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Sunday, March 02, 2014

OT: The Soccer Thread March, 2014

Lots of great games this month and a lot of good mid-week action. Make or break time for Arsenal, Barcelona and Napoli.

March 5th: Ukraine vs USA
March 8th: Seattle vs Sporting KC as MLS gets started, Chelsea vs Tottenham, Arsenal vs Everton in the Cup
March 9th: Man City vs Wigan in the Cup and in Italy Juventus begin have the first of their three battles in the span of two weeks and Napoli host Roma
March 10th: CONCACAF CL begins with Alajuense taking on Arabe Unido. Feel the excitement!
March 11th: Bayern v Arsenal and Atleti v Milan
March 12th: Barca v Man City and Rangers v Airdrie United
March 13th: Spurs v Benfica, Napoli v Porto and Juventus v Fiorentina in some good looking EL matchups.
March 15th: Seattle v Toronto in the battle of American stars, the battle of the Borussias in Germany, Bayern v Leverkusen
March 16th: Derby Day! Liverpool vs Man U and Spurs vs Arsenal
March 17th: Torino v Napoli
March 18th: Chelsea v Galatasaray and Crawley Town v Wolverhampton
March 19th: Borussia Dortmund vs Zenit and Man U vs Olympiacos
March 20th: Europa League return legs
March 21: Freiburng vs Werder Bremen
March 22: Chelsea v Arsenal, Monaco v Lille
March 23: Spurs v Southampton, Real Madrid v Barca, Napoli v Fiornetina
March 25: Manchester Derby, Roma v Torino
March 26: Liverpool v Sunderland, Sevilla v Real Madrid
March 27: Inter v Udinese
March 29: Arsenal v Man City
March 30: Liverpool v Spurs, Barcelona Derby, Athletic v Atletico, Napoli v Juventus

 

 

 

Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 02, 2014 at 10:12 AM | 1404 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: soccer

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   401. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 24, 2014 at 11:13 AM (#4676101)
Flop
   402. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 24, 2014 at 12:43 PM (#4676154)
So, their is an argument on The Guardian podcast that the handball in the Chelsea-Arsenal game wasn't a red card? Is that right? I just assumed it was just as Suarez's handling in the WC was.
   403. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 24, 2014 at 01:42 PM (#4676192)
So, their is an argument on The Guardian podcast that the handball in the Chelsea-Arsenal game wasn't a red card? Is that right? I just assumed it was just as Suarez's handling in the WC was.

I think their argument is that the shot was going wide (which is probably true, but I wouldn't say 100% certain), so it wasn't denying "a goal or obvious goal scoring opportunity".

My inclination would be to say that there is a reason it differentiates between "goal" and "opportunity", and that by default any shot is a "goal scoring opportunity". But at that level, you are down to pretty fine rules lawyering, and unless there is a guideline somewhere that I am not aware of, both interpretations are reasonable to a degree.
   404. ursus arctos Posted: March 24, 2014 at 02:06 PM (#4676209)
The official interpretation of Law 12 adds credence to FPH's focus on the goal/opportunity issue.

There are circumstances when a caution for unsporting behaviour is required
when a player deliberately handles the ball, e.g. when a player:
• deliberately handles the ball to prevent an opponent gaining possession
• attempts to score a goal by deliberately handling the ball.

A player is sent off, however, if he prevents a goal or an obvious goalscoring
opportunity by deliberately handling the ball. This punishment arises not from
the act of the player deliberately handling the ball but from the unacceptable
and unfair intervention that prevented a goal being scored.


Though one could argue that the last sentence of commentary muddies the waters somewhat, if the rule was to be interpreted so as to require a red card only in the event of a goal actually being prevented, the reference to "obvious goal scoring opportunity" is superfluous.
   405. nick swisher hygiene Posted: March 24, 2014 at 02:23 PM (#4676227)
Does anybody actually LIKE the double punishment rule? I've read it defended, but it always seems to come down to assuming a "football-hipper than thou" stance: as if the true soccer fan embraces arbitrariness, and you will know American imposters by their desire to improve things....

Generally, soccer's attitude toward officiating bewilders me. The game where single bad decisions can most greatly sway the outcome of a match, and are least likely to even out of the course of that game (small number of very high-leverage decisions per match), is ALSO the game where the least effort is made to get decisions right.

In other words, the world sport that most needs replay is most opposed to using it.

OTOH, replay did not, uh, exactly enhance the the excitement of the NCAA tournament this past weekend; and that increased tedium didn't lead to a single significant overturn (unless I missed one?)

EDIT: and it's more than that. Not just a reluctance to use replay; but a set of rules that effectively maximizes the weight of the same decisions that are both infrequent and often incorrect "Well, we can't do much about getting those foul calls near the box right--so let's at least make sure that the punishments are game-changing....."
   406. AuntBea Posted: March 24, 2014 at 02:24 PM (#4676229)
That hand ball in no way shape or form prevented an obvious goal scoring opportunity. The ball was clearly going wide. That being said, the intent of the handling was to prevent a goal, so it's hard to feel bad for Chamberlain.

If ursus arctos has the rule interpretation right, it should have been a caution only.
   407. AuntBea Posted: March 24, 2014 at 02:25 PM (#4676231)
Does anybody actually LIKE the double punishment rule?


