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The truth behind Puskás Akadémia FC - How Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán stole a legend, built a stadium in his backyard and guided his team to Europe

The 2019/2020 season of the Hungary’s National Football League (NB1) – being one of the first leagues to restart play - came to an end on 27 June. If a casual observer (for whatever reason) decides to check out the final standings, he would be not surprised at the first two positions: record-champion Ferencváros defended their title, while regional powerhouse Fehérvár (Videoton) came in second. However, the third place team, Puskás Akadémia FC might seem unusual and one could think that there is a story behind that. Is there a team named after Ferenc Puskás? Did some academy youths make an incredible run for the Europa League qualification? Well, the observer is right, there is a story behind all this, but it’s absolutely not a fun story. It’s a story about how one powerful man’s obsession with football stole a legend, misused state funds and killed the spirit of Hungarian football. (Warning: this is a long story, feel free to scroll down for a tl;dr. Also, I strongly advise checking out the links, those images are worth seeing).
Naturally, political influence in football has been present ever since the dawn of the sport and we know of numerous state leaders who felt confident enough to use their influence to ensure the successful development of their favored clubs – Caucescu’s FC Olt Scornicesti and Erdogan’s Basaksehir are well-known examples of such attempts. However, I fear that very few of the readers are aware of the fact that Puskás Akadémia FC is nothing but Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s grandiose project for establishing his hometown’s club as one of the country’s top teams. Considering that Orbán managed to achieve this goal using state funds in an EU member democracy in the 2000s, one might even say that it might be one of the most impressive attempts of cheating your way through Football Manager in real life. Now that Puskás Akadémia FC escaped the desolate football scene of Hungary and is getting ready for the European takeover, I feel that it’s high time to tell its true story.

Part 1: Part time striker, part time PM

Our story begins in 1999 when the 36-year-old striker Viktor Orbán (recently elected as the country’s Prime Minister) was signed by the sixth-tier side of Felcsút FC residing in rural Fejér County. It might sound surprising that an active politician would consider such a side job, but given that Orbán has been playing competitive low-level football throughout his whole life and has always been known as a keen football enthusiast, people seemed to be okay with his choice for a hobby. Orbán spent most of his childhood in the village of Felcsút (population: 1,800), so it seemed only natural that he would join the team after one of his old-time acquaintances became team president there.
Orbán’s arrival to the club seemed to work like a charm as Felcsút FC immediately earned a promotion to the fifth league. The Prime Minister’s busy program did not allow him to attend every training session and game but Orbán did make an effort to contribute as much as possible on the field – there is a report of a government meeting being postponed as Orbán was unavailable due to attending Felcsút FC’s spring training camp. The 2001/2002 season brought another breakthrough for the side as Felcsút was promoted to the national level of the football pyramid after being crowned the champion of Fejér County. Sadly enough for Orbán, he suffered a defeat on another pitch – his party lost the 2002 election and Orbán was forced to move to an opposition role.
No matter what happened on the political playing field, Orbán would not abandon his club. Just before the 2002 elections, Felcsút was surprisingly appointed as one of the regional youth development centers by the Hungarian FA. Orbán continued contributing on the field as well (he had more spare time after all) but his off-the-field efforts provided much more value for the team as he used his political influence to convince right-wing businessmen that they should definitely get sponsorship deals done with the fourth-division village team.
Club management was able to transform the influx of funds into on-field success: Felcsút FC was promoted to the third division in 2004 and achieved promotion to the second division in 2005. Although these new horizons required a skill level that an aging ex-PM is not likely to possess, Orbán regularly played as a late game sub and even appeared in cup games against actual professional opponents. The now-42-year old Orbán did not want to face the challenge of the second division, so he retired in 2005 – but this did not stop him from temping as an assistant coach when the head coach was sacked in the middle of the 2005-2006 season.
Success on the playing field did not translate to political success: Orbán lost the elections once again in 2006. However, this was only a temporary loss: the ruling party committed blunder after blunder and by early 2007 it became absolutely obvious that Orbán would be able return to power in 2010. Now confident in his political future, Orbán opted for the acceleration of football development in Felcsút – by late 2007 he took over the presidency of the club to take matters in his own hands. Sponsors seeking to gain favor with the soon-to-be PM were swarming Felcsút FC, so the club was able to stand very strong in an era where financial stability was a very rare sight in the Hungarian football scene, accumulating three medals (but no promotion) between 2007 and 2009.
On the other hand, Orbán realized the value of youth development as well, and started a local foundation for this purpose back in 2004 that gathered funds for the establishment a boarding school-like football academy. The academy opened its doors in September 2006 (only the second of such institutions in the country) and Orbán immediately took upon the challenge of finding an appropriate name for the academy.
He went on to visit the now very sick Ferenc Puskás in the hospital to discuss using his name, but as Puskás’ medical situation was deteriorating rapidly, communication attempts were futile. Luckily enough Puskás’ wife (and soon to be widow) was able to act on his incapable husband’s behalf and approved the naming deal in a contract. According to the statement, naming rights were granted without compensation, as “Puskás would have certainly loved what’s happening down in Felcsút”. However, there was much more to the contract: Puskás’ trademark was handed to a sports journalist friend of Orbán (György Szöllősi, also acting communications director of the academy) who promised a hefty annual return for the family (and also a 45% share of the revenue for himself). Ferenc Puskás eventually died on 17 November 2006 and on 26 November 2006 the football academy was named after him: Puskás Academy was born.
Orbán shared his vision of the whole organization after the opening ceremony: “It’s unreasonable to think that Felcsút should have a team in the top division. We should not flatter ourselves, our players and our supporters with this dream. Our long term ambition is the creation of a stable second division team that excels in youth development and provides opportunity for the talents of the future.” Let’s leave that there.

Part 2: No stadium left behind

Orbán became PM once again in April 2010 after a landslide victory that pretty much granted him unlimited power. He chased lots of political agendas but one of his policies was rock solid: he would revive sports (and especially football) that was left to bleed out by the previous governments. The football situation in 2010 was quite dire: while the national team has actually made some progress in the recent years and has reached the 42nd position in the world rankings, football infrastructure was in a catastrophic state. Teams were playing in rusty stadiums built in the communist era, club finances were a mess, youth teams couldn’t find training grounds and the league was plagued by violent fan groups and lackluster attendance figures (3100 average spectators per game in the 2009/2010 season).
Orbán – aided by the FA backed by business actors very interested in making him happy – saw the future in the total rebuild of the football infrastructure. Vast amounts of state development funds were invested into the football construction industry that warmly welcomed corruption, cost escalation and shady procurement deals. In the end, money triumphed: over the last decade, new stadiums sprung out from nothing all over the country, dozens of new academies opened and pitches for youth development appeared on practically every corner. The final piece of the stadium renovation program was the completion of the new national stadium, Puskás Aréna in 2019 (estimated cost: 575 million EUR). Orbán commemorated this historic moment with a celebratory video on his social media that features a majestic shot of Orbán modestly kicking a CGI ball from his office to the new stadium.
Obviously, Orbán understood that infrastructure alone won’t suffice. He believed in the idea that successful clubs are the cornerstone of a strong national side as these clubs would compete in a high quality national league (and in international tournaments) that would require a constant influx of youth players developed by the clubs themselves. However, Orbán was not really keen on sharing the state’s infinite wealth with private club owners who failed to invest in their clubs between 2002 and 2010. The club ownership takeover was not that challenging as previous owners were usually happy to cut their losses, and soon enough most clubs came under Orbán’s influence. Some clubs were integrated deep into Orbán’s reach (Ferencváros and MTK Budapest club presidents are high ranking officials of Orbán’s party) while in other cases, indirect control was deemed sufficient (Diósgyőri VTK was purchased by a businessman as an attempt to display loyalty to Orbán).
Pouring taxpayer money into infrastructure (stadium) projects is relatively easy: after all, we are basically talking about overpriced government construction projects, there’s nothing new there. On the other hand, allocating funds to clubs that should be operating on a competitive market is certainly a tougher nut to crack. The obvious solutions were implemented: the state media massively overpaid for broadcasting rights and the national sports betting agency also pays a hefty sum to the FA, allowing for a redistribution of considerable amounts. However, given that the income side of Hungarian clubs was basically non-existent (match day income is negligible, the failed youth development system does not sell players), an even more radical solution was desperately needed. Also, there was definite interest in the development of a tool that would allow for differentiation between clubs (as in the few remaining non-government affiliated clubs should not receive extra money).
The solution came in 2011: the so-called TAO (“társasági adó” = corporate tax) system was introduced, granting significant tax deductions for companies if they offered a portion of their profits to sports clubs – however, in theory, funds acquired through TAO can be only used for youth development and infrastructure purposes. Soon enough, it became apparent that state authorities were not exactly interested in the enforcement of these restrictions, so some very basic creative accounting measures enabled clubs to use this income for anything they wanted to. Companies were naturally keen on cutting their tax burdens and scoring goodwill with the government, so TAO money immediately skyrocketed. Opportunistic party strongmen used their influence to convince local business groups to invest in the local clubs, enabling for the meteoric rise of multiple unknown provincial teams (Mezőkövesd [pop: 16,000], Kisvárda [pop: 16,000], Balmazújváros [pop: 17,000]) into the first division.
Although it’s not the main subject of this piece, I feel inclined to show you the actual results of Orbán’s grandiose football reform. While we do have our beautiful stadiums, we don’t exactly get them filled – league attendance has stagnated around 3000 spectators per game throughout the whole decade. We couldn’t really move forward with our national team either: Hungary lost 10 positions in the FIFA World Rankings throughout Orbán’s ten years. On the other hand, the level of league has somewhat improved – Videoton and Ferencváros reached the Europa League group stage in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Too bad that the Instat-based top team of 2019/2020 Hungarian league consists of 10 foreigners and only 1 Hungarian: the goalkeeper.

Part 3: Small place, big game!

