Football can be upsetting, but on a more serious note, despite what Bill Shankly once said, it isn’t a matter of life and death. Depression can be. We need to encourage and support each other to open up and talk about how we’re feeling. Love football by all means, but love life more.
In a few hours the third round of the FA Cup begins. Since 1871 the FA Cup, known officially as ‘The Football Association Challenge Cup’, has been an annual knockout football (soccer) competition played in England. Not only does that make the competition the oldest association football competition in the world but it is arguably the best. And the third round is important because it’s when the big boys start playing.
But what specifically makes it the best? It’s because semi-professionals get a chance to play against the big money pro’s. So teams from little known towns, with rosters filled by plumbers and teachers, play sports gods who play on teams that are global brands. And those little towns, with their part time players win, not often, but it’s certainly far from unique.
Here is a brief history:
And then there’s this video from ESPN that gives you a sense of the beauty, the passion and the emotion that the FA Cup alone brings.
Man City are running away with it this season. Unbeaten in 18 games, with the only points dropped a draw against Everton in their second game. Looking back to last season though, things were looking quite different at the top of the Premier League. City had already been beaten three times and were sitting in third spot, 9 points behind eventual champions Chelsea.
The biggest gains at this stage have been made by Burnley, who after a surprise run of form are currently in a Europa League-worthy sixth. This time last season, they were eight places lower in 14th. Leicester, now in 8th, have made a jump of the same size having languished in 16th spot around Christmas 2016.
“You can’t win anything with kids”. Those now immortal words from pundit Alan Hansen at the start of Manchester United’s 1995/96 season were famously followed up by a Premier League/FA Cup double by the side that had an average age of 26 years and 137 days. If anyone aside from Hansen ever doubted the value of young players, this team proved their worth. Compared to then, the value of a player not just on the pitch but also on the transfer market, has increased almost to the point of ridiculousness.
According to new analysis by CIES Football Observatory, the most valuable English U21 player is currently Tottenham’s Dele Alli. With a potential price tag of £158 million, the midfielder is way ahead of his peers. In fact, when compared to all players in the big five European leagues, Alli is second only to PSG’s Kylian Mbappe who has an estimated value of £161 million.
Brazil is sending the most valuable team to the FIFA world cup 2018 in Russia. German transfer market portal Transfermarkt estimates that the 25 players on the team have a combined market worth of 673 million euros. Germany and France share the second spot with 636.5 million euros each.
One big difference between the three teams is that of most of the Brazilian players don’t play in their home league (88 percent), while only 41.7 percent of the German national players are employed abroad and 58.3 percent of the French players score their income in foreign leagues.
England is in the top ten most valuable teams too. Its cadre is worth some 279 million euros. However, it’s one of the world cup teams with most players playing at home. Only 4.3 percent play on foreign pits.