I hate it actually. If you give a penalty, no need for a red card (unless there was some sort of vicious or unsporting intent).
   408. Swedish Chef Posted: March 24, 2014 at 02:35 PM (#4676239)
One rationale for the double punishment could be that the punishment has to be worse for the perpetrator than the expected outcome of the situation. Conceding just a penalty is a win. Also, it would be weird if something that was worthy of a red outside the area only gets a yellow inside it.

And it is quite telling that IFAB couldn't find a way to change the rule last meeting despite all the prior comments.
   409. AuntBea Posted: March 24, 2014 at 02:38 PM (#4676243)
A caution + a penalty is generally worse, if the foul is unintentional. In almost every such case the penalty kick has a greater chance of scoring than the goal scoring opportunity that was prevented.

If the foul is intentional I support a red and a penalty kick.
   410. zack Posted: March 24, 2014 at 02:40 PM (#4676245)
One rationale for the double punishment could be that the punishment has to be worse for the perpetrator than the expected outcome of the situation. Conceding just a penalty is a win.


That makes perfect sense for me. Either have the penalty + red, or award the goal. But just a penalty is demanding that players handle the ball whenever they think a goal is likely.
   411. Swedish Chef Posted: March 24, 2014 at 02:42 PM (#4676246)
Football finally has a standard for what a fit and proper person is, turns out Massimo Cellino isn't one.
   412. ursus arctos Posted: March 24, 2014 at 03:55 PM (#4676325)
Except in Italy, of course.
   413. jmurph Posted: March 24, 2014 at 04:02 PM (#4676332)
The only time I find myself getting annoyed with the rules is when an innocuous challenge on the very edge of the box leads to a penalty. That's always a tough one to swallow when it's your team conceding. But generally speaking, of the sports I care about, soccer seems to me to be the one with the best game flow and the least amount of referee interruptions.
   414. Howling John Shade Posted: March 24, 2014 at 04:18 PM (#4676354)
The rational for the red card + penalty makes sense from the perspective of discouraging cynical fouls in the box, but the problem is that it actively encourages diving/going down easily. Staying on your feet and scoring is actually a worse outcome for your team than going down and getting the penalty. Combine that with the fact that the penalty for diving in the box is only a yellow and you have a really skewed set of incentives.

I guess they could make it a red card for a dive in the box, but I'm not sure adding another game changing referee decision to the mix is the solution.
   415. ursus arctos Posted: March 24, 2014 at 05:01 PM (#4676386)
I'm not sure that presumption is absolutely correct.

Penalties are missed. Depending on the competition, the average percentage scored is generally between 70 and 80 percent.

In order for the penalty+red combination to be worth more, the increase in the probability of scoring occasioned by playing against 10 men would have to be greater than the missed penalty percentage. This is obviously dependent on when in the game the situation occurs (which is yet another reason why Suarez' hand ball for Uruguay against Ghana was just about as optimal as one could get).

I've long maintained that referees should call more free kicks within the box in order to mitigate the feast or famine nature of current penalty practice. Marginal penalty decisions are often not marginal at all if thought of in terms of obstruction.
   416. Howling John Shade Posted: March 24, 2014 at 05:46 PM (#4676440)
I'm not sure that presumption is absolutely correct.

Penalties are missed. Depending on the competition, the average percentage scored is generally between 70 and 80 percent.

In order for the penalty+red combination to be worth more, the increase in the probability of scoring occasioned by playing against 10 men would have to be greater than the missed penalty percentage. This is obviously dependent on when in the game the situation occurs (which is yet another reason why Suarez' hand ball for Uruguay against Ghana was just about as optimal as one could get).
True, but that assumes that the player will definitely score if they stay on their feet. A decent percentage of clear goal-scoring opportunities are missed or saved. If Neymar, for example, had stayed on his feet yesterday, I'd guess that his chances of scoring were significantly less than 80 percent.

You're right that the timing of the red card does matter a lot. If staying on your feet means that you have a tap-in to an open net in the 90th minute, you should probably do it.
   417. ursus arctos Posted: March 24, 2014 at 05:49 PM (#4676445)
I agree with all that, but was starting with your claim that "staying on your feet and scoring is actually a worse outcome".
   418. Howling John Shade Posted: March 24, 2014 at 06:05 PM (#4676455)
Ah yes, fair enough.
   419. ursus arctos Posted: March 24, 2014 at 06:14 PM (#4676464)
In any event, I think that the "calculus" in your second post is a more likely approximation of what Neymar was actually thinking at the time he approached the box. Though I happen to think that there was enough contact for a penalty, it was abundantly clear to me that he was more committed to "winning" the penalty than he was to trying to get off the highest percentage shot possible. The fact that he was faced with the red card magnet that is Sergio Ramos may have had something to do with that.
   420. Dale Sams Posted: March 24, 2014 at 07:43 PM (#4676530)
I hate it actually. If you give a penalty, no need for a red card (unless there was some sort of vicious or unsporting intent).


I hate it since Back In My Day it wasn't called. A handball off the line or a keeper tripping a player going around him was thought to be 'smart'. And no one out and out dove. They may have made the most of contact, but that was the refs fault and we didn't run over and start threatening the players life.

