God, there were so many international fixtures yesterday, can someone just tell me what the hell happened?
Yes we can! As of the last international World Cup qualification break which featured games this past Friday and yesterday, 10 of the 32 slots for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil have been filled. They’re all here.
Yesterday saw the Netherlands, Italy, Argentina, Costa Rica, and the United States qualify. A full slate of international results can be found here, and federation group tables can be found here. Oh, and the Beebs has a great summary on the state of UEFA qualifying here, too.
So what were the big matches?
In European qualifying, Ukraine 0-0 England was a big deal, and sent the English press into a predictable tailspin of self loathing, doubt over the ‘conservative’ approach of national team manager Roy Hodgson, and a weird and universal obsession with the Twitter opinions of former England striker and Match of the Day host Gary Lineker. England sit atop their group by a single point with Montenegro and Ukraine tied on 15 points right behind them. England must now get results against both Montenegro and Poland at home to stay in the running.
Elsewhere Austria 1-0 Ireland saw Giovanni Trapattoni’s team almost certainly eliminated, facing as they do a steep uphill climb to catch Sweden and Austria. But you know, miracles can happen. Just not often. And probably not here.
In North American qualifying, the match of the night was the United States’ emphatic 2-0 victory over Mexico at Crew Stadium in Columbus Ohio. Rog Bennett gives a predictably good account of the game for ESPNFC, but one holds out hope Brian Phillips is now furiously at work writing a match recap that draws in his country upbringing in rural Oklahoma. In any case, the win saw America get through the World Cup, so congratulations.
And in CONMEBOL, Uruguay crawled back into contention with a vital 2-0 win over Colombia.
Hey, any SICK goals last night, dude?
Word up? Couple golazos for you. Here’s Robin van Persie going long for Holland against Andorra. And this is Panama’s Gabriel Torres backheeling delightfully against Honduras:
So what’s the deal now?
Back to the club grind, my friend, back to the club grind. Mercifully, there wasn’t too much injury talk to get everyone burning flags or anything.
One story floating about is Shinji Kagawa kind of seeming like he might be a bit snippy possibly at his lack of match time under manager David Moyes at Manchester United. Kagawa told AFP: “”Please ask David Moyes why I’m not in the side…It is frustrating not playing but to score a goal like that gives me confidence. Hopefully I can take that back to my club with me and things will improve. It’s hard not playing regularly. Some days the frustration is worse than others – it comes in waves.” But then he acknowledged his fight to get back in the first team…so, probably tabloid fodder?
Elsewhere Chelsea signing Willian said all the right things about his new club, but pretty much acknowledged he’ll likely be expensive bench fodder for the near future: “I know that I haven’t secured my spot here, but I will do my best to achieve that place, while respecting the other players. I will train, play and do my best to get the trust of the manager and of the fans.” Another multi-million pound audition.
Finally, Gunners people are wondering if play-maker extraordinaire Mesut Ozil can work his magic all over the feet of Olivier Giroud, because after Yaya Sanogo picked up some sort of injury, he’s Arsenal’s only striker.
Anything I should read over lunch?
Couple of cool articles. Ian Hebert wonders, quite rightly, whether the fact Sky Bet and Sky Sports are under the same umbrella doesn’t constitute a conflict of interest, particularly as the latter reports news that directly affects the lines of the former.
Blueprint for Football, an awesome website by the way passed on via Twitter by Paul Grech, has an interview with author of the scouting book Nowhere Men, Michael Calvin. The book should be on your wish list if you want to have a sense of exactly how players are scouted in the modern game.
Last but not least, Mark Taylor wrote a blog for analytics upstart 21stclub, on finding the signal amid the transfer noise. Taylor is a brilliant analyst, and he discovered a key pattern with the summer signings:
The transfer market, as represented by the recent summer window, appears to recognise these age related issues. Proportionally, 25 year olds were the most sought after and desired group of players during the recent window. Although they only accounted for 6% of the deals struck, they cost 12% of the total transfer expenditure. So a player who has played long enough to confirm his talent, but is sufficiently close to his prime to potentially have both improvement and longevity guaranteed, is unsurprisingly, a highly valued asset.
Have you read something that made you happy for the state of football journalism? Don’t hesitate to pass it along to email@example.com.