Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

Calcio John Foot


Calcio: A History of Italian Football by John Foot

English academic John Foot looks at the unique football history of Italy. Full of contradictions but an undeniably beauty and success like the country itself. 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, Helenio Herrera, Giuseppe Meazza, Gigi Meroni among them. It also has a chapter on virtually every aspect of football down to match-fixing, doping and refereeing.


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

An absorbing look at the history and allure of Real Madrid written ironically 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 its history. Burns’ book attempts to decipher exactly what Beckham’s move to Spain meant for the club and the country.


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 plenty of detail about the origins of the Real Madrid and FC Barcelona rivalry that still dominates the narrative of La Liga today.


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. 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 illustrates his theory with often brilliant and surprising examples from architecture, literature and society to create an absorbing read.


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 statistics. Although some of their findings will leave you unconvinced, the point of the book is to get people to look at football a different way and not necessarily to provide conclusions. In one section, the authors look at why 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 in which the chapters on the Maracanazo, Garrincha and Corinthian Democracy are the most interesting. 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 in rich detail. This book is not the definitive history of football in Brazil but it is full of excellent storytelling. Those interested in a more comprehensive history of football in the South American giant Alex Bellos’ Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life is well worth your time as well.


I am Zlatan by Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Why should you read the autobiography of the Swedish striker and not Pele or Maradona? It is simple. Zlatan is honest and cares little about his own image. What you have is a thoroughly enjoyable read. He chronicles his journey from a troubled childhood to his days at AC Milan. It is full of good 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 as well.


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

Real Madrid versus Barcelona. Is there a more intense rivalry in football? Certainly, not in the last decade. Guardian journalist and Spanish historian Sid Lowe looks at the way the two great footballing institutions have been connected over the years. He breaks down many of the myths surrounding the rivalry. He also captures how the rivalry reflects many of the deep divisions in Spanish society, even today.


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

The definitive book about formations and tactics in the game of football. At times it is highly technical and therefore not recommended for those who have only a passing interest in tactics. 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.


Angels with Dirty Faces: The Footballing History of Argentina by Jonathan Wilson

A dense overview of the history of football in Argentina by one of England’s best sports writers. Like John Foot’s Calcio, Wilson’s book is concerned with the unique way football is embedded in the society, culture and politics of the nation in question. Wilson tells the story of Argentinian football chronologically, beginning with British industrialists and ending at the 2014 World Cup final. And it has a wide scope, touching on the domestic game as well as Argentinians in Europe and the national team.


 

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Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid

Portugal’s great hope. Cristiano Ronaldo will go into the tournament as the reigning World Footballer of the Year, as well as the consensus best player in the World. The Portuguese captain is at the height of his individual ability, although there are concerns about his fitness.

Once widely criticized for his perceived lack of productivity with the national team, Ronaldo is now Portugal’s all-time leading goalscorer. He proved that he could lead his country deep in a major tournament at Euro 2012. However, the 29-year-old needs to win the World Cup to establish himself as one of the greatest players in history.

This Season: It was another excellent season for the global superstar. Cristiano Ronaldo scored 31 goals in La Liga, winning the Pichichi award as the league’s top scorer. He also set a new single season record for Champions League goals with 17, helping Real Madrid win La Décima.

Fun Fact: Cristiano Ronaldo was recently named one of Time Magazine’s Most Influential People. His profile was written by none other than Pelé who compares the Real Madrid forward to former Portuguese international Eusébio. He writes that the two have ‘the same elegance and creativity.’

Nani, Manchester United

The Manchester United winger is almost as vital to Portugal’s success as Cristiano Ronaldo. Nani is coming off an injury-plagued season. A healthy and productive Nani would be a major boost to Portugal’s chances. He has formed a good partnership with Ronaldo in the past.

This will be Nani’s third major tournament with Portugal. He was forced to withdraw from the 2010 World Cup because of a shoulder injury. Nani had a good Euro 2012, which included being named the Man of the Match in Portugal’s 3-2 group stage win against Denmark.

This Season: Nani struggled through groin and hamstring injuries this season. He played in only 11 League matches for Manchester United.

Fun Fact: Nani is trained in Capoeira, a kind of Brazilian martial arts dance. He has been known to celebrate a goal by doing the ‘Leap of death’ move.

