Italia ’90: Roberto Baggio’s magical goal against Czechoslovakia

June 21, 2020


“Retro football has been our staple for the past few months, as we look to get our fix of on-pitch action by looking back at matches gone by. And with classic games screened on TVs from a series of international tournaments, it’s prompted a round of assessment of how good they really were in comparison to perception, collective memory and nostalgia. Which is all fair enough. It’s interesting to look back on tournaments like that, consider things we might not have thought about back then or since. False nostalgia for a time that didn’t exist has got the world into some problems in the past few years, so re-examining those memories are a useful exercise, if nothing else. …” the set pieces (Video)


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


Golden Goal: Jean-Pierre Papin for France v Belgium (1992)

April 20, 2020

“Karim Benzema has been publicly reflecting, let’s say, on France’s ability to win the World Cup with a ‘go-kart’ of a striker, Olivier Giroud. He might also recall Stéphane Guivarc’h, who led the line for France in 1998. For their two World Cup triumphs, France have had centre-forwards who went through the whole tournaments without finding the net. In the early 90s, on the other hand, they had one of the deadliest finishers the game has seen – and they made fools of themselves on the international stage. Go-kart? Go figure. …”
Guardian (Audio)


Carlos’s 1986 World Cup foul and the value of rethinking our villains

April 18, 2020

“Football can give you completely the wrong idea about people. One incident in one match can skew the perception. For years I thought I hated Carlos, the Brazil goalkeeper who pulled back Bruno Bellone after the France forward had gone round him in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final and somehow went unpunished. How, four years after Harald Schumacher’s horrendous assault on Patrick Battiston, could that glorious France – Platini! Tigana! Giresse! – be cheated once again by a goalkeeper? Carlos’s offence had nothing like the raw violence of Schumacher’s, but it was cynical. And so, for compounding the injustice of Seville 1982, he went on the blacklist. …”
Guardian


The Illusion Train

August 22, 2018

“As the referee’s whistle signaled the end of the 2018 World Cup final between France and Croatia, I confess that I wept, more from relief than from joy. The blunder by French goalie Hugo Lloris that allowed Croatia its second score had struck me as suicidal. It reminded me of Zinedine Zidane’s narcissistic, self-destructive foul in the 2006 final World Cup match, when the Italian defender Marco Materazzi allegedly insulted the French superstar and Zidane responded by attacking him, causing Zidane to be ejected and weakening his team to a degree that I felt cost France the game. Was there something in the collective unconscious of les Bleus that didn’t want France to win its second world title, following on the great triumph of 1998?” Harpers


England 1 West Germany 1* World Cup semi-final, 4 July 1990, Stade delle Alpi, Turin

July 13, 2018

“English football was reborn on the fourth of July. Umpteen factors contributed to the game in this country becoming both richer and poorer; by far the most significant was England’s Italia 90 campaign and particularly the glorious failure against West Germany in the semi-final on Wednesday 4 July 1990. England’s campaign started as a Carry-On film and ended as an operatic epic. The ultimate consequence was the Premier League, prawn sandwiches, Sky, Wags and the rest. All that may well have happened eventually, but it would have done so at a different time and in a different way.” The Blizzard


How Zinedine Zidane’s flawed genius defined the 2006 World Cup

July 10, 2018

“Everyone remembers the headbutt, but not so much what came before. The background to that defining moment in the career of Zinedine Zidane – and the history of the French national team – has been lost in the stark brutality of such an arresting image. A thrilling journey has been forgotten, completely overlooked in favour of the tragic destination. In the final moments of the 2006 World Cup final, with the score at 1-1 and penalties on the way, Zidane planted his head firmly into the chest of Italy defender Marco Materazzi.” The Set Pieces (Video)


Did Pelé–by playing a match in Nigeria–cause a ceasefire during the Biafran War?

