Category Archives: Colombia

World Cup health check: The issue each country must address before Qatar


“The September international break is normally relatively relaxed — a chance to tweak tactics and focus on formations. Not this time. For almost all 32 competing nations, this is the final set of international fixtures before the World Cup begins in Qatar on November 20. So that you can go into the break feeling prepared, The Athletic has identified one issue every team need to try to fix this break…”
The Athletic (Video)

The Myth of South America

South America has produced some of the greatest ever players in football history. Many South American players have played for the best teams in the game. But rarely do players make a move directly from South America to elite-level clubs. But why? As Jon Mackenzie explains most players need a stepping stone club to take them to the next level. Illustrated by Henry Cooke.
YouTube

El Dorado: When Colombia Learned Money Talks In Football

“It’s hard to picture a time when being a professional footballer at the highest level did not mean astronomical wealth and lavish lifestyles. Yet, that was the reality for many of the world’s biggest stars in the early days of organised, professional football. There are bountiful stories of some of England’s biggest stars having to take summer jobs just to pay their bills in the early days as the Football Association and FIFA kept a tight lid on pay. Disgruntlement over finances was a common theme amongst players. It wasn’t exclusive to England either as Argentina was having its own issues with player wages in 1949. … They would soon find a home in, of all places, Colombia. …”
Longball Football

2022 Copa Libertadores: location-map for the 32-team Group Stage.


“… The group stage, consisting of 6 match-weeks, will last 8 weeks. … Teams are shown in the two flanking sections on either side of the map, organized by country. Shown there in the country-groupings are each team’s all-time total Libertadores appearances (in the tan-colored column), and Libertadores titles (in the pale-blue-colored column). At the far left of the map-page is the Libertadores titles list by club (25 clubs have won a Libertadores title). At the far right is the Libertadores titles list by country (of the 62 Libertadores titles, 25 have been won by Argentine teams, and 21 have been won by Brazilian teams). …”
billsportsmaps
W – 2022 Copa Libertadores group stage
Copa Libertadores

The World Cup Draw Is Friday. Here’s How It Works.


“The World Cup field is almost complete. On Friday, soccer teams will learn the answer to the critical question they and their fans want to know: Who will they play when the tournament opens in November in Qatar? The World Cup draw — part gala, part pep rally, part math seminar — will deliver intriguing clashes of styles, testy political collisions and, if past events are any guide, a few uncomfortable moments. But given the stakes of the draw, it is also one of the biggest events on the global sports calendar. Here is a look at how it works. …”
NY Times
NY Times: Who Has Qualified for the 2022 World Cup? (Video)
NY Times: Your World Cup Questions, Answered
The Athletic – 2022 World Cup odds: France, Brazil are co-favorites ahead of the draw; England, Spain right behind

2022 Copa Libertadores: location-map for the 47-team tournament, with Club Histories


“This map includes the Preliminary-Stage teams: there are 19 preliminary-stage teams…and only four of those 19 teams will advance to the Group Stage. … The first of 3 Preliminary stages start on 8th & 9th February, 2022 Copa Libertadores, Qualifying stages. The Group Stage starts on 5th-through-7th April. The draw for the Group Stage is on the 23rd of March. 2022 Copa Libertadores, Group Stage. Qualified teams by country: •Brazil has 9 teams (7 + Copa Libertadores holder + Copa Sudamericana holder). •Argentina has 6 teams. •The eight other countries all have 4 teams each, in the tournament (Uruguay, Colombia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela). …”
billsportsmaps

Tears at La Bombonera: Stories from a Six-Year Sojourn in South America


Tears at La Bombonera is author Christopher Hylland’s six-year journey living, working, and traveling through South America—where soccer, called football, is a way of life. From Buenos Aires to Colombia’s Caribbean coast and back again, Hylland experiences the history and fanaticism at some of South America’s football clubs along the way. Football is a global language, and he shares the stories and experiences from the terraces. It’s a place where what happens on the pitch can rank low in terms of quality, but means so much off of it; where everything else, most notably the culture of the game, is unrivaled. Hundreds of thousands of football-mad visitors flock to South America every season. To the iconic stadia such as La Bombonera and Maracanã; to lower division teams in the shadows of some of the world’s poorest slums and favelas. Tears at La Bombonera is a book rich in human interest, including the author’s own personal experience of adapting to a new continent and way of life.”
Goodreads
amazon