Vieirinha, Wolfsburg

The 28-year-old was an excellent player for Portugal’s youth squads but only received his first senior selection in March 2013. Vieirinha has put together some excellent performances for the Seleção in limited action.

Vieirinha suffered a serious knee injury last September and was thought to be ruled out for the World Cup. He returned in time to play in Wolfsburg’s final Bundesliga matches. A product of FC Porto’s academy, Vieirinha moved to Greek club PAOK in 2008. He was signed by Wolfsburg in 2012 after several stellar seasons.

This Season: Vieirinha appeared in 11 Bundesliga matches for Wolfsburg. The German club finished a solid fifth in the league table.

Fun Fact: Vieirinha was named the Player of the Tournament at the 2003 UEFA European Under-17 Championship, which Portugal won by beating rivals Spain in the final. He was also named PAOK’s Player of the Season twice, as well as the Greek Super League’s Best Foreign Player in 2011.

Silvestre Varela, FC Porto

The 29-year-old has been primarily used as an impact substitute during his time with the Seleção. He scored a memorable goal against Denmark to give Portugal a 3-2 win in the group stage of Euro 2012. He currently has 22 caps for Portugal.

Silvestre Varela is a graduate of Sporting Lisbon’s youth academy. But after spending several seasons on loan, he moved to Estrela Amadora. FC Porto signed him in 2009 and he has been a productive player for the club ever since. He has won the Primeira Liga on three occasions, the Portuguese Cup twice, and the Europa League in 2010-11.

This Season: Silvestre Varela played in 25 League matches for FC Porto, scoring five goals and adding another five assists. But the Dragões had a very disappointing season by their standards, finishing third in the league table.

Fun Fact: Silvestre Varela appeared to be a lock for South Africa 2010 after an impressive first season with Porto. However, he broke his left fibula in training ruling him out for the entire tournament.

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19-year old central defender Rúben Vezo will join La Liga giants Valencia in January, the Spanish club confirmed on Monday.

The Portuguese defender was in Spain on Monday to finalize the terms of a four-year deal that takes effect on January 1st, 2014 when the winter transfer window officially opens.

The transfer fee is believed to be around €1,5 million according to some sources although that was not confirmed by either club. Vezo’s current club Vitória Setúbal will receive 25 percent of a future sale of the player according to a news release on the Valencia club website.

The Setúbal-born Vezo is a product of the club’s youth academy. This is his first professional season with the senior side and he has not failed to impress, starting in eight league matches for the club. His performances have earned him a call-up to Portugal’s U19 squad.

Vezo was previously linked with a move to Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon according to national radio station Antena 1 but will be honing his craft at the Mestalla instead. He is believed to be a replacement for Adil Rami who is expected to join AC Milan on loan in January.

Vezo will be the fourth Portuguese national on the Spanish team, joining Hélder Postiga, João Pereira and Ricardo Costa.

Helder-Postiga-Portugal_2676791

Portuguese international striker Hélder Postiga has completed a transfer to La Liga giants Valencia from Real Zaragoza.

The deal comes only days after Spanish striker Roberto Soldado moved to Tottenham Hotspurs. The Spanish club will rely on the 31 year old Portuguese to score goals this season.

Postiga scored 14 goals in 37 matches last year for Zaragoza but it was not enough for the club to avoid relegation. He joins fellow Portuguese international Ricardo Costa and Joao Pereira at Mestalla this coming season.

Valencia are reported to have paid €3 million for Postiga. Real Zaragoza will also retain 20 percent of the player’s rights. They are also entitled to another €375,000 if Postiga scores more than 15 goals this season.

Postiga is a product of FC Porto’s youth academy. He has spells with Tottenham Hotspurs, Sporting Lisbon and others prior to joining Real Zaragoza in 2011.

He is currently tied for sixth all-time in career goals for Portuguese national team with 26.

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

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Benfica fans will not get a chance to see one of Portugal’s best young talents play at the Estádio da Luz this season after all.

Winger Pizzi has been loaned to Barcelona-based club RCD Espanyol after completing a transfer to Benfica from La Liga’s Atlético Madrid. Brazilian central defender Sidnei will also be loaned to Espanyol this season.

According to the football website O Jogo, Espanyol is reported to have paid Benfica €1,5million for their one year of service.

