As all of you well know, this weekend contains a veritable feast of international fixtures. Unlike most international breaks, some of these games actually mean something, and you'd be advised to check Jack's post in order to brush up on which of them deserve your attention. Personally, I'll be keeping an eye on Belgium's visit to Zagreb and hoping they can do enough to afford leaving Christian Benteke on the bench against Wales a few days later. Other than that, though, I have a difficult time getting interested in international football outside of the competitive confines of an actual tournament. I imagine this has a lot to do with the sorry state of the Canadian national men's team, but I have a difficult time getting up for any of the chest-beating and flag-waving, even in the few sports that we're actually good at. How do you guys feel? Are there any international qualifiers you're excited to keep an eye on? Let us know in the comments.
There have been several good takes on the banning of region-based chanting in Italy, but this is a particular favourite, if only because of the anecdote that gives the post its title. Personally, I feel like an outright ban is a bit harsh, but I also felt uncomfortable joining in with all of the anti-London chanting that went on when I was in the Aston Villa away end at the Emirates. After all, I rather like London.
This is another installment of Richard Whittall's essential "Skeptical Tactician" series, and it focuses on Wayne Rooney's somewhat suspect quotes about how playing in midfield was the impetus for last summer's torturous repeat of the "will Rooney leave Manchester United" saga. I can't say I really have an opinion for or against Wayne Rooney, but he's always struck me as someone who would much rather not be a famous footballer. He seems like he'd have been happy to just be a generic blue-collar guy but he had the dubious fortune of prodigious athletic talent dropped in his lap before he knew how to deal with it.
Rory Smith is always good for some light contrarianism, and he does a predictably excellent job of pointing out why Sam Allardyce doesn't deserve the bad rap he sometimes gets for what's perceived as an inferior brand of football. I also want to take this opportunity to say I totally thought West Ham had a decent chance of beating Spurs but I was cowed into submission after getting burned in our mock betting the week before. And that performance was without Andy Carroll, who still has some promise in the admittedly shallow pool of English strikers.