Neymar’s cultural significance to Brazil transcends soccer, World Cup

July 8, 2014

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“Tweets of sympathy and support from Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff to Kobe Bryant and everyone in between, including super models (Gisele Bundchen), Olympic sprinters (Usain Bolt), footballers (Ronaldo and Lionel Messi) and soap opera stars (too many to mention). Hours of TV coverage devoted to detailed analysis of spinal columns and estimated back injury recovery times. More hours of TV coverage dedicated to discussion of whether Colombian defender Juan Camilo Zuniga’s crushing, knee-raised challenge was premeditated or not (the debate oscillating between ‘a normal part of soccer’ and ‘a cowardly assault’). FIFA Fan Fests all over the country, filled with supporters who minutes before had been wildly celebrating Brazil’s 2-1 World Cup quarterfinal win over Colombia, falling still and silent. On Friday evening, Brazil turned its lonely eyes to Neymar da Silva Santos Junior.” SI

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How have Germany tactically set-up so far in the World Cup?

July 8, 2014

“With the recent domination of German football at club level, Germany were marked as favorites in this World Cup. With a highly talented squad, Low was expected to recreate the incisive and dominant football that Germany were known for. Questions have loomed about where Lahm would start for Germany, how they could deal with the scarcity of out an out strikers and the soft spots in the wider areas of defense. Big things are expected from this German squad and here is how they have lined up so far in this tournament.” Outside of the Boot

How have Brazil tactically set-up so far in the World Cup?
“Prior to the start of this tournament, followers of the Selecao were well aware of the tactics Luiz Felipe Scolari will employ for the side. Though the squad seemed weak, it didn’t surprise many that impressive performances from some Brazilians didn’t earn them a spot in the squad as pragmatic Scolari stuck to his tried & tested team. This piece on Brazil’s tactical set-up prior to the start of the tournament was spot on. This was the case for any Brazilian supporter, as the formation & system was well known before the first ball was kicked, and there has been little change.” Outside of the Boot


Germany Must Out-Invent Brutish Brazil: A Bizarre-But-True Semifinal Preview

July 8, 2014

“Germany and Brazil are the two most successful teams in World Cup history, so it’s funny to think that they have only met once before in the tournament. That was in the 2002 final, when Brazil claimed its fifth trophy and Ronaldo topped the all-time goal-scoring charts. It was also, incidentally, the day a certain Philipp Lahm, then 18 years old, and Bastian Schweinsteiger, 17, made it to the German youth championship final for Bayern Munich. Sitting on the bus back to Bavaria, Lahm and Schweinsteiger probably could not have imagined that 2002 would be their country’s last international tournament without them. Now, 12 years later, these twin hearts of the German team will line up on Tuesday in the semi-final against Brazil in the hopes of erasing their nation’s reputation as the eternal also rans.” New Republic


Brazil’s Only Hope to Take This World Cup: Win Ugly

July 8, 2014

“There are three contradictory narratives getting batted around about Brazil’s foul-plagued, back-breaking 2–1 quarterfinal victory over Colombia. The first, one that’s being pushed by the Brazilian press, is that Neymar was assaulted by brutish Colombian defender Juan Camilo Zúñiga, whose late-game challenge was reckless and cowardly. (Sample headlines: ‘Stabbed in the back’ and ‘Damn Colombian.’) An alternate view, one articulated by the New York Times’ Sam Borden among others, is that Brazil got what it had coming. Borden believes that Neymar’s fractured vertebra was the logical conclusion of Brazil’s decision to play a dirty game, and of referee Carlos Velasco Carballo’s refusal to keep the foul-happy Seleção in check. The third perspective, laid out by Forbes’ Bobby McMahon, is that Colombia was the team that came out fouling, that the referee didn’t do much of anything wrong, and that Neymar’s World Cup-ending injury was an unfortunate accident rather than a violent inevitability.” Slate (Video)


Every Sport (Including Baseball!) Has Its Version of the Dive

July 8, 2014

“One very sunny day on a pitch somewhere in America near sprawling farms and a single loitering country road, my college soccer team was playing a tight match. We were getting kicked so high into the air we must have looked from the distance like maroon grasshoppers leaping over some malicious kids’ boots. The referee wasn’t calling anything. And, as tends to be the case when that happens, the tackles got worse and worse. But we were all doing the American thing, playing through it, shaking everything off, or trying to play through it and shake everything off. Yet it wasn’t minutes after I said to the referee that someone was going to get hurt that our best player had his tibia and fibula snapped in two, right in front of me. I remember the sound of the bones breaking: I remember his scream and then his screams and then the silence.” New Republic