The two players were officially unveiled to the Espanyol faithful on Tuesday at the Estadi Cornellà-El Prat. The club’s sporting director Òscar Perarnau said at the news conference that, ‘Pizzi was a primary objective for the attack.’

Perarnau also revealed that the club was interested in the Portuguese winger when he was still under contract with Atlético Madrid.

Pizzi said that his primary objective was to have a successful season ahead of the 2014 World Cup. “I am going to try to improve on what I did at Deportivo, as well as help Espanyol reach its objectives.”

Pizzi has received one cap for Portugal so far, playing in a November 2012 friendly against Gabon. He established himself as one of the best young players in La Liga last season, scoring 8 goals and adding another 7 assists in 35 matches with now-relegated Deportivo La Coruña.

23-year old Sidnei has struggled to find playing time with Benfica over the last few years. He played most of last season with Benfica’s B squad in the second tier Liga de Honra.

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TRANSFER WINDOW: Pizzi Reportedly On His Way To Benfica

PORTUGAL: 7 Young Players That Could Help The Seleção Reach World Cup 2014

LA LIGA: Portuguese Trio Help Deportivo Crush Levante In Spanish League Action

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Portuguese defender Daniel Carriço officially joined La Liga club Sevilla on Wednesday on a one-year loan deal. The deal includes the option to buy the 24-year old at the end of the season.

Carriço transferred to Premier League club Reading in January for a bargain basement price of €750,000 and made only three appearance before the club was relegated to the championship division. He confirmed more than a week ago that he will not be playing with the English club next season.

Carriço is known for his impressive physique and versatility. A natural centre back, he began playing defensive midfield in 2011 while at Sporting Lisbon.

Injuries would cost him his position in the starting line-up at the beginning of last season under manager Ricardo Sá Pinto. In January he moved to Reading.

He received 59 caps with Portugal’s junior international squads, including 16 with the U21 squads.

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TRANSFER WINDOW: Former Sporting Captain Daniel Carriço Moves to Premier League Club Reading

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Anual

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Anual

Promising forward Salvador Agra will be playing football in Braga for the next two seasons, according to several reports in Portugal. The 21-year-old who struggled to hold down a starting position under Pepe Mel at Real Betis last season will reportedly sign a two-year loan deal with Os Guerreiros do Minho.

As part of the deal between the two clubs, Spanish winger Juan Carlos will remain on loan at the La Liga club for one more season. Agra’s deal includes an option to buy the Portuguese winger for €4million.

Agra began playing football in the Varzim youth ranks before signing with Olhanense in 2011. He was sold to La Liga’s Real Betis in 2012. Agra was loaned to Serie A club Siena in January 2013 to gain more playing time.

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SPORTING BRAGA: Jesualdo Ferreira Replaces José Peseiro As Manager

TRANSFER WINDOW: Rafa Signs Four-Year Deal With Braga

TRANSFER WINDOW: Real Betis Forward Salvador Agra Loaned to Siena

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Julija Nowikowa

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Julija Nowikowa

João Moutinho, Midfielder
Possible Destinations: Tottenham, PSG, Chelsea, AS Monaco
Transfer Markt.com Value: 26 Million Euros

Moutinho has been the engine of the Porto attack since joining the club in 2010. Now that it looks like Porto will win yet another national title, it seems ever more likely that Moutinho will move on to a bigger stage. It is just a matter of where. A potential move to Tottenham fell through in the last hours of the summer transfer window last year but since then several other clubs have been linked with the midfielder and the price has only gone up.

Recent reports indicate that PSG have made a serious attempt to sign the Portuguese international. AS Monaco and Chelsea and their plutocratic owners could just drive up the price for Moutinho as well. But White Hart Lane has always looked like the most logical choice for him. He would be reunited with former manager Andre Villas-Boas and many believe that his first choice is to play in the Premier League. But if Tottenham misses out on Champions League qualification, will that change matters?

