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Thursday, February 04, 2016

OT: Soccer Thread - February 2016

Coming up in the month of February:

Man City v. Leicester (2/6)
USWNT Olympic Qualifying (2/10 - 2/21)
Juventus v. Napoli (2/13)
Arsenal v. Leicester and Man City v. Spurs (2/14)
The return of the Champions League (starting 2/16)
Madrid Derby (2/27)
League Cup final (2/28)

Probably lots of other things I’m failing to remember.

Baldrick Posted: February 04, 2016 at 02:37 PM | 791 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: football, off-topic, soccer

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   1. Baldrick Posted: February 04, 2016 at 08:28 PM (#5149867)
The article discussed at the end of the January thread re: US Soccer and the USWNT seems like the best assessment I've seen. At least: it clarifies things that confused me about other accounts I've read.

It definitely puts the federation's actions in better light. Not that I'm on their side in general, just that I do think they have a much stronger legal argument than it initially appeared. The terms of the existing agreement/contract are terrible, though, and from a normative position I'm all for anything that gives the players more leverage to bargain a better deal. But it does seem like they might have trouble getting this particular argument to stick.
   2. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 04, 2016 at 09:09 PM (#5149899)
So there is a lot of noise that mourinho to United is done. I don't even want to imagine how much money is going to Pedro mendes.
   3. Textbook Editor Posted: February 05, 2016 at 12:44 AM (#5150022)
So there is a lot of noise that mourinho to United is done. I don't even want to imagine how much money is going to Pedro mendes.


If true, I think it's a mistake--as much as I will enjoy LOLing the first Mou-Pep game in 2016. But that squad + Mou just seems like a very bad fit. Of course, as a Spurs supporter I fully embrace this as The Man U "plan"--after all, I want CL football for more than just one year going forward.
   4. RMc's Got a Lot of Trouble at Stake Posted: February 05, 2016 at 07:48 AM (#5150049)
USA-Canada friendly tonight (Friday).
CONCACAF Champions League, Feb 23-24.
   5. Shoeless Swedish Chef Posted: February 05, 2016 at 08:53 AM (#5150068)
Of course, as a Spurs supporter I fully embrace this as The Man U "plan"--after all, I want CL football for more than just one year going forward.

Both Spurs and United are going to the CL, Leicester will fall off, such is the way of the brave minnow.
   6. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 05, 2016 at 09:09 AM (#5150073)
I don't know, Leicester are 10 points up on Man U so if Leicester can just play at a mid-table pace I don't think Man U can catch them. (Man U is only a point above West Ham, too, so there's no guarantee Man U gets 3rd or 4th even if Leicester crap their pants. West Ham with Payet is a really good team.)
   7. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 05, 2016 at 09:46 AM (#5150100)
How Spur-y would this (very far-fetched scenario) be? Spurs finish fourth, United finish fifth but win Europa League and Chelsea win Champions League?

The United squad has gotten better even if it is a bit disjointed. I'm sure they'll be a clear out of unwanteds (Mata, Fellaini, a CB or two and maybe Herera), but Martial should be great on the counter, and Memphis could be. Schneiderlin would be a good central midfielder and Mourinho supposedly did want Rooney at some point. A defense of Shaw-new CB-Smalling-Darmian/new RB isn't terrible. There isn't any quality depth, but he's going to have a lot of money and he doesn't really rotate anyway.

I'm just trying to talk myself into it. He's not a long-term manager that most United fans want, but with enough Glazer money he could make it a title-challenging team pretty quickly.
   8. jmurph Posted: February 05, 2016 at 09:47 AM (#5150102)
I agree with Shooty, I think Leicester are the clear favorites ahead of United, given the point difference. There's also the small matter that they're likely actually better than United.
   9. jmurph Posted: February 05, 2016 at 09:48 AM (#5150105)
How Spur-y would this (very far-fetched scenario) be? Spurs finish fourth, United finish fifth but win Europa League and Chelsea win Champions League?


The only thing in that scenario that I find impossible is Chelsea winning the Champions League. That would be shocking.
   10. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 05, 2016 at 09:55 AM (#5150114)
That was also what I think the most unlikely/impossible part of the scenario. However, they won that Champions League playing like crap in the league too - of course this year they are much, much worse. But they are talented and since they don't have anything to play for in the league they can concentrate on the FA Cup and Champions League.
   11. jmurph Posted: February 05, 2016 at 10:01 AM (#5150121)
True. But I could be remembering that year wrong, but it seems like there are more dominant teams still remaining in the Champions League. Even if one or two of them pick each other off, they're still going to have to beat 2 or more really great teams.
   12. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 05, 2016 at 10:05 AM (#5150126)
How Spur-y would this (very far-fetched scenario) be? Spurs finish fourth, United finish fifth but win Europa League and Chelsea win Champions League?

SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP
   13. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 05, 2016 at 10:10 AM (#5150132)
I have to say, I'm enjoying all the articles that have Man U deciding whether they want Mourinho or Pochettino to be their manager as if there was no obstacle to hiring either and they just need to decide.

