Messi Lifts Spirits of Argentines, Even Those Without Tickets

June 26, 2014

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“An estimated 50,000 Argentines completed the trek to this World Cup city by Wednesday morning. Many of the soccer pilgrims were wearing long faces along with their Lionel Messi jerseys as they roamed the parks and the streets and took in the hazy view of Guaíba lake while carrying hand-lettered signs that read, ‘Compro’ (‘I’m buying’). ‘It’s shameful; the scalpers are asking for 1,200 to 1,500 dollars for a ticket with a face value of no more than 100,’ said Cintia Perri, a young woman from Buenos Aires who had driven 20 hours to get here and spent the night in her car in a nearby camping site. But Messi would soon lift the mood of his sleep-deprived, ticket-deprived compatriots.” NY Times

Magical Messi continues to rise
“At the very least, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella could say someone else settled the game. It wasn’t Lionel Messi who got the decisive goal; it wasn’t quite so necessary for the playmaker to drag his team forward. Instead, left-back Marcos Rojo kneed home Ezequiel Lavezzi’s corner, and Argentina eventually beat Nigeria 3-2. It gave Sabella’s men a flawless points record from the group stage, with three wins from three games in Group F, but they are far from a flawless team. Although the specific details may have changed, the wider reality remains the same. It is the same storyline around the team tipped as one of the favourites to lift the trophy next month and the developing narrative of this World Cup.” ESPN (Video)


Group F – ESPN

June 26, 2014
Group F Overall
POS TEAM PTS GD P W D L F A
1 Argentina 9 3 3 3 0 0 6 3
2 Nigeria 4 0 3 1 1 1 3 3
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina 3 0 3 1 0 2 4 4
4 Iran 1 -3 3 0 1 2 1 4

World Cup 2014: group stage, day 14. ARGENTINA 3-2 NIGERIA. BOSNIA 3-1 IRAN. SWITZERLAND 3-0 HONDURAS. FRANCE 0-0 ECUADOR.

June 26, 2014

“A gentle, open game with both sides already through. Open feel. This game could have gone in two very different ways. With both happy with a draw, it could have been slow, boring and about both teams avoiding injuries. However, there was a sense both wanted to put on a show, having been underwhelming in their opening two matches, and therefore it was open and entertaining. With two goals inside the first five minutes, it was immediately an enjoyable contest. Messi. Nigeria’s main tactic was to track Lionel Messi extremely tightly. Ogenyi Onazi was usually the man with this responsibility, although sometimes Messi was passed on to the other two midfielders when he drifted around the pitch.” Zonal Marking


How Soccer Explains the World

June 26, 2014

“Female soccer fans in Iran chuck aside the hijab to celebrate the national team’s victory halfway across the globe. Brazilian managers swindle American corporations abroad and exploit their own players at home. Undisciplined soccer stars from Nigeria are sold to Ukrainian teams and forced to adapt to chess-like coaching strategies in the dead of winter. Globalization never seems so vivid as when seen through the eyes of a soccer fan. In his new book, How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, Franklin Foer looks at the passions and rivalries embedded in soccer, and comes up with some surprising theories about our ever-shrinking world.” Mother Jones

amazon: How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization – Franklin Foer


Why You Should Root for Nigeria (or Brazil, Mexico or Ghana)

June 26, 2014

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“Most of the world considers soccer’s quadrennial World Cup to be the most important sporting competition of all. A growing number of Americans have embraced the event, but many are only vaguely aware of it, and, aside from the United States, not so sure for whom to root. I am offering an alternative, utilitarian guide to help Americans choose a country to support. This guide can also be used if the Americans are eliminated, to help decide whom to root for among the remaining teams. The basic principle is simple, drawn from utilitarian principles: Root for the outcome that will produce the largest aggregate increase in happiness. So I came up with a simple index, calculated by a country’s passion for soccer multiplied by its average level of poverty multiplied by its population. It’s perhaps a bit crude, simply to multiply these factors by each other, but the exercise highlights some important truths about the world.” NT Times


World Cup 2014: A Tie Sends France Through and Ecuador Out

June 26, 2014

“The goals came so easy, and so often, for France in its first two games at the World Cup that one could be forgiven for assuming it might never end. Three against Honduras. Five against Switzerland. When the well went dry in a scoreless tie against Ecuador on Wednesday, there were bound to be questions. Just do not bring them to France’s coach, Didier Deschamps. Unbeaten and safely in the second round as the first-place team in his group, he was not really interested in hearing them.” NY Times

Ramadan Poses Test to Muslim Players at World Cup
“Down the quiet, tree-lined Rua Gonzaga Bastos, less than half a mile from Estádio do Maracanã, the custodian of this city’s only mosque was preparing for the busiest time of the year. Mohamed Zeinhom Abdien, the custodian, was sitting at a desk opposite messy piles of boxes containing thousands of leaflets about Islam written in Portuguese, English and Arabic. The observance of Ramadan, one of Islam’s five pillars, is a religious obligation in which Muslims fast and forgo any liquids from dawn until dusk over the course of a month. The month begins Saturday night, and Abdien’s usually quiet mosque has been inundated with newcomers.” NY Times


Group E – ESPN

June 26, 2014
Group E Overall
POS TEAM PTS GD P W D L F A
1 France 7 6 3 2 1 0 8 2
2 Switzerland 6 1 3 2 0 1 7 6
3 Ecuador 4 0 3 1 1 1 3 3
4 Honduras 0 -7 3 0 0 3 1 8