This World Cup Needs the Spirit of Sócrates

“Sócrates may never have gone beyond the quarterfinals of the World Cup, but he remains one of the most iconic players in the history of the tournament. Instantly recognizable by his curly black hair, Che Guevara-esque beard, and the way he loomed over his opponents with his slender 6’4” frame, he looked every inch the revolutionary. At Mexico ’86, where he missed a fateful penalty as Brazil went out to France in a shootout in the quarters, he wore the headband — improvised from a teammate’s sock — which has come to define him in the mind’s eye of millions. …”
Jacobin

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Germany’s World Cup failure: ‘It’s not just bad luck, it’s inability’

“You can slice and dice this nightmare a thousand ways, smother it in narrative, toss in a few dollops of socio-political allegories and hunt for a couple of details that really spoilt the taste — it was the remote base camp at the northern tip of Qatar peninsula that lost it, or the unworn One Love armband or the unnecessary pre-tournament friendly in Oman — but listening to the Germany players after the event, they all brought it back to the most basic of basics. …”
The Athletic (Video)

How Brazil (It Lost) and Switzerland (It Won) Advanced to the World Cup Knockout Round



“The chaos that governed the first three days of World Cup group-stage finales did not bypass Group G on Friday so much as churn around the periphery of its two matches, swooping in to cause mayhem in torrents and spurts before leaving as quickly as it arrived. As Brazil’s reserves clashed with Cameroon, Serbia and Switzerland tussled for the group’s final qualification spot. That match included a paroxysm of goals — five in 30 minutes — and then a barren stretch that taunted both teams, one more than another. When it was over, Switzerland had won, 3-2, and advanced to the knockout stage, where it will face the Group H winner Portugal on Tuesday. …”
NY Times
The Athletic: Cho Gue-sung, the South Korea striker who went viral at the World Cup — for being handsome

Demba Ba’s guide to Senegal: ‘We will fight toe to toe with England’

“As Senegal prepare to face England for the first time in international football, former Newcastle and Chelsea striker Demba Ba — who won 22 caps for the Lions of Teranga over eight years, and is one of The Athletic’s guest writers during the World Cup — breaks down how they got here and where they could hurt Gareth Southgate’s team on Sunday. ..”
The Athletic

The Giant World Cup Rookie and an Enduring Dutch Mystery

“As they sat around the dinner table, Andries Noppert’s family raised the question as gently and as kindly as they could. He had been trying to make it as a professional soccer player for more than a decade. At 6 feet 8 inches, he had the physical gifts, and nobody would question his determination, his drive. But he was 26 now, and if everyone was completely honest, it did not seem to be working out. He had been at four clubs, and hardly played for any of them. He had made barely more than a dozen appearances in seven years. …”
NY Times

World Cup 2022: How to take a penalty in a shootout


“Ah penalties, you have to love them. Unless you lose, in which case they are the worst thing ever. There have been 30 World Cup penalty shootouts – with 279 kicks taken overall (excluding Diana Ross’ disastrous effort at USA ’94). BBC Sport and Opta have crunched the numbers to see what we could learn about maximising your chances of scoring. Your chances of scoring a penalty are much increased if you go to the right or left – but please avoid putting it down the middle. …”
BBC – World Cup 2022: How to take a penalty in a shootout (Video)
The Analyst – World Cup Penalty Shootouts: The Facts (Video)

Ghana’s Grudge Match

“When Ghana meets Uruguay on Friday, the Black Stars will be out for redemption—or vengeance, depending on how you look at it. Twelve years ago in South Africa, Ghana were on the verge of becoming the first African team to make it to the semifinals of a World Cup, the first in the tournament’s history to be hosted by an African nation. But they still had to get past Uruguay. With the match tied 1–1, the Ghanaian striker Dominic Adiyiah aimed a header straight at the goal late in overtime. The famed Uruguayan striker Luis Suárez blocked the ball, preventing a certain goal … with his hand. …”
The Atlantic

Can Brazil’s Divisive Team Unite a Fractured Nation?

“RIO DE JANEIRO — Ahead of Brazil’s elections last month, Neymar, the star forward of Brazil’s national men’s soccer team, pledged to dedicate his first World Cup goal to Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. On Election Day, Bolsonaro wore a protective vest in case of an attack. Over it, he pulled on the national team’s iconic yellow jersey. And in the days after Bolsonaro lost, hundreds of thousands of his supporters gathered outside military bases and called on the armed forces to take control of the government. From above, the protesters were a sea of yellow, with thousands wearing national team jerseys. …”
NY Times