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Thursday, March 02, 2017

OT: March-April 2017 Soccer Thread

March is coming in a lot more like a lamb in my neck of the woods than nursery rhymes would suggest, and the same is true at the top of the Premier League. There’s more excitement (of a sort) in the Champions League, and some intrigue at the top end of the table in at least a couple other major European leagues. Plus relegation scraps abound!

Once again, I’m too lazy to bother putting together an interesting fixtures list. My guess is you all don’t really need my help on that front anyway.

The Marksist Posted: March 02, 2017 at 09:00 AM | 555 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: off-topic, soccer

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   201. Sean Forman Posted: March 30, 2017 at 02:08 PM (#5426091)
How much talent does a WC final 4 team need? I'm not sure who to compare us to, but maybe Chile or Netherlands (though they've been terrible since the 2014 WC).

Chile had this lineup on the Copa final last year.
GK 1 Claudio Bravo (c)
RB 4 Mauricio Isla
CB 17 Gary Medel
CB 18 Gonzalo Jara
LB 15 Jean Beausejour YC 52'
CM 8 Arturo Vidal YC 37'
CM 21 Marcelo Díaz Yellow cardYellow cardRed card 16', 28'
CM 20 Charles Aránguiz YC 69'
RW 6 José Pedro Fuenzalida Substituted off 80'
LW 7 Alexis Sánchez Substituted off 104'
CF 11 Eduardo Vargas Substituted off 109'
Substitutions:
FW 22 Edson Puch Substituted in 80'
MF 5 Francisco Silva Substituted in 104'
FW 16 Nicolás Castillo

Keeper at Barcelona
Fullbacks at top club in Chile and low level Serie A team
CD's at Europa level Serie A team and top club in Chile
CM's top player at Bayern, top club in Chile, Europa/UCL level Bundesliga (bayer)
Attackers top player at Arsenal, top player on 2nd club in chile, good striker in bundesliga/liga mx
Subs, all liga MX players


IF, I repeat IF, Pulisic can be our Alexi Sanchez and Brooks our Gary Medel, we need to find a Vidal (yes a big ask, Tyler Adams?) in the midfield and another UCL level CM (hyndman) and a top keeper (Horvath?). I think in 5 years we'll have the rest of the talent needed to be a QF/Semifinal team, and might have more talent across the field than Chile has outside of their big 3/4.

Still a big step behind the Germany, Argentina, France, Brazils.
   202. madvillain Posted: March 30, 2017 at 02:11 PM (#5426093)
I think by 2022 the US could rise to the level of say peak recent Uruguay or Belgium, that is a top 10 world side on paper, with a couple real UCL studs and a lot of good depth all the way down. Quarters in 2022 with Pulisic at the height of his powers should certainly be a goal.
   203. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 30, 2017 at 02:22 PM (#5426102)
How much talent does a WC final 4 team need?


You obviously answered your own question (show off) but I don't think you need a ton of star level talent so much as you need it in the right places. Get a dependable striker, a genuine playmaker (Pulisic) and a top level keeper and I think a lot of what's left can be filled in. What you need though at those other spots that we have not put together is that reliability. I think a lot of what is key in those situations is not beating yourself.

The other thing I'll note is that you can't have a weak spot and I think that is where we really get hurt. It seems like every game we play against top competition there is at least one or two spots where we are just vastly overmatched.

I think I agree with madvillain that making the QF in 2022 is a reasonable target. It's not unlike where we were in 2010 with an elite player at his best (Donovan) and that could have been a quarterfinal team. I don't think we were genuinely overmatched against Ghana but getting back to my point about weak spots Ricardo Clark was a disaster.
   204. Baldrick Posted: March 30, 2017 at 02:44 PM (#5426130)
IF, I repeat IF, Pulisic can be our Alexi Sanchez and Brooks our Gary Medel, we need to find a Vidal (yes a big ask, Tyler Adams?) in the midfield and another UCL level CM (hyndman) and a top keeper (Horvath?). I think in 5 years we'll have the rest of the talent needed to be a QF/Semifinal team, and might have more talent across the field than Chile has outside of their big 3/4.

Vidal was like a top 5 or top 10 player in the world for the last few years. I'd say that is indeed a pretty big ask.

The US has consistently, significantly overperformed the raw talent of its players. I don't see any particular reason to expect that to continue. They absolutely COULD be a QF/SF team at some point in the future, but I don't think they're even particularly close to being one of the 10 most talented collections of players in the world.
   205. jmurph Posted: March 30, 2017 at 02:59 PM (#5426148)
The US has consistently, significantly overperformed the raw talent of its players.

Agree, which really complicated my view of Klinsmann. I thought the 2014 squad was pretty terrible, for instance, yet they got out of the group and almost survived against Belgium.
   206. Sean Forman Posted: March 30, 2017 at 03:39 PM (#5426191)
Vidal was like a top 5 or top 10 player in the world for the last few years. I'd say that is indeed a pretty big ask.


Yeah I probably sold him short. I was putting him in the 25-40 range, but he is/was undoubtedly much higher than that. Ok, two top 50 players and a top five league winning keeper.
   207. madvillain Posted: March 30, 2017 at 03:41 PM (#5426196)
Agree, which really complicated my view of Klinsmann. I thought the 2014 squad was pretty terrible, for instance, yet they got out of the group and almost survived against Belgium.