Less snarkily, I wonder why Ronald Koeman isn't getting linked to either the Chelsea or Man U gig. He's got the pedigree and he strikes me as someone with the arrogance to dictate to Man U's board what he needs to win and not the other way around. I think I'd take a punt on him rather than hire Mourinho and then be forced to spunk over hundreds of millions of pounds on Mendez clients. For Chelsea, I think he'd step in and just do a good job. He knows what he's doing and he also hates Wenger. What's not to like?

edit: By the way, my favorite thing about Pochettino? He doesn't have an agent.
   14. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 05, 2016 at 10:21 AM (#5150145)
Alex Teixeira has signed in China for 50 million Euros prompting Wenger to opine that the PL needs to be worried about Chinese money. Ah, Wenger. I think it's the exact opposite--now PL teams have a place to sell players they don't want for exorbitant prices. (Also, what's the deal with the Chinese fetish for Brazilian players? All the big money moves they've made this window seems to be for Brazilians. Gerson, Ramirez, Teixeira, etc...they even offered Chelsea 50 million pounds for Oscar.)
   15. jmurph Posted: February 05, 2016 at 10:26 AM (#5150151)
I think Chelsea should go for Pellegrini, assuming they can't get Simeone. As for United, two years of Mourinho is probably the perfect choice, really. He'll get them back to or close to the top and then you maybe try to hire the long-term guy to replace him when it goes stale.

And I've been wondering when the Pochettino rumors would start. Makes a lot of sense.
   16. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 05, 2016 at 10:37 AM (#5150168)
For Chelsea, I think he'd step in and just do a good job. He knows what he's doing and he also hates Wenger. What's not to like?

I'm down!
   17. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 05, 2016 at 10:51 AM (#5150183)
I have to say, I'm enjoying all the articles that have Man U deciding whether they want Mourinho or Pochettino to be their manager as if there was no obstacle to hiring either and they just need to decide.


Isn't the only obstacle money? If United offer enough money to Levy or Mourinho, they're going to say yes. Money hasn't been obstacle for United in a while.

I just think that Brazilian players are more likely to move to China. I don't think there are as many national team implications for Brazilians who play in different leagues around the world. For most European players, playing in an inferior league is going to affect your chances of getting called up.
   18. Randy Jones Posted: February 05, 2016 at 11:14 AM (#5150206)
I just think that Brazilian players are more likely to move to China. I don't think there are as many national team implications for Brazilians who play in different leagues around the world. For most European players, playing in an inferior league is going to affect your chances of getting called up.
The article I read on the Teixeira sale said just the opposite. That it was possibly a bad move for Teixeira because it would reduce his likelihood of getting time with the national team and that Brazilians in leagues outside of the big European leagues already had this issue. Specifically mentioned the Brazilians who played for Shakhtar Donetsk having trouble getting call ups to the national team.
   19. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 05, 2016 at 11:24 AM (#5150217)
Specifically mentioned the Brazilians who played for Shakhtar Donetsk having trouble getting call ups to the national team.

This is definitely true, at least: Willian only became a mainstay when he moved to England, Douglas Costa right around/before when he moved to Bayern (admittedly, he also upped his game), Teixeira has struggled to break in (WHICH MAKES NO SENSE), I don't think Taison has ever had a call-up (actually, is he eligible for Ukraine now?), Luiz Adriano has played roughly two friendlies in 2014, and Fred has only played a few times for Brazil (he's also not very good, so there's that).*

Bernard is the weird exception. I still don't know why Scolari liked him so much. Is there such a shortage of short wingers who will cross the ball?

EDIT: forgot about Fernandinho (I knew I was forgetting one of the DMs), who has only started to see serious time on the Nats in the last couple of years, despite being excellent at Shakhtar, and a fairly similar player to the likes of Ramires or Luiz Gustavo.

*there are a couple of other players, like Jadson or Fernando, who probably wouldn't have been much in the mix outside of a few friendlies anyway, though, notably, Jadson got called up *after*.
   20. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 05, 2016 at 11:31 AM (#5150224)
Maybe it's an "out-of-sight out-of-mind" sort of thing. With all these Brazilians in China now, they can't be ignored.

Also, I just remembered that being called up to the Brazilian national team requires all sorts of kickbacks and agent connections.
   21. Randy Jones Posted: February 05, 2016 at 11:34 AM (#5150231)
Except that as Arjun points out, Shakhtar alone had like 5 or 6 Brazilian players and those guys at least got exposure playing in the CL. Don't see how it would be tougher to ignore the few players on different teams in the Chinese league.
   22. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 05, 2016 at 11:36 AM (#5150234)
I still don't know why Scolari liked him so much.

It's Brazilian football so I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't Scolari picking him.

Isn't the only obstacle money?

