The Pressure Of Being A South American Goalkeeper

April 22, 2020


“Veteran Ecuadorian defensive midfielder Segundo Castillo is winding down his career at home with Guayaquil City after almost 90 games for his country and spells in Serbia and England. Around a decade ago he had a season with Everton and the next one with Wolves. He did not play many games, but he stayed long enough to form an impression, which he recently shared with the Ecuadorian press. ‘Football in England is passionate in its intensity,” he said, “but in a cultural aspect, after the game, it’s different. Losing doesn’t mean that you’re mediocre. The fans wait outside and ask for autographs, and nothing bad happens. Here in Ecuador it’s different; lose and you can’t go out because maybe people want to get you.’ …”
World Soccer


Brazilian Championship Paying For Losing Talent Abroad

August 22, 2018

“Tim Vickery’s Notes From South America: Brazilian Championship Paying For Losing Talent Abroad. The Brazilian Championship reached the half way stage at the weekend, with the table looking very different from this time last year. In 2017 Corinthians had the title all but sown up after 19 of the 38 rounds. The 2018 version offers the prospect of a much more exciting home straight.” World Soccer – Tim Vickery


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

June 2, 2018


“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


Lessons from Brazil’s 2014 World Cup Disaster

May 23, 2018

“… 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


Dani Alves Injury Opens the Door for Another Right-back

May 20, 2018

“An injury to one is always a chance for another to make a name for himself. Such is the situation now for Brazil’s right-backs. Russia was to have been the third and final World Cup in the career of Daniel Alves, and the crowning glory of his international career. After featuring in midfield in 2010 and losing his place during the course of the 2014 tournament, finally he would have a chance to shine for his country in a team well set up to use his talents. Fate has decided otherwise, with a knee injury ruling him out. …” World Soccer – Tim Vickery


Santos-Estudiantes in the Copa Libertadores brings to mind what might’ve been

April 6, 2018

“Estudiantes of Argentina and Santos of Brazil fought out an entertaining clash on Thursday night in the Copa Libertadores. The Argentines pressed for most of the match, but were caught on the break in the first half and conceded the only goal of the match — a clear case of offside that nonetheless sent the visitors home 1-0 winners. …” ESPN – Tim Vickery


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


Stadium row highlights the depressing state of Rio football

February 22, 2018

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


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

January 22, 2018

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


Tim Vickery’s Notes from South America: Latorre highlights the dangers of romanticising fans

January 4, 2018

“Diego Latorre was one of the first Argentinians to be burdened with the “new Maradona” tag. He never came close to living up to those expectations. But he had a reasonable career, including international caps, and he has subsequently gone on to become one of Argentina’s most thoughtful and intelligent pundits. With the South American club season in its high summer pause, attention has turned to Europe, with the recent Real Madrid-Barcelona superclasico and the ongoing activities of Serie A and the Premier League. … 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


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


Tim Vickery’s Notes from South America: the Cup still matters in Brazil

September 28, 2017


Cueva of Sao Paulo vies the ball with Maycon (L) and Gabriel of Corinthians during the match in the Brasileirao Series A 2017 at Morumbi Stadium.
“With everything nicely poised at 1-1, Cruzeiro and Flamengo meet this Wednesday in the second leg of the final of the Brazilian Cup. The Mineirao stadium clash is a contender to be the biggest domestic game of the year – because Brazil is one of the very few countries in the world where the cup can still eclipse the league. This may be seen as even more surprising since the domestic cup has relatively little tradition, coming to life as recently as 1989. …” World Soccer – Tim Vickery


Tim Vickery’s Notes from South America: Atletico Nacional look to strike a blow for the continent

December 12, 2016

“It was always unlikely that Atletico Nacional would be able to win two titles on the same day, on opposite sides of the planet. The first team squad are in Japan, representing South America in the Club World Cup, and hoping to make it to the final on Sunday – the same day that the Colombian league comes to a climax. Nacional were through to the semi final, and, giving a game to their reserves they drew 1-1 away to Santa Fe of Bogota in the first leg. But now, back in Medellin for the return match, they were down to the reserves of the reserves. With 25 players in the Far East, they were forced to field in effect an Under-21 side. They lost 4-0.” World Soccer