Partially because he decided to take Wondo and Green instead of Donovan. Jurgen did alright for his one cycle. He was a disaster starting the day after the World Cup.
   208. Fancy Pants with a clinging marmoset on his Handle Posted: March 31, 2017 at 03:13 PM (#5426816)
The US has consistently, significantly overperformed the raw talent of its players. I don't see any particular reason to expect that to continue.

I think the main reason the US has managed to overperform is that they have generally had an excellent keeper. It doesn't show up much in the way the game is actually played, and things like posession / pass statistics, but an excellent keeper pulling one or two saves extra saves in a ko game can make all the difference. It's also why I think England has tended to underperform so much.

That said, it is obviously a situation that can shift in a hurry, because you really only need one guy to step up or fall off... It's not like the US can rely on old man Tim Howard forever.
   209. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: April 01, 2017 at 12:47 PM (#5427107)
Well, Chelsea stumbled and Spurs got a tough road win. 7 points back and Chelsea have maybe a marginally tougher schedule. Of course, Tottenham still have many more injuries than Chelsea.
   210. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: April 01, 2017 at 01:38 PM (#5427123)
Yeah, seems like Wanyama will be ok; Winks, not so much ...

Sigh.
   211. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: April 05, 2017 at 04:52 PM (#5429651)
Tottenham with 3 late goals to keep the title race alive. They really could have used a draw from Chelsea, today.
   212. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: April 05, 2017 at 05:04 PM (#5429667)
This pretty much sums up my attitude.

I don't think Spurs would have had to wait until the 88th minute if Janssen had started instead of Sissoko.
   213. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: April 05, 2017 at 05:13 PM (#5429674)
Sissoko somehow started for the French national team in the Euros, didn't he? Bewildering...
   214. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: April 05, 2017 at 10:23 PM (#5429820)
Sissoko seems incapable of completing simple passes. It's a bit bewildering.
   215. Richard Posted: April 06, 2017 at 07:59 AM (#5429897)
Leicester with Ranieri: 21 points from 25 games
Leicester without Ranieri: 15 points from 5 games

Plus they qualified for the CL last 8.

Admittedly, 4 of 5 games were at home, but even so...

   216. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: April 06, 2017 at 08:39 AM (#5429907)
Leicester with Ranieri: 21 points from 25 games
Leicester without Ranieri: 15 points from 5 games


We can read into this whatever we want I suppose but to me this calls the professionalism of the players into question. It's pretty clear they had given up on Ranieri and while it's fair to criticize him for that (it's his job to get them to play for him) this is a bit ridiculous.
   217. Baldrick Posted: April 08, 2017 at 12:54 PM (#5431531)
Pulisic Klaxon. Starting against Bayern. Already 2-1 to Bayern after 20 minutes. A lot still to be played.
   218. madvillain Posted: April 08, 2017 at 05:15 PM (#5431592)
Pulisic went 90 and maybe was dortmunds most dangerous player, not that that says much today. Dembele was putrid and Auba fluffed his one great chance then Robben put the game to bed moments later.

Bayern rampaged and Dortmund missed wiegel badly.
   219. jmurph Posted: April 10, 2017 at 05:10 PM (#5432521)
Wooooooowwww, that Arsenal-Palace score. That is amazing.
   220. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: April 10, 2017 at 06:19 PM (#5432577)
If Spurs somehow still manage to conspire to finish below Arsenal this season...I don't even know.
   221. Textbook Editor Posted: April 10, 2017 at 06:50 PM (#5432587)
Magic number is 11 points, according to MCoA: any combination of points won by Spurs + points dropped by Arsenal that adds up to 11 and Spurs finish above Arsenal.

Wenger has to be gone, right?

The real question is: no matter who they get in... can that be salvaged next season? I'm imagining no Europe at all will help a great deal... But they're sort of a mess, Sanchez will be leaving... It's not at all clear to me they bounce right back into the Top 4 in 2017-2018.
   222. jmurph Posted: April 11, 2017 at 09:35 AM (#5432850)
By all accounts Wenger is coming back. There was a report a couple weeks ago that it was done but they were waiting to announce it because of the optics of extending their manager during a free fall in the league table. Maybe things have changed, though.

I still think it's a top 4 job in the Premier League, and thus a top 8 or so job in the world. But the real question, in my mind, is whether they'll be willing to spend again this summer given the fairly poor return on the last few transfer windows.
   223. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: April 11, 2017 at 09:43 AM (#5432853)
The real question is: no matter who they get in... can that be salvaged next season? I'm imagining no Europe at all will help a great deal... But they're sort of a mess, Sanchez will be leaving... It's not at all clear to me they bounce right back into the Top 4 in 2017-2018.

That's absolutely not a guarantee. It's way, way harder to do that now.

Tottenham is a power now, and is going to be better than Arsenal for the forseeable future. Liverpool is coming out of their long-ish funk.

You just go up and down the line, and without Sanchez they really only have a few guys that would start for the other top teams. I think Man City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, even Man U have way more talent up and down the roster.
   224. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: April 11, 2017 at 09:45 AM (#5432856)
Pulisic went 90 and maybe was dortmunds most dangerous player, not that that says much today.

