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Sunday, January 05, 2014

OT: The Soccer Thread January, 2014

With no Champions League or international matches of note, it’s all about the clubs an cup competitions this month:

January 6th: Lazio vs Inter
January 7th: Sunderland vs Man U in the League Cup, Valencia vs Atleti in Copa del Rey
January 8th: West Ham vs Man City in the League Cup
January 10th: Leicester City vs Derby in an important promotion game, Montpelier vs Monaco in Ligue Uhn.
January 11th: Cardiff vs West Ham in a relegation 6 pointer, will Man U lose to Swansea at home again?, but the day’s HUGE game is Barcelona hosting Atletico Madrid. This could decide La Liga.
January 12th: Newcastle vs Man City
January 13th: Aston Villa vs Arsenal
January 14th: FA Cup replays featuring Fulham vs Norwich, second leg of Valencia and Atleti in the Copa del Rey
January 15th: Man City host Blackburn in an FA Cup replay, Lyon vs Marseilles in the French Cup
January 17th: St. Etienne vs Lille
January 18th: Lots of games, no real standouts
January 19th: Swansea vs Spurs, Chelsea vs Man U
January 20th: West Brom vs Everton
January 21st: West Ham vs Man City in the League Cup
January 22nd: Man U vs Sunderland in the League Cup
January 24th: Monchengladbach vs Bayern Munich, not that it really matters
January 25th: FA Cup 4th round featuring Chelsea vs Stoke, Lazio vs Juventus, Monaco vs Marseilles
January 26th: Barca vs Malaga
January 28th: Liverpool vs Everton, Southampton vs Arsenal
January 29th: Tottenahm Hotspur FC vs Man City, Stuttgart vs Bayern
January 31st: Feyenoord vs Chelsea B in Holland, Braunschweig vs Borussia Dortmund

I’d say that Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid is the game of the month and declare it the BBTF Off Topic Game of the Month! Be there!

Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 05, 2014 at 05:16 PM | 1016 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. DA Baracus Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:34 PM (#4633682)
Bradley to Fulham makes a lot of sense.


Bradley to a relegation team would be terrible.

Taylor Twellman tweeting that Michael Bradley will be joining Defoe at TFC.


Whoa.
   102. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:39 PM (#4633708)
I regret not using Twellman's exact language of "on the verge of signing". So not actually done yet, although I seem to recall Twellman being in early on the Dempsey to SSFC deal.
   103. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:39 PM (#4633709)
Is Bradley to TFC even possible? They've already signed De Rosario, Gilberto and Defoe. Are one of those guys not a DP? I'm calling BS on this rumor.
   104. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:41 PM (#4633714)
I believe Twellman also had Shea to Stoke early. He seems to have good sources for / be friends with the USMNT.

So this could be in place of Defoe rather than in addition to him?
   105. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:42 PM (#4633719)
Also, as for Bradley to Fulham....if he goes there I don't think they get relegated. He's EXACTLY what they need.
   106. DA Baracus Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:44 PM (#4633730)
Alexi Lalas confirms Bradley to TFC.

Are one of those guys not a DP?


De Rosario is not a DP. But Matias Laba is.
   107. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:48 PM (#4633741)
Alexi Lalas confirms Bradley to TFC.

Not happy about this, but I guess he's gotta do what he's gotta do. Baffling.
   108. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:49 PM (#4633745)
So this could be in place of Defoe rather than in addition to him?

Maybe that announcement Monday isn't for Defoe as is being reported? I'd be surprised by that, but I guess it's possible.
   109. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:52 PM (#4633754)
The DP thing is theoretically an issue, although in practice most likely not. MLS isn't going to let a rule get in the way of bringing arguably America's best player back to the domestic league. (And, as a minor note, DeRosario won't be a DP, but they have a young Argentine, Matias Laba, who is currently listed as one.)

This issue of rule clarity also came up with regards to Dempsey not going through the normal rules of allocation for USMNT players. I think Don Garber came out after the fact and said USMNT players who will be DPs don't have to go through allocation, although that wasn't altogether clear before the move.
   110. DA Baracus Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:52 PM (#4633757)
Grant Wahl: "Toronto source: Working on Defoe announcement for Monday. On interest in Michael Bradley: "That would be the greatest day ever in MLS."

