More Than a Team

September 12, 2018


“In 1906 Nikolas Majluf arrived in South America after a sea voyage that had begun in Haifa, then part of the Ottoman Empire. He had changed ships in Marseille and continued to Buenos Aires, Argentina. From there, he traveled by mule over the Andes and ultimately settled in Victoria, Chile, nearly 1,000 kilometers south of Santiago, the nation’s capital. He was following a path that had been established by Palestinians who had begun arriving in Chile in the late 1800s. They struggled at first, but in ensuing decades they created both businesses and institutions, including schools, professional associations— and Club Deportivo Palestino (Palestinian Sport Club), the soccer team popularly known as ‘Palestino.’” Aramco World


‘A daily nightmare’ – how four big nations not at the World Cup are coping

July 1, 2018

“People in Italy, the Netherlands, Chile and Ghana are watching the party in Russia from afar. For some it is a painful experience” Guardian


World Cup 2018 groups: Your complete guide to the teams

April 5, 2018

“The World Cup draw is done and dusted with England drawn against Belgium, Panama and Tunisia. Here is your guide to the eight groups for the 2018 World Cup…” Telegraph


World Cup stunning moments: The Battle of Santiago

March 22, 2018


English referee Ken Aston sends off Italian player Mario David, while an injured Chilean player lies on the ground, during the 1962 World Cup meeting.
“It took two days for highlights of the match that was christened, even during the commentary, the Battle of Santiago, to be flown from South America and broadcast in Britain. Two days in which the game became, in its own brutal way, legendary, spoken of in ways which must have sent anyone with a combined interest in football and mild gore into a frenzy of excitement. …” Guardian (Video)


Tim Vickery’s Notes from South America: Venezuelans battle against the weight of history

March 13, 2018

“If Tottenham came close to glory before blowing the chance last week, then a club from Venezuela came even closer. Last Thursday Mineros were at home to Nacional of Paraguay in the second leg of their clash in the Sudamericana Cup, the Europa League equivalent. The game in Asuncion had finished goalless, and the same thing happened in Puerto Ordaz. The tie went to penalties. After three rounds, Mineros led 3-1. They could hardly be closer to a place in the next round. One successful penalty from their last two, or one more failure to convert from Nacional, and the Venezuelans would be through. The stadium was ready to celebrate. And then, one by one, the chances went begging. After two consecutive Mineros misses, and two consecutive Nacional successes, the scores were level at 3-3. Sudden death ensued. Mineros missed, Nacional scored and the Paraguayans were the ones doing the celebrating….” World Soccer – Tim Vickery


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


Where it went wrong for the teams who missed out on the World Cup

November 17, 2017

“Fans from 21 countries explain why they will be staying at home next summer. Holland were unlucky, Italy were mismanaged and Mongolia were a disaster” Guardian


Tim Vickery’s Notes from South America: Uruguay fly under the radar en route to Russia

October 15, 2017


Uruguay’s Federico Valverde celebrates after scoring against Paraguay during their 2018 World Cup qualifier in Asuncion
“There is almost too much drama to take as South America’s World Cup qualification campaign moves into Tuesday’s final round. Amid the threat of elimination hanging over Argentina, and continental champions Chile, the remarkable resurgence of Paraguay and a crunch game between Peru and Colombia, Uruguay are flying under the radar. Little space has been devoted to the fact that, barring a mathematical miracle, the Uruguayans have already booked their place in Russia. This breaks a pattern. In all of the other campaigns this century Uruguay got underway with a comfortable win at home to Bolivia only to wobble along the way before just managing to clinch the play-off slot in the final round. …” World Soccer – Tim Vickery


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

December 19, 2016

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“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


Do South American World Cup qualifiers put the Champions League to shame?

