“Twenty-three nations have booked their places for the World Cup in Russia, with the holders and Brazil looking in good shape but we rank England in 13th place, below Iceland.” Guardian (Video)
“A point would have been a respectable result. Brazil had never won a World Cup qualifier up in Quito, losing two of their last three. Still, with 20 minutes remaining and the game goalless, a new era for Brazilian football was heading for a somewhat underwhelming start. When teenage debutant Gabriel Jesus set off after a lost cause that afternoon, it was mostly an attempt to appear useful after a fairly useless opening 70 minutes. And then everything changed. …” Independent
“It’s difficult to imagine a starker contrast between performance and outcome than England’s 1-0 victory over Slovenia at Wembley on Thursday night. The narrow win, sealed by Harry Kane’s last-gasp goal, didn’t really mask an uninspiring performance from manager Gareth Southgate’s side. But ultimately it means England have qualified for next summer’s World Cup. Preparation starts now: The FA immediately announced home friendlies against Germany and Brazil next month, knowing those dates wouldn’t be needed for playoff matches, while Sunday’s trip to Lithuania effectively has become another friendly, a chance for experimentation. And experimentation is crucial if England have any chance of reaching the latter stages in Russia next year. …” ESPN
Cueva of Sao Paulo vies the ball with Maycon (L) and Gabriel of Corinthians during the match in the Brasileirao Series A 2017 at Morumbi Stadium.
“With everything nicely poised at 1-1, Cruzeiro and Flamengo meet this Wednesday in the second leg of the final of the Brazilian Cup. The Mineirao stadium clash is a contender to be the biggest domestic game of the year – because Brazil is one of the very few countries in the world where the cup can still eclipse the league. This may be seen as even more surprising since the domestic cup has relatively little tradition, coming to life as recently as 1989. …” World Soccer – Tim Vickery
“1. LIONEL MESSI No real prize for guessing the occupant of this position. Messi stakes his claim this season as not just the best of South America, but also the best of the world. There were noises last season about Messi disagreeing with Enrique and having a training ground bust up with the manager, but he turned it all around after a point, and an incredible send half of the season saw him lead Barcelona to glory in 3 competitions.” Outside of the Boot
“Atlético Nacional, the Colombian team that was to play Chapecoense of Brazil in the finals of the Copa Sudamericana soccer tournament this week, has asked the organization in charge of South American soccer to award the trophy to Chapecoense, which had nearly all of its players and coaches killed in a plane crash on Monday night. Nacional said in a statement on its website and its Twitter feed that it had requested that the South American confederation, Conmebol, cancel the two-leg finals and declare Chapecoense the champion of the tournament, South America’s second-most prestigious club competition.” NY Times
“In the history of modern life, the years 1956-58 can certainly be considered important. Britain invaded Egypt over Suez Canal access, NASA was founded, the European Economic Community was created, and of course Heartbreak Hotel, the first single of Elvis Presley, was released. In purely football terms, however, those years mark some of the most influential circumstances of all time. 1956-58 denotes the specific point in footballing time when the tactical tricks of the great 1950s Hungarian team were transferred to the bottomless talent pool of Brazil thanks largely to the temperamental, globetrotting exploits of one masterful, mythical manager named Bela Guttman.” Football Pink