World Cup draw set to reveal unique magic

December 1, 2013

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“Day after day, reports from the land of the next World Cup send shudders through the soul. A collapsing crane claims the lives of two construction workers at the stadium in Sao Paulo. The Brazilian FA, the CBF, makes the sad announcement that the legendary left-back Nilton Santos has passed away after a lung infection. Concerns rise over local companies fleecing visiting fans over accommodation and internal flights. Anger at socio-economic problems is expressed through protests. The 2014 World Cup is currently associated with many issues, few relating to the promise of an on-field spectacle.” Telegraph – Henry Winter (Video)


El Fantasma helps bitter rivals unite

December 1, 2013

“The ghost of 1950 is back to haunt Brazil. With Uruguay snapping up the last place in the 2014 World Cup, the possibility opens up of history repeating itself – of Brazil organising the party only for its tiny southern neighbour to walk off with the prize. In the final game of the 1950 tournament host Brazil needed just a draw to become world champion for the first time. It seemed to have a hand and a half on the trophy when it took the lead early in the second half but Uruguay hit back, silencing a huge crowd in the newly-built Maracana stadium to win 2-1.” The World Game -Tim Vickery (Video)


Sheriff Tiraspol, the club at the heart of Europe’s forgotten conflict

December 1, 2013

“Had Tottenham Hotspur arrived in Moldova’s eastern city of Tiraspol for their recent Europa League fixture by road rather than by air they would have been greeted by an almost unique phenomenon in international diplomacy. Travelling from the Moldovan capital Chisinau to the city that homes league champions Sheriff requires visitors to cross perhaps the only international check-point in the world that brings you out in the same country that you thought you were leaving, at least in any legal sense. The Moldovan dispute with breakaway autonomous region Transnistria, sitting between the Dnistria river and the south-western tip of Ukraine, could well be described as Europe’s forgotten conflict – dormant since 1992 when a brief war over sovereignty that defined the immediate post-Soviet period fizzled out into a polite ceasefire.” World Soccer


Territorial Discrimination in Italy

December 1, 2013

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“Remember that mom who always went back on her word? The one whose kid would fail his classes, get suspended from school, and then be allowed to go out the next weekend after you thought he’d never see the light of day again. The mom who threatened to ground her kid for the next two months but always caved and never held firm. Well that mom is exactly like the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), an organization whose menacing threats are undermined by a severe lack of enforcement. Specifically, as territorial discrimination by fans in Serie A continues to escalate, the FIGC’s lackadaisical approach hinders the hope of any indelible progress being made.” Soccer Politics (Video)


Inside Meulensteen’s Time at Brøndby

December 1, 2013

“Meulensteen was appointed Anzhi coach yesterday to much surprise and fanfare. His last head coaching position was a fairly unsuccessful stint at Danish club Brøndby IF. We get to know a little more about Meulensteen as a head coach through his former player at Brøndby, Per Nielsen, from Nielsen’s recent autobiography. Per Nielsen played his first match for Brøndby IF in June 1993 and between his debut and 2008 he played 548, only eight less than Bjarne Jensen, who holds the club record for most matches played with 556. Nielsen played as a center defender. Per Nielsen has never played for any clubs other than Brøndby, where he won the Danish championship in 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2005 and the Danish cup in 1993, 1998, 2003, 2005 and 2008. He also played 10 matches for the Danish national team, earning his first cap in 2004.” Russian Football


Bayern’s Lost Wunderkinds

December 1, 2013

“From a Bayern fan’s point a view, a look at the club’s bench against Borussia Dortmund would have been a welcome sight: Bayern, with injuries ravaging their praised depth, gave seats to two highly admired youngsters, Mitchell Weiser and Pierre Emile Højbjerg. It was clear from the start that their place on the bench at the Signal Iduna Park was only to fill gaps left by the injuries of Claudio Pizarro, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Xherdan Shaqiri and Franck Ribéry, as a match of Der Klassiker‘s magnitude doesn’t fit the early development of these two young players; however, their absence from lower stake matches – such as UCL matches against Viktoria Plzeň or the Pokal matches, as well as some Bundesliga matches where rotation was possible – must be a cause of concern for any Bayern enthusiast.” Bundesliga Fanatic


The pursuit of Blaise Matuidi and Jeremy Menez is already underway

December 1, 2013

“Jeremy Menez and Blaise Matuidi have plenty in common. Current French internationals, they were born within a month of each other in the spring of 1987 and both brought up in the suburbs of Paris. They were both first selected for Les Blues for a friendly against Norway in August 2010 and both signed for Paris Saint-Germain, flush with the noveaux riches of Nasser Al-Khelaifi’s Qatar Investment Authority, on 25th July 2011 and frequent their midfield. As it stands, they also both also look set to leave the club when their contracts expire in the summer, making them the most sought-after free agents in the game.” World Soccer