So it sounds like Defoe is legit.
   111. DA Baracus Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:54 PM (#4633764)
This issue of rule clarity also came up with regards to Dempsey not going through the normal rules of allocation for USMNT players. I think Don Garber came out after the fact and said USMNT players who will be DPs don't have to go through allocation, although that wasn't altogether clear before the move.


Yeah they change the rules after the fact. But Portland basically said "he wanted to go to Seattle, not to Portland, and we weren't going to get in the way of Dempsey coming back to America." Looking the other way in this case is fine IMO. Maybe expand the rule, a 3rd DP costs a $250,000 fee, so make a 4th DP cost $500,000.
   112. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:56 PM (#4633774)
   113. DA Baracus Posted: January 08, 2014 at 04:07 PM (#4633799)
Wahl speculating Bradley could be a loan, which would get around the DP rule.
   114. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 08, 2014 at 04:21 PM (#4633831)
United with Valencia.

He said a good team.

I specifically excluded United. Its one thing if they were playing "well" and were unlucky but they look like a sixth place team. Even last year when United won the Premier League, Valencia played terribly.

Fulham is in a relegation battle, but I think Bradley probably makes them safe (and they are currently above the drop zone). Its all moot now if he is indeed going to Toronto. I think its a mistake as he can still be a regular player for a mid-table Italian or English team which is much better competition.
   115. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: January 08, 2014 at 04:55 PM (#4633891)
Ursus, Chef, others -- what's a good guess on Bradley's salary at Roma? Something in the $1-2mm range, or is that significantly undershooting it? A simple Google search tells me he was at approximately $1.1mm for 2012, although I have no idea where they're pulling that. If it's remotely accurate, though, I'd guess that he'd be coming here for something close to what Dempsey's making ($6 or $8mm).
   116. DA Baracus Posted: January 08, 2014 at 05:23 PM (#4633955)
From The Star

It’s understood that the combined value of transfer fees and salaries for the two men would reach $100 million.


Yeah and Beckham got $250M

Privately, Toronto FC have spoken of hopes that Defoe can add 30 goals scored a season, even as many as 40.


Nothing against Defoe, but this ain't happening.
   117. Swedish Chef Posted: January 08, 2014 at 05:29 PM (#4633962)
Ursus, Chef, others -- what's a good guess on Bradley's salary at Roma? Something in the $1-2mm range, or is that significantly undershooting it? A simple Google search tells me he was at approximately $1.1mm for 2012, although I have no idea where they're pulling that.

No idea, but if you put a gun to my head I'd say 50K€ a week. He just looks like a 50K-a-week player.
   118. DA Baracus Posted: January 08, 2014 at 05:53 PM (#4634001)
   119. Swedish Chef Posted: January 08, 2014 at 05:59 PM (#4634014)
How very un-Italian of him to pay tax.
   120. ursus arctos Posted: January 08, 2014 at 07:03 PM (#4634072)
Messi, in his first match back from injury, came on as a late sub in the Copa del Rey against Getafe.

After taking a while to get warm, he's scored two goals in three minutes.

So far.

I think Wahl's information on Bradley is probably right. 2.5 million euro a year would be rich for Roma, even if it was gross (and not net).
   121. jmurph Posted: January 08, 2014 at 07:39 PM (#4634095)
Wow, you guys should look up the first Negredo goal today if you haven't seen it yet. Outstanding stuff.
   122. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 08, 2014 at 08:09 PM (#4634113)
Here's a clip of Negredo's first goal. The service from Yaya Touré is as impressive as the finish.

Also worth watching is poor Roger Johnson's defending on Touré's goal.
   123. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: January 08, 2014 at 08:15 PM (#4634118)
That's pretty amazing. Soccer is cool.
   124. Richard Posted: January 08, 2014 at 08:36 PM (#4634133)
Why would any EPL team sign Roger Johnson given his record and reputation over the last 3 seasons? It is baffling.
   125. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2014 at 08:26 AM (#4634335)
Why would any EPL team sign Roger Johnson given his record and reputation over the last 3 seasons? It is baffling.

No doubt he is terrible. It makes me thing Big Sam isn't even trying at this point.

The Guardian bring out the knives for David Moyes

This sounds like the best trip ever
   126. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2014 at 08:56 AM (#4634343)
   127. jmurph Posted: January 09, 2014 at 10:06 AM (#4634375)
Thanks for posting that link MCoA! And indeed, the pass was equally if not more impressive than the finish.

