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Friday, March 01, 2013

OT: The Soccer Thread, March 2013

Update your bookmarks, it’s the soccer thread.

Football hipster word of the month: Catenaccio
THTF news: Two months of fixture hell begin in which Spursin’ it up becomes all too possible
Shooty news: He’s decided to follow Real Zaragoza, because that’s totally not a hipster choice
Hamburglar / French Freiburg news: I still find both puns funny.  Monthly updates to follow
News news: I am now done with the bit.

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:02 PM | 800 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: off-topic, soccer

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   1. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:28 PM (#4378582)
Zack responded to the paper on open-play crossing at the end of the Feb thread, and I'm mostly just echoing him.

The only analysis they did was a linear regression of goals scored against successful and unsuccessful open play crosses. There are so incredibly many variables not accounted for that it's really hard to take them seriously when they say things like:
The average EPL team misses about 0.570 goals per each game due to poor open crossing. This seems as a shocking result as we would see a dramatic increase of scoring if the teams reduced their open crossing. At the same time, this is quite realistic as keeping the 73 otherwise lost possessions would create additional goal opportunities. Thus if all the teams in the EPL stopped playing an open cross, we would see on average additional 433 goals per season!
Ugh. It's like Earnshaw Cook, but without the pioneer value of being written decades ago using data you collected yourself.

Obviously there are game theory reasons for the attacking team to use as many different routes to goal as possible, and there are a wide variety of different kinds of "successful" and "failed" crosses.

It seems to me that teams generally attempt more crosses when they can't break down at opponent in the middle of the pitch - everyone knows the best way to get to the goal is straight on, but of course defenses know that too. So the more negatively one club plays, the more they pack the box with defenders, the more crosses theyir opponents will play. An inverse correlation between goals and crosses seems like it could just as easily be effect as cause.
   2. vortex of dissipation Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:31 PM (#4378588)
The link in the thread title goes to a blank page.
   3. Flynn Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:34 PM (#4378593)
Catenaccio is the most overused term in football.

Gioco all'Italiana: the Italian way and usually what people talk about when they talk about "catenaccio" (unless they're explicitly referring to Herrera's Inter). Italy were sumptuous playing this style in the 1982 World Cup once Paolo Rossi shook off the cobwebs. Italy don't play it anymore, because everybody in Italy used the same asymmetry, but it still has a much more influential role in today's game than catenaccio does.
   4. zack Posted: March 01, 2013 at 06:05 PM (#4378616)
In an (almost certainly doomed) attempt to see if there are any jobs I would be able to get in my home town -- through an extremely vague job posting for a holding company -- I learned that Malcom Glazer was born there. Somehow, I fail to take pride in this fact.
   5. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 08:59 PM (#4378695)
I'm so football hipster that I refuse to follow any professional teams. Or teams from English speaking countries. S.P. Tre Fiori is where it's at, Sammarinese for life!

I also think that only newfangled fancypants types use anything other than a vintage Pyramid.

edit: the WM is also acceptable, I guess.
   6. DA Baracus Posted: March 01, 2013 at 09:19 PM (#4378700)
I use the 4-2-4.
   7. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 01, 2013 at 10:25 PM (#4378735)
I use the 4-2-4.

I have been known to roll with that. Although currently I am using a 3-6-1
   8. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 10:38 PM (#4378741)
I'm a fan of the old style Japanese Kamikaze from the 30s, 1-6-3. Sure you lose 8-0 sometimes, but it's a high tempo 8-0 drubbing!

I actually tried the pyramid playing Lower League Manager once. It, uh, did not work that well.
   9. Textbook Editor Posted: March 01, 2013 at 10:54 PM (#4378754)
TE, Jr. has been known to use a customized 3-0-6 formation for FIFA 13; he's decent when actually playing the game and so makes it work about half the time (the other team/computer doesn't seem to adjust to moving its midfield higher up the pitch than whatever their formation usually calls for, which tactically seems a mistake when playing against a team with no midfielders)...

On the flip side, though, anytime he simulates a match with his 3-0-6 formation he's crushed.
   10. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: March 02, 2013 at 06:28 AM (#4379007)
I used to play some FM games with five defenders and five defensive midfielders all set to "Anchor Man" (so, the closest you can get to ten defenders).

FM *really* doesn't like that formation.
   11. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 02, 2013 at 02:53 PM (#4379200)
So, what should we make, analytically, of Liverpool's ability to thoroughly dominate games and run up crazy scores? Are the fourth goal and the tenth shot on target equally useful data about their quality as the first and second - like how in baseball the great teams are the ones who win the close games, but the ones who win the not-close games? Or is there a significant issue of diminishing returns / beating up on the weaklings and not performing commensurately well against the top of the league?
   12. frannyzoo Posted: March 02, 2013 at 02:55 PM (#4379203)
Inter letting Coutinho go is going to go down as one of the most colossally stupid moves ever. Well, at least of recent memory (i.e., last transfer window).
   13. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 02, 2013 at 03:19 PM (#4379211)
So, what should we make, analytically, of Liverpool's ability to thoroughly dominate games and run up crazy scores? Are the fourth goal and the tenth shot on target equally useful data about their quality as the first and second - like how in baseball the great teams are the ones who win the close games, but the ones who win the not-close games? Or is there a significant issue of diminishing returns / beating up on the weaklings and not performing commensurately well against the top of the league?

I think it's likely a bit of both. On the one hand, goals that come after the other team has basically packed it in probably aren't very meaningful. So you can certainly make the case that those garbage time goals should be somewhat discounted.

On the other hand though, teams that can consistently come out with wins from games that are basically 'even', are a very rare exception*. So I think to a certain degree it's fair to say that games that are a virtual coin-flip (3-sided coin obviously), carry a lot less signal, than games that were dominated by one team, and were never in doubt.

*United and the German national team are really the only two that come to my mind, that have done this over a sustained period of time
   14. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 02, 2013 at 03:53 PM (#4379219)
Huh, by the underlying stats Liverpool didn't dominate the game. I only saw part of the first half, in which Liverpool looked clearly superior, and so I figured based on that, the final score, and various comments online that Liverpool had been obviously dominant, but the numbers are very even.

