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Monday, July 14, 2014

OT: The Soccer Thread July, 2014

Link to June Thread

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Finally we get to talk about what really matters: transfer rumors!

Oh, and there are some games too:

July 15: KR Reykjavik vs Celtic & other Champions League Qualifiers

July 16: Lanus vs Atletico Mineiro (Recopa Sudamericana Leg 1), Philadelphia Union vs NY Red Bulls, Champions League Qualifiers

July 17: Europa League Qualifiers, Hearts vs Man City (Friendly)

July 18: RB Leipzig vs PSG (Friendly), Tijuana vs Puebla, Querétaro vs Pumas UNAM

July 19: Seattle Sounders vs Tottenham Hotspur (Friendly), Sporting KC vs LA Galaxy, León vs América

July 20: DC United vs Chivas USA

July 22: Champions League Qualifiers 2nd Leg, Club Nacional vs. Defensor Sporting (Libertadores)

July 23: Liverpool vs Roma, Toronto FC vs Spurs, Sporting vs Man City, LA Galaxy v. Man U (All Friendlies)

July 24: Olympiakos v. Milan (Int. Champions Cup), Europa League Qualifiers

July 25: Sacramento Republic vs West Brom (Friendly), Santos Laguna vs Cruz Azul

July 26: Man U vs Roma (ICC), Real Madrid vs Inter (ICC), NYRB vs Arsenal (Friendly), Chicago Fire vs Spurs (Friendly)

July 27: Milan vs Man City (ICC), Liverpool vs Olympiakos (ICC)

July 28: Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy

July 29: Defensor Sporting vs Nacional (Libertadores)

July 30: Real Salt Lake vs NYRB, Bolívar vs San Lorenzo (Libertadores)

Link to June Thread

Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: July 14, 2014 at 03:02 PM | 608 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: soccer

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   1. Swedish Chef Posted: July 14, 2014 at 03:37 PM (#4750159)
Maradona calls Messi's Golden Ball "a marketing plan". So now that's settled.
   2. ursus arctos Posted: July 14, 2014 at 04:00 PM (#4750177)
Blatter said he was rather surprised at the result as well.

So, given the consensus here on the wisdom of those two figures, I'm sure we will all agree that Messi was a worthy winner.
   3. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: July 14, 2014 at 04:16 PM (#4750189)
Messi's just lucky Bulgaria didn't make it, or it'd be an easy win for ol' man Dimitar (two goals in ten minutes, a half trick in the first half... actually caught parts of this match; no idea why it was broadcast, but pretty cool as the camera angles were all extremely low, like being at the ground).

In more meaningful games, looking forward to some qualifiers this week, St. Patrick's Athletic (Dublin) vs Liega Warsaw in particular just cos a co-worker's a Paddy's fan. Any football superhipsters around to pick out good matchups from these fixtures?
   4. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: July 14, 2014 at 04:30 PM (#4750199)
Dinamo Zagreb should be good to watch. And should have no trouble beating the Lithuanian champions.

Perennial Andorra champions Santa Coloma have gotten past the first round for the first time. But I wouldn't want to actually WATCH them. And now they're up against Maccabi Tel Aviv, who they beat in 2007!
   5. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: July 14, 2014 at 04:45 PM (#4750207)
   6. ursus arctos Posted: July 14, 2014 at 04:47 PM (#4750212)
Obscure early friendlies like that are often broadcast by club-owned television channels or websites and by sports broadcasters who find themselves without regular content during major tournaments for which they don't have rights. You can always count on Eurosport, for instance, to cover "tournaments" in the Alps or on the Turkish coast.

I'd add Ludogorets - Dudelange to the list. The Bulgarians are backed by an oligarch, feature a couple of Brazilians, won the Bulgarian treble and did some unexpected damage in last year's qualifiers (beating both Slovan Bratislava and Partizan before falling to Basel at the final qualifying hurdle). I would expect them to beat the Luxembourgeois quite easily and to mount a serious challenge for qualification this season.
   7. ursus arctos Posted: July 14, 2014 at 04:48 PM (#4750216)
Darkness, the link to the previous thread and some other formatting in the intro post appears to be borked.
   8. Swedish Chef Posted: July 14, 2014 at 04:57 PM (#4750223)
Nah, the link in the intro worked...
   9. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: July 14, 2014 at 04:57 PM (#4750224)
Darkness, the link to the previous thread and some other formatting in the intro post appears to be borked.
Yeah, I don't know what happened with the link. I had it at the bottom of the post, but somehow it also appeared at the top with the weird cols, rows thingy. The link at the bottom works for me though.

I can't edit it unfortunately, so I think we're stuck with it.
   10. ursus arctos Posted: July 14, 2014 at 05:17 PM (#4750245)
Ah, I didn't see the link at the bottom, and Chef is right that it works.

Some context on the Manchester United kit deal with adidas.

It will bring Man Utd 75 million sterling a year for ten years, 15 million more a year than previously rumored.

It is an astounding amount of money.

For purposes of comparison, Arsenal's new deal with Puma is worth GBP 34 million a year (for 5 years), and Liverpool are getting GBP 25 million a year from Warrior (for 6 years). adidas recently renewed a similar long term deal with Bayern Munich for USD 36 million a year. Real Madrid's current deal with adidas is for EUR 38 million and Barcelona's with Nike is for EUR 33 million.

I have a feeling that a number of club lawyers have just been tasked with determining whether there are any grounds to renegotiate those contracts; the difference is staggering.
   11. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: July 14, 2014 at 05:34 PM (#4750270)
Bolton have switched to Macron from Reebok (stadium name, too). No public announcement has been made of the no doubt astronomical sums involved.
   12. Swedish Chef Posted: July 14, 2014 at 05:43 PM (#4750279)
It will always be Reebok stadium to me.
   13. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: July 14, 2014 at 05:47 PM (#4750287)
Bit more context -- the deal is for £5m/year *more* than Man U were reportedly seeking from Nike; Nike walked away on the grounds that the terms "did not represent good value for Nike’s shareholders." Adidas, OTOH, is a bit desperate to boost sales, are expecting/hoping/praying to pull in £1.5bn through the deal.

