The Unseen Tournament: AFR Captures the Copa Centroamericana

October 3, 2014

“It can be tempting to write off any football tournament not named the World Cup, Copa America or European Championship as something of an excess. Without the most prominent international sides taking part, it can seem to the casual observer that tournaments outside of the most prominent few lack major stakes, with a trophy given out for the sake of giving out a trophy.” A Football Report (Video)

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Football’s answer to the Ashes

July 16, 2013

“Should Stuart Broad have ‘walked’ after wrongly being given not out in the first Ashes test? I have no idea, and not just because I did not actually see the incident (listening via radio in Rio de Janeiro hardly qualifies me as close enough to give an authoritative opinion). It is not an easy issue. On the one hand, there are days when he will be given out in dubious circumstances, and the fielding side will certainly not call him back. So why not leave the decision up the umpires? On the other hand there is the code of ethics which applies in each sport, the unwritten rules of conduct to which the players generally adhere, and which Broad could be accused of breaking.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Brazil’s Confederations outsiders face uphill battle to be included

July 9, 2013

“Brazil was obviously joyous at winning the Confederations Cup in such convincing style — but it would only be natural if there were some places where joy was somewhat confined. Those players outside the squad, for example, now face a much harder time getting back in.” ESPN – Tim Vickery (Video)


Deal with it: Brazil will host the World Cup

July 4, 2013

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“If you were in Beijing or New York last week, you would have to be sitting down when reading the news. According to a report by Folha de S. Paulo, a leading newspaper in Brazil and Latin America, that was obviously replicated by international outlets, there was a chance that the FIFA Confederations Cup semifinals and final would be hosted by one of those cities. Other reports also revealed plans for next year’s World Cup to be moved to safer pastures after FIFA and international authorities were scared by the scale and intensity of the protests on Brazilians streets during this summer’s test event. Yours truly was even asked to take part in a discussion themed ‘Brazil should give up the World Cup.'” ESPN (Video)

The Brazilian lesson: shout
“It’s a peaceful winter’s day in the favela of Monte Azul, São Paulo. Customers sit chatting around the hot-dog stand (which accepts credit cards). A state “health agent” patrols the undulating main street, looking for sick people to advise. At the crèche, the purple curtains are closed to let the children nap. And the rain runs neatly into the gutters, instead of flooding the street. A lot has changed since 20 years ago, when some local men worked as ‘security guards’ for bakeries and supermarkets – which meant they were paid to murder suspected thieves.” FT – Simon Kuper


Hasn’t the Confederations Cup been great?

July 4, 2013

“Well, hasn’t it been great? From the opening minutes of that opening game when Neymar was firing home that impeccably executed volley, through the thrills and fun of the group games and semi-finals, to the final. I honestly cannot recall one bland game in over the 2 week duration of this year’s Confederations Cup. If this competition is merely Brazil’s supposed warm-up for the real deal of the 2014 World Cup, then we are in for a treat. Here are my 6 reasons why I believe the Conferedations Cup has been so flipping fantastic.” Outside of the Boot


Is the need for speed more important than tika-taka tactics?

July 4, 2013

“The Confederations Cup final between Spain and Brazil was a highly anticipated clash of two opposing brands of football. In fact, while Spain are well known for playing a possession based style of football, Luis Felipe Scolari has reshaped a traditionally flamboyant Brazilian side into a more defensive minded, counterattacking team.” Think Football


Brazil 3-0 Spain: Spain unable to cope with Brazil’s pace and power on the break

July 1, 2013

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“Brazil won the Confederations Cup at the Maracana after a convincing demolition of the world champions. Luis Felipe Scolari stuck with his usual side – in five games he only deviated from this XI once, when Paulinho wasn’t 100% fit for the final group game. Vicente Del Bosque brought in Juan Mata on the left of his 4-3-3 system, but otherwise the side was unchanged. Brazil yet again started superbly – but Spain failed to mount a significant fightback.” Zonal Marking

“Brazil produced a breathtaking performance at the Maracana to overwhelm Spain and claim their third consecutive Fifa Confederations Cup. Driven on by the passion of a fiercely partisan crowd, the five-time world champions signalled their intent ahead of next summer’s World Cup by ending Spain’s 29-match competitive unbeaten record with a majestic display. Fred scored twice, but Neymar again stole the show, scoring Brazil’s second goal with a rasping left-foot shot. To compound Spain’s misery, Sergio Ramos missed a second-half penalty before Gerard Pique was sent off for bringing down Neymar as last man, with 22 minutes remaining.” BBC

Dream final a sub-plot to urban uprising (June 28)
“And so the 2013 Confederations Cup has its dream final – Brazil against Spain, the match the world has been waiting years to see. It is a clash of two philosophies. For the Brazilians, the star player (known over here as the ‘craque,’ from the English ‘crack’) tips the balance with a moment of individual inspiration. For the Spaniards the collective idea is all important – the constant passing at pace, the continuous formation of triangles, each one opening up new possibilities for a new combination, until a runner can be slipped through on goal.” The World – Tim Vickery

Brazil on the verge of greatness
“Forget history and superstition. You have to be pretty twisted to believe that because Brazil won the Confederations Cup in 1997 and 2005 and 2009 and then failed to win the big one the following year, beating Spain and lifting the trophy at the Maracana was anything but a good thing. Anyone who witnessed the performance against Spain, who felt the goose bumps from the Torcida, who saw Fred, then Neymar, then Oscar, then just about every member of the Selecao vault the pitch-side barriers and celebrate with the supporters will know just how important this was.” ESPN (Video)