8 S, 7 SiB, 5 SoT, 2 BC - Liverpool
14 S, 7 SiB, 6 SoT, 1 BC - Wigan

It's just that Liverpool finishing skill and ability to outperform the metrics, I guess.
   15. SuperGrover Posted: March 02, 2013 at 03:57 PM (#4379221)
So, what should we make, analytically, of Liverpool's ability to thoroughly dominate games and run up crazy scores? Are the fourth goal and the tenth shot on target equally useful data about their quality as the first and second - like how in baseball the great teams are the ones who win the close games, but the ones who win the not-close games? Or is there a significant issue of diminishing returns / beating up on the weaklings and not performing commensurately well against the top of the league?


A few things:

1. Measuring marginal utility of victory is a common question across all sports. I don't think anyone has come up with a definitive answer.

2. While Liverpool scored four goals, they didn't dominate as much as the scoreline indicated. This was probably a 2-1 game but luck intervened.

3. This was a bit anathema to Liverpool's typical performance in which they thoroughly dominate statistically but fail to translate that dominance on the scoreboard.

4. Luis Suarez is a punk but he is an exceptionally good footballer.

5. I am downright pissed I decided to captain Aguero instead of Suarez at 2 a.m. last night. Stupid gut feelings.
   16. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 02, 2013 at 03:59 PM (#4379222)
This was a bit anathema to Liverpool's typical performance in which they thoroughly dominate statistically but fail to translate that dominance on the scoreboard.
Yeah, you're right, we crossed posts on that and I feel a bit silly for posting based on my assumption of what the game had looked like.

On the typical thing, though, Liverpool have stopped underperforming expected goals over the last two months, and they've actually been beating the metrics by such margins that they're back to even for the season. This week was a continuation of that.
   17. SuperGrover Posted: March 02, 2013 at 04:11 PM (#4379225)
On the typical thing, though, Liverpool have stopped underperforming expected goals over the last two months, and they've actually been beating the metrics by such margins that they're back to even for the season. This week was a continuation of that.


Yeah we've talked about this before and I agree wholeheartedly. Adding actual attacking help for Suarez has been huge. This team may be quite dangerous when fully healthy up front.
   18. SuperGrover Posted: March 02, 2013 at 04:16 PM (#4379229)
BTW, my girlfriend just explained that I have no idea what "anathema" means. I had always thought it was defined as something abhorred OR something atypical. I was informed the latter is inaccurate. Seems I should stick to shorter, mono-syllabic words from now on!
   19. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: March 02, 2013 at 04:30 PM (#4379235)
Not that either of you were going for full-fledged breakdowns, but that analysis strikes me as a bit lazy. Liverpool were ahead within three minutes, up two within twenty minutes. Score effects matter, as does the fact that Liverpool were the away side -- the expectation from essentially the second goal on was that Wigan were going to dominate possession with LFC content to sit back and hit on the counter. Wigan's shots were, for the most part, half-chance headers, and I'd argue the best three scoring chances fell to Liverpool -- Downing's opener, Suarez's first and third. I don't know if 4-0 was the 'proper' result, but I don't know how you could watch that game and think 2-1 was fair(*).

(*)Noting that MCoA said he only caught part of it. Don't know about SG.
   20. SuperGrover Posted: March 02, 2013 at 04:41 PM (#4379239)
Not that either of you were going for full-fledged breakdowns, but that analysis strikes me as a bit lazy. Liverpool were ahead within three minutes, up two within twenty minutes. Score effects matter, as does the fact that Liverpool were the away side -- the expectation from essentially the second goal on was that Wigan were going to dominate possession with LFC content to sit back and hit on the counter. Wigan's shots were, for the most part, half-chance headers, and I'd argue the best three scoring chances fell to Liverpool -- Downing's opener, Suarez's first and third. I don't know if 4-0 was the 'proper' result, but I don't know how you could watch that game and think 2-1 was fair(*).


Sure there is some truth to that and, to be fair, I haven't yet watched the full game (it's on my DVR). Nonetheless, it is always a bit lucky to score on your first two shots. Downing's goal came from basically nothing and required some fairly precise crossing and delivery of a header to get it done. Even though it wasn't well marked that probably doesn't score more than one in three. The second goal was brilliant, but those types of plays aren't a sure thing either. The third goal was pure luck; I give Liverpool absolutely no credit for that.

The parts I saw had Reina making several good saves and Liverpool scoring on virtually every chance. To me that indicates a scoreline much closer to 2-1 than 4-0.
   21. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: March 02, 2013 at 05:15 PM (#4379249)
Again, though -- all but one of those shots on target came when Wigan were already behind. In fact, I think Wigan's second SoT didn't come until Suarez had already made it 2-0. I take your point that Liverpool were fortunate to be so clinical, and Wigan did create a few decent chances that forced good saves from Reina. But as a home team chasing two goals (three after a half hour), I'd think the expectation is that throwing everything forward was going to lead to some opportunities. Some sort of discount seems appropriate.
   22. zack Posted: March 02, 2013 at 05:26 PM (#4379251)
Yeah, I was going to say the same thing CWS did, that score effects definitely come into play when you're talking about shots. Teams press when they're behind.
   23. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 02, 2013 at 06:25 PM (#4379279)
Huh, by the underlying stats Liverpool didn't dominate the game. I only saw part of the first half, in which Liverpool looked clearly superior, and so I figured based on that, the final score, and various comments online that Liverpool had been obviously dominant, but the numbers are very even.

Well, I was mostly talking in general, when I posted my reply. Since I had neither watched any of the game, nor even looked up the score at the time...
   24. JH (in DC) Posted: March 02, 2013 at 07:06 PM (#4379296)
Arab group preparing a 1.5 billion pound takeover of Arsenal.

If this is real (and it's been reported by multiple UK papers), I expect Kroenke to take the money and get out.
   25. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 02, 2013 at 07:50 PM (#4379313)
Arab group preparing a 1.5 billion pound takeover of Arsenal.