September 6, 2016

“Now that Copa América and the Euros are behind us, the focus turns to World Cup qualification. For South American teams – who kicked off their campaigns last October – the road to the biggest football tournament in the world has always been tough and since 1996, when the current round-robin format was originally introduced, competition has improved tremendously. Historical powerhouses such as Brazil and Argentina are no longer shoe-ins to qualify as teams such as Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Paraguay and Ecuador, with star players of their own, are more than just also-rans.” Guardian


The sad story of Omar Orestes Corbatta, scorer of Argentina’s second greatest goal

September 6, 2016

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“Before Diego Maradona’s second goal against England in 1986, the greatest goal in Argentinian history had been scored by Omar Orestes Corbatta in a 4-0 win over Chile in qualifying for the 1958 World Cup. Argentina already led 2-0 when Corbatta beat his marker, took the ball round the goalkeeper, waited for another Chilean to approach, dribbled past him and then, as the crowd urged him to finish the move off, with the goalkeeper and two other defenders charging back, dummied to shoot, leaving all three on the ground before finally stroking the ball over the line.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Copa America 2016 Tactical Analysis: Argentina 0-0 Chile (2-4 pens) | Chile adapt quickest & win midfield battle

July 1, 2016

“The Copa America Centenario concluded on Sunday night with a tense, closely-fought contest between Argentina and Chile in a repeat of last year’s final. And, in a prescient case of déjà vu, it once again saw Chile emerge triumphant from a penalty shootout after a goalless draw, handing them their second trophy in quick succession. Much of the aftermath was dominated by Lionel Messi’s shock announcement that he would be retiring from international football following a fourth final defeat for Argentina. However, this shouldn’t overshadow the great achievement by Chile in what was a fascinating final between two well-matched sides.” Outside of the Boot


Toxic psyche clouds Argentina as team hits mental breaking point

June 27, 2016

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“Argentina has more psychologists per capita than any country in the world—one can’t go out in Buenos Aires without meeting bunches of them—and not a single one of them can fix the toxic psyche of its national team. The latest example came on Sunday, when Lionel Messi and an Argentina team that had lorded over the Copa América Centenario failed to seal the deal again and came away losers in another final. The third straight major final in as many years, to be exact, this time to Chile on penalty kicks after a 0–0 tie. And whether or not Messi follows through on his stunning words that he’s probably retiring from the national team at 29, his drastic response is only a manifestation of a larger psychosis surrounding this team.” SI
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Second straight Copa America win solidifies Chile as one of world’s elite
“Claudio Bravo dropped to his knees in the corner of MetLife Stadium, raising his arms toward the sky as his teammates swarmed the field behind him, then shifted quickly in his direction. The team arrived to greet the goalkeeper in that corner, jumping and hugging and yelling in a joyous mass, all while stadium workers began to erect the the stage upon which they would celebrate. In the mass of hardware and fencing, the workers inadvertently pinned Chile’s team in its own corner.” SI
Lionel Messi and Argentina Miss Again as Chile Wins Copa América
Lionel Messi had the collar of his shirt pulled up to his nose. With his eyes peeking out just over the fabric, he watched a nightmare unfold. Argentina and Chile had played 120 minutes of ruthless, scoreless soccer on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium. Penalty kicks would be needed to decide the winner of the 45th Copa América. Up stepped Messi, widely regarded as the best player in the world, to take the first shot for Argentina, and he missed, sending the ball sailing over the crossbar and into the crowd. Moments later, he watched as Francisco Silva of Chile buried a shot inside the left post to give his team a 4-2 shootout win. All of the Argentine players hung their heads near the center circle as the Chileans erupted in celebration. But Messi took a slow, solitary walk across the grass and took a seat on the far end of his team’s bench.” NY Times


