A World Cup qualifying battle worth its weight in gold

September 27, 2015

“Let’s go round again! The squads are being called up and the anticipation is rising. South America’s marathon World Cup qualification campaign is about to get under way, with the continent’s 10 countries playing each other home and away on the long road to Russia 2018.” The World Game – Tim Vickery

Time’s up for Venezuela’s own ‘Captain Socceroo’

September 20, 2015

“After 129 matches and 23 goals, Juan Arango retired from international football after the midweek 1-1 draw with Panama. He leaves the field with football in his country on a very different footing from the one it was in January 1999, when the 18 year-old Arango climbed off the bench to make his debut against Denmark. Johnny Warren’s mission was to plant and grow the seed of football in terrain that many said would not prove fertile. Arango has done something similar. Unlike the rest of the continent, Venezuela appeared unable to catch the footballbug. It was a land of baseball and beauty contests. Football existed, but it was a flame kept alive by European immigrants, often from Spain, Italy or Portugal. Some in Venezuela even saw it as a middle-class sport. The popular passion was not for goals but to score a ‘jonron’ – the local translation of a baseball home run.” The World Game – Tim Vickery

The ever-changing face of the EPL

September 3, 2015

“In September 1882, a group of schoolboys met around a North London lamppost and decided to start a football club that soon became known as Tottenham Hotspur. On 20 April 1901, Tottenham won the FA Cup. It had been an eventful 19 years. In that time the club had established itself as a local force and acquired a fan base. It had turned professional and soon afterwards had become a limited company. It had moved into its present White Hart Lane stadium, with a capacity at the time of 30,000.” The World Game – Tim Vickery

Continental schism presents a tough question

August 17, 2015
epa04873815 Players of River Plate of Argentina celebrate after winning the Copa Libertadores Cup after defeating Tigres of Mexico at a soccer match held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 05 August 2015. EPA/David Fernández

epa04873815 Players of River Plate of Argentina celebrate after winning the Copa Libertadores Cup after defeating Tigres of Mexico at a soccer match held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 05 August 2015. EPA/David Fernández

“Buenos Aires giant River Plate won its third Copa Libertadores title earlier this month, beating Tigres of Mexico 3-0 on aggregate in the two-legged final. Some in Europe were gripped by the fact that this triumph came only four years after the club had been relegated to Argentina’s second division. In reality, though, there is no need to be astonished. Such wild oscillations have become almost par for the course in the South American club game. The previous winner of the Libertadores was another Buenos Airies side, San Lorenzo. It did not go down to the second division. But it came very close. In the middle of 2012 it was forced into a play-off to determine its first division survival. It won – and two years later it was champion of its continent.” The World Game – Tim Vickery

Tim Vickery’s Notes from Brazil: Ronaldinho’s last decade summed up in 90 minutes

August 3, 2015

“The last 9 years of Ronaldinho Gaucho’s professional life were nearly summed up in his first 90 minutes for his latest club. The former FIFA player of the year had been presented to fans of Fluminense of Rio at a previous game a fortnight earlier. A big crowd had come out for the occasion, and, inspired, Ronaldinho declared himself raring to go, desperate to get out there on the field. He neglected to add that it would be some 8 days before he actually turned up for training – part of the deal he agreed with the club was that he would straight away be granted two weeks holiday. Since he had not been in action since the end of May (with Queretaro in Mexico) this in itself was an eye opener, yet more evidence that getting the most out of his extraordinary talent is not at the top of his list of priorities – which would seem to have been the case for some time.” World Soccer – Tim Vickery (Video)

The genius of Ghiggia will forever be remembered

July 25, 2015

“On 16 July 1950, he scored the decisive goal as Uruguay came from behind to beat Brazil 2-1 and win the fourth edition of the World Cup. The crowd gathered in Rio de Janeiro’s newly opened Maracana stadium may well have been one of the biggest ever assembled to watch a game of football. And Ghiggia, as he liked to say, along with the Pope and Frank Sinatra, was one of just three men to silence the giant stadium. The most important man on that fateful day was the final one to leave the scene. All the other 21 players who took the field that day have already passed on. Ghiggia was the last of the gang to die.” The World Game – Tim Vickery

Attacking stars set to light up Copa America final

July 2, 2015

“So will Chile finally have something to put in its trophy cabinet? Or will Argentina win its first senior title since 1993? There is plenty at stake, then, in the final of the 2015 Copa America. Many treat this tournament as a warm up for the coming World Cup qualifiers, but not these two teams. Chile, as host, is obliged to put on a show, especially given the fact that it has never won the competition. A sense of ‘if not now, when?’ has hung over Chile in this Copa. It has probably its best ever generation, with a group of players in their prime with the experience of two World Cups to help them through. The tournament has been set up for them to reach the final – they were in the easiest group, have played all their games in Santiago’s Nacional Stadium and have avoided the heavyweights – until now.” World Game – Tim Vickery


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