Related Article: Four Possible Destinations For Porto’s João Moutinho

Nani, Right Winger
Possible Destinations: Real Madrid, Arsenal, Tottenham, Zenit St. Petersberg, AC Milan, Juventus, Inter Milan, AS Roma, PSG
Transfer Markt.com Value: 27 Million Euros

Nani has been part of a long drawn out saga this year at Old Trafford. He was again noticeably missing from Sir Alex Ferguson’s farewell match against Swansea on Sunday. At 26 years old, Nani has simply not fulfilled the potential many people expected of him when he arrived in 2007. Ferguson has recently stated that he believes that Nani will stay, but many feel that a fresh start could be good for his career.

The latest reports have him going to Serie A champions Juventus at a reduced price of £13 million. PSG reportedly had a recent bid rejected. Nani’s situation seems to depend on how much Manchester United is willing to accept for their underachieving winger. There is no denying Nani’s skill and if he does in fact choose to leave, there is no shortage of possible suitors.

Related Post: TRANSFER WINDOW: PSG Reportedly In Negotiations To Land Nani

Fábio Coentrão, Left Back
Possible Destinations: Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Juventus
Transfer Markt.com Value: 18 Million Euros

It was always going to be difficult to live up to his €30 million transfer to Real Madrid. Fans of Portugal and Benfica are very familiar with Coentrão terrific skill going forward at left-back. In his time at Real Madrid however, manager Jose Mourinho has decided instead to use him in a defensive role, which he has performed well. But Coentrão might not be part of Florentino Pérez plans going forward despite being one of the club’s best performers in the second half of the campaign.

Juventus has reportedly shown interest in the Portuguese international. It has also been speculated that Coentrão could be used as part of a transfer deal that will see Gareth Bale join Real Madrid. Chelsea and Arsenal are also said to be interested in Coentrão.

Related Post: TRANSFER WINDOW: Chelsea and Manchester City Reportedly Interested in Fabio Coentrão

Rui Patricio, Goalkeeper
Possible Destinations: Arsenal
Transfer Markt.com Value: 20 Million Euros

One of the few bright spots for Sporting Lisbon this season. At 25 years of age, Patricio is already a seasoned professional and one of the best overall goalkeepers in the world. Sporting’s financial troubles are well documented, and it might be the best time to offload their greatest asset. Media reports indicate that Sporting value Patricio as much as 20 Million Euros but it is very unlikely that any club will pay that much for a goalkeeper.

Arsenal have reportedly had their previous bid rejected. Regardless, Arsene Wenger is looking for a replacement for Wojciech Szczęsny who has fallen out of favour. With Ferguson gone, Manchester City and Chelsea underachieving, the new Fair Play rules coming into effect, Arsenal for the first time in years could just mount a serious title challenge in the years going forward. But to do that they need to spend money on top quality players, like Rui Patricio.

Related Post: TRANSFER WINDOW: Arsenal in Pursuit Of Rui Patricio

Manuel Fernandes, Central Midfielder
Possible Destinations: Tottenham, Norwich, West Ham
Transfer Markt.com Value: 14 Million Euros

The former Benfica prodigy moved to Turkey in 2011 after some disappointing spells at Portsmouth, Everton, and Valencia. Since then, he has been one of the best players in the Turkish League, reigniting hopes that Fernandes could finally fulfill the potential that many people predicted from him.

His current club Beşiktaş is currently going through financial difficulties and could be ready to let Fernandes go. His likeliest destination is the Premier League where West Ham, Norwich and others appear to be in pursuit of the 27-year-old. Fernandes has only one year left on his contract and he is expected to leave for at least 10 million Euros, a price that is not out of range for many Premier League clubs thanks to the new television deal.

Cédric Soares, Right Back
Possible Destinations: Schalke, Borussia Dortmund, Hannover, Dusseldorf, Borussia Monchengladbach, Norwich, Everton
Transfer Markt.com Value: 3 Million Euros

21-year-old Cédric Soares has established himself as one of the most promising young players at the right-back position. He played a major role in Portugal reaching the final of the 2011 U20 World Cup Tournament in Colombia. After playing regularly last season at Académica, he was given his chance with Sporting this year and has made the most of his playing time.

Born in Gelsenkirchen to Portuguese immigrant parents, Soares made it clear in a March 2013 interview with Goal.com that he would welcome a move to the Bundesliga. And there has been no shortage of interest from Germany, including giants Schalke who are based in Gelsenkirchen and Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund. Premier League clubs Norwich and Everton are also said to be interested.

