Stadium row highlights the depressing state of Rio football

February 22, 2018

“The big news should have been the magnificent goal that Vinicius Junior scored for Flamengo in the Rio de Janeiro derby against Botafogo. Cutting in from the left onto his stronger right foot, he curled a superb shot into the far top corner, clinching a 3-1 win for his side. It was an indication of the quality of a 17-year-old who is already bound for Europe. Real Madrid caused a splash last year when they agreed to pay an astonishing 45 million Euros for such an unproven talent. Still with Flamengo, Vinicius is having to grow up in public. He is, understandably, very raw. …” World Soccer – Tim Vickery

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Tim Vickery’s Notes from South America: State championships at the heart of Brazil’s problems

January 22, 2018

“Fluminense against Botafogo is known as ‘the grand-dad classic’. The Rio clash has been played since 1905, making it the oldest of Brazil’s big derby games. The latest instalment was on Saturday – a dreary goalless draw played in the Maracana stadium in front of 7,126 paying customers – a figure boosted by curious tourists. But this, officially, is not pre-season. This game took place in the second round of the Rio State Championships, which drags out until mid May before being instantly forgotten, giving way to the national league.” World Soccer – Tim Vickery


Ronaldinho and the Right-Winger

January 4, 2018


“It would be hard to imagine stranger bedfellows than Ronaldinho and Jair Bolsonaro. Ronaldinho became a global icon in the 2000s, his carefree manner on the pitch belying an enormous talent that made him the best footballer in the world before the emergence of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He was the son of a dockyard worker who died when he was just eight and grew up in poverty in Porto Alegre. Bolsonaro, by contrast, is the champion of Brazil’s rich — a bombastic far-right politician who has made his career directing insults at women, gay people, and ethnic minorities. …” Jacobin


Uruguay get the luck of the World Cup draw

December 6, 2017

“Both Brazil and Argentina were hoping that last Friday’s World Cup draw would put them in Group B. From a logistical point of view, it would have been the best bet; not a great deal of travelling during the group phase, and, for the group winner, an entire knock out campaign restricted to Moscow and Sochi – perfect for teams who aim to be based in Sochi (Brazil) and just outside Moscow (Argentina). …” World Soccer – Tim Vickery


Applause at the Draw, but Will Russia Keep Cheering?

December 3, 2017


“MOSCOW — Half a million fans — by current, suspiciously optimistic, estimates — will descend on Russia next year for what Gianni Infantino, the FIFA president, has already decreed will be the ‘best’ World Cup in history. Every single fan, he has decided, will have “an amazing experience.” Billions of dollars have been spent on new, or renovated, stadiums to host the finest players in the world: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, on Friday promised a ‘major sporting festival of friendship and fair play.’ …” NY Times, The Ringer: The Four Must-Watch Games of the 2018 World Cup Group Stages (Video), NY Times – World Cup Draw: Group-by-Group Analysis


Tactical Analysis: River Plate 1-2 Boca Juniors | Organized Boca Punish River On The Counter

November 21, 2017

“Both teams started off with fluid 4-3-3 formations. Montiel was the more advanced of the two River full backs while Casco’s attacking contribution was limited due to the fact that he was a right footed player playing on the left. Ponzio was deployed as a deep lying playmaker playing as the deepest of the 3 River midfielders and controlling the tempo. Enzo Perez and Rojas were the two shuttlers who were tasked with providing support to the attack when River had the ball and getting back quickly into shape when they did not. The two inside forwards Fernandez and Martinez were playing very narrow almost as number 10’s in behind Scocco. …” Outside of the Boot


Brazil’s Indicted Soccer Leader Planning to Keep His Job

November 17, 2017

“LONDON — As the president of Brazil’s soccer federation, Marco Polo Del Nero should have been here on Tuesday, watching his country’s national team play out a soporific 0-0 tie against England in an exhibition match at Wembley Stadium. Yet instead of exchanging pleasantries with executives from the Football Association in a suite high above the field, Del Nero was almost 6,000 miles away, at home in Brazil. Even there, though, it would have been understandable if his focus was not on the events unfolding under Wembley’s brightly lit arch, but instead on proceedings inside a wood-paneled courtroom in Brooklyn, where three soccer executives — well known to the 76-year-old Del Nero — are standing trial on corruption charges. …” NY Times