Blog Written by Sandro (@TransfersCalcio):
After leaving Wolfsburg in the morning I arrived at Dortmund's main station in the early afternoon. I caught a connection to the stop right by the stadium and arrived at around 2:30pm. Kickoff wasn't until 7pm so I had time to kill but even then some fans were wandering around the stadium. I went into the Dortmund Fan Shop and they have absolutely anything you can imagine. Jerseys, warmup tops, robes, bath accessories, cookbooks, notebooks, watches, lighters, name it and they'll likely have it there. I bought a t-shirt and scarf which I obviously wore to the game. There's also a cafe inside the store which is good for a coffee or a pastry but there's plenty of places to get food and beer around the stadium. By 4:00pm it was already getting busy and that was 3 hours before kickoff. I got a huge hot dog which had some long German name I don't know, some French fries and a beer. Pretty satisfying meal at a stadium before a match. If you are travelling through Dortmund for just the day they do have a place where you can check in a bag for €.50 cents and then pick it up after the match, which was very helpful and convenient.
I headed into the stadium about an hour and a half before kickoff. Since the stadium was pretty much empty I made my way down to the first row and took in how big Signal-Iduna Park really is. It can hold 80,000 and there were 74,605 in attendance for a Cup match on a Wednesday night! I can't think of many, if any, other places in the world where that would happen. So by the time warmups got started there was a solid amount of fans in their seats and the Dortmund team were greeted with a huge round of applause. Before kickoff the whole stadium starting singing "You'll Never Walk Alone": https://twitter.com/ladsoffthepitch/status/659429447553175553. The Südtribüne, which is where we see those great tifos, was absolutely packed and has the largest standing section in Europe, with a capacity of 25,000. The crowd has many different songs to sing throughout the match.
Borussia kept possession well and controlled the game at a nice leisurely pace until the 21st minute. BVB's goalkeeper Roman Bürki received a back pass, couldn't get the ball out from under his feet and Srjdan Lakic pounced to put Paderborn up 1-0! (Watch: https://twitter.com/footylivevines/status/659435169401733120) A calamitous error to give the visitors an unexpected lead. The crowd was in shock but it only took 4 minutes for Dortmund to equalize. I got Adrian Ramos' equalizing goal on video: https://twitter.com/ladsoffthepitch/status/659439145237020672
The crowd burst into pure excitement and joy. Every player on Dortmund celebrated together and they did that after every goal on the night. I won't go into much about the rest of the game as that opened the floodgates and Dortmund showed their class. Yes they were only playing Paderborn but they put on a masterful display of football. Their passing, movement off the ball and decision making were top class. I also caught Kagawa's delightful chip on video:https://twitter.com/ladsoffthepitch/status/659440532708597760
The Südtribüne is nicknamed the "Yellow Wall" and that whole section really does look like one huge black and yellow wall. When it got close to the 90th minute, the whole stadium got up and started jumping and chanting. With 74,605 people all jumping together I could feel the stadium shaking. That may have been the coolest part of the crowd experience. You really get the sense that Borussia Dortmund is one huge family. The team celebrated each of their seven goals together and the fans practically live to come out and see their beloved team. If you ever get to go to a game here make sure you where you're going and what you're doing after match. It's pretty much chaos with thousands and thousands of fans. If you take the train back to the main Dortmund Train Station, it will be completely packed and you will be squished but it's part of the experience.
Overall in my opinion, a Dortmund game lives up to it's reputation as one of the great spectacles in football. Again, I was only there for a Cup match on a Wednesday night so I'm sure it's even better for bigger matches. If you're ever in Germany or near Dortmund I suggest going to a game if you can. I had an amazing experience which I will never forget.
Blog Written by Sandro (@TransfersCalcio):
After a packed day of exploring the great city of Paris, I was set to make my way to Le Parc des Princes. The #9 subway takes you to within one block of the stadium. As you make your way past a residential area, the stadium comes into sight almost out of nowhere. Yes, the stadium isn’t exactly near the center of the city but it is placed on top of a highway right next to a residential area. I arrived about an hour and a half before kickoff and the place was buzzing for the match.
After picking up my media credential, I headed up to the press area and began preparing for the match. I started talking to the usher in the press box and he seems to think Ibrahimovic is off to the MLS sooner rather than later and that PSG will strongly pursue Cristiano Ronaldo. After taking my seat, I noticed just how big the stadium truly is. It started filling up and was packed by kickoff. PSG fans are quite passionate and the atmosphere was absolutely fantastic. Before kickoff, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was acknowledged for becoming Paris-Saint Germain’s all-time leading goal scorer.