Negredo has been a joy to watch this year. I don't think I'd ever seen him play in Spain, so I had no idea what to expect. I'm not saying they're entirely similar players, but his power/accuracy with the left reminds me a lot of Van Persie. That finish on the first goal yesterday, in particular, was something out of RVP's highlight reel.
   128. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 09, 2014 at 10:24 AM (#4634400)
ESPN is reporting that Bradley's salary will be between five years, $32M and six years, $40M. About quintuple his wage for Roma, guaranteed well into his decline phase. So, not to be a crass materialist, but, that's why that happened.
   129. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 09, 2014 at 10:28 AM (#4634404)
No doubt he is terrible. It makes me thing Big Sam isn't even trying at this point.
The reports seem pretty strong that they're locked in to signing Lacina Traore on loan from Monaco. He's the real deal, and he's going to transform their attack completely. I still think West Ham are going to be safe. Though I have absolutely no handle on the relegation race at this point.

In order Allardici news, he actually signs his letters "Big Sam". How can you not love the guy?
   130. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2014 at 11:07 AM (#4634441)
The reports seem pretty strong that they're locked in to signing Lacina Traore on loan from Monaco. He's the real deal, and he's going to transform their attack completely. I still think West Ham are going to be safe. Though I have absolutely no handle on the relegation race at this point.

Traore is good, but he's also a head case and, lately, West Ham have been atrocious in defense, something Johnson will only make worse. They tried to get Heitinga and Lescott, wisely enough, but whiffing on those two and settling for Johnson...They might not get relegated but I think they are in real trouble.
   131. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 09, 2014 at 11:08 AM (#4634442)
MLS is paying a $6M fee for Defoe. That seems ridiculous to me.

Whoa that's a lot of money to pay Bradley.
   132. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2014 at 11:15 AM (#4634452)
MLS is paying a $6M fee for Defoe. That seems ridiculous to me.

Ahem. 6 million quid! It's a little on the high side but another PL team would have given near that for Defoe. It's the wages that are really nuts but I guess they figured it would take something crazy to get Shift And Shoot to leave London.
   133. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4634498)
Some Eusebio highlights. From the 1968 Cup final against Man U.

edit: Watching that clip I'm struck by how modern Eusebio looks. I'm not sure there's a club in Europe he wouldn't immediately be first choice striker for. Also, when did they stop awarding indirect free kicks in the penalty box? I've never seen that for anything other than illegal backpasses. Also, Man U's keeper had a hell of a game!
   134. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2014 at 12:06 PM (#4634516)
In the interest of fairness...

These are George Best's highlights from the same game since, after all, Man U won that one.
   135. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2014 at 04:15 PM (#4634897)
Chelsea on the verge of being self-sustaining, for real this time

Why don't they just come out and admit they don't care about being self-sustaining? They'd get less grief that way, I think. No one expects Man City to ever try to break even and whatever Abramovich's purpose is, I'm sure he knows he's never getting his money back and I'm sure he doesn't care.
   136. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 09, 2014 at 04:31 PM (#4634922)
I think City will break "even." There is enough money flowing between sister companies that it'll look good on paper. Chelsea is going to be a little harder to accomplish.
   137. jmurph Posted: January 09, 2014 at 04:40 PM (#4634945)
I get the sense that City's owners legitimately believe they can turn the team into a global moneymaking machine. I'm certainly skeptical, but every indication is that's what they're working towards.
   138. ursus arctos Posted: January 09, 2014 at 06:35 PM (#4635123)
Roma confirms that they are getting a fee of USD 10 million for Bradley.
   139. Flynn Posted: January 09, 2014 at 06:47 PM (#4635134)

These are George Best's highlights from the same game since, after all, Man U won that one.


As great as Eusebio looked, that's like throwing up a YouTube of Charlie Hough's knuckleball from Game 6 of the 1977 World Series and then saying "Oh, these are Reggie Jackson's highlights from the same game since, after all, the Yankees won that one."

It's not just a game Best played in, it's his signature game that won him the Ballon d'Or.
   140. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2014 at 07:10 PM (#4635151)
It's not just a game Best played in, it's his signature game that won him the Ballon d'Or.

