General Sports Stories

  1. Europa League 2015/16 Week Four Round-Up:

    Just as several round of 16 slots were snatched up with last week's Champions League matches, the group stage of the 2015 2016 Europa League also began its wrap-up on Thursday, November 5th. Europa League 2015/16 week four featured 24 fixtures, which saw four football clubs officially securing their spots in the tournament's round of 32. Another two squads, meanwhile, have been statistically eliminated from the round of 32 pot. The remaining 42 clubs will have to bring their A-game for the sixth match day of the 2015 2016 UEL, set for Thursday, November 26th.

    The Guarantees

    The four soccer clubs who are currently guaranteed spots in the 2015 2016 Europa League round of 32 are Napoli, Molde, Borussia Dortmund, and Rapid Wien. Napoli have been particularly spectacular in the group stage, winning all four of their games and scoring 16 goals while only conceding one. With a 12-point tally, they are not

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  2. Three Teams Secure Round of 16 Slots in Champions League

    The fourth week of Champions League competition 2015 2016 showed a light at the end of the tunnel that has been the tournament's group stage. Indeed, following this week's matches, three teams have guaranteed round of 16 slots for themselves, while several others are drawing close. At the same time, several big-name football clubs officially saw their chances of knockout stage advancement dashed upon the rocks, while others got reprieves after slow starts.

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    The Guarantees

    The three soccer squads that are guaranteed slots in the round of 16 at this point are Real Madrid, Real Madrid Home Shirt 2015 - 2016Manchester

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  3. Disrespect Toward Referees: A Major Problem in Professional Football, or a Natural Byproduct of Incompetence?

    refereeOn October 24th, in a Premier League fixture against West Ham United, Chelsea FC picked up half a dozen yellow cards, while one player and two coaches-including manager Jose Mourinho-were sent off for misconduct. After the Wear-Tyne Derby between Newcastle United and Sunderland, soccer pundits roundly panned the game's referee for making a bad call that virtually decided the outcome of the match. And after a loss against Lazio in the Europa League, St. Etienne manager Bernard Caiazzo criticized the referee as a "disgrace to football," citing his "malevolence and incompetence."

    Stories like this aren't particularly rare. Soccer fans have been taking out their frustrations on referees for generations now. But disrespect toward referees seems to have hit a fever pitch this season, with Chelsea's Jose Mourinho especially coming under fire for his behavior in interactions with match officials.

    The question is, why is referee disrespect such a big problem? Are

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  4. An Assessment of World Cup 2018 UEFA Qualifying Group I

    Of all the UEFA groups lined up for the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, the last of them-Group I-might be the most wide open. World Cup 2018 UEFA qualifying group I, which consists of five teams instead of the usual six-including Croatia, Iceland, Ukraine, Turkey, and Finland-lacks the heavyweight teams and former champions that populate the other groups. Big and recently successful teams like Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Belgium are scattered throughout the other seven groups. Even the groups that don't have such big-name football nations, meanwhile, feature teams like Wales (Group D) and Romania (E) that are currently ranked in FIFA's global top 10.

    Group I is the exception to that rule, featuring neither a recent World Cup champion, nor a top-ranked FIFA team. The group's likely frontrunner-the Croatia national football team-is slated in 13th on FIFA's rankings. Three others make the top 50 (Iceland at 24, Ukraine at 30, and Turkey at 45), while

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  5. Why Are Football Stadiums a Part of Team Identity?

    It happens every year: whether clubs are refurbishing their stadiums (as Liverpool is doing with Anfield) or planning wholesale moves to new ones (like AC Milan, who are preparing to leave San Siro once they've built a new venue), some fans decry the decisions as desecrations of club identity. It's not difficult to see why. Over the years, a stadium truly becomes a part of a football club, just like players, jerseys, and fans do. But why do football stadiums earn this kind of attachment from fans and players alike when they are really just venues or stages for the games and moments that will truly define a club's legacy?

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    Why Football Stadiums Matter

    The connections that fans have with their favorite team's stadium can also bleed onto the field and affect the players.