Tim Vickery’s Notes from South America: Chapecoense may find that renewal comes in the form of playing again

December 5, 2016

“The Atanasio Giradot stadium deserved some joy. Last Wednesday the ground in Medellin was packed, with thousands left outside, as the Colombian public gathered to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the Chapecoense air disaster. It was a deeply moving ceremony, and a show of solidarity that left Brazilians in awestruck gratitude. The only connection between Medellin and Chapeco was the game of football which was to have been taking place at that time on Wednesday evening. And with Medellin efficiency and a warm Colombian heart, Nacional – as well as requesting that the title of the Copa Sudamericana be awarded to Chapecoense – had put together a sincere and touching tribute.” World Soccer


Idealist Tite the perfect man to lead Brazil

October 16, 2016

“A couple of weeks ago, new Brazil coach Tite was asked to make a choice – did he prefer the FIFA World Cup winning team of 1994, or their predecessors from twelve years earlier, the 1982 side that lost to Italy and failed to reach the semi finals? He went with the latter – part of the proof that, at last, the task of coaching Brazil has fallen to the right man.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Neymar the hero of a nation as Brazil fans look for villains

August 23, 2016

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“There were real grounds for concern when the final of the men’s Olympic football tournament went to penalties. How often do the Germans lose a shootout? Winning the gold medal was much more important for Brazil – they were in front of their own fans in the Maracana stadium, this was the only title they had never won and their game badly needed a boost.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Lionel Messi superb as Argentina ease into Copa semis, thrashing Venezuela

June 19, 2016

“Argentina booked their spot in the Copa America semifinals with a 4-1 win over Venezuela on Saturday. Lionel Messi scored once and had two assists. Gerardo Martino’s side now prepare for a meeting with hosts the U.S. on Tuesday in Houston, Texas.” ESPN – Tim Vickery


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


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

June 19, 2016

“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


Can Diego Godin and Uruguay fight back at the Copa America?

June 6, 2016

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“Uruguay may well have felt that it was not going to be their night when they lined up before the game and were forced to listen to the national anthem of Chile. And things soon got worse when they went behind to the first CONCACAF goal of the tournament — and even that was scored by a South American player — with Uruguay left-back Alvaro Pereira inadvertently deflecting an early cross past his own keeper.” ESPN – Tim Vickery (Video)

Rafa Marquez heroics lead Mexico over Uruguay at Copa America
“Longtime Mexico captain Rafa Marquez was the hero in Mexico’s Copa America opener, scoring the game-winning goal in a wild 3-1 triumph over Uruguay at a raucous University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Uruguay had the trifecta of misfortune between the pregame festivities and halftime. Tournament organizers unfathomably played the Chilean national anthem for Uruguay, citing “human error” in a forced statement. Within four minutes, Alvaro Pereira had headed home Andres Guardado’s cross into his own net, and right before halftime Matias Vecino picked up his second yellow card for a reckless challenge on Jesus ‘Tecatito’ Corona.” SI (Video)


Liverpool’s lack of leaders cause for concern

May 31, 2016

“Take, for example, Sevilla’s 3-1 win over Liverpool in the recent final of the Europa League. While they were in the first half ascendancy, Liverpool could have been awarded one, or even two penalties. To this extent, luck was against them. There is no doubt, though, that they were over-run in the second half. Here it is arguable that tactical and technical issues were important. Liverpool lined up with Daniel Sturridge, Phillippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino. The attacking trio combined to give the English club a first half lead.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)


London derby fills the void left by hibernating Rio

May 17, 2016

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 02 : Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur and Willian of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on May 2, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
“History is in the making. The Olympic Games come to South America for the first time, in little more than three months, and it will all happen in my adopted home of Rio de Janeiro – but before then a little tip back to London reinforce what being a football fan was all about.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


The soundtracks of football’s intriguing history

April 12, 2016

“It is 50 years since England’s lone FIFA World Cup win, which coincided with a moment when the nation’s youth were creating a musical soundtrack that swept the planet. Four years later it was the turn of Brazil.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)


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)


