The End of Ghana’s Golden Generation

June 17, 2014

Brazil-Soccer-WC18
“As exhilarating as Monday’s 2-1 World Cup victory was for United States supporters, it must have been equally as heartbreaking for Ghana supporters. Having clawed back to tie the match 1-1, and appearing to secure a minimum of a point after allowing a first-minute opener to Clint Dempsey, the Ghanaian team now face an uphill battle to qualify for the knockout stages of this World Cup. FiveThirtyEight suggests that Ghana’s loss dropped their chances of making it through Group G down to just 11.0 percent. (The United States, meanwhile, now have a 67.2 percent chance of advancing [the number has been updated since Nate Silver’s post yesterday].) Even worse, if Ghana are eliminated, it will likely bring the run of their golden generation to an end. It will take a while for a Ghanaian team this good to make it into the World Cup again.” Grantland

John Brooks and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very American Win
“Imagine if I told you before this match that America’s best pure striker and main offensive target would leave with a leg injury 20 minutes in. And that one of our best centerbacks would also be forced out with an injury at halftime. And that our most dangerous player would have his nose broken and not be able to breathe well out of it for the rest of the hot, humid game. And that our all-around best player would turn in a horrible performance. And that our passing style would for the most part resemble that of a co-ed adult league team, lower intermediate division. Knowing all that, you’d probably be OK with a 2-1 win against the best team in Africa in one of the most important matches in United States World Cup history, right?” New Republic

World Cup Tactical Analysis: Ghana 1-2 USA
“Coming into the World Cup, all the talk for the US National Team was the exclusion of all-time leading World Cup scorer, Landon Donovan. Many felt that even if he weren’t going to be awarded a starting berth, his experience off the bench and in training would be effective on getting the best out of the players, in what would be his last ever World Cup. For Ghana, it was a case of avenging their quarter-final defeat from the previous edition. They would have to start off against the Americans who they’ve defeated twice in the last two World Cups, knocking them out of the competition. Expectations were high for both sides, and given Portugal’s defeat earlier to Germany, these two sides knew they could take a massive step at progress from the first-round with a win at Estadio das Dunas.” Outside of the Boot

USA vs. Ghana in GIFs
“Revenge, at last. The U.S. faced a must-win situation in its first match against old nemesis Ghana, who eliminated the Yankes from the last two world Cups. Jurgen Klinsmann and his men had to deliver. And they did, in the most dramatic of fashion. Here are some unforgettable GIFs.” Fusion


Pepe’s Headbutt Earned Him a Red Card. But Does Anger Sometimes Help Players, Too?

June 17, 2014

“On Monday, with his team already down 2-0 to Germany, Portugal’s Pepe let his anger get the better of him. After his hand struck Germany’s Thomas Muller in the face—sending the player to the ground, perhaps overdramatically—Pepe headbutted him for good measure. That earned Pepe a red card, ejecting him from the game and all but guaranteeing a loss. That’s an example of how anger can hurt your performance in an athletic competition. But does anger sometimes help, too?” New Republic

The Improbable Goal-Scoring Prowess of Germany’s Thomas Muller
“At the tender age of 24—an age when most players are just arriving on the international stage—Thomas Müller has won the Champions League, Best Young Player of World Cup 2010, the Bundesliga (three times), and the German Cup (three times). He has played in three Champions League finals, two European Championships, and has now scored eight goals (and counting) in two World Cups. After scoring a hat-trick in Germany’s resounding 4-0 victory against Portugal Monday night, the Bavarian is on track to become the first player ever to defend the Golden Boot, which he won in 2010. It’s been much publicized that Muller’s teammate, the 36-year-old Miroslav Klose, is on a quest to overhaul Ronaldo’s record World Cup tally of 15 goals. Maybe it isn’t Ronaldo that Klose should worry about, but Muller.” New Republic

World Cup Tactical Analysis: Germany 4-0 Portugal
“Controlling. Quick. Decisive. Dominant. Undisciplined. Slow. Sloppy. Subordinate. This game really was a tale of two sides: one prepared for the World Cup and one completely ill-prepared for the same occasion. It was utter euphoria for the Germans and utter embarrassment for the Portuguese. Thomas Müller registered a hat trick with Hummels grabbing the other of Germany’s four goals. Portugal never looked like they had even shown up to the game.” Outside of the Boot

Germany vs. Portugal Highlights


World Cup 2014: group stage, day 5. GERMANY 4-0 PORTUGAL. IRAN 0-0 NIGERIA. USA 2-1 GHANA.

June 17, 2014

“… A highly entertaining match – Ghana dominated. but the USA scored very early, and then very late. US lead, Ghana attack. Clint Dempsey scored a fine goal inside a minute, and therefore Ghana were immediately forced to dominate in an attempt to score an equaliser. Ghana’s problem over the past half-decade has been their inability to break down a packed defence. They’re excellent on the counter-attack, with fast, mobile players who make good decisions on the break, but this was another example of their one-dimensional play. They were always in control of possession but their players simply aren’t suited to coming from behind – they need the opposition to come onto them.” Zonal Marking


Nigeria and Iran lower World Cup pulse with forgettable goalless draw

June 17, 2014

“Well, it had to happen some time. But at least it was a long time in coming. Thirteen games into the 2014 World Cup there was finally a match that was not very good. Not that it quietened this arena: there was noise in Curitiba, and lots of it, there was just not much else. For a moment this felt as if it was going to be enjoyable, the momentum with Nigeria, but that moment was brief; the opening seven minutes were exciting; the remaining 83 were not. And so Brazil has its first draw as well and a 0-0 draw at that.” Guardian


As Brazil Cheers, Protesters Struggle to Be Heard

June 17, 2014

“Twelve months after hundreds of thousands of protesters took to Brazil’s streets to complain of lavish public spending on stadiums for the World Cup, the tournament organizers have been relieved to see just hundreds attend scattered demonstrations as the first round of games got underway. With Brazilians loudly rallying behind their national team, the seleção — and whole cities exploding in a din of cheers and fireworks following every goal — activists concerned about social issues like poverty, corruption and police brutality have struggled to make their voices heard.” NY Times (Video)


Lionel Messi relishes switch to 4-3-3, deals dagger to Bosnia-Herzegovina

June 17, 2014

“It was a win but far from a convincing one. For much of the 62 minutes between Argentina’s first goal and its second, Bosnia was the better side but it was undone first by a moment of ill-fortune and then by a scintillating goal from Lionel Messi. In the estimation of Alejandro Sabella, the Argentina coach, this was a 6/10 performance with plenty of room for improvement. Messi had had an awkward night. He didn’t play badly as such, but too often he was crowded out, too often forced deep by Bosnia’s pressing.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Viagem Brazil: Prostitution, revelry and World Cup soccer own the night

June 17, 2014

“As midnight approaches on Rua do Salsa, crowds gather outside an open-air mall, the walls out front painted white and splattered with posters. The place is called Placa Jardin. It’s Friday night. Placa Jardin looks like any of the other numerous bars and clubs and restaurants in this reveler’s paradise on a cobblestone street near the beach. The lights outside alternate blue and green. Strobe lights inside flash red. Music played at maximum volume reverberates down the block. Dozens of women stand out front, clad in so many miniskirts and tube tops, lips dressed in the brightest red lipstick, feet stuffed in the tallest high heels. They spread down the street, in front of bars, clubs and cars. Some stand next to family members. Others cluster in packs of three or four. These women are prostitutes, and this is the side of the World Cup no one talks about.” SI