Semifinals Remain an Inner Sanctum Until Further Notice

July 7, 2014

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“The World Cup, ultimately, is a highly exclusive club. To be sure, the World Cup lets in hoi polloi to give a glimmer of hope and inclusion, but the inner sanctum is usually sealed shut by the semifinals, sending home the pretenders. Not our kind. Check out the four semifinalists this time around. The outsider, the long shot, is merely a three-time finalist, respected all over the world for its Total Football, the open, offensive style that has influenced Spain, the nation; Barcelona, the club; and other appealing offensive systems. Yes, the Netherlands, destiny’s darling, is known universally as the greatest soccer nation never to win the World Cup. All over the world, the huddled masses like the United States, yearning to be significant, are asking themselves, What does it take to crash that club, to become a regular, a nation that feels at home in the semifinals? How do countries learn that self-assurance that wins dubious referee calls and takes over game-deciding shootouts?” NY Times


World Cup Pass & Move: Weekend Warriors

July 7, 2014

“This past weekend saw quite a few footballing fireworks in Brazil. There were brilliant tactical decisions, gravely important injuries, near upsets, penalty shootouts, and Mothra landed on James Rodríguez’s arm. As a way of looking back on the quarterfinals matches, six Grantland writers — Chris Ryan, Brian Phillips, netw3rk, Mike L. Goodman, Graham Parker, and Ryan O’Hanlon wrote about six characters from the weekend action.” Grantland


World Cup Tactical Analysis : Netherlands 0–0 Costa Rica (4-3 pens) | The Dutch exploit the right side and Krul enters the fray

July 7, 2014

“The Netherlands secured a stirring victory over Costa Rica to earn a place in the semi-finals of the World Cup with a win on penalties to end the minnows’ reverie. Van Gaal picked a very offensive line-up to start the game, with an almost in-existent midfield but a resilient defence and a luscious attack. Costa Rica took a somewhat pragmatic approach for the occasion in contrast, and the two sides largely squared each other, with the Ticos frustrating their more eminent opponents for much of the game. Van Gaal then made the intrepid decision to replace Jasper Cillessen with Tim Krul ahead of the penalty shootout, and the manoeuvre paid off as the Newcastle keeper saved from Bryan Ruiz to put his side through.” Outside of the Boot

Netherlands 0-0 Costa Rica: Oranje progress after van Gaal’s late keeper switch
“The Dutch dominated but couldn’t find a way past Keylor Navas – then finally broke their penalty shoot-out curse. Louis van Gaal played a more aggressive wing-back pairing than against Mexico, with full-back Paul Verhaegh making way for winger Memphis Depay. Costa Rica manager Jorge Luis Pinto was without suspended centre-back Oscar Duarte, so Johnny Acosta came into the side. In a long, drawn out and – eventually – dramatic 120 minutes, the Dutch dominated but were disappointing in the final third.” Zonal Marking


World Cup Tactical Analysis: Brazil 2-1 Colombia | Brazil come out on top in a rough encounter

July 7, 2014

“The host team stepped up for a big quarter final clash against the form team of the tournament, Colombia on a hot night. This was touted as a clash of 2 teams that would entertain, with the likes of Neymar, Oscar, Cuadrado, and James expected to dazzle. Instead, we saw the dark side of both teams in a game that saw a lot of fouls, and eventually, a heart breaking injury for the star of the tournament, Neymar.” Outside of the Boot


World Cup Tactical Analysis : Argentina 1-0 Belgium | Argentina dominate midfield to enter the semifinals

July 7, 2014

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“In the first of the two intercontinental showdowns of the quarter-finals, two time winners and favourites Argentina took on the Belgians, looking to book a place in the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 24 years. The South Americans didn’t just have to face a strong Belgian team, but also a Brazilian crowd that would have loved to see their fierce neighbours falter in the quarters. With both the teams coming into the match having won all of their previous matches of the tournament, this one was certainly going to be a close call.” Outside of the Boot

Argentina 1-0 Belgium: Argentina become even more reliant on Messi
“In their fifth World Cup game, Argentina recorded their fifth one-goal victory. Alejandro Sabella was without Marcos Rojo so brought in Jose Basanta at left-back, and replaced Federico Fernandez and Fernando Gago with Martin Demichelis and Lucas Biglia. Marc Wilmots played Kevin Mirallas rather than Dries Mertens on the right flank, but otherwise the side was as expected. Belgium remain a group of individuals, while Argentina play to the strengths of one individual.” Zonal Marking


World Cup Tactical Analysis : France 0-1 Germany | France get caught out early and Germany’s high line shuts out France

July 7, 2014

“At the end of  a very highly anticipated clash, Germany reached their fourth consecutive World Cup semi-final as Mats Hummels opened the scoring from a set piece in the 12th minute, scoring what turned out to be the winner. Germany looked dangerous going forward in the early phases, while France tried to exploit the space behind the high defensive line of Löw’s team. The scoreline is a perfect reflection of how close the game was, with both sides having ample opportunities to score goals. Eventually, the game fell in favour of the Germans, who just managed to take their chances on the day.” Outside of the Boot


Argentine Fans Mock Neymar’s Injury with Chant and Plastic Spine

July 7, 2014

“Argentina and Brazil have what is arguably the most intense rivalry in international soccer. The matches between the two countries, whether competitive or nominally “friendly,” are typically rough, tense affairs, with a history of nasty fouls and conspiracy theories. As is the case with most soccer “derbies,” fans also compete to come up with the most creative and insulting chants. But a group of Argentine World Cup fans have pushed the genre into new territory in a recent Youtube video.” Fusion


World Cup Brazil’s Other Beautiful Games

July 7, 2014

“It was a newsroom like any television station newsroom, unless you count the brunette receptionist wearing a crown, sash and leopard print dress and offering friendly advice on how to spice up the World Cup. ‘Beauty queens,’ Brenda Pontes, 19, said. The World Cup does have many things — consuming attention, enthralling soccer and a carnival atmosphere — but it does not have beauty queens. In the Amazon rain forest, though, there is a tournament that is equal parts soccer and beauty pageant. It is one of the largest and most unusual amateur soccer competitions in the world, and perhaps the only one with a reality show. Pontes is the reigning queen.” NY Times