Archives for posts with tag: France

by Angelo Fiorini

‘We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.’ - William Shakespeare. Read the rest of this entry »

by Robert Fielder

When it comes to footballing combinations of flair and panache, it appears that three really is the magic number. Down the years there have been a host of attacking triumvirates that have excited passions and frightened defences. From Sunderland’s infernal triangle of Cuggy, Mordue and Buchan in the 1910s, Brazil’s 1950 inside-forward trio of Ademir, Jair and Zizinho, Manchester United’s “holy trinity” of Charlton, Best and Law in the 60s, to the three R’s (Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho) that dominated the 2002 World Cup, threesomes have always had something special about them. Read the rest of this entry »

In September Brian Phillips, founder and editor of the glorious Run of Play, wrote one of the greatest sporting essays I have ever read. Never mind the ‘blogosphere’, this made even some of Brian Glanville and Hugh McIlvanney’s efforts look tame. I really mean that. It was entitled ‘Pelé as a Comedian’ and dealt with the sheer aesthetic poetry of the great Brazilian, the disbelieving laughter his transcendent genius brings to our lips. Pelé, Brian argued, is a comedian, a man who creates chaos out of peace and thrills us by restoring that peace with dizzying ease. Read the rest of this entry »

To look at Samir Nasri you would not necessarily think of him as an athlete, a footballer capable of quite breathtaking feats of technical intricacy. Scrawny, fragile and buck-toothed, Arsenal’s French midfield playmaker is an unlikely maestro, but a maestro all the same. Read the rest of this entry »

Yann M'Vila of Rennes and France

During pre-season we identified five young players that we thought could make a big impression on European football in 2010/11. Every month we will bring you an update on the quintet’s progress – this is the second instalment.

Jordan Ayew (Marseille)

Another disappointing month for the young Ghanaian forward who has had his opportunities limited to just a couple of substitute appearance since we last checked on his progress.

An ineffectual display during Marseille’s disastrous 0-1 defeat to Spartak Moscow in the Champions League did Ayew no favours whatsoever, his only other minutes coming in the team’s more encouraging 0-3 win away at Arles. It’s been a frustrating start to the season for Jordan Ayew.

Grade: D

Yann M’Vila (Rennes)

Rennes have had a superb start to the French season, currently sitting top of Ligue 1 by a point over second-placed Saint-Etienne. Indeed, holding midfielder Yann M’Vila has been at the heart of the excellent run of form which has seen Rennes win five and draw three of their first eight games.

20 year-old M’Vila played every minute of the three league games Rennes have had in the last month, continuing to build on his rapidly growing reputation with strong performances in the holding role. Having been rested for France’s last game against Luxembourg, the young midfielder should be well rested going into the busy October/November schedule with his club.

Grade: A

Marco Reus (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

Mönchengladbach have endured a poor few weeks, drawing two and losing two (one of which being a 0-7 thrashing at the hands of Stuttgart) of their last four Bundesliga games.

Playing the majority of his football up front in Mönchengladbach’s 4-4-2, Reus has struggled for quality service and, as a result, has struggled to make much of an impact of late after a superb individual start to the campaign.

Languishing at the wrong end of the table, Gladbach will need Reus to quickly rediscover his best form if they are to start to ascend the Bundesliga.

Grade: B-

Philippe Coutinho in action

Philippe Coutinho (Internazionale)

It has been something of a breakthrough month for Inter’s Brazilian creative prodigy, Philippe Coutinho.

Building upon his appearance in September’s European Super Cup, Coutinho made relatively encouraging impressions from the bench against both Bari and Roma and was rewarded with starts against Werder Bremen in the Champions League and versus Juventus in the Derby d’Italia.

Rafael Benitez clearly trusts in the ability of the 18 year-old Brazilian, a feeling that appears to be shared by his national team coach, Mano Menezes. Coutinho was handed his senior international debut against Iran last week, being deployed on the left side of Brazil’s new-look midfield unit as the Seleção marched to a comfortable 3-0 victory to cap a great month for the player.

Grade: A

Fran Mérida (Atlético Madrid)

September was a frustrating month for the former Arsenal midfielder and October has proved little better as Fran Mérida looks to establish himself in Madrid.

An underwhelming display in the Europa League defeat to Aris Thessaloniki was followed by two mediocre substitute appearances against Valencia and Bayer Leverkussen, Mérida’s latest appearance coming in the 3-1 loss to Sevilla.

He may be gradually working his way into the first team, but Mérida will need to substantially raise his level of performance if he is to become a regular feature of Quique Sánchez Flores’ plans.

Grade: C

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