World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi shines after tactical change

June 16, 2014

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“On the eve of the Argentina-Bosnia game, a Brazilian newspaper came up with a cruel statistic. In one World Cup game, Neymar had scored more World Cup goals than Lionel Messi had managed in his entire career. The Brazilian was leading by two to one. The little wizard has now levelled the score, and did it in style in his first ever game in Rio’s iconic Maracana stadium. His strike, which turned out to be the winner in Argentina’s 2-1 victory over Bosnia, is the moment a packed crowd will guard in their memories of Sunday’s game. It was Messi at his best, cutting in with the ball tied to his left foot, exchanging quick passes with Gonzalo Higuain and curling a shot in off the post. Without a slight deflection off a Bosnian defender the ball would probably have gone just wide, but few would complain – apart from Bosnians, and some Brazilians.” BBC

Lionel Messi lights up World Cup with stunning strike in Group F victory as Argentina triumph against Bosnia
“Messi at Maracana: what an event. This was part-homage to one of the game’s greats and part-launch of Argentina’s World Cup campaign. The two themes were inevitably intertwined as Lionel Messi embarked on his mission, using his phenomenal footballing capabilities to try to guide his country to victory in these finals that are already being hailed as one of the finest ever. The tone of the tournament has been on attacking and here it was Messi’s turn. He was short of his highest standards, short of the brilliance that has defined his Barcelona career but he still created Argentina’s first and then scored their second, giving the feeling of a special cameo being performed in front of an audience of 74,738, the majority enrapt by his work. It was astonishing to think that this was only his second ever World Cup goal in nine games.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

World Cup Tactical Analysis: Argentina 2-1 Bosnia
“In a game that was expected to be Argentina’s announcement of intent in this World Cup, the favorites met stern opposition in the form of Bosnia and Herzegovina. And though Argentina certainly did the business by walking away with the 3 points, it may have been Bosnia and Herzegovina who perhaps made the bigger statement.” Outside of the Boot

Argentina vs. Bosnia in GIFs
“Messi strikes in Argentina’s opener at the Maracanã. What else could a fan ask for? Argentina and Lionel Messi in Brazil’s greatest stadium, the Marcanã in Rio. Will Argentina be there on July 13? Maybe, maybe not, but it would start today for Argentina against talented World Cup first-timers Bosnia. Let’s look at our favorite GIFs.” Fusion (Video)


Switzerland v Ecuador: Haris Severovic the hero as Swiss roll South Americans over deep into stoppage time

June 16, 2014

“Substitute Haris Seferovic struck a stoppage time winner as Switzerland fought back from a goal down to claim a thrilling last-gasp 2-1 win over Ecuador in a scrappy but entertaining World Cup Group E opener on Sunday. Seferovic snatched a dramatic winner with 23 seconds left of added time in Brasilia. The Real Sociedad striker got on the end of a late counter-attack to convert Ricardo Rodriguez’s low cross at the near post and make it 2-1. Ironically the chance came from Ecuador’s final attack of the game when Michael Arroyo delayed his shot and was dispossessed by Valon Behrami who launched a swift break. Poor defending had resulted in the first two goals with Enner Valencia, who scored against England in their World Cup warm-up in Miami earlier this month, heading Ecuador in front in the first half.” Telegraph

Switzerland 2 Ecuador 1
“Substitute Haris Seferovic scored in the third minute of stoppage time to earn Switzerland a dramatic win over Ecuador in their opening Group E match. Seferovic turned in Ricardo Rodriguez’s low cross as Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side came back from behind to claim victory. Fellow substitute Admir Mehmedi headed Switzerland level after Enner Valencia had given Ecuador a half-time lead.” BBC

Switzerland vs. Ecuador in GIFs
“Last second drama in Group E opener. This is the game everyone circled on their calendars once the schedules were announced. The hype machine didn’t go into sleep mode to save up energy for this one. But don’t let that fool you—there was some exceptional talent on the field, and it had the most exciting ending of any game in the tournament thus far. Let’s go to Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, for our favorite GIFs.” Fusion (Video)


World Cup 2014: group stage, day 4. Switzerland 2-1 Ecuador. France 3-0 Honduras. Argentina 2-1 Bosnia.