I only saw the middle half of the game, but I thought Pulisic looked pretty bad too. It was a really bad performance all around.
   225. jmurph Posted: April 11, 2017 at 01:09 PM (#5433045)
What do you guys make of this:

xGD table for Premier League (from the Challengers Podcast):

1. Manchester City 39.7
2. Spurs 29.2
3. United 25.9
4. Chelsea 25.8
5. Liverpool 24.7
6. Arsenal 16.3

The City number really surprises me. My sense all year has been that they're getting chances but not finishing, and this confirms that to some degree. But mostly they've allowed more than expected (they've allowed 8.8 more than xGA). Not unrelated, I read yesterday (but now can't find) that the last 7 shots on target against Bravo have all gone in. Not all his fault, surely, but that's uncanny.

Chelsea and Spurs dramatically overperforming, by this metric, City, Southampton, Stoke dramatically underperforming.
   226. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: April 11, 2017 at 01:24 PM (#5433065)
I agree with a lot of that table, but I do feel like that table's missing something mainly on the defensive side of the equation.

Part of it is that Liverpool and Man City have bad goalkeepers, but they also generally seem less organized in defense and less defensive in the center of the pitch compared to teams like Tottenham and Chelsea.

Is there judgment in determining the xG of shots (like how contested it was), or is it totally based on location of the shot?

   227. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: April 11, 2017 at 01:38 PM (#5433083)

I only saw the middle half of the game, but I thought Pulisic looked pretty bad too. It was a really bad performance all around.


MCoA xG: Bayern 1.0 (+1 pen) - Dortmund 0.9
11tegen11 xG: Bayern 0.9 (+1 pen) - Dortmund 0.88

Interesting write up on the game.
   228. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: April 11, 2017 at 02:02 PM (#5433107)
Explosion "involving" the Dortmund team bus. Center back Marc Bartra en route to the hospital with some reports saying he is in critical condition.
   229. madvillain Posted: April 11, 2017 at 02:20 PM (#5433124)
Explosion "involving" the Dortmund team bus. Center back Marc Bartra en route to the hospital with some reports saying he is in critical condition.


Jesus. Game will probably be postponed, official word is coming at 12:30 pacific.
   230. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: April 11, 2017 at 02:27 PM (#5433129)
From The Graun about 7 minutes ago:

Marc Bartra has been taken to hospital for treatment on a cut hand.


Hopefully that's true.
   231. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 11, 2017 at 02:33 PM (#5433134)
Yeah, I can't see anyone crazy enough to let this game go ahead. Apparently, per the Guardian MBM, there were three explosions, but the damage to the team bus was mainly to the windows.
   232. madvillain Posted: April 11, 2017 at 02:35 PM (#5433139)
Yeah, I can't see anyone crazy enough to let this game go ahead. Apparently, per the Guardian MBM, there were three explosions, but the damage to the team bus was mainly to the windows.


Game will be played tmr apparently. Bartra has "superficial wounds" on his arm and hands according to some on twitter. Probably got cut pretty good from the glass.
   233. jmurph Posted: April 11, 2017 at 02:37 PM (#5433140)
Is there judgment in determining the xG of shots (like how contested it was), or is it totally based on location of the shot?

I think MCoA's uses speed of attack and various game-state elements, among other things. Not sure how it was calculated for that table.

Subjectively, I've thought for several months now that Spurs consistently look like the best team in the league. The only caveat to that is that it seems like they finish absolutely every decent chance, and I guess you could make the argument that's not totally sustainable. But when the press is working they're absolutely terrifying in a way that Liverpool just isn't- some part of that is obviously a talent gap, but Liverpool also just seem much less disciplined and more reckless.
   234. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: April 11, 2017 at 03:01 PM (#5433154)
The only caveat to that is that it seems like they finish absolutely every decent chance,


As a Spurs fan, although it may seem that way, I can assure you it isn't true.

Hell, they blew the two easiest chances against Watford while converting shots that were taken from spots of much lower scoring probability, of much greater difficulty, or both.

I will agree, however, that when healthy, Spurs are likely the best team in the league. Frankly, at the end of this season, I think Spurs will have been the best team in the league over the last 2 seasons (they almost certainly will be by points total). It's why I hope they can pull off the FA Cup. It won't be easy at all, but it would be nice to see this squad rewarded for their quality.

   235. The Marksist Posted: April 11, 2017 at 04:36 PM (#5433232)
But when the press is working they're absolutely terrifying in a way that Liverpool just isn't- some part of that is obviously a talent gap, but Liverpool also just seem much less disciplined and more reckless.


This is at least partly intentional on Liverpool's part. 'Pool is much more of a counter-pressing team that uses the press to create fast attacks, while Spurs' press is somewhat more defensive. They definitely still fast-break out of turnovers, but it seems like they'll also press and possess in a way that Liverpool almost never do.
   236. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: April 11, 2017 at 04:38 PM (#5433234)
I can't see it happening again for Barca. PSG is one thing but Juve are another animal. That is a crushing defensive team.
   237. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: April 11, 2017 at 04:58 PM (#5433253)
Best league in the world, La Liga or EPL? By ELO it might soon be the Bundesliga. La Liga has held the top spot (mostly bigly) for the last 6 years, but German teams have three winnable games in the next two days, and with Barca's bad loss today, a good showing in those games could be enough to put them in the top spot.

