Argentina, sans Messi, makes Copa America statement vs. Chile

June 12, 2016

“When Argentina and Chile last met in Copa America, it was last summer to decide a champion, and host Chile came out on top. It was Argentina’s time on Monday, with the two neighboring South American nations opening Group D play in Copa America Centenario. Angel Di Maria and Ever Banega each scored and set up the other in an eight-minute span, as Argentina made an opening statement with a 2-1 win in front of a capacity crowd at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Lionel Messi sat out the match, still recovering from a back injury suffered in Argentina’s pre-Copa friendly against Honduras. He was said to be available off the bench, but with Argentina seizing control in the second half, forcing him into the match became unnecessary.” SI (Video)


Show Your Copa Colors

June 6, 2016

“The 100th edition of the Copa America hits U.S. shores from June 3 to June 26, and all 16 nations from CONCACAF and CONMEBOL will be sporting some slick new kits. Check out their home/away looks and download your favorites.” ESPN


Argentina have the class and confidence to end 23-year Copa América drought

June 4, 2016

“Not everybody, it’s fair to say, will be taking the Copa América Centenario entirely seriously. There’s the Olympics to prepare for and, after a World Cup and an orthodox Copa America in the last two summers, it’s perhaps understandable if fatigue dulls the edge. But Argentina care. For them, every tournament is a chance to break a trophy drought that stretches back 23 years.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Copa América 2016: Who’s In, Who’s Hurt and Who Could Win It

June 4, 2016

“The Copa América Centenario, born in scandal and saved only by the promise of better behavior (and the presence of some pretty good soccer teams), kicks off Friday night when the United States faces Colombia in Santa Clara, Calif. The 16-team event is being played outside South America for the first time as a celebration of its 100th anniversary, and while a handful of top players have been left out or ruled out by injury, there is plenty left in the cupboard, including four of the eight quarterfinalists from the last World Cup. Here’s what you need to know before the tournament begins.” NY Times


SI’s Copa America Centenario picks

May 31, 2016

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“Copa America Centenario is a unique competition, one that pits South America’s 10 sides against each other and some of the best CONCACAF has to offer. Despite some of the stars who won’t be participating this summer–namely Neymar–and some of the nations who missed out, this is as close as it gets to a World Cup-style competition reserved for the Western Hemisphere. With that said, there can only be one winner. Argentina is out to end a trophy drought that is in its third decade. Mexico is out to make a statement against its South American foes. The U.S. is out to achieve material success under Jurgen Klinsmann for the first time since the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.” SI

Copa America Centenario group previews

Chicharito has been loved, hated and loved again
“HE’S THE FIRST player out of the clubhouse. The Mexican reporters are unprepared, chatting with each other behind the metal barricade. They turn their heads when the door scrapes open, lunging for their microphones. A camera stand nearly topples. Javier Hernandez is small and slight. At 28, his body seems barely removed from boyhood. Yet even in an unadorned black tracksuit, charisma flies off him like sweat off a boxer. As he strides through the mixed zone underneath Vancouver’s BC Place, someone calls his nickname: ‘Chicharito! Hey, Chicharito!'” ESPN

Copa America Centenario – News


American Dream

May 26, 2016

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“The United States has always fascinated me. I grew up in Rosario, the Second City of Argentina, and have lived in Barcelona since the age of 13. But from what I have seen on brief visits, there is nothing like the U.S.: how Americans live, what they have. It’s a unique country. The stadiums are incredible, and I can’t imagine a better place to host a special Copa América, a 16-team mini–World Cup bringing together all the top national teams from South America and the U.S. and Mexico over 24 days in June. People tell me it will be the biggest men’s soccer event in the U.S. since the 1994 World Cup.” SI (Video)


Uruguay legend Alvaro ‘El Chino ‘ Recoba bids farewell to football

April 1, 2016

“‘One last magic act.’ That’s how El Pais, Uruguay’s biggest newspaper, chose to headline their preview of Alvaro Recoba’s farewell match, which took place on Thursday night in the Gran Parque Central, a stadium he knew so well and lit up so frequently during his playing days with Nacional. Recoba debuted for Danubio back in 1994, but enjoyed his first successes — and his most recent ones too — with Nacional, where he became a club idol.” ESPN


Peru’s Achilles heel threatens to derail their World Cup path

March 28, 2016

“I was just turning five in the build up to the 1970 World Cup – too young to really understand what all the fuss was about. I do recall, though, some older kids nearby collecting the sticker album, and I can still remember going through a pile of their swaps. The first one I saw was a Peruvian – memory plays tricks but it might well have been Ramon Mifflin. Everything about the photo looked impossibly exotic – the Andean features and, especially, that red sash on the white shirt! In my young mind it all conjured up mystery and adventure.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)


Life’s a Pitch for Leo Messi

March 23, 2016

“Pitch concerns increase for Leo Messi as Suarez promises no return to naughty corner. Although Barcelona have a cushion at the top of La Liga that could comfortably house the most impressive of posteriors, the Catalan club will still be fretting and fussing outside football’s school gates as they drop their MSN at the rough-and-tough daycare that is the international break. Perhaps the biggest worry is over Leo Messi who has a fairly tough battle against Chile on Thursday night, followed by a clash in Cordoba against Bolivia on a pitch that looks a little like a post-apocalyptic cabbage patch.” Bein


Remember the name Marlos Moreno… he’s a star in the making

March 20, 2016

“In the 22 years I have been living over here there have been plenty of careers I have been lucky enough to follow from the start. The highlight, of course, is Lionel Messi. Little known even by Argentina when he was called up for the South American U-20 Championship at the start of 2005 in Colombia. He was two years younger than the rest of the players and seemed half the size, an unimpressive figure – until the ball was tied to his left foot and all of us fortunate enough to be watching were aware that we were in the presence of something very special.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)


