Posts Tagged ‘Holland’

Calcio John Foot

Calcio: A History of Italian Football

Calcio: A History of Italian Football by John Foot

A comprehensive look at football in Italy by an English academic. In this dense look at football culture, Foot looks at how the game has been influenced by but also helped shape Italian society over time. And for those less inclined to the Italian football tradition, this book is so abundantly rich in storytelling that it reads almost like a novel at times.

What enriches Foot’s book the most is the excellent profiles of many of Italy’s most famous personalities, including Helenio Herrera, Giuseppe Meazza, Gigi Meroni and others. It also has a chapter on virtually every aspect of football down to match-fixing, doping and refereeing. It is one of my favourite non-fiction books.

When Beckham Went to Spain: Power, Stardom, and Real Madrid by Jimmy Burns

An excellent look at the history of Real Madrid written interestingly enough by an Barcelona fan. Burns tracks the evolution of the club as a global brand, using the 2003 transfer of David Beckham as a defining moment in the it’s history. At the same time it still is a profile of the English superstar, although his name does go unmentioned for long periods.

Burns’ book attempts to decipher exactly what Beckham’s move to Spain meant for the club and the country. At the time, Beckham’s move was largely seen as less a footballing decision than a commercial one. Although we have the benefit of hindsight, Beckham’s arrival meant a lot for the stature of Spain, La Liga and Real Madrid at the time.

La Roja: How Soccer Conquered Spain and How Spanish Soccer Conquered the World by Jimmy Burns

Another book by Anglo-Spanish journalist Jimmy Burns. ‘La Roja’ is a conventional history of football in Spain. Burns takes us from the first organized matches by English industrialists in Rio Tinto to Andrés Iniesta’s winning goal at the 2010 World Cup.

The book does an excellent job of highlighting the importance of football to Spain’s society in the 20th century. The less documented stories like the Athletic Bilbao squads of the 1930s is what makes this book fascinating. But of course, there is some rich detail about the origins of the Real Madrid and FC Barcelona rivalry that still dominates the narrative of La Liga today.

Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics by Jonathan Wilson

An interesting book about the evolution of formations and tactics in the game of football. The book is sometimes complicated, so it is not recommended for those who have only a modest interest in tactics. For those that love to discuss the merits of 4-3-3 over 4-4-2 this book is essential reading.

Wilson discusses in great detail the evolving game of football, from the frustrating but effective Italian Catenaccio, to the Total Football of the 1970s, and good old fashion counter-attack. The book even considers the more controversial subjects including the natural playmaker and the sweeper. It also has some great information about some of the tactical geniuses in history like Helenio Herrera, Rinus Michels and Nereo Rocco.

Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football by David Winner

One of the most original books written on the subject of football. Ironically it has less to do with the global game and more to do with how Holland’s cultural and history has influenced the Dutch style of football, particularly the Total football era of the 1970s.

The distinct Dutch style of shifting positions on the field has everything to do with finding and exploiting space. Is this not also the primary obsession of the nation of Holland that has fought to reclaim land from the sea for almost its entire modern history. Winner illuminates his theory with brilliant examples from architecture, literature and society to create an absorbing book.

Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey–and Even Iraq–Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World’s Most Popular Sport
by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski

Does for football what Michael Lewis’ Moneyball did for baseball. This book tries to understand the global game using hard statistics. Although some of their findings will cause some to scratch their heads, the point of the book is to get people to look at football a different way. And it succeeds admirably.

In one particularly fascinating section, the authors look at why exactly the vast majority of footballers come from disadvantaged backgrounds. In another, it considers whether hosting football tournaments like the World Cup actually generates real benefits to taxpayers. In its final chapter, Soccernomics looks at penalties in a purely statistical way.

Jogo Bonito: Pele, Neymar and Brazil’s Beautiful Game by Henrik Brandão Jönsson

Jönsson tells eight different stories. The sections on the Maracanazo, Garrincha and Corinthian Democracy are the most illuminating. The author explains how football has become such an integral part of the socio-political fabric of modern Brazil. And the consequences of all that.