World Cup 2022: ranking the top 10 contenders a year before Qatar


“With just over a year to go until the World Cup kicks off, 12 teams have qualified alongside hosts Qatar. All four semi-finalists from 2018 have sealed their spots and are joined by former world champions Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Spain, while recent European champions Portugal and Italy still have more to do. With most of the big hitters now able to prepare for the tournament, we assess where they stand as the countdown to Qatar begins. …”
Guardian
The Athletic: CONCACAF World Cup qualifying: Where USMNT, Canada, Mexico and Panama stand with six matches left
World Cup 2022 Power Rankings: France & England the early favourites as Portugal & Italy falter

Brazil cruise past Uruguay with Neymar goal, Raphinha double


Raphinha turned in another eye-catching performance for Brazil on Thursday by scoring twice in the home side’s 4-1 victory over Uruguay in a World Cup qualifier. Brazil took the lead after 10 minutes when Neymar chested down a pass from Fred and rounded the keeper before firing low between two defenders on the goal-line. …”
ESPN
ESPN: Loss to Neymar’s Brazil leaves Luis Suarez’s Uruguay with fight to reach World Cup (Tim Vickery)
YouTube: Brazil vs Uruguay 4-1, Argentina vs Peru 1-0, Chile 3 Venezuela 0 (Resumen Completo)

Explained: Why South American Premier League stars are heading to Croatia after international duty


“After Colombia play Paraguay in Asuncion this Sunday evening, the eighth of their 18 qualification games for next year’s World Cup, Davinson Sanchez will not stick around for the ninth. Rather than staying on for the home game with Chile in Barranquilla on Thursday, Sanchez will fly back across the Atlantic. Not back to London, but to Croatia, for a hastily arranged 10-day training camp by the Adriatic Sea. This is all part of a plan that Sanchez agreed with Tottenham Hotspur to make sure that his involvement in Colombia’s World Cup qualifiers will cause minimum hassle to Spurs’ season. …”
The Athletic (Audio)
NY Times: Brazil-Argentina Match Stopped After Health Officials Storm Field (Video)
The Athletic: Spurs and Villa receive clarity over Argentina stars and hope there is no repeat next month Argentina, Brazil
YouTube: Brazil vs Argentina | Matchday 6 Highlights | CONMEBOL South American World Cup Qualifiers

The Original Pirate Football League


Alfredo Di Stéfano’s adventures in Colombia
“The Golden Age of football in Colombia had war, destruction and corruption, long before Pablo Escobar. Between 1949 and 1954, some of the world’s very best players congregated in a brand new league with no history, in Colombia. Tifo uncovers how a ‘pirate league’ attracted stars of the day (including Alfredo Di Stefano, World Cup winner Schubert Gambetta, and Manchester United’s Charlie Mitten), how an assassination of a presidential candidate launched the competition, and how the fallout changed a FIFA law forever. Written by Seb Stafford-Bloor, illustrated by Philippe Fenner.”
YouTube: The Athletic
‘The Only Thing That Unites Us’ – Origin Story of Colombian Football: Part 1, El Dorado – Origin Story of Colombian Football: Part 2
W – El Dorado (Colombian football), W – Alfredo Di Stéfano
NY Times: The Lessons of the Pirate League
Colombia: …and an overview of the El Dorado era (1949-1953).

2021 Copa Libertadores: map of Final Stages (16 teams)


The Round of 16. The first legs of the 2021 Copa Libertadores Round of 16 will be played from 13 to 15 July {click on the links at the top of this post for the fixtures}. The breakdown of qualified clubs-by-country… •Brazil: 6 clubs (Atlético Mineiro, Palmeiras, Flamengo, Fluminense, Internacional, São Paulo). This includes reigning champions Palmeiras. •Argentina: 6 clubs (Racing, Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Vélez Sarsfield, Defensa y Justicia, River Plate). •Paraguay: 2 clubs (Cerro Porteño, Olimpia). •Chile: 1 club (Universidad Católica). •Ecuador: 1 club (SC Barcelona). This is the most clubs – 12 clubs – that the Big 2 (Brazil & Argentina) have ever placed into the Round of 16. Last year, Brazil had 6 clubs in the Round of 16, while Argentina had ‘only’ 3 clubs. The previous most-ever-clubs placed by the Big 2 into the Round of 16 was in 2018, with 11 clubs (Brazil 5/Argentina 6). …”
billsportsmaps
W – 2021 Copa Libertadores final stages