The Bundesliga does have the advantage of only being 18 teams, bringing up their average. Spain has the advantage of being top heavy recently, which helps as most of the competitive games between leagues are at the top.

Edit: by ELO, the Juve/Barca game in Juve was only a very slight edge to Juve--like the betting odds, basically a toss-up. A 3-0 win will cause fairly large movement in ELO. I would have guessed the odds would have been in Juve's favor a bit more than that.
   238. Dale Sams Posted: April 11, 2017 at 05:51 PM (#5433298)
I wanted to make an all-thug/dirty player team for FM17. So I started off with Real Madrid, figuring I could just buy all the players I needed.

....a little research showed that starting off with Real was the right reasons, but not for what I intended.


Edit: Also, Joey Barton would rather play for Burnley than Madrid. Coward.
   239. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: April 11, 2017 at 07:06 PM (#5433325)
Caley's xG kind of confirmed my impression of that game. The main culprit for the scoreline was great finishing, not some sort of masterclass by Juve. Barca had their own chances and just didn't take them.
   240. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: April 11, 2017 at 07:07 PM (#5433327)
Latest on Bartra from The Graun:

Marc Bartra is to undergo surgery on his injured arm to repair a fracture and remove shrapnel.

   241. Baldrick Posted: April 11, 2017 at 08:07 PM (#5433351)
If Good Suarez had shown up today, it would probably have been a 2-3 result, and Barca would be in decent shape. Not that they played nearly up to their level from a few years ago, but it felt like a reasonably even game, except that Juve finished very well and Barca didn't.
   242. jmurph Posted: April 12, 2017 at 09:42 AM (#5433572)
Best league in the world, La Liga or EPL? By ELO it might soon be the Bundesliga. La Liga has held the top spot (mostly bigly) for the last 6 years, but German teams have three winnable games in the next two days, and with Barca's bad loss today, a good showing in those games could be enough to put them in the top spot.

My stance on this is that the Premier League is usually much deeper, particularly through the top half or so but even including the 14-17 kind of teams, but we've got years and years of evidence that the best teams in the other leagues are generally much better than the best teams in England. Someone (here? on twitter?) recently made the case that having only 1 team (Germany, kind of Italy) or 2-3 (Spain) elite teams means they vacuum up all of the best players from other teams in the same league, whereas in England you have a top 6 competing for that same intra-league talent. That makes a lot of sense to me.
   243. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: April 12, 2017 at 09:50 AM (#5433582)
Someone (here? on twitter?) recently made the case that having only 1 team (Germany, kind of Italy) or 2-3 (Spain) elite teams means they vacuum up all of the best players from other teams in the same league, whereas in England you have a top 6 competing for that same intra-league talent. That makes a lot of sense to me.


I think that's part of it. However I think there are two factors that account for the failures of the EPL in Europe;

1. I agree with you that the EPL has more depth than other leagues (maybe not Bundesliga at this point). Because of that the physical grind that EPL teams go through week in and week out is greater than other leagues so those other teams are able to be fresher and stronger in Europe.

2. Something I've been thinking about. England is the west coast of Europe. As I recall with US sport there is a much greater physical demand due to travel/time changes on the west coast teams. Does England suffer from this in European competition? I'd be interested to see if English road teams perform materially worse than expectations.
   244. Mefisto Posted: April 12, 2017 at 10:06 AM (#5433600)
England is only a 1 hour time difference from every country west of Ukraine. I doubt that's enough to affect performance.
   245. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 12, 2017 at 10:17 AM (#5433606)
And regarding travel time, Spain is further from northern France, Germany, and Eastern Europe than the UK, and Spanish teams do fine. I think it's more that La Liga is extraordinarily top heavy, I think if the bottom 10 of the EPL and La Liga played as a league the top teams would more likely be English and the relegated clubs would be two Disney teams and Sunderland.
   246. Mefisto Posted: April 12, 2017 at 11:42 AM (#5433703)
I see the PL as the National League in the 50s and the other European leagues as the AL from the 50s (dominated by one team, with occasional success by other teams). The NL was the better overall league, but the single most successful team was in the AL.
   247. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: April 12, 2017 at 11:55 AM (#5433713)

My stance on this is that the Premier League is usually much deeper, particularly through the top half or so but even including the 14-17 kind of teams, but we've got years and years of evidence that the best teams in the other leagues are generally much better than the best teams in England. Someone (here? on twitter?) recently made the case that having only 1 team (Germany, kind of Italy) or 2-3 (Spain) elite teams means they vacuum up all of the best players from other teams in the same league, whereas in England you have a top 6 competing for that same intra-league talent. That makes a lot of sense to me.


Agree with that. It also seems like a lot of the top South American and continental European players prefer to play on the continent than in England.

Take a couple of guys like Douglas Costa and Arturo Vidal. They went to Bayern on relatively cheap transfers. Why was an English team not spending 50 million pounds on them?

Similarly, I think Germany and Spain and Italy have been considerably better than England over the last decade, and it's not surprising the best players from those countries would rather play at home, all else being equal.
   248. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: April 13, 2017 at 11:16 AM (#5434407)
MCoA alert!

I'm surprised I missed this when it was published in The Graun ... did anyone post it here?