As seen in the previous chapter, Orbán did have a strong interest in the improvement of the football situation Hungary, but we shouldn’t forget that his deepest interest and true loyalty laid in the wellbeing of Felcsút and its academy. Now that Orbán had limitless means to see to the advancement of his beloved club, he got to work immediately. Orbán handed over formal club management duties to his friend / protégé / middleman / businessman Lőrinc Mészáros in 2010, but no questions would ever arise of who is actually calling the shots.
First of all, no club can exist without a proper stadium. Although in 2011 Orbán explicitly stated that “Felcsút does not need a stadium as stadiums belong to cities”, no one was really surprised in 2012 when the construction of the Felcsút stadium was announced. Orbán was generous enough to donate the lands just in front of his summer home in the village for the project, locating the entrance a mere ten meters away from his residence. Construction works for the stunningly aesthetic 3,800-seater arena (in a village of 1,800 people) started in April 2012 and were completed in April 2014, making Felcsút’s arena the second new stadium of Orbán’s gigantic stadium revival program.
The estimated budget of the construction was 120 million EUR (31,500 EUR / seat) was financed by the Puskás Academy who explicitly stated that they did not use government funds for the project. Technically, this statement is absolutely true as the construction was financed through the TAO money offered by the numerous companies looking for tax deduction and Orbán’s goodwill. However, technically, this means that the country’s budget was decreased by 120 million EUR unrealized tax revenue. Naturally, the gargantuan football stadium looks ridiculously out of place in the small village, but there’s really no other way to ensure that your favorite team’s stadium is within 20 seconds of walking distance from your home.
Obviously, a proper club should also have some glorious history. Felcsút was seriously lagging behind on this matter as though Felcsút FC was founded in 1931, it spent its pre-Orbán history in the uninspiring world of the 5th-7th leagues of the country. Luckily enough, Orbán had already secured Puskás’ naming rights and they were not afraid to use it, so Felcsút FC was renamed to Puskás Academy FC in 2009. The stadium name was a little bit problematic as the Hungarian national stadium in Budapest had sadly had the dibs on Puskás’ name, so they had to settle with Puskás’ Spanish nickname, resulting in the inauguration of the Pancho Arena. But why stop here? Orbán’s sports media strongman György Szöllősi acted upon the contract with Puskás’ widow and transferred all Puskás’ personal memorabilia (medals, jerseys, correspondence) to the most suitable place of all: a remote village in which Puskás never even set foot in.
While the off-field issues were getting resolved, Orbán’s attention shifted to another important area: the actual game of football. Although academy players started to graduate from 2008 on, it very soon became painfully obvious that the academy program couldn’t really maintain even a second division side for now. In 2009, Orbán reached an agreement with nearby Videoton’s owner that effectively transformed Felcsút FC into Videoton’s second team under the name of Videoton – Puskás Akadémia FC. The mutually beneficent agreement would allow Videoton to give valuable playing time to squad players while it could also serve as a skipping step for Puskás Academy’s fresh graduates to a first league team. The collaboration resulted in two mid-table finishes and a bronze medal in the second division in the following three seasons that wasn’t really impressive compared to Felcsút FC’s standalone seasons.
It seemed that the mixture of reserve Videoton players and academy youth was simply not enough for promotion, and although Orbán had assured the public multiple times that his Felcsút project was not aiming for the top flight, very telling changes arose after the 2011/2012 season. Felcsút terminated the Videoton cooperation deal and used the rapidly accumulating TAO funds to recruit experienced players for the now independently operating Puskás Academy FC (PAFC). The new directive worked almost too well: PAFC won its division with a 10 point lead in its first standalone year which meant that they would have to appear in the first league prior to the completion of their brand-new Pancho Arena. Too bad that this glorious result had almost nothing to do with the academy - only two players were academy graduates of the side’s regular starting XI.
Orbán did not let himself bothered with the ridiculousness of an academy team with virtually no academy players being promoted to the first division as he stated that “a marathon runner shouldn’t need to explain why the other runners were much slower than him”. Orbán also displayed a rare burst of modesty as he added that “his team’s right place is not in the first league, and they will soon be overtaken by other, better sides”.
The promotion of PAFC to the first division made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. Supporter groups were united in hatred all along the league and not surprisingly, away fans almost always outnumbered the home side at PAFC’s temporary home at Videoton’s Sóstói Stadium (demolished and rebuilt in its full glory since then). One of the teams, however, possessed an extraordinary degree of anger against PAFC: supporters of Budapest Honvéd – the only Hungarian team in which Ferenc Puskás played – felt especially awkward about the transfer of their club legend’s heritage to Felcsút. Tensions spiked at the PAFC – Honvéd game when home security forced Honvéd supporters to remove the “Puskás” part of their traditional “Puskás – Kispest – Hungary” banner – the team answered the insult with style as they secured a 4-0 victory supported by fans chanting “you can’t buy legends”.
Despite Orbán’s prognosis, other better sides did not rush to overtake his team, so PAFC, now residing in their brand new Pancho Arena, came through with a 14th and a 10th place in their first two seasons. Naturally, conspiracy theories began to formulate, speculating that government-friendly owners would certainly not be motivated to give their best against PAFC. However, as the league size was reduced to 12 for the 2015/2016 season, PAFC found themselves in a dire situation just before the final round: they needed a win and needed rival Vasas to lose against MTK in order to avoid relegation. PAFC’s draw seemed to be unlucky as they faced their arch-enemy Honvéd at home, but Honvéd displayed an absolute lackluster effort – fueling conspiracy theories – and lost the fixture 2 to 1 against a home side featuring four academy players. Vasas, however, did not disappoint, their 2-0 victory resulted in PAFC’s elimination and a very relaxed sigh all over the football community.
PAFC’s relegation seemed to be in accordance with Orbán’s 2013 statement, so public opinion supposed for a while that Orbán’s project came to a halting point and the Academy would go on to actually field academy players in the second division (especially as rostering foreign players was prohibited in the lower leagues). However, if you have read through this point, you know better than to expect Orbán to retreat – obviously, PAFC came back with a bang. With a ballsy move, PAFC didn’t even sell their foreign players, they just loaned them across the league, promising them that they would be able to return next year to the newly promoted team. The promise was kept as PAFC went into another shopping spree of experienced players (easily convincing lots of them to choose the second division instead of the first) and easily won the second league.
Orbán – now aware of his negligence – opted for the doubling the team’s budget, making PAFC the third most well-founded club in the whole country (only coming short to his friend’s Videoton and his party minion’s Ferencváros). With an actual yearly influx from TAO money in the ballpark of 30-40 million EUR, PAFC management had to really work wonders in creative accounting in order to make their money look somewhat legitimate. The books were now full of ridiculous items like:
Naturally, in the country of no consequences, absolutely nothing happened: PAFC went on with its spending and signed 35 foreigners between 2017 and 2020. They did so because they could not hope to field a winning team in the first league consisting of academy players, despite the fact that Puskás Academy has been literally drowning in money since 2007. This seems to somewhat contradict Orbán’s 2013 promise, stating that “Puskás Academy will graduate two or three players to major European leagues each year”. To be fair, there have been players who managed to emerge to Europe (well, exactly two of them: Roland Sallai plays at Freiburg, László Kleinheisler played at Werder Bremen) but most academy graduates don’t even have the slightest the chance to make their own academy’s pro team as it’s full of foreigners and more experienced players drawn for other teams’ programs.
Despite their unlimited funding, PAFC could not put up a top-tier performance in their first two years back in the first division, finishing 6th and 7th in the 12-team league. Many speculated that the lack of support, motivation and even a clear team mission did not allow for chemistry to develop within the multinational and multi-generational locker room. Consistency was also a rare sight on the coaching side: club management was absolutely impatient with coaches who were very easily released after a single bad spell and there were talks of on-field micromanagement request coming from as high as Orbán.
Even so, their breakthrough came dangerously close in 2018 as PAFC performed consistently well in the cup fixtures and managed to reach the final. Their opponent, Újpest played an incredibly fierce game and after a 2-2 draw, they managed to defeat PAFC in the shootout. Football fans sighed in relief throughout the country as ecstatic Újpest supporters verbally teased a visibly upset Orbán in his VIP lounge about his loss.
Obviously, we could only delay the inevitable. While this year’s PAFC side seemed to be more consistent than its predecessors, it seemed that they won’t be able to get close to the podium - they were far behind the obvious league winner duo of Ferencváros and Videoton and were trailing third-place Mezőkövesd 6 points just before the pandemic break. However, both Mezőkövesd and PAFC’s close rivals DVTK and Honvéd fall flat after the restart while PAFC was able to maintain its good form due to its quality roster depth. PAFC overtook Mezőkövesd after the second-to-last round as Mezőkövesd lost to the later relegated Debrecen side. (Mezőkövesd coach Attila Kuttor was fined harshly because of his post-game comments on how the FA wants PAFC to finish third.)
PAFC faced Honvéd in the last round once again, and as Honvéd came up with its usual lackluster effort, PAFC secured an effortless win, confidently claiming the third place. PAFC celebrated their success in a nearly empty stadium, however neither Orbán, nor Mészáros (club owner, Orbán’s protégé, now 4th richest man of Hungary) seemed to worry about that. While Orbán high-fived with his peers in the VIP lounge, Mészáros was given the opportunity to award the bronze medals (and for some reason, a trophy) to the players dressed up in the incredibly cringe worthy T-shirts that say “Small place, big game!”. Big game, indeed: in the 2019/2020 season, foreign players’ share of the teams playing time was 43.6% while academy graduates contributed only 17.9%.
On Sunday evening, less than 24 hours after PAFC’s glorious success, György Szöllősi, now editor-in-chief of Hungary’s only sports newspaper (purchased by Orbán’s affiliates a few years back) published an editorial on the site, stating that “the soccer rebuild in Felcsút became the motor and symbol of the revitalization of sport throughout the whole country”. Well, Szöllősi is exactly right: Felcsút did became a symbol, but a symbol of something entirely different. Felcsút became a symbol of corruption, inefficiency, lies and the colossal waste of money. But, hey, at least we know now: you only need to spend 200 million EUR (total budget of PAFC and its academy in the 2011-2020 period) if you want to have a Europa League team in your backyard. Good to know!

Epilogue: What's in the future?

As there is no foreseeable chance for political change to happen Hungary (Orbán effortlessly secured qualified majority in 2014 and 2018, and is projected to do so in 2022 as well), PAFC’s future seems to be as bright as it gets. Although consensus opinion now seems to assume that Orbán does not intend to interfere with the Ferencváros – Videoton hegemony, we can never be really sure about the exact limits of his greed. One could also argue that entering the European theater serves as a prime opportunity for making splashy transfers who could be the cornerstones of a side challenging the league title.
However, as all political systems are deemed to fall, eventually Orbán’s regime will come apart. Whoever will take upon the helm after Orbán, they will certainly begin with cutting back on the one item on Orbán’s agenda that never had popular support: limitless football spending. Puskás Academy, having next to zero market revenue, will not be able to survive without the state’s life support, so the club will fold very shortly. The abandoned, rotting stadium in Felcsút will serve as a memento of a powerful man who could not understand the true spirit of football.
But let’s get back to present day, as we have more pressing issues coming up soon: PAFC will play their first European match in the First qualifying round of the Europa League on 27 August. We don’t have a date for the draw yet, but soon enough, a team unaware of the whole situation will be selected to face the beast. I hope that maybe one of their players does some research and maybe reads this very article for inspiration. I hope that the supporters of this club get in touch with Honvéd fans who would be eager to provide them with some tips on appropriate chants. I hope that other teams gets drawn as the home team so Orbán wouldn’t get the pleasure of walking to his stadium for an international match. But most importantly, I very much hope that this team obliterates PAFC and wipes them off the face of the earth. 5-0 will suffice, thank you.
And if this team fails to do that, we don’t have to worry yet. Due to our shitty league coefficient, PAFC would need to win four fixtures in a row. And that – if there’s any justice in this world – is a thing that can’t, that won’t happen. Ball don’t lie – if I may say.
TL,DR
Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán redirected some 200 million EUR of taxpayer money over 10 years to fuel his ambition of raising a competitive football team in his hometown of 1,800 people. He built a 3,800-seater stadium in his backyard, expropriated football legend Ferenc Puskás’ trademarks and heritage and built up a football league where almost all clubs are owned by his trustees. His team, Puskás Akadémia FC was originally intended to be a development ground for youth players graduating from Orbán’s football academy, but eventually the team became more and more result-orianted. Finally, a roster full of foreign and non-academy players came through and finished third in the league, releasing this abomination of a team to the European football theatre. Please, knock them out asap!
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2020 Recruiting Superlatives