Relief as Argentina reach Copa America final to give Messi another shot at glory


“The tension was almost too much for Argentina’s veteran players to take — they have traumatic memories of penalty shootouts in the Copa America finals of 2015 and 2016. But new first-choice goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez rose to the occasion, made three saves and after a 1-1 draw Argentina overcame Colombia on penalties to make it through to Saturday’s final. …”
ESPN: Tim Vickery (Video)
ESPN: Tim Vickery – Brazil books berth in Copa America final, but Peru might have exposed the Selecao’s weakness (Video)
Copa America: Argentina beat Colombia on penalties to set up a final against Brazil

Messi, Neymar and the importance of this Copa América title


“Copa América has entered the knockout stage, and there are two clear frontrunners led by two clear stars: Brazil with Neymar and Argentina with Leo Messi. Messi and Neymar are widely accepted to be South America’s two best players and have reaffirmed that fact during the opening stage of this tournament, as they lead the competition in goals and assists (three goals and two assists for Messi, two and two for Neymar). The gap between them and the rest of the continent’s field has perhaps never been wider. …”
The Athletic (Video)
ESPN: Lionel Messi sends Argentina into Copa America semifinals as Colombia pip Uruguay – Tim Vickery

The 10 coaches at the Copa América 2021


“The tried and tested, the revolutionary innovations and the evolving the projects; The 2021 CONMEBOL Copa America promises to provide weeks of fascinating tactical duels once we kick off on 13 June. Managing the national team requires a careful balance and provides a different challenge to working with a club side. National team managers don’t have the time on the training field to develop a strong understanding and bond with their players. They have to quickly earn the trust and support from their squad. Tailoring and implementing complicated tactical concepts is also far more difficult with just a few weeks a year to work with the group. Team spirit is key alongside clear, impact communication and an efficient tactical approach. …” CONMEBOL Copa America, Who are the top five coaches at the Copa America 2021? Which coach can mastermind their side to glory?, YouTube: COPA AMERICA 2021 – National Anthem Of The 10 Teams 25:33

How Real Madrid star Casemiro became a leader for Brazil – on and off the field


“The last two weeks preceding the Copa America have been far from straightforward for Brazil, who kick off on Sunday with the tournament opener against Venezuela. The reigning South American champions saw the tournament foisted upon them after original hosts Argentina and Colombia pulled out in the midst of a second wave of coronavirus infections, prompting another acute health crisis on the continent. The news did not go down well in the Selecao camp, causing the squad to take almost unprecedented measures to stop the Copa being played in one of the most severely affected countries in the entire world. …” Goal (Video), Scandal, Covid and political meddling: Brazil in crisis as Copa America looms (Video), W – Casemiro

2021 Copa Libertadores: location-map for the 47-team tournament, with Club Histories


“… The 2021 Copa Libertadores Preliminaries start on 23 and 24 February. (The Group Stage will start on 16 April.) As I did last year, I will post an updated map for the Group Stage, around the 12th of April; then I will post a map/chart for the the Final Stages when the Round of 16 starts, around the middle of July. Of course, that is all subject to change (as it was last season…due to the COVID pandemic). Shown on the map are 45 of the 47 teams that have qualified for the 2021 Libertadores. Due to scheduling problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic, one country – Uruguay – has 2 qualification-spots yet to be determined. …” billsportsmaps, ESPN – Copa Libertadores: Long road ahead for minnows like Guarani, Uruguay’s Liverpool – Tim Vickery, W – 2021 Copa Libertadores

