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Monday Musings

FIFA and Infantino have stepped in to 'rescue' African soccer but were they right to do it so quickly?

Sun, 23 Jun 2019 06:54:03 GMT

Infantino's decision to swoop in and oversee African football's ruling body is unprecedented. While they're in need, was he right to install Samoura, left, without consultation? Two weeks ago, one seasoned FIFA watcher likened the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to a struggling city government plagued with a range of problems that gets taken over directly by the state. In this case, FIFA are taking control of African football given several scandals and FIFA president Gianni Infantino is determined to iron things out. That analogy only applies to a point. Unlike the state with a city, FIFA doesn't have the authority to take over CAF. It had to be invited in by...

Anatomy of a transfer story: A consumer's guide to rumors, fake news, buyback clauses and more

Fri, 21 Jun 2019 09:50:10 GMT

The transfer window can be the best and worst time as a soccer fan: either your team is linked to every top player and they eventually make some signings, or they're left settling for some last-minute loan deals to remain competitive. There are rumors, whispers and endless paper talk. There's also a lot of jargon to keep you confused. Who sets a transfer fee? Is a "free" transfer really free? How do clubs offset the costs of doing business? What does an intermediary do and why do teams need...

Messi and Ronaldo are legends. Why do their fans throw so much hate online?

Wed, 19 Jun 2019 05:26:38 GMT

In an age of metrics and audience engagement, some see Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as the lowest of low-hanging fruit. They are box-office talents because they generally turn the incredible into routine. Most of us understand and appreciate them. Perhaps not equally, but with a massive underlying respect for what they do in the football sphere, and they rightly generate more conversation than just about anybody in sport. But there's a part of that conversation that is dark, vicious and...

Maurizio Sarri did well at Chelsea but managing Juventus was simply more appealing

Sat, 15 Jun 2019 02:33:12 GMT

Sometimes things take a 180-degree turn. Up becomes down. White is now black. Thor turns out to be Loki. Your certainties end up being replaced by what you thought was heresy. Welcome to the Maurizio Sarri managerial experience at Chelsea, which officially came to an end on Sunday. It's hard to tell what would have seemed more absurd this time a year ago: that Sarri would leave Chelsea to join Juventus, or that his biggest shortcoming at Stamford Bridge would be playing a style of football that...

Arsenal keep or dump: What should Unai Emery do about Mesut Ozil & Co. this summer?

Fri, 14 Jun 2019 02:23:16 GMT

The post-Arsene Wenger rebuild is likely to continue at Arsenal following a season that saw them reach the Europa League final and narrowly finish fifth, albeit without hitting any particular heights in the Premier League. For most of the season, they were outside the top four, save for a brief run at the end. One of the tricky things for Unai Emery to deal with is now that he inherited a club that had made very serious financial commitments to a quartet of players all in or close to their 30s:...

Rocco Commisso Q&A: Fiorentina's new owner on why he's investing in Serie A and his fight with US Soccer

Fri, 14 Jun 2019 08:51:56 GMT

Rocco Commisso believes in the resurgence of Serie A and as the new owner of Fiorentina, he's ready to dive in. Rocco Commisso was 12 years old when he emigrated from his native Calabria, located in the toe of the Italian boot, to New York City. His quickly became an immigrant success story: academic excellence in Catholic high school, a full academic scholarship to Columbia University and then a blazing career in finance and telecommunications that saw him become a billionaire several times over. He has long been passionate about soccer -- he was an all-American in college and Columbia's stadium is named...

Will the big clubs get the Champions League revamp they crave?

Fri, 7 Jun 2019 01:17:40 GMT

Andrea Agnelli, president of the ECA and chairman of Juventus, is hoping to get his way over time regarding big reforms and guarantees for big clubs in European competitions. SAINT JULIAN, MALTA -- The European Clubs Association (ECA) met in Malta over two days to discuss what is bound to be one of the most impactful topics of the next few years: reform of European competitions. It's going to be a long process, involving the ECA, the leagues, the federations and, of course, UEFA who ultimately get to decide. Here's a Q&A to assess where we are. Q: Wait ... reform? It's that souped up crazy pro/rel Champions' League proposal that you wrote about and didn't like,...