Hey, man, I'm just a slave to the youtube suggestion algorithm like everyone else on the planet.
   141. Flynn Posted: January 09, 2014 at 07:17 PM (#4635159)
Hah, I recognize that came off a bit dickish. I just wanted to emphasize it wasn't just any ol' game for the boy from Belfast - it's the defining game of his career, the performance (more so because live football was so rare on TV at the time, so nearly every fan in the country saw the game) that justifies why Britain and Ireland considers the guy an icon.
   142. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 09, 2014 at 09:09 PM (#4635286)
So I've got my Serie A database up. What questions would you want to ask it? (I've got 2009-present, all shots, shot location, whether it's a header, whether assisted by cross or throughball, whether on target, blocked, etc.)

I've been playing around with some broad league differences. Here's some stuff I'm noticing just on first view.

-In Serie A there are a lot fewer shots from inside the box (22463 to 26616) and from the danger zone (14685 to 18380), but slightly more shots from outside the box (22683 to 21633).
-In the Premier League there are way more blocked shots. Of the 18380 shots from the danger zone, 3806 were blocked (20.7%), while of 14685 danger zone shots in Serie A, just 2303 were blocked (15.7%).
-In part related to the rate of blocked shots, shots are converted much more often in Italy. About 18.6% of shots from the danger zone in Serie A are goals, compared to 16.6% in England. The conversion trend reverses with shots from outside the box, which are converted in Serie A at a rate of about 2.7% compared to 3.3% in the Premier League.
-The percentage of danger zone shots that are assisted by crosses is actually higher in Italy (50.3% to 46.7%). But the rate of headers assisted by crosses is about the same (36.0% to 35.2%), while in Italy there are many more crosses into feet. 14.3% of danger zone shots are regular shots assisted by crosses in Serie A, compared to 11.4% in England.
-There are way more through-balls played in Serie A. 2306 shots off through-balls in Serie A compared to 1651 in the Premier League, despite the much high shot rate in the EPL. As a percentage of shots from zones 3-5 (inside the box, outside the six-yard box, where most shots off through-balls are taken), that's 11.5% in Serie A compared to 7.1% in the EPL.
   143. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 10, 2014 at 12:18 AM (#4635415)
It looks like I'm going to be free on Saturday afternoon. I definitely want to watch the Barca-Atleti match, can't watch it at home. So I'm in for a New York soccerball meetup.

Can I suggest Banter Bar in Williamsburg? Great beer list, meat pies, lots of tvs.
   144. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 10, 2014 at 09:31 AM (#4635501)
#142 Huh. Those #'s kind of bolster the stereotype of Italy as the paitient, cerebral league and the PL as the fast-paced blood and guts league.

Can I suggest Banter Bar in Williamsburg? Great beer list, meat pies, lots of tvs.

I'm game for it. You can have the meat pies, though.
   145. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 10, 2014 at 09:35 AM (#4635502)
Hah, I recognize that came off a bit dickish. I just wanted to emphasize it wasn't just any ol' game for the boy from Belfast - it's the defining game of his career, the performance (more so because live football was so rare on TV at the time, so nearly every fan in the country saw the game) that justifies why Britain and Ireland considers the guy an icon.

No worries. Like most New Fans, I have an almost complete blank slate about soccer that occurred before 1994. To me George Best's signature moment came as a San Jose Earthquake.

No, I will never get tired of linking to that goal. I can't think of anyone in world football that can stop and start and change direction like George Best did. Is that a lost art? Even jink artists like Cole or Taarabt don't even approach that kind of skill.
   146. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 10, 2014 at 10:13 AM (#4635535)
Those #'s kind of bolster the stereotype of Italy as the paitient, cerebral league and the PL as the fast-paced blood and guts league.
Yup. On average it looks like there's a good amount of truth to the stereotype. The exceptions, I think, are (1) Italy is actually more cross-happy than England, just as many crosses to heads and more crosses to feet. And (2) "Patient" isn't necessarily the right term for taking even more shots from outside the box and converting fewer. But the blocked shot rate couldn't be more in line with the stereotypes. Hard English men throwing their English bodies in front of the ball with English courage and all'at.

I'm working on La Liga now, then Bundesliga, Eredivisie, MLS.
   147. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 10, 2014 at 10:29 AM (#4635550)
Getting La Liga data now, and Atletico Madrid are for real. I have them with a ridiculous 33 xG, 11 xGA. 11! Eleven!

Atletico have allowed the fewest shots from the danger zone in La Liga (46). Next lowest are Espanyol (60), Barca (65) and Real Madrid (70). That is just a huge gap.