World Cup 2018 Best XI: France’s Champions Lead the Top Players in Russia


“After 64 games and more drama than any World Cup in at least 20 years, there’s one piece of business left to do: Pick a team of the tournament. It’s been picked as a team that might function together rather than just the 11 best players, and to avoid the temptation of packing it with France’s champions, a limit of four players per country has been self-imposed. In a 4-3-3 formation fit for the world stage, here is our 2018 World Cup Best XI.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

For all the ills of the world, World Cup 2018 showed that a bit of football done right can make the planet smile

“Monday morning dawns with a grim and crushing inevitability. Unless you’re peeling yourself off a Paris pavement, or drowning your sorrows in a Dubrovnik dive bar, the 2018 World Cup is over. As a month of sporting hedonism slips from present tense to past, real life and its hard borders re-sharpen their focus, bringing with them a cruel reckoning. It was only football, after all. It felt like more than that when Kylian Mbappe was burning through opposition defenders, or Lionel Messi was fighting back the tide, or Russia and South Korea were pulling off the unfeasible, or when England’s town squares throbbed with rasping songs and nervous tension and the prickly spines of a faint dream. But no: ultimately, it was only football, no more and no less.” Independent

World Cup 2018 goal celebrations: A statistical analysis of unbridled joy


“How would you celebrate if you scored at a World Cup? A jig by the corner flag, an emphatic sprint, jump and punch of the air, an emotional tussle with the goalnet, or just run as fast and far as you can until someone finally, gleefully leaps on you? Whether you’re a Milla, a Josimar or a Tardelli kind of guy, there are plenty of ways with which to physically revel in what, for most players, is the once-or-twice-in-a-lifetime act of scoring on the world’s biggest stage. Goal celebrations – often just as complex, slow-motion-worthy and memorable as the goals themselves – are an art form. But, just like everything else, they’re moulded by cultural trends, context and just pure momentary instinct.” Telegraph

France’s Benchwarmers Are Worth More Than Most Starting Lineups

“France enters today’s semifinal match against neighboring Belgium as the favorite to win the 2018 World Cup. At least on paper, though, France has been the least remarkable team of the four that remain: Les Bleus have scored fewer goals than each of the other semifinalists, they’ve possessed less of the ball than two of the other semifinalists, and they’ve taken the fewest shots.” FiveThirtyEight

England vs Colombia, World Cup 2018: Drop in performance raises question about Gareth Southgate’s tactical nous


“England finally ended their abysmal run in penalty shoot-outs with their second-round victory over Colombia, but a dramatic drop in performance towards the end of normal time raises a question about Gareth Southgate’s ability to influence matches tactically. Jose Pekerman spring a surprise with his team selection. Having previously used a 4-2-3-1 and experimented with a 4-3-3 in training, this was actually more of a midfield diamond. With James Rodriguez out, Juan Quintero played as the number 10, with Radamel Falcao upfront to the left, and Juan Cuadrado playing in a right-sided forward role. Quintero pushed forward to press England’s centre-backs three-against-three, but Pekerman’s approach was basically about keeping things tight in deeper positions, and guarding against England’s midfield runners.” Independent – Michael Cox

England’s unique 3-3-2-2 formation could cause Colombia headaches
“For all the optimism about Gareth Southgate’s side and their chances of winning the World Cup, it’s so often this stage — the first knockout round of a major tournament — in which England collapse. This is usually because England have appeared unprepared for the opposition’s approach, or at least too inflexible to guard against it. Germany’s counter-attacking speed wasn’t nullified in 2010. Andrea Pirlo’s deep-lying playmaking skills weren’t shut down in 2012. Iceland’s long throw proved fatal in 2016. Tactical naivety has constantly been England’s main problem.” ESPN – Michael Cox

World Cup 2018: Analysing the tactical flaws England will look to exploit against Colombia in the Round of 16


“If it remains difficult to judge England’s level of ability, after two victories against below-par opposition and a defeat with a second-string XI, something similar can be said of Colombia for very different reasons. Jose Pekerman’s side have blown hot and cold, with a fine 3-0 win over Poland sandwiched by a 2-1 defeat to Japan and a nervy 1-0 win over Senegal yesterday. The Japan loss was influenced heavily by the fact Colombia were down to ten men for almost the entire contest, and the Senegal performance was compromised by star man James Rodriguez clearly being unfit, lasting just half an hour. It seems unlikely he’ll be fit to start against England, and certainly won’t be 100% fit.” Independent – Michael Cox