There's no obstacle for hiring Mourinho. He'd take the job for free! With Pochettino the obstacle is he has carved out a powerful role for himself at Spurs--he's getting his own people hired and he has veto power on transfers. I can't see Man U granting him the same kind of influence. And, as I mentioned above, he doesn't have an agent pushing him to make a move or to do business for certain players. Tottenham's payments to agents have been cut in half since he became manager. Those guys must hate him.
   23. Randy Jones Posted: February 05, 2016 at 11:37 AM (#5150235)
As to Mourinho going to United, I guess it could work for a couple of seasons. We'll have to wait and see. I would have preferred that they go with someone who might stay for more than 2 or 3 seasons though.
   24. Mefisto Posted: February 05, 2016 at 11:55 AM (#5150245)
I've said it before, but I see Mourinho as a potential disaster at United.
   25. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 05, 2016 at 12:14 PM (#5150264)
Yea you're right, I think it just comes down to agent connections, or be on a big enough team that the powers-that-be in Brazil have to pick you so might as well get your payday.
   26. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 05, 2016 at 12:22 PM (#5150270)
Amusingly enough, I half wonder if Teixeira's prospects for getting selected in the short term have actually gone up, if only because of the size of his transfer fee making it harder to not select him.

It's also worth noting that the "playing outside of a big league = no spot on the National Team" theorem isn't absolute: Hulk's had (far too many) chances on the Nats for years now.
   27. Spivey Posted: February 05, 2016 at 12:53 PM (#5150280)
I've said it before, but I see Mourinho as a potential disaster at United.

I think he could be, but I think they are a team that needs to get a whole lot tougher, younger, and athletic and he may be the manager to do it. He also seems like a manager that could handle the backlash of benching Rooney.

The team still needs a bit of an overhaul in my mind, and I think his ideas of overhauling teams are what United need.

It's also worth noting that the "playing outside of a big league = no spot on the National Team" theorem isn't absolute: Hulk's had (far too many) chances on the Nats for years now.

I haven't understood Brazil's squad selection for a while. I mean, Fred started at striker in the semi-finals of the World Cup. Hulk is better than Fred. I realize part of it is just that I don't know their players as well because they tend to play outside of England. It's hard for me to imagine that Douglas Costa wasn't one of their 23 best players for the 2014 World Cup, though.
   28. Topher Posted: February 05, 2016 at 01:46 PM (#5150300)
I'm not a fan of Mourinho at United. But ... what would be a potential disaster for them?

I did not think Mourinho would be a good replacement for Fergie. And I continued to think in the immediate aftermath of the Moyes era that Mourinho wouldn't be a good candidate. But I'm not sure that he'd be a disaster in the way I once did.

In my mind, if United isn't a title contender, the season is a disaster. But those are Fergie expectations and I'm starting to think I need to recalibrate after United has failed to make the Champions League, then failed to get out of group stage, and potentially failing to qualify yet again this season.

I have no idea if this is true or not. But it seems to me that United has a massive amount of future income that is in jeopardy if they miss the Champions League one more time, definitely twice. I don't see how they can keep their sponsors if they are playing on Thursday nights instead of Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

I don't see Mourinho winning titles at United. At least not until a third season where he'd potentially be able to overturn a good chunk of the roster. But at this point, I think United has to just hope that they can make the Champions League over the next couple of seasons while they try to correct the mistakes of the past 3 years. And warts in all, I think Mourinho might be your best bet to get a top 4 place.

I also think Mourinho is more likely to have something silly like United finishing in 9th take place if the experiment were to blow up on itself. But I think with Mourinho you're less likely to end up in a 5th or 6th place spot. It's either going to "work" by getting a top 4 spot or it's going to be a disaster.

I'm making up the numbers below to just make my point. Don't hold me to the actual numbers.

If the percentages are: Champions / Champions League / Europa / No Europe

I see Mourinho as 20 / 60 / 5 / 15

A "generic" manager I'd see as 10 / 60 / 25 / 5

Again ... ignore the actual numbers above ... but I think if you are United, you risk the "disaster" of No Europe to hopefully have a better chance of Champions League qualification. I'd be nervous as one could be, but I think I'd be willing to give Jose the reigns.
   29. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 05, 2016 at 02:44 PM (#5150342)
Modern English

This isn't to pick on Liverpool, it's just the way of the world. This passage particularly amuses me:


All Premier League clubs will benefit from the new £5.14bn broadcasting deal when it comes into effect next season but Ayre claims that revenue, and repaying FSG’s interest-free loan for the new £114m Main Stand, are separate business streams. “We can’t devise a business plan for the facilities of Liverpool and include all the revenues we expect because of a TV deal,” he said. “TV deals move around. The TV revenue goes into a completely different product on the pitch and the prices of that could be X, Y or Z. We can’t build a sustainable solution for the stadium based on what we may or may not spend in the transfer market. It’s the same plan we’ve always had for the stand and tickets.”


   30. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 05, 2016 at 02:51 PM (#5150346)
I haven't understood Brazil's squad selection for a while. I mean, Fred started at striker in the semi-finals of the World Cup. Hulk is better than Fred. I realize part of it is just that I don't know their players as well because they tend to play outside of England. It's hard for me to imagine that Douglas Costa wasn't one of their 23 best players for the 2014 World Cup, though.