I can understand why a card is given though. I'd make it yellow though. The double-punishment is too much. Or at least give goalies the benefit of the doubt and give them yellows since you're sort of triple-punishing a team by sending off their best (possibly) keeper. I hate seeing a keeper sent off when he just couldn't stop his momentum.
   421. frannyzoo Posted: March 24, 2014 at 09:17 PM (#4676567)
Anybody got a resource to get historical data on things like:

1. Number of penalties per game
2. Number of red cards/yellow cards per game

It would be interesting to see data over the entire "card" era, as well as league-by-league over time. But I don't see it anywhere...yet.

   422. J. Sosa Posted: March 24, 2014 at 09:44 PM (#4676574)
I've never liked the red for a keeper coming out. A pen is sufficient, there is no guarantee the player would have finished the play anyway. I hate plays where it is a one on one and the striker is looking to get the keeper sent off instead of scoring. I know it is generally a good idea to reduce judgement calls as much as possible, but unless the keeper is channeling Ronnie Lott I would prefer there be no red.

I'm likely in the minority, but I can't stand Classicos and La Liga in general. I think the Classico style is what many Americans who don't like the sport have in mind when they think of soccer. Yes, I can appreciate the skill, but overall I'm not all that enthused to see who wins a dance off between Busquets' troupe and Ronaldo's swan divers. I've discovered the best thing is to root for them both to lose, which has seemed like a pipe dream until recently with Atletico.

Who employ Diego Costa. There is just no winning with that league.
   423. ursus arctos Posted: March 24, 2014 at 09:51 PM (#4676576)
Franny, myfootballfacts.com has them for the entire Premier League era.

Not comprehensive, but a start.

   424. frannyzoo Posted: March 24, 2014 at 10:13 PM (#4676580)
Leagues shouldn't live in glass houses. The EPL, for example, has Terry, Suarez, several noted divers (along with the not-so-subtle racism that is invoked regarding that and other issues). It also has this "greatest league in the world" marketing that some, i.e. me, find extremely irritating. I, too, have a hate, not-so-like attitude toward El Clasico, and every league has plenty of problems (e.g., the recent signage at Bayern for the Arsenal match). It's all a reflection of society, including added twists of absurd amounts of money and city/feudal and nation-state politics, regardless of league. I think we all just try to take a bit of good with the sizable amount of bad.

   425. Howling John Shade Posted: March 24, 2014 at 10:19 PM (#4676582)
Leagues shouldn't live in glass houses. The EPL, for example, has Terry, Suarez, several noted divers (along with the not-so-subtle racism that is invoked regarding that and other issues). It also has this "greatest league in the world" marketing that some, i.e. me, find extremely irritating. I, too, have a hate, not-so-like attitude toward El Clasico, and every league has plenty of problems (e.g., the recent signage at Bayern for the Arsenal match). It's all a reflection of society, including added twists of absurd amounts of money and city/feudal and nation-state politics, regardless of league. I think we all just try to take a bit of good with the sizable amount of bad.
Yeah, I really don't think the diving in the Clasicos is much worse than in the premier league. I mean, nothing in the latest game was remotely close to this...

Both Barcelona and Real do lobby the ref far too much for my liking, though. I think it's partially a result of having so many superstars on the field at once.

   426. J. Sosa Posted: March 25, 2014 at 10:39 AM (#4676704)
A lot of people do find the greatest league in the world stuff annoying. But is the marketing all that off base? There is a good argument to be made that the highest level of play is not to be found in the PL, or that the best style is not to be found in the PL, but taking into account the number of good teams, the overall depth of the teams in the highest division, tv availability, production values, crowds, etc. I don't think the marketing is incorrect. There is a reason the league is a financial juggernaut compared to the other major leagues.

You won't get an argument from me on the subtle racism front. How Terry managed the ban he did versus what Suarez got I do not understand. Sturridge is a far worse diver than Suarez, yet it is met with a collective "meh". Suarez actually doesn't dive all that much anymore, but to hear rival crowds and commentators tell it you'd think he was the worst offender in the league. What I'm talking about is the "oh my face, my beautiful face, he's ruined my face, give him a red card" stuff. Vertonghen's flop stood out because it was the shot in the face variety of flop. That kind of thing is far, far more common in La Liga. Busquets didn't invent that style of flop, but he's the master at it and others have followed suit.

But be that as it may, subtle racism is terrible, but is it really worse than overt racism? The monkey chanting you get in La Liga and Serie A on a not infrequent basis or fans in Serie A making oven chants. I'm not one to deny the PL has its problems, but some glass houses are more glassy than others. In my opinion of course. I don't disagree overall franny, I'm just saying that there are sound reasons the PL's claim to best league in the world isn't entirely guffaw worthy.

edit for typo
   427. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 25, 2014 at 11:27 AM (#4676734)
Overall, there is more money in the English League than any other league. A lot of it is spent poorly, but more money generally buys better talent. If England produced better talent I think it wouldn't even be close (also a more permissive home office would help). Instead all that money is being sent to Germany, Portugal, Brazil and Spain (and the pocket of agents).