Colombia Emerges From the World Cup Chaos, Booting Senegal

“After all that, after all the qualification and buildup, after six hard-fought matches and injuries and hand-wringing, it all came down to yellow cards. Just like Japan, Senegal won once, tied once, and lost once — falling by 1-0 to Colombia on Thursday after giving up a goal to Yerry Mina — but it will be the Japanese advancing to the knockout phase by virtue of having only three yellow cards, while Senegal had five.” NY Times

Made in Argentina, and Now Coaching Everywhere at the World Cup


“For a while, even after he had embarked on his coaching career, José Pékerman refused to give up his taxi. He had driven the little Renault 12, given to him by his brother, for four years, after an injury had forced him to retire as a player but before he started work in the youth system at the Buenos Aires club Estudiantes. In those early days, Pékerman often arrived for training sessions in the car he had painted yellow and black himself. Coaching was his ambition, and he quickly showed he had a gift for it, but he was reluctant to part with the taxi. It was his guarantee that he could support his family, his safety net. In Argentine soccer, he knew he could never be certain when he might need it.” NY Times

World Cup Group Stage Ends With All Eyes on Fair Play, Unusual Battle for First

“Day 15 of World Cup 2018 saw the end of the group stage and another dramatic set of simultaneous group finales. Colombia and Japan advanced and Senegal was out in Group H after fair-play points was used a tiebreaker favoring the Japanese. And in Group G, Belgium beat England 1-0 to win the group and advance to the tougher side of the knockout bracket, while Tunisia exited on a high note, coming from behind to beat Panama 2-1.” SI

Colombia Dazzles Us Again, England Overwhelms in Big World Cup Wins


“Day 11 of World Cup 2018 is done, and the goals came by the bucketload. England rained them down on Panama in a 6-1 victory highlighted by Harry Kane’s hat trick. Japan came from behind twice against Senegal in a fun 2-2 tie marked by inventive goals and goalkeeper errors. And Colombia kicked a disappointing Poland out of the tournament with a 3-0 victory that brought back memories of Colombia teams from 2014 and the early 1990s. With each team having played two matches, only six have booked their round-of-16 places, while another eight have been eliminated, leaving plenty of drama to be settled in the coming four days.” SI

Russia Continues to Surprise, While Japan, Senegal Earn Landmark World Cup Wins


“Day 6 of World Cup 2018 is done, headlined by Russia’s 3-1 thrashing of Egypt, which gives the host nation six points and brings it to the cusp of a place in the knockout stage. The headliner was preceded by a pair of notable victories: Japan’s historic 2-1 win over Colombia (for reasons explained below), and Senegal’s 2-1 win over Poland, which was the first victory by an African team in the tournament. Every nation has now played at least once in Russia, where there has yet to be a scoreless draw, though there have been five own goals and a number of VAR interventions.” SI

A World Cup Sleeper May Be Lurking In Group H

“Group H is potentially the most interesting in Russia this summer. While the average group difference in FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index score between the best and worst teams is about 25, Senegal’s SPI rating of 66.0 is only 14.5 points lower than Colombia’s 80.5. Poland (73.3) and Japan (71.4) are rated very similarly in the middle of the group. On top of this, the teams are filled with exciting attacking players from Europe’s strongest leagues: Poland’s Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Colombia’s James Rodríguez (Bayern Munich), Japan’s Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) and Senegal’s Sadio Mané (Liverpool) will all be battling to make an impression on the world’s biggest stage.” FiveThirtyEight

Who’s the Best No. 10 at the World Cup?