June 16, 2014

“… Argentina 2-1 Bosnia. Alejandro Sabella made the competition’s biggest tactical error so far with his use of a 3-5-2, but he had the intelligence to correct it at half-time. Argentina shape. This match was basically all about Argentina’s formation. Throughout qualification they had one of the most settled sides and formations around, and while they sometimes played a 3-5-2 / 5-3-2 system, this was only away from home, often when playing at altitude. It was a highly defensive plan B. It was very strange, then, that Sabella decided to use that system in Argentina’s opening game.” Zonal Marking


World Cup Tactical Analysis: France 3-0 Honduras

June 16, 2014

“France came into the World Cup with a lack of expectations in terms of success, but lots of expectations in correcting the tainted image of French football after the horror show an and off the pitch four years earlier. Qualification was a struggle, led by a hard-fought performance against Ukraine, but they’ll count their blessings at getting a somewhat easy group. Easy primarily because of their first opponents, Honduras. The North American side consisted of players not playing at the top of World football, while their type of football was also one befitting of minnows with the emphasis on the defence. Nevertheless, they were a good physical side and over-looking any team at a World Cup can have monumental repercussions.” Outside of the Boot

Mature France performance sees Honduras off
“Didier Deschamps’ France side got their FIFA World Cup Group E campaign underway on Sunday with a comfortable 3-0 win over minnows Honduras in Porto Alegre. After three scoreless opening matches since 1998’s 3-0 win over South Africa in Marseille, Les Bleus finally put that unwanted record to bed with a mature performance at Estadio Beira-Rio. Karim Benzema was the key man for the French. He scored twice, played a big role in the other goal — the World Cup’s first to be decided by goal-line technology — and finally looks ready to deliver on the biggest stage for his country.” ESPN

France vs. Honduras in GIFs
“Les Blues takes care of business in its opener. France were heavy favorites against Central American opponent Honduras. Not only did they have the edge in terms of talent, they were still angry about 2010. Well, not really, but they did win easily, 3–0 in Porto Alegre. Check out our favorite GIFs.” Fusion (Video)


Where Dishonesty Is Best Policy, U.S. Soccer Falls Short

June 16, 2014

“The list of improvements that the United States men’s soccer team needs to make is considerable. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann would like to see a more consistent back line, better touch from his midfielders and plenty more production from the attackers. Yet as Klinsmann and his players begin their World Cup here Monday against Ghana, trickier questions of soccer acumen have come into focus: Are the Americans bad at playacting? And if so, should they try to get better? The first part seems easy enough. For better or worse, gamesmanship and embellishment — or, depending on your sensibilities, cheating — are part of high-level soccer. Players exaggerate contact. They amplify the mundane. They turn niggling knocks into something closer to grim death.” NY Times


How We Play the Game

June 16, 2014

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Pelé in a match at the 1966 World Cup in England.
“Every team is simply trying to score goals while preventing its opponent from doing the same. But they all seem to go about it in distinct ways, don’t they? To understand what is happening on the fields in Brazil at the World Cup, one must learn a bit about each country’s history, and literature, and music, and regionalism, and economy – not to mention bicycles and pottery. If you look closely enough at the X’s and O’s, you just might find a national poem.” NY Times


Breaking Down Italy’s First Goal

June 16, 2014

“Was it Italy’s execution or the result of a small lapse in England’s defending? England started surprisingly well against Italy, but the first goal of the came from a perfectly executed set-piece by the Azzurri. Italy deserves more credit than England does blame. But the English did make two minor mistakes on the play.” Fusion (Video)