Short term you could argue which league is better - but long term, I don't think it will be a question. Bayern, Barca and Madrid will always have good/great teams. PSG and Monaco will have expensive ones as long as their owners stay interested. There are structural problems in Spain with both the league and their economy. Italy has less severe economic issues, but has stadium/crowd problems while Germany has come very late to the international market. Money isn't a panacea and you'll always have a "poorer" team pop-up here and there but its been shown over and over again that if you spend more, you'll probably win more.
   428. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 25, 2014 at 11:33 AM (#4676737)
I was checking out the lower league tables today and saw that Portsmouth is only 3 points away from falling out of the Football League. Jeez. Leicester and Burnley seem dead certain for promotion. Burnley is one of those clubs I know absolutely nothing about and always get mixed up with Barnsley, another club I can't get a fix on for some reason. I think I ignore the particulars of Burnley and Barnsley for the same reason I never took the time to tell the two Alex Gonzalez's apart. Barnsley, by the way, are dead last in the Championship.

In Spain a club called Eibar and Deportivo look to be the favorites for promotion. In Germany, Cologne looks like they're coming back up and, while they aren't in a playoff spot yet, St. Pauli is very close. Hipsters rejoice! In Italy, Palermo are coming right back up and then it's wide open for the second spot though Empoli is in the pole position.
   429. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 25, 2014 at 11:46 AM (#4676746)
So if Leeds goes into the crapper again, does Ken Bates come back, buy it for super cheap and try to sell it again?
   430. Textbook Editor Posted: March 25, 2014 at 11:51 AM (#4676748)
I was checking out the lower league tables today and saw that Portsmouth is only 3 points away from falling out of the Football League. Jeez.


As a casual fan of Torquay United, I'm rooting for them to make a great escape (they're currently in last place, 6 points adrift with 8 to play), but it doesn't look good. They only just avoided the drop last year, and from what I gather from some fan sites, they would be in serious trouble as a club if they go down.

I've been trying to figure out the ownership of the club and just how much they sold for the last time they were bought, but I can't seem to find this info.
   431. J. Sosa Posted: March 25, 2014 at 12:40 PM (#4676782)
Speaking of styles of play, that Chelsea/Arsenal game... As a Liverpool fan I had to hope Arsenal would take something from that match, but when I saw how Arsenal were set up and watched Mourinho roll out the Luiz Matic panzers I thought "Ohhhhhh crap....".

That must have been terrible for Arsenal fans. Yesterday was a rare day I was actually in the office and an Arsenal supporting friend of mine stopped by. He was apopletic.

How does Pompey's implosion rate on the all time collapse scale?
   432. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 25, 2014 at 12:52 PM (#4676785)
How does Pompey's implosion rate on the all time collapse scale?

Well, hell, Rangers went from the SPL to the 4th division in one offseason. I'm pretty sure they were having to play semi-pro clubs that were named after themselves!
   433. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 25, 2014 at 12:54 PM (#4676786)
He was apopletic.

You work at CNN?
   434. Dale Sams Posted: March 25, 2014 at 01:34 PM (#4676811)
Yeah, I really don't think the diving in the Clasicos is much worse than in the premier league. I mean, nothing in the latest game was remotely close to this...


That's pretty bad. Had he not hopped over the guy and just dragged a foot a little, he could of at least made it look better.

and I agree, that the sport that needs replay the most seems to also resist it the most.
   435. Manny Coon Posted: March 25, 2014 at 01:35 PM (#4676813)
Well, hell, Rangers went from the SPL to the 4th division in one offseason. I'm pretty sure they were having to play semi-pro clubs that were named after themselves!


At least Rangers are taking care of business at the lower levels, they finished with 28 win, 2 draws, 0 losses this year.
   436. J. Sosa Posted: March 25, 2014 at 01:47 PM (#4676818)
Poor Piers. I tried my best but he wasn't having it.
   437. J. Sosa Posted: March 25, 2014 at 01:52 PM (#4676821)
I know it isn't going to happen, but just as an exercise how do people think a club like Celtic would rank within the PL if they were able to work their way up the English tiers? Not in terms of on field talent, but if Celtic were in the PL and had access to PL revenue. How big would they be? Newcastle? Bigger? Smaller?
   438. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: March 25, 2014 at 02:29 PM (#4676840)
Other collapses… well, the following teams were in the Premier League at one point. And that's the Premier League, i.e. 1992 or more recent.
Bradford City
Wimbledon
Oldham Athletic
Sheffield United
Sheffield Wednesday
Swindon Town
Coventry City
Barnsley

Luton Town and Notts County were relegated from the First Division in 1992. Luton have been in the Conference for a while now.

Coventry are in the process of literally being asset-stripped, as the hedge fund that owns the team sees no logical reason why it should play in a stadium or have fans.
   439. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 25, 2014 at 02:32 PM (#4676841)
I know it isn't going to happen, but just as an exercise how do people think a club like Celtic would rank within the PL if they were able to work their way up the English tiers? Not in terms of on field talent, but if Celtic were in the PL and had access to PL revenue. How big would they be? Newcastle? Bigger? Smaller?