And fun, Atletica have also taken the fewest shots from outside the box in La Liga, with just 70. They have taken 72% of their shots from inside the box compared to league average 57%, and 48% from the danger zone (league average 38%). That is really cool.
   148. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 10, 2014 at 11:02 AM (#4635586)
Some minor PL news before the weekend. Rooney won't play tomorrow and has been sent to America for "warm weather" training. I'm assuming that means they sent him to Vegas to gamble and whore it up so he won't pay any attention to the tapping up Chelsea will attempt on the run up to the game next week. Rooney is great, but if they can get 40 million from Chelsea for him maybe they should just do it. He gets more and more high maintenance with every passing year. Tim Sherwood says Lamela isn't going anywhere. Diego Costa to Arsenal rumors have started but I can't imagine in a million years why Atleti would sell this winter when they have a chance to win La Liga and the Champions League. I'll bet a vintage Boba Fett action figure it won't happen. Defoe will stay with Spurs until February 28th. Looks like Tom Ince will be headed to Swansea, most likely. That's about it. A slow news day.

edit: I forgot, West Brom hired Pepe Mel, formerly of Real Betis, to be their head coach.
   149. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 10, 2014 at 11:12 AM (#4635599)
Good luck finding "warm weather" in America the last couple of weeks. Although apparently Alaska has been a lot warmer than, say, St. Louis recently.
   150. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 10, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4635649)
Get hyped!

This is probably as excited as I've been for a regular season game not featuring a Shooty FC team.
   151. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 10, 2014 at 11:48 AM (#4635655)
Supposedly Costa has a release clause and Atletico does need money. They owe a lot of back taxes.

Rooney only has 18 months left on his contract and I can't imagine him staying in the summer if United doesn't make Champions League. If United can get 20 or 30 million they should take it, but I was advocating selling him last summer.
   152. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 10, 2014 at 11:56 AM (#4635667)
They owe a lot of back taxes.

They've owed those taxes forever. At this point I don't think any of the clubs in Spain are ever going to pay those taxes. Atleti doesn't even pay for players! I think if I ever had a club, I would follow the Atleti model. Buy all the players I want, shred the bills when they come in the mail and it'll all work out somehow. They are like Football Manager and Bernie Madoff all wrapped up into a package of awesome.
   153. Manny Coon Posted: January 10, 2014 at 12:24 PM (#4635709)
Good luck finding "warm weather" in America the last couple of weeks.


San Diego, Palm Springs, Miami are all pretty much good to go. It's still pretty much shorts weather in the Southwest.
   154. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 10, 2014 at 12:25 PM (#4635712)
Even if Costa has a release clause, why would he accept the transfer? He can get huge money in the summer, and probably huger money if he's coming off a big La Liga or Champions League run. He also wants to be Spain's lead striker for the World Cup, and there's no way it's better for him to be elsewhere to make that case.
   155. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 10, 2014 at 12:29 PM (#4635717)
Even if Costa has a release clause, why would he accept the transfer?

I don't think he would. He seems fairly committed to the cause. It's funny how he's become the new best striker in the world since Falcao left. I knew he was good, but I mostly knew his reputation for being batshit insane and a shameless cheater. I still hope he thumps a couple past Valdes tomorrow.
   156. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 10, 2014 at 12:59 PM (#4635752)
I don't think he would leave now either, but if someone offers a big enough salary six months earlier.
   157. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 10, 2014 at 01:50 PM (#4635807)
I wrote up all of my Atlético Madrid facts from the new database. I had fun doing that. I am now certain this match will disappoint, because I am way too excited about it.
   158. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 10, 2014 at 05:18 PM (#4635961)
I wrote up all of my Atlético Madrid facts from the new database. I had fun doing that. I am now certain this match will disappoint, because I am way too excited about it.

I like that you use "megabastard" in your article. I really hope that catches on.

Are we on for tomorrow? I might show up a touch early to see the last half of Man U vs Swansea.
   159. puck Posted: January 10, 2014 at 06:32 PM (#4636006)
Costa...what I wonder is when is someone going to offer a truckload of money for Simeone?
   160. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 10, 2014 at 09:23 PM (#4636059)
Are we on for tomorrow?
I'm in. I think I've got your email, and probably your number somewhere.
   161. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:11 AM (#4636187)
Spurs gift Palace a golden chance at goal ... and Palace, in the form of Jason Puncheon, laugh, and give it away ...
   162. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:33 AM (#4636194)
Spurs are lucky it's not 2-0, let alone 1-0. They look an epic mess out there.
   163. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:50 AM (#4636204)
Fulham are awful. Film at 11...
   164. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 11, 2014 at 01:30 PM (#4636315)
Boy, Spurs were ok in the second half but complete shit in the first half. I'm ALMOST ashamed of those 3 points. That was such perfect Defoe--gets a goal from an offsides position and has two great runs at goal but absolutely refuses to even think of passing and farts the opportunity away. I still love the little man but good luck to him in Toronto!