Well, tbf, Hulk and Fred are best in totally different positions: Hulk as an inverted wide forward and Fred as a target man. Fred's distinctly average, at best (I totally agree with you), and there's no real reason why he should have started over, say, Luiz Adriano (since he came up earlier, heh).

In case you're curious about the 2014 WC squad, we discussed it a bit at the time of announcement, here. For my money, the Douglas Costa of May 2014 wasn't one of the best 23 players on the team (as I mentioned, he's really raised his game in the last year and a half, or so). I would argue he wasn't even the best player on his squad left off the WC team (that would be Alex Teixeira, who is particularly notable since has he experience both wide and centrally in the midfield), nor was he the best player at his position left off the World Cup squad (that was Lucas Moura. I know I and others railed about that a bit at the time).

Hernanes on that squad *really* made no sense, particularly without Phillipe Coutinho.
   31. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 05, 2016 at 08:03 PM (#5150480)
This is pretty tough on SBFC. Going to rely even more on Rodriguez in the coming season.
   32. frannyzoo Posted: February 05, 2016 at 08:10 PM (#5150481)
FM2016 on sale for $25 through February 12th. I've been holding off, but...

And yes, this is a cry for help. Help save any semblance of professional productivity or regular sleep patterns by telling me how horrible this year's model is. Please.
   33. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 05, 2016 at 08:27 PM (#5150487)
Still occasionally play 2014. I'm not buying a new version. I've gotten better and able to control myself.
   34. frannyzoo Posted: February 05, 2016 at 10:13 PM (#5150522)
I know it's not close to City v. Leicester in terms of pretty much anything, but Norwich REALLY needs three points v. Aston Villa tomorrow. Losing, or even a draw, and I'm thinking they eventually don't stand a chance. They do host both Newcastle and Sunderland in the run-out, but tomorrow is important.
   35. AuntBea Posted: February 06, 2016 at 12:05 AM (#5150551)
Bradley with a corner from the left side, curls it directly towards the back post. An alert play by the Canada GK tips it over the bar. Bradley then with a corner from the right side... and the announcer says: "It will be interesting if Bradley tries that again!" Yes, it sure would be interesting, considering Bradley would either have to take it left footed or with the outside of his right foot.
   36. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: February 06, 2016 at 08:01 AM (#5150583)
Robert Huth again. Wow.
   37. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 06, 2016 at 08:53 AM (#5150590)
Pellegrini out!
   38. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 06, 2016 at 09:04 AM (#5150596)
Three!
   39. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 06, 2016 at 09:04 AM (#5150597)
This is just silly now.
   40. frannyzoo Posted: February 06, 2016 at 09:06 AM (#5150598)
Just woke up here in the Mountain Time Zone. Looks like some gentleman working in Manchester, England have really slept in, well into mid-afternoon.
   41. Jose Remains The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: February 06, 2016 at 09:18 AM (#5150602)
This is unbelievable. My defenses of Pelligrini are not looking great right now.
   42. frannyzoo Posted: February 06, 2016 at 09:48 AM (#5150612)
More important than the score itself, the vital question here at BTF is: Does this help Spurs?
   43. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 06, 2016 at 09:50 AM (#5150614)
Let's see if Spurs win first. I still maintain it's too early to think about the title for Tottenham.
   44. frannyzoo Posted: February 06, 2016 at 09:57 AM (#5150615)
Just saw the eight-box of shots at game locations and the scene at WHL appeared to be of water cannon being employed on rowdy fans. An illusion, it was just the sprinklers. Got a very 70s-80s feel there for a second.
   45. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 06, 2016 at 10:38 AM (#5150631)
Didn't watch the first half of City, but wow, the fact that Demichellis still starts for a championship contender... Also Berlin and Dortmund are playing on FS1 (probably have to mute). Brooks is playing and Pulisic is on the bench.
   46. frannyzoo Posted: February 06, 2016 at 10:49 AM (#5150637)
Norwich gonna Norwich, control and empty offensive danger, big holes in the back.
   47. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 06, 2016 at 10:53 AM (#5150638)
NBC is showing Southampton-West Ham while Fox is showing Leverkusen-Bayern on their network channel at the same time 12:30. I wonder who is going to have higher ratings?
   48. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 06, 2016 at 11:22 AM (#5150643)
Maradonna, Pele, Messi or Dele Alli. Let's begin the debtate.
   49. frannyzoo Posted: February 06, 2016 at 11:25 AM (#5150644)
Alli is younger and therefore greater than all of them. That substitution had a real "game will be changed" feel to it from even before Alli entered the pitch. Meanwhile, Norwich is going down. Again.
   50. Spivey Posted: February 06, 2016 at 11:38 AM (#5150646)
More important than the score itself, the vital question here at BTF is: Does this help Spurs?

I'm rooting for Arsenal and Tottenham in the title race and I kind of asked myself that when Leicester went up 2-0. For whatever reason my instinct was to root for Man City in the game, I guess just because Leicester is top now.

