Posts Tagged ‘ France ’

Summer of Soccer–Euro 2016 Final

Read part 1 of Euro 2016 journal here

Read my Copa Centenario journal here


France vs Portugal live

The 2016 European Championship Final saw France take on Portugal. The hosts versus Cristiano Ronaldo’s legacy quest. The match up recalled previous match ups, including the Euro 2000 Semi Final and the dramatic 1984 Semi Final. The latter event was something I learned about the days leading up to the tournament (Video and Howler Radio podcast)

For the match I headed down to Fado Buckhead. The plan was to record a Terminus Legion podcast and get a seat for the game. Due to a scheduling mix up the podcast didn’t happen but thank god I was there early. I settled in at a table on the mezzanine and by 1:30 tables downstairs were at a premium, by kickoff people were four and five deep at the bar, and by halftime, you couldn’t get in. I did some get stinkeye as people walked through the bar in search of somewhere to watch the game. Sorry guys. This wasn’t my first rodeo.


Les Bleus were the preferred team at Fado with Portugal and Ronaldo being booed during the walk out. Cheers of Allez Les Bleus rang out from time to time and not much sympathy was given to Ronaldo when he went down injured and eventually had to be subbed out. Sissoko brought out gasps of excitement and anticipation as he drove forward in search of the opener. He seemed to be the only player who was willing to create opportunities and most of the other players fluffed their lines or skewed their shots into the crowd.

Portugal took the cliché “survive and advance” and executed it to the utmost during this tournament. Ronaldo’s two goals saved them against Hungary and allowed them to advance out of the group as a third placed team. From there, a putrid performance against Croatia was salvaged by a late goal in extra time and then they held their nerve against Poland, while the victory against Wales was their first in regulation of the tournament. For the Final, they hustled and bustled without doing too much, although they did trouble Lloris from time to time. I thought for sure Portugal were going to win the match when a handball was incorrectly called against Koscielny but the free kick thundered off the crossbar. There was no let off when Eder created space and hit a low hard shot to secure Portugal’s first major title.


In the end, Cristiano Ronaldo delivered what Eusebio and Figo could not. He now has almost every major title and surely will be named Ballon D’Or later this year. Say what you want about him, but he delivers. His key goals got them to the Final and even though he only played a small part of the Final, you can’t ignore his efforts on the sideline.

As for France, I am surprised they lost. Les Bleus seemed to be peaking and were ready to join their predecessors by winning on home soil. Maybe it was nerves, maybe something else, but they never really hit top gear. Maybe Kante should have played. Maybe Martial should have come in earlier. Maybe Griezmann just ran out of magic. However their performance sets the stage for possible run to the World Cup in Russia.

A couple of odds and ends.


Surely Real Madrid is going to be pissed at the Portugal training staff for letting CR7 run about on a torn ACL.


What can you say about Quarsema’s hair? Wish some of these players would put as much time into their finishing as their follicles.

France's midfielder Moussa Sissoko (L) vies for the ball against Portugal's defender Raphael Guerreiro during the Euro 2016 final football match between France and Portugal at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

As for the kits, the Final was not marred by some weird clash or alternate alternate kit. Both teams wore the home strip. Would have preferred contrasting shorts but Nike clearly has an idea of what they want their kits to look like.


In the end I enjoyed the tournament. Watching the BBC’s post Final montage and quickly skimming the Guardian’s highs and lows I was reminded of some the wonderful moments as well as the quickly forgotten episodes. Several outlets lamented the lack of excitement and quality. I thought there some poor games but some amazing goals and wonderful atmosphere. To be fair, I was a little more distant from the tournament than normal due to other commitments but still relished the event.


Check out more posts on my trips, research and memories on the MatchDay Memories page.

Personal Kit Collection 2016

Inspired by a series of tweets late 2012, I took stock of my kit inventory and put together a post documenting my personal kit collection at the time. As you can see my collection was all over the place in terms of teams, manufacturer and style. Since then, I have had a couple of realizations (read: interventions) and talks with myself. Combine that with a big move and my collection is now under 30 jerseys. I have probably owned over 50 shirts through the years but things happen. My collection pales in comparison with others, especially JR Francis, as we discussed on one of his appearances on the SoccerNomad podcast, but I love collecting and talking about kits.