July 10, 2018

“The story goes that in 1969 the great Brazilian footballer Pelé and his club, Santos, stopped the Nigerian civil war for 48 hours as the warring factions (Nigeria and Biafra) put aside their differences for a couple of days for Santos to play in the country. But did this really happen? And how come the world’s greatest player came to Nigeria in the first place? In this essay, I look back through the archives in search of the real story of Pelé in Nigeria.” Africa is a Country, W – Nigerian Civil War


Lev Ivanovich Yashin 1929-1990

July 7, 2018


“The greatest goalkeeper of them all, Lev Yashin revolutionised his position and became a hero of the Soviet Union. This summer, the image of him flying high will be seen by millions of people because it is Yashin who is on the 2018 Fifa World Cup poster. He was an international star and an iconic figure, famous for his black outfit and flat cap. But he had his childhood torn away in a country ravaged by war and died aged 60 after a retirement plagued by ill health that led to him losing a leg.” BBC, W – Lev Ivanovich Yashin, YouTube: The Legendary Goalkeeper


How to improve the World Cup? Scrap penalties and move the goalposts

July 4, 2018

Penalty shootouts are an offence against the greatest of team games, association football. They are a lottery, doctored to add tension, personal agony, group ecstasy and nationalist hysteria, for the benefit of television. They are to sport what Love Island is to Romeo and Juliet. Before shootouts were introduced in the World Cup in 1978 (although the first time one was needed was in 1982), coins were tossed if nothing could be decided on the field. No triumphalism was attached to the winner. But since coin-tossing was boring, it was replaced by what amounted to the public execution of individual players who missed. Team effort was replaced by unarmed combat.” Guardian (Video)


Melilla, Morocco vs. Spain and the World Cup’s Unique Football Rivalry

June 27, 2018

“On Monday night in Russia’s Kaliningrad Stadium, Morocco played Spain in another thrilling FIFA World Cup match. It was the first time the two countries—which have had a love-hate relationship for over a millennium—met since a two-legged 1962 World Cup playoffs tie. Nowhere on earth—with the exception of Ceuta—had the match such political resonances than in Melilla, which is, along with Ceuta, a Spanish enclave on Moroccan soil. Melilla, with its wide boulevards, modernist buildings and tapas bars, has a distinctly Spanish feel. Palm trees abound.” Bleacher Report


Algerian history as graphic novel: “The past flows into the future”

June 27, 2018

“The football World Cup of 1958 is mainly remembered for two men. The first is Pelé, and the second is Just Fontaine. On the way to the semi final, which they lost to Brazil, Fontaine scored thirteen goals for France, still a world cup record. France beat Germany in the play-off to finish the tournament in third. Absent from Les Bleues throughout the tournament was Rachid Mekhloufi, a twenty-one year old forward who played for Saint Étienne.” Africa is a Country


The Great Disgrace

June 25, 2018

“Two days before his eleventh birthday Richard Gaulke straddled his bicycle, the one without gears, and pedalled the fifteen miles from his hometown Monheim to Düsseldorf, where Germany were playing the Netherlands. Germany won 4-2. A Bayern Munich forward scored a hat-trick on his debut. His name was Josef Pöttinger. There were 60,000 on hand and they went wild. The date was 18 April 1926. It was Richard Gaulke’s first international. He was hooked for life.” The Blizzard


World Cup 2018: Senegal’s Art of the Unforeseen

June 21, 2018

“If Africa were a single country, its history and founding myths could be narrated around thrilling episodes of ‘the beautiful game’ on the world stage. Ask any not-so-young African what their best memories of the World Cup are, and you may hear about that day in 1982 when Algeria beat the mighty West Germany—at the pre-game press conference, a German player had quipped, ‘We will dedicate our seventh goal to our wives, and the eighth to our dogs.’ No one had told him, one suspects, about the Algerian team’s proud past, during the country’s anti-colonial struggle in 1958, as flag-bearers for a nation fighting for freedom.”  NYBooks


When Cameroon Convinced Themselves They Couldn’t Win

June 21, 2018

“If the spirits of Frantz Fanon and Steve Biko were hovering unseen above a football stadium in Naples in July, 1990, they would not have liked what they saw. But they would have found it sadly predictable. The stadium hosted a World Cup quarter-final between Cameroon and England. The more skilled team, Cameroon, lost. They were beaten not by England but by themselves.” Jacobon