Chile Soccer Team Strengthened by Forays Away From Home

June 23, 2016

“Regardless of what happens when Chile plays Colombia on Wednesday night, one thing is plain: The world now knows that Chile’s soccer team is for real. Fresh off a 7-0 thrashing of Mexico, arguably the best team in the North American region, Chile has used this month’s Copa América Centenario to erase any doubts over its emergence as a power player from South America. While few doubted the quality of Chile’s current roster, flecked as it is with talent from Barcelona, Arsenal and Bayern Munich, there still was a sense that Chile’s best moments had always occurred on home soil, or close to it. Chile advanced to the knockout stage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and it entered this summer’s Copa América as the defending champion, a title won when it hosted last year’s tournament. The country’s best moment at a World Cup came in 1962, also a tournament played at home.” NY Times


Tactical Analysis: Mexico 0-7 Chile | Mexico’s lack of coherent shape exposed by brilliant Chile

June 23, 2016

“This Copa America was supposed to be Mexico’s coming out party, when they would announce to the world that they are a legitimate team and on equal ground with their big brothers in South America. The Mexicans have long lived with the stigma of playing in CONCACAF and being alleged flat track bullies. They’ve also long sought to vindicate the quality of their team, with guest appearances in Copa America and at the World Cup. But this Copa America Centenario, in America, in front of 95% Mexican crowds, coming off a great year, was supposed to be different than the previous ones. Finally Mexico would prove itself on the world stage. Chile also came in with a chip on their shoulder. The defending Copa champions, the Chileans felt they should have gotten more than just a year to hold the cup. On top of that, Argentina had fairly easily beaten them in their first game, and Chile wanted vindication, as people focused on other international teams.” Outside of the Boot


First Look: Argentina vs. Chile in Copa America final rematch

June 23, 2016

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“The Copa America final is set, and it’s a familiar one. Argentina and Chile will vie for the Copa America title for a second straight summer after each easily dispatched its semifinal opponent. Argentina overran the USA in a 4-0 result on Tuesday night, while Chile blitzed Colombia out of gate, picking up where it left off in the quarterfinal against Mexico and advancing after a weather-delayed 2-0 win.  In addition to meeting in last year’s final, which Chile won on penalty kicks, the two sides engaged in one of the more entertaining games of this Copa America, opening group play against one another. Argentina prevailed, 2-1, with Angel Di Maria and Ever Banega scoring and assisting for each other before Chile nicked one in the last minute.” SI


Juan Carlos Osorio’s tinkering with Mexico fails as Chile find their feet

June 19, 2016

“In a warm-up friendly just before the Copa America Centenario — it seems a long time ago now — Mexico beat Chile by a single goal. But maybe the seeds of the extraordinary rout at Santa Clara were sown there? That 1-0 scoreline did not really reflect the balance of play. In the first half, especially, Chile could have scored plenty of their own. So there was plenty for Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio to think about as he contemplated meeting Chile for a second time — no longer a friendly, but now with a place in the Copa semifinals at stake.” ESPN – Tim Vickery


Eduardo Vargas’ four goals set Chile up for stunning 7-0 win vs Mexico

June 19, 2016

Chile’s Eduardo Vargas celebrates after scoring against Mexico during a Copa America Centenario quarterfinal soccer match at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, June 18, 2016. Chile won 7-0. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
“Chile booked a place in the Copa America Centenario semifinals with a 7-0 thumping of Mexico. Eduardo Vargas scored four goals, while Edson Puch scored twice. Alexis Sanchez did his bit as well, by scoring one goal and adding two assists. Here are three thoughts on a stunning night.” ESPN


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.”


Tactical Analysis: Chile 2-1 Peru | Vargas brace sinks spirited Incas

July 5, 2015

“Relations between neighbouring countries Chile and Peru have been fraught with difficulties and tension since as far back as 1880, so a semi-final Clasico del Pacifico was always likely to be hotly disputed contest.  And so it proved, with a contentious early red card and a couple of debatable decisions which eventually saw hosts Chile emerge victorious to book a place in Saturday’s final.  Argentina await them in Santiago as La Roja look to finally end their 99-year Copa America drought.” Outside of the Boot


Tactical Analysis: Argentina 6-1 Paraguay | Albiceleste exploit space between lines to cruise to victory