This book is not the definitive history of football in Brazil. Those interested in a more comprehensive history of football in the South American giant should read David Goldblatt’s Futebol Nation: The Story of Brazil through Soccer and/or Alex Bellos’ Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life.

I am Zlatan by Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic chronicles his journey from a troubled childhood to his days at AC Milan in his own words. What makes the Swedish striker’s autobiography worth reading over players like Pele and Maradona, is that he cares little about what people think of him.

It is full of interesting stories, humour and a surprising amount of heart. His experiences under some of the game’s biggest personalities like Jose Mourinho, Fabio Capello and especially Pep Guardiola is well worth reading. It is an thoroughly absorbing read.

Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the World’s Greatest Sports Rivalry by Sid Lowe

Fans of both clubs and football in general will be drawn to the unique way these two giants have been connected over the years. Lowe tells the story in an impartial, detailed and interesting way.

He is also not afraid to break down many of the myths surrounding the rivalry, including the perception that Real Madrid was Franco’s team and that Barcelona was persecuted because of it.  It also captures how the rivalry reflects many of the deep divisions in Spanish society today.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Fanny Schertzer

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Fanny Schertzer

Paulo Bento’s Portugal squad went into Wednesday’s friendly against Holland with a renewed sense of optimistic after an important win against Russia in World Cup qualifying in June.

The squad was missing some familiar faces with Nani, Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles all withdrawing due to injuries. Manager Paulo Bento fielded a makeshift midfield that included Miguel Veloso, Ruben Amorim and Ruben Micael.

Luis Neto started in place of Bruno Alves who would come into the match as a late substitute. Zenit St. Petersburg’s Danny started on the wing, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and striker Helder Postiga. Beto also started in goal instead of Rui Patricio.

The match began brightly for the Oranje, with Louis van Gaal’s squad getting the better opportunities in the opening minutes.

In the 17th minute, Dynamo Kyiv winger Jeremain Lens would find AS Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman just outside the box. Strootman delivered a world-class strike which beat Beto.

Portugal would counter with a few opportunities of their own. Ruben Micael had the best opportunity before the half striking a good opportunity inside the box just wide of the goal.

Olympiakos midfielder Paulo Machado would replace Ruben Micael at half-time. The change gave the Seleção a determination not seen in the first-half. The squad dominated in terms of possession and chances in the second half.

They were finally rewarded for their hard work in the 87th minute when Pepe deflected a Miguel Veloso corner kick in front of goal. Cristiano Ronaldo scored with a clinical finish, giving Portugal a well-deserved draw.

The match was not the best news that Portuguese fans received on Wednesday. Northern Ireland beat Russia 1-0 in a group F World Cup qualifying match. The result means that Portugal remains in first place with three matches left.

The Seleção will face Northern Ireland in Belfast on September 6th.


Cristiano Ronaldo’s Tying Goal Against Holland

Related Posts:

MATCH PREVIEW: Portugal Will Rekindle Rivalry With The Netherlands In International Friendly

MATCH REVIEW: Portugal Earn Crucial Victory Over Russia In World Cup Qualifying

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Ilja Chochłow

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Ilja Chochłow

The Seleção will renew its rivalry with The Netherlands in an international friendly on Wednesday, August 14 at Algarve stadium in Faro.

The match will mark the first time Portugal will face the Oranje since its dramatic 2-1 win in the final group stage match at the 2012 European Championships. Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored both Portuguese goals in that match will of course captain the Seleção for the match, barring injury.

Paulo Bento’s Portuguese squad was announced on Tuesday and there were few surprises. Real Madrid defender Pepe made his return after missing out last time due to a yellow card suspension.

Missing out this time around are Beşiktaş striker Hugo Almeida, Sporting Lisbon midfielder Andre Martins, and Espanyol winger Pizzi. Sporting Braga striker Éder is still recovering from a knee injury and was not selected.

Bento’s squad is hoping to prepare for a series of critical World Cup qualifying matches in September and October. They are currently in first place in group F with 14 points in 7 matches. However, Russia is only two points behind despite playing two fewer matches.

