Brazil 3-1 Croatia

June 13, 2014

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World Cup 2014: group stage, day 1
“The World Cup opener was an exciting game, with Croatia taking an early lead and playing well throughout – Brazil were flattered by the two goal-victory. Crossing. The key feature of the match, and a rather surprising one, was the frequency of crossing. That wasn’t something we expected – Brazil usually field inverted wingers cutting inside to shoot, whereas Croatia hold the ball for long positions in central midfield. But in the first half, both sides crossed the ball regularly. One obvious cause was the format of Brazil’s attackers. Oscar is usually central, with Neymar left and Hulk right. But Scolari changed this completely, with Oscar wide-right, Hulk wide-left and Neymar playing as a support striker, effectively an inside-left. This was probably because Scolari knew Croatia lack a recognised holding midfielder, using two silky passers in that zone instead – so he knew Neymar would get plenty of space between the lines.” Zonal Marking

World Cup Tactical Analysis: Brazil 3-1 Croatia
“The curtain raiser to the grandest tournament of the year took place on the 12th of June at Sao Paulo, with the hosts and hot favourites Brazil taking on Croatia. With all the feverish build up to this game, many were expecting a Brazil romp, but things didn’t really go as planned, as Croatia coach Niko Kovac set his team up to make things very difficult for the Brazilians. Thankfully, the game didn’t suffer as a spectacle, with both teams fighting hard and playing with a great intensity to ensure a positive start to the tournament.” Outside of the Boot

Croatia seething after bitter defeat
“Hysteria — there’s no better word to describe how the morning after the night before looks in Croatia. The Vatreni lost 3-1 to Brazil in the World Cup opener despite putting on a decent performance and, for the vast majority of those who cared to express their opinion, there is no doubt whatsoever who was to blame for the defeat. Referee Yuichi Nishimura is the name’s on everyone’s lips — barely anyone opted for a rational analysis of how Croatia played, instead focusing on the Japanese’s officiating of the match. The Croatia press was incandescent with rage as each media outlet dissected the evening.” ESPN

Neymar makes his mark but like Brazil fails to convince against Croatia
“He was the first Brazilian to score (at the right end) at the World Cup, the first Brazilian to be booked in the World Cup and he also scored a decisive penalty. He trotted round in a corona of attention, always demanding the ball, taking every corner and free-kick, the demands of his country that he should win them the World Cup apparently loud in his ears. Yet this wasn’t a convincing performance, either from Neymar or Brazil.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Relief for Brazil after flawed victory
“Brazil’s World Cup is one of the most ineptly organized major sporting events in history. It might yet prove to be the worst. Its inconveniences have been overshadowed only by its tragedies. Construction workers have died. Stadiums and infrastructure are incomplete. The field in Manaus, a first-order criminal folly, looks like something a beer league wouldn’t play on. The airports and streets are overwhelmed. (If you have a friend in Brazil and you want to know what he’s up to right now, he’s waiting in some kind of line.) Officials have warned visitors not to be out after midnight, that roving bands of muggers have been invading restaurants, that street violence is as inevitable as the sunshine. Long before the start of Thursday’s kickoff between Brazil and Croatia, the concessions at Arena de Sao Paulo had run out of food, the wireless had gone down and the too-few elevators weren’t working properly. Eighteen minutes after the first whistle, a large bank of lights went out.” ESPN

Soccer Morning – June 13th 1:31:13 (Video)

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Kickoff

June 13, 2014

“Jonathan Wilson, from London: ‘All the new thinking is about loss. In this it resembles all the old thinking.’ That’s Robert Hass, in the opening of his great poem ‘Meditation at Lagunitas.’ The lines resonate: earlier this week, before departing for the World Cup in Brazil, the U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who is German, asserted, ‘We cannot win the World Cup,’ and it didn’t go down well. At least one pundit suggested that he should ‘get out of America.’” The Paris Review – Jonathan Wilson


McDonald’s World Cup Launch Party Features Live Art by UK-based Ben Mosley and more

June 13, 2014

“In celebration of the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil, McDonald’s has reinvented its French fry packaging. Twelve artists from around the world — many who are active on the streets — were chosen to create the special new designs to celebrate the game. Among those selected from the 500 artists who submitted designs was UK-based Ben Mosley, who descibes his piece, Fans of the World (close-up pictured above), as a homage to the World Cup.  ”I believe the World Cup brings people together in celebration from all walks of life and backgrounds,” he explains, “so calling my piece Fans Of The World makes sense to me because it represents everything that I believe to be good about the game.” Street Art NYC


The World’s Ball

June 13, 2014

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“An Imperfect Ball. Early soccer balls were hand-sewn and made of leather. They were never perfectly round, and inflating them required some skill. The laces had to be undone before an interior air bladder was filled and tied with a thread; then the laces were retied. Team captains chose a ball before each match, and every team had a preferred design, according to Peter Pesti, a collector and expert on World Cup balls. In the first World Cup, in 1930, Uruguay and Argentina could not agree on which ball to use. The first half of the match was played with a model favored by Argentina. The second half was played with Uruguay’s preferred design, the T-Model. Argentina led, 2-1, after the first half, but Uruguay recovered in the second and won, 4-2.” NY Times


God Uses the World Cup to Teach People Geography

June 13, 2014

“It is astonishing how many of my friends, agnostics as they are, suddenly start praying the moment a World Cup match is before them. One of them texted me just before the opening game between Brazil and Croatia. ‘OMG. You know Im never in church. But today Im a believer.’ He then phoned me. He said the focus of his prayer was not any of the teams on the field. He was really rooting for the Japanese referee.” New Republic


France World Cup play-off win helped cause Ukraine crisis, says Domenech

June 13, 2014

“The former France coach Raymond Domenech has said the current Les Bleus side is ‘partially responsible’ for the bloodshed in Ukraine. France beat Ukraine 3-0 in the second leg of the World Cup play-off in November last year to pull off a thrilling 3-2 aggregate victory and qualify for the World Cup in Brazil. According to Domenech, the turnaround was such a shock to the Ukrainian people that it paved the way for the crisis situation currently engulfing the country.” Guardian


The Many Goal Posts of Brazil

June 13, 2014

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“The 2014 World Cup is finally underway. Soccer-loving host nation Brazil plays Croatia inside São Paulo’s Arena Corinthians Thursday afternoon. Like so many tournament story lines formed around excessive government spending on the event ($11.3 billion total), the $525 million stadium has been a source of embarrassment for Brazilian politicians and World Cup organizers. Three workers were killed building the facility. Completed six months past deadline and $150 million over budget, today’s game will be the first it hosts at full capacity.” City Lab