

In true American style, there certainly has been theory behind the signing of Vela and one that clearly taps in to the ethnicity of not only Los Angeles, but also to the breakdown of the run-of-the mill MLS viewer. This year alone there was a 75% increase in viewership on ESPN alone, and a 38% rise year-on-year across the play-offs. Football, or soccer, is gaining serious momentum in the United States and the expansion franchise…

Godfathers of Football: César Luis Menotti - The Man Who Made Argentina Tango Again

Image
In the 1970's under dictator Jorge Rafael Videla, Argentina sunk into financial crisis like they had never seen before, the gap between rich and poor widened to record levels and unaccounted Argentines disappeared, beaten to death by the police. Living in Argentina was a life and death struggle. Literally. 

Slim, long-haired with a cigarette drooping out of his mouth as he conducted his players, César Luis Menotti was everything Argentina's dictatorship wasn't during the 1970s. Menotti was a socialist, a thinker, a rationalised football man who understood that the game acted as a social voice for the people when it felt that all hope had evaporated. He provided a platform for society to speak and when he spoke himself, quoted writers, musicians and poets to his players. Menotti was a shining light in Argentina's darkest time. 

As globalisation enveloped the world and liberalism was surging across South America, Argentina had divided itself in to an 'absolute' sta…

A Green And White Revolution In Andalucia

Image
Never in a million years would Béticos expect that their team would be the cause of admiration right across the footballing world, but under the guidance of Quique Setien the Andalucians draw admiration from all corners of the globe. 

Rewriting the script has become something of the norm for Real Betis, and as they entered the year with another new coach - their 9th since December 2013 - the fans once again feared the worst for Los Verdiblancos. Since their return to the top flight after a short stint away, Seville's working class club have never finished in the top half and were seemingly slipping into the old habit of starting a fresh at the drop of a hat. 

However, this season has started with a bang for all concerned as newly installed manager Quique Setien continues to build on an impressive season with UD Las Palmas last year by propelling Betis into the top half. Setien is arguably one of the emerging managers of La Liga, and is known for his expansive possession based footba…

Backed By Manchester, Girona Fly The Flag For Catalunya

Image
Under a shimmering sunset 99 kilometers away from Barcelona, tiny Girona stood up against Madrid to seemingly end their title hopes, whilst simultaneously sending a message to the big-wigs on the capital on behalf of Catalunya. 

Girona are perhaps the smallest club in La Liga and in comparison to their Catalan cousins, FC Barclona and Espanyol, barely scratch the surface in terms in of support. But they have heart. And, more importantly, they have the backing of one of the biggest super groups in world football. 

Their sensational win over Real Madrid at home had meant to much more to a team commencing their first season in La Liga than three points. This victory was symbolic. It was a giant two fingers the Champions of Europe, but also to the Spanish cabinet back in Madrid. Their cousins in Barcelona will surely be sending thanks, as their eternal rivals from the Capital now sit eight points adrift at the top of the league, a margin that has never been overturned by a Madrid side. 



At t…