Total Football 2.0: Ajax & Erik ten Hag

The final match of Group E in this season’s Champions League will not affect the standings, but there will be a lot of interested parties. For one, it matches Ajax with Bayern Munich, two sides who won consecutive hat-tricks of European Cups between 1971 and 1976. Secondly, Ajax boast one of the most exciting young […]

What’s Happening with Liverpool’s Pressing?

Liverpool have begun the defence of their Champions League title in reasonably good shape – despite a 2-0 reverse away to Napoli, two wins on the bounce, and an upcoming home tie against the bottom side in the group, Genk, should put the Merseyside team in a strong position before they host Napoli and face […]

Manchester United, Liverpool & the Battle for Asia

It was coming up for 2.30am local time when Manchester United against Liverpool entered stoppage time. The street cleaners were getting to work on roads that already looked spotless. The subway had already closed for the night. Tokyo always seems more exciting when the neon lights are throbbing. But now it was time for the […]

Erdoğan: Football and Power in Turkey

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s sporting career has become part of his mythology, reinforcing his image as a salt-of-the-earth leader in tune with the masses. Over the last ten years, Turkish football has experienced great change. It has become bigger and louder, more commercialised and polarised, entwined ever more with business and politics. So central has Erdoğan […]

Saudi Arabia: The Secret Power in World Football?

In January 2019, the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah, the bustling, multi-ethnic port city on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast, will host an historic match. Juventus and AC Milan will play each other, not in some glorified pre-season friendly but in he Italian Supercoppa. With all the controversy about the Premier League’s 39th […]

Iran’s New Billionaire Football Club

In August 2018, Tractor Sazi, an Iranian club from the city of Tabriz, went to Tehran to play local giants Esteghal at the Azadi national stadium. In the stand behind the goal, a few thousand Tractor fans with red shirts sang: ‘Death to the dictator! Death to the dictator!’. The chant echoes themes heard during […]

What if Football Stopped for a Year?

As Arrigo Sacchi so memorably put it, football is “the most important of the unimportant things in life.” Following football is essentially a full-time job now. The endless blur of Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday-Wednesday thrums through the calendar like a bassline and – with press conferences, transfer news, twitter, and fantasy football, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. This […]

Martin Ødegaard: Real Madrid’s Once “Wonderkid”

It’s been almost four years since Real Madrid signed Norwegian wonderkid Martin Odegaard from Strømsgodset. He was 16 at the time, and throughout the past few years, despite just being a teenager, Odegaard has suffered heavy criticism for his ‘slow progress’. Even before he was 19, media outlets called began referring to him as a […]

Mino Raiola: Football’s ‘Super-Agent’

Sir Alex Ferguson called him a very rude word. He’s been investigated for transfer irregularities. Last year he bought Al Capone’s villa in Miami. He was a millionaire aged 19 after buying then selling a McDonalds franchise. But most importantly, Carmine ‘Mino’ Raiola is one of the most powerful men in football. Agent to Zlatan […]

Tottenham Hotspur’s Tactical Issues Explained

Tottenham Hotspur have not started the Champions League well. Last season’s beaten finalists were held to a draw away at Olympiakos before crashing to a 2-7 defeat at home to Bayern Munich. The Premier League season has started in similarly poor fashion. As these stats from OneFootball show, Spurs have significant ground to make up […]