Tag: germany

Happy Valentine’s Match Day from The 93rd Minute!

standalone1

There’s an old saying about relationships that applies to a wonderful day like today: “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission.” If you do not understand dear readers, fear not, for the writers at The 93rd Minute have your back! We present to you the ultimate soccer get out of jail free card! This Puma marketing strategy that circulated during Valentine’s Day 2010 will teach you all you need to know about asking for forgiveness for skipping Valentine’s Day for match day! These commercials will teach you how to say sorry and I love you in 3 different languages: English (two times? Wow!),  Italian (non vi credo!), French (ce n’est pas possible!), and finally German (du bist verrückt!). That’s right ladies and gents, gather up your friends at the pub, recreate the following ads, and send them off to your significant others. If they love you as much as you love them, they will completely understand. You will be home free! Happy Valentine’s Day

DISCLAIMER: If, for some odd reason, this does not work on your loved one and they choose to leave you. This is not our fault!  You did it wrong and you do not have the boyish or girlish charm that we thought you all possessed. It was not meant to be, therefore, you are quite welcome.

Advertisements

Guide to Rooting for the U.S.

Confused about all the tie-breakers and scenarios for the US to advance?  Here is a chart that shows every possibility based on the potential outcomes of the USA/Germany and Ghana/Portugal matches so you know how to root tomorrow.

Untitled

The US advance in a win or draw scenario with Germany, which is easy to understand.  The confusion occurs if the US ends up losing and the Ghana/Portugal match does not end in a draw.  It could even come down to a “drawing of lots” between the US and Portugal should the scores align perfectly as depicted by the yellow balls.  If you are pulling for the US to advance along with us here at the93rdminute, root for a Portugal win or draw.  A Portugal win gives the US the best shot at advancing given the event of a US loss to Germany.

 

Chart Source

 

World Cup Bracket Predictor

With the World Cup rapidly approaching kickoff, our Golden Goal live videocast this Sunday will cover our individual predictions on how the groups will shake out, the knockout stage bracket and ultimately who ends up winning the Cup.

Similar to March Madness for College Basketball here in the states, Fox Sports has a handy World Cup Bracket Predictor for those who would like to create their own brackets.  You get a good idea of who will be matching up in the knockout stage based on how the group stage unfolds.  Finishing 1st or 2nd in a group could greatly change the trajectory of a teams path to the title.  Try it out and see who has the best odds of raising the cup!

Don’t forget to stop back Sunday night 8pm ET to watch our live discussion on our own World Cup predictions.

http://www.foxsports.com.au/football/world-cup/tournament-predictor

Gedion Zelalem: Next USMNT Star?

63GideonZelalem1510

Gedion Zelalem.

Not many people outside of the fan-bases of Arsenal and the German National Youth squad have heard the name.  At only 16 years old – soon to be 17 on Sunday – Zelalem, along with a number of national team managers, will be hoping to catch a glimpse of the youngster’s talents as he is set to potentially partake in this afternoon’s FA Cup match for Arsenal.  He has yet to play for the Gunner’s senior squad since he was signed at ripe age of 14 – aside from a few appearances in Arsenal’s preseason Asia Tour this past summer.

However, the little people saw of him in Asia was still enough to create excitement about the future of Arsene Wenger’s latest wonderkid.  Hailed at the Emirates as the “next Fabregas” (not even Ozil has received such accolades), the promising midfielder certainly displays the innate ability to pick the perfect pass – likened to Cesc as he was making his way up the Arsenal ranks at a similar age.    After watching his brief skills video, he certainly displays impeccable control and a calmness while in possession of the ball that most 16-and-under players do not.

Now, how does he fit in the USA National team conversation you ask?  It turns out, despite his allegiance to Germany’s U-16 squad, Zelalem will have a tough decision in the near future as he is eligible for a trio of international teams .  His parents are both Ethiopian, where he would be eligible to declare his national squad allegiance.  The Ethiopian coach is hoping he chooses his family heritage and plays for the African side in the coming future.  In addition, since being born in Berlin, Germany where he and his family resided until age 8, Gedion has the option of continuing his climb up the ranks and into the German Senior National team.