‘All the gods were with us’: Salif Diao tells the inside story of Senegal’s historic campaign at the 2002 World Cup

June 18, 2018

“When Bruno Metsu told the Senegal players that beating France would be “an earthquake in the world”, he did not just have an eye on future history books. He also had a problem he wanted to go away. The team’s achievements has since consigned it to the footnotes of the story, but before their first game at the 2002 World Cup the Senegal team was engulfed by scandal.” Independent


Poets and Scoundrels of the Beautiful Game

June 17, 2018

“The 2018 World Cup is now upon us, promising to call forth heartaches, hallelujahs, and wonder as part of a universal, even unifying passion. Yet the joy that millions take in it is polluted by foul, for-profit priorities, violent classism, and discrimination. As left-wing soccer fans plot a course between these dueling components, there’s no better to guide for navigating the game’s darkness and lights than the late Uruguayan author and activist Eduardo Galeano.” Jacobin


Paolo Rossi: Redemption and the crushing of the Brazilian dream

May 23, 2018


“In nature there’s a brutal truth about something beautiful always getting its comeuppance. Whether it’s a doe-eyed mammal striding elegantly across the plain or a beatific panfish darting deep between the oceans, there is always the waiting mechanics of a set of teeth ready to devastate its backbone. Football always comes full circle like that too. The beautiful game can’t defy the laws of the system forever, nor its progression. In a thrilling game in the 1982 World Cup, that philosophy would play out beautifully. …” Football Pink (Video)


10 Greatest World Cup Matches

May 18, 2018


The 1966 World Cup Final makes our list of the best matches in World Cup history.
“The World Cup has seen some of the greatest matches ever take place, so bearing that in mind we have put together ten of the best. From amazing goals, to spectacular moments, these matches have helped write World Cup history. …” World Soccer


27 days to go: Record-setting Mighty Magyars

May 18, 2018

“27 – With their exceptional individual skill and outstanding team play, this generation of Hungarian footballers were unsurprisingly known as the ‘Golden Team’ or the ‘Mighty Magyars’. Most of the side also played their club football for Honved in Budapest, which meant they could string together passes and find each other effortlessly when representing the national team. The legendary names of Sandor Kocsis, Nandor Hidegkuti and, above all, Ferenc Puskas, have been etched permanently in the history books of Hungarian and world football. …” FIFA (Video)


Reliving Giants Stadium

April 29, 2018

“The 1994 World Cup in America was the first for Luke Constable of the brilliantly named RGSOAS (Ruud Gullit Sitting on a Shed). His native England hadn’t qualified but thanks to his Irish grandfather, Luke was rooting for the Republic. Having missed the full game with Italy, the myth around the match had grown. Houghton’s goal and McGrath’s performance became legendary as the years went on. Luke has never seen the game in its entirety…until now. …” Pog Mo Goal


Will Carlo Ancelotti be Italy’s next manager?

April 29, 2018

“The deadline the FIGC gave for the announcement of the new Italy manager is fast approaching. Billy Costacurta, one of commissioner Roberto Fabbricini’s deputies, promised Giampiero Ventura’s permanent successor would be in place by May 20.  His former teammate and manager, Carlo Ancelotti, has always been the frontrunner. The last elected FIGC president, Carlo Tavecchio wanted him in situ immediately after Sweden qualified for this summer’s World Cup at Italy’s expense. …” Investobet


The legendary Luis Monti

April 13, 2018


“Luis Monti was known as ‘Doble Ancho’ (Double Wide) because of his impressive physique. He wasn’t particularly tall, measuring just 1.70m, but he had an imposing presence. He was a tough midfielder, although he always played with a sense of fair play. Monti began his career with Club Huracán, but he soon ended up at San Lorenzo de Almagro, with his brother Enrique. After his arrival in 1922, he soon established himself as a dominant midfielder in the Buenos Aires’ club’s Gasómetro stadium, winning three league titles in 1923, 1924 and 1927. Through his hard work, he was called up to the Argentinian national team in 1924, where he played a crucial role in reaching the Final of the World Cup in Uruguay in 1930. …” FIFA