More than anything, I think this can be seen as Man U's investment in the Asia market paying off; Adidas has opened a ton of shops there recently and can now piggyback off the team's popularity. (EDIT: or, y'know, dump truckloads of cash off for the right to outfit a midtier team; it's a gamble)
   14. Swedish Chef Posted: July 14, 2014 at 05:54 PM (#4750294)
(EDIT: or, y'know, dump truckloads of cash off for the right to outfit a midtier team; it's a gamble)

All the insane deals they have guarantee that they will be the force that the deals assume that they will be, it's a virtuous circle.
   15. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: July 14, 2014 at 06:05 PM (#4750302)
In sorta-maybe USMNT news, Shawn Parker moves from Mainz to FC Augsburg.

Also, Jan Oblak to Atletico. So Courtois is Chelsea's number one next year? What happens to Cech?
   16. PreservedFish Posted: July 14, 2014 at 06:56 PM (#4750345)
In June 2015 Arsenal is trying to buy my Brazilian wonderkid Gabriel Barbosa for $50 million. Hands off, jerks!
   17. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: July 14, 2014 at 08:08 PM (#4750393)
All the insane deals they have guarantee that they will be the force that the deals assume that they will be, it's a virtuous circle.
Oh I don't doubt they'll be back, just enjoying this while it lasts. It's a vicious circle the other way as well though, if the reports of di Maria snubbing them for champions league are true; a Liverpool-esque mini-spiral is too much to hope for but would be fun.
   18. ursus arctos Posted: July 15, 2014 at 01:14 AM (#4750491)
To buttress the Asian point made in 13, it certainly wasn't coincidental that Kagawa featured prominently in the official launch ads (with Rooney and Van Persie) notwithstanding his inability to get into the starting XI.

Japanese fans have long demonstrated that they will follow their idols anywhere (see Nakata drawing thousands of tourists to Perugia, Roma and Fiorentina), but other Asian fans who don't have a countryman to follow tend to be more fickle. Does Adidas' willingness to spend close to three times what they pay Madrid and Bayern indicate that those clubs' Asian strategies are wanting?
   19. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: July 15, 2014 at 01:45 AM (#4750496)
In June 2015 Arsenal is trying to buy my Brazilian wonderkid Gabriel Barbosa for $50 million. Hands off, jerks!


My brilliant Australian striker and reigning Euro Golden Boot holder, Rocky Bastable, is pissed at me for not letting him go to PSG because he doesn't think little Wrexham can match his ambitions of playing at the highest stages of the game. Except we just advanced to the knockout round of the Champions League while PSG finished third in their group, and we finished 2nd last year in the EPL while they finished 3rd in Ligue 1. Damnit, Bastard.
   20. Ardo Posted: July 15, 2014 at 02:39 AM (#4750502)
Closing thoughts on the World Cup:

Muller deserved to win the Golden Ball - the best attacking player on the best team. Certainly not Messi. Rodriguez or Robben would have been better choices. Lahm may have been the actual tournament MVP, but he's not a goal scorer.

Neuer is the best in the world, but Costa Rica's Keylor Navas faced more stressful situations in the tournament and deserved the goalkeeper's award.

Soccer has to open up somehow. Two hours of a one-nil match is narcoleptic. The round robin saw beautiful attacking soccer, but then it dried up. In the knockout stages, setting aside 7-1 as an anomaly, there were 27 total goals in 15 games, only 1.8 per game for both teams. It's too easy for good teams to park the bus and play anti-football.

I'd suggest an hockey-style offside rule with the equivalent of blue lines, an individual (maybe five?) limit on total (common, not carded) fouls, and a rule that a player who goes down hurt has to stand on the side of the pitch and receive medical attention for 2 minutes before returning. This last item would severely discourage diving; also, it would make sure that a player in Cristoph Kramer's position would be judged "unfit to continue" and immediately substituted out.




   21. Swedish Chef Posted: July 15, 2014 at 03:15 AM (#4750507)
I'd suggest an hockey-style offside rule with the equivalent of blue lines,

So if I park my centerbacks back from the blue line, they're always going to have the jump on the attackers who can't cross until the ball gets there. That doesn't sound like a recipe for offense. Damn people, think before you propose sweeping reforms.
   22. Richard Posted: July 15, 2014 at 03:35 AM (#4750510)
Soccer has to open up somehow. Two hours of a one-nil match is narcoleptic.

It can be, but just about the only place this is a recurring problem is in the latter stages of international tournaments. It is not a serious problem at any other level of football. Don't fix what isn't broken.

The attacking football dried up because everyone (well, nearly everyone) is very good and there's a fear of failure.

Same with diving. It's a big issue at the World Cup. It can be an issue from time to time in the EPL and other leagues. Is it really a serious problem anywhere else, so as to justify rule change? It certainly isn't in the lower English leagues or in amateur football.
   23. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: July 15, 2014 at 05:45 AM (#4750513)
Does Adidas' willingness to spend close to three times what they pay Madrid and Bayern indicate that those clubs' Asian strategies are wanting?
Other clubs are catching up, but I don't think anyone else has made Asia as much of a priority for as long as Man U, or done it in the same fashion -- organisational staff focused on the market; regular touring (for the most part well organised, with players prepped and available for pressers & such; no embarrassing gaffs like Dani Alves mixing up Koreas); and a whorish focus on marketing deals that raise cash and spread the brand even further. Having Beckham at the height of his powers, along with players like Park Ji-Sung, helped too.
   24. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: July 15, 2014 at 06:03 AM (#4750514)
Same with diving. It's a big issue at the World Cup. It can be an issue from time to time in the EPL and other leagues. Is it really a serious problem anywhere else, so as to justify rule change? It certainly isn't in the lower English leagues or in amateur football.
Dunno about a rule change, but adding a limited booth ref for top leagues and competitions to help with cards would improve the overall quality of refereeing (see 2013/14 EPL) and potentially have a knock-on effect on diving and overly dramatic falls generally, by taking away the excuse of "otherwise the ref won't see it."