Cubas shows ‘It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary’

February 28, 2016

“While some players take the easy option and go hiding when they chips are down, pint-sized Boca Juniors midfielder Adrian Cubas showed courage beyond his teenage years to do what is expected of him by his team – the simple things. All fans have seen it on a frequent basis – after the team has scored, suddenly it is a different game. The ball is zipping around all over the field, the moves are flowing and suddenly, after seeming a desperately complicated affair before the deadlock was broken, football now looks like a simple game. It is the same players, on the same pitch, in the same game against the same opposition, but the whole atmosphere has changed.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Top South American clubs launch Liga Sudamericana to challenge disgraced CONMEBOL

January 25, 2016

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“Last week, 15 of South America’s top soccer clubs got together in Montevideo, Uruguay, and decided to create an organization named Liga Sudamericana, or the ‘South American League’ (as in ‘League of Nations,’ not ‘Premier League’). And even though the organization has no clear leadership yet, it does have a clear purpose: to shift the power balance from CONMEBOL, the South American confederation, to clubs looking to depend less and less on the discredited continental confederation for their earnings.” Fusion


Sharing a Name With Barcelona, if Not Its Fortunes

January 21, 2016

“In his sparsely decorated corner office overlooking the field at Estadio Monumental, Juan Alfredo Cuentas sought to explain the power of the brand he has inherited as Barcelona Sporting Club’s new vice president for finance. Outside, the once-manicured grass lay vacant for the off-season, slowly spoiling in the January heat. … For most soccer fans around the globe, the name Barcelona is synonymous with the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suárez; huge financial resources; and Champions League triumphs that have often made Spain the king of the sport. But in Ecuador, the name Barcelona is usually associated with the 90-year-old soccer club founded here in Guayaquil, the country’s largest city. The two teams are very different, of course, but in at least a few ways they are alike.” NY Times


CONMEBOL’s ills curtailed Pele’s global appeal

January 17, 2016

“It can surely be seen as a consequence of the FIFA-Gate scandal, of which South America was the epicentre. The arrest or indictment of so many football fat cats has obviously weakened the power structure – which in turn has emboldened the clubs. In Ecuador, for example, the clubs look set to take over the running of the local championship from the federation – a project that long-term FA president Luis Chiriboga said he would bury. Instead, with Chiriboga one of the names on the list of those indicted, there has been a change of power at the top and the clubs have come out fighting. The meeting of the 15 clubs, with talk of setting up an association, is a similar thing happening on a continental scale.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


The grass isn’t always greener on the other pitch

January 17, 2016

“Why do football fans wish to ground-hop and tick experiences and stadiums off their bucket list? Some people just wish to experience as much as possible whilst they are physically and financially able, or whilst the credit card still has some life in it. Others may be looking elsewhere upon becoming disillusioned with the state of football in their country. For me, it was a little of both. What I found in South America, and Argentina in particular, was that whilst there are fascinating aspects to their game, it is not the utopia it appears to be and is not without its problems. A little like in England. What makes the game great in one country may also be the source of its problems, and vice-versa.” Football Pink


Messi the favorite, but could Neymar jump Ronaldo in Ballon d’Or voting?

January 10, 2016

“What do Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Franck Ribery and Manuel Neuer all have in common? In the last four years, each was the ‘gooseberry’ on the Ballon d’Or podium behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. This year could be different; for the first time since 2010, when Ronaldo slipped to sixth (Iniesta was second and Xavi third) the Messi-Ronaldo duopoly could be broken by the player Barcelona signed to one day replace Messi: Neymar.” SI (Video)


South America’s brightest want a slice of ‘Paree’

January 4, 2016

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“At the end of the First World War there was a new hit tune in the United States, one that made reference to the experiences that US servicemen were having on the other side of the Atlantic. The title – ‘How can you keep ‘em down on the farm, now that they’ve seen Paree?’ It is a song with relevance to modern football. Because in today’s globalized world, footballers from the four corners of the globe have all seen ‘Paree’ – meaning, in this case, the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and (why not?) Paris Saint Germain. It is where they all want to be. And so it has become impossible to keep them at home.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Tactical Analysis: River Plate 0-3 Barcelona | Barca’s enterprising play too much for River

December 31, 2015

“In Yokohama, the final of the FIFA World Club Championship, saw on one hand the champion of the Copa Libertadores River Plate, who had beaten in the semifinals Sanfrecce Hiroshima of Japan, and on the other the Champions League winners, FC Barcelona that without Messi and Neymar beat Chinese team Guangzhou Evergrande. In the end, the Spanish team had their South American trident, as both Messi and Neymar decided to play the game despite not being 100%. River Plate made one change from the team that played the semifinal, with Uruguayan Tabaré Viudez replacing Leonardo Pisculichi. Luis Enrique presented his classic 4-3-3 system, River Plate alternated between their usual 4-3-1-2 and 4-4-2, the two systems being used by the team of Marcelo Gallardo.” Outside of the Boot


Global Series | Top 10 South American Players of 2015: Alexis, Neymar and Suarez feature

December 21, 2015

“In this new annual feature, we at Outside of the Boot aim to unearth the best performing footballers from each of the 5 primary Confederations in the past calendar year. Rather than do the work ourselves, we had the bright idea of crowd-sourcing the answers and the football-sphere has spoken with its votes. Drum roll please. And the winners of Global Series: South America is…” Outside of the Boot