Note from the editor: This post has been in the works since the beginning of March. It was nearly ready to go 2 weeks ago, and then certain events transpired. Some of these responses will take those events into account, and some of them won't. I tried to implement a few of my thoughts on that, but really there's just a little more uncertainty than usual in how the immediate season will play out and how it will affect the roster and development. Ok. Let's get started.
As is tradition, the mods are going to roll out a few post-signing day threads. We will start with the 2019 class superlatives. For reference, here is the 2019 version for all of y'all to mock us on our predictions and expectations.
Time to set ourselves up for failure once more, with the official edition of our 2020 Recruiting Superlatives!
Award zeusapollo2990 thehammersuit WelcomeToMoes TopheryG8er zlatandiego
Favorite Recruit Derek Wingo Derek Wingo Derek Wingo Gervon Dexter Derek Wingo
Offensive Sleeper Richie Leonard Jonathan Odom Jonathan Odom Jaquavion Fraziars Anthony Richardson
Defensive Sleeper Tre'Vez Johnson Tre'Vez Johnson Tre'Vez Johnson Tre'Vez Johnson Tre'Vez Johnson
Instant Impact Josh Braun Lamar Goods Josh Braun Xzavier Henderson Gervon Dexter
Highest Ceiling Derek Wingo Gervon Dexter Antwaun Powell Anthony Richardson Jahari Rogers
Biggest Surprise The lack of a surprise Princely Umanmielen Xzavier Henderson Josh Braun OT
Best Position Group Defensive Back Defensive Back Defensive Line Defensive Line Defensive Back
Worst Position Group Runningback Runningback Runningback Runningback Runningback
Most likely to put a small, family-run all you can eat buffet out of business Lamar Goods Jeremy Crawshaw Issiah Walker Gerald Mincey Josh Braun
Most hype to live up to Gervon Dexter Gervon Dexter Gervon Dexter Gervon Dexter Gervon Dexter
Most likely to be in a boy band Ethan Pouncey Ethan Pouncey Jeremy Crawshaw Derek Wingo Avery Helm
Most likely to play an old guy in a movie Richie Leonard Anthony Richardson Johnnie Brown Richie Leonard Richie Leonard
Ethan White Award for most likely to shut the haters up Billy Gonzalez Richie Leonard Fenley Graham Fenley Graham Fenley Graham

Extra thoughts and reasons behind the picks

Favorite Recruit

Hammer: Derek Wingo - Wingo reminds me of Von Miller in that he possesses the rare combo of elite speed and athleticism for a LB. I expect Wingo to make a major impact at Florida and then eventually on Sundays.
Moes: Derek Wingo - Freak athlete, natural leader and very smart. All things we desperately need at LB.
Tophery: Gervon Dexter - I tried to concoct a hipster opinion here, but I would be lying if I said it wasn't Gerv. He's a big-time impact player with a big personality who put in work recruiting others to come to UF with him.
Zlat: Derek Wingo - Wingo is like Brandon Spikes, but faster and with backflips. The dude is an insane athlete that can play any LB position. He's already shaping up to be a team leader, and will be running this defense for 2-3 years before doing the same in the NFL.

Sleeper - Offense

Hammer: Jonathan Odom - While a legacy recruit he is coming in with very little hype. Great size for a TE - 6’5/250 and is technically sound in blocking. He has the potential to surprise a lot of people.
Moes: Jonathan Odom - This class' lowest rated recruit is a 6'5" 250 lb TE whose father just happened to play at UF and for the Bucs. With Brewster coaching and Pitts mentoring, this kid could blow up.
Tophery: : Jaquavion Fraziars - It seems weird to put a top 200 recruit as a sleeper, but he almost seems like an afterthought in a lot of the analysis of this class, likely because he committed way back in the fall of 2018. He's a big WR who plays physical football leveraging his size advantage over most DB's. Given a year or two to learn the offense and polish his route-running, he could be a star.
zlatan: Anthony Richardson - Not as much of a bluechip afterthought as Fraziars, but this is a guy hand-molded to be the perfect Dan Mullen QB who has gotten almost zero national attention. He is one of the most athletic QB's in the country with Cam Newton's size and legitimate 4.5 speed. He has an incredible arm, winning the longest throw at Elite 11. I realize that rankings don't typically take into account system or coach, but with Dan Mullen's development, it's absolutely insane that Richardson isn't listed as a top 100 player. He will be on top 25 lists soon enough.

Sleeper - Defense

Hammer: Tre'Vez Johnson - This is arguably the best DB class in the last ten seasons and is very top heavy. Johnson is the lowest ranked DB in the class but I have watched his tape and he has great instincts but his biggest attitude is that he might be the fastest player on the team. You can’t coach speed.
Moes: Tre'Vez Johnson - Kid is fast fast.
Tophery: Tre'Vez Johnson - This is the biggest sleeper in this class overall. Would be a mid-tier 4 star if Rivals and ESPN didn't have their heads up their ass.
zlatan: Tre'Vez Johnson - Our first unanimous choice. As much as I want to say Lamar Goods or Rashad Torrence, I just can't get past Tre'Vez being a composite 3-star. He was the best DB in Jacksonville last year and will be a fixture either at Safety or Nickel as early as the 2021 season.

Instant impact

Hammer: Lamar Goods - You could put Walker, Braun and Dexter here and I wouldn’t disagree with you. I think Goods is a solid DT prospect and he is the only early enrollee at the position. Already has an SEC ready body and a full offseason with Savage and Grantham, and the lack of depth at his position gives him the slight edge in my opinion over the others.
Moes: Josh Braun - In a system where freshmen rarely start, he'll push for playing time early. Savage has already been talking him up.
Tophery: Xzavier Henderson - Very prepared to step in and play at a position of need.
zlatan: Gervon Dexter - This spot is sometimes more predicated on the biggest need rather than the most game-ready player, but in this case, Dexter fulfills both roles. I considered early enrollees like Rashad Torrence, Josh Braun, and Lamar Goods, but we all saw how early Kaiir Elam worked his way into the rotation last year despite not joining until the summer. Dexter is at a position where even more rotation is necessary. I expect to see him playing early and often.

Highest Ceiling

Hammer: Gervon Dexter - Dexter is an amazing prospect. Physically dominate and reportedly had an incredible work ethic. Coach Turner has developed quite a few elite DL players and if Dexter buys into the coaching I can see him becoming a Suh or Brown level impact in his entire career at Florida.
Moes: : Antwaun Powell - Powell has great size and speed, and is a former 5-star. However, consecutive years of shoulder injuries dropped his stock and made his commitment an ultimately quiet deal. However, if he stays healthy, he can be a monster in a Grantham defense.
Tophery: AR15 - A QB with his skills in Mullen's offense? He could have a statue outside BHG someday.
zlatan: Jahari Rogers - There are a few other guys that could easily be future first round talent, but I'm going to go with a guy that reminds me of our highest drafted DB of all time. He played QB throughout most of his high school career and only switched to CB his senior season. He already has shown an ability to make plays on the ball and has incredible change of direction. He's not going to win track competitions, but he's more than fast enough and has a reactive quickness that is off the charts. He may not have as much playing time as Kaiir Elam did his freshman year due to more depth in the defensive backfield, but I think he will be starting full-time in 2021.

Biggest Surprise

Hammer: Princely Umanmielen - I honestly had no idea who he was before signing day so it was a surprise to me to see him pick Florida. You have to like his commitment as well. We have a plethora of talent at DE and LB so he knows that playing time is not guaranteed but he signed anyway.
Moes: Xzavier Henders - Pleasantly surprised we beat Clemson in a head-to-head battle after ESD.
Tophery: Josh Braun - Thank you Arkansas
zlatan: Offensive Tackles Issiah Walker and Josh Braun - It may be cheating to pick two, but I had major doubts about Hevesy's ability to land two elite guys at the top of our board in the same year. Braun is the most college ready OL in the state of Florida and close to one of the most college-ready OLs in the country for the 2020 class. Issiah Walker has one of the highest ceilings of any OT in the southeast. OL usually takes longer to develop, so Walker likely won't work his way into the top 6-7 until 2021 at the earliest, but these guys could easily be the starting LT/RT combo in 2022.

Best position group

Hammer: Defensive backs - You can put Defensive Line here as well and I wouldn’t disagree. I do however think the DB class gets the slight edge. Five blue chips and two borderline blue chips creates the best DB class we have had in a decade.
Moes: Defensive Line - After years of struggling to land DTs, we loaded up with elite talent and plenty of it.
zlatan: Defensive backs - Absolutely insane group. I've covered Jahari. Ethan Pouncey has a fantastic ceiling and great length for CB. Fenley Graham is small, but has do-everything ability - Think Brandon Boykin at UGA. Rashad Torrence is on campus and on the verge of jumping some current safeties on the roster already. Avery Helm would have been a top 200 player if not for a knee injury during the major camp season. Mordecai McDaniel may now be the fastest player on the team. Tre'Vez Johnson will have McDaniel working for that title, and has already been covered extensively. Talent, numbers, and multiple skills/styles are all covered in this group. One small note: Missing out on Timothy Smith is the single piece keeping DL from being the top group by a landslide, because the combo of him and Gervon at DT would have been the best tandem in the country. Both position groups were outstanding in every sense of the word.

Worst position group

Hammer: Running backs - We didn't sign any
Moes: Running backs - Not signing a RB this year wasn't terrible after adding Lingard from the portal, but we whiffed on a lot of targets. Maybe something happens with Zach Evans though.
Tophery: Running backs - Pending future developments
zlatan: Running backs - No surprise here with a unanimous decision. The recruitment at this position with all of the talent in the southeast and in Florida and with our prime depth chart has been awful. Every one of these was a bluechip in Florida or Georgia, or the son of a Florida all-time great RB: Demarkcus Bowman, Tank Bigsby, Jahmyr Gibbs, Jaylan Knighton, EJ Smith, Don Chaney Jr, Jo'Quavious Marks, Caziah Holmes, Henry Parrish, Lawrence Toafili, Daijun Edwards, Keyvone Lee - Can I come up with a completely valid reason for any one of those as to why we couldn't sign them or passed on large chunk of them? Absolutely. Can I come up with a valid reason that we didn't get a single one? Absolutely not. Zach Evans isn't a guarantee to enroll at UF, and even if he does, he's still no guarantee. We better count our blessings that Tim Brewster is here to help close on elite prospects and that he's able to help out Greg Knox and Billy Gonzalez in the recruiting department with TE all but wrapped up for 2021, because I could write just as scathing of a review on our WR recruiting this past class. In fact, I think I will.
zlatan2: Wide Receiver - WR recruiting this cycle was able to pull through a bit in the end, but I don't want to give it a free pass just because RB looked so awful and we had a nice close with Xzavier and Shorter. I don't care what Mullen said in the presser, I refuse to believe that we wanted any fewer than 4 top WRs to add to this class 4 top WRs leaving. With the passing offense we showed last year, the wide open position battle we have coming up this year, our location in Florida, and the way the depth chart currently looks, there may not have been a team in a position to land better WR group in the country other than Clemson/Bama/LSU. The state of Florida had 4 elite WRs that we pegged from the start. Kirby Smart and Georgia landed the top 2. That is the most asinine thing I have ever typed regarding recruiting. Thank God we were able to pull through with Xzavier Henderson, because this was almost a bigger disaster with Clemson/Bama/UGA all making huge pushes there. Leonard Manuel turned into a dude that could have been a high-talent luxury into a guy that we needed to pray makes it onto campus...and I would keep my expectations as low as can be there. I love Jaquavion Fraziars as well, don't get me wrong. We needed 2-3 elite WRs and another 2 great ones. Instead, we got 1 and 1, with a high-ceiling lottery chip in Shorter. Bryan Robinson is a Florida guy we could have stolen from Miami, and instead we didn't bother and let FSU swing in and nab him instead. Malachi Wideman is a guy we could have easily stolen from FSU, and instead he went to Tennessee. The same thing happened in 2019 with Trey Knox and in 2018 with Jamar Chase and TyQuan Thornton. We missed on Sam Brown this cycle because we waited way too long to give the go-ahead. Seeing a pattern? We rotate 6-8 guys a game at this position, yet we seem to pass on guys with elite talent or wait to pursue until it's too late. We're doing the same right now with Christian Leary.

