In the end, the only moment that separated Switzerland and Northern Ireland in their World Cup qualifying playoff was a dubious penalty call awarded to the Swiss in Belfast. Sunday’s return leg at St Jakob-Park in Basel ended in a 0-0 draw with the Irish again looking extremely limited going forward, but Switzerland were entirely wasteful as well, particularly forward Haris Seferovic.
What's that, in the distance? The wind has shifted. Something smells different. There's a barely perceptible hum in the air. Yes, just barely perceptible, but it's there, no doubt about it. We can feel it in our bones. Something is on the horizon, something big. Something beyond our wildest imaginations.
If there’s one competition that can challenge CONCACAF for zaniness, it’s the Europa League. Week after week we tune in because we know something crazy will happen. Thursday was no exception as the referees missed a blatant hand ball on the goal line in the match between Hapoel Be’er Sheva and Steaua Bucharest in Romania.
Some players are just destined for greatness from the moment they step on the pitch, their debuts so magnificent the entire stadium recognizes the kid on display is special. Like a 17-year-old Alan Shearer netting a hat trick against Arsenal in his debut, some introductions are seminal events that will never be forgotten.
Jesús Vallejo did not have such a debut for Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey on Thursday.
Defending, on the face of it, is a pretty animalistic art. Without a doubt, there are a myriad of subtleties to transform it into a fine art, but you still won’t get very far as a defender without being physical and instinctive. You’ve got to have the appetite for getting stuck in and crunching — you’ve got to mark your territory with blood, sweat and piss.