Remember the name Marlos Moreno… he’s a star in the making

March 20, 2016

“In the 22 years I have been living over here there have been plenty of careers I have been lucky enough to follow from the start. The highlight, of course, is Lionel Messi. Little known even by Argentina when he was called up for the South American U-20 Championship at the start of 2005 in Colombia. He was two years younger than the rest of the players and seemed half the size, an unimpressive figure – until the ball was tied to his left foot and all of us fortunate enough to be watching were aware that we were in the presence of something very special.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)


Cubas shows ‘It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary’

February 28, 2016

“While some players take the easy option and go hiding when they chips are down, pint-sized Boca Juniors midfielder Adrian Cubas showed courage beyond his teenage years to do what is expected of him by his team – the simple things. All fans have seen it on a frequent basis – after the team has scored, suddenly it is a different game. The ball is zipping around all over the field, the moves are flowing and suddenly, after seeming a desperately complicated affair before the deadlock was broken, football now looks like a simple game. It is the same players, on the same pitch, in the same game against the same opposition, but the whole atmosphere has changed.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


One kick can make all the difference in the cruel world of football

February 14, 2016

Rodrigo Lopez, left, and teammate Juan Patino, of Paraguay's Guarani, react after failing to classify for the next round, at the end of a Copa Libertadores soccer game with Ecuador's Independiente del Valle in Asuncion, Paraguay, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
“It will surely be a traumatic memory for Socceroos fans, but I’ve always loved a piece of Australian radio commentary when Azizi scored that famous goal for Iran in the 1998 World Cup play off. It is a classic case of a man caught up in conflicting impulses; the professional, needing to explain the events – and the personal, that of a fan devastated by a strike that deprived Australia of what had seemed certain qualification for France.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


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


South America’s brightest want a slice of ‘Paree’

January 4, 2016

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“At the end of the First World War there was a new hit tune in the United States, one that made reference to the experiences that US servicemen were having on the other side of the Atlantic. The title – ‘How can you keep ‘em down on the farm, now that they’ve seen Paree?’ It is a song with relevance to modern football. Because in today’s globalized world, footballers from the four corners of the globe have all seen ‘Paree’ – meaning, in this case, the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and (why not?) Paris Saint Germain. It is where they all want to be. And so it has become impossible to keep them at home.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


The good, bad and ugly of FIFA’s Mad Men

December 21, 2015

“I discovered it late but I’m glad I got there in the end. As a 1960s nut, the TV series Mad Men was made for me. In the last few months I ploughed through all seven seasons of a program that looked at the decade and its changes, especially in terms of gender relations, through the prism of the advertising industry.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Ability v technique – Barcelona strike perfect balance

December 6, 2015

“The great Tostao, centre forward of Brazil’s 1970 side and the wisest voice in his country’s game, recently tried to clear up a basic confusion in football – the difference between ability and technique.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


My Funes Mori faux pas

November 10, 2015

during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Everton at The Hawthorns on September 28, 2015 in West Bromwich, United Kingdom.
“When the Argentine centre-back joined Everton from River Plate I did not think he stood any chance of success. I felt that in the Premier League he would be exposed for lack of quality, pace and physicality. True, his first couple of months have not been unblemished. He is unlikely ever to be a candidate for a world XI. But he appears to have settled in well, exuding confidence right from the off. Clearly, he is considerably better than I had thought.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)


Martino must be rethinking Argentina’s approach

October 17, 2015

“‘No battle plan,’ said a famous 19th century Prussian military man. ‘survives contact with the enemy.’
Argentina coach Gerardo Martino must surely be wondering about the validity of his plan of action after a historic 2-0 defeat at home to Ecuador in the first round of World Cup qualification. Martino had spent his first year in charge building up to this moment. During friendlies and the recent Copa America he was always anxious to stress that he was looking to consolidate an idea of play.” World Game – Tim Vickery


A World Cup qualifying battle worth its weight in gold

September 27, 2015

“Let’s go round again! The squads are being called up and the anticipation is rising. South America’s marathon World Cup qualification campaign is about to get under way, with the continent’s 10 countries playing each other home and away on the long road to Russia 2018.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Time’s up for Venezuela’s own ‘Captain Socceroo’

