Mexico Sings Praises of Its Goalie

June 18, 2014

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“It is a hard thing to have your voices heard over tens of thousands of people who are screaming at the same time, hoping to drown you out, but that did not stop the fans of Mexico here Tuesday from trying and trying and trying. Dressed in red and green shirts, they formed a few watermelon-color splotches around the capacity crowd of Brazilian fans in yellow and chanted tirelessly toward the field for two hours. When the final whistle blew, their voices were the loudest ones heard in Estádio Castelão, and their varied songs were whittled down to one: the name of their goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa — or as they endearingly call him, Memo. Facing one of the premier attacking lineups on the planet, Ochoa made several spectacular saves to lead Mexico to a 0-0 draw against Brazil.” NY Times

World Cup Tactical Analysis: Brazil 0-0 Mexico
“With three points and the prospect of leading the group in sight, both teams set up with nothing held back. In a group stage game where Brazil failed to score for the first time in 36 years, the Mexicans showed great resistance in keeping Brazil at bay.” Outside of the Boot

Stalemate shows Brazil must improve
“Irony, sweet irony; the Seleção actually played a better game than they did last Thursday against Croatia but ended the afternoon with a 0-0 draw and a lot of soul searching to do instead of a win. More than the failure to score and the fact they were dominated by Mexico for long periods of the game — thankfully, Miguel Herrera’s team had poor aim with their array of long shots — Brazil will now be asking themselves if they can really live without a plan B to put ahead of Monday’s encounter with Cameroon in Brasilia.” ESPN

Guillermo Ochoa’s Spectacular Saves, In GIFs
“They are already building a statue for Guillermo Ochoa in Mexico City—at least they should be. The Mexican keeper—and free agent!—put on a masterclass Tuesday, nullifying a deadly Brazilian offense on its home soil. Ochoa’s areobatics earned his side a crucial point against the tournament favorites, setting up an exciting conclusion to Group A. In the famous words of Andy Gray: Take a bow son. But enough about that, you came for the saves. Things got started early.” New Republic


World Cup 2014: group stage, day 6. BELGIUM 2-1 ALGERIA. BRAZIL 0-0 MEXICO. SOUTH KOREA 1-1 RUSSIA.

June 18, 2014

“… The second goalless draw of the tournament – but much more enjoyable than the first. Brazil defensive shift. As predicted in the preview, Brazil brought in a midfielder for an attacker, a shift they make in almost every major tournament. Ramires replaced Hulk – fitness concerns played a part, but Hulk insisted he was fit, and either way, Felipe Scolari chose a hard-working shuttler in Ramires, rather than a proper attacker like Bernard or Willian. It was clear defensive shift. This was partly to contain the runs of left-wing-back Miguel Layun, who had impressed against Cameroon. Ramires marked Layun when the ball was on that flank, but moved inside and was closer to Andres Guardado when the ball was on the opposite side. In a purely defensive sense it worked reasonably well – Layun was much less involved, and only notable for a couple of wayward long-range shots.” Zonal Marking


Belgium back to basics in nervous win

June 18, 2014

“Belgium’s first game left their fans relieved rather than ecstatic. After a dire first half, the Red Devils came good when Marc Wilmots made some changes. Dries Mertens, Belgium’s super sub, provided the width that was so lacking in the first half and scored the winner in the end, but it was Marouane Fellaini who really cracked things open when he headed home a great equalizer. Sofiane Feghouli’s first-half penalty had given Algeria a 1-0 lead. The game certainly didn’t go according to plan. Algeria kept almost their entire team behind the ball at all times and stifled Belgium’s usual fluent passing. There was lots of possession, but it was impossible to make it count with a double wall of white shirts effectively killing the game.” ESPN (Video)

World Cup Tactical Analysis: Belgium 2-1 Algeria
“A dreary performance from Belgium was rescued with two goals in the concluding 20 minutes as Marc Wilmots’ side defeated Algeria 2-1 in the Group H opener in Estádio Mineirão. Algeria took the lead through a Sofiane Feghouli penalty after Jan Vertonghen hauled down the Valencia talisman. Marouane Fellaini was brought on and promptly equalized with a winding header, before Dries Mertens, who came on as a substitute for Chadli, scored the winner when he finished off a swift counter-attack with a clinical strike, putting the game to bed.” Outside of the Boot

