A Tiny Club’s Uneasy Rise

July 27, 2014

“This month, Toni Kroos and Lionel Messi played in the World Cup final in front of nearly 75,000 people at Rio de Janeiro’s Estádio do Maracanã. Soon, however, these star players will discover the challenge of playing at Ipurúa, a hillside stadium with 5,250 seats that is home to Eibar, the new kid on the block in Spanish soccer. Tiny Eibar has needed more than just victories to join La Liga, Spain’s top division, and earn the right to challenge Kroos and his Real Madrid teammates or Messi and his fellow Barcelona players. After winning promotion in late May from the second division, Eibar faced a race against the clock to raise 1.72 million euros, or $2.32 million, and meet regulations on how much capital a top-division club should have.” NY Times

Hack to the future for Brazil

July 27, 2014

“It remains to be seen whether Brazil’s new coach Dunga, a vocal critic of the possession game in the past, has learned anything from Spain and Germany’s eight-year domination of international football. During an appearance on The World Cup Show, as events in Brazil unfolded before our eyes, Les Murray, Craig Foster and I tried to dissect what had gone wrong with the football played by the host. We did not limit ourselves to the 7-1 thrashing by Germany in the semi final. We commented that even while the Brazil team was winning games it was losing friends. I told the story of the Copa America final, seven years earlier in Venezuela. Brazil caused a surprise by beating Argentina 3-0.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)

Gerrard’s exit could bring change

July 27, 2014

“Steven Gerrard’s decision to retire from international football, announced on Monday, brought the England national team back into the consciousness of the media and public. Until now, it seemed that everyone had decided to overlook the disappointing World Cup experience altogether — there had been no outcry and no great fervent discussion about what went wrong in Brazil, where Roy Hodgson’s side claimed one point from three games.” ESPN – Michael Cox

World Cup 2014 best XI

July 25, 2014

“… Jerome Boateng, Germany.  Perhaps a controversial choice – Philipp Lahm is widely regarded as the best right-back of his generation, and captained Germany to victory. But Lahm spent the first couple of games in the centre of midfield, and didn’t play particularly well, making careless mistakes against both Portugal and Ghana. Had he played the entire tournament at right-back – a move which made Germany a better side – he’d be a shoo-in. Boateng, however, played well throughout the group stage at right-back – in the game against USA, for example, he was the man who led the attacking with some dangerous bursts and good crosses.” Zonal Marking

What is Americans’ Favorite Global Cuisine?

July 25, 2014

“During the World Cup, we wondered how the countries would fare if it wasn’t their soccer teams but their national cuisines playing for glory. So we launched the FiveThirtyEight International Food Association’s (FIFA) 2014 World Cup. The group phase of the competition identified a few front-runners. Some, such as Italy, are also good at soccer. (The Italians might have done better in the soccer World Cup, but Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, apparently confused about which tournament he was playing in, decided to take a bite out of one of them). Others countries, like Mexico, will have a chance to avenge their soccer disappointments. We also introduced a few ringers, such as China, that didn’t qualify for the soccer World Cup but that belong in any discussion of the world’s best cuisines.” fivethirtyeight

The Most Insufferable Fans in the Whole Wide World

July 25, 2014

“How the contemporary Arsenal supporter has become whiny and morally high-handed. This coming Saturday, Arsenal will play their first match on American soil in twenty-five years as they take on the New York Red Bulls to kick off their pre-season preparation. This represents a wonderful and rare opportunity for US-based Gunners fans to cheer their team on in the flesh, and also an opportunity for the rest of us to test our patience in coping with the arrogance of the modern Arsenal fan.” Fusion

Miroslav Klose: the last poacher?

July 25, 2014

“Ordinarily, a striker surpassing the all-time World Cup goalscoring record would be the major story of the day, but Miroslav Klose’s 16th goal came in Germany’s historic 7-1 thrashing of Brazil – so it was nothing more than a subplot. The man he surpassed, Ronaldo – who has since turned to a different sport as a PokerStars pro – was in the stadium to see his record defeated. There’s no question that Ronaldo was a far superior all-round footballer, but few strikers in history have shared Klose’s ability as a goalpoacher. There has been some snobbery towards Klose gaining this record, as if such a simple striker shouldn’t be entitled to such a status…but then that’s the very point of Klose. He doesn’t do anything apart from score – his link-up play is average, he’s never been particularly quick, he’s not very tall. He’s simply excellent at positioning himself, and finishing calmly.” Zonal Marking (Video)


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