Most likely to put a small, family-run all you can eat buffet out of business

Hammer: Jeremy Crawshaw - Every Australian I have ever met eats like they won't ever eat again.
Moes: Issiah Walker - Walker was born in the buffet, molded by it. You don't take as many trips as he did to Miami and FSU to watch football. I'm sure he was all about that Honey Fried Chicken and whatever shit Miami serves up.
zlatan: Josh Braun - The kid is immense. His family is immense and full of offensive linemen. If you don't eat fast in his household, you don't eat.

Most hype to live up to

Hammer: Gervon Dexter - We haven’t had a prospect with this much hype come to Florida in quite some time. He will be expected to immediately compete for playing time and if he isn’t elite by his sophomore season I expect quite a few Florida fans to be disappointed.
Moes: Gervon Dexter - The hype is impossibly high for Florida's first five star recruit in ages. He's good enough handle it though.
zlatan: Gervon Dexter - Another unanimous choice, this one seems fairly obvious. The first UF composite 5-star since 2015, 12th in the composite, a consensus top 25 player, and ranked as high as 6th overall. Going to be tough to have higher expectations than what people are putting on Gervon's shoulders.

Most likely to be in a boy band

Hammer: Ethan Pouncey - His 24/7 profile picture just screams I am in the “Pouncey Brothers Band”
Moes: Jeremy Crawshaw - Just read the name and tell me I'm wrong
Tophery: Derek Wingo - He's the most handsome heartbreaker of this class, and it's not close
zlatan: Avery Helm - While I can see great arguments for Ethan Pouncey or Derek Wingo (he just looks like a guy who can sing), this question will always come down to the best hair

Most likely to play an old guy in a movie

Hammer: Anthony Richardson - He looks like he is 40. His before and after pictures look like the new AR15 ate the old Anthony Richardson.
Moes: Johnnie Brown - He already looks like a grown ass man, so why not.
Tophery: Richie Leonard - This is a 43yo man who is going to move mountains to send you home with the Whirlpool kitchen set and 5 year warranty TODAY.
zlatan: Richie Leonard - Not only does he look the part, but has the name down as well. This is a slam dunk.

Ethan White Award for most likely to shut the haters up

Hammer: Richie Leonard - Like White last year a lot of people were not happy with Hevesy signing a low ranked prospect. Leonard is an early enrollee and could see some playing time this fall if he buys into the development and coaching like White did.
Moes: Fenley Graham - Many thought we only took him because of the connection to Bowman and Lakeland, but he's an elusive athlete that could be an instant impact on special teams, or maybe even STAR.
Tophery: Fenley Graham - A lot of shit was talked in his commitment thread, including me.
zlatan: Fenley Graham - We needed quality and numbers badly at DB this class. When we snagged Tre'Vez Johnson and Fenley Graham in the same week, I was pretty disappointed that we were taking two guys who I considered "projects". Tre'Vez would have been my pick here a few months ago, but has already shed that label. Hoping that Fenley Graham can do the same.

Additional Awards submitted anonymously

Biggest miss: Avantae Williams
Most likely to be a Hufflepuff: Jeremy Crawshaw
Most likely to secretly browse /FloridaGators: Gerald Mincey
Most likely to say "that's what she said": Xzavier Henderson, but only to get into CJ's head
Most likely to cry when you ask them if they are going to cry: Xzavier Henderson, but only when asked by CJ
Trent Whittemore Award for worst signee retroactively: Chris Steele
Trent Whittemore Award for worst signee retroactively: Trent Whittemore. Nothing more needs to be said here.

Some final thoughts

I know I ragged on RB and WR a ton, but I don't want to mislead anybody - I'm incredibly happy with this class. This is a class that you can build championships from. I'm just at a point where it's easier to point out the glaring flaws or even minor issues than it is to point out the tons of positives. It hit even harder for me, because RB and WR were one of our biggest needs, and I had predicted in my preseason write-up that we were going to have a group similar to the LB group in 2019. Not even close. All of that said, this is a defense that can win championships. Mullen showed us what he could build in the trenches and on defense at Mississippi State with a few top targets and a majority of lowly ranked players. Now he's building trenches and a defense with the top targets combined with a majority of much higher ranked players in the 200-400 national range rather than the 500-1,000 range. We may have missed on skill positions, but we supplemented in a fantastic way with transfers like Lingard and Shorter. I do have complete faith in Mullen's ability to make things work and create a successful offense with all types of players, so if there is a side of the ball where we should be less upset with underperforming in recruiting, it would be offense.
Players who who I expect to outperform their ranking (composite ranking in parentheses):
  • Anthony Richardson (201) - Covered more than enough in my offensive sleeper analysis post above. 201 is a good ranking if he had committed to play at Penn State. 501 if he went to play for Kirby Smart. Top 100 with Dan Mullen.
  • Josh Braun (270) - Far too low of a ranking for a top 10 OL in the country. I can understand why the rankers put him here - When you are incapable of properly analyzing ability and potential from film, you are limited to basing a lot of grades from camps/competition/offers. Braun only hit on the 'offers' part of that group. This guy has the ability and work ethic to be a 2-3 year starter for us.
  • Rashad Torrence (332) - Noticing a weird pattern with the bottom half of this class. The majority of that group is sitting in that 300-500 range, right on the verge of low four star or high three star. It's a nice change of pace picking out signees in the 300's or 400's as underrated gems compared to a few years ago, when we had to resort to doing the same with guys in that 500-900 range. Torrence should be ranked near the 200 range like McDaniel, and is one of the most game-ready players in our class.
  • Mordecai McDaniel (357) - Reminds me a bit of Jaydon Hill (323 in 2019) with the teams who pursued heavily, but unlike Jaydon, he isn't coming into the season off of a major knee injury. He's also the one of the fastest players nationally in the 2020 class. If using Hill as a base measurement, McDaniel should be ranked closer to the 200 range based off of potential alone.
  • Lamar Goods (359) - Before missing spring practice, I expected this guy to get as much or more play on the DL than Gervon Dexter. Still could happen.
  • Tre'Vez Johnson (473) - Absolute insanity that the best DB in Jacksonville is this low, while Fred Davis is in the top 60. He's already shut haters up from UF. Time to see if he can roast the rankers. This is a potential top 100 player at a top 500 price.
  • Gerald Mincey (654) - This guy is one of the most Hevesy recruits that ever Hevesy'd. He is mean when he plays. Fantastic size and a wide frame. If this were Vegas and you were looking for the biggest gains, Mincey would be a can't miss option.
  • Jeremy Crawshaw (3,058) - You're telling me that this motherfucker (1,936) who signed with Montana State is worthy of a ranking above .8000 and our boy Crawshaw (.7940) isn't? 4 punters ranked above .8000. 8 punters ranked above Crawshaw per the 247 composite, with only 4 of them signed to P5 teams (Colorado, South Carolina, Cal, and Minnesota). Might as well not rank them at all if you're going to have these garbage rankings on your site. Punters are people too.
Recruiting is going to be incredibly unique over the next few months. Some of the normal trends that we can pick up on are getting flipped upside down entirely with how visits are shut down and the uncertainty in regards to practice, training, enrolling, being with the team, and even when/how the season will roll. I think that some of these kids who were close to making decisions are taking a step back to see how things play out over the summer. That includes a particular 2020 RB, who was already going to be a huge mystery until we saw when/where he showed up on a campus. At this point in late March, the safest bet is to assume that he will not be in the class.
Going to close the book on the 2020 class for the most part and transition my Spring/Summer posts to focus on 2021 recruiting (where the coaches have been focusing since the Fall).
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i don't like doing this but here we are

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Monthly F.C. Barcelona News 1/31/2020