Resolute Algeria must learn lessons
“Algeria will feel dejected having been so close to executing the perfect game plan against Belgium. Their inability to tactically adapt to game-changing substitutions, however, cost them dearly in their 2-1 defeat. To borrow an old cliche, it was a match of two halves in Belo Horizonte as second half goals from Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens turned the match around and wrecked Algeria’s hopes of an upset. Their coach Vahid Halilhodzic elected to revert to a 4-3-3 formation he recently implemented in a friendly match against Romania in early June and it seemed to work. For large spells of the match, Belgium looked perplexed as they struggled to break down rows of organised white shirts. They often put 11 men behind the ball and their staggered lines looked inpenetrable.” ESPN


Desire and Despair – Germany vs. Portugal; Iran vs. Nigeria; USA vs. Ghana.

June 18, 2014

“Yesterday, in a tunnel down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, a flatscreen floated in the light of an arch like the iris of a giant eye. Tables and benches of the sort you’d find at a picnic site were spread about; it was one of those rare times in New York that space was clearly not at a premium. The tunnel was shady and cool. Behind the flatscreen, at the end of the long arch where the noon light seemed irrelevant, a renovated factory glittered. On the screen, we watched as Germany took apart Portugal. The Portuguese team exhibited their typical flaws: an overreliance on hierarchy and on their best player; a rash of madness by their most hotheaded player, which led to his ejection; a lack of belief against a team with a higher pedigree. The German team, on the other hand, exhibited their typical strengths: you know, German stuff. They won 4-0.” The Paris Review


World Cup 2014: Russia and South Korea Play to 1-1 Draw After Keeper’s Blunder

June 18, 2014

“South Korea and Russia played a tepid 1-1 tie in Group H in Cuiaba on Tuesday night. The result left the teams with a point apiece in the standings. It was a competitive but largely scrappy affair. After a dismal first half, the game came to life in the second half when the substitute Lee Keun Ho’s speculative 35-yard shot was mishandled by Russian keeper Igor Akinfeev in the 68th minute. The ball spilled out of Akinfeev’s hands, over his shoulder and into the net. Korea’s advantage and Akinfeev’s distress were short-lived; the Russian substitute Alan Dzagoev fired home from close range in the 74th minute after a goalmouth scramble.” NY Times

Russia vs. South Korea in GIFs
“The first howler of the tournament helps the Koreans get a result. The second draw of the day, this time between an Asian power, South Korea, and a mid-level European team, Russia. You won’t watch this one again in ten years, so just check out our GIFs from the match in Cuiaba.” Fusion


Restored Footage from the First World Cup: Uruguay, 1930

June 18, 2014

“The 19th FIFA World Cup is now underway in Brazil, and that gives us an excuse to revisit the first World Cup, played in July, 1930 in Uruguay. Only 13 teams participated in the tournament, and all matches were played in Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital. In the semi-finals, the United States lost to Argentina, 6-1. Uruguay crushed Yugoslavia by the same score. In the end, Uruguay, the favorites all along, triumphed over Argentina (4-2) before a home crowd of 93,000, to become the winner of the inaugural FIFA World Cup.” Open Culture (Video)


In Front of Team Iran’s Hotel

June 18, 2014

“The world throws plenty of parties. It just usually doesn’t invite Iran. So here are the fans of Team Iran on Rua Comendador Araújo in front of Hotel Pestana, their team’s accommodations in Curitiba, Brazil, making up for lost time. There are flags, there are mohawks dyed bright green, there are noisemakers and fuzzy wigs and horns for going do-do-do-doot-IRAN!. There are crudely woven rugs with BRAZIL 2014 embroidered on them that team officials had been handing out, and of course there is greasepaint everywhere, calfpaint and hairpaint and cheekpaint and armpaint, always with the green and white and red.” Road and Kingdoms