I think they'd hit that sweet spot in and around Newcastle/Spurs/Villa/Everton. Seems like those are the 4 clubs that make occasional waves about breaking the hegemony at the top but can never quite sustain it (barring unforeseen petro-dollars, of course).
   440. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 25, 2014 at 02:39 PM (#4676844)
   441. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 25, 2014 at 02:56 PM (#4676849)
All according to wiki, Celtic Park holds about 60K and Glasgow is bigger than Liverpool. Plus its got the third-highest per capita GDP in the UK after London and Edinburgh. So I think Shooty is about right, with a little more potential than those four teams - at least until Spurs get a new stadium.

I wonder what Moyes goes with today. I hope a there are two healthy CB and he starts Rooney as the striker. Otherwise not looking confident, even though City are a little shaky up front. They still have Yaya
   442. frannyzoo Posted: March 25, 2014 at 03:14 PM (#4676854)
Coventry are in the process of literally being asset-stripped, as the hedge fund that owns the team sees no logical reason why it should play in a stadium or have fans.


"It is, in fact, a trick question. Coventry City have never won the FA Cup." Sounds like that Monty Python line will not be outdated anytime soon.

Edit: Ha Ha! It is outdated! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1986–87_FA_Cup
   443. ursus arctos Posted: March 25, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4676855)
At least Rangers are taking care of business at the lower levels, they finished with 28 win, 2 draws, 0 losses this year.


Bayern currently have a record of 24 wins, 2 draws and 0 losses in the Bundesliga. Puts their dominance into some perspective.

EDIT: And I see they are 2-0 up at Hertha within 15 minutes, in a match where they can clinch the title.

It is virtually impossible to think of a scenario where either of Celtic or Rangers would enter the Premier League alone. That said, I would think that they both could aspire to the tier that Shooty describes.
   444. AuntBea Posted: March 25, 2014 at 03:17 PM (#4676859)

"It is, in fact, a trick question. Coventry City have never won the FA Cup." Sounds like that Monty Python line will not be outdated anytime soon.


It was outdated in 1987.
   445. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 25, 2014 at 03:22 PM (#4676862)
It was outdated in 1987.

Sadly, at that...
   446. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 25, 2014 at 03:25 PM (#4676863)
Man U: De Gea, Rafael, Ferdinand, Jones, Evra, Carrick, Cleverley, Fellaini, Mata, Welbeck, Rooney

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Toure, Fernandinho, Nasri, Silva, Navas, Dzeko

Hmmm... I'm now even more curious how he's going to have them line up.
   447. Howling John Shade Posted: March 25, 2014 at 03:46 PM (#4676873)
Oh my goodness.
   448. J. Sosa Posted: March 25, 2014 at 03:53 PM (#4676882)
Geez, come on United. Whatever happened to getting by with a little help from our friends?
   449. jmurph Posted: March 25, 2014 at 03:59 PM (#4676887)
Well, I was going to try to avoid watching until I got home to my DVR, but 447 and 448 made me check the score. Dzeko!

For the record I still don't feel good about this one and expect United to at least draw.
   450. J. Sosa Posted: March 25, 2014 at 04:21 PM (#4676899)
From your lips jmurph.

That midfield sets a new standard for ponderous. Carrick and Fellaini with Mata central and Cleverly out wide? I confess to not being up to speed with the injury situation at United other than RVP, but THAT is the way Moyes sets up against the bullies in the middle and Navas and Nasri?

I'm not sure how one manages to arrive at a strategy whereupon one simultaneously gets bossed in the midfield and skinned out wide, but Moyes has done it.
   451. Sean Forman Posted: March 25, 2014 at 04:27 PM (#4676903)
I know I've seen this suggested here, but it sure seems like suspensions for diving would be really, really effective. Four matches for drawing a red card. Two for a penalty, one for a yellow. It would still be worth it in certain settings, but in most it seems like it would not.
   452. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 25, 2014 at 04:53 PM (#4676925)
I'm not watching the game but in the past for United, Cleverly has played right midfield for them and tucked in. He does offer effort and running, even if his offensive skills have eroded/not developed. So I assume Welbeck is on the left and Mata is behind Rooney? Damnit - if you're going to set up the team for the counter, then put Valencia on the right.
   453. Howling John Shade Posted: March 25, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4676935)
Just awful marking there. Ferdinand is really done. If United manage to replace him with a good center back this summer, I think a lot of their problems will go away.
   454. ursus arctos Posted: March 25, 2014 at 05:08 PM (#4676937)
Bayern win 3-1 and clinch the title with seven matches remaining (slightly more than a fifth of the season).

That is a new Bundesliga record (the old record was six, set last year), and I think may be a record for the earliest clinching of a title in any of the top five European leagues.
   455. Baldrick Posted: March 25, 2014 at 05:13 PM (#4676943)
Demichelis...under no pressure...passes the ball directly to United. I'm willing to believe he's not as much of a disaster as he seems. But he sure seems like a massive disaster.
   456. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 25, 2014 at 05:13 PM (#4676944)
Rio wouldn't be playing if Smalling, Vidic or Evans were healthy - its pure desperation. He was done a couple years ago but Ferguson kept him around for sentimentality. Sigh... do I go home and watch this game on DVR?
   457. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 25, 2014 at 05:15 PM (#4676945)
More importantly for Spurs fans - Arsenal is down a goal to Swansea.
   458. ursus arctos Posted: March 25, 2014 at 05:16 PM (#4676947)
Not anymore, unfortunately.
   459. Howling John Shade Posted: March 25, 2014 at 05:19 PM (#4676948)
Rio wouldn't be playing if Smalling, Vidic or Evans were healthy - its pure desperation. He was done a couple years ago but Ferguson kept him around for sentimentality.
True, although I'm not sure Smalling or Vidic are good enough either. Evans and Jones could be a good pairing for a while, though.
   460. J. Sosa Posted: March 25, 2014 at 05:39 PM (#4676958)
I was hoping against hope for City to drop points as well, but that'll do Swansea, that'll do.
   461. ursus arctos Posted: March 25, 2014 at 05:55 PM (#4676970)
Arsenal's next two matches are Man City at home and away to Everton.