Manchester United




IMAG0528 IMAG0530

US National Team


National Teams


FC Barcelona




Atlanta Silverbacks


My current plan is to follow my self-created rules.

  • Since I’ve narrowed my focus to just following Manchester United at club level (and Atlanta United when they take the field in 2017), only buying a shirt every three years or ones that match my tastes. I’m currently back filling my Manchester United collection.
  • In terms of national team kits, only buying ones of the United States Men’s National Team. Why? Because I’m American, if only by an accident of birthplace. (Of course, thanks to Nike, this policy has been a real problem as they keep designing crap shirts.)
  • Only buying personalized jerseys (printed with JUNIOR 7) and not buying “hero jerseys”.
  • Only buying shirts on sale (promotional or otherwise) or wait until the release of the following set of kits.

Since I put these into effect a couple of years ago, I have done quite well, only breaking the rules once, and that was to get an authentic Holland Away jersey from Euro 2012. It was 50% off at Classic Football Shirts and I couldn’t pass it up. However I’m close to breaking several of the above rules for the new Croatia Euro 2016 away shirt.


For all the posts on kits that I have owned, own currently or want to own, please visit the Strip Club page of the SoccerNomad blog.

Here are some good resources, especially if you’re looking for vintage or retro shirts:

Feel free to share your faves/collections or great sites for shirts in the comments below.

Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King

cantona book pic

Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King, Philippe Auclair

Eric Cantona is one of my favorite Manchester United players and over the years I have come to enjoy Philippe Auclair’s perspective on soccer.  The combination of these two created a stunning book that I cannot recommend highly enough. Auclair’s offering is part football history, part social commentary, part psychology and it’s all amazing.

The narrative examines Cantona’s life in total, from his days as a talented youth, to his mixed time in France to the culmination of his reign at Manchester United. The precociously talented youth was formed by several coaches, namely Guy LeRoux and blossomed at Auxerre. Controversy was never far from the Frenchman and Auclair mentions these incidents to set the stage for future events.

I learned so much about French Football history, in particular the politics and success of Marseille in the early 90’s. The failings of the French National Team before the emergence of Zidane and others are also discussed. Although Cantona never found success at international level, he did contribute to the rise of the team that eventually won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championships.

Moving on from there Auclair contextualizes the early days of the Premiership and how Cantona rose to fame on foreign shores. Eventually shown the door at Leeds United, he arrived at Old Trafford, the perfect platform for the player, and ushered in a period of dominance harkening back to the days of Sir Matt Busby and the Holy Trinity.

Reading about the club’s success after years of failure always brings a smile to my face. These were the days when I first found the club and Auclair allowed me relive those moments of the first Premier League title and Domestic Double. Cantona was a key part of those early titles as he was the catalyst for this group of players and also helped develop Fergie’s Fledglings.

Cantona’s rush of blood at Selhurst Park is discussed at length and it is here that the author shines. Throughout the book, Auclair explores how Eric responded to both success and failure. His reactions varied from rich veins of form to tension filled conflict with his clubs to moments of madness. His actions against Matthew Simmons put the wonderful player on the sideline for several months, but Auclair also recaps how Le Roi would rise triumphant in the 95/96 season.

Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was how Auclair fleshed out the player as artist. Eric had a unique personality and philosophy and these are what contributed to his actions, both good and bad, and his greatest moments on the field. In the end, he chose to walk away, still with more to give with his body but not with his heart.

The prose of the book moves the story along and the main character contributes to wonderful tale. I had a hard time putting it down, have read it twice, and can’t wait to read it again. Auclair presents a well- rounded philosophy of the player and his contribution to the history of Manchester United.


For a full list of my book reviews, please visit the Recommended Reading page. And reach out to me with your suggestions as well.

MatchDay Memory–Football Without Frontiers (Part 1)

Euro 2000 was one of the highlights of my soccer supporter experience, hitting heights of excitement and engagement, not matched until recently with the 2014 World Cup, while producing moments of style and quality over several weeks.


I have not always been a soccer guy.  Although I have been playing the game since I was eight, I knew more about the intricacies of the Big Three American sports (American football, baseball and basketball) than the beautiful game.

However, during a window in the late 90’s to early 2000’s, I turned from casual fan into full-on Soccer Nerd, as I was reading (shameless plug for Recommended Reading page), watching, coaching, buying kits (shameless plug for Strip Club page) and playing to a level that raised the game to an obsession (an unhealthy one my wife might add) in my life.