I think a draw was probably the best result for the other title contenders.

Leicester clearly deserved that game, and they're pretty lethal on the counter. I still think that style of soccer is going to lead to a lot of draws, especially against weaker sides.

As for Man City, it seems like in big games the only guys that ever show up are Silva and Aguero. They just don't play hard.
   51. Spivey Posted: February 06, 2016 at 11:47 AM (#5150648)
Son is a really fun player to watch. Getting him was a nice piece of business.

Tottenham are so good. They're so clearly the best team in the league to me.
   52. frannyzoo Posted: February 06, 2016 at 11:55 AM (#5150652)
Well this has all gone as smooth and clear for Spurs as an azure sky of deepest summer, to quote Alex DeLarge. Maybe only Arsenal can stop them this year, if one buys the conventional wisdom re: Foxes. Seriously, any Spurs fan telling you they're not thinking title at this point is lying. Or at least trying to change the subject.
   53. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 06, 2016 at 12:30 PM (#5150664)
Keep forgetting Chicharito is on Leverkusen. They're going to blow the Premier League match in viewership. I'll repeat this - Fox production values is such crap.
   54. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 06, 2016 at 12:36 PM (#5150668)
I'm a Spurs fan...I'm terrified of West Ham pipping us to 4th still. Not thinking of the title until I see where we are after March 5th. Truth.
   55. J. Sosa Posted: February 06, 2016 at 02:58 PM (#5150722)
Liverpool fans covering themselves in glory again. Pay for a ticket and walk out. That will show 'em. Gave 'em both barrels.

What a bunch of dopes. It is being stirred up by the usual suspects. I would try to have some sympathy, but I have to admit, I really don't. The protest is largely driven by the same group of xenophobic halfwits that like to get together and sing Munich songs about Man U. I've got no patience for them. FSG as a whole has a lot of faults, but they have been more than patient with those clowns and have shown a lot more forbearance than I would be capable of.

I don't dispute it sucks that many common fans have been priced out. It really does suck. I can identify, my dad managed to take me to two or three MLB games a year when I was a kid and we couldn't afford it even back then. It does suck. But other activities cost money too. As I said before they think they should (or could) have every bloke chip in a fiver to buy the club and have Messi wear the kit. They should just own it and say they want a gun runner or an oil sheikh sugar daddy. I'm sure that is more in line with the principles SoS loves so much.
   56. frannyzoo Posted: February 06, 2016 at 03:43 PM (#5150733)
Soton 1, West Ham 0

Feeling a bit less terrified, Shooty? Good day continues for Spurs. Now on to root for Chelsea and The Cherries. Methinks it easier to root for cherry red than Terry blue.
   57. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 06, 2016 at 04:48 PM (#5150748)
I bit the bullet and got a Fubo.TV subscription. It does say I can cancel any time. Today's Serie A programming was a festival of red and blue stripes, with games in Bologna and Genoa.

Watching Bologna v. Fiorentina I was confused by Bologna's stadium. Is there any rhyme or reason to which seats are red and which seats are blue? Maybe it's like a Magic Eye, or one of those computer-generated photos made up of little photos.
   58. ursus arctos Posted: February 07, 2016 at 08:02 AM (#5150930)
I don't believe so.

They are new, installed this summer as part of a more general project to update the ground by the new ownership (led by Joey Saputo, who also owns the Montreal Impact) and I think that the randomness was generated by a combination of design considerations (you seen this kind of motif in contemporary Italian mosaic design) and a desire for the ground not to look as empty as it had in the past when it is less than full.
   59. JJ1986 Posted: February 07, 2016 at 12:14 PM (#5150998)
Zouma is in a lot of pain.
   60. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 07, 2016 at 12:50 PM (#5151021)
Leicester may or may not win the league, but they aren't dropping out of the top 4 this year.
   61. Mefisto Posted: February 07, 2016 at 01:55 PM (#5151064)
Costa has to be the most annoying player in all of soccer.
   62. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: February 07, 2016 at 01:57 PM (#5151065)
They're 13 points up on Manchester United... and lets face it Man U has looked like a team that's 13 points behind Leicester.

I think they've got a very good chance to win if they can take a point at Arsenal, that'd keep them three up on Tottenham in the worst case scenario.
   63. Spivey Posted: February 07, 2016 at 02:35 PM (#5151100)
Leicester may or may not win the league, but they aren't dropping out of the top 4 this year.

Yeah, this week was huge for them.

And although I think they're playing way over their head, their goal differential is really good.

I think their chances to win the league are real. Mainly just because Arsenal and Man City have their issues, and Tottenham is unproven and is juggling a lot of competitions.
   64. Baldrick Posted: February 07, 2016 at 04:22 PM (#5151176)
According to MCOA's model, the winner is projected to finish with 78 points.

They're currently on 53, with 13 games left. 25 points in 13 games is a lot, but...not that much. Definitely manageable. His model has their average finish at 74 points (with Arsenal 0.1 points ahead).