The first time I came across the phrase “expected goals” was in November 2015. I had disappeared into a Twitter wormhole and when I emerged I was on a site called Statsbomb and an article entitled “Leicester City and their Trip to the Kamikaze Zone”.

At that point in their miracle season, Leicester were merely unlikely upstarts, third in the table with Jamie Vardy nine games into his goalscoring sequence. But the author of the article, Mohamed Mohamed, had identified something rather unusual about the Foxes. The rate at which they were scoring and conceding goals was incredibly high. It was a rate that, if continued until the end of the season, would make them only the fifth side to score more than 60 goals and concede more than 50 in the Premier League. Of the four other occasions such a feat had been achieved, one was by Brendan Rodgers’s title‑dropping Liverpool side and another two by Sir Bobby Robson’s Newcastle United. Clearly something unusual was happening but the kamikaze football was not backed up when you looked at the data – their expected goal difference ratio was only 0.5.

Expected what? Zero point, eh? I may not have realised it but at that moment I had stumbled on a new branch of football analytics, one created in public, often by the public, and one that seems likely to transform the way people watch and talk about the game. I was hardly the first to discover it – there was already a thriving digital community – but at the same time I had never heard it mentioned in any pub, football commentary or match report. I felt a bit like a naturalist might when they stumbled across a silverback gorilla: scared perhaps, certainly wary, but compelled to keep looking.

What exactly are “expected goals” (or as the shorthand has it, xG)? Here is one of the men responsible for its development, Michael Caley, to define the metric in layman’s terms: “The idea is to quantify the likelihood of a goal being scored from a particular shot attempt (or other scoring chance). This is an idea that I think is quite intuitive. ‘We need to create better scoring chances’ is something managers have said forever, and xG is basically just a quantification of that notion. The broad concept has probably been around for a long time in football – Charles Reep’s notion that ‘one of every nine shots is scored’ is a sort of early version of xG.”


Full Article
   249. Mefisto Posted: April 13, 2017 at 11:46 AM (#5434427)
I'm surprised I missed this when it was published in The Graun ... did anyone post it here?


See 197.
   250. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: April 15, 2017 at 09:45 AM (#5435808)
I don't often (ever?) root for Mourinho, but I'll be doing so tomorrow.

COYS!!!
   251. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: April 15, 2017 at 09:52 AM (#5435811)
Another routine home win for Spurs against weak opposition, but the only two home games remaining are against Arsenal and Man United.
   252. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: April 15, 2017 at 10:00 AM (#5435812)
Shrug.

Injuries notwithstanding, they'll be favored against both.

Frankly, (injuries notwithstanding) they ought to be favorites against every team they play from here on out ...

[edit] Spurs v Chelsea in the FA Cup ought to be epic ...
   253. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: April 15, 2017 at 01:12 PM (#5435847)
Son has been so good this year. It's crazy to think early in the year there was talk about him not being able to break into the team and potentially leaving.

The military thing is a drag, though, for both him and the team. I mean, I get if you're going to have the rules you want consistent exceptions. But he could go down as one of the all-time great South Korean athletes, probably no worse than one of the 3 best soccer players of all time. I think it'd be a shame if his prime were gutted.
   254. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: April 15, 2017 at 01:32 PM (#5435853)

The military thing is a drag, though, for both him and the team. I mean, I get if you're going to have the rules you want consistent exceptions. But he could go down as one of the all-time great South Korean athletes, probably no worse than one of the 3 best soccer players of all time. I think it'd be a shame if his prime were gutted.
Not sure why soccer should get a special exemption. There are lots of Koreans that are the best and/or most famous Koreans at what they do. Can he put off the service until he is close to 35? The best years of his career would almost certainly be over by then.
   255. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: April 15, 2017 at 02:07 PM (#5435870)
Not sure why soccer should get a special exemption. There are lots of Koreans that are the best and/or most famous Koreans at what they do. Can he put off the service until he is close to 35? The best years of his career would almost certainly be over by then.

It's way higher profile and brings... I don't know, something, prestige maybe to the country? I mean, isn't that really all the other athletic exemptions are for when you get down to it?

Though I think the point's a good one. I don't think it should be just athletics, if there was an equally high profile non-athletic person/role like CEO of a major company.
   256. Baldrick Posted: April 15, 2017 at 06:42 PM (#5436006)
NWSL is back!

Attended my first Dash game this afternoon. Was a little disappointed at the crowd size. Not terrible, but lower than you'd hope in the season opener. But it was a really great game. Sorry, Arjun, about the result. Chicago were probably the better team on the day, all things considered. But that moment where Chicago was inches from a goal only to see Brooks find Ohai and score at the other end was decisive. Plus, a glorious finish from Daly.

I liked how Chicago set up, in theory, and Press was very good in that roving #10 kind of role. But if they're going to play with that pinched diamond and with Press withdraw from the frontline, they desperately need better finishing from the forwards. Going forward, I think they probably need to start out the way they played in the final 20, with Huerta on the right, DiBernardo in the attacking mid role, and with Press up top. Also, I know she only got a few minutes, but Summer Green looked good. Excited to see more of her this year.