I've repeatedly said Roger Johnson and Chris Samba have been the worst CB's I've seen in the PL, but Senderos is going to crash that party. He's easily my vote for worst player in the league this year.
   165. DA Baracus Posted: January 11, 2014 at 01:37 PM (#4636322)
Ahem that's "global football superstar" Jermaine Defoe thank you very much.
   166. ursus arctos Posted: January 11, 2014 at 02:22 PM (#4636367)
Appears that both Messi and Neymar will start on the bench against Atleti.
   167. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 11, 2014 at 02:45 PM (#4636383)
United look much better in the 2nd half. I can't believe how feeble Swansea look.
   168. Spivey Posted: January 11, 2014 at 03:38 PM (#4636411)
It's a real shame the Barcelona/Athletico Madrid game isn't on any channel I get.
   169. Swedish Chef Posted: January 11, 2014 at 05:43 PM (#4636475)
Are we supposed to take Atletico seriously now?
   170. Spivey Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:59 AM (#4636853)
I think Kolarov and Zabaleta might just be the best pair of fullbacks in the world.
   171. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4636860)
Alaba and Lahm are better, but City's pair is pretty good - even if Kolarov's defending can be iffy at times.

Newcastle should have gotten something out of that game. Another away match that City didn't play particularly well, but they got the win.
   172. President of the David Eckstein Fan Club Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:46 PM (#4636874)
oh, Stoke.

And Crouch gets one back.
   173. Spivey Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:55 PM (#4636877)
Liverpool, what the hell.
   174. Dale Sams Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4636878)
A little OT- I know it's a violation to hang from the crossbar in Soccer (Say, a defender clearing a ball off the line) But what about in American Football, a player *standing* on goalpost crossbar to block a long field goal?
   175. Padgett Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:01 PM (#4636879)
League goals + assists:
Man City (Zabaleta/Kolarov) 10
Bayern (Rafinha/Lahm/Alaba) 9
Barcelona (Alves/Montoya/Adriano/Alba) 8
Everton (Coleman/Baines/Oviedo) 13

A primitive comparison, sure, but still.
   176. DA Baracus Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:09 PM (#4636884)
That was an entertaining first half...

But what about in American Football, a player *standing* on goalpost crossbar to block a long field goal?


You get a penalty.
   177. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:16 PM (#4636889)
Alaba and Lahm are better, but City's pair is pretty good - even if Kolarov's defending can be iffy at times.

To be fair, Lahm has been playing mostly as a DMC, not a RB, this season; Padgett's comparison (with Rafinha) is probably the correct one.
   178. Spivey Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:19 PM (#4636894)
The one thing I don't understand is how Clichy gets any starts in the EPL. Dude sucks.
   179. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:24 PM (#4636897)
I don't think that was a penalty.

   180. DA Baracus Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:26 PM (#4636898)
That was a terrible call. When the player is looking for a penalty when dribbing... it's not a penalty.
   181. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:27 PM (#4636899)
That should have been a card on Sterling.

Awful call.
   182. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:41 PM (#4636902)
Suarez is ridiculous. He made that finish look so easy when the angle was so difficult.
   183. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:45 PM (#4636905)
That should have been a card on Sterling.