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  6. The 2015 - 2016 Europa League Group Stage Draw: Which Teams Are Set up Well for Knockout Stage Advancement?

    It's always tricky to predict how the UEFA Europa League will play out, largely due to the fact that even after the group stage has been played, the tournament frontrunners could still be coming from elsewhere. Indeed, the tradition of incorporating the third-placed teams from each of the Champions League groups lends an air of unpredictability to the action in the annual Europa League tournament that you don't necessarily get in the UCL. Quite simply, with the Europa League, you never know who might emerge as a major contender. However, following the 2015 - 2016 Europa League group stage draw we take a look at the likely winners and losers.

    In the UEL, it's particularly pivotal for football clubs to win their groups, instead of to advance to the knockout stages by finishing second. Second-placed teams are left unseeded for the knockouts, which can result in very difficult draws against either top UEL group stage finishers, or tough-to-beat UCL teams.

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  7. PSG Leading the Way after the First Month of Ligue 1 Play 2015

    This past weekend, the 2015 2016 French Ligue 1 season officially closed out its first month. With four games on the books (and 34 still to play), it's a good time to look back on the first stage of the season and assess what went down. Which football clubs are in good shape? Which soccer squads are in trouble? Should we expect a fourth straight title for Paris Saint Germain? Read on for a rundown of the first month of Ligue 1 play 2015 featuring the answers to these questions and others.

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    Paris Saint Germain Steal the Show

    Is anyone even surprised that Paris Saint Germain are on top of the Ligue 1 table after the first month of play? Not only are the Parisians coming off three consecutive French national soccer titles,

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  8. The First Month of EPL Play 2015: Chelsea Falls, Manchester City Flourishes

    One month and four matches into the 2015 2016 English Premier League season, there have already been a fair share of surprises and unexpected turns of events. From the inexplicable success of Crystal Palace, to the complete implosion of Jose Mourinho's Chelsea football club squad, August has been an eventful month in the EPL. But does the first month of EPL play 2015 provide any indication of where the season could be going? Or will the season's remaining 34 fixtures restore the table to a more usual and predictable outcome?

    Manchester City: The Clear Season Frontrunners

    If there's one thing that has been revealed by the first month of Premier League play, it's that Manchester City are the clear frontrunners to win the title come next May. A year ago, Chelsea very clearly announced themselves as title contenders, winning their first four EPL matches, and never giving up the top spot in the league standings after

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  9. The 2015 - 2016 Champions League Group Stage Draw: Who Has an Easy Path to the Knockouts?

    August 27th brought a lot of big news in the European football, as the UEFA not only announced the winners of their inaugural Goal and Save of the Season Awards, but also the victor of the 2014 2015 Best Player in Europe Award. In the midst of all the awards and celebrations, the day also saw the 2015 - 2016 Champions League group stage draw.

    The tournament-which will host its first matches on September 15th-will start out with 32 teams, competing across eight groups of four. By next May, only one of those teams will be left standing. But which football club is the chosen one this season? Which soccer squads have an easy path to the round of 16, and which ones will have to work to reach the knockouts? Read on for our kneejerk reaction at the group stage draw.

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    The Easy Calls

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  10. AFC 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualification: Analyzing the Asian Football Confederation Qualifiers

    The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is interesting: in terms of AFC 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification processes, the AFC qualifiers are nearly as large an undertaking as the UEFA qualifiers. For the 2018 World Cup qualifying competition, UEFA will have 52 teams battling across seven groups of six and two groups of five. AFC, meanwhile, currently has 39 teams competing throughout seven groups of five and one group of four. There would be 40 teams playing, but Indonesia are currently suspended from FIFA, and were therefore disqualified.

    However, despite the comparable size of these divisions, there are 13 slots available in the final tournament for UEFA teams, and only 4.5 slots available for AFC teams. As a result, AFC qualification is a good deal more competitive and complicated than UEFA qualification, involving a longer process with numerous rounds. Needless to say, trying to predict which AFC teams will make it to the World Cup can be a challenging thing-particularly because

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