Everton are currently six points back, with a game in hand.

Just sayin'
   462. AuntBea Posted: March 25, 2014 at 06:10 PM (#4676978)
As a very casual Arsenal fan, today's result is much worse than the 6-0 loss to Chelsea. There was no way Arsenal was going to win the title, and very little hope (in my mind) of getting a result in that game. Now top 4 is under very realistic threat.
   463. J. Sosa Posted: March 25, 2014 at 06:45 PM (#4676985)
Wow, I didn't realize Everton was that close to Arsenal on goal difference. It would take an epic bottle, and I don't think Everton will ultimately finish ahead of the gooners, but it would be amazing if Everton could overtake Arsenal in the table if only for a little while.

It's really too bad Lukaku got hurt. Everton are really good at full strength. I like Arsenal, but if Everton finished fourth the comedy value of Martinez taking Everton to the CL and Moyes taking United to 7th would be off the charts.
   464. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 26, 2014 at 09:14 AM (#4677140)
Some esoteric news for Spurs fans that could portend postive thigs for the future

New tube stops! One in particular should pique Spurs fans' interest...

Also, I saw Paul Scholes on Sky from last night. He thinks all United need are a new midfield and defense...
   465. J. Sosa Posted: March 26, 2014 at 10:14 AM (#4677186)
Scholes got ragged on in the rumour mill. I've heard other people say he was good though. What did you think Shooty?
   466. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 26, 2014 at 10:26 AM (#4677195)
Scholes got ragged on in the rumour mill. I've heard other people say he was good though. What did you think Shooty?

He seems like a straight shooter, though maybe veers a little towards the "blood and guts" analysis than what actually can be observed (see his takedown of Arsenal lacking "leadership" for their failings as an example of this). I don't think Arsenal lack leadership or guts so there must be other reasons why the struggle against the better sides. Anyway, he seems like a perfectly cromulent pundit and I'm not sure why Paul Doyle is so put off by anything he said. What would you expect a guy like Scholes to say about a team that just lost by 6 goals in their biggest game of the season?
   467. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 26, 2014 at 10:49 AM (#4677213)
Man City have offered Bacary Sagna a 3 year deal. He's out of contract so Arsenal would get squat.
   468. ursus arctos Posted: March 26, 2014 at 11:10 AM (#4677222)
Shooty, the TfL map just reflects a rebranding of the existing service out of Liverpool Street. I expect that the station will continue to be hopelessly inadequate immediately before and after matches.
   469. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 26, 2014 at 11:13 AM (#4677223)
No way was Wegner going to offer a three-year deal to a 31YO. City already has Zabaleta, so not sure how the playing time is going to play out. Its only more salary for City so it just means someone is going to be unhappy.

I guess this also clears the way for some mid-table team to try and buy Micah Richards on the cheap. Although I could see Moyes paying 20M for him.
   470. J. Sosa Posted: March 26, 2014 at 11:46 AM (#4677237)
Thanks for the info Shooty, Doyle seemed to have something against Scholes. It was kind of odd, although that is the mill's bit so maybe he was just short of material.

What are the opinions on Richards? I haven't seen him play much and don't have an opinion other than I think he could probably bench a dump truck. There were rumblings from less than reliable sources awhile back that Liverpool were interested but I don't know if that was grist for the papers or not.
   471. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 26, 2014 at 11:48 AM (#4677238)
Shooty, the TfL map just reflects a rebranding of the existing service out of Liverpool Street. I expect that the station will continue to be hopelessly inadequate immediately before and after matches.

Ah. There is talk of expanding the station still and I don't think they can increase attendance until they deal with that. It takes forever to get onto the train after a game. Reading bout these stations more closely the actual good news is that the London Underground will be taking over that line so the hope is that there will be more trains and updated carriages serving those areas. It may also be a prelude to expanding a couple of the stops around WHL. Like the 2nd Avenue subway line and the WTC, I'll be dead before this new stadium is finished. (As a side not, lucky me, I get to navigate through two of the biggest urban public works projects in history every day!)
   472. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 26, 2014 at 11:53 AM (#4677240)
No way was Wegner going to offer a three-year deal to a 31YO. City already has Zabaleta, so not sure how the playing time is going to play out. Its only more salary for City so it just means someone is going to be unhappy.

Sagna hasn't signed anything yet. Supposedly he doesn't want to leave London for his family's sake, but City's money can be persuasive.

What are the opinions on Richards?