On rule changes, pushing penalties back a few yards when it's not a clear goal-scoring opportunity could help to diminish the tendency to just go down near goal, but it would also open up a whole 'nother can of worms.
   25. I am going to be Frank Posted: July 15, 2014 at 09:41 AM (#4750553)
The Premier League is big in southeast Asia and India. Thailand and Singapore rights' holders both pay more per year than the US. A lot of that has to do with United and those countries have never had a player close to making it (although there have been a handful of ethnic-Indian Brits). Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and (obviously more recently) City have their share of fans, but United still is the biggest name.

Knockout stages of tournaments are always going to be tighter than group stages. There is no worry about goal differential in single elimination games and if they've gotten that far, coaches should know what works for them and what doesn't. Of course that Brazil-Germany result is an exception but its such an outlier.
   26. steagles Posted: July 15, 2014 at 10:26 AM (#4750579)
On rule changes, pushing penalties back a few yards when it's not a clear goal-scoring opportunity could help to diminish the tendency to just go down near goal, but it would also open up a whole 'nother can of worms.
how about adding dots to the field? instead of being a spot foul, all direct non-penalty kicks would be taken from one dot that's 25 yards out. people like dots.

a player who goes down hurt has to stand on the side of the pitch and receive medical attention for 2 minutes before returning. This last item would severely discourage diving; also, it would make sure that a player in Cristoph Kramer's position would be judged "unfit to continue" and immediately substituted out.
it's the substitution rules that keep a player like that in the game. everyone knew he was severely concussed, but he was put back on the field because there was a chance it wouldn't hurt them (it didn't) and they didn't want to waste one of their 3 hoagies if they didn't have to.

It will always be Reebok stadium to me.
yeah, that's the problem with stadium naming rights. it's still jacobs field to me; it's still enron field to me. whoever pays for the 2nd name isn't gonna get nearly as much recognition as whoever paid for the first.

   27. AuntBea Posted: July 15, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4750618)
Why was I not aware of this horrifying incident at the world cup until yesterday?
   28. ursus arctos Posted: July 15, 2014 at 11:55 AM (#4750625)
Completely agree with 23 and 25 regarding Man Utd's current privileged position in Asia, I'm just wondering how long it would last were their period without Champions League football be prolonged.
   29. Sean Forman Posted: July 15, 2014 at 12:02 PM (#4750628)
A couple tweaks I'd like to see.

Retroactive yellows for diving via video review after the match. Also if you draw a penalty or a red card by diving, I'd give you a retroactive red. Obviously wouldn't affect the final game of the WC or perhaps even a knockout, but I think it would have some effect and it might make officials more likely to call penalties. I think it would act to reduce the culture of diving and which would reduce diving even when it might be good to do so (as in a Final).

If your hands touch while you have your arms around a player's chest or waist on a corner, it's a penalty. period. The hugging on corners is so odd.

My view is there should be (at least to start) more penalties rather than fewer, so it would open up the offensive game somewhat. But refs are unwilling to call some of them because of the flopping.

So I think working on the diving would lead to more penalties being called which would open up the offense a bit.

I would also look at adding end line officials who perhaps travel from the 18 yd box to the end line to watch for more off the ball fouls.

edit: so I don't think any of the rules need to be changed, just more eyes involved to call the rules as they are already written.
   30. Richard Posted: July 15, 2014 at 12:07 PM (#4750629)
Ursus - perhaps not that long. 15 to 20 years ago Newcastle shirts were a reasonably common sight. Now they are gone, to be replaced by Chelsea and City shirts.
   31. ursus arctos Posted: July 15, 2014 at 12:23 PM (#4750640)
And before that I recall Blackburn Rovers' shirts being popular outside of deepest Lancashire.
   32. I am going to be Frank Posted: July 15, 2014 at 12:24 PM (#4750642)
Liverpool have been out of Champions League for how long? They're still relatively popular, although they're probably behind City now in Asia.
   33. Swedish Chef Posted: July 15, 2014 at 12:25 PM (#4750643)
Gaspart: Barcelona have been punished by Suarez ban


Oh hell, I'm sure you used the ban for all that it was worth in the negotiations with Liverpool.
   34. OCF Posted: July 15, 2014 at 12:27 PM (#4750645)
My view is there should be (at least to start) more penalties rather than fewer, so it would open up the offensive game somewhat. But refs are unwilling to call some of them because of the flopping.

How about more referees? Think about it: the NBA uses three referees to cover five a side in a much smaller space. American football has as many players in as big a field, and has how many refs? They're everywhere you look. Keep the two guys on the sideline specializing in offsides, but also have three refs running around on the field looking at different parts of the action. Designate one of them as the head ref; maybe only the head ref can hand out cards, but the on-field assistants can conference with him and tell him what they saw.

And yeah: set piece, nice cross into the box, an offensive player could have jumped for a header except that he couldn't get off the ground because a defender had an arm draped over his shoulder or a firm grip on his shirt? Go ahead and call it. Maybe it seems shocking to have such a "cheap" penalty, but call that a few times, and players would get the message pretty quickly. Which would make set pieces worth more.

And I like Sean's idea of retroactive review for flopping; maybe also retroactive review of all cards as well, the way the NBA reviews flagrants.
   35. Swedish Chef Posted: July 15, 2014 at 12:29 PM (#4750649)
United have until 2020 or so to turn it around, it wouldn't worry (or dance on their grave) just yet.

Speaking of unlikable mega-clubs, Diego Costa is now a Chelsea player.
   36. ursus arctos Posted: July 15, 2014 at 12:39 PM (#4750657)
Italy has episodically used retroactive review for flopping and for flagrant fouls the officials missed. There isn't a good reason that it shouldn't be used more widely.

I've long supported additional referees.

A potential helpful precedent in this regard is hockey, which has gone to a four official (two referees and two linesmen) system at the highest levels.

