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Marcotti: A tournament to remember

World Cup Jul 14, 2014
4 days ago

Ancelotti triumphs, van Gaal's progress, Dortmund disappoint, more

The ESPN FC panel discuss the player ratings following El Clasico.

You can't really call Real Madrid's clasico win a tactical victory.

That's because frankly, manager Carlo Ancelotti -- as he promised ahead of the game when he said there would be "no surprises" -- did nothing particularly fancy that night. His XI -- with Isco in for the injured Gareth Bale -- picked itself. (Or, if you're really, really cynical, you might say a man named Florentino Perez picked it.)

What Madrid did was execute and figure out a way to get a lopsided, top-heavy lineup to work against...

Oct 13, 2014

Germany aren't in crisis, Spain answer critics, Tardelli gives Brazil options

ESPN FC's Steve Nicol analyses Germany's loss to Poland in their European championship qualifier.

Relax. It's a blip, not a wake-up call: that's the message coming from Joachim Low's camp after Germany's 2-0 defeat in Warsaw.

International football has a way of magnifying results over performance. And because Germany haven't exactly impressed since being crowned world champions in July, some folks are fretting. They lost 4-2 at home to Argentina in the rematch in September. They beat Scotland at home by a slim 2-1 margin. And now, this defeat to Poland.

But in fact, Low is right: the sky...

Oct 8, 2014

Concussion reform in soccer is moving in right direction but still not enough

ESPN FC's Gabriele Marcotti gives insight as to what team's should do regarding players who suffer concussions.

The good news is that we're talking about concussions. It took at least three incidents at the World Cup, but heck, we got there.

The bad news is that there's still an obvious disconnect between what the authorities see as important when it comes to head trauma and what the reality suggests.

FIFA's new protocol for head injuries goes a little like this: player gets his bell rung. Rather than have him examined off the pitch -- as would be the case with guys needing other types of treatment...

Oct 6, 2014

Juve-Roma flawed but brilliant, Arsenal and Chelsea battle, Dortmund's woe

ESPN FC's Gabriele Marcotti reacts to Francesco Totti's postgame comments following AS Roma's 3-2 defeat by Juventus.

Juventus' clash with Roma was always going to be a tense, high-wire affair. That's what you get when you have two clubs that genuinely don't like each other and that have a poisonous history dating back decades.

We find comfort in clichés and stereotypes, so it's easy to read Juve's 3-2 win Sunday through that old and familiar lens, possibly because there is more of a grain of historical truth in it. The bianconeri thus are bullies who intimidate and manipulate referees, while the giallorossi...

Oct 1, 2014

Francesco Totti, Roma's talisman, defies age and time to keep inspiring

Francesco Totti starred as Roma held Manchester City in the Champions League.

"But at my back I always hear / Time's winged chariot drawing near / And yonder all before us lie / deserts of vast eternity."

I don't like quoting from 17th-century poems I learned in school any more than the next guy. And I promise I won't do it again for a long while. But the above lines, by one Andrew Marvell, stuck in my head last night at the Etihad Stadium as I watched a 38-year-old Francesco Totti weave strands of wizardry against Manchester City.

The highlights? A delicious assist for...

Sep 29, 2014

Rooney red is more pain for Van Gaal; Hummels needs help; brilliant Bielsa

The ESPN FC crew question Wayne Rooney's captaincy following his rash tackle and subsequent red card against West Ham on Saturday.

All right, so last week I wrote about how dropping Wayne Rooney was neither desirable nor viable. And then he goes out and gets himself sent off at home with a needless whack on West Ham's Stewart Downing, leaving his side with 10 men for the final 31 minutes.

Man United won, 2-1 -- though there was a late scare with Kevin Nolan's disallowed goal -- and Rooney will now miss the away trip to face West Brom, as well as home ties against Everton and Chelsea. Still, I feel like there is more than...