Through Ryu’s Lens: José does it again

Parisian fans have swooped past frustration and sit in their city with nothing but existential angiush. Oh, what could have been. This was their year, and it was led by the mighty Zlatan. That is, until he was reminded of his humanity and sidelined with an injury.

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Through Ryu’s Lens: Anything you can do…

There’s only one person more disappointed that Zlatan won’t be in Brazil than Zlatan, and that is Ryu Voelkel. The big man deceives, acting and performing in a way that makes him seem to be more than just that. Camera in hand, Ryu was in Stockholm to witness a  battle between two greats.

Just when Portugal were comfortable, Ibrahimovic put them on the back foot. Just when Sweden were full of hope, Ronaldo silenced the stadium. The Swede did all he could, but could only watch as his counterpart did more.

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick

Portugal are going to the World Cup because of this.

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We’re Surrounded by Playoffs - AFR Voice Ep. 14

The game in America has been bubbling with high-stakes games and news stories of late, so we dialed up Andrew Wiebe, from MLSsoccer.com and the ExtraTime Radio Show, to get his views on some eye-catching surprises in the first set of Playoff games, discover whether he thinks David Beckham’s Miami franchise can give the MLS a foothold in the South East, and question what the USMNT can expect to achieve in Brazil.

Elsewhere, we get out our calculators to try and assess a truly astonishing outlay of cash by a UK sports channel to secure Champions League rights, and we round up a tournament stage that has considerably less cash thrown at it – the humble and endlessly amiable first round of the FA Cup.

All that plus we lick our lips at some rather tasty World Cup qualifying playoff matches set to be served up this week. Forget the headline-hugging teams Portugal, France or Sweden - we’re pushing all of our chips on Iceland to provide a result to remember. Whatever the case, we just can’t wait to finally get up our World Cup 2014 wall chart.

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Laurent Blanc: Taming egos at PSG

By Nicol Hay

It had been 72 very Paris Saint German minutes.

The French Super Cup was in full swing in Libreville, Gabon – and the Parisians were doing their best impression of the worst of themselves: diffident, lazy, and unwilling to match the effort of an opponent whose collective wage would struggle to buy Edinson Cavani’s soul patch. Any energy expended by PSG in that opening period was focused solely on glowering at each other as every player decided that winning this game was someone else’s job.

Laurent Blanc doesn’t like lazy though. Or diffident (his opinion on soul patches remains unrecorded). The man who was charged with purging the prima donnas from Les Bleus finds himself charged with the same task in Paris – like a Red Adair of French football, on constant standby to wade in and rescue a failing dressing room. So with the match disappearing down the vortex of ego and shrugs that have characterized the Qatar-era at PSG, Blanc rolled up his sleeves and made a statement. A statement in two parts.

Part One: he made a triple-substitution. Normally the last act of desperate man, a rarely seen hail-Mary toss from the dugout, the triple-substitution is a clear way of saying “Sorry, Plan A was bobbins.” It’s a rash move on a number of levels, not least because it leaves the manager no recourse to change again if Plan B turns out to be less than inspired. Furthermore, going maximum sub means that a third of your outfield is now trying to catch themselves up to the pace of game against a fully-functional opponent who has just been buoyed by watching you perform the footballing equivalent of kicking over the drawing board and setting fire to the pencils.

Part Two: Blanc used two-thirds of his nuclear-option substitution to remove €70m-worth of Argentine internationals and replace them with two teenagers who had previously played six minutes of competitive first-team football between them.

And it worked.

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Moments in Football

Richard Swarbrick is back. This time he’s taken his work off the screen, literally mending the art of football with the sound that surrounds the beautiful game. On an old record player, naturally. From Zlatan’s bicycle to Higuita’s insanity to Baggio’s disbelief, those legendary moments have been brought into a new light. Check out Richard’s Fantasista project and watch the video here.

Through Ryu’s Lens: Messi lifts Barça, PSG bows out

Fingernails were bitten, but the Camp Nou crowd saw their side edge another excellent performance from PSG. Barça were second best until Lionel Messi came on and despite playing at 60% or so due to an injury, the Argentine led the Catalans into the back of the net. Ryu was in Barcelona to see the mighty Zlatan go silent as Pedro stole the show.

[You can interact with Ryu on twitter @Toksuede and check his Flickr. Posted by Eric.]

Through Ryu’s Lens: Paris rises against Barça’s best

The main complaint about football in major European capitals (London aside) is that the size of the city prevents any sort of the tribal passion you’ll find in the smaller communities and villages from developing. Well, tonight was different. Paris became united through Paris St. Germain’s rebellious performance against Barcelona. After the Champions League match, PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi said: "We’re happy with what we produced against the best team in the world. We showed Paris could be great."

Ryu was in the French capital to see Thiago Silva, Zlatan, and company put in a memorable performance against Messi and his new tattoo that looks like it’s inspired by The Walking Dead. [You can interact with Ryu on twitter @Toksuede and check his Flickr. Posted by Eric.]

Through Ryu’s Lens: Beckham rises in Paris, Marseille falls

It was the grand derby, Le Classique between Paris St Germain and Marseille. PSG hoped to extend their lead in Ligue 1, and were somewhat fortunate to come away with a cool 2-0 victory. Beckham finally made his debut in France, coming on for the final 15 minutes and playing a chip that would lead to Zlatan Ibrahimovic grabbing the second for the French giants. Ryu was in town to see the derby, as well as Beckhamania jumping right into Zlatan’s arms.

Interact with Ryu on twitter @Toksuede and explore his Flickr. Posted by Eric.

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