In hockey, that system gives each referee primary responsibility for one half of the ice, but doesn't restrict the other referee from crossing the center line. The wiki describes it as follows:

The four-official system adds a second referee for a total of two referees and two linesmen. In this system, each referee works either the lead/front or the trail/back position. The lead position is normally in corner of the end zone, while the trail position is the neutral zone, diagonally opposite each other. As the game transitions from one end of the ice to the other, the lead becomes the trail and vice versa. The four-official system is used in the NHL and at other high levels, such as major junior, junior 'A', and top European leagues. In 2007-2008, college hockey used the system in some games on a trial basis.[2] The IIHF implemented this system for the 2008 IIHF World Championship and it was used during the 2010 Winter Olympics.[3] The NCAA voted in July 2012 to make the four-official system mandatory for men's games starting in the 2013-14 season.


The roles of hockey linesmen differ from those of their soccer counterparts in important ways. Notably, hockey linesmen are on the "field of play" and not restricted to a single sideline (though they do tend to stay close to the edge of one side of the ice when they aren't conducting face-offs or breaking up fights). They also have more authority to call certain kinds of infractions than soccer "assistant referees" do. Perhaps most importantly, offsides in hockey is much clearer and easier to call in hockey that it is in soccer, and can done so effectively by having a linesman stand astride (or near) the blue line. That doesn't work in soccer and means that assistant referees have to be more mobile.

I could see a system in which you have two linesmen on each side of the pitch (each responsible for one half), with two referees operating on the "hockey system" described above, but think that would be considered too dramatic a change from the current system. Perhaps a better trial would be four officials on the hockey system, with the possible addition of an official behind each goal to focus on incidents in the box from a different angle. Personally, I'd like to see how an official in an elevated tennis umpire type chair behind the goal would "see" the game. It's an angle that is often very helpful in determining just what went on in the box.

The Europa League experiment with end line officials has tended to founder on their relative passivity, and it remains unclear as to whether that is a structural problem or one that is grounded in relationships between referees and "non-referees". If we are going to try to have more officials, it strikes me as essential that they be empowered to take an active role in the calling of the game. Without some independent authority, they will just be taking up space.
   37. ursus arctos Posted: July 15, 2014 at 12:47 PM (#4750658)
The World Cup in cartoons.

The artist is a friend, but he's also incredibly talented.
   38. PreservedFish Posted: July 15, 2014 at 12:50 PM (#4750664)
What would happen if there were no offsides? Would it ruin the sport?
   39. Mefisto Posted: July 15, 2014 at 12:50 PM (#4750665)
I agree with Sean that there needs to be video review with cards. I also agree that more penalties should be awarded, not fewer. Far too many times we see fouls which certainly would have been called anywhere else on the field, but ignored in the area.
   40. ursus arctos Posted: July 15, 2014 at 12:55 PM (#4750671)
No offsides would ruin the sport, yes.
   41. PreservedFish Posted: July 15, 2014 at 12:59 PM (#4750673)
I stated earlier that there should be different degrees of penalties. Penalty shots as we have them now should only be rewarded for the obstruction of clear scoring chances. A regular old foul in the box should result in a free kick on the edge of the box, or perhaps a second type of penalty kick that's a bit further away so that the goalie isn't just guessing.

Also, PKs to end the game should be taken from farther away than they are. Make it a damn sport.
   42. zack Posted: July 15, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4750676)
A regular old foul in the box should result in a free kick on the edge of the box, or perhaps a second type of penalty kick that's a bit further away so that the goalie isn't just guessing.

The problem with free kicks is that there's a very limited range in which they are directly dangerous. That close it's really hard to get the ball over the wall and back under the crossbar (or around it and inside the post). I think a defensive player would give up free kicks from that spot all day without even worrying about it.

Penalties do increase scoring, but they're still boring and involve stoppages. Free kicks are even worse since the stoppages are longer. Anything you're tweaking should be to increase scoring chances from play rather than scoring itself.
   43. PreservedFish Posted: July 15, 2014 at 01:07 PM (#4750681)
42 - There must be another solve. Refs are reluctant to call fouls in the box because the punishment is wildly out of proportion with the offense. It's not a good situation.

Remember that game that the US lost against Ghana 8 years ago where Ghana were awarded a penalty after Onyewu bumped his opponent a little bit too hard going for a header? In that case you are either awarding a grossly undeserved scoring chance to one team, or you're ignoring what is a real foul. The referee should have some discretion as to the severity of the punishment.

And if the edge of the box is too close, let them place it further back.
   44. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: July 15, 2014 at 01:20 PM (#4750690)
The World Cup in cartoons.

The artist is a friend, but he's also incredibly talented.


Heartily recommended ursus' link. It is very funny.

Why not just eliminate the penalty kick and simply make fouls free kicks in the box? My thinking is that even with a wall set up a free kick inside the box would be a very dangerous situation while not necessarily an automatic goal. This would hopefully result in refs more willing to call fouls in the box (as mefisto notes the stuff they allow in there is silly) and the end result would be less fouling and more open play.

I think the suggestion of a second full referee as ursus notes in #36 is too obvious not to be done. It would make diving much less beneficial because it would be more easily picked up. I think this is a no-brainer to be done.

With that said I'm not especially bothered as things stand. One of the things that strikes me about soccer is that if a team is better on a given day they seem to win regularly. By contrast hockey seems to have an "unjust" winner more often.
   45. Grunthos Posted: July 15, 2014 at 01:21 PM (#4750692)
No offsides would yield a sport much closer to basketball, where the middle of the playing surface is generally irrelevant. The ball would immediately travel to the endline after each change of possession, and you'd have either a transition/fast-break score or a halfcourt offensive set. Defenses would be packed into their own end, and some kind of shot would be almost guaranteed from each halfcourt set, with a correspondingly greater emphasis on the kinds of moves you see basketball teams doing (inside-out plays, pick-and-rolls, etc.) to improve the quality of that inevitable shot. Although without a three point line or the ability to score from wide positions, I expect it would be rather stagnant.

Most everyone agrees that the result would be exceedingly boring. Basketball on quaaludes.
   46. Swedish Chef Posted: July 15, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4750697)
What would happen if there were no offsides? Would it ruin the sport?

So I'll take a big strong guy and place in in the opponents penalty area the whole game to act as a target. My opponents allots two guys to control him. I give my man another guy as support, the opponents move another back there. I place a guy just outside the area to handle any balls pinballed there. My opponents counter with a man taking him on. Imagine this happening at the other end. We both now have 7 guys committed to the penalty areas and environs. Leaving three guys to patrol the rest of the field and lifting it into the scrums.