Bayern Munich keep or dump: What will the German champions look like next season?

Thu, 6 Jun 2019 07:43:42 GMT

Bayern may have finished the season with a Bundesliga/DFB Pokal Double, but that hasn't quite lifted the skepticism surrounding manager Niko Kovac. This team looks headed for a rebuild and a revamp in the summer, and there are plenty of resources available. Rafinha, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are all leaving, freeing up space on the wage bill, and so is James Rodriguez, whose loan won't be renewed. Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard are already on their way, but there is clearly more work...

FIFA Congress Q&A: Gianni Infantino was reelected as president. What's next for Club World Cup, pay equality?

Wed, 5 Jun 2019 10:13:18 GMT

Infantino will continue as FIFA president after running unopposed in 2019, but he has a long list of things to address over the next four years. PARIS -- Gianni Infantino will serve another term as president after being reelected by acclamation on Wednesday at the FIFA Congress. He addressed a number of topics, from women's football to FIFA finances to the revamped Club World Cup in 2021, both in front of the 211 nations present and in a media conference afterward. Here's a Q&A to make sense of it all. Q: He was elected "by acclamation"? What does that mean? Folks just clapped, and he got reelected? A: Pretty much. He was the only guy running,...

Tottenham must answer tough questions to emulate Liverpool's success

Sat, 1 Jun 2019 05:38:00 GMT

Former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol slams Spurs' performance in the UCL Final, and Craig Burley accuses Mauricio Pochettino of 'weak management'. Steve Nicol hails the impact of Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and defender Virgil van Dijk in keeping Tottenham at bay in the Reds' Champions League Final triumph. MADRID -- Defeat on the biggest stage can trigger two responses: The losers either allow the disappointment to drag them down to the realms of the also-rans or use it as inspiration to go again and come back stronger. Liverpool, having suffered a painful and comprehensive 3-1 defeat against Real Madrid in last season's Champions League final, took the latter option. The Anfield club invested wisely in the likes of Alisson and Fabinho and, having almost won the Premier League with 97 points, ended...

Liverpool's latest European Cup win comes on a journey that is far from over

Fri, 31 May 2019 09:22:57 GMT

Steve Nicol hails the impact of Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and defender Virgil van Dijk in keeping Tottenham at bay in the Reds' Champions League Final triumph. Former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol slams Spurs' performance in the UCL Final, and Craig Burley accuses Mauricio Pochettino of 'weak management'. MADRID -- And now, after a 2-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur, it is six European Cups for Liverpool. With Barcelona and Bayern Munich left behind, ahead are Milan -- just one away -- and then 13-time winners Real Madrid, who have owned the European Cup competition like no others. No club can be separated from its past, but Liverpool, more than most, are marked by what came before, from the sublime to the tragic. The latest title mirrored those that came before in the sense that it was gutted out...

UEFA Champions League final ultimate preview: What you need to know before Tottenham vs. Liverpool

Fri, 31 May 2019 03:30:00 GMT

MADRID -- The only thing left to settle for the European club season before the summer is the Champions League, and much like the Europa League final, it's an all-English affair in Madrid as Liverpool take on Tottenham. Who will begin their holidays with a trophy and who will spend the offseason wondering what could have been? Here is what you need to know ahead of Saturday's game, which kicks off at 3 p.m. ET (8 p.m. BST) and is set to be played in hot temperatures. - Reddy: Alexander-Arnold's...

UEFA Europa League ultimate preview: What you need to know before Arsenal vs. Chelsea

Tue, 28 May 2019 12:32:09 GMT

The only thing left to settle in the 2018-19 club season are the European honors and it begins on Wednesday as Arsenal take on Chelsea for the Europa League title. Gab Marcotti gets you prepared with what you need to know ahead of the game. BACKSTORY: These two clubs are less than 10 miles apart -- roughly 40 minutes by London Underground -- but they've had to travel nearly 3,000 miles to face off in Baku, Azerbaijan, where they'll contest the Europa League final. Perhaps unsurprisingly, neither...