If this is real (and it's been reported by multiple UK papers), I expect Kroenke to take the money and get out.

I mean it's more than the Dodgers went for...
   26. Spivey Posted: March 02, 2013 at 08:14 PM (#4379320)
Do these Arab sugar daddies think there's money to be made or are they just doing it for the pleasure?
   27. Swedish Chef Posted: March 02, 2013 at 08:23 PM (#4379321)
I don't see Usmanov going quietly.
   28. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 02, 2013 at 08:31 PM (#4379324)
If true, Kroenke would have basically doubled his investment in six years.

At least the new Dodgers owners had an idea of what the new TV deal was going to bring, but the new Premier League TV deals wouldn't be able to justify this valuation. I'm not against sugar daddies but one of these days this is going fail spectacularly - make Malaga look like nothing.
   29. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 03, 2013 at 12:37 PM (#4379704)
I thought for sure that was offside but the replay showed it was the correct call.
   30. President of the David Eckstein Fan Club Posted: March 03, 2013 at 12:40 PM (#4379708)
And Arsenal carved apart again. Terrible defending.
   31. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 03, 2013 at 12:42 PM (#4379709)
I'm no tactics expert but playing a high line against Spurs seems...questionable.
   32. JuanGone..except1game Posted: March 03, 2013 at 12:49 PM (#4379713)
I'm no tactics expert but playing a high line against Spurs seems...questionable.


When have Arsenal's tactics against top sides not been questionable in recent history. One of AVB's real noticeable improvements over his time at Chelsea was to not take his aggressive high line to far in the Prem. It's a recipe for disaster with un-athletic CBs.
   33. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 03, 2013 at 01:25 PM (#4379729)
The high line didn't help but both Spurs goals were because the runners weren't tracked. I'm looking squarely at Vermaelen. He let one Spur go by him (Adebayor?) and let Mertesacker have him but he didn't track the other (Bale). On the second - maybe Monreal should have tracked Lennon but Vermaelan seemed oblivious to him.
   34. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 03, 2013 at 01:27 PM (#4379731)
Uch. Sigurdsson should be shooting there.
   35. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 03, 2013 at 01:49 PM (#4379741)
Not sure why Bale is taking it into the corner with 4 minutes still to go and potential options in the box.
   36. jmurph Posted: March 03, 2013 at 02:07 PM (#4379750)
The conversation is always about the high line and Wenger's stubbornness and a host of other things, but how about this: if I'm picking 11 from the two sides today, the only Arsenal player I'm definitely taking is Walcott (over either of Adebayor and Defoe). Cazorla is at least in the conversation, but after that, there is nothing. They're just not good.
   37. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: March 03, 2013 at 03:14 PM (#4379790)
Cazorla is at least in the conversation, but after that, there is nothing.

Wilshere? Arteta? Podolski? You're taking Sigurdsson, Scotty Parker, and Jake Livermore over those guys? And I have trouble seeing you dismiss Cazorla so easily.* Defenders? I could be convinced an all-Spurs side. I'm not sure you can dismiss further forward so easily.

* I don't really agree with that link, just think the stats presented are moderately interesting.
   38. jmurph Posted: March 03, 2013 at 03:47 PM (#4379806)
I may be the only person who has never seen Wilshere play a great game, but I get that people think highly of him, so that's fair. I have zero interest in Arteta or Podolski, especially Podolski.

So in this theoretical Arsenham side, you've got Dembele and potentially Cazorla in the middle, Lennon/Bale/Walcott in some fashion in the attack, and Tottenham's back 4 (plus Lloris, obviously). So I guess the choice is then a striker or another midfielder, in which case Wilshere is the guy, I suppose, over Defoe.
   39. SuperGrover Posted: March 03, 2013 at 04:19 PM (#4379828)
Dawson over Vermaelen? Dawson was what, fifth choice center back at the beginning of the season? He's 29 so it's not like he is a young player learning his trade. You are taking him over a guy who has been a permanent EPL and international starter for 4 years? That's a bit silly don't you think?

EDIT: And agree with the dismissal of Wilshere and Cazorla being silly.
   40. SuperGrover Posted: March 03, 2013 at 04:22 PM (#4379831)
The high line didn't help but both Spurs goals were because the runners weren't tracked. I'm looking squarely at Vermaelen. He let one Spur go by him (Adebayor?) and let Mertesacker have him but he didn't track the other (Bale). On the second - maybe Monreal should have tracked Lennon but Vermaelan seemed oblivious to him.


The second one had to be on Monreal. Lennon was in full sprint and Monreal just stopped altogether. Even if Vermaelen began running immediately Lennon's pace was always getting by him.

That was just a woeful communications breakdown.

On the first, Vermaelen clearly tried to play Bale offsides which he would have been if Mertesacker would have held his line appropriately. That is a breakdown is discipline.

I honestly don't see any fault on Vermaelen on either of those goals.
   41. SuperGrover Posted: March 03, 2013 at 04:26 PM (#4379833)
I'm no tactics expert but playing a high line against Spurs seems...questionable.


The problem is if they play deep they are relying upon Arteta and Ramsey to control the midfield against which is dubious. Chances are they'd get carved up and the Spurs would dominate possession. Playing high, they at least had a chance to press and generate some chances on the other end.

I have no problem with a high line given Arsenal's personnel.
   42. Howling John Shade Posted: March 03, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4379848)
The problem is if they play deep they are relying upon Arteta and Ramsey to control the midfield against which is dubious. Chances are they'd get carved up and the Spurs would dominate possession. Playing high, they at least had a chance to press and generate some chances on the other end.

I have no problem with a high line given Arsenal's personnel.

Well, Arteta, Ramsey, and Wilshere. Spurs have problems breaking teams down and their midfield isn't nearly as physically dominant without Sandro. On the other hand, they're a pretty excellent counterattacking team and Arsenal's central defenders have no chance in a footrace against Bale or Lennon. AVB clearly targeted them by putting Bale in the middle and Siggurdson on the left to drift in and play the through ball. If I was Wenger, I might have taken my chances that my midfield could control the game without pressing from the center backs. Hindsight is 20/20 of course.