“In Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics, Jonathan Wilson describes the symbolism of the no. 10 as “the ‘free-spirited epitome of the artistry of soccer.’ And while free-spirits have become fewer and farther between as more money’s been poured into the game and managers have systematized their tactics, the no. 10 is still typically given to the most creative player on the team. Or, in Poland or Nigeria’s case, it’s given to a defensive midfielder best known for his ability to make tackles and pass the ball sideways. But each team has its reasons, and so with all of the World Cup squad lists now officially released, we each ranked all the nos. 10 set to play in Russia this summer, tallied the results, and came out with the following list. No. 1 is obvious, but that’s about the only spot we came close to agreeing on. Yes, someone, who shall remain nameless out of our sheer fear for his safety, didn’t put Lionel Messi first.” The Ringer

World Cup groups A-D preview – Football Weekly

“Max Rushden is joined by voices from around the world to preview World Cup groups A-D, including Danish royalty, Peruvian vigour and the prospect of a tournament without a French meltdown.” Guardian (Audio)

Your complete guide to all 736 players at the 2018 World Cup

“Biographies of every player in all 32 squads in Russia, including caps, goals, nicknames, hobbies and, once the tournament starts, ratings for every performance. We strive to give you an unbiased, trustworthy and in-depth view of the world’s most prestigious football tournament. If you think that’s worth something, then you can support The Guardian from as little as £1 – and it only takes a minute.” Guardian

Who Will Win the 2018 World Cup? SI’s Expert Predictions and Knockout Brackets


“The World Cup kicks off June 14 in Moscow with a meeting between the two lowest-ranked teams in the field, which, in some ways, is quite appropriate. The competition is meant to be a crescendo, one whose drama and defining moments don’t occur until the very end. With the way the draw and schedule worked out, that’s precisely how Russia 2018 is shaping up to play out. Russia vs. Saudi Arabia will be a massive 90 minutes for the host nation, which can set its tone for the tournament in front of its partisan crowd. But once it’s over, the focus will shift to the traditional powers and the individual superstars who figure to have plenty of say in determining the 2018 world champion. …” SI

Tim Vickery’s Notes from South America: A tale of two Colombians


“When Colombia sealed their place in Russia last October, Edwin Cardona must have thought his World Cup presence was guaranteed. The 25-year-old attacking midfielder had been part of the team throughout the qualification process. He only missed three of the 18 rounds, starting eight matches and coming off the bench in seven. He contributed three goals – all of them important, making him the team’s joint second top scorer. His capacity to shoot from range looked set to make him one of Colombia’s main attacking threats in Russia. …” World Soccer – Tim Vickery

World Cup 2018 team previews: what you need to know about all 32 teams (ESPN)


“The 2018 World Cup might be missing some big nations, but that’s what makes this tournament the best in sports. Brazil are looking to bounce back from a travesty in 2014, while Spain, Argentina and France are hoping to dethrone defending champions Germany and their typically deep squad. Can Belgium or Portugal make a splash? Do England have what it takes to challenge too? ESPN FC is previewing every team ahead of the opening game on June 14 in English, Spanish and Portuguese to give a truly global feel to our team profiles. Here’s what you need to know about the 32 teams set to do battle in Russia beginning on June 14. …”
ESPN

2018 FIFA World Cup

“The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be the 21st FIFA World Cup, a quadrennial international football tournament contested by the men’s national teams of the member associations of FIFA. It is scheduled to take place in Russia from 14 June to 15 July 2018, after the country was awarded the hosting rights on 2 December 2010. This will be the first World Cup held in Europe since the 2006 tournament in Germany, and the first ever to be held in Eastern Europe. All of the stadium venues are in European Russia, to keep travel time manageable. The final tournament will involve 32 national teams, which include 31 teams determined through qualifying competitions and the automatically qualified host team. Of the 32 teams, 20 will be making back-to-back appearances following the last tournament in 2014, including defending champions Germany, while Iceland and Panama will both be making their first appearances at a FIFA World Cup. A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities. The final will take place on 15 July at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. …” Wikipedia

World Cup 2018 squad guide: Latest news and updates ahead of Russia (Independent)

“The 2018 World Cup is now only weeks away. The 32 countries have until the May 14 deadline to name their provisional squads for Russia with managers all over the globe currently scratching their heads as they bid to whittle down their long list of possibles and probables in time for the final June 4 cut off, just 10 days before the opener in Moscow. However, many teams – England included, – have already pledged to name their lucky few earlier with Gareth Southgate set to pick his 23 before the final pre-tournament friendlies with Nigeria and Costa Rica. …” Independent (Video)

Lessons from Brazil’s 2014 World Cup Disaster

“… The extraordinary story of the next few weeks is essentially one of what happened to this confidence – ebbing away bit by bit until one scarcely believable afternoon in Belo Horizonte brought about a candidate for the most amazing result in World Cup history. Brazil prepared with a routine 4-0 win over Panama, followed by a laboured single goal triumph against Serbia. There was no cause for alarm. This was merely the warm up phase in a competition that usually goes to the side that peaks at the right time. …” World Soccer – Tim Vickery

World Cup 2018 groups: Your complete guide to the teams

“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

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

“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

“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?