His USA roots are also documented.  From age 9 until 15, his family lived in Washington where he even participated in training with the USA U-15 squad.  He was limited to strictly training with the team as he was only considered a permanent resident of the USA and not a citizen.  USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann has personally contacted the player to try to sway his decision towards the Yanks.

Should he declare for the USMNT, it could be the creative boost the US needs to propel them even further up the world ranks.  Even if he remotely resembles a player the caliber of Cesc Fabregas, the US have never had the likes of such player in their squad.  Donovan, Bradley and Dempsey are all very good midfielders and the best the US has seen; however, Zelalem – should he live up to his potential – would be the most creative US player ever.  Right now, the US lacks that special player who creates goals for others who, in turn, makes the players around him better – think Fabregas, Ozil, Iniesta, or even what Mario Gotze did for Borussia Dortmund.  Yes, Michael Bradley is the closest player to this currently, but most of the USA’s goals are still set-pieces and individual one-on-one efforts (ex. Donovan).  Throw in any of the players mentioned above to the US team now and it’s hard not to dream of the possibilities.

It’s difficult for US fans to forget the “potential” of Freddy Adu at about the same age.  However, as far-fetched as Zelalem becoming world-class for the USMNT seems, Arsene Wenger has nurtured similar talents while bringing up Fabregas and, most recently, Jack Wilshere through the Arsenal ranks.  Therefore, the biggest question at this point is probably not in the player’s ability, but more with the fact that he has to choose the USMNT over Germany – a national team who is constantly among the World Cup favorites and Ethiopia – while not a football powerhouse, is still where his family heritage began.  At this point, the best we can do is hope Jurgen can recruit the kid and then worry about fulfilling his potential down the road.

Below is one of his YouTube highlight videos which shows clips mainly from the four matches he was apart of during Arsenal’s preseason tour.  Despite all the variables, it’s hard not picturing him playing for the stars and stripes.  But as a Gooner, I’m also excited to see him in regular season action this afternoon.

Upcoming USA World Cup Qualifying Trifecta

US Storylines

1. Will Dempsey & Altidore Ignite the Dormant Offense?

Coming off scintillating performances against Germany, USMNT fans will be wondering if the catalysts of that offensive assault, Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, will maintain their form versus their CONCACAF foes. Jozy Altidore just completed the finest season of his blossoming career, scoring over 30 goals in all competitions for AZ Alkmaar. Meanwhile, Dempsey has been spearheading the U.S. attack throughout the qualifying campaign and has moved into sole possession of second all-time leading scorer for the U.S. with his two goals against Germany. As these two go, so does the U.S. It is critical that these two stay active and connected with one another to energize the U.S. attack in these all-important next three qualifiers.

2. Which Tandem will be Paired Together at Centerback?

The U.S. has yet to fully transition from the Oguchi Onyewu – Carlos Bocanegra centerback pairing that served the team so well for so many years. Since the 2010 World Cup, the U.S. has seen flashes of brilliance from Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron, and Matt Besler. However, it must be noted that each of the three (and Clarence Goodson as well) have shown moments of inexperience and have been punished for mistakes. Coming off two stiff tests from European offensive juggernauts in Belgium and Germany, it will be vital to see if these young and talented centerbacks have learned their lessons and are ready to stabilize the U.S. backline. Fortunately for the U.S., their next three opponents do not sport any forwards of the caliber of Christian Benteke, Romelu Lukaku, or Miroslav Klose. I expect to see an Omar Gonzalez – Matt Besler pairing versus Jamaica, and I know USMNT fans will be eager to see a consistent centerback pairing emerge during these three qualifiers.