September 20, 2015

“After 129 matches and 23 goals, Juan Arango retired from international football after the midweek 1-1 draw with Panama. He leaves the field with football in his country on a very different footing from the one it was in January 1999, when the 18 year-old Arango climbed off the bench to make his debut against Denmark. Johnny Warren’s mission was to plant and grow the seed of football in terrain that many said would not prove fertile. Arango has done something similar. Unlike the rest of the continent, Venezuela appeared unable to catch the footballbug. It was a land of baseball and beauty contests. Football existed, but it was a flame kept alive by European immigrants, often from Spain, Italy or Portugal. Some in Venezuela even saw it as a middle-class sport. The popular passion was not for goals but to score a ‘jonron’ – the local translation of a baseball home run.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


The ever-changing face of the EPL

September 3, 2015

“In September 1882, a group of schoolboys met around a North London lamppost and decided to start a football club that soon became known as Tottenham Hotspur. On 20 April 1901, Tottenham won the FA Cup. It had been an eventful 19 years. In that time the club had established itself as a local force and acquired a fan base. It had turned professional and soon afterwards had become a limited company. It had moved into its present White Hart Lane stadium, with a capacity at the time of 30,000.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Continental schism presents a tough question

August 17, 2015
epa04873815 Players of River Plate of Argentina celebrate after winning the Copa Libertadores Cup after defeating Tigres of Mexico at a soccer match held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 05 August 2015. EPA/David Fernández

epa04873815 Players of River Plate of Argentina celebrate after winning the Copa Libertadores Cup after defeating Tigres of Mexico at a soccer match held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 05 August 2015. EPA/David Fernández

“Buenos Aires giant River Plate won its third Copa Libertadores title earlier this month, beating Tigres of Mexico 3-0 on aggregate in the two-legged final. Some in Europe were gripped by the fact that this triumph came only four years after the club had been relegated to Argentina’s second division. In reality, though, there is no need to be astonished. Such wild oscillations have become almost par for the course in the South American club game. The previous winner of the Libertadores was another Buenos Airies side, San Lorenzo. It did not go down to the second division. But it came very close. In the middle of 2012 it was forced into a play-off to determine its first division survival. It won – and two years later it was champion of its continent.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Tim Vickery’s Notes from Brazil: Ronaldinho’s last decade summed up in 90 minutes

August 3, 2015

“The last 9 years of Ronaldinho Gaucho’s professional life were nearly summed up in his first 90 minutes for his latest club. The former FIFA player of the year had been presented to fans of Fluminense of Rio at a previous game a fortnight earlier. A big crowd had come out for the occasion, and, inspired, Ronaldinho declared himself raring to go, desperate to get out there on the field. He neglected to add that it would be some 8 days before he actually turned up for training – part of the deal he agreed with the club was that he would straight away be granted two weeks holiday. Since he had not been in action since the end of May (with Queretaro in Mexico) this in itself was an eye opener, yet more evidence that getting the most out of his extraordinary talent is not at the top of his list of priorities – which would seem to have been the case for some time.” World Soccer – Tim Vickery (Video)


The genius of Ghiggia will forever be remembered

July 25, 2015

“On 16 July 1950, he scored the decisive goal as Uruguay came from behind to beat Brazil 2-1 and win the fourth edition of the World Cup. The crowd gathered in Rio de Janeiro’s newly opened Maracana stadium may well have been one of the biggest ever assembled to watch a game of football. And Ghiggia, as he liked to say, along with the Pope and Frank Sinatra, was one of just three men to silence the giant stadium. The most important man on that fateful day was the final one to leave the scene. All the other 21 players who took the field that day have already passed on. Ghiggia was the last of the gang to die.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


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


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


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


Neymar’s petulance leaves Brazil in trouble after Copa America suspension

June 21, 2015

“There were some warning signs flashing in Brazil’s Copa America opener against Peru, Neymar’s first competitive match as Brazil captain. He produced a wonderful individual performance in that 2-1 win, crowned with a pass of breathtaking vision that set up Brazil’s stoppage-time winner. … Three days later, the collision could not be averted — with consequences that will, unless Brazil’s appeal is successful, rule Neymar out of the rest of the Copa America. He was suspended for four games after being sent off in the 1-0 loss to Colombia.” ESPN – Tim Vickery