I'm just hoping that Dembele and Adebayor are ok.
   43. Spivey Posted: March 03, 2013 at 05:03 PM (#4379856)
Is it just the way the game is going, or does it seem to anyone else like there are very few legitimately great defenders out there. It seems like centerback is a big hole for even a lot of the best teams around the world, and the best fullbacks generally treat defense as an afterthought. I think a lot of it is the style these days, but it seems like it's more than that.
   44. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 03, 2013 at 05:03 PM (#4379857)
Michael Cox has a piece in the Guardian about the tactical battle at White Hart Lane - basically agreeing with us that it was high line vs high line, both clubs looking for the through ball or ball over the top to release a runner. He makes the point, which I think I buy, that both Arsenal and Tottenham played the wrong striker for such a battle. The speed of Walcott and Defoe would work a lot better up top than the less dynamic Adebayor and Giroud, in a matchup of high lines. AVB didn't really have a choice - I doubt Defoe was fit for much more than a half hour - but Wenger did, and if that's Walcott making runs behind the defense, they might have found a second goal.
   45. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 03, 2013 at 05:05 PM (#4379859)
Is it just the way the game is going, or does it seem to anyone else like there are very few legitimately great defenders out there. It seems like centerback is a big hole for even a lot of the best teams around the world, and the best fullbacks generally treat defense as an afterthought.
Not that I'm arguing for best in the world, but Jan Vertonghen was arguably man of the match today. He was dominant in that back line, and kept winning possession along with stopping attacks.
   46. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 03, 2013 at 05:11 PM (#4379862)
I'm just hoping that Dembele and Adebayor are ok.
AVB said in the post-match press conference that they're fine and they'll be available for Inter Milan mid-week. The problem is, AVB lies.

I'm vaguely hopeful about Dembele because he seemed to be itching to get back into the game when he was being subbed out, and vaguely hopeful about Adebayor because I didn't see anything happen that looked like a serious injury. I'm non-vaguely terrified about Dembele because I was sure he'd torn up his knee when I saw the replay.
   47. Howling John Shade Posted: March 03, 2013 at 05:30 PM (#4379874)
I'm non-vaguely terrified about Dembele because I was sure he'd torn up his knee when I saw the replay.

Yeah, when I saw that replay I just assumed he was done for awhile.

The speed of Walcott and Defoe would work a lot better up top than the less dynamic Adebayor and Giroud, in a matchup of high lines.

I could go either way on that one. Adebayor isn't going to make runs to break the high line, but he is very capable of playing a clever ball for someone else making a run. Defoe can make the runs, but is unlikely to make the pass. If you're playing Bale centrally, I don't mind Adebayor being the forward there with him. Unfortunately his holdup play has been kind of crap this season.
   48. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 03, 2013 at 05:34 PM (#4379876)
And Adebayor can do the little things well - his run pulled Mertesacker back, playing Bale on side for the first goal. He made a run into the box later when Lennon was cutting in, which opened up a huge space around the penalty spot which either Bale or Siggy should have run into.

Still, Adebayor needs to be helpful with the ball quite a lot more often for Spurs. The attack looked better with Defoe up top, even in a hold-up role.
   49. Rennie's Tenet Posted: March 03, 2013 at 10:13 PM (#4379928)
Apologies if this has come up recently: I was wondering if people have strategies for organizing a trip from the US to Brazil to see some of the World Cup next year? It would probably be 2-4 guys between 50 and 70, with soccer knowledge running from negligible to advanced learner. The goal would be more to experience what happens there than to root on any specific team. Luxury isn't really needed, but we're certainly past the point where hostels are an option. I'd guess two weeks would be about the longest we could stay.

I've checked the website, and it seems that tickets will go on general sale in the fall? How has that worked in the past-- do you have to get a block of tickets for all the matches at a venue, or are they available match by match? Are the "Hospitality Packages" that are on sale now worth looking into?

Thanks for any opinions!
   50. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 04, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4380078)
Hi Rennie. Sorry, I'm completely inexperienced with FIFA ticket sales. Let us know how you get on, though, as I'm toying with the idea of trying to go myself. One thing you might think about is finding a FIFA associated travel agent that will be able to book a package for you including tickets.

Anyone hear 'Arry's rant? Now THAT was a proper rant.
   51. Mattbert Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:04 AM (#4380096)
I agree with Michael Cox's assessment. The decision to start Giroud was very puzzling to me; I had fully expected Wenger to go with Arteta, Wilshere, and Ramsey in midfield behind Podolski, Walcott, and Cazorla. Given that would have been effectively four central midfielders against Tottenham's two, it would probably have allowed one of Arteta, Wilshere, and Cazorla time on the ball to pick out a through ball for Walcott or Podolski. I don't know what Wenger thought Giroud was going to bring to the table in a match like that.

On the other hand, I was thinking AVB should drop Lennon and play Sigurdsson left, Bale right, and Holtby central (to drop off onto Arteta when Arsenal had the ball) against the lineup I expected Arsenal to begin with. Lennon's running ended up being pivotal to the Spurs win, of course, so what do I know?

On a related note, I think that Cox analysis answers Shooty's oft-repeated question from yesterday: "Where the hell is our left back?!?" (whenever Jenkinson would receive a crossfield pass with nobody in a white shirt within twenty yards of him).
   52. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:05 AM (#4380097)
As for THE GAME. I won't say what's already been said except to say all feels right with the world today. My one complaint is the focus on Arsenal's failure rather than Tottenham's success. Fox subjecting me to an hour of Piers Morgan's idiocy makes me glad NBC is taking over the EPL gig. When Piers Morgan's bright idea is to use Jack Wilshere to man-mark Bale, he really should STFU.
   53. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:16 AM (#4380102)
On the other hand, I was thinking AVB should drop Lennon and play Sigurdsson left, Bale right, and Holtby central (to drop off onto Arteta when Arsenal had the ball) against the lineup I expected Arsenal to begin with. Lennon's running ended up being pivotal to the Spurs win, of course, so what do I know?
It looked like the plan instead was to use Parker to spaz out and chase Arteta even into deeper positions, while trusting Dembele to play as anchor man against the multitude of CAMs, with help from Lennon and Sigurdsson coming back from the flanks, and Walker tracking Cazorla often toward the middle. It put a lot of pressure on the center-backs, who were really the stars of the game for me. They shut down Arsenal in open play despite all the advanced possession the Spurs midfield conceded.
   54. Mattbert Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:17 AM (#4380104)
Also for Shooty: Adebayor won 50% of his "headed duels" yesterday, according to Squawka.
   55. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:25 AM (#4380107)
Also for Shooty: Adebayor won 50% of his "headed duels" yesterday, according to Squawka.