3. How will the Dual-Nationals Perform?

One of the staples of the Jurgen Klinsmann era has been the recruitment and integration of dual-nationals within the U.S. team. Since his hiring, Klinsmann has brought Edgar Castillo and Michael Orozco-Fiscal into the fold as well as a number of mainstays (Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, Herculez Gomez, and Terrence Boyd). It will be interesting to see how these players perform and adapt to the rigors of their first true CONCACAF World Cup qualifying campaign. Note that Herculez Gomez, a former favorite of Klinsmann, has lost his starting role and will be hungry to work his way back into the line-up.

4. Which Young or Inexperienced Players will Emerge?

If history is any indication, there is a strong trend of young U.S. players emerging during the qualifying campaign before becoming significant contributors to the World Cup team in the following year. From Landon Donovan and Damarcus Beasley in ’02 to Clint Dempsey in ’06 to Stuart Holden and Benni Feilhaber in ’10, young U.S. players have made a habit out of using the qualifying experience as a springboard to World Cup success. Which young U.S. players will rise to the occasion in this year’s campaign? Will Joe Corona or Terrence Boyd make the most of any and all opportunities they are given?

5. How will Klinsmann Approach these Three Matches?

It seems that Klinsmann’s approval rating fluctuates amongst USMNT fans more frequently than that of Congress. When Sunil Gulati decided to end Bob Bradley’s tenure and complete his courtship of the former German Manager, he tasked him with achieving success in the World Cup and revolutionizing the American style of play. While the end goal is to lift the U.S. to success in Brazil one year from today, Klinsmann understands that these qualifiers are critical to building the foundation and cultivating the proactive, attacking style he championed upon his hiring. Although the primarily goal is to earn points, Klinsmann would be wise to take advantage of these opportunities to test his team in meaningful matches in pressure-filled environments. In addition, with three games in succession, Klinsmann will be challenged to utilize many players and adjust his tactics often to produce results.

Match-Ups

Jamaica

After losing a touch match to Mexico 1-0 on Tuesday night, the Jamaican team will be determined to get some points out of the U.S. match in the second of their two-match home stand. These Jamaicans, regarded as the weakest of the six remaining teams in the hexagonal, are a fast, athletic side that will look to catch the U.S. on the counter-attack. They posed a stiff test against Mexico and were organized in the back, but did not ultimately have enough offensive firepower or creativity to score. From previous qualifiers, the USMNT knows that the weather will be sweltering and the field conditions will be borderline unplayable, so let’s hope the Americans do not let the adverse playing conditions faze them in their trip to Kingston.

Key Players:

Ryan Johnson – A fast, dangerous forward who has blossomed under the tutelage of Caleb Porter, the former collegiate head man at Akron, with the Portland Timbers this season.

Donovan Ricketts – The long goalkeeper who has made nearly 100 appearances for the Reggae Boyz will look to deny the U.S. attach from finding the back of the net.

Darren Mattocks – Another Caleb Porter protégé and former #2 pick in the 2012 MLS draft is an athletic, skillful player who will look to get in behind the U.S. defense and stretch the backline.

Panama 

Panama, currently leading the Hexagonal group after the first three match fixtures, will be looking to capitalize on its fast start and earn its first World Cup qualification in its history. Although a World Cup bid has eluded this nation, this team seems poised to change that fact. Panama is a tough team with some experienced players who have performed very well in CONCACAF and against the U.S. so they will not be intimated. Expect a tough match against a strong opponent.

Key Players:

Luis Tejada – The all-time leading scorer in Panamanian history who is both a former Fox Sports’ Goal of the Year winner and MVP of the 2005 Gold Cup will look to get on the score sheet versus the U.S.

Blas Perez – The F.C. Dallas striker is the second all-time leading scorer for Panama and a former member of the 2007 Gold Cup Best 11 will also look to find the back of the net.

