A Footballer’s Essentials
Gerrard can’t leave the dressing room without his armband. Zizou hit the pitch in his iconic golden boots. With a minimalist approach, illustrator TheLimeBath captures the essentials that the world’s best footballers need to control the game.
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Find more of The Lime Bath’s work here. Posted by Eric.

A Footballer’s Essentials

Gerrard can’t leave the dressing room without his armband. Zizou hit the pitch in his iconic golden boots. With a minimalist approach, illustrator TheLimeBath captures the essentials that the world’s best footballers need to control the game.

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How do you scout a Striker?

A good Striker might be worth his weight in gold, but a recent study by 11tegen11 seems to indicate that judging forwards strictly by their goal tally might be more than a bit deluded.

Goals scored is an easy statistic to default to when considering the merits of any player, but it’s also one that can be unreliable. For every Luis Suarez who takes a new league by storm, there’s an overwhelming number of Jozy Altidore’s who struggle to make an impact with new teams despite a healthy track record in front of goal. According to 11tegen11, the explanation is pretty straight-forward.

Here’s the gist: in terms of scouting, strikers are often evaluated in terms of two measurements: their ability to get into scoring positions and create quality chances, as well as their ability to convert those chances into goals. It makes logical sense. Strikers have to put themselves into dangerous positions to create opportunities, and then must make the most of those opportunities to score goals. Sure, a player who always gets in behind the defense is useful, but if he can’t score goals, what’s the point? Right?

Well, not exactly.

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Through Ryu’s Lens: Barça storm Manchester

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When Street Art meets Football, Pepsi MAX reveal “The Art of Football”

Ahead of a vibrant World Cup, Pepsi MAX produced bespoke artwork featuring their global stars celebrating the passion and energy for the beautiful game.

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"It’s A Beautiful Game"
As we welcome in 2014, we collaborated with Dan Leydon to take a step back and reflect on the simple joy of kicking a ball.
Paying homage to the wonderful It’s A Magical World comic, Calvin and Hobbes became Carles (Puyol) and Leo (Messi).
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While headlines rightfully focus on revealing FIFA’s 8 circles of corruption or the insanity of footballers begging for an extra £15,000-a-week in wages, it’s important to remember why we love this game. Whether it was staying out to play until the sun disappeared or grabbing a ball with a friend and hitting free kicks in six inches of snow, these are the roots of the game, and they’re worth remembering.
Thank you all for your support in 2013. Here’s to a New Year!

- Eric and the entire AFR Team

Oh, and you should follow Dan Leydon on Twitter & Tumblr.

"It’s A Beautiful Game"

As we welcome in 2014, we collaborated with Dan Leydon to take a step back and reflect on the simple joy of kicking a ball.

Paying homage to the wonderful It’s A Magical World comic, Calvin and Hobbes became Carles (Puyol) and Leo (Messi).

Read More

The Holiday Gift Guide for Football Fans
If there’s anything we learned from Arsenal fans after Mesut Özil moved to North London, it’s that buying nice things is the key to happiness. With the holiday season fast approaching, we’re just days away from that time of the year where people rush to malls and shove strangers. As much as you may enjoy that pastime, you could do better than that gift card.
To make the hunt for gifts a bit more digestible, we’ve compiled a list of a few of our favourite things. From art prints to books and gear, if you can’t find a present here, well, you might be tough out of luck.
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Art and Design


Does the fan in your life have a bit of empty space on their walls? If so, an art piece might fit the bill. Thankfully, there are an incredible amount of talented artists who love the beautiful game and make their art available for purchase. From Wong Wong’s World Cup-themed Thirty Two prints to Mark Yesilevskiy’s “Teams, Not Players" series, to Steve Welsh’s “A through Z” collection, Meen Choi’s collected portraits or Dan Leydon’s 1matchaday series, the options are plentiful, no matter what team or player you’re looking for. Also check out…
1. Chinatown Branch’s paintings of Old Trafford
2. Football Type: An in-depth look at typography in football
3. Daniel Nyari’s Neymar Print
4. Stanley Chow’s Scholesy
5. Luke Barclay Design’s World Cup Group Poster
6. DINKIT’s Football Coordinates Prints
7. David Sparshott’s World Cup jerseys
8. Ty Palmer’s Best XI Series
9. 11cannons’ Bergkamp in a Winter Wonderland

Books and Magazines


Is the fan you’re hunting for not an art lover? Do they already have their walls plastered over with David Beckham posters like we do? In that case, going the intellectual route and picking up a few books might not be a bad idea. Amongst our favorites this year were Robert Andrew Powell’s “This Love is Not For Cowards,” which chronicles a season with Ciudad Juarez’ Indios and simultaneously tells the story of modern Mexico, and Chris Anderson’s book, The Numbers Game, which offers an in-depth look at the developing field of statistical analysis in the game. Also check out…
1. Sid Lowe’s Fear and Loathing in La Liga
2. Chuck Korr’s Football v Apartheid
3. David Winner’s Brilliant Orange
4. Joe McGinniss’ The Miracle of Castel di Sangro
5. Eduardo Galeano’s Soccer in Sun and Shadow
6. Guillem Balague’s Messi

Of course, it’s not a bad idea to go the magazine route either. Over the past year or so, a number of grassroots magazines have come to life, each offering a staggering amount of quality content. We’re big fans of Howler, The Blizzard, and Rabona Magazine.