World Cup stunning moments: The Battle of Santiago

March 22, 2018


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


World Cup stunning moments: Cameroon shock Argentina in 1990 World Cup

March 22, 2018

“Of the great World Cup upsets – the USA’s victory over England in 1950, North Korea’s over Italy in 1966 and Algeria’s over West Germany in 1982 probably push it close – this one stands alone in myth and memory. It was not a perfect match but it was an irresistible narrative, as the World Cup champions, led by the great Diego Maradona, were vanquished by an unheralded team largely assembled of journeymen players from the French lower divisions – though for some of them even that was either an impossible dream or a distant memory. …” Guardian (Video)


Great Goals That Weren’t: Diego Maradona vs England (1980)

February 22, 2018

“Barry Davies said it best. Four minutes after Diego Maradona had broken the deadlock by punching the ball into England’s net in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup, the Argentinian genius collected possession in his own half, dribbled past five opponents (including goalkeeper Peter Shilton) and gave his country a 2-0 lead which would prove unassailable. …” The Set Pieces (Video)


The Last Cup of Sorrow – the story of the Anglo-Italian Cup

January 30, 2018

“MATTHEW CRIST remembers a short-lived and short-loved relic of the 60s which was reincarnated for football’s boom time in the 90s but eventually fell foul of supporter apathy and violence both on and off the pitch. The arrival of the 1990s provided something of a watershed for English football. The national side had shone at Italia ‘90, club sides were once again able to compete in Europe after a five-year ban, and Channel 4’s live Italian football coverage beamed a host of new names and faces into our living rooms for the first time; not to mention the introduction of the Premier League, which promised us a whole new ball game. …” Football Pink


Why the ‘greatest footballer in the world’ is buried in an Egyptian war cemetery

January 30, 2018

“England 1 Scotland 5. Saturday, 31 March 1928. Wembley. Att: 80,868. The spartan, light-coloured gravestone looks like any other in Fayid War Cemetery. Just one of hundreds arranged into formal, regimented rows on an incongruous patch of land on the western shore of Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake. There, at the mid point of the Suez Canal, lie men who died after serving in the Second World War. Men such as Major AS Jackson. The conflict was over by the time Jackson was killed on 15 November 1946. His end came after he lost control of a truck near his base in the Suez Zone, suffering serious head injuries. The 41-year-old died before he reached hospital. …” The Set Pieces


An Englishman Abroad

January 26, 2018

“Thirty years ago this summer, Gary Lineker came to the end of a highly successful first season with Barcelona. Signed from Everton after his exploits with England at the 1986 World Cup, where he won the Golden Boot, he was an instant hit at Camp Nou, scoring a match-winning hat-trick against Real Madrid in the Clásico and finishing his first season with 21 goals. …” The Blizzard


“And Smith must score” – the worst misses are the ones that truly mattered

November 21, 2017

“20 November ~ Right, let me do a quick mention of famous televised misses, to make it look as if I’ve seen them all, then we’ll move on to missed chances that mattered, because that’s all I know about. On the screen, nobody missed a more open goal than Ronny Rosenthal, who hit the bar, or Roger Davies of Derby, who went past the keeper at Stamford Bridge, then knocked the ball past the post as he staggered after it. They’re probably on a video with all the others, accompanied by a They Think It’s All Over-type soundtrack. …” WSC (Video)


Romania 4 Yugoslavia 6: World Cup qualifier, Ghencea Stadium, Bucharest, 13 November 1977

November 17, 2017

“In his interview with Dragan Stojković in Issue Two of The Blizzard, Andrew McKirdy asked, “Serbian and Yugoslavian football has a history of drama and highs and lows. Do you think this reflects the Serbian psyche and do you think this is true of you?” Stojković is an intelligent man and a good talker, but his answer missed the point. He spoke about bad organisation, poor leadership, a refusal to take responsibility and the lack of a professional mindset, but he didn’t touch the painful truth. The history of drama and highs and lows derives to a large extent from a confused national psyche that leads it simultaneously to overestimate itself and to have an inferiority complex. …” The Blizzard


