Links, 8/28/12 Edition

  • Micahel Cox: Fabulous Falcao
    • Stylistically, he's something of a throwback -- he's a pure penalty box striker, the type that has become increasingly rare as coaches demand greater linkup play from their frontman. Some of his goals are scrappy and others are beautiful, but there's an incredible efficiency about all of his strikes. He's able to power in headers from unusual angles when his body shape seems wrong, while his feet are always in the right position to exploit a loose ball inside the penalty box. 
  • Michael Cox: Liverpool 2-2 Manchester City: neither entirely comfortable with new approach
    • Liverpool weren’t 100% comfortable playing high up the pitch and being told to pass out of the back, City weren’t 100% comfortable playing with a back three. Rodgers won’t change his approach – Mancini might have to, because City don’t immediately appear any stronger defensively or offensively, and he is under pressure to get immediate results. Rodgers will take more positives from this game – Allen’s passing, Sterling’s wing play, Coates’ calmness.
  • Jonathan Wilson: Football has gone back to the back three, but why can be a mystery 
    • Three years ago, playing three at the back had all but disappeared. It had died away in the late 50s and 60s as the W-M was superseded by a back four, and re-emerged in the mid-80s, in slightly different forms, with Carlos Bilardo's Argentina, Sepp Piontek's Denmark, Franz Beckenbauer's West Germany and Ciro Blazevic's Dinamo Zagreb... Yet three at the back has started to make a comeback. It began in Italy, with Udinese and Napoli. At Barcelona, the first and most successful stage of Pep Guardiola's season-long charge backwards through the evolution of tactics was a back three. Then Wigan Athletic started doing it. Now Manchester City have joined in. In fact, in the top divisions of Europe's top five leagues over the weekend, 12 teams used the shape (eight in Italy, two in England, one in Spain, one in France and none in Germany). Three at the back is back.
  • Sid Lowe: Athletic Bilbao impotent as Marcelo Bielsa's project unravels apace
    •  "We were," Bielsa admitted, "impotent in the face of the dimension of our opponent." The dimension of that opponent was gigantic: Arda Turan was consistently dangerous, Falcao's brilliance was barely believable and Atlético had destroyed Athletic in last season's Europa League final too. Bielsa talked of "antagonistic styles" and took the blame for not devising a strategy to impose upon Diego Simeone and his team. But it was not just about Falcao or Simeone or Atlético; there was something else, something deeper, something a little depressing. Something in that word: impotent.An inescapable feeling that Athletic Bilbao, the team that reached two finals and destroyed Manchester United at Old Trafford, are unravelling before his eyes.