And if this isn't how it would develop, how would you handle a loitering target man?
   47. zack Posted: July 15, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4750698)

With that said I'm not especially bothered as things stand. One of the things that strikes me about soccer is that if a team is better on a given day they seem to win regularly. By contrast hockey seems to have an "unjust" winner more often.

I don't think this is comparable. The difference between the best and worst NHL team is miniscule compared to the difference between the best and worst EPL team.
   48. Sean Forman Posted: July 15, 2014 at 01:26 PM (#4750700)

Penalties do increase scoring, but they're still boring and involve stoppages. Free kicks are even worse since the stoppages are longer. Anything you're tweaking should be to increase scoring chances from play rather than scoring itself.


I think it's a catch-22, refs that never call penalties mean that fewer goals will be scored from open play. Refs with a willingness to call any and all penalties mean that there will be more goals from open play since defenders will have to not foul players in the box.

It's pretty clear also that the shape of the box is suboptimal.

Re: free kicks, I'm curious if the any of the Euro lgs use the spray foam and if they do if that affects goal scoring rates on free kicks. Allowing the kicker to move the ball back in a straight line as far as they want would make sense to me as well. Might be interesting to also make the wall stay 10 yards from the spot of the original foul. You could do that and then shrink the penalty box a bit and then free kicks closer in would have considerably more value. That would actually cause the location of the foul to be directly correlated to the quality of the goal scoring opportunity given to the offensive team.

I think that would be a really good idea.

For non-pk fouls. Opposition wall must be ten yards from the spot of the foul and the shooter can take the ball back from the spot as far as they want.


   49. Mefisto Posted: July 15, 2014 at 01:29 PM (#4750704)
I think it's a catch-22, refs that never call penalties mean that fewer goals will be scored from open play. Refs with a willingness to call any and all penalties mean that there will be more goals from open play since defenders will have to not foul players in the box
.

Exactly.
   50. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: July 15, 2014 at 01:45 PM (#4750724)
Gaspart: Barcelona have been punished by Suarez ban
The worst part was how FIFA kept the ban a secret until after Barca paid all that money.
   51. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: July 15, 2014 at 01:59 PM (#4750742)
Conte resigning at Juve? What the heck. Surely not for the national team, right? Monaco or PSG?
   52. Mefisto Posted: July 15, 2014 at 02:12 PM (#4750760)
It's pretty clear also that the shape of the box is suboptimal.


I assume something like MCOA's data could be used to draw a better penalty area.
   53. ursus arctos Posted: July 15, 2014 at 02:17 PM (#4750768)
The Conte news is a shock.

I'd guess he's going to take the Italy job.
   54. madvillain Posted: July 15, 2014 at 02:22 PM (#4750773)
What would happen if there were no offsides? Would it ruin the sport?


Yes, there was a time when there was no offsides rule and it was not a time of la juega bonita.

So I'll take a big strong guy and place in in the opponents penalty area the whole game to act as a target. My opponents allots two guys to control him. I give my man another guy as support, the opponents move another back there. I place a guy just outside the area to handle any balls pinballed there. My opponents counter with a man taking him on. Imagine this happening at the other end. We both now have 7 guys committed to the penalty areas and environs. Leaving three guys to patrol the rest of the field and lifting it into the scrums.


Yep, it would kill the game as we know it. We know what it would look like without the offsides rule and it's a formation with no mids.
   55. The Marksist Posted: July 15, 2014 at 02:26 PM (#4750780)
What about awarding a free kick from a designated area off the corner of the current penalty area for a non-penalty foul in the box? Maybe 10 yards off the corner. Yeah, more set play scrums in the box, but those would be legit opportunities for any competent offense but by no means a high-percentage chance.
   56. PreservedFish Posted: July 15, 2014 at 02:28 PM (#4750783)
Just curious. Thank you gentlemen. Let's keep offsides!
   57. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: July 15, 2014 at 02:28 PM (#4750784)
Eibar has raised enough money to play in La Liga. I hope they let them play in their home stadium.
   58. JoeHova Posted: July 15, 2014 at 02:34 PM (#4750794)
Just to add to the list of games, Chivas plays Swansea City at Miller Park tomorrow. Maybe not the most glamorous match-up but I know a lot of Chivas fans in Milwaukee are excited.
   59. PepTech Posted: July 15, 2014 at 03:13 PM (#4750862)
More England woes:

Joey Barton comes out of international retirement
Is the woeful part the announcement itself, or the idea he might actually help them?

Yes, it's a trick question.
   60. I am going to be Frank Posted: July 15, 2014 at 03:21 PM (#4750872)
So the scuttlebutt around Conte is that Juve is about to sell someone that they promised Conte that they wouldn't sell. Pogba or Virdal or both?
   61. ursus arctos Posted: July 15, 2014 at 03:59 PM (#4750931)
Vidal to Manchester United for 40 million sterling, give or take a few quid.
   62. madvillain Posted: July 15, 2014 at 04:00 PM (#4750932)
Some Yanks Abroad updates:

Yedlin rumors (assorted online sources, probably mustly BS: Bayern is interested. Juventus is interested. Olympique Lyon is apparently interested. Lotta smoke, no fire. Roma stuff has died down.

Bayern team page interview with Julian Green, seems pretty happy about being a UMSNT member.

Interesting Big Soccer thread on this kid Emerson Hyndman that is in Fulham's youth system. Apparently he's been getting good minutes in the preseason and could see some first team action in the Championship this year.
   63. puck Posted: July 15, 2014 at 04:26 PM (#4750953)
Is the Vidal thing official?

So that would be:

Vidal
Ander Herrera
Luke Shaw

Edit: Still trying for Kroos, Di Maria maybe? Though I also read Kroos to Real Madrid and Di Maria to PSG.

Meanwhile, Chelsea has brought in Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas? They still have Oscar, Hazard, Willian and Ramires?
   64. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: July 15, 2014 at 04:27 PM (#4750954)
Bummer about 61. That Juve midfield has been a treat the past couple seasons. Would've been nice to have seen he and Pogba together for one more year.