For Houston, the defense was...yikes. They could easily have conceded two or three, and are going to be walking a tightrope all year. The marking in the box was excellent, but...you can't give your opponents 50 touches a game in front of your goal and expect to close them all down. But oh boy that counterattack is going to be lethal. Houston still looks to me like a bottom-half side, but I saw a lot that was encouraging today.
   257. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: April 15, 2017 at 09:37 PM (#5436054)
I don't know, something, prestige maybe to the country? I mean, isn't that really all the other athletic exemptions are for when you get down to it?
Pretty sure I would have lose respect for Korea if they started exempting people because they were good at something and/or famous. Supposedly (from the little I have read about it) Koreans generally feel the same way.

Exemption for winning a medal or the like while performing in the name of the country itself feels a bit different, even if I don't necessarily agree with it either.

If I were Son I'd wait until the last minute to do it, then join the MLS after. :)
   258. Mefisto Posted: April 16, 2017 at 03:57 PM (#5436204)
That was one of the best coaching jobs I've ever seen by Mourinho today. And the players executed it incredibly well.
   259. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: April 16, 2017 at 04:18 PM (#5436213)
Chelsea's remaining schedule;

vs. Southhampton
at Everton
vs. Middlesboro
at West Brom
vs.Watford
vs. Sunderland

Tottenham's remaining schedule;

at Crystal Palace
vs. Arsenal
at West Ham
vs. ManUnited
at Leicester
at Hull

neither team has a particularly harsh schedule but I think Spurs' is noticeably harder. Two games against top six teams while the toughest game Chelsea have is at Everton. The bigger problem is Chelsea are playing several games against teams that are safe or in the case of Sunderland will likely already have been relegated. 'Boro are the only team that might be in that desperation mode. I'm just trying to see where Chelsea would be likely to drop four points and it looks to me like that Everton game will be all they need. Even a draw in that one should be enough.
   260. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: April 16, 2017 at 07:14 PM (#5436272)
The difference between the top 7 and the rest of the Premier League is ridiculous. The top 7 all have at least a +22 GD. The rest of the league is -3 or worse.
   261. Textbook Editor Posted: April 16, 2017 at 11:34 PM (#5436384)
#259--Spurs basically have to win out, and that's a really tough ask given their schedule. I mean, if they even drop 2 points somewhere, they then need Chelsea to drop 6 to then win on GD (assuming they still have that advantage 6 games from now, but it seems likely). I can squint and see them dropping 2 points at Everton (because Everton is gunning for a European place), but finding 2 more dropped points is hard (let alone the task of winning out for Spurs). I suppose they could drop 2 at West Brom but... yeah it's really hard to see how this plays out where Spurs gets the 4 points they need to win on GD. But, then, crazy #### happens... I think Spurs are better equipped this year to just focus on the next 3 points to be had and not think about anything more than that.

I think MCoA's projections had Spurs now at 18% to win the title; that still seems an optimistic number to me. I suppose if they can win at CP and home to Arsenal in the next 2 games while Chelsea drop 2 points to either Southhampton or Everton (leaving Spurs 2 back with 4 to play)... I think THEN I might say Spurs have maybe a 25% shot at the title, but even then... I mean it's really Chelsea's to blow here (as it was with Leicester last season, and they didn't).

That was one of the best coaching jobs I've ever seen by Mourinho today. And the players executed it incredibly well.


Man-marking is an incredibly hard thing to do for 90 minutes; it was an impressive feat all around. I don't expect Spurs will try anything similar to that this coming Saturday, but it may give some other teams down the stretch some ideas for something to try...
   262. Mefisto Posted: April 17, 2017 at 10:30 PM (#5436920)
Mallory Pugh is leaving UCLA and turning pro. I assume she waited for the new CBA to announce this.

Washington have first pick, but I suppose she could go to Europe as an alternative. If Andi Sullivan opts for the draft (I doubt she will), it would become extremely top heavy.
   263. Baldrick Posted: April 18, 2017 at 02:20 PM (#5437346)
Some women's soccer linkage:
- Best take I've seen yet on the various issues raised by the Pugh announcement, from Steph Yang at SSFC.
- My new tactics column (Route Two Soccer), kicking things off with a post about Houston's hot-and-cold 4-3-3.

Really curious to see the numbers on the Lifetime game this weekend. I'm sure it got WAY more eyeballs than any youtube stream could have, but that could be true and the numbers could still end up being a little disappointing. So I'm hoping they did alright (especially given what a mess the other streaming situation has been).
   264. Mefisto Posted: April 18, 2017 at 03:08 PM (#5437425)
Yeah, that's a good article by Yang.

As for the 4-3-3, I'd like to see the NT use it with Brian at the base. However, I understand that she really wants to play higher and that Houston will let her. This suggests (to me) that Brooks will stay in the deeper role when Brian returns.
   265. Baldrick Posted: April 18, 2017 at 03:42 PM (#5437484)
Yeah, I've mostly talked myself into believing that will be the best thing for Houston, even though I really don't think it's her actual best position. But they've got Brooks, who is more than adequate at the true holding role. And they don't really have the personnel to take particular advantage of using Brian where she might actually be best (except when they have Good Carli playing).

For the NT, though, as soon as Brian is back to full health and ability they REALLY need to convince her that she'll be at her very best in that deep holding role, and help her develop the technique to manage the game from there.
   266. Mefisto Posted: April 18, 2017 at 05:13 PM (#5437560)
That was a disgracefully bad call to send off Vidal. Really a shame.
   267. Textbook Editor Posted: April 18, 2017 at 07:22 PM (#5437669)
#266--It wasn't just that call (which was insane)--it was that Ronaldo was 2 body lengths offside for his 2nd goal, and--I think--also offside for his 3rd goal.