Monthly F.C. Barcelona News 1/31/2020
Most Recent Match:
F.C. Barcelona vs Leganes, 5-0 Barcelona WIN! :) Next game: Barcelona vs Levante. February 2 2020
Goals: Barcelona: Antoinne Griezemann 4', Clement Lenglet 27', Lionel Messi 59' and 89' and Arthur Melo 77'.
Post Match Thread HERE.
F.C. Barcelona News
Details Of Messi Contract Desire And FC Barcelona Future Exclusively Revealed
As important as ever last night at the Camp Nou, in a 5-0 Copa del Rey last 16 victory over Leganes in which he bagged a brace, Lionel Messi kept FC Barcelona’s hunt for all three trophies on offer alive but his future beyond the summer remains a matter of intrigue.
Last November, in an interview to the Associated Press, president Josep Bartomeu confessed in an Associated Press interview that he wished to offer the 32-year-old an ‘indefinite’ contract that would have him see out the rest of his playing days at the Camp Nou.
‘I always make a comparison with Pelé,’ explained Bartomeu. ‘Pelé was a man from only one club [in Brazil]... [and] I have no doubt that after Messi ends his career as a footballer, he will remain linked to this club for the rest of his life.’
‘Leo Messi's contract ends in 2021,’ he went on. ‘But it will surely be the will of all parties involved, if they feel strong and ambitious, to extend this contract indefinitely.’
Shortly after, sporting director Eric Abidal gave his own exclusive interviews to SPORT and Mundo Deportivo, in which he was naturally broached on the subject too.
‘For us he is a key player,’ explained Abidal of his former teammate from the Pep Guardiola ‘Tiki-taka’ dynasty. ‘He has this option to leave on his contract, but I know that the president is talking to his representatives to close the case once and for all,’ it was insisted.
This enraged Miguel Rico, a leading journalist from the latter-mentioned daily newspaper, who penned a scathing piece entitled ‘Talking But Not Negotiating’ in response.
‘The truth, to be precise about the case, is that Barcelona, ​​through President Bartomeu, and Messi, represented by his father, are not negotiating,’ Rico claimed.
‘They speak of the future fluently, as they have always done, but negotiating, what is said of sitting face to face to discuss the conditions [of a new deal], they are not. Nor do they know when they will sit down [to do it], as they are the only ones that mark the times [and meetings],’ Rico pointed out.
Lifting his sixth Ballon d’or last month, Messi took the opportunity to finally speak out on the matter himself. ‘The people at the club know me,’ he said, golden ball trophy in tow.
‘They know there's no problem beyond what the contract says. What I feel for this club goes beyond any signature or any role. So there isn't a problem,’ he stressed.
A lot has happened since then, though, such as the firing of Ernesto Valverde just over a fortnight ago, and according to Rico in a special report published this morning in Spain, Messi, who is free to leave at the end of the current campaign despite having another year-and-a-half to run, has already made up his mind.
“[It’s] silly and even sillier, [that] we are at the gates of February and Leo Messi can decide in June if he runs out on the contract that links him to Barça until 2021 or if, on the contrary, he extinguishes the relationship. It’s something that worries [me] to write, grieves [you] to read and [makes you] cower to imagine.”
A man of principle, it is alleged that Messi, despite the indefinite contract ‘benefitting him economically’, will only commit to ‘extending his current status year after year’. ‘That is, renew one more, plus one more indefinitely but reserving the option to cancel unilaterally every June 30,’ Rico clarified.
Revealing on the podium in Paris that the length of time he stays in the game depends on how he feels physically, the news of Messi’s intentions will come as bittersweet to fans.
Above all, if not accepting ‘indefinite’ terms, the La Masia graduate could at least sign for three to five seasons - i.e. what remains of his peak - as such an arrangment leaves the door open to returning to Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, or, in the unthinkable, joining another European rival.
For Bartomeu, entering the last year of his own tenure, it is a defeat given that he wished to pull off this coup to define a legacy.
Now all FCB top brass can do is sign the best players possible to accompany their all-time great and make Messi want to stay - starting with close friend Neymar.
Source.
Lionel Messi
Agreement with SC Braga for the transfer of Trincão (Will join the team on July 1 2020)
FC Barcelona and SC Braga have reached an agreement for the transfer of the player Francisco Trincão who will join the club on 1 July 2020. The transfer fee is 31 million euros and the player will sign a contract with the Club for the next five seasons, until the end of the 2014/25 campaign with a buy-out clause of 500 million euros.
Youth and talent up front
Francisco Trincão was born on 29 December 1999 in Viana do Castelo, Portugal. He began his career in the youth teams at Vianense and FC Porto before landing at SC Braga. On 28 December 2018 he made his first team debut for the Portuguese club against Vitoria FC in a league cup match.Since his debut, Trincão has made 29 appearances for the first team, scoring three goals. In the current season he has established himself as a key part of the team, playing 21 times and scoring three goals and providing six assists.
The player has represented Portugal at various levels and is currently a member of the U21 national squad. With the U19 team he was part of the side that won the European Championships in 2018 and ended the tournament as top scorer with five goals and top assist provider with three.
Left footed but can play anywhere
The young Portuguese forward can play anywhere up front although he usually features on the wing, on either flank despite being left footed. Trincão is quick and technically gifted with a vision that means he is a great creator of goals as well. The new Barça player also has the ability to take defenders on with his dribbling skills.
Source.
Francisco Trincao
‘A Step Forward’: How The Catalan Press Reacted To FC Barcelona’s 5-0 Leganes Win
Their biggest win under new coach Quique Setien, FC Barcelona thrashed relegation-threatened Leganes by five goals to nil in a last 16 Copa del Rey clash at the Camp Nou on Thursday evening.
Naturally, on Friday, the print editions of Catalonia’s two main sports newspapers - Mundo Deportivo and SPORT - have reacted to the result much more positively than the humbling 2-0 defeat to Valencia at the Mestalla last weekend.
‘Barça improves’ was what Mundo Deportivo director Santi Nolla called his column this morning and within it, he wrote of how the team had ‘gained confidence with a win and a good feeling’.
‘Setien's eleven returned to a more classic 4-3-3, with [Nelson] Semedo on the right side and a more direct [brand of] football,’ it was noted, before Nolla pointed out that a mixture of lowly opposition and tough away trips in their upcoming fixtures will allow the Blaugrana ‘to assimilate ideas’ prior to a Champions League showdown with Napoli.
Sergi Sole spoke of a ‘night of revindication’ where the previously-dropped likes of Clement Lenglet and Semedo shone while Frenkie de Jong ‘recovered’ a version of himself ‘closer to the one that brought him from Ajax to the Camp Nou’ in a ‘Valverde era’ 4-3-3.
Joan Poqui wrote that Barça had ‘taken a step forward’ in a formation in which the players ‘felt more comfortable’. As a result, their game was ‘dynamic, with rapid mobility of the ball and with greater intensity’.
‘Like this, yes!’ SPORT had splashed across its front cover, while Nolla’s counterpart Ernest Folch penned a piece entitled ‘Welcome to the real world, Quique’.
‘The new Quique Setien project yesterday received a valuable and necessary balloon of oxygen,’ quipped Folch. ‘The value [of it] was not so much a loose and foreseeable victory, at home and against a clearly inferior team, [but rather] the capacity of adaptation that Setien has had after the Mestalla collapse: the Blaugrana coach showed yesterday that he has the ability to correct his initial bet [a 3-5-2] and adapt it to reality’.
‘Some purists may reproach him for renouncing his ideals and recycling Barça to the same point it was at with Valverde. But the only truth is that the team was much more vertical yesterday without losing its identity at all. Rectifying is often a sign of intelligence,’ Folch stressed.
Pichi Alonso noted that 20 minutes was all that was needed to see off Los Pepineros, ranked 19th in La Liga, ‘who seemed to be eliminated’ from the competition before even taking to the pitch.
Though it was a ‘comfortable victory with a win and total possession’, Alonso claimed that there were ‘people who got bored’ with the 5-0 pummeling.
On Sunday then, it is Setien and his men’s job to entertain fans during a visit from mid-table Levante. Then, next week, there will be no respite at all considering a Copa del Rey quarter-final clash away at Athletic Bilbao and a tough road trip to the tactician’s former club Real Betis in the Estadio Benito Villamarin.
Source.
F.C. Barcelona
The only time FC Barcelona have played a one off cup tie at home
On Thursday Camp Nou will see Barça host Leganés in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey. With the competition's new format, the tie will be decided over just one match with the draw handing the blaugranes home advantage against 'los pepineros', something that has not happened in the knockout tournament for some considerable time.
Big win over Girona at Les Corts
There has never been a one off knockout tie at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey, the last for FC Barcelona at home came at their former home of Les Corts. That match came in the 1948/49 season in what was then known as the Copa del Generalíssimo in the last 16 against local rivals Girona. Barça's opponents that day were in the Second Division and the blaugranes handed them a 9-0 defeat thanks to a hat-trick from Nicolau, braces from Seguer and Canal and goals from Marcos Aurelio and Basora.
That season the cup competition was over two legs but Girona took advantage of a rule introduced just for that season that allowed them to opt for a one legged tie in return for compensation, in this case from 150,000 pesetas from FC Barcelona.
After overcoming Granada in the quarter-finals, Barça were finally knocked out of the cup in the semi-finals, losing 5-4 on aggregate over two legs to eventual winners Valencia. Nevertheless, the season was a successful one for the blaugranes as they ended the campaign as league champions and as winners of the Copa Eva Duarte and the Copa Latina.
Source.
F.C. Barcelona 1948/49
submitted by TheRealPetross to FutbolClubBarcelona [link] [comments]

Monthly F.C Barcelona News. 1/31/2020 This post may be updated with more and new news

Monthly F.C Barcelona News. 1/31/2020 This post may be updated with more and new news

Most Recent Match:

F.C. Barcelona vs Leganes, 5-0 Barcelona WIN! :) Next game: Barcelona vs Levante. February 2 2020
Goals: Barcelona: Antoinne Griezemann 4', Clement Lenglet 27', Lionel Messi 59' and 89' and Arthur Melo 77'.
Post Match Thread HERE.

F.C. Barcelona News

Details Of Messi Contract Desire And FC Barcelona Future Exclusively Revealed
As important as ever last night at the Camp Nou, in a 5-0 Copa del Rey last 16 victory over Leganes in which he bagged a brace, Lionel Messi kept FC Barcelona’s hunt for all three trophies on offer alive but his future beyond the summer remains a matter of intrigue.
Last November, in an interview to the Associated Press, president Josep Bartomeu confessed in an Associated Press interview that he wished to offer the 32-year-old an ‘indefinite’ contract that would have him see out the rest of his playing days at the Camp Nou.
‘I always make a comparison with Pelé,’ explained Bartomeu. ‘Pelé was a man from only one club [in Brazil]... [and] I have no doubt that after Messi ends his career as a footballer, he will remain linked to this club for the rest of his life.’
‘Leo Messi's contract ends in 2021,’ he went on. ‘But it will surely be the will of all parties involved, if they feel strong and ambitious, to extend this contract indefinitely.’
Shortly after, sporting director Eric Abidal gave his own exclusive interviews to SPORT and Mundo Deportivo, in which he was naturally broached on the subject too.
‘For us he is a key player,’ explained Abidal of his former teammate from the Pep Guardiola ‘Tiki-taka’ dynasty. ‘He has this option to leave on his contract, but I know that the president is talking to his representatives to close the case once and for all,’ it was insisted.
This enraged Miguel Rico, a leading journalist from the latter-mentioned daily newspaper, who penned a scathing piece entitled ‘Talking But Not Negotiating’ in response.
‘The truth, to be precise about the case, is that Barcelona, ​​through President Bartomeu, and Messi, represented by his father, are not negotiating,’ Rico claimed.
‘They speak of the future fluently, as they have always done, but negotiating, what is said of sitting face to face to discuss the conditions [of a new deal], they are not. Nor do they know when they will sit down [to do it], as they are the only ones that mark the times [and meetings],’ Rico pointed out.
Lifting his sixth Ballon d’or last month, Messi took the opportunity to finally speak out on the matter himself. ‘The people at the club know me,’ he said, golden ball trophy in tow.
‘They know there's no problem beyond what the contract says. What I feel for this club goes beyond any signature or any role. So there isn't a problem,’ he stressed.
A lot has happened since then, though, such as the firing of Ernesto Valverde just over a fortnight ago, and according to Rico in a special report published this morning in Spain, Messi, who is free to leave at the end of the current campaign despite having another year-and-a-half to run, has already made up his mind.
“[It’s] silly and even sillier, [that] we are at the gates of February and Leo Messi can decide in June if he runs out on the contract that links him to Barça until 2021 or if, on the contrary, he extinguishes the relationship. It’s something that worries [me] to write, grieves [you] to read and [makes you] cower to imagine.”
A man of principle, it is alleged that Messi, despite the indefinite contract ‘benefitting him economically’, will only commit to ‘extending his current status year after year’. ‘That is, renew one more, plus one more indefinitely but reserving the option to cancel unilaterally every June 30,’ Rico clarified.
Revealing on the podium in Paris that the length of time he stays in the game depends on how he feels physically, the news of Messi’s intentions will come as bittersweet to fans.
Above all, if not accepting ‘indefinite’ terms, the La Masia graduate could at least sign for three to five seasons - i.e. what remains of his peak - as such an arrangment leaves the door open to returning to Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, or, in the unthinkable, joining another European rival.
For Bartomeu, entering the last year of his own tenure, it is a defeat given that he wished to pull off this coup to define a legacy.
Now all FCB top brass can do is sign the best players possible to accompany their all-time great and make Messi want to stay - starting with close friend Neymar.
Source.
Lionel Messi
Agreement with SC Braga for the transfer of Trincão (Will join the team on July 1 2020)
FC Barcelona and SC Braga have reached an agreement for the transfer of the player Francisco Trincão who will join the club on 1 July 2020. The transfer fee is 31 million euros and the player will sign a contract with the Club for the next five seasons, until the end of the 2014/25 campaign with a buy-out clause of 500 million euros.
Youth and talent up front
Francisco Trincão was born on 29 December 1999 in Viana do Castelo, Portugal. He began his career in the youth teams at Vianense and FC Porto before landing at SC Braga. On 28 December 2018 he made his first team debut for the Portuguese club against Vitoria FC in a league cup match.Since his debut, Trincão has made 29 appearances for the first team, scoring three goals. In the current season he has established himself as a key part of the team, playing 21 times and scoring three goals and providing six assists.
The player has represented Portugal at various levels and is currently a member of the U21 national squad. With the U19 team he was part of the side that won the European Championships in 2018 and ended the tournament as top scorer with five goals and top assist provider with three.
Left footed but can play anywhere
The young Portuguese forward can play anywhere up front although he usually features on the wing, on either flank despite being left footed. Trincão is quick and technically gifted with a vision that means he is a great creator of goals as well. The new Barça player also has the ability to take defenders on with his dribbling skills.
Source.