The 10 Young Stars of 2015: Paulo Dybala (South America)

December 10, 2015

“Paulo Dybala is an Argentine striker currently playing for Juventus. The youngster made the move to Juventus this summer from Palermo for 32 million euros, in one of the blockbuster moves of the summer. He’s also a full Argentine international, making his debut in the recent World Cup qualifier against Paraguay, when he came on as a sub for Carlos Tevez. The striker started out at Argentine club Instituto de Cordoba, playing in the second division, where he broke all sorts of records, including some held by the legendary Mario Kempes.He played 38 consecutive games there, scored 2 hattricks, and scored in 6 consecutive games. After some controversy about the paper work, he completed his move to Palermo, and in his time there, made enough of an impact to be signed by Juventus for a massive transfer fee.” Outside of the Boot

The 10 Young Stars of 2015: Ryan Thomas (Oceania)
“Ryan Thomas is a 20 year old New Zealander currently bearing the colours of PEC Zwolle. The youngster was signed from a youth academy in New Zealand in 2013 after Zwolle took him on trial and were impressed with what he had to offer. The player is usually deployed as a winger, but can also fill in in the middle of the park, a position he was deployed in during his youth days. Thomas is the only Kiwi in the entire Eredivisie, and indeed, The Netherlands aren’t really a well trodden path for his compatriots. Despite this though, he’s settled in well, and made a huge impact on the league, and his team. His greatest success has come in the cup final in 2014, where he scored a brace to help his side beat the mighty Ajax and lift the trophy.” Outside of the Boot


Tactical Analysis: Argentina 1-1 Brazil | Argentina improve but to no avail

November 21, 2015

“Last Friday, the South American derby between Argentina and Brazil was played. The game should have been played on Thursday but had to be suspended due to heavy rain that fell on Buenos Aires. The match found an Argentine team without two of their stars, with Messi and Agüero both out injured and this only added to the absence of Carlos Tevez. Martino’s team started with a 4-3-3 system, while Dunga used a 4-2-3-1 system, trying to stop the Argentine midfield, and cut the creative circuit.” Outside of the Boot


The Academy Series | 10 best Boca Juniors products: Tevez, Gago, and Banega feature

November 21, 2015

“Recently crowned Argentinian Primera champions Boca Juniors are undisputedly one of the biggest and most successful clubs in South America and over their celebrated history have brought through countless players who have gone on to make a huge impact in the game. Since their foundation in 1905, their academy has produced international stars such as infamous Antonio Rattin and world cup winners Oscar Ruggeri and Alberto Tarrantini.” Outside of the Boot


Lucas Biglia scores to give Argentina first WCQ win over Colombia

November 18, 2015

“Argentina claimed their first win in 2018 World Cup qualifying against Colombia at the Metropolitano Roberto Melendez stadium. Lucas Biglia’s first-half strike was enough to give the Albiceleste a 1-0 triumph — their first win at the fourth time of asking on the road to Russia. It was also only their second goal in four games, but that result now catapults Argentina up to fourth and back into contention in the fledgling campaign.” ESPN


Brazil fail to reach World Cup? Don’t rule it out as they head to Argentina

November 16, 2015

“That if Brazil failed to qualify for the World Cup? The prospect seems incredible but it is one that football may have to try to come to terms with. It is still a distant possibility but, given how awful the side have been at their last two major tournaments and given how they have started qualifying for Russia 2018, it is not as preposterous a scenario as it would once have seemed. With Argentina also stuttering off the blocks there will be an unexpected sense of anxiety about Thursday’s meeting in El Monumental.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


My Funes Mori faux pas

November 10, 2015

during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Everton at The Hawthorns on September 28, 2015 in West Bromwich, United Kingdom.
“When the Argentine centre-back joined Everton from River Plate I did not think he stood any chance of success. I felt that in the Premier League he would be exposed for lack of quality, pace and physicality. True, his first couple of months have not been unblemished. He is unlikely ever to be a candidate for a world XI. But he appears to have settled in well, exuding confidence right from the off. Clearly, he is considerably better than I had thought.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)


The Academy Series | 10 best River Plate products: Saviola, Mascherano, and Higuain feature

November 8, 2015

“As one of the biggest clubs in Argentina, River Plate and its prestigious academy have produced countless world class players over their 114-year history. A club associated with the three G’s – Ganar, Gustar y Golear (Win, Enjoy & Thrash) – tries to instil their young charges with this philosophy from an early age and ensure that those on their books are technically outstanding, comfortable on the ball and, above all, intelligent footballers.” Outside of the Boot


Martino must be rethinking Argentina’s approach

October 17, 2015

“‘No battle plan,’ said a famous 19th century Prussian military man. ‘survives contact with the enemy.’
Argentina coach Gerardo Martino must surely be wondering about the validity of his plan of action after a historic 2-0 defeat at home to Ecuador in the first round of World Cup qualification. Martino had spent his first year in charge building up to this moment. During friendlies and the recent Copa America he was always anxious to stress that he was looking to consolidate an idea of play.” World Game – Tim Vickery


Tactical Analysis: Argentina 0-2 Ecuador | Argentina fail shamefully in the opener

October 14, 2015

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“Ecuador was the surprise on the first day of the South American qualifying, winning in Buenos Aires against the Argentine national team, which played without L. Messi but with a very strong squad, against a modest Ecuadorian national team. Ecuador scored a historic victory by a 2 -0 margin, to mark the first occasion in 22 years that Argentina lost in Buenos Aires.” Outside of the Boot