Felipe Baloy – The captain of the team is the heart and soul of the fiery Panamanian team and a strong defender who leads the team by action and strong tackling.

Honduras

Honduras, currently in the logjam of teams tied for third place (along with Costa Rica and the U.S.), will be looking to qualify for its second consecutive World Cup and third World Cup overall. Almost four months ago to the day, Honduras defeated the U.S. 2-1 in San Pedro Sula to kick off its Hexagonal campaign, despite an early Clint Dempsey goal. The U.S. was largely outplayed for most of that match, so expect the Hondurans to approach this second match full of confidence in their ability to get a result on the road versus the U.S.

Key Players:

Carlos Costly – This forward who plies his trade in the Greek Superleague is Honduras’ most consistent offensive threat and will look to use his big frame to disrupt the U.S. backline.

Wilson Palacios – The former Tottenham and current Stoke City midfielder is the engine in the midfield for Honduras and has been a stalwart for the team ever since his debut at the age of 18 a decade ago.

Victor Bernardez – The San Jose Earthquakes defender is a smart defender who represented Honduras in the 2010 World Cup and loves to get physical and muscle smaller forwards off the ball.

Predictions

I think Klinsmann and the Americans will be hoping to earn at least seven points from the three crucial qualifying matches. The U.S. squad should enter the matches brimming with confidence after their impressive win over Germany and look to impose their will on their opponents. In the first of three matches, the USMNT will be eager to avenge their September 2012 loss (2-1) to Jamaica on their most recent visit to Kingston. I predict a 2-1 U.S. victory.

Four days after the Jamaica fixture, the U.S. makes the cross-country trip to Seattle, WA to face a pesky Panamanian squad, which has played them tough in recent matches. I believe this match will provide the stiffest test for the USMNT, and I predict a 1-1 draw. Finally, the U.S. faces Honduras, who defeated the Americans in their most recent encounter, after a much-needed week of rest. I expect the U.S. will close out their three-match fixture on a high note and make a statement in a 2-0 defeat of Honduras.

The Fan Is Always Right…If He/She Is German

Sports only exist because there are fans to watch. There is a reason that cricket has not taken off in America for the same reason arena lacrosse players have side jobs, not enough fans to support the league. Those leagues that are bereft of fans understand the importance of fan satisfaction because every fan they lose is one less fan that they have. The influx of fans to lower level sports leagues is so minuscule that there are no guarantees that a lost fan will ever be replaced. This emphasis on fan satisfaction is refreshing but it is a misnomer. The demand is low for these leagues so their business strategy has to reflect that but that is not a reflection of how much they care for their fans because they are forced to care.

For the most popular sports leagues the fans flock to them in droves. As a result, the teams and the league can start to charge more and cater to a more expensive clientele because they have no worries of losing fans. Of course they could lose some casual fans but casual fans are a dime a dozen. The avid fans are too committed to the team to walk away and the average fan will always return when the team is successful. Therefore, teams can risk raising ticket and concession prices because they know that at the end of the day fans will pay these prices. Of course they will cry and complain about the prices but when push comes to shove they will pay those prices. Their commitment to the team is too entrenched.

Fans must accept part of the blame. Capitalism is nothing new to society and fans have been around long enough to see why they are the ones who continue to encourage this greedy behavior. We could just walk away but the problem with sports is that walking away is easier said than done. Nick Hornby phrased it well in his book Fever Pitch when he said

Loyalty, at least in football terms, was not a moral choice like bravery or kindness; it was more like a wart or a hump, something you were stuck with. Marriages are nowhere near as rigid—you won’t catch any Arsenal fans slipping off to Tottenham for a bit of extra-marital slap and tickle, and though divorce is a possibility (you can just stop going if things get too bad), getting hitched again is out of the question. There have been many times over the last twenty-three years when I have pored over the small print of my contract looking for a way out, but there isn’t one.Each humiliating defeat (Swindon, Tranmere, York, Walsall, Rotherham, Wrexham) must be borne with patience, fortitude and forbearance; there is simply nothing that can be done, and that is a realisation that can make you simply squirm with frustration.

