Amsterdam awaits x AFR Giveaway
The location. The two giant clubs clashing. The Europa League final promises to be a night to remember. Benfica have to pick themselves up after possibly conceding the Liga Sagres title in the 92nd minute in their 2-1 loss to Porto. Chelsea will have one eye on a new Champions League charge next season. It’s not the Champions League, but these two sides have produced some of the most entertaining football the world has seen this season.
And we have another reason to tune-in. As part of their post-season tour, Chelsea are traveling to another city with Dutch roots, playing against Man City at Yankee Stadium after the Champions League on Saturday, May 25th. We’ve been given a few tickets for the match. So, we’re going to give them away. (If you’re not in NYC, you probably know someone who is. If not, you’re not using Tumblr correctly.)
Right, contest details. Plenty of eyes are on David Luiz for this match, so tell us if you think he will a) Score b) Earn a yellow card c) Both d) Neither/Other (we reward creativity). Tweet @afootballreport or comment on this article to enter. And enjoy the match. Boa suerte, Benfiquistas and Blues! [More information on the friendly here. GIF by Dale con Comba.. Art by Luke Barclay. Send questions to Eric]
He scores. Definitely.
Indecisive? Pick the middle
“The goalkeeper picks a side and dives 93.7 percent of the time and just stands in the middle only 6.3 percent of the time. There was a clear bias toward action.”
The Journal of Economic Psychology recently looked at the link between decision making and penalty kicks, and found, somewhat surprisingly, that goalkeepers might be better off doing nothing at all.
Analyzing close to 300 penalty kick situations, the study considered goalkeeper’s decisions in regards to which direction to move towards, the area to which the ball was actually kicked, and most importantly, whether the penalty was actually blocked.
The conclusion? Goalkeepers dive right or left 93.7% of the time, and choose to remain in the center in only 6.3% of penalty kick situations.
The problem comes from the fact that the direction of penalty kicks were distributed much more evenly, with almost 30% of penalty kicks sent towards the center of the goal.
But if goalkeepers could “almost double their save percentage by doing nothing,” why do they almost always choose to dive?
The researchers point towards something called action bias. Essentially, there’s an accepted norm that goalkeepers dive when attempting to block penalty kicks. If they fail to block a penalty kick when diving, they are considered to have made an effort; if they stay in the center when a penalty tucks into a corner, they’re lazy, indecisive, and made no attempt to block the ball. Goalkeepers favor action because of social expectations.
An early exit after 27 years: Sir Alex steps down in his own style
The numbers pop out of his resume like eyes out of a cartoon character: he won 27 major trophies with United over the same number of years; he outlasted 116 managers on seven major European clubs; and he’s won 75% of his home games at Old Trafford. Nothing satisfied his hunger for success, and his diet never consisted of anything but winning. He’s always the first man at Carrington, the team’s training facility in Greater Manchester, there before staff and players as early as 5 a.m. He’s said over and over that he has trouble envisioning life without football. Retirement was something he wasn’t exactly ready for. “Nobody’s getting rid of me,” Sir Alex Ferguson told The Guardian in March.
Nobody – not the media, not the club, not his body – but himself did.
Tomhet, Idel Tomhet: Remembering Ivan Turina
We tend to have a habit of talking about a ‘football family;’ a sort of community of fans, journalists, players and coaches who all interact to make our small corner of the world possible. Though we may bicker over rivalries, and obsess over insignificant rumors, we are all nevertheless interconnected. Our successes and moments of joy are shared, just as those moments of pain. This past week, the football family suffered a great loss with the sudden death of AIK goalkeeper, Ivan Turina. Here’s Özgür Kurtoglu, remembering Ivan.
The first time I met him was outside a modest but popular bar called L’Angolo in the posher part of Stockholm. My best friend was DJ-ing that night, probably a mix of mild house and odd techno tunes, and the bar was in the same building, just a few floors down from the Croatian Embassy. Outside the embassy, in a corner of the bar, sat Goran Ljubojević and Ivan Turina, new signings to a team on the brink of implosion and relegation on the heels of a treble-winning season. Six months later, Goran left, tearing up his contract in mutual consent, saying “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you with more goals, but I can help by not taking your money when I leave.” And Ivan, well, Ivan stayed. I haphazardly thanked them both that night for coming to our rescue with an embarrassed laugh. They laughed in return, thanked me for the support, and Ivan went back to drinking his wine (as Croatians do) and smoking his cigar.
This was a great, tough read. RIP Ivan Turina
Take two takes the Montréal Impact closer to its identity
“This is a cosmopolitan city, a much more European city than most North American cities… we are playing in a way that’s more similar to what people would like to have, looking more like Europe. I think [Impact] Montréal is reflecting a lot about what Montréal is. The team is reflected also because we are [composed of] Americans, Canadians, Europeans. Hopefully we can continue to represent Montréal very well.” - Patrice Bernier, a Québécois midfielder for the Montréal Impact.
The work looks completed, but the Champions League painting flows on.
The siesta is over as we edge closer to kickoff in Madrid. The scorelines lie in Germany’s favour, but the beauty of this competition is that you never know. With Mourinho, with Messi, you just never know. Here’s to the artistry on the pitch providing us with a few unexpected turns before we march to Wembley. [Posted by Eric. GIFs by Dale con Comba.]
Thought Trail: Sheikhs, Queens, and a new home for MLS in NYC?
Eric: The details have been hidden in the shadows, but it comes as no real surprise to see the NYTimes reporting that Man City owner and Qatari Sheikh Mansour eager to stretch his empire of influence in the world of football to America. Before we fly through this topic in our private jets, I think it’s worth recognizing that - to a degree - it’s impressive that MLS has a Middle Eastern oil tycoon fawning over it, right? Or do you see this as more of a “I want to be a part of it, NY NY” attraction?
Maxi: I get the cynicism towards the Sheikh’s interest; it’s the same sort of public opinion that trails oil barons whenever they buy clubs. But as a whole, this seems to me primarily a decision based in business. Or, as much as it can be given that football clubs aren’t usually all that profitable.
That said, it seems to vindicate that MLS is a league developing on a variety of fronts: whether in terms of quality, global recognition, or financial potential, there was something in New York that prompted the Sheikh to include the city in his plans for a global portfolio. It might be the global reach of a city like New York and the gratification that accompanies it, but does it matter when there had to be a functioning league in place to prompt the decision?
This looks very interesting. Will be watching it closely as it goes forward.