The greatest Irish team that didn’t qualify for the World Cup

October 27, 2017

“It was the qualifying campaign for the 1982 World Cup, and Ireland had been drawn in what you could call a ‘tough’ group with the Netherlands, France, Belgium, and Cyprus. The world’s media (and even certain sections of the Irish media) gave the footballing minnows no chance of qualification, and to a certain degree, they were right. Ireland would not qualify, but it had very little to do with the perceived lack of quality. …” Football Pink


The Best Soccer Teams in History to Miss Out on Qualifying for the World Cup

October 8, 2017


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“As World Cup qualification reaches its final stages, a number of major nations find themselves in danger of missing out on Russia 2018. As Argentina, the Netherlands, Chile and Ghana struggle to make it, and with reigning African champion Cameroon already eliminated, we look back at the most shocking failures to qualify in World Cup history. …” SI – Jonathan Wilson


The best World Cup format–that FIFA would never consider

December 8, 2016

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“The World Cup might grow to 40 teams, or it might wind up with 48. It might be eight groups of five or four groups of 10, or there might be 16 seeds and a straight 32-team knockout round to get to join them in the format we have now. Or it might be 16 groups of three. Either way, the endless gigantism stimulated by FIFA presidential elections, as candidates promise more and more nations that they, too, can play in a World Cup, means that the competition will be even more bloated, even more unwieldy by then. Of course, this is 2026 we’re talking about, so there’s a significant chance global political elections by then will mean that by then, as George Orwell foresaw, it’s just three teams: Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Bulgaria 1994

October 20, 2016

“In the modern technological age, it’s quite easy to take for granted the vast amounts of information available to us about people and cultures from across the globe- the fact that we can, for instance, watch local news broadcasts from Papua New Guinea on Youtube or Snapchat with people working in a scientific base in Antarctica is no big deal. But for those of us who grew up in the late 80s and early 90s- a generation now popularly known as ‘millennials’- vast swathes of the world’s populations, despite experiencing unprecedented levels of social and political change at the time, still seemed so mysterious.” In Bed With Maradono


Desert fire: the world cup rebels of Kurdistan

October 16, 2016

“Football’s world cup for unrecognised territories is viewed through the eyes of the manager and players of one of the most fascinating teams, Iraqi Kurdistan. In summer 2016, an extraordinary tournament took place: football’s ‘rebel’ world cup for stateless nations, minority ethnic groups and unrecognised territories. This surreal and vibrant spectacle is viewed through the eyes of the Kurdistan players and coach.” Football Pink (Video)


Uno: La Historia De Un Gol (One: The Story Of A Goal)

September 15, 2016

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“While a bloody civil war rages at home, El Salvador’s national team travels to Spain for the 1982 World Cup — one of only two World Cup tournaments the nation has ever qualified for. In their opening match, they lose to Hungary, 10-1 – still the most lopsided defeat in World Cup history. But that goal, that one goal, scored by Luis Ramirez Zapata, remains a symbol of pride and joy for the tiny nation. This is the story of that goal and its continuing legacy.” Kicking and Screening (Video)


Britain’s “other” national team: Ellan Vannin

June 2, 2015

“The four national teams of the United Kingdom are supposedly England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Each with its own FIFA affiliated side, these nations have spanned generations and produced some wonderful footballers, and in the case of England have even won the FIFA World Cup, triumphing by a margin of 4-2 over West Germany in 1966 – a fond memory to those who witnessed that historic match.” Football Pink


1927: A Look Back At Our Last Semi Final

April 16, 2015

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“How long ago was Reading’s last FA Cup semi final? So long ago that the name of the country we live in was still the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The acknowledgement that the Irish Free State was no longer part of the Kingdom was only to take place a month after our defeat to Cardiff. In January that year the BBC as we know it came into existence. Amazingly it was November 1927 when traffic lights first appeared on our streets. If you were looking for excitement in the 1920s then there was only one place you would head: Berlin. The German capital was enjoying its decedent vibrant heyday whilst Germany as a whole looked to be slowly rebuilding itself as a democracy having joined the League of Nations a year before.” SBN (Video)


