Germany vs. Argentina, Part III

July 13, 2014

“Will it be the goal fest of 1986 or the negativity of 1990? History will repeat itself with an Argentina-Germany rematch in the World Cup final. But will we get the thrills of 1986 or the grotesqueness of 1990? Unfortunately, signs point to the prospect of a conservative, low-scoring affair on Sunday at the Maracanã. Nearly everyone realizes the best tactics against Germany are to pack it in and counterattack. (Everyone except Brazil, that is). And that has been Argentina’s approach, anyway, so there is little chance the Albiceleste will change.” Fusion


How Germany Got its Game On

July 11, 2014

“Paul Breitner (1974, 1982). Spain, 1982. It was the saddest goal in a World Cup final. Paul Breitner reacted quickly to a loose ball in the Italian box, adjusted his body, and volleyed neatly into Dino Zoff’s bottom right corner. It was a goal that begged to be scored, had to be scored, but there was no joy, no sense of relief, not even hope. It wasn’t even a goal at all, really, but an anti-goal. It marked defeat, not victory. Breitner knew it. He raised his hand to acknowledge his inconsequential achievement and jogged back to the halfway line. Nobody came over to congratulate him. The West Germany vice captain looked like a schoolboy who had come up to the board and solve a problem for which there is no solution. Seven minutes before the final whistle at the Santiago Bernabéu, the time was up—for the World Cup (West Germany were 3-1 down against the Azzurri), for Breitner’s team, and for Breitner himself. …” 8 of 8


25 of the best World Cup photos ever – in pictures

July 11, 2014

“Our sports picture editor, Jonny Weeks, has trawled the archives to pick out some of the best World Cup images ever taken. From the iconic shot of Diego Maradona taking on six Belgium players in 1982 – the real story of which can be read here – to the moment John Aldridge went berserk on the touchline at USA ’94, the shots range from the eye-catching to the unorthodox, the unforgettable to the bizarre. Beneath each image is a short explanation of why it made the cut.” Guardian


O Jogo Bonito

July 10, 2014

“A little more than halfway through Brazil’s horrible, galling victory over Colombia last Friday, I began to wonder what type of foul might actually persuade the Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo to issue a yellow card: A studs-up, two-footed, kung-fu fly-kick to the chest, like the one launched by Eric Cantona against a fan in the stands back in 1995? Any one of the number of egregious fouls, including punches to the head, committed by Italy against Chile, and then by Chile on Italy, in the infamous Battle of Santiago in World Cup 1962? Maybe multiple Suárez-type bites by a hyena pack of players on a prostrate Colombian felled by a scything tackle might have done the trick.” The Paris Review – Jonathan Wilson


Spain ’82: My First World Cup

July 9, 2014

“The first World Cup I remember was Spain ’82. I was eleven and in my fifth year of primary school and living at the Holy Child Teacher Training College, in Ikot Ekpene, in southern Nigeria, where my mother taught home economics. This is about an hour from my village. It was two years since I watched Nigeria’s Green Eagles (as they were called then) defeat Algeria to lift the African Cup of Nations for the first time, in 1980. I remember the three goals against the Desert Foxes, or Les Fennecs, by Segun (Mathematical) Odegbami and Muda Lawal and the celebrations that swept through the land. The image of our captain, Christian (Chairman) Chukwu, lifting the cup after the game was something to behold.” New Yorker


Shades of Oranje

June 25, 2014

“France ’98 remains the standard for World Cups in my lifetime. The number of great players in their prime, the quality of the games in the knockout rounds, the last-second drama of the now (thankfully) abolished Golden Goal—a rule by which the first team to score a goal in extra time won—it all proved irresistible. France as a nation had turned to embrace the right, and up had risen the National Front; nevertheless, people traveled in happy droves to spend days, if not weeks, in their dream of Romantic France. During those June days, football flourished under what should have been a crushing paradox of love and hate, more felt than fully understood.” The Paris Review


The World Cup’s top 100 footballers of all time – interactive

June 23, 2014

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6. Johan Cruyff
“Welcome to the Guardian’s choice of the World Cup’s top 100 footballers. Led by Lothar Matthäus and Zico, our international panel of 40 experts compiled a countdown of the finest players to grace the globe’s greatest sporting event. You can see who the judges are and read how we compiled the list here. Starting with No1 in the top left corner, click on the individual players to read more about them.” Guardian


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