Daily Archives: June 19, 2014

Spain undone by their own revolution

“It has been eight long years since Spain were last eliminated from a major international tournament. A 3-1 defeat to France in World Cup 2006 ensured Spain retained their status as Europe’s biggest bottlers, with no hint they were about to become the world’s most successful side — arguably in the game’s history. Amazingly, no fewer than seven players in the starting XI that day — Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso, Cesc Fabregas, David Villa and Fernando Torres — were in Spain’s squad for this World Cup, too. That summarises how Spain were simply too old, too tired. Nevertheless, some of the other names from the 2006 side indicate how far Spain have progressed. Mariano Pernia? Pablo Ibanez? They’d also been eliminated from Euro 2004 in embarrassing circumstances, against close rivals and hosts Portugal, failing to progress from the group stage.” ESPN – Michael Cox

Spain’s reign ends with a whimper after six years of dominance
“To watch the collapse of Spain, eliminated from the World Cup after a 2-0 defeat to Chile, was to be reminded of Hemingway’s comment on bankruptcy. The end came gradually, and then suddenly. Over the past couple of years, slight signs of vulnerability have appeared, in the 3-0 loss to Brazil in the 2013 Confederations Cup final and in surprising defeats in friendlies, which perhaps shouldn’t have been blamed as readily as they were on weariness brought on by the Spanish federation’s determination to flog its champions around the world in search of lucre. Players aged, hunger waned, doubts crept in.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Fearless Chile end Spain’s reign
“Chile supporters made the most of Rio — indeed, a ticket-less band of them literally invaded the Maracana stadium before the game, charging in through the press entrance in a bid to watch their team. On the morning of the game in the streets of Copacabana, when groups of Chileans ran into each other they would clap and shout out that they were going to send Spain back home — and they seemed to believe it. Such is the faith in the side led by electric little coach Jorge Sampaoli, who seems to run on batteries as he paces up and down the touchline.” ESPN – Tim Vickery

Mighty Spain Goes Out of the World Cup Meekly
“The chants at the game between Spain and Chile began slowly, first from one side of Estádio do Maracanã, then from the other. By the time the final minutes had ticked off the clock Wednesday, tens of thousands of fans had joined in. ‘El-im-in-a-do! El-im-in-a-do!’ — eliminated — said those fans, who were leaping so wildly in their red shirts that they made the stands look like a supersize swath of roiling scarlet cloth. But those fans were not wearing the red jerseys of Spain, the defending World Cup champion and two-time European champion. They were wearing the red shirts of Chile, which eliminated Spain from this tournament in the first round, after Spain had played two games. No past World Cup defending champion had been knocked out of the tournament so quickly.” NY Times


World Cup 2014: group stage, day 7. NETHERLANDS 3-2 AUSTRALIA. CHILE 2-0 SPAIN. CROATIA 4-0 CAMEROON.

“… Spain’s incredible run of success is over – they were pressed into submission by a terrifyingly energetic Chile side. Pressing with caution. Spain suffered in the first game because of the Netherlands’ intense pressing, and therefore it was obvious approach Chile would take. They switched system to replicate the Dutch 3-4-1-2, taking out their number ten Jorge Valdivia, with Francisco Silva coming into the side at the back. Chile are better at pressing than any other international side, and from the outset showed their usual high-intensity approach, closing down Spain in midfield extremely quickly.” Zonal Marking

Chile’s Jorge Sampaoli Is the World Cup’s Most Obsessive Coach

“Why Chile will continue to be the neutrals’ favorite in Brazil. Jorge Sampaoli was distraught. It was 2007, and his Sporting Cristal side had just been hammered 5–0 by Club America of Mexico in the Copa Libertadores. The Argentine coach was upset, not merely by the result, but by a fundamental failure to live up to his idol, Marcelo Bielsa. ‘I could not defend his style,’ Sampaoli would say after the match. ‘I did not live up to his ideal.’ The 54-year-old head coach of Chile’s World Cup team has spent his entire professional life attempting to do just that. ‘For me [Bielsa] is the best coach in the world, but I prefer him as a myth and to follow him closely, but not bother him [personally],’ he told El Grafico.” Fusion

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Cheer for Belgium

“I’m thinking of starting a fan group especially for those condemned to ambivalence. There are, I think, actually quite a few of us out there—especially during the World Cup. You know who you are: rooting for both teams at the same time, feeling both happy and sad when someone scores a goal, watching a game surrounded by elated fans but feeling a nagging sorrow for the losing team. Part of it is that there are too many good stories: every team, and perhaps every player, has one. And during the World Cup, every game, or most of them, makes one of those stories a sad, even tragic, one—at least for a time.” New Republic


“Manuel Francisco dos Santos (28 October 1933 – 20 January 1983), known by the nickname ‘Garrincha’ (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɡaˈʁĩʃɐ], ‘little bird’), was a Brazilian footballer who played right winger and forward. He is regarded by many as the best dribbler in football history. The word garrincha itself means wren. Garrincha was also known as Mané (short for Manuel) by his friends. The combined ‘Mané Garrincha’ is common among fans in Brazil. Due to his immense popularity in Brazil, he was also called Alegria do Povo (Joy of the People) and Anjo de Pernas Tortas (Angel with Bent Legs).” Wikipedia

YouTube: Garrincha – The Genius of Dribble ( Documentary ) Part 1, Part 2

Neymar and the Disappearing Donkey

“By the time you read this, it’s possible that every single person on the planet will know who Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior is. The image above is of Neymar from five days ago. … You could come to any number of conclusions from Neymar’s remarkable transformation. For instance, you could conclude that race doesn’t exist in Brazil, which is the favourite line of a specific tribe of Brazilians – impeccable liberals all, who just happen to be upper-class, white and at the top of the heap. Or you could conclude that everyone in Brazil is indeed mixed – which is, incidentally, the second-favourite line of the selfsame tribe. Or you could wonder what happened to this boy.” Africasa Country

Painkillers, God, and America

“According to the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, Americans consume 80 percent of the world’s painkillers—more than 110 tons of addictive opiates every year. It must be a very painful place to live. How much of that pain has been caused by soccer? Not much, at least not to begin with: an unlikely and magnificent 1-0 victory over England in World Cup 1950 (held then as now in Brazil) featured a bunch of part-timers putting the boot to the ‘Kings of Football.’ It didn’t require so much as a baby aspirin.” The Paris Review – Jonathan Wilson