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Tuesday tit-bits: French Fancy

A decidedly French feel to this week’s links, at least to begin with. Most of this has been influenced by the recent goings on at PSG where their new shareholder appears to have given them license to print money, bringing in a number of new players. One such star has been Javier Pastore, whom I wrote an ode to at the weekend (go and read it if you haven’t already). James Horncastle has written a comprehensive profile of El Flaco’s career complete with a number of very interesting quotes from former coaches Angel Cappa, Walter Zenga and Delio Rossi. You can read it here.

Continuing our promenade, Ben Lyttleton sums up the ten storylines worth keeping track of in French football this season for Sports Illustrated. Storylines such as ‘Are Paris Saint-Germain the new Manchester City?’ and ‘Is this Yoann Gourcuff’s last chance?’

Sports Illustrated – Ten storylines to follow entering the French Ligue 1 season

Whilst there has been a huge exodus of talent from Serie A this transfer window, there have also been a couple of names arriving. Michael Cox (of Zonal Marking fame) profile one such arrival in the form of Bojan Krkic, who has moved from Barcelona to Roma.

ESPN – Bad blood as Bojan leaves Barca

Football stickers are great. Three Match Ban have produced a player quiz based on football stickers that is quite fun. See how well you get on with their latest offering on Copa America stars (old and new).

Three Match Ban – Guess the Copa America star from their classic sticker

Over at the Oval Log, @FilippoInzaghi (not THE Filippo Inzaghi) takes a look at the shambles going on in Argentina with the league restructuring which initially appears to be happening entirely in order to save River Plate.

The Oval Log – The new look Argentinian Premier League and the hope to avoid it

It wouldn’t be right for an Italian summer to pass without some reason for football fans to be cynical and concerned. The latest betting scandal could see Atalanta captain and club legend, Cristiano Doni banned for three years – effectively ending his career now that he is thirty eight years old. James Horncastle (again) explains how he got himself into this mess and why he’s regarded so highly by the locals of Bergamo.

Four Four Two – Atalanta fans in denial as hero Doni accused of match-fixing

Finally, a video of Javier Pastore put together by @AlexSLDN. Enjoy.

Hakuna Matata #3: Out on the stairs

Italia ’90 was remembered by some for few goals and Pavarotti’s rendition of Nessun Dorma, but for Richard Pye from Headers and Volleys it also bore the stain of early bedtimes and sneaking down on the stairs. He continues our Hakuna Matata series here.

In the summer of 1990, our old brown, battered TV shone a beam of light into my world. Italia ’90. With it came my first taste of dashed hopes, but also the birth of my understanding as to why indeed this game was so ‘beautiful’.

Gazza's tears

As the tournament and England progressed, I had become obsessed with the team of David Platt, Gary Lineker and of course, Paul Gascoigne. Wanting to be just like them I’d be in the street with my partners in crime Gav and Graham, desperately trying to replicate Platt’s hooking volley, or Lineker’s ducking runs to near and far posts, attempting to latch onto the crosses of Waddle and Barnes. In reality, the only move I was able to repeat turned out to be Gazza’s semi-final tears.

When England were knocked out by West Germany, my dad threw his mug of tea at the wall and I, sat on my haunches in the middle of the sofa, was not really sure what had happened. Dad had explained to me that whilst we certainly hadn’t lost, West Germany had somehow contrived to win because Waddle and Stuart Pearce had messed up their penalties. And so the waterworks began for the first time. Being past my bed-time, I was consoled and put to bed with the comforting reassurance “it’s alright boy, there’s another World Cup in four years”. If only I’d known I’d probably still be crying now.
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Copa America: Green Shoots In Group A

The 2007 edition of the Copa America yielded a mighty average of 3.15 goals per game, nations throwing caution to the wind in pursuit of glory with expansive attacking play. The competition has yet to begin firing in the same manner this time around, the 8 matches so far producing only 10 goals, with the 4 Group A games accounting for half of these.

Costa Rica's star performer - Joel Campbell

Hopefully Thursday night’s encounter between Bolivia and Costa Rica will herald the start of the tournament everyone expected. It would not have been in the diaries of many when the fixtures came out, but the game was a far more “traditional” and enjoyable Copa match. With caution thrown to the wind, there was plenty of space on the park as both teams appeared to try and win the game, something of a novelty thus far.

After a staunch defensive display in grinding out a proud draw against the hosts in the opening game, the more aggressive tactics did not pay off for a Bolivian side for whom a win would have all but secured a quarter-final berth. Indeed, they will now struggle to get there, needing victory in their final game against a, shall we say, interesting Colombia.
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