Continental schism presents a tough question

August 17, 2015
epa04873815 Players of River Plate of Argentina celebrate after winning the Copa Libertadores Cup after defeating Tigres of Mexico at a soccer match held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 05 August 2015. EPA/David Fernández

epa04873815 Players of River Plate of Argentina celebrate after winning the Copa Libertadores Cup after defeating Tigres of Mexico at a soccer match held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 05 August 2015. EPA/David Fernández

“Buenos Aires giant River Plate won its third Copa Libertadores title earlier this month, beating Tigres of Mexico 3-0 on aggregate in the two-legged final. Some in Europe were gripped by the fact that this triumph came only four years after the club had been relegated to Argentina’s second division. In reality, though, there is no need to be astonished. Such wild oscillations have become almost par for the course in the South American club game. The previous winner of the Libertadores was another Buenos Airies side, San Lorenzo. It did not go down to the second division. But it came very close. In the middle of 2012 it was forced into a play-off to determine its first division survival. It won – and two years later it was champion of its continent.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Lionel Messi’s idol just retired

July 17, 2015

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“Pablo Aimar, the curly-froed magician, and the one player who could make even the great Lionel Messi blush, has retired at 35 after a series of debilitating injuries. Aimar recently penned a farewell letter to his River Plate teammates after he was left off of the team’s Copa Libertadores squad by coach Marcelo Gallardo. The past few seasons had been torrid for Aimar as he underwent three ankle surgeries, a sadly recurring theme in what’s been a career hampered by injuries. Though younger fans of the game may not be know him well, it’s not hard to see why Messi idolized Aimar, an effortless player who seemed born to dance on the field. An entertainer rightfully nicknamed ‘El Payasito’ (the clown) for his effortless ability, Aimar was a fan favorite everywhere he went.” Fusion (Video)


Copa America 2015: Team of the Tournament

July 11, 2015

“Chile ended their near century drought with a penalty shoot-out victory over Argentina in front of a sea of red in Santiago on Saturday to claim their first ever Copa America. It was a triumph of the collective over the individual and fittingly rewarded the country’s best ever generation with victory on home soil. Yes, there had been some kind refereeing decisions that had gone their way but that shouldn’t take anything away from a fantastic team performance by Sampaoli’s men. For Argentina, it was so close but yet so far as they fell at the final hurdle for the second year in a row. For them the wait continues. After a memorable tournament, now comes the time for reflection and a chance to recognise some of the best performers from Chile 2015. Playing in a 4-2-3-1, here are the players that stood out for me over the course of the last few weeks.” Outside of the Boot


Hosts Chile stun Argentina to claim first Copa América title on penalties

July 5, 2015

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“After 99 years, it came down to Alexis Sánchez against Sergio Romero from 12 yards. The Arsenal forward attempted a Panenka, scuffed it badly, and scored anyway as the goalkeeper dived to his left. Misses from Gonzalo Higuaín and Éver Banega in the shootout proved decisive and, finally, Chile, one of the four participants at the inaugural Copa América, had a first international trophy. For Argentina the drought goes on: 22 years since their last trophy and an increasing sense that this gifted generation of players will remain unfulfilled.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

Argentina’s painful title drought continues with loss in Copa final
“As the last penalty of this Copa America final was taken, Lionel Messi stood slightly apart from the rest of the Argentina team, hands clasped tightly behind his back. When Alexis Sanchez’s shot hit the back of the net and the sea of red-clad fans inside the Estadio Nacional here erupted, Messi remained motionless for a few long, poignant seconds, staring straight ahead, before walking away. There was just time enough for a slow gaze over his shoulder at the wildly cavorting Chilean players near the corner flag before he was embraced by a supportive teammate.” SI

Chile beats Argentina on penalties in Copa America to win first major title
“A nation could barely watch, but Alexis Sanchez, given his third chance to win the Copa America, accepted it, scuffing an attempted Panenka but deceiving goalkeeper Sergio Romero anyway to give Chile a 4–1 win on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw. For Chile, the 99-year wait for a first-ever international trophy was over; for Argentina, the 22-year drought goes on. It had been a game that, after a bright start, had degenerated into a bruising, physical encounter in which fluent play was at a premium. Chances were rare—there were a couple of snap-shots from Sanchez and Ezequiel Lavezzi squandered a break with an overhit cross, but essentially this was an ugly midfield scrap.” SI – Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Copa América final: Messi stands in way of Chile’s inspired realists
“The training field echoes with laughter. Someone makes a joke about Lionel Messi, Ezequiel Garay and their shared love of Newell’s Old Boys. The players are, demonstrably, having fun: talk of splits and the destabilising presence of Carlos Tevez seems a long way in the past. Inside, Animal Planet still plays silently on the television in the corner and the technical staff still analyse their data, but they are no longer mumbling darkly about Louis van Gaal giving them a ‘ruined’ Ángel Di María, short on game-time and confidence. Argentina’s mood is noticeably relaxed.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Copa America 2015 Final | Key Battles: How to stop Messi, midfield battle and more
“60 years after these two sides met in the South American Football Championship final, they face up against each other in the modern version of the tournament. While Argentina may be favourites for the 2015 Copa America final, hosts Chile will prove to be a difficult opponent. Tom Robinson has a look at the key battles for the clash at the Estadio Nacional.”