July 5, 2015

“A place in the final was up for grabs as the favourites, Argentina were up against Paraguay, who against all odds overcame what was a mediocre Brazil side in the quarter finals. The two sides had met previously in the competition with Argentina squandering a two goal lead in the second half. That, along with Albiceleste manager, Gerardo Martino’s history as coach of the Paraguayan national team made for an intriguing clash and one that some thought may go down to the wire. However, those expecting a close game saw the complete opposite as Argentina ruthlessly swept Paraguay aside by 6 goals to 1 with Lionel Messi once again at his brilliant best, laying on the assists for 3 of his team’s 6 goals. The ridiculous amount of space between the lines and Argentina’s exploitation of the right-hand side proved Paraguay’s undoing. No mercy was shown to the Paraguayans with Martino’s men looking to cement their place in the final; they showed no signs of letting their 2 goal lead slip this time around despite Lucas Barrios halving the deficit on the stroke of half-time.” 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


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


Chile end Copa America quarterfinal curse by defeating feisty Uruguay

June 27, 2015

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“And so Chile did not fall foul of the Copa America curse of the quarterfinals. In four of the past five tournaments the hosts have been eliminated at this stage — three times by Uruguay. This time, though, there were no slip ups, and Uruguay were beaten 1-0. Ninety-nine years ago they kicked off the first Copa America — against Uruguay — and they are still looking for their first tournament win. Their golden generation is at its peak. They are at home, with all of their games taking place in Santiago’s National Stadium. But for a long time on Wednesday night, it was looking like a case of ‘if not now, when?’ for the Chilean team.” ESPN – Tim Vickery


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


Fatigue is proving Chile’s biggest obstacle to ending its 99-year drought

June 22, 2015

“Jorge Sampaoli looked on, ensuring his players kept their heads while all around them men were losing theirs. He’d seen the opposition weep before games had even begun. Now they wept before a penalty was even kicked. Its captain, world renown defender Thiago Silva, sat atop a ball on the sideline away from his colleagues; rocking back and forth, whispering frantically into closed fists; refusing to even get involved, let alone lead. Silva’s goalkeeper, Júlio César, peered into the Belo Horizonte sun though eyes bloodshot red, terrified at the prospect of being the next Barbosa.” Fusion


In Chile’s National Stadium, Dark Past Shadows Copa América Matches

June 21, 2015

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“SANTIAGO, Chile — A haunting yellowish glow radiates from the tiny section of empty wooden benches and crumbling concrete behind the north goal at Estadio Nacional. All around this space there is noise: 47,000 soccer fans screaming and jumping in delight as Chile’s national team plays Ecuador in the opening game of the Copa América. But no one sits on those benches. They are reserved in perpetuity, a somber memorial to the thousands of people who were beaten and tortured here 42 years ago in the home of Chilean soccer. Estadio Nacional, the site of six games in this year’s Copa América, including the final on July 4, is perhaps the most infamous sports arena in the world. For nearly two months after the Sept. 11, 1973, military coup that overthrew Chile’s democratically elected Marxist president, the stadium served as a makeshift prison camp where as many as 20,000 men and women suffered at the hands of a military junta, led by the right-wing army chief, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, that had seized control of Chile. …”
NY Times


Arturo Vidal and Neymar subplots in a Copa América rich with stories

June 21, 2015

“There is nothing quite so effective at removing stains of ignominy as victory. Chile’s game against Bolivia on Friday began with Arturo Vidal’s name being cheered by the 45,000 fans at the Estádio Nacional, a clear message of support after he was charged with drink-driving. It ended with Chile having won 5-0 after a display of exhilarating football and, to the local media at least, questions about whether Vidal should have been allowed to play on were fading before the thought that this Chile squad is probably better equipped than any other in the country’s history to win the Copa América. A wait that began in the very first continental tournament in 1916 may be about to come to an end.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Arturo Vidal, Chile cruise past Bolivia to finish atop Group A in Copa America

