Cultured Football #120
Refugee Football. Bayer Leverkusen. Saudi Money. Granit Xhaka. Goalkeeper Chains.
Welcome back to Cultured Football where the best football writing of the past seven days is carefully selected, just for you.
By Dan Orlowitz for Japan Times
There’s a lot about the modern state of football that is depressing. Fortunately, there are also stories on how the game can bring people together and help change minds. That of Team SheBelongs, which offers an opportunity to break down barriers to African refugees in the US, is one of them. If you read just one article this week, make sure it is this one.
By and for
Bayer Leverkusen experienced a remarkable turnaround in fortune following the appointment of Xabi Alonso as manager. Yet the excitement over their future has been tampered by the departure of key players, making it hard to gauge what the new season holds for them.
By Bassil Mikdadi for The New Arab
Many feel that they have the answer but why is the Saudi state spending so much money on football? What impact will this have on domestic football? Can the domestic league ever be financially sustainable? All great questions with complex, nuanced answers.
By Anushree Nande for Football Paradise
For long stretches of his time in London, Granit Xhaka was seen as the epitome of all of Arsenal’s problems. Then came Mikel Arteta and all that changed, particularly last season. Now Xhaka leaves the Emirates have redeemed his reputation and with the well wishes of the whole fanbase.
By Neel Shelat for Analytics FC
Goalkeepers used to be a seen as a different breed to the rest of the players on the pitch, so much that they weren’t even counted in the shorthand for tactical formations (4-4-2 etc.). That has changed especially at the highest level where they often have a key role to play in breaking down opposing teams: they are now part of the chain. A fascinating and intriguing breakdown of this important part in the role of a modern goalkeeper.
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Last Issue’s Most Read: The 777 football mystery
By Paul Brown and Philippe Auclair for Josimar
No group other than the Abu Dhabi owned City Football Group has as many football clubs in its portfolio than 777 Partners who have gone on a shopping spree since 2018. That of multi-club ownership is a growing trend so there is nothing surprising in that activity. Yet a closer look into their practices reveals a lot to be worried about.