To me he's sort of like Kyle Walker, but a bit more athletic and a bit less smart and skilled, if that makes sense. I think Walker is a better player overall but, despite Richards' limitations, he's not a bad player. I think, like Adam Johnson and Tom Huddlestone, he'll have to move down the table a bit to play everyday and reestablish his reputation.
   473. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 26, 2014 at 12:20 PM (#4677256)
Yea, supposedly there is a two-year offer on the table from Arsenal, but City is offering an extra year at supposedly more per year and its only a two hour train ride.

From what I've seen, Richards is a tremendous athlete. Probably not as fast as Walker with less technical ability but he is strong. He has had a couple of memorable runs with the ball. He does get hurt a lot.
   474. frannyzoo Posted: March 26, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4677291)
In today's obscure relegation theatre, Cottbus is already up 1-0 today after having won three of four to come back to at least a fighting chance to stay up in Bund 2. I still remember watching their relegation playoff out of Bundesliga a few years back while in that rather forlorn part of the world (lots of ugly lignite mines...lots of 'em). Only bad thing about a Cottbus revival is that one Eastern team might simply knock another out, as Dresden continues to hover and dip in/around the drop zone.
   475. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 26, 2014 at 01:14 PM (#4677296)
   476. Textbook Editor Posted: March 26, 2014 at 02:00 PM (#4677332)
Ah. There is talk of expanding the station still and I don't think they can increase attendance until they deal with that. It takes forever to get onto the train after a game.


Shooty--I'm curious: How does it compare to getting on the subway line after a Yankees game, or trying to catch the T at Kenmore after a Red Sox game? I hear about train difficulties at grounds and I'm trying to put it in some kind of context I'm familiar with.

(The T station at Kenmore I've found to be horrible after a game, while the subway stop outside of Yankee stadium I've found to be somewhat more manageable, but this is likely because the subway set-up allows for more real estate/places for people to spread out into than the Kenmore set-up does...)
   477. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 26, 2014 at 02:08 PM (#4677339)
Shooty--I'm curious: How does it compare to getting on the subway line after a Yankees game, or trying to catch the T at Kenmore after a Red Sox game? I hear about train difficulties at grounds and I'm trying to put it in some kind of context I'm familiar with.

It's worse than catching the subway after a Yankees game and the stop is right in the middle of a residential area so there's no place for the crowd to sort of gather while waiting in line. I think they ought to schedule u-21 games or something after a home game to encourage at least a fraction of the crowd to hang around and ease the congestion. Hell, even if only 5k stick around that would help the congestion a lot and they'd sell another 5 thousand bottles of beer and 5 thousand more of what I assume are "meat pies".
   478. jmurph Posted: March 26, 2014 at 02:18 PM (#4677352)
I go back and forth on Richards- as Frank alluded to, he's surprisingly strong on the ball, but he seems to have lapses defensively. I agree that regular action is what he needs, and he's not going to get that at City.

Count me among the confused about the Sagna rumors. Probably two-ish years ago I would have had him as the best two way right back in the league, but I don't see that in him anymore. Zabaleta is definitely better, and I don't think you sign a guy like Sagna to be just depth (even with their wealth).
   479. Textbook Editor Posted: March 26, 2014 at 02:27 PM (#4677362)
Thanks, Shooty. If 3pm kickoffs end ~5pm, why aren't fans sticking around to get a bite to eat or a drink somewhere around WHL? Doing that to avoid the crush for the train seems like a good idea, but maybe there isn't all that much around there? Or maybe on Sat/Sun the trains don't run that often after 5pm?

I guess it could be that folks are doing all their eating/drinking out BEFORE the game and thus don't want to also do it again after the game...
   480. ursus arctos Posted: March 26, 2014 at 02:34 PM (#4677366)
That's basically the reason. The area immediately around the ground is also not full of attractive post-match hostelries.

I agree with Shooty that it is worse than either Yankee Stadium or Kenmore (or Wrigley, for that matter), in part because we are talking about a single elevated platform (in each direction, but with 80% of the crowd going back to London) that simply isn't that long or wide (both shorter and narrower than the Elevated platform at Yankee Stadium, which of course also has an underground alternative to split the crowd).
   481. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 26, 2014 at 02:48 PM (#4677384)
I guess it could be that folks are doing all their eating/drinking out BEFORE the game and thus don't want to also do it again after the game...

The few pubs around the stadium are packed before and after the game. I wanted to get a beer after the Chelsea fiasco to drown my tears but it was wall-to-wall and that's not my kind of leisurely drinking. Next time I go I'll try to figure out how to walk to a station down the line. I'd rather walk for 45 minutes and see a crappy part of London than stand around 45 minutes waiting to get on a train.
   482. ursus arctos Posted: March 26, 2014 at 02:57 PM (#4677390)
It's very simple.

You just walk down the High Road and can get to Seven Sisters in about half an hour. At Seven Sisters you have the option of the train to Liverpool Street or the Victoria Line.

You can also walk east along Park Lane to Northumberland Road, which is another train station, and rather closer.
   483. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 26, 2014 at 03:14 PM (#4677403)
You just walk down the High Road and can get to Seven Sisters in about half an hour. At Seven Sisters you have the option of the train to Liverpool Street or the Victoria Line.

