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Busting some myths and inaccuracies regarding youth development in soccer

La Masia is held as the gold standard of youth development but is it really that simple?

The CIES (Centre International des Etude Sportifs) Football Observatory is a research foundation based in Neuchatel, Switzerland, that periodically publishes statistical and demographic research. They're good at what they do -- we in the media are less good at interpreting it.

Earlier this month, they published a comprehensive study measuring (among other things) which clubs produced the most footballers currently plying their trade in Europe's top flights and which ones had the highest number...

Barcelona simply superior to Real Madrid, Man City seeking answers

The ESPN FC crew discuss who should shoulder the blame for their poor performance, and eventual loss, against Barcelona.

When you witness such a lopsided Clasico, the focus inevitably shifts to what went wrong for the loser. And make no mistake about it, plenty did go wrong for Real Madrid. We'll get to that, but first it's worth putting some of what Barcelona achieved Saturday into context.

Hindsight is always 20/20 but you would have assumed that Lionel Messi would have been foaming at the mouth to get on the pitch from the very first minute. He hadn't played in nearly two months and by all accounts had worked...

Why the Clasico captivates fans better than any other sporting event

Mario Kempes assesses the importance of El Clasico as the world waits to see whether Lionel Messi will return from injury.

It's hard not to be moved. Maybe that's what sets Saturday's Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona apart from most other perennial rivalries.

In addition to the seemingly endless global ranks of Merengue or Azulgrana supporters -- from fanatics to sympathizers -- most football lovers are likely to feel some connection to the game, if only because its protagonists are likely to be alumni of hugely popular clubs.

As a result, almost everyone has skin in this game. In some cases, it will present...

Injuries and fitness in soccer remain the game's great unknown

The FC crew look ahead to Saturday's El Clasico and question whether Barcelona should risk playing Lionel Messi.

The best ability is availability. It's a trite and slightly silly adage, but one that contains bucketloads of truth. Clubs know this, which is why they go through such pains to keep their guys fit. And yet the stars still get hurt.

Take a quick look around Europe. In the Premier League, Manchester City's David Silva and Kun Aguero have been out for six weeks. Arsenal have had a gaggle of injuries, with Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck (among others) missing significant...

Paris attacks highlight sport's vulnerability; Argentina, Brazil struggle

Soccer fans at the Stade de France sang the French national anthem as they were evacuated from the stadium.
David Beckham describes the Paris terror attacks as 'devastating' and sends his condolences to everyone in France.

After the horror of Friday night, my mind went back to a night nine and a half years ago, and I thought about the men and women charged with keeping us safe.

In 2006 I was stopped by security at passport control in Paris' Gare du Nord as I tried to board the Eurostar train. It was the day after the Champions League final, which saw Frank Rijkaard's Barcelona defeat Arsenal 2-1. You may remember it: Jens Lehmann was sent off, Juliano Belletti scored the winner and all that.

Between work and...

Playing well matters more in football than the results -- and here's why

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti and Alejandro Moreno can't see eye to eye on the reason behind United's results: strategy or luck.

On Tuesday night's ESPN FC show, I got into it a bit with Ale Moreno over one of my pet peeves: the notion that "it's all about results."

The genesis of the discussion was Louis Van Gaal talking about how Manchester United lacks speed on the wings, but the point is a much broader one. The notion that if you win it means everything is fine and you're doing a great job is both misguided and short-sighted. The point of the game isn't results; it's playing well.

Now, let's get one thing straight...