ESSEN, Germany -- The final whistle sounds and TC Freisenbruch's players visibly sag in dismay. In the first half of their season they won all but one of their 18 fixtures, losing none and conceding only four goals in the process. But now, in their first game back after the winter break, they have been beaten at home. There is much for the managers to ponder. All 384 of them.
Freisenbruch are a ninth-level German amateur side based in an unremarkable suburb of Essen, but there is nothing unremarkable...
Video replays were voted a hit in Spain's 2-0 win over France in a friendly at the Stade de France. But will fans start to feel that they drain the drama from the game?
There's no doubt justice was done in both big offside calls in Paris. Antoine Griezmann's goal for France was rightly disallowed, and Gerard Deulofeu's goal for Spain was correctly allowed. Without the technology, France would have got the vital first goal and probably would have won.
You knew them by the way they tackled: human cannonballs barreling through legs like they were duckpins. You knew them by the way they looked: hulking beasts with close-shorn haircuts, like bouncers in midfield deciding when to snap the rope. You knew them by the way they played: soccer as hot-potato. Nobody wanted to win the ball more and keep it less. They were the "Hard Men" of English soccer, a pillar of the First Division for decades, a staple of the English game.
Throw away the traditional cliches about not reading too much into a friendly match. Instead, read on, I beg you. Spain's five-star defeat of France in Paris on Tuesday night was rich with conclusions and nourishment for our understanding of where Julen Lopetegui's team are right now.
The first point was that this was an impressive shaking of "weight off their shoulders." Regardless of how results may look, the Stade de France has never been a place where Spain find it simple to win. "Saint-Denis...
There's no more international breaks between now and the end of the season, with the Premier League hotting up at both ends of the table.
Each club in the top flight has a key issue to resolve between now and the end of the campaign -- from those fighting for a Champions League place to those battling to survive, everything will be resolved in the next few months.
Our Premier League bloggers tackle the crucial question their club must answer.