The red card to Vidal was bad, but it's a judgment, the guy was behind the play not in front of it, the RM player made the most of it... Those things will happen. It sucks, it's wrong, and it shouldn't happen--but it will.

The offside for Ronaldo's 2nd goal was so utterly and completely obvious that the linesman who didn't call it should never work a CL match again. It was a disgrace--a clear, obvious, blatant error. The offside for his 3rd goal was probably not called because the linesman was either trailing the play (because it developed quickly), or because assumed Marcello wouldn't square the ball and, when he did, wasn't going to flag an offside in a 2-v-GK situation in Madrid against Ronaldo. (Yes, I'm saying the linesman lacked the guts to make that call.)

They were two shocking calls. I often say to my players that you play to the whistle and abide by whatever call gets made because (a) it isn't changing and (b) you're going to have bad calls called against you, get used to it. What I get upset about is when refs/linesmen are not in the proper position to make a call--because that's not a judgment, that their lack of discipline/professionalism to be in the correct position to then make a call. If a linesman's trailing a play and is out of position to make an offside judgment, I'm not upset by the call/no call--I'm upset because, damn it, you made a guess as to what the call should be, because you were not in the proper position to know what the right call was.

Sorry, rant over. Can you tell I had some bad offside calls in a U12 tournament this past weekend? :)
   268. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: April 18, 2017 at 07:45 PM (#5437690)
There was also a really bad call that seems to have gone under the radar, when Lewandowski was 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper and wrongfully called offside. Same linesman that wrongfully did not flag Ronaldo offside...
   269. Mefisto Posted: April 18, 2017 at 08:14 PM (#5437708)
@267: Photos show that CR7 was offside on his second overtime goal too. The AR was yards out of position.

As for the red card, well we don't have a camera angle for the referee's perspective (at least not that I've seen), so maybe it looked bad to him. But the views I saw make it totally obvious that Vidal took the ball -- there wasn't even a foul on the play -- and it's hard to see how the ref could have missed that.
   270. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: April 18, 2017 at 09:49 PM (#5437789)
I don't think you can send someone off if you don't have a good angle unless it's like a chase down of a breakaway in the box and looks bad. If you judge something as a yellow card foul that was clean, you obviously didn't have a good look. On an open field play around midfield, just acknowledge you didn't have a good look.
   271. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: April 18, 2017 at 09:50 PM (#5437792)
####, the refs ruined that game. I think Robben's penalty was pretty soft, FWIW, too.
   272. nick swisher hygiene Posted: April 18, 2017 at 10:16 PM (#5437817)
How could the 3rd Madrid goal have been allowed? It seems like....that's a youth soccer level error. Ronaldo is goal-hanging offside, clearly involved with the play, gets a cross while two metres offside and converts

Their second goal was just a routine "Ronaldo slightly offside" goal: happens what, half a dozen times a year?

But for me it's the 3rd that's a jaw-dropper...

   273. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: April 18, 2017 at 10:22 PM (#5437821)
I will also say, and I don't mean to suggest the refs didn't ####### ruin this game because they totally did... but that yellow that Vidal picked up early was so ####### stupid. He cleated a dude's heel way after he let go of the ball. With how Vidal plays (borderline reckless and physical) I thought that could bite him in the ass.
   274. Richard Posted: April 19, 2017 at 12:32 AM (#5437915)
The only pleasure you can take from that game is at least it's a team as big and horrible as Real themselves are that got screwed over.
   275. Textbook Editor Posted: April 19, 2017 at 12:37 AM (#5437919)
How could the 3rd Madrid goal have been allowed? It seems like....that's a youth soccer level error.


In real time it looked to me like he was ahead of the ball, not behind it (had he been behind it, of course, he would have been onside). If the AR was way behind the play, though, it's something that's easily missed and in that kind of situation (home team, extra time, Ronaldo), there's probably not an AR in the world who would have whistled that for offside without being 100% sure.

FWIW, in youth soccer, there are two things that grate me: (1) Parents calling for every inadvertent handball to be called, and (2) Parents having nary a clue as to the offsides rules. My favorite is when they call for players to be whistled for offsides when they are in their own half (where you can't be offside), or when they don't realize that if you are behind the ball when it's played to you that you can't be offside, regardless of the number of defenders you may (or may not) be behind.
   276. Textbook Editor Posted: April 19, 2017 at 01:03 AM (#5437927)
####, the refs ruined that game. I think Robben's penalty was pretty soft, FWIW, too.


Yeah, this too. This will get lost with all the nuttiness that followed, but it was a dark arts-style penalty shout (IMHO).

I recognized the ref as someone I've seen do big European games before--and usually in such cases you don't expect shocking decisions, but this was a train wreck that involved the center ref and both ARs (each of whom, IMO, missed a pretty clear offsides).