June 21, 2015

“Led by a brace from Charles Aranguiz, host Chile cruised to a 5–0 win over Bolivia on Friday in its final group stage game in the Copa America. The victory meant Chile finished atop Group A, while second-place Bolivia will also advance to the quarterfinals. Here are three thoughts on Chile’s win.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Claudio Bravo and Chile held by Mexico in six goal thriller (3-3)

June 16, 2015

“Chile missed out on to the opportunity to become the first team to make it through to the last eight of the Copa América following an exhilarating 3-3 draw against Mexico in Group A. Arturo Vidal scored twice and Vargas claimed the other but it was not enough for victory for the side captained by blaugrana Claudio Bravo. Mexico took the lead twice in the first half through Vuoso and Raúl Jiménez and then Vuoso scored again in the second to level things up at 3-3. Mexico proved they are not simply in South America to make up the numbers and still have a chance of making it to the knock out stage with their final group game still to come against Ecuador. Chile face Bolivia in their last fixture in the opening phase.” FC Barcelona


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


Palestino – Getting shirty in Chile

April 8, 2015

“‘A win for Palestino is a joy for the suffering Palestinian people’ so believes Maurice Khamis Massu president of Chilean football team Palestino, a club founded by the sizeable Chilean Palestinian community and are defined by the ties that they proudly share with their homeland. The club does not hold back when it comes to displaying its identity and is not afraid of a little controversy or diplomatic incidents when it comes to representing Palestinian people both at home and abroad.” Football Pink


Eight wins out of eight – are Brazil a team reborn post-World Cup?

March 31, 2015

“When they sadly packed away their yellow shirts last July, most Brazil fans must have thought that it would be some time before they would be reaching back into the wardrobe for that particular item. The astonishing 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat to Germany was then followed by the reappointment of the snarling Dunga as national team coach. Morale was low. Fast forward eight months, though, and the mood is more upbeat. Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Chile at the Emirates Stadium in London means that Brazil have now won eight consecutive matches.” BBC – Tim Vickery


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


Chile vs. the United States: Five questions about the performance that we can answer before kickoff

January 28, 2015

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“The United States’ men’s national team faces Chile tonight in what would be a rare out-of-FIFA-window friendly, if the U.S. didn’t do this every year. Tonight’s match against La Roja and next week’s affair with Panama mark the end to the team’s annual winter camp, affectionately if harshly known as ‘Camp Cupcake’ to fans and critics alike. Given that out-of-window nature of the game, it’s always difficult to discern lessons from these January affairs. Thankfully, our years of experience at being a website (that’s been up for less than a year) are here to help. Here are all the major questions that will be asked after tonight’s game, and their answers.” 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


Delicate balancing act facing Alexis Sanchez

October 17, 2014

“Chile’s hopes in the upcoming Copa America – which it is hosting – rest largely on the diminutive shoulders of the sublimely talented Alexis Sanchez, whose performances for the national team over the next few months may rest on how much gas is left in the tank from his work with English Premier League club Arsenal.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


The long haul in South America is yet to begin

September 15, 2014

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“While the 2016 UEFA European Championship qualifiers commenced this week, the cream of South American football was running around in mickey mouse games that will have little bearing on what will occurs next year when the likes of Brazil and Argentina play for something far more important than bragging rights and some cash to stock up the coffers.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Brazil’s World Cup Was Never Simple, Always Irresistible

July 19, 2014

“They had a soccer tournament, and the best team won. If only the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were as simple as that. Let’s look backward—before Germany’s extra-time victory over Argentina in the final, before the host country’s agonizing, indelible 7-1 loss in the semifinals, before the individual greatness of Lionel Messi, Miroslav Klose, James Rodríguez, Neymar Jr. and Tim Howard. Before 20,000 fans jammed Grant Park in Chicago to watch the U.S. team. Before Luis Suárez launched his infamous incisors. Let’s go back to the beginning, to the original idea: a World Cup in Brazil.” WSJ