So the best guess for Conte's exit likely relates to him seeing the writing on the wall with regards to Vidal, right? I've also got to imagine that one of PSG, Madrid, Chelsea or City table a huge bid for Pogba, if not this summer then next.

EDIT: And Markovic to LFC is official.
   65. Rennie's Tenet Posted: July 15, 2014 at 04:38 PM (#4750965)
Eibar has raised enough money to play in La Liga. I hope they let them play in their home stadium.


I'm guessing the leagues in Europe are like sports in the US, and the visiting club gets a percentage of the gate?
   66. Mefisto Posted: July 15, 2014 at 04:44 PM (#4750975)
Vidal isn't official yet, best I can tell.
   67. Swedish Chef Posted: July 15, 2014 at 04:49 PM (#4750979)
I'm guessing the leagues in Europe are like sports in the US, and the visiting club gets a percentage of the gate?

I can't think of a league that does that*, when thinking European football, think laissez faire. Most leagues share the TV money in some way, equally or unequally**. Not Spain yet, but they will have a deal from next year, where Real and Barca will only get 33% of the money (down from 56%, they get more from selling their home games than the other teams get for selling all their rights including the giants' away games excluding derbies).

*) EDIT: But there is a large measure of ignorance here, I have never thought about it, it may be common for all I know outside the few leagues I follow closely.
**) Which makes the CL money so nice because the big clubs doesn't have to share it around the league, they get to keep it all.
   68. Swedish Chef Posted: July 15, 2014 at 05:01 PM (#4750990)
I believe Ki is a pretty good player, because he's not going to Villa.
   69. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: July 15, 2014 at 05:03 PM (#4750998)
In European soccer you should generally assume that any mechanism at all for sharing money or increasing competitive balance is unheard of. Not only do bigger teams get more fans through the gates, they get more TV revenue, and they get better spots in the league schedule, and they get better sponsorship deals (and dozens more of them), and they get better rates on loans, and they more get handouts from local governments, and they are usually the only ones that can afford to have real farm systems (academies), and when they buy a player from a fellow big team they pay vastly more than when they buy the same player from a small team, etc.

The Premier League's relatively equitable disbursement of TV money is a real outlier. And the relative parity in the Premier League has clearly led to Premier League players being exhausted during summer international tournaments, compared to players from all other leagues in the world. (also, almost all other leagues have fewer than 20 teams and thus fewer than 38 games in a season, almost all other countries have fewer cup competitions, almost all other countries have a longer winter break, etc.)
   70. Swedish Chef Posted: July 15, 2014 at 05:06 PM (#4751002)
As far as I can see Vidal is either just about to be signed by United or they have no interest at all and haven't even spoken to Juventus about him.
   71. puck Posted: July 15, 2014 at 05:26 PM (#4751035)
As far as I can see Vidal is either just about to be signed by United or they have no interest at all and haven't even spoken to Juventus about him.

Ha! That does seem to be how silly season goes.
   72. Textbook Editor Posted: July 15, 2014 at 05:29 PM (#4751044)
It's pretty clear also that the shape of the box is suboptimal.


I can't recall this exactly, but I think the box is some mathematical calculation of the total width of the goal area (or something like that). I'm sure someone else knows the reason for why it's the shape it is.

It might be interesting to make "penalties" 10+ yards out from goal into free kicks (with walls, etc.), but create a new (red?) line from 10 yards and in where--if a foul occurs in that area--it's a penalty kick. But then you'd get goalies chopping down guys in 1v1 situations as soon as they entered the box, knowing it won't be a penalty and accepting the red card--and I'm not sure that's a good idea to promote.

With regard to concussion protocols, there was a piece in Grantland that did a pretty good job at exploring all the alternative ideas for how to treat these (with extra subs, etc.) but came to the conclusion that pretty much any of the options getting kicked around now can/would be "gamed" if implemented, and that basically the only viable option is to stop play and have an independent doctor assess, and then tack on added time. While I agree (in theory), I can see two problems with this: (a) Knackered teams will almost certainly try to fake a head injury to get a 7-minute delay in knockout games, so the collective team can take a break, and (b) if there starts being 10+ minutes of added time routinely at games, this could foul up TV slots for regular league games... and we all know TV can't be messed with.

Adding a 4th or even a 5th substitute would just help large teams with deep rosters, so that's not viable either... I'm not sure what is the solution here. Possibly retroactive yellows/reds for elbows to the head on 50/50 balls (even unintentional ones) might cause a different approach to heading challenges, which might lead (over time) to a reduction in both elbow-to-head and head-to-head collisions, but that's just pure speculation on my part.
   73. ursus arctos Posted: July 15, 2014 at 05:43 PM (#4751058)
Crispix' precis of the state of European soccer is unfortunately accurate, though perhaps less applicable to the Bundesliga than other leagues. When one examines the details, even "equitable" distribution mechanisms tend to favor the "big" clubs.

Gate sharing used to be more common in Europe, but hasn't been for quite a while.

And the Vidal thing is definitely not official, but is my guess based on rumblings in both Italy and England and Conte's departure.
   74. Manny Coon Posted: July 15, 2014 at 05:57 PM (#4751077)
Adding a 4th or even a 5th substitute would just help large teams with deep rosters, so that's not viable either... I'm not sure what is the solution here.


I was thinking about this the other day, how about something like an extra substitute, but the concussed player isn't allowed to play for two weeks after the sub, I think would this prevent some gaming of the system and also allow the player time to recover.
   75. zack Posted: July 15, 2014 at 06:06 PM (#4751086)
Didn't read the article (cause you didn't link it!), but what about temp subs? During the protocol, the team can use a like-for-like sub. If the injured player can't return to the game, it becomes a permanent sub and uses one of the slots. If the injured player can return, the sub goes off and it doesn't count. Sure, it can be gamed like literally every solution, but I don't see players purposefully knocking heads just to get fresh legs out for 10 minutes. After 80 minutes the sub is automatically permanent.