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


Derlis Gonzalez, David Ospina and more – 4 Players who defined the Copa America 2015 quarters

June 30, 2015

“Brazil’s ousting in the quarter-final stage was the talking point, but Peru’s run along-with Chile’s impressive showing has kept enthusiasts intrigued. Though Argentina remain as favourites with online sports betting at Sportsbook.ag, it may not be as simple to call these games. Paraguay too who eliminated Brazil for the second successive Copa America, have shown they aren’t to be overlooked. Finley Crebolder picks his four players that defined the quarter-final stage, a stage that has left us with two enticing fixtures.” Outside of the Boot


Argentina outlasts Colombia in PKs in heart-stopping Copa quarterfinal

June 27, 2015

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“The bare facts are that Argentina reached the semifinals of the Copa America, defeating Colombia in penalty kicks (5–4) after a goalless draw, but that hardly tells the full story of the match. It had been an astonishing game, which Argentina had dominated almost from start to finish without being able to score. David Ospina, the Colombia goalkeeper, made a number of fine saves, chances were missed, the woodwork was struck twice and, even when Carlos Tevez got by all those obstacles with two minutes to go, Jeison Murillo was on hand to hook the ball clear.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


A Guide to Copa America, in Queens

June 24, 2015

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El Gauchito, 94-60 Corona Ave in Queens.
“Copa América, the South American soccer championship, is in its third week in Chile, and has given the world everything it could handle from a tournament: dramatic comebacks, shocking suspensions, all-out scoring feasts, and acts of idiocy and manslaughter off the pitch. Now, after the end of the group stages, eight of the original 12 teams remain, and they will begin the direct elimination rounds today. There is still plenty of action to catch—with some potential classic matchups coming up—and as we wrote during the World Cup, there is no finer place to watch international soccer than New York City. So if you aren’t able to make your way over to Chile, your next best shot at living the fever of South American soccer is right here, in the almost impossibly diverse borough of Queens. From Astoria to Sunnyside, bars, bakeries and butcher shops are turning their establishments into prime viewing spots. Here are the upcoming matches and the best places to catch them with diehard fans from each country.” ROADS & KINGDOMS

Uruguay have the history to hit Copa América heights against Chile
“Chile have scored more than twice as many goals as anybody else in this Copa América. They will be playing at home in front of 40,000 red-shirted fans. They have played with a verve and a fluidity nobody else in this tournament has matched and, if anything, Arturo Vidal’s drink-driving charge, which could have been a destabilising influence, seems to have given them an enhanced sense of purpose. Uruguay scraped through their group in third place, having scored only two goals. Other sides in their position might have approached Wednesday night’s quarter-final like lambs to the slaughter but not Óscar Washington Tabárez’s team. This is the sort of situation Uruguay have traditionally relished.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Copa America: Group C’s key tactical system, game-changing performance, and best young player
“Group C has easily been the Copa America’s most engaging, as shock wins by Venezuela and Colombia saw all four teams level on points entering the final match day. With a resurgent Thiago Silva leading Brazil to victory over Venezuela to top the group, the final placing may not seem like much of a surprise. However, with Brazil needing a last-minute winner to beat Peru, Neymar’s suspension, and a host of strong defensive performances, many from unsung, domestically based players, these six games provided us with multitudes of knife-edge tension. As the three survivors lick their wounds ahead of the quarterfinals, here is a brief look back at some of the keys to the way things played out.” Outside of the Boot

Copa America quarterfinals: Argentina and Brazil face tense challenges
Chile vs. Uruguay. All the momentum is with Chile, but all the history is with Uruguay. The hosts have looked to be far and away the best team in this tournament so far, scoring twice as many goals as everybody else, but Uruguay have by far the best record in spoiling such house parties. On the past three occasions that the latter have met the home team — Argentina 2011, Venezuela 2007 and Paraguay 1999 — they have eliminated them. That’s all the more relevant here because it reflects just how good the Uruguayans are at digging in and disrupting more exciting and excitable sides. Oscar Tabarez’s current side are experts at that, and abnormally difficult to beat. … ” ESPN


The Copa America heats up now for Chile

June 22, 2015


“These days, the Copa America tournament serves as a warm-up for the qualifiers. Of course, once the Copa kicks off, everyone wants to win. There is always pressure on Brazil and Argentina to go home with the trophy, and that is especially true this year, with La Albiceleste waiting for a senior title since 1993 and Brazil anxious to cover up that huge stain on the carpet left by its performance in the World Cup. The focus of most coaches, though, is firmly on preparing a team for the World Cup qualifiers. More than anything else, the Copa America is about the host, which really wants to put on a show in front of its own public. And that, too, is especially true this year, with Chile gunning for a maiden continental title. As expected, there has never been a dull moment during Chile’s group phase. Indeed, there was more incident than anyone had bargained for.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Tactical Analysis: Argentina 1-0 Uruguay | Argentina exploit width to win a tight game

June 21, 2015

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Argentina 1-0 Uruguay
“The classic clash of South America, had the favorites (Argentina) as the winners of the match. With Messi in charge, Argentina are the favorites to win it all. A very clear game, with one team playing attack minded football and the other team focusing on blocking the spaces. Uruguay were focusing on the counter-attacks and did create some chances and were really close to scoring a late equalizer. Argentina were the better side this evening, even if they were struggling to play through this low positioned Uruguay team, and they did find the goal with a cross from Zabaleta to Aguero, scoring the only goal of the game.” Outside of the Boot


Gerardo Martino’s shrewd tactical tinkering helps Argentina pip Uruguay

June 18, 2015

“The old rivals rose to the occasion. The match between Argentina and Uruguay may not have offered up all of the goals of the previous night’s action in the Copa America, but there was quality and drama to the end as Argentina held off a late Uruguayan rally to win by the lone goal. Argentina coach Gerardo Martino had prepared a trap for his opponents. Lionel Messi dropped deep, into a position where, like some general of old, he could survey the battlefield in search of the enemy’s weak point. He also drew attention of the Uruguayan markers, creating space for Javier Pastore to advance and set up the play some 30 metres from goal. With Angel Di Maria elusively wandering in from the left flank, Argentina opened up with a fluidity which threatened an early breakthrough.” ESPN – Tim Vickery