Of course, either Man City or Arsenal could wake up tomorrow morning and remember that they're supposed to be the class of the league and reel off 10 wins in a row like Juventus has done. And that would make it a lot harder for Leicester to keep pace. But the time is dwindling and the big guns just keep not firing, and...well...it's starting to become not just plausible but totally reasonable.
   65. Baldrick Posted: February 07, 2016 at 04:35 PM (#5151178)
Maybe worth noting: after they play Arsenal next weekend, they have a pretty 'easy' run of games. They play Watford (who is 10th right now) in early March, but otherwise don't play anyone in the top half of the table until APRIL.

And then, at the end, while they have some tough games (Man United, Everton, Chelsea to close out the year), it's possible that they could benefit from the other team's lack of motivation. Manchester might well have already seen the Champions League slip beyond their grasp by then. Everton might be playing to keep a European slot, but...will they care about that? And Chelsea on the final day, well...not to cast aspersions, but you'd have to wonder whether those guys might not enjoy seeing little Leicester beating the other big teams. Based on the theory: "bad season for us, might as well be bad for our enemies, too."

Anyways, it's just fun to actually care about the title race.
   66. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 07, 2016 at 10:58 PM (#5151614)
They are new, installed this summer as part of a more general project to update the ground by the new ownership (led by Joey Saputo, who also owns the Montreal Impact) and I think that the randomness was generated by a combination of design considerations (you seen this kind of motif in contemporary Italian mosaic design) and a desire for the ground not to look as empty as it had in the past when it is less than full.

Well, it looks cool. As does the old-timey bell tower or whatever that is behind the seats. Built in 1927!
   67. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 08, 2016 at 02:29 PM (#5152033)
Come enjoy a cold brew in one of our brand new elite hotels that totally isn't also a mass grave of immigrant workers. Have fun, sports fans!
   68. jmurph Posted: February 08, 2016 at 04:00 PM (#5152119)
So I've begun to worry that Pep may end up inheriting a 5th place squad, but I'm still (mostly) hopeful they'll hold off United, and maybe even pass one of the others to finish 2nd or 3rd. Not that anyone should feel sorry for rich teams who can't seem to find reasonable depth, but this, from MCoA, is pretty striking:

Expected goals vs Expected goals allowed per match with Kompany: 2.11 to 0.76
Expected goals vs Expected goals allowed per match w/out Kompany: 1.32 to 1.08

It's probably overly simplistic to pin it all down to that, but it starts there, and cascades throughout the squad. Their team defense just falls apart without him.
   69. ursus arctos Posted: February 08, 2016 at 04:05 PM (#5152125)
Crispix, that kind of monumental detail was a feature of Italian stadia of that period.

See, e.g., the tower in Florence and the then current stadium in Rome (aka the Stadium of the National Fascist Party), or the Stadio Mussolini in Turin.

All of these featured in the 1934 World Cup, as one can see from the official postage stamps.
   70. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 08, 2016 at 05:25 PM (#5152226)
Zouma out for the season with the injury from yesterday. Cahill will start in his stead.

NWSL Canadian allocations announced. Desiree Scott back in FCKC.
   71. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: February 08, 2016 at 07:56 PM (#5152307)
Lalalalalalalala ... I can't hear you:


The transformation of Tottenham Hotspur under Mauricio Pochettino was captured well by the Watford manager, Quique Sánchez Flores. For when was the last time a vanquished opponent described Spurs approvingly as “animals”? Once a byword for flakiness, Spurs are now hailed for their ferocity. That is one of the reasons why they are second in the Premier League and belief is swelling that if they budge, it will be to spring higher.

Watford were savaged at White Hart Lane and grateful to escape with only a narrow 1-0 defeat, inflicted by Kieran Trippier’s second-half conversion of a cross from Dele Alli, who had come off the bench three minutes earlier. The scoreline did not reflect Tottenham’s dominance and Flores believes Spurs have not only improved since beating his team at Vicarage Road in late December but have become better than anyone Watford have faced this season.
Tottenham ease past Watford as Kieran Trippier gets off the mark
Read more

“For me, Tottenham is the best,” said Flores. “Because we played twice against [Manchester] City, twice against Tottenham and twice against Chelsea, and I think this is the more complete team. I think this kind of team is very difficult to stop.”

Watford tried everything to stop Spurs and held out until the 64th minute, partially because Tottenham missed many chances, with Nacer Chadli and Harry Kane guilty of clear misses. Flores, however, said it was impossible for his team to withstand the pressure, with the home team hunting feverishly to regain possession on the rare occasions Watford won the ball. “We know perfectly what we want to do when we recuperated the ball, we try to play, when we recuperate the ball, we try to put the ball far away – but it was impossible. It was impossible because they are like animals there, trying to beat and recuperate the ball as quick as possible.”

Flores continued: “They have a plan. They can attack, they know what they are doing when they lose the ball, what areas they want to recuperate the ball, how they want to recuperate the ball, what they want to do when they recuperate the ball. They have very good players in power and technical ways, so they can play interior play, they can play the sides and have very good players and skills also. They have everything a team needs to try to be champions.”


