1. “the allies are struggling to cope with the Germans’ physical approach and dazzling wing play. Hatch already looks out of his depth in goal and captain Colby needs to find a way of getting the mercurial talents of Rey and Fernandez into the game. Fernandez, in particular, is already a target for roughhouse treatment. The Allies need a goal, and they need it soon. One more for the hosts and it’s game, set and match.”
As is normally the case around this time of year, Escape to Victory was on TV recently, so Football Clichés only went and liveblogged the drama.
2. “The down side of a front two is that it can leave a side short in midfield – and that has certainly been an issue at times for Manchester City this season. It seems a given that a team with three central midfielders ought to be able to dominate a team with two central midfielders. While the extra midfielder is an advantage, that can be mitigated by shape, and 4-4-2 remains the simplest and sturdiest of defensive structures. This is a point that Roy Hodgson made – admittedly obliquely – with his much-mocked assertion that there was no essential difference between the shape of his England and that of Borussia Dortmund. The German team are 4-2-3-1 in possession, but when out of possession, if not pressing, they rapidly fall back to having two compact banks of four. If those lines are compact, if there is no space between them, then they can be very difficult to penetrate.”
Jonathan Wilson‘s tactical review of 2013 is basically a football hipster’s wet dream.
3. “Uruguay may have finished fifth in South America’s qualifiers, and needed a play-off to reach the World Cup. But the same thing happened last time round, when they went on to reach the 2010 semi-finals – and since then, if many of the team have grown old together, their strikeforce of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani have come into their footballing peak. “Perhaps the most astonishing display of South America’s strength in depth came a few months ago when Paraguay, who finished bottom of the qualification table, travelled to Germany and came away with a 3-3 draw.”
Tim Vickery‘s most recent article gives an excellent insight into the current state of South American football.
4. “Still reeling from a defeat by club side Cardiff earlier in the week, the tourists were greeted by a crowd of 56,000 at the old Arms Park. “While most of us wonder whether we will ever experience Wales beating New Zealand in our lifetime, club and country captain Bleddyn Williams managed it twice in four days.”
Near misses against the All Blacks is something Irish fans are familiar with, but this BBC Sport piece looks at Wales’ 1953 victory against New Zealand and the series of agonising defeats they’ve endured since.
5. “The first bell rang: Broner shrugged and smirked, and Maidana walked slowly toward him, throwing some exploratory jabs. Then, suddenly, Maidana threw a wild left hook and a chopping right hand; neither made significant contact, but the fighters’ legs got crossed and Broner stumbled backward toward the ropes. Maidana pressed and punched. As the fight got chaotic, Broner raised his eyebrows and pursed his lips, to show Maidana that he wasn’t bothered, but he didn’t return fire, so Maidana kept swinging. (By one count, Maidana landed twenty-six of eighty-six punches in the first round; Broner landed just six of fourteen.) Early in the second round, Maidana lunged and landed a left hook on Broner’s jaw and Broner collapsed onto his backside on the mat, with his fists sticking out through the ropes. Before the referee could start his count, Broner was standing, wobbly but alert, but he didn’t seem to have a plan. He slipped some punches, absorbed some others, taunted, complained; Maidana stayed close and busy. Even some Broner fans must have been thrilled, despite themselves, by this sight: a rising star—and, for that matter, a four-to-one favorite—scrambling to survive the second round.”
Kelefa Sanneh of The New Yorker recalls “the most entertaining fight of the year”.
6. “He has since seen Tom Daley, the British Olympic diver, take to YouTube to reveal he is in a relationship with a man, making the announcement to “put an end to all the rumours and speculation”. “I don’t know if I’ve helped people like Tom but I do know I’ve helped other kids,” says Rogers. “I’ve worked with kids in California, kids who have been suicidal. A lot of these people feel they’re so alone but they can connect with my story. When I was growing up I didn’t have anyone who was gay to look up to. Maybe these guys can follow in my footsteps. That was never my plan. Not at all. Obviously I had no plan to go back to football or be a spokesperson of any kind but, on the other hand, I’m happy people can see there’s been a happy ending to my story and that they can connect with it.”
The Guardian speak to Robbie Rogers about the reaction to his coming out.