Francisco Trincao
‘A Step Forward’: How The Catalan Press Reacted To FC Barcelona’s 5-0 Leganes Win
Their biggest win under new coach Quique Setien, FC Barcelona thrashed relegation-threatened Leganes by five goals to nil in a last 16 Copa del Rey clash at the Camp Nou on Thursday evening.
Naturally, on Friday, the print editions of Catalonia’s two main sports newspapers - Mundo Deportivo and SPORT - have reacted to the result much more positively than the humbling 2-0 defeat to Valencia at the Mestalla last weekend.
‘Barça improves’ was what Mundo Deportivo director Santi Nolla called his column this morning and within it, he wrote of how the team had ‘gained confidence with a win and a good feeling’.
‘Setien's eleven returned to a more classic 4-3-3, with [Nelson] Semedo on the right side and a more direct [brand of] football,’ it was noted, before Nolla pointed out that a mixture of lowly opposition and tough away trips in their upcoming fixtures will allow the Blaugrana ‘to assimilate ideas’ prior to a Champions League showdown with Napoli.
Sergi Sole spoke of a ‘night of revindication’ where the previously-dropped likes of Clement Lenglet and Semedo shone while Frenkie de Jong ‘recovered’ a version of himself ‘closer to the one that brought him from Ajax to the Camp Nou’ in a ‘Valverde era’ 4-3-3.
Joan Poqui wrote that Barça had ‘taken a step forward’ in a formation in which the players ‘felt more comfortable’. As a result, their game was ‘dynamic, with rapid mobility of the ball and with greater intensity’.
‘Like this, yes!’ SPORT had splashed across its front cover, while Nolla’s counterpart Ernest Folch penned a piece entitled ‘Welcome to the real world, Quique’.
‘The new Quique Setien project yesterday received a valuable and necessary balloon of oxygen,’ quipped Folch. ‘The value [of it] was not so much a loose and foreseeable victory, at home and against a clearly inferior team, [but rather] the capacity of adaptation that Setien has had after the Mestalla collapse: the Blaugrana coach showed yesterday that he has the ability to correct his initial bet [a 3-5-2] and adapt it to reality’.
‘Some purists may reproach him for renouncing his ideals and recycling Barça to the same point it was at with Valverde. But the only truth is that the team was much more vertical yesterday without losing its identity at all. Rectifying is often a sign of intelligence,’ Folch stressed.
Pichi Alonso noted that 20 minutes was all that was needed to see off Los Pepineros, ranked 19th in La Liga, ‘who seemed to be eliminated’ from the competition before even taking to the pitch.
Though it was a ‘comfortable victory with a win and total possession’, Alonso claimed that there were ‘people who got bored’ with the 5-0 pummeling.
On Sunday then, it is Setien and his men’s job to entertain fans during a visit from mid-table Levante. Then, next week, there will be no respite at all considering a Copa del Rey quarter-final clash away at Athletic Bilbao and a tough road trip to the tactician’s former club Real Betis in the Estadio Benito Villamarin.
Source.
F.C. Barcelona
The only time FC Barcelona have played a one off cup tie at home
On Thursday Camp Nou will see Barça host Leganés in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey. With the competition's new format, the tie will be decided over just one match with the draw handing the blaugranes home advantage against 'los pepineros', something that has not happened in the knockout tournament for some considerable time.
Big win over Girona at Les Corts
There has never been a one off knockout tie at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey, the last for FC Barcelona at home came at their former home of Les Corts. That match came in the 1948/49 season in what was then known as the Copa del Generalíssimo in the last 16 against local rivals Girona. Barça's opponents that day were in the Second Division and the blaugranes handed them a 9-0 defeat thanks to a hat-trick from Nicolau, braces from Seguer and Canal and goals from Marcos Aurelio and Basora.
That season the cup competition was over two legs but Girona took advantage of a rule introduced just for that season that allowed them to opt for a one legged tie in return for compensation, in this case from 150,000 pesetas from FC Barcelona.
After overcoming Granada in the quarter-finals, Barça were finally knocked out of the cup in the semi-finals, losing 5-4 on aggregate over two legs to eventual winners Valencia. Nevertheless, the season was a successful one for the blaugranes as they ended the campaign as league champions and as winners of the Copa Eva Duarte and the Copa Latina.
Source.

F.C. Barcelona 1948/49
submitted by TheRealPetross to FutbolClubBarcelona [link] [comments]

[Game Preview] Week 14 - Philadelphia Eagles(6-6) at Dallas Cowboys(7-5)