I just want top 3. Guaranteed CL group stage place. I think that means we can keep the team together for next season and as fun as they've been, I think this team can get even better. Just have to keep Dembele, Dier and Kane healthy. Going to be a brutal stretch of games though, with PL, FA and Europa all on the cards. Leicester have it easier in that regards.
   72. Spivey Posted: February 08, 2016 at 09:22 PM (#5152347)
Tottenham could win 3 trophies this year.

I get the Spurs fans being nervous, but it's impossible to have watched the last two months and come to any conclusion other than Tottenham is the best team.
   73. Randy Jones Posted: February 09, 2016 at 10:12 AM (#5152480)
Hadn't heard about this before, but apparently former Padres owner John Moores is close to buying Everton.
   74. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 09, 2016 at 10:28 AM (#5152498)
Hadn't heard about this before, but apparently former Padres owner John Moores is close to buying Everton.

Yep. I don't think that bodes well for Everton. The sample size is still smallish, but Yanks owning teams in England hasn't gone great.
   75. Randy Jones Posted: February 09, 2016 at 10:33 AM (#5152506)
The article discussed at the end of the January thread re: US Soccer and the USWNT seems like the best assessment I've seen. At least: it clarifies things that confused me about other accounts I've read.

It definitely puts the federation's actions in better light. Not that I'm on their side in general, just that I do think they have a much stronger legal argument than it initially appeared. The terms of the existing agreement/contract are terrible, though, and from a normative position I'm all for anything that gives the players more leverage to bargain a better deal. But it does seem like they might have trouble getting this particular argument to stick.
Deadspin has a post on this today with the response from the Player's Association's lawyer. It points out that the quotes US Soccer used from the Player's Association reps that bolster their case that the MOU extended the current CBA were taken out of context and that basically the very next line of the quotes(which were not included in the US Soccer filing) explicitly state that the MOU does not constitute an extension of the current CBA.
   76. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 09, 2016 at 10:43 AM (#5152523)
More info and links are available here.
   77. Spivey Posted: February 09, 2016 at 10:49 AM (#5152536)
Yep. I don't think that bodes well for Everton. The sample size is still smallish, but Yanks owning teams in England hasn't gone great.

I absolutely get that Man U and Liverpool fans haven't loved that these teams have essentially been bought with their own stadiums and debt, but it doesn't seem like Liverpool or Man U have had any aversion to spending money in the transfer market.

Beyond that... are there any English owned teams? I should probably know that I guess. I'm just wondering if Americans are any worse than any of the non-billionaire Middle East/Russian type owners that are willing to hemorrhage money.
   78. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 09, 2016 at 10:57 AM (#5152566)
I absolutely get that Man U and Liverpool fans haven't loved that these teams have essentially been bought with their own stadiums and debt, but it doesn't seem like Liverpool or Man U have had any aversion to spending money in the transfer market.

It's not just about spending money--American owners haven't shied from that--they just don't seem to get how to run a club. Ellis Short, Hicks and Gillette, Lerner, Khan, and now that Fergie is gone the Glazers have been exposed. FSG has done all right but outside that one glorious year, I think just all right. Arsenal fans hate Kroencke, of course. Past may not be prologue for Everton but it's not a great track record as of now.

Beyond that... are there any English owned teams?

Tottenham! Newcastle, Norwich, Crystal Palace, West Brom, Stoke are all English owned off the top of my head. I may be missing a few.
   79. Randy Jones Posted: February 09, 2016 at 11:01 AM (#5152576)
Beyond that... are there any English owned teams? I should probably know that I guess. I'm just wondering if Americans are any worse than any of the non-billionaire Middle East/Russian type owners that are willing to hemorrhage money.
Here is the list of PL owners from Wiki that includes nationality of the owners. Looks like 6 teams are wholly English owned: Crystal Palace, Everton, Newcastle, Stoke, Spurs, and WBA. With West Ham, Norwich, and Bournemouth partially English owned.
   80. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 09, 2016 at 11:02 AM (#5152579)
Tottenham! Newcastle, Norwich, Crystal Palace, West Brom, Stoke are all English owned off the top of my head. I may be missing a few.

That's the bulk of the list. If you're willing to include Welsh (which you should, given that Welsh clubs play in the Prem and I think that Michael Wynn-Jones is Welsh, though everyone puts Norwich City as Delia Smith's club), David Sullivan and West Ham count, as do Swansea City (unsurprisingly).
   81. The Buddy Biancalana Hit Counter Posted: February 09, 2016 at 11:10 AM (#5152602)
That list of owners must not be up to date. Josh Harris and another American bought a minority stake in Crystal Palace recently. I'm not really clued in about Crystal Palace generally, but Swiss Ramble wrote about them today.
   82. Jose Remains The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: February 09, 2016 at 11:24 AM (#5152623)
It's not just about spending money--American owners haven't shied from that--they just don't seem to get how to run a club.