World Cup retrospective

July 17, 2014

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“Well that was fun, wasn’t it? Previous World Cups have kind of come and gone from my consciousness: I was 8 for Italia ’90 and have very little recollection of it at all; I remember snatches from USA ’94, largely a grudging admiration for Taffarel; France ’98, a blur of blue and enormous jealousy that my sister was in Paris on a French exchange for the final; Japan and South Korea ’02, drunkenly going to first year university exams having watched games that started at 7, and manically cheering Senegal as my sweepstake team, especially after that win; and Germany ’10, revelling in that Spanish team. But, having started to write about football and, more importantly in many ways, become part of a community who talk and think about football, this is the first World Cup where I’ve really inhaled it, really been carried by the highs and lows of such a glorious celebration of football. So I thought I’d do a quick look-back. A good place to start would be the piece I did in The Football Pink: Issue 4 – The World Cup Edition, which was a group-by-group preview. And boy did I get some things wrong.” Put Niels In Goal

amazon: The Football Pink: Issue 4 – The World Cup Edition [Kindle Edition] $1.50, amazon: £0.97


World Cup 2014: BBC pundits pick their best moments in Brazil

July 17, 2014

“After 32 days, 64 games and 171 goals, there was only one winner. Germany are the new world champions after grabbing the glory at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The tournament will be remembered for its exciting games and spectacular goals but also some of the biggest shocks of recent times, with the hosts Brazil and defending champions Spain both suffering humiliating defeats. England, meanwhile, only lasted eight days and two games before being eliminated. BBC Sport’s TV and radio football presenters and pundits look back on the action and choose their best goal, best player and most memorable moment of the tournament, before considering how far away England are from being contenders.” BBC


2014 FIFA World Cup Awards: Best Player, Best Young Player, Best XI and many more

July 17, 2014

“With the World Cup drawn to a close, many are left disappointed while others celebrate their achievements. Germany won the World Cup, but many other individuals & teams left admirers in their wake. While FIFA gave out it’s individual honours with Messi the choice for Golden Ball particularly bewildering football enthusiasts. We at Outside of the Boot thought long & hard before deciding our choices which might just be a bit more fair & rational than FIFA’s choices! There are some surprises, and also occasions where the hipsters may not be pleased. Nevertheless, here are the best performers at the World Cup divided into Primary Awards, Talent Radar Awards and Secondary Awards.” Outside of the Boot


Die Größte Show Der Welt

July 17, 2014

“It’s staring at me, that wallchart. It’s a little bit frayed and crumpled now since the move back from Greece and after finding its way around Jesse’s sticky fingers and teething gums. Since Sunday, I haven’t been able to summon the requisite will to complete the final vacant space. The one that states that Germany beat Argentina, one-nil, AET. It’s the finality that daunts me; the knowledge that once complete it becomes a historical artefact, no more a tantalising map of an unknown future. All those games, all those goals, all those hours. Gone forever.” Dispatches From A Football Sofa


World Cup Expectations Rankings: Brazil’s over- and underachievers

July 15, 2014

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Cesare Prandelli
“Teams come to the World Cup with their own expectations. For some, just being there is enough, reaching the last 16 an almost impossible dream. For others, so exalted were their ambitions that even a quarterfinal feels like a disappointment. This is an attempt to grade teams according to how they did against their own expectations, looking both at results and at how well they played…” SI – Jonathan Wilson


World Cup 2014: Goals, drama & that bite – is Brazil the best?

July 11, 2014

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“Record goals, Suarez gnaws, that James Rodriguez strike, passion, drama, colourful fashion – what a World Cup this has been. It was a tournament that started with a bang as the hosts came from behind to beat Croatia, and has since delivered fantastic entertainment almost game after game. Here, BBC Sport’s chief football writer Phil McNulty and the BBC’s much-loved and most experienced commentator John Motson consider whether this has been the best ever World Cup.” BBC