They also have Mertesacker and Cazorla as the best players of the game so I'm not sure Squawka was even watching...
   56. Topher Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:26 AM (#4380108)
I'm not defending Piers Morgan, but was he really that bad compared to his "peers"? I mean, he obviously wasn't good. At all. But I didn't feel as if he was out of place on the illustrious Fox Soccer Expert Panel.

Piers Morgan could permanently replace Warren Barton and I'm not sure I'd really notice.
   57. Mattbert Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:27 AM (#4380109)
It looked like the plan instead was to use Parker to spaz out and chase Arteta even into deeper positions, while trusting Dembele to play as anchor man against the multitude of CAMs, with help from Lennon and Sigurdsson coming back from the flanks, and Walker tracking Cazorla often toward the middle. It put a lot of pressure on the center-backs, who were really the stars of the game for me. They shut down Arsenal in open play despite all the advanced possession the Spurs midfield conceded.

Adebayor helped out a lot in the pressing as well. He was often deeper than Bale (and very close to Parker) so that he could put pressure on whoever had the ball for Arsenal after a Spurs attack broke down, the centerbacks or Arteta or Ramsey. With Cazorla drifting inside all the time to give Arsenal an extra passer in central areas as expected, Spurs were sometimes matching up with them using Sigurdsson, Parker, Dembele, and either Adebayor or Bale. Lennon stayed pretty high to keep Monreal pinned back and give Spurs an outlet and width. The Tottenham fullbacks were playing much deeper and narrower than usual (to deal with Walcott and Cazorla), so that's what left Jenkinson free on right all the time. I guess if your gameplan against Arsenal is to make Carl Jenkinson hurt you, then it's a pretty good gameplan.

In conclusion, Andre Villas-Boas is smarter'n me.
   58. Mattbert Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:29 AM (#4380110)
They also have Mertesacker and Cazorla as the best players of the game so I'm not sure Squawka was even watching...

Yeah, I don't put much stock in their performance rating metric, but the raw stats are quite useful and the pass maps and stuff are tremendously useful.
   59. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:30 AM (#4380111)
I'm not defending Piers Morgan, but was he really that bad compared to his "peers"? I mean, he obviously wasn't good. At all. But I didn't feel as if he was out of place on the illustrious Fox Soccer Expert Panel.
He was very, very different. He took the persona of a fan on a message board ranting about his club. He said absolutely nothing about Tottenham, and what he said about Arsenal was purposely hyperbolic and melodramatic. I'd say that his football analysis was worse, too - he did suggest that Wilshere track Bale, which is stupid well beyond what we hear from Warren Barton - but the really objectionable thing about Morgan was the way he turned a discussion of a game (which included two teams) into a message board debate on a poorly-moderated Arsenal blog.
   60. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4380115)
I'm not defending Piers Morgan, but was he really that bad compared to his "peers"?

God yes he's terrible. Excruciatingly terrible.
   61. Topher Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4380116)
Re: World Cup Tickets

You can get tickets for a game instead of a block; in fact I believe getting a block is much more difficult.

I'd suggest placing a call to your state soccer association. You might be able to procure tickets directly through them via US Soccer. That has worked in the past; it might not any more given the fact that demand has grown in general and will be higher for a tournament in this hemisphere. They have tickets, but the supply won't meet demand.
   62. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4380117)
I guess if your gameplan against Arsenal is to make Carl Jenkinson hurt you, then it's a pretty good gameplan.
Yup, that was my take as well after looking at the maps and such. I was freaking out about Jenkinson during the game, but in retrospect, that was part of the plan.

Arsenal managed just two shots on target and zero big chances. That is an extremely impressive defensive performance by Spurs, especially given how much possession they conceded.
   63. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:35 AM (#4380119)
he did suggest that Wilshere track Bale, which is stupid well beyond what we hear from Warren Barton

I did enjoy the look Barton gave him when he suggested it.

I guess if your gameplan against Arsenal is to make Carl Jenkinson hurt you, then it's a pretty good gameplan.

That makes sense. It also makes Wenger's decision to put Ramsey at RB pretty savvy, too, since Bale was putting no pressure on the RB and Siggy doesn't have the pace to beat even Ramsey.
   64. Topher Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:36 AM (#4380122)
Oh and I agree that the fanboy nature of Morgan was a bit of over-the-top silliness. But I think that's what they wanted.

I guess I just don't feel that I missed out on any "analysis" that would have been provided in his absence. Wynalda pointed out how the high line can't work with Tottenham's speed but other than that I don't think there was anything of note mentioned. (I was in the kitchen during halftime with the volume turned up, but I might have missed something.)

By general point was that the commentary from the production set is such a waste as it is, that little is lost by bringing Morgan on board.
   65. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:37 AM (#4380123)
He was very, very different. He took the persona of a fan on a message board ranting about his club. He said absolutely nothing about Tottenham, and what he said about Arsenal was purposely hyperbolic and melodramatic. I'd say that his football analysis was worse, too - he did suggest that Wilshere track Bale, which is stupid well beyond what we hear from Warren Barton - but the really objectionable thing about Morgan

Let me stop you right there. The really objectionable thing about Morgan, is that he is a vile, loathsome, pathetic excuse of a human being, who should be drowned in a vat of acid.
   66. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:40 AM (#4380126)
Yes, sorry.