In those days, the tournament was only accessible via Pay Per View.  Remember those days?  No ESPN or Fox Sports1 or beIN Sports or Gol TV.  Hell this was still the days of Fox Sports World.  Anyway, the PPV package for Euro 2000 was something like $150, so I gathered some investors, hit PURCHASE and off we went.

I watched almost every game live.  With kickoffs at 12pm and 2:45pm Eastern Time, I could fit them in before heading off to the Pizza Slut.  And on top of that I taped them. As part of paying a portion of the PPV costs, people could borrow the tapes to stay up with the tournament.


Remember VCR’s??  For a while crates of video cassettes followed me around until I realized that I was never going to watch them and most everything was on the internet anyway.  Speaking of the internet the internet was coming to the fore at that time, so I scoured the web every morning for news and updates to get greater context on the competition.


What I remember about this tournament was Zidane, the Dutch and the dramatic Spain versus Yugoslavia game.  Two years on from winning the World Cup, the French were even better.  Gone was Guivarc’h up top with Lemarre able to choose from Henry, Anelka and Trezeguet, plus Wiltord and Pires were added to the attack. But the indisputable star was Zidane.  If you watch any extended highlights of this tournament, you will inevitably see Zidane in amazing form and his performances are some of the finest examples ever of touch, vision and footwork.


Their expected opponents in the Final were the Dutch, one of the co-hosts of the tournament.  Building on a strong performance in the 1998 World Cup, the Netherlands marched through the group and then absolutely annihilated Yugoslavia in the Quarter Finals 6-1.  Overmars, Zenden, Bergkamp and Kluivert attacking with Davids and Cocu cleaning up in front of strong defense.  Everything was going so well until the Semi Final against Italy.  The Dutch missed five penalties (two in regulation and three during the shootout) to be eliminated by the Azzurri, which meant that wonderful cycle of players never won anything at international level.

Special mention to Yugoslavia who produced the most drama and excitement and insanity of the tournament.  They were down 3-0 and down a man in their opening game to Slovenia. They drew 3-3.  The Yugoslavs looked to be winning the group and somehow threw it away.  If the ending of the 1999 Champions League Final was the greatest ending in soccer (dare I say sports) history, then the final minutes of Spain and Yugoslavia was a close second.


Spain, needing a win to progress, fell behind three times to the Yugoslavs.  La Roja were down 3-2 in injury time and then a damn near miracle happened.  Spain converted a penalty and with seconds remaining in the match, the ball was launched into the penalty area.  No tiki taki here.  The loose ball fell to Pedro Munitis who drilled his shot into the ground and up and over the keeper to win the match and the group. Absolute pandemonium ensued as Yugoslavia thought they were out while Norway had their celebrations cut short.

In the Quarters the Netherlands tore them apart.  Yet this was a squad with Mihajlović, Stojković, Jugović, Mijatović and tournament top scorer Savo Milošević. Couldn’t take your eyes off them for second.


Check out more posts on my trips, research and memories on the MatchDay Memories page.

Strip Club–World Cup 2014 Kit Preview (Part 1)

In preparation for the 2014 World Cup I have been working on several projects, one of which is reviewing all of the kits from each country for the tournament.  For Euro 2012, I did an extensive series of posts, running a virtual kit tournament.  Alas time and scope do not allow me to do this sort of thing for the World Cup, so instead I went through all of the shirts and narrowed it down to the my top 20.  There are some excellent resources for this:

From there I ranked them and put together a couple of posts.  Hope you enjoy and comments are welcome.

#20  Chile  Away

Chile 2014 World Cup Away Kit (1)

This simple white shirt with just hints of the flag colors does a nice job but Puma’s funky collar (ie trachea patch) pushes it down the list.

#19  Russia  Home

Russia 2014 Home Kit 1

I really like the color of this shirt, which is reminiscent of their pre World Cup 2010 release (they failed to win the playoff, OOPS!!), and again I enjoyed the flag accents on sleeves.

#18  Argentina   Home

Argentina 2014 Home Kit 1

This shirt is a classic and adidas does well here by adding just a hint of modernization (ie the diagonally stripe things).

#17 France  Home

France 2014 Home kit 1

For the most part, Nike has done well since taking over the French line.  The blue color used is very attractive, nicely accented by a white collar and a monochromatic badge.

