Messi takes over, Argentina trounces Paraguay in Copa America semi

July 2, 2015

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“There was no goal for Lionel Messi, but there was everything else in Argentina’s 6-1 win over Paraguay in the Copa America semifinal on Tuesday. Messi orchestrated an Argentina performance that at last reached the attacking heights if which it should be capable, setting up five of the six goals and generally playing with a playful menace. Marcos Rojo put Argentina ahead after 15 minutes and when Javier Pastore added a second 12 minutes later, the game already seemed over.” SI – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

Even hostile Chile fans forced to acknowledge Lionel Messi’s greatness
“The problem with a genius like Lionel Messi is that you’re always waiting for him to perform. You can’t watch a game he plays in as you watch any other game because you’re always hoping that this will be of those days when he turns it on, and if he doesn’t you end up feeling a little cheated. Nobody felt cheated on Tuesday night, just grateful to have been there, unless you had the misfortune to be a Paraguayan defender. The Chile fans who made up most of the crowd and who had begun the game by jeering the Argentinian national anthem and chanting ‘Argentinos – hijos da puta’ ended it in awed applause.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Tactical Analysis: Argentina 0-0 Colombia (5-4 pens) | Messi and co. through to semis despite ultra-defensive Colombia
“In another battle between two giants of South American football, Argentina squared up against Colombia with the tantalising prospect of a possible semi-final clash with Brazil. Gerardo Martino’s men were tipped by many to go all the way in the competition and have looked on course to do so, though they are still yet to hit their stride. Colombia, on the other hand, have underwhelmed throughout the competition, scraping through to the quarter finals and scoring just one goal in their first three games.” Outside of the Boot


Attacking stars set to light up Copa America final

July 2, 2015

“So will Chile finally have something to put in its trophy cabinet? Or will Argentina win its first senior title since 1993? There is plenty at stake, then, in the final of the 2015 Copa America. Many treat this tournament as a warm up for the coming World Cup qualifiers, but not these two teams. Chile, as host, is obliged to put on a show, especially given the fact that it has never won the competition. A sense of ‘if not now, when?’ has hung over Chile in this Copa. It has probably its best ever generation, with a group of players in their prime with the experience of two World Cups to help them through. The tournament has been set up for them to reach the final – they were in the easiest group, have played all their games in Santiago’s Nacional Stadium and have avoided the heavyweights – until now.” World Game – Tim Vickery


Hope and faith – the anatomy of Peru’s transformation

July 2, 2015

“When Copa America 2015 was about to get underway, you would find very few people that would have backed Peru to win the tournament at a whopping 100/1. Only two nations were given less of a chance of winning the tournament – Bolivia (200/1) and Jamaica (500/1). If you fancied a punt on the competition’s top scorer, you could’ve gotten 125/1 on Peru’s hat-trick hero Paolo Guerrero topping the charts; before Peru’s match against Chile the best odds you’d have found was 3/1. In a group with Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela, Peru weren’t given a chance. No-hopers. Whipping boys.” backpagefootball


What’s plaguing Brazil? Delve into the Selecão’s woes by the numbers

July 2, 2015

“Brazil’s dispiriting quarterfinal defeat against Paraguay means that the world’s most successful men’s soccer nation will once again be on the outside looking in when Argentina takes on Chile in Saturday’s Copa America final. Compared with many national teams, Brazil remains a competitive and sturdy outfit, but by the country’s own exacting standards the sides it has fielded in recent years have represented a vertiginous drop in quality. Here’s a look by the numbers and statistics at some of the key reasons for Brazil’s current woes…” SI


Bohemian Rhapsody: Masopust and Dukla

July 2, 2015

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“Cold War Europe was a sinister place. Behind the Iron Curtain, popular opinion told us, it was a grey, totalitarian world where spies drank thick black coffee in cafes, children informed on their parents, smoke-chugging cars rolled off production lines and food queues, for inedible black bread, went on for miles The lingua franca was strictly Russian. As for football, teams were supposedly mysterious, functional, militaristic and tough. They were known as ‘Crack’ Hungarians, Bulgarians and East Germans. But while these teams were hard to beat, it was the latin contingent in Europe that emerged as the dominant forces, notably the Spanish and Italians. In 1962, the trend was broken when one Josef Masopust, a 31-year-old Czech, was named European Footballer of the Year.” Football Pink


From pitch to page – a brief account of the history of football fiction

July 2, 2015

“‘The author of the best books written about English culture since the War’… reads the blurb on the cover of John King’s landmark 1996 novel ‘The Football Factory’, a rampaging yarn about a gang of miscreant Chelsea supporters strutting their stuff around a succession of English cities and football stadiums and offering an uncompromising portrayal of the dark motivation of the archetypal English ‘hoolifan’. It’s a bold assessment of a bold novel, offered by King’s contemporary and fellow Jonathan Cape stablemate, Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh. The ‘Trainspotting’ author has himself occasionally wondered onto the football fiction turf, most notably in ‘Maribou Stork Nightmares’, when protagonist Roy Strang is assessed for his ‘casual’ credentials by a group of fellow Hibs supporters on a train to Motherwell.” backpagefootball


Sepp Blatter on Sepp Blatter: I’m not corrupt and I’m going to heaven

July 2, 2015

“FIFA ‘President for Life’ Sepp Blatter (née September, hopefully) is an amazing man. But you probably already knew this, especially if you were one of the 13 people who saw the FIFA-financed blockbuster film United Passions, which acutely dissects Blatter’s amazing life from his virgin birth in a manger through the moment he saves humankind. If it wasn’t for Blatter, international soccer on steroids, as we know it today, may not exist. Sponsors wouldn’t be driven to stab people in alleys to get a lucrative piece of real estate on an ad board (allegedly).” Fusion


Valeriy Lobanovskyi: Football’s Premier Scientist

July 2, 2015

“Through the annals of footballing history, there have been a multitude of figures whose contribution to the game can be termed as colossal. Names such as Jimmy Hogan, Herbert Chapman, Victor Maslov, Rinus Michels, Arrigo Sacchi, have left their inedible mark on the sport through their philosophies of how the game should be played. But among these, the name of Valeriy Lobanovskyi has long gone unnoticed and underappreciated. His contribution to the game is as important and as ground breaking as any of the contributions of the rest of these eminent personalities. Born in Kiev in 1939, the young Valeriy was a smart kid, evidenced by his gold medal in mathematics which he was gifted when he left high school.” Outside of the Boot