Sergio Aguero rescues labourious Argentina in 1-0 win over Uruguay
“Three quick thoughts on Argentina’s frantic 1-0 win over Uruguay in the Copa America on Tuesday night. 1. Argentina learn from Paraguay mistakes. Sergio Aguero scored a goal to light up a game, even if this was not a game to light up a tournament. Argentina have at least renewed their spark, however, after claiming their first win of the Copa America with this hard-fought 1-0 win over Uruguay. Their manager, Gerardo Martino, was sent off for first-half touchline remonstrations, but his team are finally off and running. The frustration after the 2-2 draw with Paraguay has now evaporated, and the relief could be witnessed at the final whistle.” ESPN


Lionel Messi and Argentina losing sleep as Uruguay loom at Copa América 2015

June 16, 2015

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“After Argentina’s 2-2 draw with Paraguay Lionel Messi could not sleep. He roamed the corridors of the squad’s base in La Serena, turning over and over in his mind what had happened, how Argentina had managed to turn a position of dominance and a 2-0 lead into a point that places enormous pressure on them in the Copa América game against Uruguay on Tuesday, local time.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Chile time at the Copa America

June 13, 2015

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“In the 99-year history of the world’s oldest continental competition, 37 of the 43 titles have been snapped up by Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil. Other than the traditional big three, Bolivia has won it, Colombia has won it while Paraguay and Peru have both won it twice. Chile does not appear on the list of Copa America champions – even though it took part as far back as the inaugural tournament in 1916. The current side, by popular consensus, is the best in Chile’s history. As 2015 host, then, the pressure is on it to bring the long, dry run to an end. And coach Jorge Sampaoli is worried about the pressure. He has first hand experience of what it can do.” The World Game – Tim Vickery

Brazil hope their new Fred does better than the old one in Copa America
“Two weeks ago, Fred, the diminutive Shakhtar Donetsk forward, made his home debut for Brazil in a friendly against Mexico in São Paulo. When his name was read out before kickoff, he was roundly booed: the crowd did not realise he was the 22-year-old Frederico Rodrigues Santos, and assumed he was the other Fred, the 31-year-old Frederico Chaves Guedes, the Fluminense striker who was one of the chief scapegoats for the disaster of the World Cup.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Copa América Tickets, Finally, Are Hard to Come By
“Eduardo Santa Cruz has been attending Copa América games in Chile since 1955, when he was 5 years old and his parents took him to games in Santiago. A professor of journalism and the author of two books on soccer and mass culture, Santa Cruz has a better recollection of the 1991 tournament, for which he said tickets in Santiago were readily available. This year, though, as the popularity of the Copa continues to grow, he expects tickets will be hard to find. Santa Cruz and his family will be watching from home.” NY Times

Copa America: Group-by-group guide

Copa America: Five potential breakthrough stars (Video)


Eight things we learned from the Internet about Copa América 2015

June 11, 2015

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“For the next three weeks, the pulse of South American futbol beats from Chile, where the continent’s 10 national teams plus invitees Mexico and Jamaica will battle it out for a piece of international silverware that’s been contested for 99 years. This is the Copa América, a tournament renowned for its storied rivalries, vibrant fan support, politically-charged history, and incredible star power on the pitch; a competition which, for the past near-century, has ignited a continent. With just days left until the tournament kicks off, we turned to the world’s greatest source for information on the tournament — Wikipedia — and came back up with a few gems. The Copa América, it turns out, is a weird, weird tournament.” Fusion

Copa America preview roundtable: Games, players, stories to watch
“For a second straight summer, a massive international prize is on the line in South America, and even though it may not carry the weight of the World Cup, the 2015 Copa America features plenty of star power and a winner’s medal that includes a ticket to the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. Days after winning the Champions League together, two-thirds of Barcelona’s record-setting front line–Lionel Messi and Neymar–will be on display as adversaries (the third member, Uruguay’s Luis Suárez, is still banned internationally for his World Cup bite of Giorgio Chiellini); Brazil puts its undefeated mark under Dunga (this time around, anyway) on the line in its first meaningful games since last summer’s disappointment on home soil; host Chile and Colombia aim to build on the success they enjoyed last summer; and a series of upstarts look to spring surprises in what promises to be an intense 12-team competition. Jonathan Wilson and James Young are on the ground in Chile, and here are some of their games, story lines and other items to watch over the next three-plus weeks…” SI – Jonathan Wilson


River vs. Boca ’68 – The tragedy of La Puerta 12

May 27, 2015

“The Superclasico between River Plate and Boca Juniors is a fixture in the world football calendar that’s steeped in history, one that halts all activity in Buenos Aires but also captures the imagination of football fans around the globe. It has witnessed some of the game’s greats take part on either side: Alfredo Di Stefano, Diego Maradona, Enzo Francescoli, Juan Roman Riquelme and Gabriel Batistuta to name just a handful and is credited with being one of the most incredible spectacles in sport.” Football Pink


A Copa Libertadores stoush that’s worth watching

May 24, 2015

“They get to see the best players from the four corners of the globe, in the arena where it really matters – where they want to prove their class to themselves and their peers. All of this takes place in magnificent stadiums in an atmosphere that respects and gives value to the spectacle. The Copa Libertadores can hardly compete. Recent versions of the FIFA Club World Cup have served to confirm the view that the distance between top level club football in Europe and South America has never been wider. True, my adopted continent remains a magnificent producer of raw talent – indeed, it can be argued that the national team game in South America has never been stronger. That, of course, is when all the star names come back from Europe briefly to represent their countries. It is wonderful – a magnificent pleasure and an enormous privilege – to catch some of these players on the way up.” World Soccer – Tim Vickery


