Cool Carlo and the Non-Clasico Clasico

The furling eyebrow. The non-abrasive press conferences. The jovial laugh. Carlo Ancelotti is definitively not Jose Mourinho. Thanks in large part to signings, he’s re-made the Real Madrid roster into an attacking 4-3-3 with little regard for, say, defending. Gone is the counter-attacking 4-2-3-1, the crossfield switches of Xabi Alonso, the darting runs of Di Maria, the lackadaisical drifting of Ozil.

Also gone, perhaps for the better, is the animosity for FC Barcelona. Continue reading “Cool Carlo and the Non-Clasico Clasico” »

More Reflections on the Galacticos 3.0

Being a Real Madrid fan means winning trophies, spending money on big signings, and winning even more trophies. You also get lots of shit when the expensively assembled team doesn’t win, but, hey, comes with the territory. What being a Real Madrid fan never meant before was this: selling key players in the prime of their career.

So what has happened these past two summers? Continue reading “More Reflections on the Galacticos 3.0” »

Yet Another Shameless Author Plug: eBook Rental Edition

Up until recently, my two eBooks, An Illustrated Guide to Soccer & Spanish and Real Madrid & Barcelona: the Making of a Rivalry, were only available for purchase on major retailers Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes & Noble. However, given the emergence of two eBook “Netflix” style services, that’s all changed.

Here’s the details. Continue reading “Yet Another Shameless Author Plug: eBook Rental Edition” »

Yes, I am still writing about soccer…..

Sigh. For the last few years, I’ve been pretty good about my Monday, Wednesday, Thursday posting. Why those days? Well, anymore and I’d turn the site into a content mill, any less and I’d lose my edge. Also, coincidentally*, those are the days when the internet has heavy traffic for actual readers. No, not bots. Not spiders. Not bait-clickers. Folks with the time to read some serious thoughts. I’m one of those serious thinkers. That’s why my listicles include full paragraphs under the pics and my lazy video posts include puns in the headlines.

Alas, it’s still Monday and I’m still posting, but time is short. Family and professional obligations have arisen. I’ve also gotten pitched by some seriously quality soccer sites, whom have generously agreed to publish my writing. Here are links to two longer pieces for said quality sites, both of which I am proud of: Continue reading “Yes, I am still writing about soccer…..” »

ESPNFC Re-activates Transfer Speculation

I’m admittedly not a big fan of transfer rumors. During most silly seasons (the winter and summer), I prefer napping to blogging about soccer. In a recent Bleacher Report article, a journalist describes his methodical process in trying to pin down, unearth, and then break a soccer transfer. They key appears to be building contacts with agents, players, and clubs (“sources” in journalism) but then keeping your mouth shut until the last possible minute. As Balague notes, when a transfer does happen, it can occur in breathtaking speed.

But that’s different from “transfer speculation”, the well-known practice of tossing big clubs and big player names into the same article and basically daydreaming. Still, transfer speculation is an art-form into itself. I’ve articulated a few rules for said craft, and have a nice example courtesy of ESPNFC. Continue reading “ESPNFC Re-activates Transfer Speculation” »

Real Madrid v. Atletico Recap: Tactical Indeterminacy Revisited

The game is over. Real Madrid has won La Decima. Allegedly, Sergio Ramos has not dropped the trophy. Thus, as per the actual game, there’s not a lot to write home about. Atletico defended with numbers and score off a setpiece/goalie error. Madrid switched formations (pushing Ronaldo up as a striker and Di Maria wide as a winger) and then made some key positive subs (Isco for Khedira, Marcelo for Coentrao) to turn the momentum, tie the game, and dominate in extra time.

But still, Atletico had a wonderful season. They won La Liga. They reached the Champions League final. They sold Falcao last summer, yet only improved. If they sell Diego Costa this summer and improve by the same increment, they will win every trophy imaginable (and probably some made up ones). Yet just how has Atletico done it?

Many have ideas. They are almost all at odds. Continue reading “Real Madrid v. Atletico Recap: Tactical Indeterminacy Revisited” »

Real Madrid’s History Revisited

Atletico is campeon. Long live Atletico. If you’re a Real Madrid fan, you’re used to losing La Liga by now. FC Barcelona has been off the charts the last decade, so we’ve been happy with Copitas del Rey and good Champions League showings (and the occasional SuperCup). This year, we all know that the big game still looms: this Saturday, the chance at La Decima. For non-Spanish speakers, “La Decima” means “The Decima.”

I’ve had the pleasure of writing some historical summaries/snippets for SoccerPro this past week and the series will run until Friday. It deals with Real Madrid’s past and present. Here’s Part I and Part II. Enjoy.

Some Real Sober Reflections

The Carlo era is a success. By that, I mean he has equaled Jose Mourinho’s trophy haul in his first and third seasons at Madrid (He won the King’s Cup the first year and SuperCup the third). At first glance, Carlo has Madrid playing slightly more attacking, offensive soccer. The team has reached the Champions League final and made the race for La Liga interesting until the last month.

However, a close look that some other things have stayed the same. Continue reading “Some Real Sober Reflections” »

Soccer English: the Kick Kick of Cristiano Ronaldo?

If you just look at this picture, it appears Cristiano Ronaldo is doing a Nigel De Jong impression. No big deal. But, alas, it was  kind of a big deal. Ronaldo has scored off heels. He has scored off wicked dipping free kicks. He’s even come super close to scoring off bicycle kicks several times.

But just how exactly do you label his goal vs. Valencia? Continue reading “Soccer English: the Kick Kick of Cristiano Ronaldo?” »

Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Reality Reconsidered

I’m no stats guru, but if your buddy predicted a Sergio Ramos first-half brace would seal this tie in the second leg away in Munich, there’s a 90% chance he’s full of shit. For many Madrid fans, the Champions League has been an exercise in pain deescalation for the past decade. For years, we couldn’t get past the quarterfinals. Then, Mou guided us to the semifinals, only to lose to Munich on penalties and fall just short of a classic remontada vs. Dortmund. We’ve come a long way from the dark days of Luxemburgo and Juande Ramos and Pellegrini.

So, what exactly happened? Continue reading “Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Reality Reconsidered” »