In essence this phrase says that we could walk away from the team but we can never be a fan of another team. It is all or nothing for most fans.

The power wielded by these leagues has led to ever rising ticket and concession prices. With each passing year, more and more fans are priced out in favor or richer fans. The Premier League has recently taken a lot of flak because they are pricing out the lower working class fans on which the league was built on. No matter how loyal a fan is, team owners very rarely reciprocate that loyalty. It is a sad day when a sports fan realizes they only matter as much to their team as the money they pay.

The recent popularity of the Bundesliga may seem out of the blue for casual football fans. However, for those who study and love the game it has been storm on the horizon that we have been waiting to finally arrive. The Premier League remains dominant but the Seria A has lost international popularity and the La Liga has become too top-heavy. The German Fotball Federation has spent a considerable amount on increasing the quality of their football and that progress has been demonstrated by the increased skill level of the German national team and the Bundesliga. On the heels of this success the Bundesliga has begun to expand it’s international profile, first by focusing on Asia and then they will start to expand elsewhere. The mountain they had to climb to catch up with the Premier League may have looked insurmountable a few months ago but the upcoming Champions League final proves that the Bundesliga may be further along than most had previously believed.

All of this success would bring one to believe that the German football fans are paying the price. Bayern Munich, even before the Bundesliga’s international success, has been a perennial powerhouse. If any German team was going to over-charge their fans in the Bundesliga then all signs would point to Bayern being the perpetrators. Instead, Bayern Munich have the cheapest season tickets in the world with a standing room adult season ticket package only costing 104 Euro. Why is Bundesliga ignoring the basic tenets of capitalism? Is it because they skipped their economics lesson in school? No it is because they are following an ideal that is so rare in the sports business world. The ideal that the fan should never be taken for granted.

When asked about there cheap prices, Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness remarked,”We do not think the fans are like cows, who you milk. Football has got to be for everybody.” This quote sums up the sports business world and why the Bundesliga is such a pariah when it comes to ticket pricing. The fan can always be easily be exploited because the owners have everything to gain and nothing to lose in a financial sense as long as they increase the prices they charge incrementally. However, when considered as a moral question the fan should not be abused because of their loyalty, they should be celebrated  because of their loyalty. No other brand enjoys that type of unconditional loyalty and for that very reason it should be appreciated by sports owners. Bundesliga owners are the part of the rare few who abide by that ideal.

They are not the only club in the Bundesliga either who do follow this ideal. Borussia Dortmund, the other team in the Champions League Final also charges an exceptionally low price for their tickets. In fact, their prices are so low that they have priced out their young fans. Oddly enough the tickets are so cheap that all the season tickets are consumed by the existing fans and young fans have no opportunities to buy tickets because they are already purchased. As a result, Borussia Dortmund has had to come up with initiatives to get tickets for younger fans so that they can maintain an influx of new fans. It has worked because Borussia Dortmund has been inundated with half a million ticket requests for the champions League final for just the 24,000 that are up for grabs. Suffice it to say Borussia Dortmund has developed a loyal and rabid fan base.

The rest of the Bundesliga follows a similar pricing strategy, and although their international popularity may not be as high as Borussia or Bayern, they are still excelling at keeping their fans loyal. These German teams are helping to prove wrong an idea that sports teams must charge more money to excel. Thanks to the Bundesliga sports teams around the world should learning that catering to the fan may reduce the profit margin but the result will be a much more loyal and rabid fan base. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are helping to prove that this sports marketing strategy could very well pay off in the long run. Hopefully it does because most fans around the world can agree that the prices they pay to watch the game they love are getting out of control.

Sources:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2318209/Bayern-Munich-season-tickets-low-104-putting-Premier-League-shame.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/why-borussia-dortmund-is-good-2013-4