River Plate & Boca Juniors: Superclasico Trilogy marred by violence

May 20, 2015

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“Great trilogies are few and far between but when bitter rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors were pitted against each other in the Copa Libertadores round of 16, just days after their scheduled league clash, hopes were predictably raised for a Superclasico triple header of cinematic proportions. As is often the case, it proved to be a disappointment and was ultimately overshadowed by violence. While the brutality on show may have not been out of place in The Godfather, that’s where any comparisons with Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpieces end.” Outside of the Boot (Video)

Continued South American soccer violence falls on authorities, clubs
“The aphorism ‘let the punishment fit the crime’ is unlikely to be heard much in South American soccer’s corridors of power. Whether it is the week-in, week-out thuggery of Brazil’s torcidas organizadas and Argentina’s barras bravas or the far too frequent tragedies served up in the Copa Libertadores–which in recent years have included the death of 14-year-old Bolivian fan Kevin Espada, struck by a flare fired by Corinthians fans in Oruro in 2013, and last week’s now notorious PepperGate incident at La Bombonera in Buenos Aires–perhaps the only thing more striking than the violence that scars the game across the continent is the inability of the authorities to do anything about the problem.” SI (Video)


The world’s worst stadium disaster – Estadio Nacional, Lima 1964

May 20, 2015

“Peru launched a cross into the Argentine box, looking for an equaliser that would push them closer towards qualification for the 1964 Olympic Games football tournament in Tokyo. The headed flick on arrived at the back post where Victor Kilo Lobaton stole in undetected. His boot – raised barely to knee height – was met almost simultaneously in mid-air by that of the opposing defender whose swing of the leg connected with the ball milliseconds before that of the on-rushing Peruvian. The attempted clearance rebounded off Lobaton and into the net; Argentina’s goalkeeper Agustin Cejas seemingly more intent on remonstrating with the referee than diving full length to protect his clean sheet.” Football Pink


Talent Radar Player Rankings: Top 10 Young Forwards in 2014/15

May 16, 2015

“In the past two weeks, we’ve updated our Talent Radar player rankings in the Goalkeepers, Defenders and Midfielders section. We’re now left with this season’s final issue of the Forward Rankings. It’s common tendency that players playing up front attract the most attention, from both fans and clubs. Many of the names on this list will be the subject of transfer speculation in the coming months. We’re going to leave any kind of speculation surrounding these players out of this and give you an unbiased judgement of how the players have done this past season to let you know the reason for the hype around them.” Outside of the Boot


The beautiful game gets ugly when fans turn against their own

April 20, 2015

“A footballer, says the great Argentine coach Cesar Luis Menotti, is ‘a privileged interpreter of the dreams of many people.’ It is a wise and beautiful line. Not so beautiful, though, are those situations when many of the crowd would rather not have their dreams interpreted by a particular player. One of the most ugly things in football is when fans turn against a member of their own team. In Brazil this is a depressingly common occurrence, and one that can follow bizarre criteria. Many, I’m sure, will remember the Belo Horizonte crowd turning against Fred – indeed forcing his substitution – during that crushing World Cup semi final defeat to Germany last year. One might have thought that, with the team losing 7-1, the defenders might be a more obvious target than the centre forward. I, for one, was delighted when Fred responded by finishing last year’s Brazilian Championship as top scorer.” The World Game  – Tim Vickery (Video)


Argentine referee uses replay to correct call, faces punishment

April 6, 2015

“Being a referee in a technology-soaked era is a no-win proposition, like being accused of witchcraft in the 1700s. Float when you’re throw into water? Guilty! Drown? Innocent! Right is wrong, wrong is right, and you’re screwed either way. Like leading Argentinian referee German Delfino, who is being investigated and faces a potential suspension for reversing an incorrect decision through the use of replay. Because, of course, the officials are the only people in any stadium not allowed to look at footage of matches. It’s like installing a GPS device in a car but placing the screen on the back seat, where the driver can’t see it.” Fusion


Italy at Argentina ’78 – Bearzot leads the renaissance

April 3, 2015

“When the Romantics of Brazil imploded in Barcelona’s Sarria Stadium against an unfancied Italy in the second group phase of the 1982 World Cup, the purists’ dreams died, and Italy’s eventual triumph in Madrid just days later was greeted with largely grudging acknowledgment. Italy’s victory in Spain is often advanced as some kind of immoral victory of Roundheads over Cavaliers. In truth, it was no such thing.” backpagefootball


Can Gerardo Martino end Argentina’s cup drought with Copa América glory?

March 31, 2015

“When Santiago hosts the final of the Copa América on 4 July this year, it will be 22 years to the day since Gabriel Batistuta received a quick throw-in from Diego Simeone, turned away from Mexico’s Raúl Gutiérrez and curled a brisk left-foot finish into the bottom corner of Jorge Campos’s net. It was a goal that meant Argentina defended their continental crown; it was also the last time that any Argentinian scored a winner in a major international final.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


The Barrabrava – Crusaders Turning Exploiters

March 16, 2015

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“As I read Christopher Gaffney’s Temples of the Earthbound Gods, one issue that particularly struck me was the excessive nature of the barrabrava, the fierce fan group that exists in most of the Argentine and South American football clubs. In the book, Gaffney suggests the unclear, shady relationships between the clubs and their barrabravas, or barras in short, and some of the borderline illegal actions that the barras take that is veiled under the name of passion and footballing identity. For instance, the level of physical violence that the barras have reached a point where the barras of each club have their signature means of violence – rubber mallets in San Lorenzo or umbrellas in Independiente, for example – and yet their clubs have remained reluctant, even sympathetic towards such acts.” Soccer Politics (Video)


