Looking back to look forward: EURO 2012

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Meet Angelo Trofa, the visionary behind ‘Football Strip Concept Designs’

"The outcome of a geeky obsession that I probably should have grown out of at 15."

From 9 til 5 Angelo Trofa is a designer and in-house illustrator at Mr Porter, an online retail destination dedicated to men’s style. When he’s not at work, Angelo likes to spend his time designing football kits, which led to the birth of the e-magazine Football Strip Concept Designs, which has just released its third volume.

Angelo, like all of us here at AFR is a passionate football fan. Although residing in England, his Italian background and admiration for Baggio made him a big Inter Milan supporter - who are also very slick when it comes to kit designs.

Following the release of his latest work, we were able to catch up with Angelo.

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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 we’re reading this week

We’re always freshly squeezing plenty of articles and content by our talented network of writers and contributors at AFR; but we also read quality work which is being written throughout the football world. Here’s a selection of articles we’ve been reading, in no particular order:

Maradona, Then and Now

The virtuoso Brian Philips (@runofplay) is a favourite of ours (and many others), and this time he writes about the life of Maradona as a player and in the present, which transformed into a rollercoaster of affairs. After many years, the 1986 World Cup champion returns to Italy to dispute tax issues. And now is the ideal time to read about one of football’s most iconic characters.

Luis Suarez and the prelusory goal

Our friends at The Football Ramble have been thinking deeply, contemplating the effect cheating has on football. The author, philosophy professor Charlie Robinson, poses an excellent question: When players cheat to gain an advantage in a game, are they even playing a game at all?

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New heroes rise in Milan, but what did they reveal?

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By Anthony Lopopolo

They didn’t like being called the favourite. Barcelona almost always are these days, but something about AC Milan frightened them. Not so much the team, or its players, but the very thought of playing against Milan. Barcelona’s people spoke of their opponents in the round of 16 in the Champions League as if they were patron saints of the tournament. (And to some they are.)

But they came into Milan’s San Siro revering a familiar foe to such great extents. Milan’s history, their seven European titles, and their past performances against Barcelona — despite winning none of the seven previous games — intimidated them. Barca’s president, Sandro Rosell, didn’t feel relaxed. Xavi, too, speaking like a historian of the game, felt uneasy. “They have always made things difficult for us,” he told Sport.es before the game.

If Milan’s new team — only four of the team’s starters remained the same since the last time the two sides met — didn’t intimidate them, this idea of history did. Not what Milan are, but what they represent: a club demanding respect. Now, Bojan Krkic, the former Barcelona player, had at least said so: “Barca has the best in the world,” he told reporters, “but the San Siro commands respect.” So the visitors gave them every bit of it, maybe even too much. After all, it is Barcelona’s opponents who so often give too much respect. So often those opponents give up possession for the sake of defending.

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Xavi Hernández - The Mister / Señorío

It’s easy to forget the little things. Xavi may complete 100 passes every game, and while each one may not stand out exquisitely, there’s something to be said for the sum of its parts. That creation, that compilation cannot be captured by YouTube highlights. Part of the allure of Xavi’s sheer dominance in the midfield is the fact that his genius cannot be denied, but it can also hardly be compressed into a 4 minute YouTube video.

That being said, this video by Johan Giraldo has provided a fantastic rebuttal to my previous sentence. Like Xavi’s passes, it’s the little things that make this video so refreshing, like a selection of vintage footage, deft touches, shots that show his character on and off the pitch, and a distinct lack of dubstep. [Thanks to Sarah L for the sending this our way. Get Involved. Posted by Eric]

(Source: youtube.com)

Imagining the Iberian Championship: Catalunya claims Group A

By Dermot Corrigan, imagining in Madrid

When the Iberian Championships was first mooted (last month, here on A Football Report), there was some skepticism in Spain as to the concept’s viability, given the tightness of the club schedule, rivalries between different footballing authorities with competing jurisdictions, the logistical challenges involved, fraught political atmosphere etc. But due to the diligence and far-sightedness of those involved in the project, and the generosity of a certain gulf-oil-money fuelled TV broadcaster looking to break into vital European markets, the first round of games is now taking place during this week’s international break.

As is customary in Iberia, the draw was organised to give the better supported teams the best possible chance of progressing, with the top four ranked sides - Castilla, Catalunya, Euskadi and Valéncia - securing home advantage for two of their three group games. Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque did the honours at the neutral territory of the Andorran FA HQ, with the coaches and captains of all eight teams showing up for the event, along with a healthy smattering of regional political dignitaries and cultural figures. There was a surprisingly positive mood of friendship and fraternity among all involved, especially with the first tranches of TV money being delivered up front.

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Euro 2012 by the passes

It’s interesting what you learn when you take a step back. The good people at Opta have recorded every movement of the European Championships so far and, thanks to their extraordinary work, we’re able to show you the all the passes that have made up all the matches that have been played at this wonderful tournament. At a glance, you’re able to understand the suffocating Spanish style, England’s midfield complex, and France’s preference for width. This is Euro 2012 by the passes. [posted by MG]

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FC Barcelona vs. Brazil in 1999 - The Full Match

The beginning of the week is never enjoyable, but let’s lessen the dosage of suffering with a glorious find on Youtube. 1999 was FC Barcelona’s centenary year and the whole season was quite the celebration of everything FC Barcelona. The highlight of the season (apart from winning the league title) was a friendly match on the 28th of April against the boys from Brazil who finished 2nd in the 1998 World Cup.

Ronaldo (the original) and Romario were making their return to the Camp Nou, but all eyes were on FC Barcelona maestro Rivaldo. Before the game, Rivaldo said he was happy to wear the Blaugrana jersey, but country won over club and Rivaldo played for his homeland. Legends were aplenty, as Figo (before the Real Madrid transfer) put on a show. Pep Guardiola started the match, but was subbed off at half time. Who subbed him off? Well, a certain young Catalan midfielder named Xavi. The match ended 2-2, and it was a real spectacle for all involved. (Full line-ups listed in the description of the video)

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