Outside of the UK, there's a couple of major tournaments going on at the moment, with the African Cup Of Nations in full swing over in South Africa. Inspired by the tournament, Spiel Magazine have done a great piece on the contrasting fortunes of Nigeria and Zambia since they last met in 2010 - they've also created the great graphic that you can see at the top of the page here. Nigeria were long considered to be the strongest of the African teams and the most likely to succeed on the world stage, but as this piece suggests, the balance of power has shifted somewhat. It'll be interesting to see the outcome of today's match between the two countries.
Over in South America, the continent's biggest team competition is also underway, the Copa Libertadores preliminary fixtures starting earlier this week ahead of the main event which kicks off next week. A great way of getting up to speed with all the teams involved is this handy map from Bill Sport Maps , which also offers some vital stats on each of the teams involved. For us, it's hard to see past the Brazilian or Mexican teams for a winner, but we'll be cheering on the Umbro-affliated teams such as LDU Quito, Sporting Cristal, Nacional and Santa Fe - you can keep up with all the results at the no-nonsense World Football site.
South American teams are famed for their passionate fans, but back here in the UK its fair to say that we have some pretty committed supporters as well. But can they sometimes be a bit too passionate? This interesting blog from The Football Ramble seems to suggest so, argued that tribal angst has grown to an alarming extent in English football, and that fans rarely seem to enjoy themselves any more. It's an interesting argument, and one that I suspect a lot of fans will be able to sympathise with. It's also one that a lot of fans will probably disagree quite strongly with as well!
One thing most football fans will agree on is ticket prices, which seems to be a real hot topic in 2013 here in the UK. But what if you could pay what you like to watch the game? How much would you be willing to spend to watch your team? That's the interesting idea explored by the excellent football league blog Two Unfortunates, who weigh up the pros and cons of 'doing a Radiohead' in this blog post. While it might seem like a good idea in principle, as the article points out its another matter putting it into practice.
Finally this week, it's nice to be reminded that at heart football is something to be enjoyed, and hopefully this great blog on watching non-league football will offer a little reminder of what makes it so appealing. The Illustrated Game tells a straightforward story of a trip to watch a match at Enfield, accompanied by some great illustrations that really bring the whole thing to life. It's almost enough to make you want to brave the cold and head down there for a game...