Of course, concussion protocols are only as good as their enforcement. Hockey has free substitution and players with head knocks are supposed to go to the "quiet room" for 10 minutes, and yet you routinely see somebody get clobbered and then on the ice for their next shift. And that's without the player forcing his team to be shorthanded (but with a very pervasive culture of playing through injury).
   76. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: July 15, 2014 at 06:53 PM (#4751121)
Podolski gives Khedira some light Cesc-to-Barca treatment at Germany's victory rally (no jersey involved).

   77. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: July 15, 2014 at 08:39 PM (#4751255)
Slate concludes its "World Cup Jerk Watch" series:


Jerk Score: 3 out of 3 for style, for simultaneously dancing and leering like a creepy uncle. 3 out of 3 for technique, because he’s never been caught taking his own bribe. 3 out of 3 for consistency, for planning to run for a fifth term as FIFA president after promising to quit. And 1 out of 1 in the category of “Inspiring Pop Musicians to Devote Entire Songs to How Much They Hate You.” 10 out of 10 for Sepp Blatter.
   78. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: July 15, 2014 at 09:03 PM (#4751303)
I was thinking about this the other day, how about something like an extra substitute, but the concussed player isn't allowed to play for two weeks after the sub, I think would this prevent some gaming of the system and also allow the player time to recover.

I would think that would lead to teams being even less willing to let concussed players come out.
   79. PreservedFish Posted: July 15, 2014 at 09:30 PM (#4751343)
You could have an extra sub who only exists to jump in during concussion scares. Cannot be substituted at any other time. If the head injury guy in fact needs to leave the game, you remove this extra guy and replace with a real sub. Maybe that's too much work.
   80. Swedish Chef Posted: July 16, 2014 at 07:03 AM (#4751679)
Allegri takes over Juventus. The good thing about being a manager in Italy is that nobody holds a firing or three against you.
   81. Textbook Editor Posted: July 16, 2014 at 08:07 AM (#4751700)
Here's that Grantland article.

Sorry I didn't link before; read it on my phone and didn't have the link handy when posting from computer...

The article addresses some of the ideas brought up above. #79 is an interesting one I hadn't considered, but there are all sorts of problems with who's the "designated concussion substitute" (DCS)--do you make him a midfielder? A defender? What if it's a striker who's lost and your "DCS" is a defender--can your team change its shape for ~10 minutes to allow for this while the guy's getting assessed?

Should a team with a possible concussed player be "penalized" for losing a guy? If you had to announce who your DCS was prior to the game (and it was a defender), wouldn't a team have some small motivation to try to take out a striker to mess up the team's shape (if only for ~10 minutes)?

It's a pickle no matter how you look at it. I like the idea of both teams going down 1 player (assuming the challenge that caused the concussion wasn't a red card offense) until the concussed player is assessed by an independent doctor who must attend every game (the other team can pick which player from their team would come off). But, again, that could be gamed a bit and are you really going to have Conference teams (and below even) pay for doctors to attend every game (and be impartial ones at that)? The only advantage of this plan is it does, at least, remove the incentive for one team to purposefully want to concuss a player so as to disadvantage the team.
   82. Textbook Editor Posted: July 16, 2014 at 08:16 AM (#4751705)
One thing to add: It would seem like data is also what is needed here, and that seems rather scarce. We need to understand how pervasive the problem is in the normal flow of the game: are there 3 stoppages for possible head injuries per game? or 20? We really have no idea, especially at lower levels (i.e., untelevised). Should we count any collision where a player walks away rubbing his head as a possible concussion event? Or only when the ref stops play?

It would seem that the FA could, at least, step in for English soccer and demand in the 4 tiers of league football that this stuff starts getting tracked (maybe for 1 year, or half a season, or some defined period of time) to try to figure out how extensive the issue is. Because in the games I watch it seems somewhat rare there's a stoppage for a potential head injury, and that it's far more the case that players collide, they both rub their heads, and play goes on... but we need to track any blow to the head (head to head, knee to head, whatever) over a defined period of time, across leagues, to get some sense of the scope we're looking at.
   83. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: July 16, 2014 at 10:44 AM (#4751801)
Re: Concussion substitutes, the Australian Football League has a rule that seems to work very well, but may need to be tweaked for soccer.

If a player suffers a head injury, teams are permitted to replace him without penalty for 20 minutes while doctors check him for a concussion. Doctors wait ten minutes before running an official test on the player. This, AFAIK, is intended to serve as a disincentive to abuse the rule and to make sure the teams don't blow through the testing procedure because they're in a hurry.

If the player has a medically diagnosed concussion, obviously he's done for the day and the substitute stays on. If the player doesn't have a concussion, the team can either a) wait until the end of the 20 minute period and put him back on the field with no penalty, or b) put him back on the field immediately and give away (essentially) a free kick in a dangerous offensive position.

I like that teams don't have to go a man down in order to test for concussion, but that the sub has to stay on the field for a long enough period that teams wouldn't be inclined to pull a star player for a "concussion test" just to rest him.
   84. Randy Jones Posted: July 16, 2014 at 10:47 AM (#4751806)
So at the press conference introducing Allegri, the CEO of Juventus said "Vidal is our player, big clubs asked for him but he'll stay and he's happy here. We've never put him up for sale". That means Vidal is gone by the end of the week, right?
   85. ursus arctos Posted: July 16, 2014 at 11:25 AM (#4751868)
Probably.

I hadn't been aware of the AFL rule, and it sounds like a good one in principle to me. One thing I like about it is that the kinds of clashes of heads that occur in soccer are not uncommon in Aussie Rules.

Randy, on cue, Chilean TV is reporting that Vidal to Man Utd is a done deal.
   86. Ron J2 Posted: July 16, 2014 at 11:56 AM (#4751910)
#46 The NHL briefly experimented with a no offside game. Not sure it ruined the game, but it made it a very different game. Montreal had one player with 44 goals (in 22 games) and 4 assists.

Yeah, assists were harder to get back then, but still ... The target men were pretty clearly operating without a lot of support most of the time. They just camped out in the opponents end.
   87. I am going to be Frank Posted: July 16, 2014 at 03:20 PM (#4752156)
Since some transfers can be extraordinarily difficult, Vidal may drag on a bit (or may not have even started). New coaches at both clubs, Vidal coming off of World Cup and Pogba drawing interest (and a lot bigger potential fee) just adds degrees of difficulty.