Related Post: TRANSFER WINDOW: Cédric Soares Targeted By Several Clubs in England And Germany

Amido Baldé, Forward
Possible Destinations: Newcastle, Everton, Wigan, Marseille, Seville, Espanyol, Mallorca, Hamburg, Werder Bremen, Stuttgart, Chievo
Transfer Markt.com Value: 1,5 Million Euros

22-year-old Amido Baldé has been a major part of Vitória Guimarães’ surprising campaign this season. He was most recently named as the best young player in the Portuguese League for the month of April. Released by Sporting one year ago and signed by Vitória Guimarães, Baldé is likely to move abroad this summer for several million Euros.

His size at 1.93m, of course makes him very attractive to Premier League clubs who often stress the aerial game with their young centre-forwards. Newcastle have reportedly opened negotiations with his current club. But interest in Baldé is coming from La Liga, the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A, mainly from middle of the table clubs. Baldé’s rise over the last year has been surely one of the great stories of the Portuguese League season.

Related Post: TRANSFER WINDOW: Several Premier League Clubs Chase Vitória de Guimarães Striker Amido Baldé

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TRANSFER WINDOW: Portuguese Players Who Could Be On The Move in January 2013

PORTUGAL: 7 Young Players That Could Help The Seleção Reach World Cup 2014

Portuguese youngsters Pizzi, Nélson Oliveira and Bruno Gama all scored in Deportivo La Coruña’s decisive 4-0 victory over Levante in La Liga on Saturday. The victory was the club’s forth in a row and means that they are out of the relegation zone for the time being. Real Zaragoza’s loss to Barcelona on Sunday assured that they remain two points up on their rivals.

Spanish midfielder Valerón began the scoring for the Galician club in the 12th minute of play. Soon after winger Bruno Gama made a terrific run down the right side and found Pizzi just outside the box. The Portuguese international unleashed a bullet past Levante goalkeeper Gustavo Munúa to put Deportivo up by two after 20 minutes.

In the 28th minute of play, Nélson Oliveira found some room at the edge of the box and kicked it past Munúa to put Deportivo up by three at the half. Oliveira received only his second start of the season after first-choice Riki who could not play because of a hamstring injury.

Bruno Gama would finish the scoring in injury time in the second half after a brilliant run into the box. Sílvio played the entire match at left-back for the Spanish club, while Zé Castro and Diogo Salomão came on in the second half as substitutes.

It was a particularly important match for 21-year-old Nelson Oliveira who has not had a good season on loan in Spain from Portuguese giants Benfica. He spoke about what the win means to his confidence.

“In terms of my performance, I was not entirely satisfied, because I wanted to give more. It was a good match to gain in confidence. Goalscorers need to score goals…You have to understand players: first they are people, then they are footballers,” he told media after the match. “I never doubted my abilities, I know what I am capable of and I know when I could do better.”

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PORTUGAL: 7 Young Players That Could Help The Seleção Reach World Cup 2014

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Jan SOLO

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Jan SOLO

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the opening goal of the match, as Real Madrid easily defeated Turkish-side Galatasaray in Champions League action on Wednesday. Fábio Coentrão also started the match for Los Blancos and Pepe came on as a late substitute in the Real Madrid victory.

In the 9th minute, Mesut Ozil found Cristiano Ronaldo alone on the fast break. The Portuguese star chipped it over Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera for the opening goal. Ronaldo would come close again off a free-kick before the end of the first-half.

Karim Benzema would score for Real Madrid in the 29th minute, while Gonzalo Higuaín followed with a third goal in the second half to give the Spanish giants a decisive 3-0 win. The second leg of the quarter-final match-up will be played April 9th in Istanbul.

After the match Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho acknowledged that his club was in an ideal situation going into the second leg but added that it was important not to underestimate their opponents.

“I have enough experience to understand that we have a very good result, but that it is not over. I will try everything in my power to convince my players of that, and that we have go there seriously.”

“Of course, if we score one goal, they have to score five. But I think we have to go there with the same mentality.”

In other Champions League action on Wednesday, Málaga and Borussia Dortmund played to a 0-0 draw. Portuguese left-back vitorino Antunes played the full match for the Spanish side, while former Portugal international Duda came on as a late substitute. The second leg will be played in Germany next Tuesday.