It’s quite difficult to actually pinpoint when it started, it could, perhaps, have arrived years ago, though the introduction of social media has probably elevated it to a scale where it has grown in awareness. There is no doubting that the topic of soccer tactics and strategies has now entered the majority of soccer fans consciousness. Supporters are more aware of their team and the opposition’s shape, both their styles of play and how each player affects the dynamics of the side. Truth be told, these conversations were probably taking place between fans in certain countries a long time ago, yet in certain places, particularly Britain and the US, this subject was thought of as being unnecessary, as physicality and how much the players ‘wanted it’ – whatever that means – were the most important factors in deciding a game. [READ MORE] (more…)
So when does a minnow actually stop being labelled as one? Can they progress up to the next level? A quick look at Turkey’s qualifying campaigns in the 80’s shows 8-0 and 6-0 defeats to Bobby Robson’s England side. The same nation went on to finish 3rd 20 years later at the World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
Recent progression can be found in the modern game’s current set of underdogs, Azerbaijan offering a promising example. In the 00′s, Milli, consistently finished bottom of their group, registering heavy losses like the 6-1 home defeat to Serbia or the 8-0 hammering in Poland. The side’s 2014 qualifying campaign was remarkably better, holding Russia to a 1-1 draw at home and finishing 4th above Northern Ireland. OK, not the cream of Europe but evidence of improvement and competitiveness. [READ MORE]
Iceland opened the qualifying campaign at home to Nordic neighbours Norway. A 2-0 victory, with goals from Árnason and Finnbogson, set the tone for a successful and exciting journey which produced five victories, two draws and three defeats from ten games. This resulted in securing the second spot in the group behind the undefeated and all conquering Switzerland. The draw for the play-offs threw up Croatia which was to become arguably the biggest and most significant game in the history of Icelandic soccer. It was held in the Laugardalsvöllur Stadium in Reykjavík in November 2013. A pitch black sky in the land of ice, snow drenched floors reflected by the chill of the moon. [READ MORE]