Awful call.
Dude pushed him down directly on the right shoulder.
   184. Spivey Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:57 PM (#4636911)
That was a world class finish from Sturridge. And I don't think of him as a world class player.
   185. Sean Forman Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:59 PM (#4636912)
Stoke-Liverpool. Wow.
   186. Spivey Posted: January 12, 2014 at 02:03 PM (#4636916)
This really could be 5-5.
   187. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 12, 2014 at 02:11 PM (#4636922)
I saw Liverpool go up 2-0 and switched off, came back just after the penalty made it 3-2. That was terrifically entertaining.
   188. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: January 12, 2014 at 04:02 PM (#4637065)
The interesting tactical switch for Liverpool today was (I think I'm right in saying) a first under Rodgers -- Gerrard playing as the deepest lying midfielder with Lucas in a slightly more advanced role. Obviously the results weren't great, but based on some post-game comments I read from Gerrard, it's something that they might do more of going forward. I think the template is perhaps how Juventus use Pirlo -- he's not really a proper defensive midfielder, but he sits deepest, pings passes about and lets two of Marchisio, Pogba and Vidal (plus the wing-backs) carry his water. There's also been suggestions of dropping Gerrard even deeper, as in the middle man of a three man defense. I don't know quite yet what to think of any of these permutations, but keep in mind that this is all in the context of (a) wanting to have SAS as a pairing up top, as close to goal as possible, (b) wanting to maintain a solid, energetic midfield -- in other words, being able to play two of Henderson, Allen and Lucas, and (c) possibly most importantly, the assumption that Gerrard cannot or will not be dropped to the bench.
   189. Spivey Posted: January 12, 2014 at 04:08 PM (#4637074)
C is definitely most important. Gerrard isn't so over the hill he should never play, but if I was Liverpool I'd want:

Sahko-Skrtel-Toure-Johnson
Lucas-Henderson
Sterling-Coutinho
Sturridge-Suarez

That is without a doubt their top lineup, in my mind.
   190. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: January 12, 2014 at 04:36 PM (#4637110)
I could be wrong, but I don't think that combination of players has once played together under Rodgers, so you've gotta be pretty confident in your assessment abilities to say that group is "without a doubt" their best. It's possible it is -- you're pretty much saying "here's our best front four, deal with it" -- but I can spot one immediate problem and a second possible one: Sakho isn't a full-back, and the midfield is a bit light. I'd be very concerned using that midfield against any of the big sides (or on a cold, rainy Sunday at the Brittania). It probably works against your run-of-the-mill teams at Anfield, but then again, playing Gerrard in those games hasn't really slowed Liverpool down.
   191. Spivey Posted: January 12, 2014 at 04:58 PM (#4637141)
Hasn't Sakho played some fullback this year? Maybe you rotate him with Toure, but since they don't have an LB worth a damn, I'd just play their best defender at that extra spot. They're definitely light in midfield, but I don't see big differences in the other options - Joe Allen? Gerrard? Kelly? Liverpool doesn't have any destroyers in midfield. So yeah, I'd rather just get out some guys that can do something well. This also kind of ties into the idea of playing 3 CB-esque players - because their midfield is not going to be winning many headers.
   192. ursus arctos Posted: January 12, 2014 at 05:54 PM (#4637181)
Leading 2-0 after 13 minutes, Milan give up four to newly promoted Sassuolo (all four scored by 19 year old Domenico Berardi, who has scored more than half of his team's goals this season) and lose 4-3.

Milan are now 11th; six points above the first relegation place, but ten points off the last Europa League qualifying position.
   193. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: January 12, 2014 at 06:11 PM (#4637197)
I was going to make a joke about the over/under for Defoe/Drake partying pictures being March 15, but it looks like Drake was directly involved in recruiting him to Toronto. They should have held out for Balotelli.
   194. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 13, 2014 at 08:38 AM (#4637587)
Unsurprisingly, Milan have sacked Allegri today.
   195. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 13, 2014 at 09:42 AM (#4637600)
Maybe Jason Puncheon should just quit Twitter

Funnily enough, a couple of days before the game at Spurs, he was teasing Bradley Johnson of Norwich City about penalty taking. Heh.
   196. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 13, 2014 at 10:21 AM (#4637610)
Jason Puncheon seems to be the J.R. Smith of soccer. He acts like an idiot, he looks like an idiot, he has the facial features of a 47-year-old, and in photos he often has a creepy grin that doesn't help his cause one bit..
   197. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 13, 2014 at 10:27 AM (#4637615)
Those accusations he made about Warnock are really inflammatory. Has anyone in English football ever been caught doing something like that? I just don't see how a manager could possibly think to get away with that kind of shenanigans so my instinct is to say Puncheon is out to lunch on this one.
   198. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 13, 2014 at 10:29 AM (#4637618)
   199. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 13, 2014 at 10:30 AM (#4637620)
The Puncheon penalty this weekend was absolutely sensational. I don't think I've ever seen one that bad.
   200. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 13, 2014 at 11:19 AM (#4637652)
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