Philadelphia Eagles (6-6) vs Dallas Cowboys (7-5)
Last week's division win against the Redskins set up a showdown in the NFCE that will decide first place and could decide the division champion. The a win by the Eagles would put them in first place in the division with the Cowboys due to a better division record while a win by the Cowboys would all, but wrap up the NFCE for them with a comfortable lead. These two teams went into different directions since they last met just a couple weeks ago with the Cowboys ripping 3 straight wins following their win over the Birds, while the Eagles were embarrassed by the Saints before taking two wins from division rivals. The Eagles will travel to Arlington, where they have played well since the stadium opened posted a 6-4 record at AT&T Stadium. The Eagles will need to keep that going if they hope to make a late playoff push. The offense finally looked like it start to click and the team finally looked like they were playing together last week as Wentz spread the ball around and Tate was heavily involved in the game plan scoring his first TD since joining the Eagles and the Eagles RBs looked good gaining yards on the ground as they took down a beat up Redskins team. The offense will have the tough task as they take on a Cowboys defense that just shut down Drew Brees and the high powered Saints offense in New Orleans. The Eagles will need to get the running game going to set play-action and the RPOs, if the Eagles succeed it could be a long day for the Dallas defense. Running the ball will also help keep the Dallas offense off the field which has become much more balanced since the addition of Amari Cooper from the Raiders. The Eagles beat up secondary will need to do a better job on Cooper this game if they want any shot of keeping the Dallas defense in check. Like Philly, Dallas will try to run the ball early to get Zeke going in order to set up play action and keep the Eagles pass rush in check. If the Eagles DL is able to win in the trenches it will go a long way in shutting down the Cowboys offense. Let's hope for an injury free game for once this season. Go Birds!
General Information
Posting Rules and Guidelines
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Date
Sunday, December 9th, 2018
Game Time Game Location
4:25 PM - Eastern AT&T Stadium
3:25 PM - Central 1 AT&T Way
2:25 PM - Mountain Arlington, TX 76011
1:25 PM - Pacific Wikipedia - Map
Weather Forecast
Stadium Type: Retractable Roof Stadium
Surface: RealGrass Matrix
Temperature: 46°F
Feels Like: 41°F
Forecast: Partly Cloudy. Partly cloudy until evening..
Chance of Precipitation: 0%
Cloud Coverage: 27%
Wind: N/A
Betting Odds
Oddsshark Information
Favorite/Opening Line: Dallas -3.5
OveUnder: 44
Record VS. Spread: Philadelphia 4-8, Dallas 7-5
Where to Watch on TV
FOX will broadcast Sunday’s game to a National audience. Joe Buck will handle the play-by-play duties and Tory Aikman will provide analysis. Erin Andrews will report from the sidelines.
TV Map - Week 14 TV Coverage Map
Internet Streams
NFL Streams - Look here 30 minutes before the game for Streams
Radio Streams
Disclaimer: Subscription Based Official NFL Radio Streams available via TuneIn
List of Eagles Radio network member stations with internet broadcast availability
Radio.com 94.1 Desktop Streaming
Listen to Merrill Reese and Mike Quick
Calling the game on 94WIP and the Eagles Radio Network will be Merrill Reese, the NFL’s longest-tenured play-by-play announcer (41st season). Joining Reese in the radio booth will be former Eagles All-Pro wide receiver Mike Quick, while Howard Eskin will report from the sidelines.
Location Station Frequency
Philadelphia, PA WIP-FM 94.1 FM and 610 AM
Allentown, PA WCTO-FM 96.1 FM
Atlantic City/South Jersey WENJ-FM 97.3 FM
Levittown, PA WBCB-AM 1490 AM
Northumberland, PA WEGH-FM 107.3 FM
Pottsville, PA WPPA-AM 1360 AM
Reading, PA WEEU-AM 830 AM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WAFL-FM 97.7 FM
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, PA WEJL-FM 96.1 FM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WAFL-FM 97.7 FM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WEJL-AM 630 AM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WBAX-AM 1240 AM
Williamsport, PA WBZD-FM 93.3 FM
Wilmington, DE WDEL-FM/AM 101.7 FM
York/LancasteHarrisburg, PA WSOX-FM 96.1 FM
Philadelphia Spanish Radio
Rickie Ricardo, Macu Berral and Gus Salazar will handle the broadcast in Spanish on Mega 105.7 FM in Philadelphia and the Eagles Spanish Radio Network.
Location Station Frequency
Philadelphia, PA LA MEGA 105.7 FM
Allentown, PA WSAN 1470 AM
Atlantic City, NJ WIBG 1020 AM; 101.3 FM
Dallas Radio
Dallas Cowboys Radio Network Brad Sham returns for his 40th season in the Dallas Cowboys radio booth. Beloved by Cowboys fans, Sham's award winning play-by-play has provided the soundtrack to many of the most memorable moments in Dallas Cowboys history. Babe Laufenberg returns as the Network's full-time color analyst. A fixture on the sideline, veteran reporter Kristi Scales provides instant updates from the field.
Satellite Radio
Station Eagles Channel Cowboys Channel
Sirius Radio SIRI 81 (Internet 825) SIRI 83 (Internet 808)
XM Radio XM 225 (Internet 825) XM 226 (Internet 808)
Sirius XM Radio SXM 225 (Internet 825) SXM 226 (Internet 808)
Eagles Social Media Cowboys Social Media
Website Website
Facebook Facebook
Twitter Twitter
Instagram Instagram
Snapchat: Eagles Snapchat: cowboys
NFC East Standings
NFC EAST REC PCT HOME ROAD DIV CONF PF PA NET PTS STRK
Cowboys 7-5 0.583 5-1 2-4 3-1 6-3 247 223 24 4W
Eagles 6-6 0.500 4-3 2-3 3-1 4-5 258 266 -8 2W
Redskins 6-6 0.500 3-3 3-3 2-2 6-4 233 257 -24 3L
Giants 4-8 0.333 2-4 2-4 0-4 3-7 267 315 -48 1W
Series Information
The Dallas Cowboys lead the Philadelphia Eagles (67-52)
Series History
Head to Head Box Scores
First Game Played
September 30th, 1960 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX. Dallas Cowboys 25 - Philadelphia Eagles 27
Points Leader
The Dallas Cowboys lead the Philadelphia Eagles (2575-2351)
Coaches Record
Doug Pederson: 2-3 against the Cowboys
Jason Garrett: 9-8 against Eagles
Coaches Head to Head
Doug Pederson vs Jason Garrett:Series tied 2-2
Quarterback Record
Carson Wentz: Against Cowboys: 2-2
Dak Prescott: Against Eagles: 3-2
Quarterbacks Head to Head
Carson Wentz vs Dak Prescott: Tied 2-2
Records per Stadium
Record @ Lincoln Financial Field: Cowboys lead the Eagles: 10-6
Record @ AT&T Stadium: Eagles lead the Cowboys: 6-4
Rankings and Last Meeting Information
AP Pro 32 Ranking
Eagles No. 13 - Cowboys No. 10
Record
Eagles: 4-4
Cowboys: 3-5
Last Meeting
Sunday, November 11th, 2018
Cowboys 27-Eagles 20
The bye week was not able to help the struggling Eagles who failed to show up again, this time against the division rival Cowboys. The Eagles offense failed to execute until late in the 3rd quarter, which is around the same time the wheels fell off on the defense which collapsed again in the 4th quarter giving up two TDs as the Eagles fell to their division rival. Zeke Elliott had 151 yards rushing and his go-ahead 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter helped the Dallas Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-20 on Sunday night
Click here to view the Video Recap
Click here to view the Stats Recap
Last Meeting at Site
Eagles 37-Cowboys 9
The Eagles came out of the bye slow and did not play their best football in the first half as they trailed the rival Cowboys 9-7 at halftime Sunday night. After a halftime pep talk and some midgame adjustments the Eagles game out firing on all cylinders in the second half as they put up 30 points while shutting out the Cowboys in the second half. The Eagles had a balanced attack on offense as Carson threw for two 2 TDs and the Eagles rushing attacked put up 215 yards rushing. The Eagles defense also played well as they picked up Dak Prescott 3 times and forced a fumble while not allowing any TDs. Kicker Jake Elliott left the game early forcing the Eagles into going for it on 2 point conversions and 4th downs and backup LB Kamu Grugier-Hill was forced into kickoff duties and did register a touchback.
Click here to view the Video Recap
Click here to view the Stats Recap
Last 10 Meetings
Date Winner Loser Score
11/11/2018 Cowboys Eagles 27-20
12/31/2017 Cowboys Eagles 6-0
11/19/2017 Eagles Cowboys 37-9
1/1/2017 Eagles Cowboys 27-13
10/30/2016 Cowboys Eagles 29-23
11/8/2015 Eagles Cowboys 33-27
9/20/2015 Cowboys Eagles 20-10
12/14/2014 Cowboys Eagles 38-27
11/27/2014 Eagles Cowboys 33-10
12/29/2013 Eagles Cowboys 24-22
Injury Reports Depth Charts
Eagles Eagles
Cowboys Cowboys
2018 Weekly Matchup
Week 14 - Iron Rank Matchup
Week 14 - "Expert" Picks
2018 Team Stats
Eagles Season Stats
Cowboys Season Stats
2018 Stats (Starters/Leaders)
Passing
Name CMP ATT PCT YDS TD INT RAT
Wentz 257 369 69.6% 2846 18 7 100.6
Prescott 243 364 66.8% 2676 14 5 95.4
Rushing
Name ATT YDS YDS/G AVG TD
Adams 76 376 37.6 4.9 2
Elliott 240 1149 95.8 4.8 6
Receiving
Name REC YDS YDS/G AVG TD
Ertz 93 978 81.5 10.5 6
Elliott 53 423 35.3 8.0 3
Sacks
Name Sacks Team Total
Cox 6.5 31.0
Lawrence 8.5 33.0
Tackles
Name Total Solo Assist Sacks
Hicks 85 58 27 3.0
Vander Esch 102 77 25 0
Interceptions
Name Ints Team Total
Grugier-Hill/Maddox/Darby/Douglas/Jenkins/Gerry 1 6
Vander Esch/Woods 2 8
Punting
Name ATT YDS LONG AVG NET IN 20 TB BP
Johnston 47 2287 68 48.7 42.8 18 6 0
C. Jones 49 2205 56 45.0 39.6 11 2 0
Kicking
Name ATT MADE % LONG PAT
Elliot 23 19 82.6% 56 23/23
Maher 28 24 85.7% 55 23/24
Kick Returns
Name ATT YDS AVG LONG TD
Clement 12 297 24.8 48 0
Lewis 1 19 19 19 0
Punt Returns
Name RET YDS AVG LONG TD FC
Sproles 6 48 8.0 14 0 4
Austin 10 58 5.8 22 0 6
League Rankings 2017
Offense Rankings
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Cowboys Stat Cowboys Rank
Total Offense 360.8 17th 331.8 25th
Rush Offense 103.3 23rd 131.6 6th
Pass Offense 257.5 12th 200.3 27th
Points Per Game 21.5 21st 20.6 24th
3rd-Down Offense 40.5% 11th 39.0% 17th
4th-Down Offense 50% T-20th 61.5% T-12th
Red Zone Offense (TD%) 55.8% 19th 48.7% 26th
Defense Rankings
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Cowboys Stat Cowboys Rank
Total Defense 368.0 21st 318.2 5th
Rush Defense 103.7 10th 91.3 4th
Pass Defense 264.3 26th 226.9 7th
Points Per Game 22.2 12th 18.6 2nd
3rd-Down Defense 36.2% 5th 42.8 T-27th
4th-Down Defense 66.7% 26th 25.0% 2nd
Red Zone Defense (TD%) 46.5% 4th 45.5% 3rd
Team
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Cowboys Stat Cowboys Rank
Turnover Diff. -8 T-26th +2 T-14th
Penalty Per Game 6.1 T-10th 5.7 T-5th
Penalty Yards Per Game 52.0 22nd 49.0 5th
Recap from Last Week’s Games.
Eagles - Video Eagles took on the division rival Redskins who may be one of the only teams with more key injuries than the Eagles and it just got worse for Washington with backup Colt McCoy having to leave the game with a broken fibula after the first quarter. Journeyman and former Eagles Mark Sanchez was forced into action just two weeks after joining the team. With the limited off the Redskins struggled to get anything going on offense outside of a long 90 yards AP TD run in the 2nd quarter. On the otherside of the ball the Redskins offense struggled to stop the Eagles who seemed to move the ball with ease. The Eagles offense looked in rhythm for the first time this season moving the ball both through the air and on the ground and getting multiple people involved. Carson Wentz threw for 306 yards 2 TDs and an INT and the Eagles moved the ball on the ground with 134 yards on 29 carries from their running backs in a 28-13 win.
Cowboys - Video – The Cowboys traveled down to New Orleans to take on the red hot Saints and took it to them as the Cowboys defense complete stifled the high power Saints offense holding to them just 10 points. The Cowboys offense did just enough to seal the win for the Cowboys with Zeke scoring the teams lone TD on a screen pass and Maher added two FGs. The Cowboys defense was able to seal the win for the Cowboys with a late Jourdon Lewis INT, which allowed Dallas to run out the clock in the final 2 minutes for the win.
Connections
Eagles RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai is a native of Haltom, TX and went to Haltom High School. Vaitai played collegiately at TCU in Fort Worth, TX
Cowboys OC Scott Linehan worked under Eagles DC Jim Schwartz in the same capacity when Schwartz was the HC of the Detroit Lions from 2009-2013.
Eagles S Jalen Mills was born in Dallas and grew up in DeSoto, TX and went to Desoto High School.
Eagles LB Jordan Hicks played collegiately for Texas.
Cowboys Safeties Coach Greg Jackson played for the Eagles during the 1994-95 season.
Cowboys Director of Pro Scouting Judd Garrett was selected in the 12th round of the 1990 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles but was released before the season began.
Cowboys Assistant Director of Video Stephen Gagliardino began his NFL career in 1995 as a ball boy with the Philadelphia Eagles when he was 16 years old, working training camp and game days at Veterans Stadium. He did that for four seasons before moving over to the Eagles video department in 1999, where he worked full time as an intern for three seasons (1999-2001).
