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  • L’última Dansa: Pep Guardiola’s Final Season in Barcelona: Part 2

    In Part One of this series, I went over Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona’s success leading up to the 2011/12 season, in addition to the disappointing transfer window and injury problems, which led to tactical and structural alterations. Although this gave Barcelona an element of unpredictability, it led to a lack of consistency in performances and results…

  • Portugal 1986: Part 2: The Saltillo Affair

    Portugal’s preparations for the 1986 World Cup had so far been a shambles. An incorrect doping test, poor training facilities, unpaid bonuses and inadequate warm up opposition in the form of hotel and bar workers. Such amateur preparations led to growing frustration among the players and it all came to a head on the 25th…

  • Portugal 1986: Part 1: A Troubled Beginning

    Playing in a World Cup is the pinnacle of a player or coach’s career. To test yourself in the world’s premier tournament is the ultimate challenge and a dream come true for many footballers. However, there are times when the dream of participating in a World Cup can turn into a nightmare. No country would…

  • How Manchester United Built the Most Potent Attack in Premier League History: Part 3: European Journey and Regression to the Norm in 2008/09

    Since their historic treble in the 1998/99 season, Manchester United had fared with varying success in European competition. Despite Ruud van Nistelrooy’s prolific scoring, and adapting a 4-5-1 formation to compete tactically, United were typically knocked out by more ‘complete’ sides such as AC Milan and Real Madrid. In 2005/06, United didn’t even progress out…

  • How Manchester United Built the Most Potent Attack in Premier League History: Part 2: Reaching the Pinnacle

    With the aid of his prominent assistant coach Carlos Queiroz, Sir Alex Ferguson had revitalised Manchester United by revamping their style of play by simultaneously using innovative methods and drawing inspiration from other top sides.   In the past, Ferguson had implemented a lone single striker, a 4-5-1 formation and man-marking ploys by drawing inspiration…

  • How Manchester United Built the Most Potent Attack in Premier League History: Part 1: The Foundation

    Imagine the scene: It’s the business end of the 2005/06 Premier League season, and Ruud Van Nistelrooy comes off the bench to score a 79th minute winner at Bolton to keep Manchester United in the title race. United fans erupt in triumph as their Dutch striker scores his 150th goal for United.   The Red…

  • Enzo Bearzot’s Italy: Part 3: The Slow and Painful Demise of Bearzot and His Boys

    Euphoria swept over Italy after they won the 1982 World Cup in Spain. A 44-year drought was broken and the team went home in the private jet of Italian president Sandro Pertini. One of the most iconic images after the tournament is of Coach Enzo Bearzot playing cards with several of his players on the…

  • Enzo Bearzot’s Italy: Part 2: From Whipping Boys to National Heroes

    Italy was awarded the right to host the 1980 European Championship, the first edition to have eight teams, and as a result, they only played friendlies prior to the tournament. Between September 1978 and April 1980, the Azzurri won most of their games by close margins, but they also had a couple of heavy defeats; a…

  • Enzo Bearzot’s Italy: Part 1: Bearzot’s Boys Spring Azzurri Back to Life

    Not only did an era end when Italy were eliminated from the group stage at the 1974 FIFA World Cup, but the Italians also suffered a blow in the battle of football ideologies.   Catenaccio was still the prevalent tactic of choice for many Italian teams of that epoch, but the tournament played in West…

  • L’última Dansa: Pep Guardiola’s Final Season in Barcelona: Part 1

    At the time of writing, Barcelona have just concluded their final match of the 2019/20 La Liga season and defeated Alavés 5–0.  They finished second, five points behind a defensively sound but by no means stellar Real Madrid.   Barcelona seems to be in a state of turmoil, as a disorganized squad seems to be…