Chelsea bought Atletico's left back Felipe Luis. I'd imagine that means more Ivanovic at CB and Azupilicueta at RB.
   88. Swedish Chef Posted: July 16, 2014 at 03:38 PM (#4752172)
So why can't United buy Pogba? The embarrassment of spending fifty million for something they squandered away?
   89. frannyzoo Posted: July 16, 2014 at 03:39 PM (#4752173)
I'm a big Felipe Luis fan and hope he does well, even at a club I'd rather see lose every game. Atletico has just about paid down all the debt now (well, depending...); I look forward to supporting them in what might be a fun, yet lean year. It all sets up for RM dominance in 2014-2015, but maybe Simeone can conjure up a team that stays above the ever-growing downward vortex that is Barca.
   90. ursus arctos Posted: July 16, 2014 at 03:42 PM (#4752177)
In more meaningful games, looking forward to some qualifiers this week, St. Patrick's Athletic (Dublin) vs Liega Warsaw in particular just cos a co-worker's a Paddy's fan.


St. Pat's are wining in Warsaw. They also lost a supporter who died in as yet unclear circumstances in the city earlier today.
   91. ursus arctos Posted: July 16, 2014 at 03:45 PM (#4752180)
Marca, which is rarely wrong about Real Madrid, are reporting that they are going to unveil Toni Kroos tomorrow afternoon, which would seem to give credence to rumors that Khedira and Di Maria are being sold.

Kroos is great, but I really don't understand why they would dispense with Di Maria
   92. Swedish Chef Posted: July 16, 2014 at 03:52 PM (#4752187)

Kroos is great, but I really don't understand why they would dispense with Di Maria


The take I have seen is that he will be replaced by James, the flavor of the month!, and that Ancelotti isn't happy about losing him.
   93. I am going to be Frank Posted: July 16, 2014 at 04:03 PM (#4752195)
So what is Madrid's plan?

Ronaldo - Benzema - Bale
Kroos - Alonso - Modric
Marcelo - Pepe - Ramos - Carvajal

with Rodriguez, Jese, Illarrmendi, Arbeloa, Varane, Coentrao and Isco rotating in?
   94. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: July 16, 2014 at 04:21 PM (#4752210)
Seems crazy to buy Rodriguez for the rumored €70 mil+ if you don't have a plan to start him. I could see a midfield of Modric, Kroos and Rodriquez against weaker teams, although I think that misuses Modric and Kroos. On the other hand, they're Real Madrid. They could totally be planning to pay €70 mil for Rodriguez to use as a super sub.
   95. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: July 16, 2014 at 05:24 PM (#4752267)
St. Patrick's with a heartbreaking, but ultimately productive, draw in Warsaw. They scored on a beautiful bit of back and forth and could have had another, but were doubly lucky to escape a red card on their keeper (channeled his inner Neuer to challenge an attacker at the edge of the box, ended up catching his leg; probably should have been red but the ref ruled he was going away from goal) and a goal on the ensuing free kick (off the crossbar); held on, and on, and on, before conceding in the 91st minute after some sloppy defending.

The second leg should be fun; there are over 100k Polish living in Ireland so the crowd could be interesting as well (Richmond Park holds about 6k).
   96. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: July 16, 2014 at 05:31 PM (#4752276)
Seems crazy to buy Rodriguez for the rumored €70 mil+ if you don't have a plan to start him. I could see a midfield of Modric, Kroos and Rodriquez against weaker teams, although I think that misuses Modric and Kroos. On the other hand, they're Real Madrid. They could totally be planning to pay €70 mil for Rodriguez to use as a super sub.
To be fair, Rodridguez is really, really shiny.
   97. ursus arctos Posted: July 16, 2014 at 05:35 PM (#4752278)
Great gesture by Mesut Ozil.

He has donated his bonus to pay for operations for sick kids in Brazil.

In general, Germany did things right on and off the field in Brazil and deserve compliments. Here's a piece on their relationship with the people of Bahia.

So after they won the World Cup for a fourth time, Germany gifted fans from all over with some scintillating football. Yet their greatest gift was for the people that they built a relationship with during their time there. The German federation decided to donate the complex they built from scratch to the supporters that made the Mannschafft feel like they were home. That move was quite unexpected but well received. The players also donated over US$ 13,000 for the community to buy an ambulance. Also part of that resort that was built by the DFB is reportedly going to be turned into a school.

Yes, the German national team became the first national team to win on South American soil. Yet their legacy to the people of Bahia will be greater as they became the first federation in World Cup history to build their own World Cup complex, or should I say a complex for the people.


Bravo Deutschland
   98. ursus arctos Posted: July 16, 2014 at 06:36 PM (#4752325)
Report from a friend in Dublin:

Sickener for St Pats. By all accounts it was far from a backs-to-the-wall performance, and they played plenty of good football. Nice to see an Irish team deploy a modern five-man midfield and endeavour to keep the ball when up against superior opposition.

Pats have been forced by the Gardai to play the home leg in nearby Tallaght Stadium. Thanks to the demand for tickets from Irish-based Polish fans, Legia requested 2,500 tickets. Richmond Park can only accommodate a little over one thousand, due to three sides of the ground not being allowed open for European ties. The Gardai, conscious of the possibility of over a thousand Legia fans outside the ground and not able to gain admission, and the public order concerns this would bring, ordered the club to switch the tie to Tallaght, which can accommodate almost 6,000. If Pats could get through to the third leg, they'll have made serious money. Fingers crossed for next week.
   99. puck Posted: July 16, 2014 at 10:47 PM (#4752460)
MLS fan vote for the all star team (yeah, they do this, too). Does this team look familiar?

GK Rimando
Def Yedlin
Def Besler
Def O.Gonzalez
Mid Bradley
Mid Zusi
Mid Beckerman
Mid Dempsey
Fwd Donovan
Fwd Thierry Henry
Fwd Obafemi Martins

   100. The Marksist Posted: July 17, 2014 at 09:19 AM (#4752598)
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