The particular objectionable thing that Morgan did while the camera was running, on set in the Fox Soccer studio, was to transform the discussion as he did. There is of course no way for human language to describe the infinitely extended and endlessly variable loathsomeness of Piers Morgan in general.
   67. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:40 AM (#4380129)
By general point was that the commentary from the production set is such a waste as it is, that little is lost by bringing Morgan on board.

For me it's usually harmless and I'm usually just waiting to the highlights. Adding Morgan to the mix made it unbearable and also, and I may be biased here, too Arsenal-centric. I understand Arsenal are the bigger club and will get the bulk of attention but, jeez.
   68. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:42 AM (#4380130)
By general point was that the commentary from the production set is such a waste as it is, that little is lost by bringing Morgan on board.
I think there's a big difference between the usual milquetoast "[winning club X] wanted it more" and Morgan's hyperbolic solipsism. And his analysis was worse, too.
   69. Topher Posted: March 04, 2013 at 12:01 PM (#4380137)
I suppose I'm doing multiplication and you guys are doing addition/subtractions.

For me, zero * Piers Morgan = zero. No net gain, no net loss.

For you guys, zero - Piers Morgan = Negative. Big net loss.

For me, unless you are teaching me something or pointing out something I missed while watching, you don't bring anything to the table. So it doesn't really matter how annoying you otherwise are. But I can understand how mixing it up with Morgan makes the experience insufferable for others.

If nothing else, sideshows like Morgan make it even harder to eventually get good analysis from the studio crew. So I suppose I should be giving a thumbs down for that reason alone.
   70. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 04, 2013 at 12:03 PM (#4380138)
Liverpool are still bleeding cash.

I won't pretend to know what this means in the short term for LFC. I thought they'd gotten their books in order since last year's write-down but they bought a lot of players this year and didn't recoup much with sales and they still have an impressive wage bill.
   71. Mattbert Posted: March 04, 2013 at 12:05 PM (#4380139)
Adding Morgan to the mix made it unbearable and also, and I may be biased here, too Arsenal-centric. I understand Arsenal are the bigger club and will get the bulk of attention but, jeez.

As we discussed yesterday, I too found that incredibly obnoxious and patronizing. I recall the following exchange after you finally lost it and were just yelling at Piers Morgan to shut up.

RB: "You got your fifteen seconds of Michael Dawson post-game interview. What are you complaining about?"
Mattbert: "Slight underdog loses close game to higher-placed team in the table! Film at eleven."
RB: "Loses on the road!"
   72. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: March 04, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4380145)
Some debate on the first-even NWSL trade.
   73. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 04, 2013 at 12:20 PM (#4380147)
Pretty anyone who knows who Morgan is hates him. However, he is a very visible and known Arsenal fan. All non-Arsenal fans love to see his "analysis" because they think its just a microcosm of what a lot of Arsenal fans are like and they like to see the misery. Arsenal fans are either with Wegner or against him so a subset is going to agree with Morgan while the other is going to dismiss him.

The fact that we are all talking about him right now means the producers got what they intended - we are spending time rehashing about the halftime/postgame show (which I did not watch).

   74. DA Baracus Posted: March 04, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4380148)
Talking about Piers Morgan means that Fox has gotten what they wanted out of him. You all watched.
   75. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 04, 2013 at 12:28 PM (#4380150)
Talking about Piers Morgan means that Fox has gotten what they wanted out of him. You all watched.

I would have watched anyway! Do you think anyone who wasn't going to watch changed their mind because of Morgan? If I weren't hanging out with Mattbert and RB I would have turned it off and just read a blog report on the game.
   76. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 04, 2013 at 12:35 PM (#4380156)
Talking about Piers Morgan means that Fox has gotten what they wanted out of him. You all watched.

I didn't. And I feel perfectly capable of trashing Piers Morgan without having watched.
   77. DA Baracus Posted: March 04, 2013 at 12:36 PM (#4380158)
Do you think anyone who wasn't going to watch changed their mind because of Morgan?


Absolutely. People watch First Take and read Bleacher Report, because people are dumb. You and I and everyone on this site doesn't, but then we're not dumb. But people absolutely watch, if only to see what stupid things he says and to mock him. Fox doesn't care why you watch, they just care that you watch.
   78. Mefisto Posted: March 04, 2013 at 01:02 PM (#4380179)
Some debate on the first-even NWSL trade


I'm more inclined to take Chris Henderson's side on this. I read Seattle's move as an attempt to limit the damage this season and hope (heh) for the future.
   79. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 04, 2013 at 01:10 PM (#4380187)
Talking about Piers Morgan means that Fox has gotten what they wanted out of him. You all watched.
I have not argued that adding Piers Morgan to the broadcast was a poor business decision which will lead to Fox losing money. No one else has argued this either.

I have argued that adding Piers Morgan to the broadcast made the broadcast much worse.
   80. Mattbert Posted: March 04, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4380193)
It looked like the plan instead was to use Parker to spaz out and chase Arteta even into deeper positions

I tell ya, the more I look at the stats, the more this jumps out at me as an absolutely critical feature of the game. We all know how important Arteta is to Arsenal, despite not being particularly flashy. He's their poor man's version of Andrea Pirlo back there, and he is--by some considerable distance--their leading passer in terms of both number of passes and success rate. Yesterday he "only" attempted 59 passes and completed 85% of them. Far from a poor game, but he averages almost 86 passes per game and a 92-93% success rate.

The other main passers for Arsenal, Wilshere and Cazorla, were pretty much bang on their average numbers for passing, and Arsenal had a pretty typical share of the ball for them (~55-60% depending on whose stats you use). Aaron Ramsey, on the other hand, had 68 passes yesterday compared to his average of about 45. So Spurs effectively shifted a nice chunk of Arsenal's creative burden from Arteta to Ramsey. I'd say that's a key ingredient in any recipe for success against Arsenal if those two players are on the pitch together.