Coming off a 0-0 draw against Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday, PSG started with a strong 4-3-3 lineup. Javier Pastore was ruled out due to illness. You could tell right from the start that Thiago Motta and Marco Verratti pull the strings in the midfield for this PSG team. They’re both so comfortable and smart on the ball, it’s a pleasure to watch. Thiago Motta and Ibrahimovic both had very good chances to give PSG an early lead but neither could find the back of the net. It still didn’t take PSG long to find the opener. In the 23rd minute, Layvin Kurzawa snuck behind the defense and slotted the ball under the goalkeeper to give PSG a 1-0 lead. Even though PSG were in control of the match, St.Etienne did a fine job to string some passes together but could never find that final pass that would create a clear-cut opportunity. St.Etienne looked better going forward as the 1st half went on and Valentin Eysseric had two long distances shots which both went narrowly wide. PSG looked to have found their second goal in the 41st minute when Zlatan was on a breakaway and played a square ball to Edinson Cavani who seemed to have a tap-in but Stéphane Ruffier made a great diving save. PSG had a flurry of chances before the break as Angel Di Maria sent a half volley just over the bar and Zlatan had a header that sailed over the bar.
Laurent Blanc had his side come out looking for that insurance goal as Di Maria put a 1v1 opportunity wide just seconds after the restart. A Thiago Sliva clearance sprung Ibrahimovic onto a breakaway who this time found Cavani at the far post to give PSG the 2-0 lead. Cavani had a golden chance to put the game to bed just seconds later but slipped as he went to shoot from about 8 yards out. Paul Pogba’s brother, Florentin, entered the match for St.Etienne in the 52nd minute. After dominating possession, PSG eventually sealed the victory. Di Maria played a perfect through ball to Cavani who slid it across for Zlatan to tap it home. A great team goal to give PSG a deserved 3-0 lead in the 67th minute. Laurent Blanc made a double substitution in the 70th minute taking out Ibrahimovic and Adrien Rabiot for Lucas Moura and Blaise Matuidi. St.Etienne did get a consolation goal in the 74th minute but from the least likely of candidates. Marquinhos’ clearance bounced off of Verratti’s feet as the Italian scored a strange own goal. Paris-Saint Germain put the icing on the cake in the 87th minute as Lucas Moura did a great job to head home Verratti’s inch perfect cross. With the win, PSG take a 7-point lead in Ligue 1 and St.Etienne remain in 5th place.
Seeing superstars in person is something special. It’s awesome to see what kind of vibe each player gives off. You can tell Zlatan really is the Most Interesting Man In The World. He’s got amazing charisma and the sport is lucky to have a character like him. Verratti was very calm & elegant and he speaks pretty good French. I’m still upset he left Italy. Thiago Silva is truly a class act. He talked to journalists the most out of everyone and was the last player to leave. He also seemed genuinely interested in answering questions. Check below for more comments on players.
Kevin Trapp – He didn’t really impress me. Dropped a few balls and seems poor with his feet sometimes. Obviously it was only one match but I don’t see why PSG needed to sign him when they have Sirigu. I imagine the Italian will certainly want to leave if he has indeed become the second choice keeper.
Gregory Van Der Wiel – Talented going forward but seemed vulnerable defensively a few time. Has a strange tattoo that wraps around his neck.
Marquinhos – It’s quite remarkable that the Brazilian is only 21 years old. He’s a great talent who already reads the game well. Will become more polished with experience. He has the perfect mentor in Thiago Silva.
Thiago Silva – World class center back. He’s great both on the ball and defensively. Definitely should be the captain of this team. Like I said above he’s also a top class guy. He was happy to talk to a journalist in Portuguese.
Post game comments: "We enjoyed this evening a lot more than Wednesday night against Real Madrid! We played well on Wednesday night too, but tonight we scored. Today, everyone knew we had to be more aggressive to score. So tonight we scored four... no, we scored five, because Marco Verratti scored Saint-Etienne's goal! We'll have to keep a close watch on Marco from now on (laughs). We were very solid in defense. In the second half we played very well and controlled the game, to get this result tonight."
Layvin Kurzawa – Quality left back. He was lively throughout the match, mainly in the first half. Took his goal well. Has solid pace and can whip in a cross. He could start at left back for France next summer at Euro 2016.
Post game comments: "I'm very happy to have scored, especially since it opened the scoring this evening. We played well against a very good side. We enjoyed the majority of the possession and took our chances. We wanted to score as many goals as possible and we can still improve in front of goal. We have the players to win matches so we have to get as close as possible to perfection. Personally, I'm having a ball in this team."
Thiago Motta – Holds in front of the back four most of the time. He’s great on the ball and pulls the strings. Will sometimes goes unnoticed with all the superstars around but he’s an important piece to the puzzle for PSG.
Marco Verratti – Great player. He was buzzing about everywhere on the pitch. Has great skill and works defensively. I saw him pick out some passes like Pirlo. Nice to see him not get a yellow card. He led PSG with 153 touches and had 2 assists.
