A Yellow Card

November 15, 2013

“Three points make a trend, but in a World Cup year, two points are good enough. So here’s one: Early on the morning of October 29, 31-year-old Geisa Silva, a social worker with the Brazilian military police, found her husband’s backpack on their front porch in Rio de Janeiro. Joao Rodrigo Silva Santos was a retired professional soccer player, a journeyman who’d spent most of his career knocking around the Brazilian lower leagues; post-retirement, he ran a food shop in the city’s Realengo neighborhood. He hadn’t come home the night before, and Silva had been worried, jumping up at the sound of every car. Before dawn, she got ready to leave for her job with a police unit responsible for conducting an anti-gang crackdown. When she opened the front door, she saw the backpack. It contained her husband’s severed head.” Grantland – Brian Phillips

South American sides to show World Cup credentials

November 15, 2013

“Over the next few days South America’s World Cup sides will present their case for the defence. The continent’s sides made a strong showing in South Africa 2010; all five made it out of the group phase, four reached the quarter-finals and Uruguay (who had finished fifth in qualifying) made it into the semis. Naturally, good things are expected next year when the World Cup finally returns to South America. But on the evidence of the 2014 qualifiers, there could be a problem. A common theme of the campaign was teams tended to be better in attack than defence.” BBC

View from the other side: Three (unconventional) reasons why Germany never beats Italy

November 15, 2013

“The two most successful national teams in Europe face each other for the thirty-second time. However, in World Cups and European Championships, it’s always been a one-way trend. Italy and Germany are two countries with intertwined football destinies. Each has won the World Cup in each other’s home, and very often their duels give way to breathtaking spectacles, which have ended up creating the biggest rivalry in European international football. However, the worst thing when you go to see a highly anticipated show, is knowing how it ends. Because it spoils the taste of the whole thing.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Uruguay’s band of brothers closes in on the World Cup

November 15, 2013

Jordan v Uruguay
“When he took the field for the playoff against Jordan, goalkeeper Martin Silva became the 28th player Uruguay have used in their World Cup qualification campaign. All of the other South American teams used more. Uruguay coach Oscar Washington Tabarez is fiercely loyal to his group of players, many of whom have been together since the 2007 Copa America. But sticking with the same players does not necessarily mean sticking with the same strategy. Uruguay can switch formations — from a back three to a back four, for example — and change approaches, sometimes with the same starting lineup.” ESPN – Tim Vickery

Jordan panic after Maxi Pereira goal sets up emphatic Uruguay victory
“Passion, desire and unity, it turns out, can carry you only so far. This was the biggest game in Jordan’s football history, but they were undone by a Uruguay side who remained admirably unfazed by a raucous crowd and had the quality to take the chances that came their way. This was a comfortable victory and next week’s second leg should be no more than a formality at which Uruguay will book their place at the World Cup, where they will be one of the eight seeds.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

Uruguay makes South American statement in demolishing Jordan
“It was a good 10 minutes after the final whistle had blown that Uruguay’s players, having celebrated in front of their fans, finally left the pitch. They were applauded off by the few thousand Jordanian fans who had remained, a sporting gesture but one that seemed rather to sum up the gulf between the sides. Before the game, a number of Jordan’s fans had insisted that Kalil Baniateyah and Ahmed Ibrahim would outshine Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, but the sense had been that mainly they were excited to have players of that stature playing in their country.” <a href=”http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/soccer/news/20131113/jonathan-wilson-uruguay-jordan-playoff/#ixzz2kkJuHvxjSI

Romania’s surprise chance to reach World Cup

November 15, 2013

” Reaching the play-offs – in which they will play Greece tonight – was always the best Romania could have expected from the 2014 World Cup qualification campaign. There was never any belief that the team could beat Holland to the top of the group, and with Turkey there too, most people were looking at third place as a reasonable ambition. However, Turkey’s terrible start meant that the group opened up, and Romania ended up just pipping Hungary and Turkey for second (an awfully long way behind Holland).” When Saturday Comes

Oscar Tabarez More Important Than Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani for Uruguay

November 15, 2013

“AMMAN, JORDAN–Oscar Washington Tabarez is beginning to look his age now. Four years ago, at the World Cup, with his neat navy blazers and striped ties, the carefully parted steel-grey hair and the benignly intelligent eyes, he looked like the precinct chief in a host of 70s and 80s cop shows. Now, with his limp ever more pronounced, and the skin of his face a little softer than it was, he has become the retired veteran the mavericks on the street go to when they need some friendly but unsparing advice. He remains one of the most thoughtful and astute coaches in the world game.” bleacher report – Jonathan Wilson