As I said before, I thought Spurs should play Holtby in the middle so he could drop off onto Arteta and limit his influence on the game. AVB instead chose to have Parker play much higher than usual and charge down Arteta that way, with occasional help from Adebayor and Bale dropping in from up top. While it wasn't the way I would have thought of doing it, it was clearly quite effective, and it probably played into Scotty's natural energy and aggressiveness better than asking him to sit deep and try to stick with Wilshere. So big kudos to AVB for a bold game plan and being smarter than this guy on the internet.
   81. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: March 04, 2013 at 01:20 PM (#4380195)
I'm more inclined to take Chris Henderson's side on this. I read Seattle's move as an attempt to limit the damage this season and hope (heh) for the future.

My gut reaction when I first read about it a few days ago was "no, that's a terrible deal for the Red Stars", but that was undoubtedly coloured by the fact that, were I to see any NWSL games in person (which is entirely likely), I would be seeing Red Stars games (due to my living in Chicago, of course. Well, not now, obviously, but come June, then I'm heading home). Having thought about it a bit since then, I'm pretty firmly on Henderson's side of the fence as well, and that's definitely partially because Sermanni rates Winters a lot lower than I did.
   82. J. Sosa Posted: March 04, 2013 at 01:20 PM (#4380196)
I tend to agree with Keith. Rodgers has shown a tendency to shift tactics after Liverpool gets a lead, often with catastrophic results. A 2-1 scoreline looking at the raw data perhaps, but the raw data does not really account for what having Coutinho on the pitch does for Suarez and the team as a whole. He was the difference that game. As Keith says, they got the early lead which changed what Martinez wanted to do. Coutinho's brilliance was the difference. It may have been a very different match otherwise.

There were perhaps a few other factors as well. I don't like it when Rodgers has Suarez playing as dogcatcher. I'd rather see him further up the pitch, to my eyes he seems much more effective and with Sturridge out he seemed to be back to more of his old role. I can see the reasoning behind it when Sturridge plays, but it would be nice if they could find a way to avoid Suarez playing deep when Sturridge is healthy.

There is also a vocal contingent of LFC fans that say Downing is a different player when facing lower quality sides. The charitable side of me says that lower table sides are less likely to have players that force Downing to track back. The not so charitable side of me says that Downing does tend to be invisable against better teams.

My best guess as to why they crush bad teams and can't beat good teams is pretty boring. Most likely I would say its because they are pretty good but not as good as the best teams and that the best teams are better able to deal with Suarez. Teams like Norwich and Wigan just can't mark Suarez no matter how many players they throw against him. Against better teams the one man band act isn't enough and LFC's sketchy back four becomes more of an issue. I'm going to enjoy him while he's still at the club. I'd be surprised if he stays this summer.

Franny, I agree re: Coutinho/Inter. I could not understand why they let him go, much less for that amount. I assumed it was just my red coloured glasses, but I would have thought he would bring much more than what Inter got for him. James Richardson and some other people who follow Serie A seemed surprised Inter let him go as well, and seemed to think it was something of a coup for Liverpool. I didn't even let myself get all that excited about it because I assumed something must be wrong for him to be available. Inter fans seemed to be universally outraged, but for different reasons. Some of them were angry because they thought Coutinho was going to be a great player. The greater part of them though appeared to be upset because management had identified a few players as being part of a youth movement and moving him did not make sense in that context.

Shooty, regarding the LFC financials, do you read anything in to that? I don't have the background to make much sense of it. I had read that this morning and had filed it under the layman's section of my head labeled "not good" but would like to know what the consensus here is on it.

Maybe if Kroenke does indeed pass on the petro dollars FSG could interest them in a slightly used club at the back of the lot who are also going to be out of the Champion's League next year.

edit: for clarity
   83. Mefisto Posted: March 04, 2013 at 01:33 PM (#4380205)
I'm pretty firmly on Henderson's side of the fence as well, and that's definitely partially because Sermanni rates Winters a lot lower than I did.


That influenced me too, though I never rated Winters much anyway. I do think she'll be competent for Seattle in a holding mid role, but Seattle's defense is going to be under a LOT of pressure this season.

Aaron Ramsey, on the other hand, had 68 passes yesterday compared to his average of about 45. So Spurs effectively shifted a nice chunk of Arsenal's creative burden from Arteta to Ramsey.


Can anyone explain to me the attraction of Aaron Ramsey? I haven't seen Arsenal play that much, but whenever I've seen Ramsey he strikes me as the central midfield equivalent of Stuart Downing.

   84. Mattbert Posted: March 04, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4380211)
Can anyone explain to me the attraction of Aaron Ramsey? I haven't seen Arsenal play that much, but whenever I've seen Ramsey he strikes me as the central midfield equivalent of Stuart Downing.

Ramsey's the closest thing to a ball-winner and energetic box-to-box type guy on Arsenal's books unless you count Abou Diaby's occasional spells away from the treatment table. When he first came to the league, he looked like he could be a James Milner utility guy or even a Gerrard or Lampard style attacking mid. He had the talent. Then the Shawcross incident happened, and he's never been the same. Now he looks like his ceiling is a poor man's Jordan Henderson. It's really sad.
   85. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 04, 2013 at 01:42 PM (#4380214)
Shooty, regarding the LFC financials, do you read anything in to that? I don't have the background to make much sense of it. I had read that this morning and had filed it under the layman's section of my head labeled "not good" but would like to know what the consensus here is on it.

I think that depends on FSG's attitude about funding the debt. It would be no big deal for a sugar daddy club but LFC aren't that. I wish I had more insight and a lot of pundits will dismiss it as nothing or be Chicken Little about it. My guess is that, despite the losses, they still sanctioned the purchase of Sturridge and Coutinho so FSG aren't in a panic. The one worrying thing I'd say is that Suarez is their most valuable player if they wanted to make a dent in the losses they're carrying.

edit: Also, I don't think this Mideast consortium that wants to buy Arenal exists. A Qatari/Dubai partnership that wants to lower ticket prices? Please. No one wants to lower ticket prices and the Qataris don't need help if they want to buy a club. 1.5 billion is ashtray money.
   86. DA Baracus Posted: March 04, 2013 at 01:44 PM (#4380215)
I have argued that adding Piers Morgan to the broadcast made the broadcast much worse.