#16  Colombia  Away

Colombia 2014 World Cup Away Kit (5)

This would have been a Top 10 selection without the accents on the sleeves, which cause the shirt to look very MLS-ish, and that’s not a good thing.

#15  Australia  Away

Austrlia 2014 World Cup Away Kit-1

What a color combination, very unique, which according to Football Fashion is “dark obsidian blue, and has been inspired by the design worn by Australia when they qualified for their first ever final 40 years ago.”

#14  Korea Republic  Away

I love the white shirt with just a hint of the flag colors (a theme for me), and the collar is quite unique and serves as a nice touch.

#13  Ghana  Away

Ghana 2014 World Cup Away Kit 1

I would have loved to put this in the Top 10 but the shirt is just a little too busy for me.

#12  England  Home

England 2014 World Cup Away Kit (1)

Nike does a nice job keeping the shirt clean and simple, but the V neck collar keeps it out of the Top 10.

#11  Cote d’Ivoire  Away

Ivory Coast 2014 World Cup Away Kit

To be honest, I think my bias against green shirts kept this lower but Puma did a great job with the African jerseys for this tournament.

Strip Club–Euro 2012 Kit Tournament (Group D)

In an ambitious effort to get involved with the upcoming Euros, I followed the draw, game by game, to determine which kit would win Euro 2012 based on my tastes.  These posts are an extension of my Strip Club posts and the epic Kit Tournament done by Avoiding the Drop for the 2010 World Cup.

Special thanks to Mao Football, whose post got this all kicked off for me.  Also to , who put together a slide show of each jersey.  Finally, 7football created a graphic representation of each strip complete with shirt, shorts and socks.  Truly phenomenal stuff.

Here we go.






France v England

A couple of years ago, Nike got a hold of the France kit and did a major overhaul, going with a darker blue for the home kit and using a creamy white for the away kit with some sort of black trim.  The original home kit was epic.  This version? Not so much.  There are subtle alternating horizontal strips of a bluish black hue but the collar sinks it.  The traditional royal blue sticking out and a design straight out of a J Crew catalog from the early 90’s.  As for the English, their away kit is confusing.  The black shirt could be an attempt to be menacing, like “we’re the Three Lions and we’re going to rip out your throat after over a hundred of years of disappointment”, but the light blue collar, possibly echoing the lions on the badge, gives it real clearance rack potential. A tedious draw.

Ukraine v Sweden

The co-hosts home kit is relatively simple and stays out of the way.  Looking at the rest of the group, this is probably the way to go. Sweden’s away kit is almost too simple and screams lack of imagination. The navy blue and the yellow sash, which I love in this case,  is a possible River Plate, US 1950 shout out, but felt they could have done more.  Edge to the hosts as they get off to a good start.

Sweden v England

The Swedes home kit doesn’t vary too much from ones before it, going with the yellow shirt and narrow blue pinstripes.  The collar doesn’t work for me but gets the three points over England’s away strip.

Ukraine v France

This will be an interesting kit choice for the counties and TV broadcasters.  Is it the yellow home strip of Ukraine against the white of France or the blue away Ukrainian strip against the white or the yellow against the deeper blue French kit?   My guess is that it will be third of these options and co-hosts will book themselves a spot in the knockout phase with a victory.

England v Ukraine

England’s new home kit is elegant.  White with a minimal red accent, red manufacturer logo and red crest.  So much better than the away version. Ukraine’s away kit is a mirror of the home, with a nice shade of royal blue getting the job done.  This is tough one, but as Rooney will be back, I’ll give the edge to the English.

Sweden v France

Again there are several possibilities of which kit each team will wear.  My guess is that both teams will run out in their traditional colors, which may mean that the white away kit of France may not make an appearance in the tournament.  Both collars distract me but the rest of the Sweden shirt gives them the edge.


Ukraine 2 0 1 6
Sweden 2 0 1 6
England  1 1 1 4
France 0 1 2 1

Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King

Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King, Philippe Auclair

Philippe Auclair’s book is simply stunning.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.  Part football history, part social commentary, part psychology—all amazing.  Philippe’s narrative examines Cantona’s life in total, looking forwards and backwards, while moving through his achievements and failures.  I learned so much about French Football history and the rise of United at the dawn of the Premiership and about the player’s motives and actions.  Couldn’t put it down and can’t wait to read it again.