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Daily Schmankerl: Thiago on how he plays; Chelsea’s Kovacic talks farmers’ league; Kovac wishes Flick happy birthday and good luck!

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In a riveting interview, Thiago Alcantara described how he anticipates where to pass by visualizing a game before it is even played.

FC Bayern Muenchen v SC Paderborn 07 - Bundesliga
Thiago knows where you will be before even you do.
Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Ever wonder how Thiago ticks? (The Independent)

There’s this midfielder on Bayern Munich named Thiago Alcantara. He’s been on the team a few years now. Maybe you’ve heard of him? He’s pretty good. He gave an interview to The Independent that you should read.

Here is how Thiago described making critical decisions in the middle of the pitch without really checking to see whether he was passing the ball to a teammate, instead relying on his visualization of the game, the players, and the spaces beforehand:

In the centre of the pitch, you don’t have the time to identify which player it is on your team. If you don’t instantly get it through his movements, you may not know.

So, before anything, you get a panorama of a match; where the spaces will be from where you are, and what players are around you. So it’s a mix of a panoramic view, and the knowledge of your team.

It’s an instinct that comes from the position in central midfield, and knowing where to play the ball. From years of experience, it becomes second-nature.

That, of course, explains why Thiago once passed to Santa Claus, who was making a great, Ribery-esque run up the flank against RB Leipzig.

Anyway, I find all this stuff Thiago says really fascinating. I’d do more, but I’m horribly overworked and nobody else was interested in grabbing the story. Anyway, go read The Independent.

See you this evening, bud

My personal opinion was that Kovacic should have should have consulted his compatriots and combined-namesakes Kovač and Čović how tough the Bundesliga is.

Joshua Kimmich speaks up after Toni Rüdiger’s sad exasperation over racism (kicker)

We missed it, but on Sunday Germany international and Chelsea center-back Antonio Rüdiger candidly expressed his frustration that the police had closed the investigation into the people who subjected him to racist abuse when Chelsea played away at Tottenham in December.

Spurs fans booed Rüdiger from the away block when they visited Chelsea last week. Rüdiger said (Guardian),

It’s sad. I don’t know why they would [boo me]. Maybe it’s because I voiced about the racism. If you boo me because of that then you are poor people. I am sorry. This is a sign that we have a very big problem. At the end of the day I am alone in this case because I am the one who has to swallow this. With the win it makes me feel a bit like, yes OK, but it makes me feel like it will always be like this. For me, in this case, racism won.

Rüdiger said he was not surprised by the outcome of the case. He compared the his own case to another incident of racism in which Spurs’ Heung-min Son was targeted. The offenders in that instance were identified by Chelsea fans:

For me this was not enough. These people need to be punished. They need educating. We all, even you, failed in this. If people are really honest we have so many people coming into the stadium and in that game when it happened against me, Chelsea fans got arrested. And why? Because Chelsea fans reported the fan who abused Son. On the other side, nothing happened. It’s the people who were around. That’s why I say if we don’t stand up racism won.

Asked about his Germany teammate’s statements, Kimmich told the press he feels for Rüdiger and expressed his admiration for Rüdiger’s frankness. “Toni has an opinion and vouches for it,” he said. He also said that players should take action against racism even more energetically. “You get the impression that there’s a lot of it at the moment,” he said, adding,

We players have a long reach for fighting against racism. Soccer can be a model for society; in embodies tolerance, respect, diversity, and solidarity.

Niko Kovac called Hansi Flick to wish him luck and Happy Birthday (kicker)

In another interview that you should read, but which I unfortunately have no time to translate entirely into English, Niko Kovac revealed that he not only still watches Bayern games and is happy to see them win, he also called Hansi Flick to wish him happy birthday and good luck ahead of the clash with Chelsea today. The question was specifically about what he does as a coach out of contract. He said,

I still watch games of course, for instance I just saw Bayern vs Leipzig. I’m still glad when Bayern wins. I called Hansi Flick today, too, to wish him all the best for his birthday and good luck for the game.

I/we will try to get more of this interview out later.

German lesson: cutting coke and stretching matchdays

Eintracht fans “just say no” to Monday matches. The banner reads, rather oddly, “You stretch out the matchday, we stretch (i.e. ‘cut’) the coke.”

The German expression for “cutting coke” is to “stretch” it, Koka strecken: hence, Eintracht is accusing the DFL of “stretching” the matchday out onto Monday, presumably thus diluting it. Oddly enough, the English translation of that particular expression suggests the opposite metaphor, of “cutting” the matchday short vs “stretching” it out.

Don’t do drugs, kids.

Simeone just being Simeone

Seriously, that’s really him!

Diego was serving a one-match suspension.

Alen Halilovic will take a golazo with that order of fries

He got it just right a few minutes later, the club duly pointed out.

Soccer players are sissies, right?

New and amusing ways to get ejected