Goalkeepers: Beto (Sevilla), Eduardo (Braga) Rui Patrício (Sporting)

Defenders: João Pereira (Valencia), Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahçe), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Sílvio (Benfica), Pepe (Real Madrid), Neto (Zenit)

Midfeilders: Raul Meireles (Fenerbahçe), João Moutinho (Mónaco), Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kiev), Custódio (Braga), Rúben Amorim (Benfica), Rúben Micael (Braga)

Forwards: Nani (Manchester United), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Varela (FC Porto), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg), Hélder Postiga (Zaragoza), Danny (Zenit), Nélson Oliveira (Rennes)

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Paulblank

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Paulblank

Benfica formally announced the signing of Serbian winger Miralem Sulejmani from Ajax through an official statement on Tuesday. The deal is for five years, and Sulejmani will come at zero cost to Benfica after his contract expired with the Dutch club.

The 24-year-old Sulejmani joins a growing group of Serbians at the Estádio da Luz, which includes defender Stefan Mitrović, forward Lazar Marković, midfielder Filip Đuričić, and brothers Uroš and Nemanja Matić.

Like Lazar Marković and Nemanja Matić, Sulejmani is a product of the FK Partizan youth academy. In 2006, he left for Dutch side Heerenveen where his impressive displays caught the attention of Dutch powerhouse Ajax. In 2008, they paid over €16million for him, setting the record for the highest transfer fee between two Eredivisie clubs.

This past season, Sulejmani refused to sign an extension with the club. Manager Frank de Boer would eventually demote him to the reserves. He played in only five Eredivisie matches all season.

Related Posts:

TRANSFER WINDOW: Benfica Sign 20-Year-Old Paraguayan Winger Jorge Rojas

TRANSFER WINDOW: Serbian Midfielder Filip Djuricic Joins Benfica From Heerenveen

TRANSFER WINDOW: Serbian Central Defender Stefan Mitrović Will Join Benfica Next Season

TRANSFER WINDOW: Benfica Officially Sign Lazar Marković To A Five-Year Deal


Heerenveen’s Technical Director Johan Hansma confirmed last week that Benfica have officially acquired Serbian playmaker Filip Djuricic from the Eredivisie side. The deal has been speculated for months, but Hansma’s comments marked the first time anyone from the Dutch club had confirmed a ‘done deal.’

The 21-year-old Serbian international will join the Águias at the beginning of next season. O Jogo reported in February that Djuricic signed a five-year deal with the club, which would expire in 2018. The transfer fee is expected to be around 6 million Euros.

Djuricic is a natural attacking midfielder with club and country. He began playing football in his native Serbia with hometown club FK Radnički Obrenovac before spending some time in the youth ranks of Serbian giants Red Star Belgrade and Greek side Olympiacos.

In 2008, he returned to Obrenovac where he played his first matches at the senior level. In 2010, he was signed by Dutch club SC Heerenveen where he has developed into a very promising young player.

Djuricic impressed with Serbia’s junior squads before he received his first international call-up with the senior national team in 2012. He has played in 11 matches with Serbia, scoring 4 goals. He has 7 goals and 7 assists in 32 matches in the Dutch League so far this campaign.

Djuricic’s former manager with the Serbian U-21 squad Aleksandar Janković told Serbian newspaper Blic that the 21-year-old is “The future of Serbian football.” And like Holland’s greatest player Johan Cruyff, Djuricic is a “fighter who is always ready to assume that responsibility.” Janković added that Djuricic has demonstrated a maturity level beyond his years.

Djuricic was named by Heerenveen fans as the player of the year, receiving 42 percent of votes. He accepted the award on Sunday where he spoke about his impending move to Portugal with great excitement.

“Benfica is a fantastic club. They are in the final of the Europa League and they play a form of attacking football that really suits me. It is a big step forward in my career,” he told fans and media.

Related Post:

TRANSFER WINDOW: Serbian Central Defender Stefan Mitrović Will Join Benfica Next Season