Gerardo Martino’s shrewd tactical tinkering helps Argentina pip Uruguay

June 18, 2015

“The old rivals rose to the occasion. The match between Argentina and Uruguay may not have offered up all of the goals of the previous night’s action in the Copa America, but there was quality and drama to the end as Argentina held off a late Uruguayan rally to win by the lone goal. Argentina coach Gerardo Martino had prepared a trap for his opponents. Lionel Messi dropped deep, into a position where, like some general of old, he could survey the battlefield in search of the enemy’s weak point. He also drew attention of the Uruguayan markers, creating space for Javier Pastore to advance and set up the play some 30 metres from goal. With Angel Di Maria elusively wandering in from the left flank, Argentina opened up with a fluidity which threatened an early breakthrough.” ESPN – Tim Vickery

Sergio Aguero rescues labourious Argentina in 1-0 win over Uruguay
“Three quick thoughts on Argentina’s frantic 1-0 win over Uruguay in the Copa America on Tuesday night. 1. Argentina learn from Paraguay mistakes. Sergio Aguero scored a goal to light up a game, even if this was not a game to light up a tournament. Argentina have at least renewed their spark, however, after claiming their first win of the Copa America with this hard-fought 1-0 win over Uruguay. Their manager, Gerardo Martino, was sent off for first-half touchline remonstrations, but his team are finally off and running. The frustration after the 2-2 draw with Paraguay has now evaporated, and the relief could be witnessed at the final whistle.” ESPN


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)


A Copa Libertadores stoush that’s worth watching

May 24, 2015

“They get to see the best players from the four corners of the globe, in the arena where it really matters – where they want to prove their class to themselves and their peers. All of this takes place in magnificent stadiums in an atmosphere that respects and gives value to the spectacle. The Copa Libertadores can hardly compete. Recent versions of the FIFA Club World Cup have served to confirm the view that the distance between top level club football in Europe and South America has never been wider. True, my adopted continent remains a magnificent producer of raw talent – indeed, it can be argued that the national team game in South America has never been stronger. That, of course, is when all the star names come back from Europe briefly to represent their countries. It is wonderful – a magnificent pleasure and an enormous privilege – to catch some of these players on the way up.” World Soccer – Tim Vickery


Robinho is still a shining light for Dunga’s Brazil

May 20, 2015

“Back home, though, this was not seen as controversial at all. Robinho was a leading light in the Santos team that just won the Sao Paulo State Championship, the most prestigious of Brazil’s regional competitions. He has been consistently named in Brazil squads since the 2014 FIFA World Cup, even if all of his appearances have been as a substitute. The only time he was left out was for last November’s visit to Turkey and Austria, when no domestically-based players were called up. It would have been incoherent to leave him out at this stage.” The World – Tim Vickery


Brazil must learn past lessons to take control of its future

May 1, 2015

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“Maybe – and I speak from a position of curious ignorance – the Australian game is going through one such moment with the successful launch of the A-League, qualification for FIFA World Cups, the move to Asia and hosting of this year’s AFC Asian Cup. Perhaps historians will look back on this time as the vital moment in the development and mass popularisation of an Australian football culture, the time when all the pioneering work of the likes of Les Murray and Johnny Warren really started to bear fruit. In the development of the Brazilian game, it is clear that the 1930s have a magic place. At the start of the decade, Brazil lagged miles behind Uruguay and Argentina as South America’s third force. By the end it was a different story. Third place in the 1938 World Cup in France had opened the planet’s eyes to the rise of the men in (for just over another decade) white shirts.” World Game – Tim Vickery


The beautiful game gets ugly when fans turn against their own

April 20, 2015

“A footballer, says the great Argentine coach Cesar Luis Menotti, is ‘a privileged interpreter of the dreams of many people.’ It is a wise and beautiful line. Not so beautiful, though, are those situations when many of the crowd would rather not have their dreams interpreted by a particular player. One of the most ugly things in football is when fans turn against a member of their own team. In Brazil this is a depressingly common occurrence, and one that can follow bizarre criteria. Many, I’m sure, will remember the Belo Horizonte crowd turning against Fred – indeed forcing his substitution – during that crushing World Cup semi final defeat to Germany last year. One might have thought that, with the team losing 7-1, the defenders might be a more obvious target than the centre forward. I, for one, was delighted when Fred responded by finishing last year’s Brazilian Championship as top scorer.” The World Game  – Tim Vickery (Video)