The real shame is that both teams came to play and it was an utterly engrossing, entertaining match right up to the Robben penalty, at which point all sorts of things started getting crazy, and the crazy just didn't stop.
   277. Sean Forman Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:05 PM (#5439046)
I think Ronaldo pretty clearly handled the 2nd goal with his upper arm as well as being offsides. And Casemiro had about 3 yellows worth of fouls. Vidal probably could have been sent off earlier anyways. I just was shocked after Casemiro hadn't been a few minutes earlier fouling Robben.
   278. Mefisto Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:53 PM (#5439088)
I kept thinking the ref would "make up" for the bad call on Vidal* by sending off Casemiro too.

*As you say, Vidal could have been sent off on other occasions; I just think the specific one was a bad call.
   279. nick swisher hygiene Posted: April 20, 2017 at 03:34 PM (#5439143)
275--Yeah, watching again it's still clear to me, but I way exaggerated. The 2nd goal, OTOH, was pretty bad...
   280. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: April 20, 2017 at 03:57 PM (#5439174)
Ronaldo's third goal was very hard for the linesman, so I don't really blame him. Ronaldo's second goal was just a shockingly bad mistake by the linesman. There's really no excuse for it at this level. Agreed that some of the other calls and no-calls were questionable to outright bad as well, but that offside call was truly unforgivable. It's the kind of call that makes you want to give up on watching the game as a fan.
   281. Mefisto Posted: April 20, 2017 at 04:58 PM (#5439233)
If the AR had been in position, I could have accepted the failure to call Ronaldo offside on the third goal; as you say, it was a tough call. But he was yards behind the play. See it here: https://twitter.com/undress_tabs/status/854440919038341120
   282. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: April 20, 2017 at 05:36 PM (#5439256)
It's hard to keep up with the players on a play like that.
   283. Dale Sams Posted: April 20, 2017 at 05:51 PM (#5439264)
They should move penalty shoot out spots to the 18-20 yard line.
   284. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: April 21, 2017 at 01:08 PM (#5439815)
They should move penalty shoot out spots to the 18-20 yard line.
I would go for that (on PKs). For fouls in the box I would be interested to see a "spot of the foul", with a minimum distance from the goal line. I'd also be in favor of rounding out the corners of the penalty box. Speaking of which, did anyone see the PK call against Celtic? Going away from goal, in the very corner of the box, with a blatant dive.
   285. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: April 21, 2017 at 01:10 PM (#5439816)
I'm disappointed to see an all Madrid semi-final in the CL. I would have preferred either of the other two possibilities. I like the UEFA draw of ManU against Celta.
   286. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: April 21, 2017 at 01:28 PM (#5439823)
For fouls in the box I would be interested to see a "spot of the foul", with a minimum distance from the goal line.


That would be interesting. I wonder if it might result in more PKs given since it wouldn't necessarily be a gimme.

I'm disappointed to see an all Madrid semi-final in the CL.


Oh I was thrilled by it. I had no interest in another Madrid derby in the final. If Atleti had won one of the two then yeah, let's have a rubber match.
   287. jmurph Posted: April 21, 2017 at 03:03 PM (#5439865)
Oh I was thrilled by it. I had no interest in another Madrid derby in the final. If Atleti had won one of the two then yeah, let's have a rubber match.

Agreed, though I guess I would have liked to see both Madrid teams get knocked out in the semis, if possible (given that that was unlikely, this is the next best scenario).
   288. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: April 22, 2017 at 12:48 AM (#5440224)
When Manny Machado homered on Friday night the ball landed near a Wenger Out sign in the stands.
   289. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: April 22, 2017 at 12:07 PM (#5440316)
#THFC: Lloris (C), Trippier, Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Wanyama, Dembele, Son, Eriksen, Dele, Kane


And supposedly, that's not a 4-2-3-1, but a 3-4-2-1 with Son at LWB.

Balls!
   290. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: April 22, 2017 at 12:21 PM (#5440324)
Well, balls.
   291. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: April 22, 2017 at 12:36 PM (#5440332)
HE SCORES WHEN HE WANTS!!!
   292. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: April 22, 2017 at 12:45 PM (#5440337)
The one reason to believe Spurs can still win the league is that Chelseas defense has gone into the toilet. When was their last clean sheet? January or something like that?
   293. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: April 22, 2017 at 12:59 PM (#5440341)
Moses went down easily but I think that's the right call. Son didn't get the ball or really even close to it.
   294. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: April 22, 2017 at 01:00 PM (#5440344)
Oh, Son ...
   295. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: April 22, 2017 at 01:01 PM (#5440345)
Oh what a surprise, you put a forward in a defensive role and he makes a completely ####### ridiculous challenge like that.
   296. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: April 22, 2017 at 01:03 PM (#5440347)
And now Lloris handles outside of the area (but it gets missed). Spurs are playing way better but they're making stupid, stupid mistakes.
   297. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: April 22, 2017 at 01:05 PM (#5440348)
Took long enough for Alonso to pick up that yellow.
   298. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: April 22, 2017 at 01:28 PM (#5440357)
And now they come!!!
   299. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: April 22, 2017 at 02:13 PM (#5440386)
Just one of those ####### games. Spurs were better but Chelsea won from random bullshit, basically.

Also, it feels weird to complain about the refereeing (given the Lloris incident), but my god Atkinson was just letting Chelsea players (particularly Alonso, Kante, and Luiz) foul Spurs all day.
   300. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: April 22, 2017 at 02:22 PM (#5440395)
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