NOW you tell me!
   484. ursus arctos Posted: March 26, 2014 at 03:28 PM (#4677423)
Valdes looks to have suffered a serious knee injury in Barcelona's match with Celta, and has been taken off on a stretcher.

This could have significant repercussions for the rest of Barcelona's season and Spain's World Cup squad.
   485. Spivey Posted: March 26, 2014 at 03:43 PM (#4677433)
Didn't Valdes want to come play in England and was dead set on not returning to Barcelona?
   486. ursus arctos Posted: March 26, 2014 at 03:47 PM (#4677438)
He is supposed to have signed a massive pre-contract with Monaco, but yeah, Barca have already agreed terms with Ter Stegen to replace him.
   487. frannyzoo Posted: March 26, 2014 at 07:11 PM (#4677572)
Real Madrid go from dominating to a deceptively problematic third place in just three days. Despite Valdez' injury, methinks Barca won the league today (and I say that wishing Atletico could hold on through eight more games).
   488. J. Sosa Posted: March 26, 2014 at 07:30 PM (#4677582)
Rodgers is going to have to consider reverting to the 4-3-3 against teams that aren't too proud to counter the diamond. Allen is superfluous in a match like that. I thought OGS made the right moves for Cardiff but didn't have the pieces to pull it off. Sunderland made things really difficult despite the talent disparity. I know Rodgers can't keep his key players happy for a sustained period in the 4-3-3, but he might want to consider going back to it.

I'm pulling for Atletico, that last match could be amazing.
   489. J. Sosa Posted: March 26, 2014 at 07:56 PM (#4677591)
What do my Spurs peeps think Sherwood will do this weekend? I'm thinking he'll have a go.
   490. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: March 26, 2014 at 07:59 PM (#4677592)
Sosa, if these last seven games are anything like today, I don't think I'm going to make it through the next two months.

Sunderland did make it quite difficult, mainly limiting Liverpool to shots from 18+ yards out. Vergini should have been sent off, though -- either a red for his last-man tackle on Suarez, or for his subsequent slide-tackle on the same player a few minutes later.

Suffice to say, but I don't really care about process at this juncture. They got the three points, seven left and on to Tottenham.
   491. J. Sosa Posted: March 26, 2014 at 08:29 PM (#4677598)
Agreed. I had to leave for soccer practice at half time and checked the score every time I got a chance. That was nerve wracking enough. Watching those last few minutes live would have killed me. I caught the second half when I got back, and boy was that a mess.

Admittedly I'm wearing red tinted glasses, but unless Brown strapped on a jet pack when no one was looking I thought the Vergini yellow could easily have been a red. He should have gone for sure on the second one. Survive and advance, survive and advance.

I'm hoping Sherwood's pride gets the better of him. Spurs have got the players to really hurt Liverpool if they set up the right way. If Adebayor is healthy he's no Dozy and they also potentially have the burners to hurt Liverpool wide if Rodgers sticks to playing narrow.

   492. Richard Posted: March 26, 2014 at 08:34 PM (#4677599)
That's basically the reason. The area immediately around the ground is also not full of attractive post-match hostelries.

There is a good argument that the area around WHL is the least pleasant area to eat and drink around any ground in the EPL.
   493. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 27, 2014 at 07:34 AM (#4677681)
If Adebayor is healthy he's no Dozy and they also potentially have the burners to hurt Liverpool wide if Rodgers sticks to playing narrow.

I wouldn't worry. Spurs have yet to meet a through-ball they could defend this year. I'm just hoping we don't get embarrassed again.
   494. Sean Forman Posted: April 03, 2014 at 01:54 PM (#4678535)
testing
   495. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: April 03, 2014 at 01:59 PM (#4678538)
Woah, BTF is alive!
   496. Ron J2 Posted: April 03, 2014 at 02:29 PM (#4678560)
And I can post.

All 4 Champions League games played out in an interesting manner. Moyes still probably needs a minor miracle to keep his job, but not getting slaughtered in the first league may silence a few critics and the chances in the second leg are slightly less daunting given the players ruled out for Bayern. Of course they're still massive favorites.

Can't say much positive about Chelsea -- or The Special One's post-game blame fest.

And I'd like to hear more on the implications of Barcelona's transfer ban.
   497. Mefisto Posted: April 03, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4678568)
Testing.
   498. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 03, 2014 at 02:38 PM (#4678577)

And I'd like to hear more on the implications of Barcelona's transfer ban.


Right now the most obvious and immediate concern is at keeper. With Valdes presumably gone and Pinto out of contract if they can't get terStegen in things get a little tricky. I don't remember where I read but apparently they have 90 days to file an appeal so the long and short is they are unlikely to be hindered this summer which makes that less of a problem.

I think if they can get into this summer with the ability to make moves they can do what they can need to do to mitigate a January 2015/summer 2015 transfer ban.
   499. Swedish Chef Posted: April 03, 2014 at 02:40 PM (#4678580)
And I'd like to hear more on the implications of Barcelona's transfer ban.

They will appeal and win. Hopefully it will lead to some second thoughts about their child trafficking. But hey, getting and discarding a couple of hundred kids to get a Messi is cost-effective, so why would they?

An example of what they do...
   500. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 03, 2014 at 02:44 PM (#4678593)
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