The good thing about the Qatar 2022 date change

March 31, 2015

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“When cities put forward a bid to stage the Olympics, the date of the Games is an explicit part of the proposal. IOC members know what they are voting for. This, of course, was not the case in the race to stage the 2022 World Cup. An inspection group carried out a detailed study into the bids, and put the information at the disposal of FIFA’s Executive Committee – which proceeded to take little notice. They chose Qatar with barely a thought for the logistical problems and world football has been in a bind ever since. It would seem that some sort of compromise is being worked out. A conventional June/July World Cup presented the obvious problem of extreme heat, and so the tournament is set to be staged in November and December.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


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


A reminder that Brazil needs to get with the times

March 4, 2015

“An architecturally innovative park – conceived in Brazil’s modernity boom of the late 50s – in iconic Rio de Janeiro, will host some of the city’s 450th birthday celebrations, providing a visual reminder of a time when Brazil’s football was at the cutting edge of the global game.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


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


FIFA candidates must heed past lessons

February 5, 2015

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“Now that a few candidates have thrown their hats into the ring, at least the next FIFA presidential election should generate a healthy debate, something which seems to be in short supply on the subject. The European, and particularly the English, press go on and on about corruption scandals. There is much to applaud here. The most noble part of journalism is that which digs into stories and asks questions which make those in power uncomfortable. Moreover, corruption is clearly harmful, with corrosive effects on institutions and individuals.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)


Three 2014 World Cup moments etched in my memory

January 7, 2015

“With South American football currently slumbering through its high summer siesta, I hope I might be forgiven for glancing backwards at what has just become last year’s World Cup. The tournament was well worth remembering – for the protests it engendered beforehand, for the spectacle it provided us with during and for the memories that linger afterwards. These are some of mine.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Club World Cup: Real Madrid ahead for San Lorenzo

December 17, 2014

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“Squeezed around domestic commitments, European champions Real Madrid arrived in Morocco this week for the Fifa Club World Cup – but their South American counterparts, San Lorenzo of Argentina, have been there in spirit for months. Ever since an emotional night in August when they won the Copa Libertadores, South America’s equivalent of the Champions League, San Lorenzo have found it impossible to forget about the Club World Cup.” BBC – Tim Vickery


The price of super stardom

December 10, 2014

“On July 7th 1957, with little more than 30 senior games under his belt and still a few months short of his 17th birthday, Pele made his debut for Brazil, scoring his side’s goal in the 2-1 defeat to Argentina in Rio’s Maracana stadium. The previous day, at the church fete in Woolton, Liverpool, the 16 year old John Lennon met Paul McCartney, two years his junior, for the first time. The rest, of course, is history – until, hundreds of hits and a thousand goals later, their decade came to an end. In April 1970 McCartney announced the break up of The Beatles. A couple of months later Pele made a glorious farewell to the stage he had made his own, winning the World Cup for the third time with a team that still set the standard for Brazil sides. The closeness of the dates is uncanny.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Why are South Americans succeeding in England?

November 21, 2014

“Earlier this month Sergio Aguero’s goal won the Manchester derby for City. Nothing unusual there, perhaps – the little genius has been a consistent matchwinner since joining the club just over three years ago, with 64 goals in 98 Premier League appearances. Much more striking is that Aguero was part of a South American contingent which on the pitch that day was more numerous than English players – a fact which serves as a symbol for the season.” BBC – Tim Vickery


The significance of Turkey v Brazil this week

November 14, 2014

“Turkey hosts Brazil in a match-up of the two teams that contested the 2002 World Cup semi-final, but will the occasion be a celebration of the heights they scaled in Japan and Korea? Or tinged with melancholy at the dwindling football fortunes of both nations in the years since?” The World Game – Tim Vickery