Lifestyle and Gear


Ok, fine. Art doesn’t work, and your target already has a library chock full of textbooks on the 1970 Brazil team and tiki-taka. In that case, awkwardly find out their shirt size, support creative entrepreneurs or order some new gear. Let’s work down the list:
1. The 3nil FC crew and Wunderkind wallet are glorious
2. When your team gets knocked out, support Brazil with this.
3. The LBF Winged Tee will glide you across the pitch
4. Black boots. The Mercurial Vapor IX's do it right.
5. Spain have a nice kit for the World Cup. Clean Sheet Co.’s interpretation is better.
6. The US Soccer Centennial kit. Celebrate 100 years in style.
7. The Brazuca, naturally.
8. The Dos a Cero Scarf from Howler.
9. Modern Anthology’s Foosball Bottle Openers.
If you’re confident, picking up a new jersey is a good shout. Just be sure to do a bit of research on this one, or you might end up giving a Real Madrid jersey to a Barcelona fan. Actually, on second thought, that’s not a bad idea. Just send us the video of your friend’s reaction.

The Philanthropic Option


We’re the first to admit that giving and receiving gifts is a wonderful part of the holiday season, but when you break it down to its core, the holidays are about doing good. Of course, that can accomplished in a variety of ways, and giving a well conceived gift is certainly a good route, but there are few things better than donating time or funds to a charity designed to benefit the less-fortunate. 
And while there are plenty of charities and causes that could use your support, there are a number of soccer-specific groups that are worth taking a look at. Instead of that new jersey, maybe do a solid and donate in your name or a friend’s to any of the following charities:
1. Street Soccer USA, a group using soccer to help the homeless transform their lives
2. Grassroots Soccer. who use the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize communities to stop the spread of HIV.
3. Little Feet, who help develop soccer-based infrastructure around the world
This gift guide is a product of Eric Beard, Maxi Rodriguez, Zack Goldman, Dominic Vieira, and the AFR Voice team wasting way too many hours on the Internet. Did we forget something? Send us your recommendations on Twitter or in the comments.

The Holiday Gift Guide for Football Fans

If there’s anything we learned from Arsenal fans after Mesut Özil moved to North London, it’s that buying nice things is the key to happiness. With the holiday season fast approaching, we’re just days away from that time of the year where people rush to malls and shove strangers. As much as you may enjoy that pastime, you could do better than that gift card.

To make the hunt for gifts a bit more digestible, we’ve compiled a list of a few of our favourite things. From art prints to books and gear, if you can’t find a present here, well, you might be tough out of luck.

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Man On A Mongolian Mission - AFR Voice Ep. 12

This week, we explore the outpost of the Mongolian Premier League and meet the young English manager aiming to put the nation on the football map, Paul Watson. We hear about the challenges of working in sub-zero temperatures, the hunt to find undiscovered talent, and how such an extraordinary opportunity transpired.

Elsewhere, we profile the upcoming MLS playoffs and give our take on the short list for the Ballon d’Or – will Messi achieve an incredible 5-year winning streak or can Zlatan Ibrahimovich, who is in the form of his life, pull off a surprise and snaffle the top prize? 

Talking of the giant Swede, we leaf through his book, as well as the autobiographies of Sir Alex Ferguson and ‘Arry Redknapp for the inaugural outing of AFR Voice Book Club. The Literary event of the year. 

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Inside El Clásico

400 million watched, but only for 90 minutes. Even with the excessive coverage from the Spanish press, so much is lost in the build-up to one of the biggest spectacles in world football. With access a reporter could only dream of, FC Barcelona released a video of the scenes before and after the big match at the Camp Nou. The nerves, the fans, the hundreds of cameras, they’re all captured. Watch the full feature here. [Posted by Eric]

What do those statistics really mean, anyway?

"Within a single match a 92% pass accuracy stat looks great, but it needs context. As in: how many passes did the player attempt? Where on the pitch did the player attempt their passes? How was the opposition set up, and were they inferior? Superior? Equal? Perhaps a player’s pass completion rate was impressive because they weren’t properly marked, or because the opposition allowed them more space on a particular area of the pitch."

Pass completion percentages, possession statistics or conversion rates, it can be difficult to find game recaps that don’t make definitive statements that rely on one or many of the new soccer statistics that have been making the rounds lately. While analytics certainly adds a new dimension to the sport, and is sure to prove valuable for clubs and fans in judging performances in the future, in our current environment, it sometimes seems that amateur statisticians are creating new performance statistics without any sense of what those numbers actually mean in the first place.

Over at the Counter Attack blog, Richard Whittall recently posted a beginner’s guide for fans, bloggers and statisticians alike, to clarify a few of those nagging question. Be sure to have a look, because the analytics train doesn’t show any signs of slowing. [Posted by Maxi]

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