Barcelona's Copa failure prompts the question: Is Ernesto Valverde the right manager? PLUS: Praising Atalanta

Mon, 27 May 2019 08:39:00 GMT

After another action-packed weekend in soccer, Gab Marcotti reflects on the big talking points in his latest edition of Monday Musings. Jump to: Is Valverde safe at Barca? | Inter secure top four | Bayern should give Kovac more time | Praise for Atalanta | Man City address their critics | And finally... Bas Dost Is Valverde safe at Barcelona? Barcelona winning the Double this season would have felt anticlimactic to many, which is more than understandable. Having endured the horrors...

Man City keep or dump: Who has a part in the future for Pep Guardiola's all-conquering side?

Wed, 22 May 2019 12:25:00 GMT

The FC guys mention Manchester United's '99 treble winners and Arsenal's '98 side when questioning if Man City are the best team of the Premier League era. Pep Guardiola and Man City have won everything but the Champions League. What will their team look like next season? We thought that completing this exercise for Manchester City would be rather straightforward. You win your second league title in a row, you get a domestic treble along the way, everything is golden, right? Not quite, and not just because of the UEFA investigators. There is some work to be done on this squad if they are to stay ahead of the curve. Between players who are leaving (Vincent Kompany), might want to leave (Ilkay Gundogan, Nicolas Otamendi) and have contracts that are winding down...

Bayern wrap up Bundesliga and say goodbye to legends. PLUS: Vincent Kompany calls time at Man City

Mon, 20 May 2019 11:36:00 GMT

After another action-packed weekend in soccer, Gab Marcotti reflects on the big talking points in his latest edition of Monday Musings. Jump to: Bayern wrap up Bundesliga | Praise for Vincent Kompany | The Real, Bale dilemma | Serie A's top four race | Dortmund's rebuild | Messi wraps up Golden Boot | De Rossi chaos at Roma Bayern wrap up turbulent season with another league title There was no drama on the final day of the 2018-19 Bundesliga season. Bayern won and did it emphatically,...

Manchester City are the greatest team of the Premier League era

Mon, 20 May 2019 08:34:00 GMT

You win five of six domestic trophies. You gain 198 of a possible 228 points. You triumph both when you have a 15-point lead in December and when you have a Liverpool team breathing down your neck until the very last game. Yeah, you get to legitimately ask: are Man City the greatest team in the Premier League era? The answer is yes. As for their lack of Champions League success, it's not an asterisk against their domestic record. It's simply another target in the cross hairs, armed with the...

Champions League revamp would wreak havoc on Premier League and others

Thu, 16 May 2019 08:53:00 GMT

The European Club Association wants to reform the Champions League, but doing so would destroy the integrity of the leagues themselves. There are bad ideas and there's bad execution. The European Club Association's (ECA) proposed "reforms" of the Champions League happen to be both. On the one hand, they are bad ideas founded purely on the self-interest of a tiny number of wealthy super clubs. On the other hand, the plan has been ham-fistedly executed. It has prompted not only threats of lawsuits and expulsion from domestic leagues, but also failed to rally the public support of other super clubs, thereby negating the leverage...

Barcelona keep or dump: Who should play alongside Lionel Messi next season?

Wed, 15 May 2019 09:50:00 GMT

But for the madness at Anfield in the Champions League semifinal, Barcelona might still be on track for a Treble. It's worth remembering this when assessing the squad and what the club might do this summer. Instead, they've won La Liga and face Valencia in the Copa del Rey final, but Ernesto Valverde's future is still far from secure. We have analyzed the squad based on the premise that he stays: Obviously, should he be replaced by a very different manager, the club's strategy might be very different,...

Man City and Liverpool complete a truly special season. PLUS: Do Man United have a recovery plan?

Mon, 13 May 2019 09:46:00 GMT

After another action-packed weekend in soccer, Gab Marcotti reflects on the big talking points in his latest edition of Monday Musings. Jump to: Man City, Liverpool's conclusion | The title's turning point? | Barca still have pride | Dortmund are a mess | Do Man United have a plan? | A big week for Gattuso, Milan | Bayern's VAR woe | The end for Bale at Real? | Sarri belongs at Chelsea | Allegri should be safe | Don't hate Neymar | Ajax's remarkable season Let's reflect on Man City,...

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