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.
Thought Trails: Team Cristiano or Team Zlatan?
“The World Cup needs Zlatan more than Ronaldo.” - Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Maxi: With less than a year until the World Cup kicks off in Brazil, we’re at a point where, coincidentally, we’re likely to see one of the most anticipated international games until the knockout rounds of the World Cup itself. Ego vs. Ego. World’s Best vs. World’s Best. International icon vs. International icon. Zlatan vs. Cristiano. While corporate sponsors rub their hands wondering whether their horse will make it to the global stage, one can’t help but think that as Zlatan and Cristiano have excelled as individuals, the fortunes of their respective countries have declined. Shame that one of the two will be forced to watch the World Cup as a spectator, no?
Eric: It is a shame. Sure, Portugal isn’t the power it once was and Sweden has never been guaranteed a spot in the World Cup, but they can only blame themselves (and maybe the system, man) for being in this position. But this is the situation, and Portugal and Sweden probably won’t unify within the next six months. The real question we need to face: Would you rather see Zlatan or Cristiano in the World Cup?
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]
The 11 Series by Ty Palmer
Football-inspired artist Ty Palmer recently reached out to AFR to share his latest collection. It’s based on the classic roots of the game, when defenders didn’t wear the number 37 and strikers couldn’t legitimately wear the number 2.
In his words… I felt the need to challenge myself with an illustrated portrait series, so I decided I would create a series of posters of my favorite footballers to wear 1 - 11. This project gained spirit with my work with the futbol artist network. I have loved the beautiful game for as long as I can remember, and I wanted to commemorate the genius of the game. Each poster uses the specific color palette of either the crest or kit of the team to dictate the composition. Mixed in each piece is the respected stadiums of each player, which are lightly ghosted within the work.
Dortmund’s Yellow Wall meets Real Madrid’s Dreams of La Décima
Some of the best fans in the world welcome Real Madrid & their dreams of a 10th Champions League title to Dortmund. As they did for Bayern vs Barça, KICKTV again called on our man Dan Leydon to show what happens when Galacticos face a wall of 70,000 screaming Germans.
Sir Alex Ferguson lost it. He saw the red card and charged like a bull. He slammed the seat in front of him, pushing a team official out of his way to reach the touchline, looking this way and that, as if searching for an answer. There were none. In a seemingly innocuous attempt to cushion the ball floating over him, Nani collided with Real Madrid’s Alvaro Arbeloa and caught him with his cleat. He was sent off.
Just minutes before, Manchester United enjoyed the product of Nani’s labour. The winger picked up the ball inside the box and sent it inward, where Madrid’s Sergio Ramos knocked it into his own goal. All the risks Ferguson took looked justified. Wayne Rooney was sitting on the bench, but the manager’s functional players had followed his orders: they sat back, gifted Madrid the ball and struck on the counter with seething pace.
United were beating their opponent at their own damn game.
And then it all fell apart. The dismissal of Nani, whether it was right or wrong or misunderstood or calculated — Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir had a good couple of minutes to deliberate his verdict, and brandished his red card almost out of nowhere — forever took the protagonist’s role in the game. It robbed the game of its purity. It conjured questions in a game that had been such a wonderful display of football. The defending was masterful. The play was quick. The game was open, a chess board with all its pieces cast in strategic places by each of its players, Ferguson and his friend Jose Mourinho. Ferguson was winning.
Then an undue interruption: in the form of Nani, the pride and wind and the concentration that got United this far in the game left the match. Ferguson barked at the fourth official, who just told him to calm down. And he did. He drew that familiar scowl on his face, while chewing his gum ever so fiercely, and gestured to the crowd. Come on! Come on! Get behind our lads, Ferguson said with his hands, fluttering in front of his choir of 74,959 at Old Trafford on Tuesday. He looked like he wanted to channel everyone’s frustration and concentrate that energy on the greater good: winning it.
But that wish wasn’t granted.
Some goals never change, by Dan Leydon
Sir Alex loved having him alongside Rooney, but those days have passed.
Mourinho couldn’t stand him, now he can’t imagine his team without Ronaldo.
As he returns to Old Trafford next week, this is inspired by the two men who know, more than anyone, just how dangerous Cristiano can be.