Many Cowboys fans were born and raised in the Greater Philadelphia Area, however have no ties to Dallas nor have ever been to the city.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was born in Abington, PA, located roughly 15 miles north of Philadelphia
Eagles DT Fletcher Cox and Cowboys QB Dak Prescott played together at Mississippi State University when Prescott was a red shirt freshman.
Eagles OT Lane Johnson is from Groveton, TX and has family who are Cowboys fans including his grandmother who was told “Shut up, if you want to see 75” while she was routing for the Cowboys.
2018 Pro Bowlers
Eagles Cowboys
OT Lane Johnson OT Tyron Smith (Starter)
QB Carson Wentz (Starter) C Travis Fredrick
TE Zach Ertz (Starter) OG Zach Martin (Starter)
G Brandon Brooks (Starter) DE Demarcus Lawrence (Starter)
DT Fletcher Cox (Starter)
FS Malcom Jenkins
C Jason Kelce (1st Alt)
DE Brandon Graham (1st Alt)
CB Jalen Mills (3rd Alt)
K Jake Elliot (2nd Alt)
ST Kame Grugier-Hill (2nd Alt)
General
Referee: Clete Blakeman
Philadelphia owns a 6-4 all-time record vs. Dallas at AT&T Stadium. The Eagles have won 6 of their last 8 games at the venue, including 4 of their last 5 overall.
Philadelphia defeated the Cowboys, 37-9, in last season’s road game at Dallas on 11/19/17, which tied for the club’s largest margin of victory (+28) in 2017. The Eagles, who trailed 9-7 at halftime, scored 30 unanswered points in the second half, including 4 TDs (2 passing, 1 rushing, 1 fumble recovery) and two 2-point conversions.
Zach Ertz needs 22 yards to give him his first 1000 yard season of his career, it will be the first time the Eagles had a TE cross the 1000 yard mark since Pete Retzlaff did it in 1965.
Draft Picks
Eagles Cowboys
TE Dallas Goedert LB Leighton Vander Esch
CB Avonte Maddox G Connor Williams
DE Josh Sweat WR Michael Gallup
T Matt Pryor DE Dorance Armstrong Jr.
T Jordan Mailata TE Dalton Schultz
QB Michael White
LB Chris Covington
WR Cedrick Wilson Jr.
RB Bo Scarbrough
Notable Off-season Additions
Eagles Cowboys
WR Mike Wallace WR Allen Hurns
WR Markus Wheaton WR Amari Cooper
DT Haloti Ngata Wr Deonte Thompson
P Cameron Johnston OT Cameron Fleming
DT Bruce Hector OG Marcus Martin
LB DJ Alexander LB Joe Thomas
WR Jordan Matthews FB Jamize Olawale
WR Tavon Austin
Notable Off-season Departures
Eagles Cowboys
DE Vinny Curry WR Dez Bryant
WR Torrey Smith TE Jason Witten
RB Kenjon Barner RB Alfred Morris
RB LaGarrett Blount RB Keith Smith
LB RB Mychal Kendricks WR Ryan Switzer
CB Patrick Robinson TE James Hanna
TE Trey Burton OT Byron Bell
DT Beau Allen OT Chaz Green
P Donnie Jones DE Benson Mayowa
WR Marcus Johnson LB Anthony Hitchens
TE Brent Celek CB Ben Benwikere
CB Orlando Scandrick
LB Kyle Wilber
K Dan Bailey
QB Kellen Moore
Milestones
Eagles QB Carson Wentz needs 76 yards for 10000 career passing yards.
Eagles QB Carson Wentz needs 61 yards to move up to 6th on the Eagles all time passing yards list moving passing QB Michael Vick and he needs 317 yards to move up to 5th on the Eagles all-time passing yards list moving ahead of QB Tommy Thompson.
Eagles WR Jordan Matthews (20) needs 1 TD to move into a tie for 19th on the Eagles all-time receiving list tying HB Joe Carter and WR Harold Jackson.
Eagles RB Darren Sproles needs 426 yards to move up to 5th on the NFL’s all-time all-purpose yards list passing WR Tim Brown.
Eagles DE Fletcher Cox (38 - 8th) needs 1 sacks to move up to 7th all-time on the Eagles sack list passing DT Andy Harmon.
Eagles DE Fletcher Cox 1 sack for 40 career sacks.
Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins's (4) needs 1 more Interception for a TD to tie CB Eric Allen (5) for most Interceptions for a TD by an Eagles player.
Eagles WR Golden Tate needs 2 TDs for 40 career receiving TDs.
Eagles TE Zach Ertz needs 22 yards for 1000 receiving yards on the season.
Eagles TE Zach Ertz needs 213 yards to break Pete Retzlaff's record (1190) for most receiving yards by a TE in a season set in 1965.
Eagles TE Zach Ertz (4642) needs 123 yards to move up to 10th all-time in on the Eagles receiving TD list tying WR Fred Barnett
Eagles TE Zach Ertz (27 needs 1 TD to move into a tie for 14th all-time in on the Eagles receiving yards list passing WR Ben Hawkins
Cowboys WR Cole Beasley (3067) needs 17 receiving yards for to move up to 17th on the Cowboys all-time receiving list passing WR Kevin Martin.
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (3763) needs 127 rushing yards for to move up to 8th on the Cowboys all-time rushing list passing RB Walt Garrison.
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (28) needs 2 rushing TDs for to move up to a tie for 7th on the Cowboys all-time rushing TD list tying RB Walt Garrison.
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (28) needs 2 rushing TDs for 30 career rushing TDs.
Cowboys QB Dakota Prescott needs 1 passing TD for 60 career passing TDs.
Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence needs 1 sack to move into a tie with DE Charles Haley for 7th on the Cowboys all-time sack list.
Cowboys DE Tyron Crawford needs 1 sack to move up to 14th on the Cowboys all-time sack list passing DT La'Roi Glover
Pro Football Focus WDB Matchup Charts courtesy of PFF Edge
#WDB Matchups (CAPS = Shadow Coverage)
Stats to Know
Amari Cooper: Finally Drop-kicked His Drops Problem?
[Over the course of his NFL career, Amari Cooper has been known for displaying a high level of talent and also a high number of drops. He had 18 drops his first year, 5 his second, 10 his third, and then we come to 2018. In 5-ish games with the Raiders, Carr had 2 drops. In his 5 games with the Cowboys, he’s had 0 drops. Cooper has plugged a big hole in the Cowboys offense, primarily used in the 0-10 yard range and primarily in the middle and the left side of the formation.
Matchups to Watch
Eagles Offensive Line vs. Cowboys Defensive Front
It took almost the entire season but with playoff hopes near the brink with the biggest game of the year on the horizon, the Eagles offensive line enters with some momentum fresh off their best performance against a very good Redskins defensive front. Now I know what I am about to say will probably anger some Cowboys fans – ask me if I care – but I do think the Redskins defensive line is a better overall group than the Dallas one. However… the Dallas LB pairing is far and away better than the Skins. It’s a different challenge this week than last but a challenge nonetheless. Demarcus Lawrence is still a monster and Randy Gregory has been effective in spurts for the Cowboys especially of late. It’s not a deep DL group but it has been playing well of late. With Lane Johnson back in the fold for this one, Lawrence will have a trickier matchup against a Top 5 NFL tackle. The Eagles OL seems to have found a groove. Per PFF, Kelce, Brooks, and Lane Johnson surrendered 0 pressures against the Redskins on Monday night. Jason Peters only surrendered 1 and Seumalo surrendered 3. That’s a very good outing. The challenge this week will be to control a DL not at the Skins level while accounting for athletic freaks in Jaylon Smith and LVE on a unit that is well coached. Both LBs have the size and athletic ability to take on blockers and stop plays in their tracks. It is very difficult to push them off the ball. Additionally, due to their athleticism, both LBs make it difficult to execute a screen game. We saw this in their first matchup and we saw this against the Saints. It’s a beatable Dallas defense that is playing really well but their LBs cover a lot of ground and have the size as well as the motor to really fly around the ball. The offensive line will need to continue to play with the intelligence and ability they have showed of late as it provides the Eagles will the best chance to create opportunities to score.
Eagles Passing Game vs. Cowboys Secondary
The Cowboys front makes it a challenge for the Eagles to run the ball but the secondary and coverage philosophies have the ability to suffocate opponents and force them into less than ideal situations. Dallas will play a lot of Cover 1 and Cover 3 looks with athletes at both outside CB positions that can win their 1v1 matchups especially Byron Jones. The Eagles passing game, with the help of a good game plan, was able to open a lot of opportunities for success in their first meeting but mistakes cost the Eagles points in different situations. Pederson and company will have to be creative with routes to open receivers in man coverage. With Golden Tate seemingly integrated into the offense more since the trade, the Eagles do have options in the passing game. It’ll be important for the Eagles to limit the self-inflicted wounds we’ve seen from them throughout the season. The Cowboys will disguise a lot of what they do post snap and Wentz will need to be more mindful of that this time around than he was in the first matchup when he threw that interception to LVE. Lastly, the Cowboys have had issues against offenses in 12 personnel this year; the Eagles have been excellent with 2 TEs and they shouldn’t hesitate to try and get the Cowboys into their base defense as much as possible. This is a Cowboys defense that doesn’t allow a lot of explosive plays and is great in the red zone. This plays into the Eagles hands since they don’t produce a lot of explosive plays this season. They’ll have to find a way to turn opportunities into points to keep themselves in more favorable situations.
Eagles Defensive Line vs Cowboys Offensive Line
A lot rides on this battle for the Eagles in this contest given how they are built and their opponent this week. For the first time since the bye, the Eagles defensive line generated pressure at a 40% clip. Granted, that was against an incredibly banged up Skins OL but it shows the DL has the ability to win when it should. This week isn’t any different. La’el Collins is a below average OT and the Eagles will have Michael Bennett, Brandon Graham, and Chris Long available to bring pressure off the edge. Tyron Smith has been a limited participant in practice this week for Dallas which isn’t unusual but his status for Sunday is in doubt leaving both tackle position vulnerable. Zack Martin is an All-World guard and really helps this interior. But this Dallas offensive line isn’t nearly at the level it once was and it provides the Eagles defense a chance to really create big plays they otherwise haven’t this year. Dak Prescott has the highest sack percentage in the NFL and that number has risen since the Amari Cooper trade. Part of that is an OL that has dropped off due to injury but the other part of that is due to his inability to function in a chaotic pocket. He’s a mess under pressure and that only reveals itself with great regularity on tape. Pressure can force mistakes and we’ve seen Dak make plenty of those even on their winning streak. Furthermore, the defensive line will need to play with more discipline this week to contain Ezekiel Elliott who ran wild a few weeks ago. This discipline does extend to Dak as well since he is more than capable of extending the pocket as a glorified RB. The Eagles defense has done little in the way of forcing turnovers this season but we able to do so this past week. It’s starts up front with the defensive line as this unit needs to be the force we know they can be.
Eagles Pass Defense vs Cowboys Pass Offense
The Eagles still have a banged up secondary but have returned second year pro Sidney Jones from hamstring injury and he has been manning one of the outside CB spots with Mills and Darby out of the lineup. Rasul Douglas is back after getting hurt against the Saints and former Bears CB Cre’von Leblanc mans the slot. It’s a real patchwork group for the Eagles that hasn’t been completely horrible the last two weeks but faces a more difficult test Sunday. The Dallas passing offense has been better and more efficient since the Amari Cooper trade. This makes sense for several reasons. Cooper can consistently win 1v1 in man and zone; Cooper has always been a terrific route runner and consistently provides Dak an open target. Dak isn’t a QB that throws with anticipation and doesn’t have the ability to throw his receivers open so having a guy like Cooper available really helps the overall offense. Perhaps the biggest factor in the Cowboys offensive turnaround of late has been better play calling to give Dak easier options in the passing game. Zeke has been used as a receiver on early downs more often than he has in the past and it has helped their offense tremendously. Cooper can be a thorn in the Eagles side in this contest given his favorable matchups outside especially against Rasul Douglas. Hopefully rookie Avonte Maddox returns for this contest since he would provide the Eagles with a good safety option over the top. The Eagles should look to try and take away Cooper as much as possible making Dak work for in the passing game with my difficult attempts. Avonte Maddox would help a lot here. There are other solid options on the Cowboys roster at receiver but limiting the more dynamic player will help greatly. Even in their big win against the Saints, the Cowboys only scored 13 points and allowed 7 sacks. It’ll be imperative for the Eagles defense to force Dallas into low percentage situations and keep them from controlling the clock. It’ll be challenge for a depleted secondary.
Special thanks to MikeTysonChicken and abenyishay for their help in creating this Game Preview.
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