There is a culture within the soccer world that is just very different than running an American sports club and I think that creates challenges. The players in soccer seem to have a hell of a lot more power than they do in US sports and I think it's tough for owners to grasp that.

The other problem is that I suspect the owners just don't have the same level of knowledge of the sport. John Henry was never a star baseball player but he watched it regularly from a young age and presumably has a pretty good handle on the game. I wonder how much in depth knowledge he has of soccer.

I mean you could make me the owner of an MLB team and I think I could ask the right questions when trying to hire a GM. I don't think I could do that with soccer.
   83. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: February 09, 2016 at 12:46 PM (#5152710)
I'm pretty sure based on my FM experience I could do a fine job!
   84. ursus arctos Posted: February 09, 2016 at 04:26 PM (#5153041)
Though it is important to note that while Tottenham's ownership is English by nationality, it is anything but for tax purposes.
   85. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 09, 2016 at 05:18 PM (#5153144)
Well that goal was just bound to happen, wasn't it?

Poor Lucas. He's possibly been the best player on the pitch for the duration of the match but he concedes the foul for that free kick.

Love the West Ham Que Sera Sera chant. Seen them do it before.
   86. frannyzoo Posted: February 09, 2016 at 05:27 PM (#5153156)
Just missed the game, but see Benteke, the ref and that "dirty, diving Valencia" getting much stick at RAWK. Especially Benteke. That transfer has hurt everybody and everything but Benteke's (and his agent's) bank account.
   87. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 10, 2016 at 02:34 PM (#5153923)
   88. frannyzoo Posted: February 10, 2016 at 03:08 PM (#5153965)
West Brom will probably win this replay v. Peterborough, but, 20 minutes in, their collective level of sleepwalking must have Pulis wanting to throw away the hair dryer and move on straight to the .44 magnum at halftime. Again, it's only 20 minutes in, but so far it's all one-way traffic by a League One team that isn't even in the playoff places in that league.
   89. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 10, 2016 at 03:15 PM (#5153984)
Not too surprising, imo - West Brom often (as here) look tentative in attack and Peterborough, quality concerns aside, really try to get forward as much as possible (admittedly, I've seen them play *once* this season, so I don't speak from too much experience). West Brom will probably win, though.

Claudio Yacob is kind of terrible at controlling his tackles.

First day of CONCACAF Olympics Qualifying for the women. Mexico/PR and then US/Costa Rica today. Potential chance to see Raquel Rodriguez in action against the US!
   90. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 10, 2016 at 03:16 PM (#5153989)
   91. frannyzoo Posted: February 10, 2016 at 03:35 PM (#5154021)
If Woody Allen was young and making "early, funny" films again, "Bananas" would be about FIFA. If he were younger, he also could have possibly made some life choices that wouldn't make much of the world hate him quite as much, but who knows.

P.S.: In Fox 1/FA Cup ratings news, the "I've fallen and I can't get up" commercial is a halftime Fox/FA Cup sponsor. So we're probably talking total viewership somewhere in the low hundreds, nationwide.
   92. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 10, 2016 at 03:38 PM (#5154025)
he also could have possibly made some life choices that wouldn't make much of the world hate him quite as much, but who knows.

Or, just spitballing here, maybe he'd be a lot worse. I like to think some orphan girls dodged a hilariously neurotic bullet. I'm an optimist!
   93. frannyzoo Posted: February 10, 2016 at 03:43 PM (#5154030)
Valencia 1, Barca 0 in the 41st..the greatest comeback ever is on! Barca called my house last night, btw, asking if I could play DM for them today, but I told them I was busy. Maybe they're just playing with 10 today instead.
   94. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: February 10, 2016 at 03:46 PM (#5154034)
It would be kind of hilarious for Neville to get his first win in a dead rubber.
   95. frannyzoo Posted: February 10, 2016 at 03:59 PM (#5154049)
The onslaught that can only be Peterborough have finally dented Ben Foster and West Brom to make it 1-0. Seriously, Foster has looked like he was up against Messi-Suarez-Neymar and is lucky to have only conceded one.
   96. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 10, 2016 at 04:01 PM (#5154053)
Deflection too! Foster should have saved, imo.
P.S.: In Fox 1/FA Cup ratings news, the "I've fallen and I can't get up" commercial is a halftime Fox/FA Cup sponsor. So we're probably talking total viewership somewhere in the low hundreds, nationwide.

I feel special! Though, tbf, I'm watching on FoxSportsGo. :p
   97. vortex of dissipation Posted: February 10, 2016 at 04:03 PM (#5154056)
The very idea that a Peterborough United match would be available on live TV throughout the US is pretty amazing...
   98. vortex of dissipation Posted: February 10, 2016 at 04:04 PM (#5154057)
Though, tbf, I'm watching on FoxSportsGo.


Same here.
   99. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 10, 2016 at 04:14 PM (#5154065)
Hell of a finish by Fletcher.
   100. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 10, 2016 at 05:25 PM (#5154134)
West Brom barely survive.
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