“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

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


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

World Cup 2018 power rankings: Germany on top among qualified 23


“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)

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

fi-s-america-1
“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

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

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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

Cristian Cueva a symbol of Peru’s frailty after defeat to Colombia?

“Peru so nearly snatched a win in their Copa America quarterfinal right at the end. Colombia were rattled and frustrated when Christian Ramos met a corner from the right with a header that forced a fine save from Colombia keeper David Ospina. The absence of extra time in these games favours the weaker side, the one less inclined to take the initiative, and the clock had been ticking down, with Colombia looking less and less likely to break the deadlock. Then came Ramos’ chance — clawed away by the Arsenal stopper.” ESPN – Tim Vickery

After winning Copa group, USA has chance to prove knockout chops

“Now a new Copa América begins for the United States. The U.S. has persevered through the group stage, shaking off an opening loss to Colombia and winning twice against Costa Rica and Paraguay to reach the knockout rounds of another major tournament, even winning the group with a late helping hand from Los Ticos.” SI (Video)

U.S. Advances to Copa América Quarterfinals After Surviving an Ejection
“The United States knew the Copa América math days before it took the field against Paraguay on Saturday. A win or a tie would mean advancement to the quarterfinals. A loss would mean elimination. It was the solution to that problem that was surprising: 10 men and one goal equaled a second life. Riding a first-half goal by Clint Dempsey and overcoming the second-half ejection of defender DeAndre Yedlin, the United States held off Paraguay, 1-0, to seal its place in the quarterfinals later this week. Instead of the Americans’ facing the ignominy of a first-round exit, it was the Paraguayans heading home.” NY Times

Show Your Copa Colors

“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

U.S. must rebound after falling to Colombia in Copa opener

“It was a pick play in the box. Nothing too complicated. Geoff Cameron said afterward that he sees them “fairly often” in the Premier League. On a Colombia corner kick in the eighth minute of the U.S.’s Copa América Centenario opener, Daniel Torres set a screen in the area. Cristián Zapata looped around it like a basketball player running a curl play, and the small amount of space it created between Zapata and Cameron allowed the Colombian to fire home a volley that put the U.S. on its heels right from the start. … After the U.S.’s 2-0 loss, in which Colombia scored on a corner kick and a penalty kick, Cameron couldn’t hide his frustration that a solid performance by the U.S. back line was marred by a couple decisive moments, including the pick in the box.” SI (Video)

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

“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

Copa America 2016: 10 Young Player to Watch

“As the centenary version of the Copa America gets set to kick off this Friday, we here at Outside of the Boot are excited to present this list, featuring ten youngsters (22 and under at the start of the tournament) who could play an important role over the coming month. Admittedly, this isn’t the best tournament for young players, as several intriguing players (Paulo Dybala, most notably) weren’t selected while a handful of others (Jesus Manuel Corona, John Brooks) narrowly miss the age cut-off. Nevertheless, much as the likes of Derlis Gonzalez and Romel Quinonez impressed last summer, seemingly from out of nowhere, there are sure to be a few breakout stars this summer.” Outside of the Boot

SI’s Copa America Centenario picks

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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

“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)

Top South American clubs launch Liga Sudamericana to challenge disgraced CONMEBOL

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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

“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

Deportivo Cali: Colombia’s Cantera de Oro

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“It may sound like a truism but South American football usually finds itself adopting a short term mentality. With many clubs steeped in debt, the fragile state of their finances means that squads are dismantled after any success and young stars are whisked away at an increasingly early age. The gulf between South America teams and Europe is bigger than ever and shows no sign of reducing any time soon.’ Outside of the Boot

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

“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

Lucas Biglia scores to give Argentina first WCQ win over Colombia

“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

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

“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