Of course it did, Morgan is awful. But Fox and other outlets have routinely shown that they doesn't care about that, they only care that people watch.
   87. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: March 04, 2013 at 01:51 PM (#4380225)
Morgan was terrible, though not so terrible as to ruin the experience of watching Mattbert and Shooty bite their fingernails through the entire match. Particulaly entertaining was around the 80 minutes mark when Shooty annouced "It's pacing time" and then proceeded to do just that through the rest of the match. Of course, my apartment is not exactly a palace, so "pacing" was more like turning in tiny little half-circles so as to not lose sight of the TV. No wonder my cat never came out.
   88. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 04, 2013 at 01:56 PM (#4380233)
At this point Arsenal should see what they can get for Ramsey but Arsene just extended him. He'll "do a job" - he's willing to play a defensive-minded wide midfielder, play deep or advanced centrally and now right back. He apparently was very dominant at the youth levels. Maybe the leg injury ruined him but I don't see anything special about him. Even after Eduardo's return from his leg break you could see he had a fair amount of technique and touch even if he wasn't the same player. I don't see anything like that in Ramsey.
   89. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 04, 2013 at 01:56 PM (#4380234)
But Fox and other outlets have routinely shown that they doesn't care about that, they only care that people watch.
This is not unreasonable, but it's tangential to the discussion.

It's a little thing that annoys me in internet discussions. "It makes money" is not a direct engagement with the argument "it's bad". Many things that make money aren't bad, many things that are bad don't make money. Whether something makes money is not terribly relevant to its quality.

Also, fwiw, I watched the game but turned most of the halftime show to mute and chatted with my sister. We missed nearly all of Fox's ads in the middle of the game. This was in great part because I expected Morgan to be just awful, as he was. I don't think I'm terribly unrepresentative of the tiny audience of Fox Soccer viewers. So whether Morgan draws viewers is a debatable claim, at least.
   90. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 04, 2013 at 01:56 PM (#4380235)
so "pacing" was more like turning in tiny little half-circles

Those are called Parker-copters.

David Hirshey's crow eating article is up for the schadenfreude inclined. The comments section is a real treat!
   91. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 04, 2013 at 02:00 PM (#4380239)
Phil Jones is not going to be available for United. I really hope this doesn't mean there is an opening for Giggs.
   92. DA Baracus Posted: March 04, 2013 at 02:21 PM (#4380260)
This is not unreasonable, but it's tangential to the discussion.


The discussion is "Piers Morgan is terrible. Why is he on?" The answer is because we are having a discussion about him, whereas we never have a discussion about Brian McBride. Fox wins.
   93. Mefisto Posted: March 04, 2013 at 02:24 PM (#4380263)
Then the Shawcross incident happened, and he's never been the same. Now he looks like his ceiling is a poor man's Jordan Henderson. It's really sad.


Makes sense. Honestly, I thought after watching the game yesterday that they should convert him to right back. That was the only position I could see him handling.

Phil Jones is not going to be available for United. I really hope this doesn't mean there is an opening for Giggs.


I think Giggs is a lock to start. It will be his 1000th game, at home, against RM. I'd be shocked of SAF didn't start him.
   94. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 04, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4380267)
Phil Jones is not going to be available for United. I really hope this doesn't mean there is an opening for Giggs.

I think Giggs is a lock to start. It will be his 1000th game, at home, against RM. I'd be shocked of SAF didn't start him.
I'd be really surprised by Giggs starting. He's got his uses, even at this advanced age, but covering defensive responsibilities against Sami Khedira or Angel di Maria is not one of them. SAF gave heavy defensive responsibilities to all his attacking players in Madrid (other than RVP), and he clearly selected players who could handle the workload. With Jones out, the defensive job for the rest of midfield will be all that much greater, and Giggs that much more of a poor fit.
   95. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 04, 2013 at 02:34 PM (#4380270)
The discussion is "Piers Morgan is terrible. Why is he on?"
As far as I can tell, no one but you has asked that.
   96. Mefisto Posted: March 04, 2013 at 02:40 PM (#4380274)
@94: I completely agree on the merits. I just think SAF has a fondness for Giggs which transcends all of that.
   97. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: March 04, 2013 at 02:44 PM (#4380287)
Ramsey's the closest thing to a ball-winner and energetic box-to-box type guy on Arsenal's books unless you count Abou Diaby's occasional spells away from the treatment table. When he first came to the league, he looked like he could be a James Milner utility guy or even a Gerrard or Lampard style attacking mid. He had the talent. Then the Shawcross incident happened, and he's never been the same. Now he looks like his ceiling is a poor man's Jordan Henderson. It's really sad.

I think this is pretty much accurate. It's also worth noting that he's still only 22, which is massively surprising because it feels like he's been around for ages.
   98. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 04, 2013 at 02:47 PM (#4380292)
I'd be really surprised by Giggs starting. He's got his uses, even at this advanced age, but covering defensive responsibilities against Sami Khedira or Angel di Maria is not one of them.


SAF trusts Giggs more than Anderson and Cleverly, but yea he just doesn't have the legs or mentality to put in a defensive shift against a team like Madrid. Does Kagawa scoring a hat trick put him in a starting spot? I think he'll put Welbeck out there again because of his pace and running.

I wonder if SAF would do something crazy like put Smalling at RB and Rafael at right midfield.
   99. Topher Posted: March 04, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4380294)
Considering that Phil Jones role ended up being along the lines of "foul any player that poses a threat to score", wouldn't Scholes be the natural inclusion in the lineup?

In all seriousness, I wonder if this opens up the possibility of Anderson playing. He's out of favor, but he seems like the one player who might best partner up with Carrick to try and muck up the Madrid attack. Cleverly probably gets the nod, but I can't say that I've been too impressed with what I've seen from him on the defensive end.

Of course, it would be awesome if SAF decided that without Jones and having the Old Trafford advantage, they should just go all out knowing that they can outscore Madrid and we get to watch a game that outperforms the Real-City game from earlier this season.
   100. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 04, 2013 at 03:42 PM (#4380350)
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