Entries by Iain Macintosh

Match analysis: Belgium vs Italy

So much for the theory that Italy were heading for yet another early tournament exit. Having been knocked out in the group stages of the last two World Cups, the chances are that this will be an altogether more pleasant summer for Italy. Manager Antonio Conte takes tactical preparation very seriously.

Analysis of euro 2016 teams: Ukraine

When you’re this close to the start of a major international tournament, most avenues have already been explored. We know the favourites: France; Spain and Germany. We know the nations that have it within them to win, but probably won’t: Belgium; Italy and England. We know the dark horses: Austria; Croatia and Poland. We even know the minnows: Albania; Hungary and Northern Ireland. But what about the middle ground? What about the teams with just a puncher’s chance of glory? What about Ukraine?

Analysis of Euro 2016 teams: Romania

Romania’s strengths are obvious to anyone who has taken a glance at their qualifying campaign. They finished their group unbeaten, having conceded only two goals in ten games. And when you watch them, it doesn’t take long to see why.

Analysis of Euro 2016 teams: Albania

Of all the teams heading to France for the European Championships, Albania have surely the most fascinating back story. They’ve never qualified for a major tournament before. They’ve only ever
qualified for two youth tournaments before.

Impressive LA Galaxy win over Real Salt Lake

For the uninitiated, there is much that separates Major League Soccer from other notable leagues around the world. There is the single entity business structure, the draft system, the designated star player policies. But most of all, in these opening weeks, there is the sense that no team is considerably better than any other. At least, that was the case until this weekend when LA Galaxy faced the undefeated Real Salt Lake and pulled their pants down in front of everyone.

LA Galaxy escapes with a point as De Jong escapes red card

Sometimes we can be a little hysterical about challenges in football. Bound up by tribal loyalties or an earnest sense of protection, we forget that football is intense, physical and occasionally dangerous. Accidents happen and they always look worse in a slow motion replay. But Nigel de Jong’s challenge on Darlington Nagbe was no accident.

Analysis of New England revolution victory over New York Red Bulls 1-0

“It’s shameful for me,” said New York Red Bulls’ coach Jesse Marsch afterwards. “The game is supposed to have honour.”

It’s a nice thought and in an ideal world, we would all conduct ourselves with grace and nobility. But as Bill Shankly once said, “If you don’t know what to do with the ball, put it in the net and we’ll discuss the options later.” And that’s exactly how New England Revolution won their first game of the season.

FC Dallas win over DC United

Still without a win this season, DC United manager Ben Olsen called for his players to be more clinical in front of goal before their meeting with a depleted FC Dallas. Unfortunately for him, most of his problems came at the other end of the pitch. DC were only missing defender Steve Birnbaum, but what a miss he proved to be. His team started brightly, pinning Dallas into their own half, albeit without really creating anything of note. But that hope was short-lived; quickly snuffed out by DC’s own hapless defenders.

MLS insight: Vieira’s NYCFC first defeat

To his eternal credit, Cyle Larin barely celebrates the goal that gives Orlando City victory in New York. But this is not because, as the reigning Rookie of the Year and a man who scored 17 goals last season, he is blasé about the art of scoring. No, it is because the ball has literally landed on his face and gone in.

What went wrong for LA galaxy?

For European fans, unfamiliar with the vagaries of MLS, the Galaxy are an easy access point: they have a recognisable manager in Bruce Arena, who did so much for the national team between 1998 and 2006. They have a host of recognisable players, led by the likes of Steven Gerrard, Robbie Keane and Nigel de Jong, and they are of course, contrary to Bayern Munich’s nickname, the real FC Hollywood. But are they any good?