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


Chile end Copa America quarterfinal curse by defeating feisty Uruguay

June 27, 2015

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“And so Chile did not fall foul of the Copa America curse of the quarterfinals. In four of the past five tournaments the hosts have been eliminated at this stage — three times by Uruguay. This time, though, there were no slip ups, and Uruguay were beaten 1-0. Ninety-nine years ago they kicked off the first Copa America — against Uruguay — and they are still looking for their first tournament win. Their golden generation is at its peak. They are at home, with all of their games taking place in Santiago’s National Stadium. But for a long time on Wednesday night, it was looking like a case of ‘if not now, when?’ for the Chilean team.” ESPN – Tim Vickery


The Copa America heats up now for Chile

June 22, 2015


“These days, the Copa America tournament serves as a warm-up for the qualifiers. Of course, once the Copa kicks off, everyone wants to win. There is always pressure on Brazil and Argentina to go home with the trophy, and that is especially true this year, with La Albiceleste waiting for a senior title since 1993 and Brazil anxious to cover up that huge stain on the carpet left by its performance in the World Cup. The focus of most coaches, though, is firmly on preparing a team for the World Cup qualifiers. More than anything else, the Copa America is about the host, which really wants to put on a show in front of its own public. And that, too, is especially true this year, with Chile gunning for a maiden continental title. As expected, there has never been a dull moment during Chile’s group phase. Indeed, there was more incident than anyone had bargained for.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Neymar’s petulance leaves Brazil in trouble after Copa America suspension

June 21, 2015

“There were some warning signs flashing in Brazil’s Copa America opener against Peru, Neymar’s first competitive match as Brazil captain. He produced a wonderful individual performance in that 2-1 win, crowned with a pass of breathtaking vision that set up Brazil’s stoppage-time winner. … Three days later, the collision could not be averted — with consequences that will, unless Brazil’s appeal is successful, rule Neymar out of the rest of the Copa America. He was suspended for four games after being sent off in the 1-0 loss to Colombia.” ESPN – Tim Vickery


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