Never forget your roots – Palmeiras’ illustrious history

February 25, 2015

“One of the most successful clubs in Brazil, Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras have won eight league titles, as well as two Copa do Brasil trophies. The champions of South America in 1999, having beaten Colombian side Deportivo Cali to claim the Copa Libertadores, with their success culminating in the awarding of ‘Best Team of the 20th Century of Brazil’ by the Sao Paulo State Football Federation, they are a club of immense power and wealth. Palmeiras’ team is predominantly Brazilian, with ex Bayern Munich and Inter Milan defender Lúcio among their ranks. Apart from a smattering of Chilean, Argentinian and Uruguayan players, their squad is entirely made up of footballers from the ‘Futebol Nation’.” backpagefootball


Everything you need to know about the 2015 Copa Libertadores

February 23, 2015

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“With the last of the group spots now finalised, the 56th edition of the Copa Libertadores – South America’s equivalent of the Champions League – properly gets underway this week and, as ever, it promises to be full of drama, excitement and shocks. The vast distances, not to mention the range of altitudes and climates, make it a highly challenging, unpredictable and captivating contest, while also offering the opportunity to catch a first glance at some of the continent’s emerging prospects. Argentinian side San Lorenzo won their first ever title last year, breaking the run of Brazilian triumphs and capping a remarkable turnaround for a club on the brink of relegation just two years before. With the last three victors being first time winners, could we see another maiden champion? Or will one of the established giants reclaim the continent’s top club prize? The following comprehensive group by group guide will take you through all the contenders.” Outside of the Boot (Part 1), Everything you need to know about the 2015 Copa Libertadores (Part 2)


Messi, Neymar, Sanchez: In search of South America’s next star

February 10, 2015

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Angel Correa is leaving Argentina to play in Spain.
“For the crunch World Cup match against England last year, Uruguay were without their captain and centre-back Diego Lugano. In to replace him came Jose Maria Gimenez, a 19-year-old who had played in a grand total of one league match the previous season and one Copa del Rey fixture for Atletico Madrid. It is hard to imagine England, or another major European nation, throwing a youngster into the deep end in this way. But Uruguay had no qualms. Gimenez had been immaculate the previous year in the World Under-20 Cup, and that was good enough. This story helps to explain the importance of under-20 football in South America. There are plenty of others like it.” BBC – Tim Vickery


Ode to Riquelme

February 10, 2015

“There are two kinds of greatness in sport. There are the freaks of nature, and there are players like Riquelme—tall, lanky, shoulders hunched, no blinding speed or intimidating power to speak of. Riquelme’s greatness isn’t defined by the highlight reel. The Argentine found beauty in the more subtle moments of the game. He carved up opposition defenses without them being aware of what was happening, dragged around the pitch like a puppet being made to dance by its puppeteer. You couldn’t recreate the things Riquelme did—and you wouldn’t even think to try them in the first place.” 8 by 8


Riquelme’s reminder: There’ll always be a place for art in soccer

January 26, 2015

“Call me old fashioned, but Juan Román Riquelme is my favorite kind of player. Riquelme was never the fastest, strongest, or even remotely close to the most athletic player on the field. But somehow, the Argentine midfielder made a career out of the remaining scraps, relying exclusively on technique, awareness, and an ability to read the game with such precision that at times he came off as a master puppeteer. The other 21 players on the field frequently looked like extensions of Riquelme, only there to be manipulated by his thoughts and movements. Riquelme created exquisite art. Last night, Riquelme announced his career as an artist was over. Eight weeks after his final appearances, the Argentine virtuoso announced his retirement. His work is done.” Soccer Gods


Panning for gold – the Sudamericano Sub-20

January 19, 2015

“As a beaming Lionel Messi wheeled away from an ugly goalmouth scramble after putting Barcelona’s victory over Atletico Madrid beyond doubt, he was set upon by the evening’s two other scorers. Neymar, Luis Suarez and Messi made their way back to the back to their positions arm-in-arm having together lifted a slightly deflated mood around the club beset by managerial pressure and rumours of their favourite son’s discontent. The victory left Barca just a point behind Real Madrid in the Liga BBVA and three ahead of Atletico and it was these three South American stars, each arriving at the club via hugely different paths, that were its architects. There’s nothing quite as marketable as a South American football star. By now the image has become something of a cliché: the young pibe winding through cobbled, uneven streets from dawn to dusk, with nothing but a rudimentary ball and a dream; carrying that childlike exuberance into the professional game and becoming a star.” backpagefootball


Simeone and Atlético are a perfect fit, but Cholo’s next step is on the horizon

January 14, 2015

“Long before he was introduced to hair gel, Diego Pablo Simeone was conducting an orchestra in Argentina. He was only 10 years old at the time, still in school and tasked with organizing children much older than him. But Bruno Amasino, the school’s music teacher and a ‘genius at playing the piano’ (Simeone’s words), disregarded his age. His leadership was far more important. Amasino clearly had a good eye. Thirty-four years later, the Atlético Madrid head coach is still leading, his restless patrol of Atleti’s technical area reminiscent of a highly-tuned jungle cat. Covered in black from head to toe and with that trademark gel swooping his hair back, he now appears to be auditioning for a part in a South American version of Goodfellas. On the contrary, Simeone’s too busy cementing his place as one of the elite coaches in world soccer.” Soccer Gods