Adrien Rabiot – He’s only 21 is undoubtedly talented but I don’t think he played too well. Seemed a bit lazy at times. Will be interesting to see how he develops because I do think he can be very good player.
Edinson Cavani – Has now scored 5 goals in 6 appearances against St.Etienne. Good defensive work rate. Bounced back from his poor performance against Real Madrid with a goal and an assist.
Angel Di Maria – One of the best players on the pitch. Looked dangerous almost every time he got the ball. He’s now settled into the PSG squad and I think he’ll be more of the player he was at Real Madrid.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – What else can really be said about Zlatan. Zlatan is Zlatan. Absolute legend, plain and simple. Said he was feeling sick but decided to play anyway.
Ezequiel Lavezzi – Was brought on in the 85th but didn’t seem happy at all. He walked past all the reporters, disinterested with his head down. I definitely think he’s leaving PSG, either in January or in the summer as a free agent. A return to Serie A seems on the cards as Inter, Juventus and Milan are interested in the Argentine.
Written by Mohamed Mosaad (@MohamedMosaad_)
For the first time in three years the Egyptian derby between Al-Ahly and Zamalek was played with the presence of fans in an epic Super Cup match that showed the quality of Egyptian football. Due to the Port Said stadium riot in 2012, where 74 fans died and more than 1,000 got injured as they tried to escape from the local Al-Masry team fans who invaded the pitch, the Ministry of Interior Security in Egypt banned the fans from attending any domestic matches, including the Egyptian National team’s. This led to the decline of the Egyptian National Team, which did not qualify for the last three African Cup of Nations or the 2014 World Cup.
The Egyptian Super Cup was hosted at the Hazza Bin Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi, allowing fans to experience the taste of the 86 years old derby. The UAE is known to have a huge population of Egyptian immigrants who work and live there; therefore, the Egyptian Football Federation decided to exploit this opportunity to allow the fans to attend the match and increase the derby’s popularity throughout the Middle East after it collapsed. The derbies are always refereed by international referees, due to the usual complaints that Egyptian referees are biased to one of the teams; thus, Spanish referee Carlos Carballo was in charge of the match.
The match started with cautious attempts from both sides as the game mainly stayed in the midfield. Things got tough for the White Knights as Ali Gabr, one of the best defenders in the Egyptian league, got injured and was replaced by the Burkinabe (from Burkina Faso; do I keep this or no? No) Mohammed Koffi. Ex-Porto and current Zamalek coach Jesualdo Ferriera’s gameplan was to put pressure on Al-Ahly defenders along with using Egypt’s shinning star Mahmoud Kahraba’s individual skills to score an early goal. Ferreira’s plan was accomplished as Omar Gaber managed to take advantage of Al-Ahly defenders mistake and score the first goal of the night. The goal gave confidence to the Zamalek players who controlled the first half with only one attempt made by Gabon’s Malick Evouna, whose shot was deflected away by Egypt’s number one goalkeeper, Ahmed El-Shennawi. Zamalek almost scored their second of the game when Ahmed Fathi tackled Kahraba in the box and a penalty was called by the Spanish referee; however, Kahraba ‘s poor shot was saved by Al-Ahly ‘s keeper Sherief Ekramy. The first half was almost ending until Zamalek’s Hamada Tolba tackled Al-Ahly’s Ramadan Sobhy in the box with another penalty called by the referee. This gave the Red Devils the chance to tie the game and it was done by Abdullah Al-Said, stepping up and sending El-Shennawi the wrong way and ending the first half with a tie to both sides.
The second half started with a fast pace from both teams, especially from Al-Ahly who gained confidence before the break. Five minutes later, Al-Ahly were awarded another penalty after Koffi’s horrific tackle on Walid Soliman. Abdullah Al-Said again sent El-Shennawi the wrong way, giving the Red Devils the lead and flipping the table on Zamalek. The game continued with both managers making changes in the game. Al-Ahly’s substitute Moemen Zakaria scored Al-Ahly’s third after the ball deflected from Ramadan Sobhy’s shot. After securing the win, Al-Ahly’s interim coach Abdel-Shafy ordered the players to defend and play on the counter attacks.
The game was going to be abandoned after Ramadan Sobhy stood on the ball (as a sign of disrespect for the Zamalek players), which led to a huge fight between the players and the referee leaving the pitch. However, 10 minutes later, the referee came back and the match was resumed.
With a long stoppage time, Zamalek tried to decrease the difference and managed to score by Kahraba’s chip over Ekramy. Nevertheless, this didn’t affect the game as Al-Ahly secured their win in the derby for the 60th time and winning their 9th Super Cup.
(Zamalek won the Egyptian Premier League and The Egyptian Cup, Al-Ahly was the runner-up in both competitions)