Seeking Soccer Respect, Qatar Looked Abroad

July 15, 2014

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“A little more than a decade ago, Andreas Bleicher, then a director of one of Germany’s Olympic training centers, arrived in the tiny gulf nation of Qatar, wooed there by its royal family to help turn the hopeless national soccer program into something worthy of the world’s respect. There were plenty of reasons this would be difficult — the country hardly has a tradition of soccer excellence, and its record of producing premier athletes in any sport is sparse. But there was one problem that seemed insurmountable. With a native population of only 300,000, Qatar simply did not have enough young players to form a team that could hope to compete with the likes of Brazil, Argentina and Germany.” NY Times – 1, NY Times – 2


Photos: Brazilian Riot Police Squashed a Big Protest During the World Cup Finals

July 15, 2014

“It was a whirlwind of a weekend in Rio de Janeiro. The drama began on Saturday with the third-place match, which is in and of itself a depressing affair. After being on the edge of fulfilling World Cup dreams, two teams are forced to conjure up one last effort to save face. Brazil, in its case, had just suffered one of the worst defeats in World Cup history and didn’t want to compound it with another loss. The Dutch coach, meanwhile, thought everyone should hang up their boots instead of tempting fate once more. Nothing felt right about the match, so instead I decided to visit the Maracanã, the epicenter of the futebol universe, where Brazil never got to play a match as host of this World Cup.” New Republic


Full Time: Fading Images of the World Cup

July 15, 2014

“Watching sports is, among other things, a special way of experiencing time. Sport is like music or fiction or film in that, for a predetermined duration, it asks you to give it control over your emotions, to feel what it makes you feel. Unlike (most) forms of art, though, a game has no foreordained plan or plot or intention. The rules of a game impose a certain kind of order, but it’s different from the order of an artwork. A movie knows where it wants to take you; no one can say in advance where a game will go. All of its beauty, ugliness, boredom, and excitement, all of its rage and sadness emerge spontaneously out of the players’ competing desires to win. For however long the clock runs, your feelings are at the mercy of chance. This happens and then this happens and then this happens. You’re experiencing, in a contained and intensified way, something like the everyday movement of life.” Grantland – Brian Phillips


Schadenfreude

July 15, 2014

“How apt that the Brazilians are living off Schadenfreude: after the debacle against Germany and a little extra humiliation from Holland, all Brazil’s fans seemed to want was for Germany to prevent Argentina from victory dancing on the beach at Copacabana. Believe me, I get it. As a lifelong supporter of Tottenham Hotspur F.C. in the English Premier League, much of my soccer pleasure in the last half-century, sadly, has derived only from misfortunes experienced by Arsenal F.C., Tottenham’s arch rivals. In the years 1960–1962, Tottenham was clearly the superior team—since then, not so much. Like Brazil and Argentina, the two clubs are neighbors, and Arsenal, like Brazil, has the larger fan base and more money.” The Paris Review – Jonathan Wilson


World Cup Expectations Rankings: Brazil’s over- and underachievers

July 15, 2014

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“Teams come to the World Cup with their own expectations. For some, just being there is enough, reaching the last 16 an almost impossible dream. For others, so exalted were their ambitions that even a quarterfinal feels like a disappointment. This is an attempt to grade teams according to how they did against their own expectations, looking both at results and at how well they played…” SI – Jonathan Wilson


The Two Brazils Revisited: What does the future hold after World Cup 2014?

July 15, 2014

“I first met Vitor Lira last December, when I was here on a reporting trip for an SI magazine story called The Two Brazils. The article examined the complex nature of a country that can both love soccer and engage in mass protests over the public spending and societal impact of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Lira, 33, is a community leader in Santa Marta, one of Rio’s oldest favelas. Five generations of his family have lived there, and over the past two years he has organized resistance to the government’s plans for removals of Santa Marta residents as part of the sweeping changes in Rio around the World Cup and Olympics.” SI (Video)


World Cup Tactical Analysis | Germany 1–0 Argentina: Götze ends Germany’s quest for glory

July 15, 2014

“Lionel Messi’s face appeared on Maracanã’s displays as he stood over a free kick that was, by anybody’s guesstimates, far-flung and too wide of goal to think about shooting. But then this was one of the finest footballers in the world, a goal down in the World Cup final with two minutes remaining and history flitting through his fingers. He skied it and so went the opportunity of probably his lifetime. Replacing a retiring legend came 22 year old, Mario Götze in the 88th minute of the match, with bustling energy – and a fatiguing opposition. When the goal came, it was typical of this Germany side – probe for a flaw, make the opponents slog and punish callously. Götze’s left-footed volley past Sergio Romero at the end of Schürrle’s delivery was enough to affix a 4th star on Die Mannschaft’s crest and become the first European side to claim the trophy on Latin American soil.” Outside of the Boot


State of the Union: An American’s Post-Mortem of the USMNT in Brazil

July 15, 2014

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“The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) has returned home from Brazil but the team does so having escaped a very difficult group and pushing Belgium to the very brink in the Round of 16. The buzz that surrounded the team was really unprecedented in the United States. ‘Watch parties’ across the country drew thousands of people, eager to see the Red, White, and Blue succeed at the World’s most prestigious sporting competition. World Cup games drew millions of viewers even beyond the USMNT’s games. People who never gave ‘soccer’ a shot before were now invested in the tournament. So with the 2014 edition of the World Cup being one that was seen as a success for the team and one that captured the imagination of the American public, it is now important to look forward to what this could mean not only for the USMNT but also for football in America in a broader sense.” Outside of the Boot


The World Cup Is Over. Now What?

July 15, 2014

“The best team won the 2014 World Cup. Sometimes Germany won its games early—it scored the winning goal in its semifinal against Brazil in the 11th minute; it scored it in the 13th minute of its quarterfinal against France. Sometimes it won its games late—in the Round of 16 against Algeria, Germany didn’t score until the 92nd minute; in yesterday’s final against Argentina, its only goal came in the 113th minute. Sometimes Germany won with offense—Die Mannschaft, or ‘The Team,’ as the German team is nicknamed, scored seven goals against Brazil and four in its opener against Portugal. Sometimes it won with defense—Argentina had zero shots on goal against Germany in the final, and German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer recorded four shutouts in seven matches.” Vanity Fair


World Cup 2014: Top five transfer targets – and those already done

July 15, 2014

“They may not be new to everyone, but Brazil 2014 brought a handful of players to the attention of a wider global audience who sat up and took notice of them. Even more importantly for the players’ agents, it is likely to have sparked the interest of the clubs with the deepest pockets, who may well be about to spend big on their talents. Here, we look at five stand-out transfer targets to emerge from the World Cup finals – and five deals that were done during the tournament.” BBC