Italy at Argentina ’78 – Bearzot leads the renaissance

April 3, 2015

“When the Romantics of Brazil imploded in Barcelona’s Sarria Stadium against an unfancied Italy in the second group phase of the 1982 World Cup, the purists’ dreams died, and Italy’s eventual triumph in Madrid just days later was greeted with largely grudging acknowledgment. Italy’s victory in Spain is often advanced as some kind of immoral victory of Roundheads over Cavaliers. In truth, it was no such thing.” backpagefootball


Golden goal: Paolo Di Canio for West Ham v Wimbledon (2000)

March 22, 2015

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“If you came here looking for a brief recap of Paul Weiland’s 2006 film, Sixty Six, then you are in luck. The story of a Jewish boy whose Shabbos spirit was dampened by his barmitzvah tragically falling on the same day as the World Cup final between England and West Germany in 1966 (spoiler alert: England win in controversial circumstances) was a niche topic that was met with mixed reviews, but it struck a resounding chord with me.” Guardian (Video)


In Search Of Eusebio

January 9, 2015

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“As one year ends and another begins, the football world looks back on the marvels of Atletico Madrid’s La Liga triumph and Germany’s 7-1 rout of Brazil. Here in southern Africa, the landmark event of 2014 was the death of our region’s greatest-ever player. I did not think about Eusebio when I used to go to Mozambique. In the mid-nineties the country, wearily emerging from years of civil war, seemed far removed from the world of football stars. Skull-and-crossbones signs, tacked to trees, marked the margins of the Beira Corridor, the Tête Corridor, and the spectacularly cratered road from Ressano Garcia to the capital. The signs declared, not a country devoted to Orlando Pirates, but one riddled with landmines. It is a short distance from South Africa to Maputo. Still, having reached the Indian Ocean, it could take a week to clear a load from the Frigo customs yard in the city. While one waited, there were chances for exploring. Much remained from the old LM, the place Eusebio knew in his childhood.” In Bed With Maradona


Happy Birthday Paul McGrath: Reliving Giants Stadium

December 10, 2014

“To celebrate the 55th birthday of one of the greatest of them all, Paul McGrath, we’re reposting Reliving Giants Stadium. The 1994 World Cup in America was the first for Luke Constable of the brilliantly named RGSOAS (Ruud Gullit Sitting on a Shed). His native England hadn’t qualified but thanks to his Irish grandfather, Luke was rooting for the Republic. Having missed the full game with Italy, the myth around the match had grown. Houghton’s goal and McGrath’s performance became legendary as the years went on. Luke has never seen the game in its entirety…until now.” Póg Mo Goal


Maracana Upset Brings Robson Breathing Space

October 6, 2014

“If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same… A Kipling today might have been tempted to add: You’ll be a successful football manager. For his words possess a sympathetic ring for England boss Bobby Robson. He took his battered, depleted England squad off to South America under round condemnation for the manner — rather than the size — of a 2-0 Wembley defeat by the Soviet Union. He returned with a balanced record of three games played, one won, one drawn and one lost. Respectable by any light. Doubly so in general, international opinion because of that 2-0 victory over Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. Yet critical echoes accompanied Robson and Co on the long flight home from Santiago because the ensuing displays and results against Uruguay and a dismal Chilean Olympic team didn’t match up to the expectations raised in Maracana.” In Bed With Maradona


Lament For A Lost Scotland

September 21, 2014

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“Only those who have to take off their shoes when they want to count to twenty will ever believe Scotland will one day win the World Cup. There is more chance of Ronald Reagan being voted Man of the Year by the Russians than Scotland achieving total global success. This line of thinking, of course, will shock no one. Just over five years ago Ally MacLeod brainwashed the Tartan Army into actually believing the world was about to be conquered in Argentina and Bruce Rioch was only a fortnight or so away from claiming a very expensive and coveted chunk of gold. Let’s not dwell on that nightmarish episode. Scotland’s balloon wasn’t so much punctured as blown to smithereens. There was an eruption of eggs on the faces of the Scottish fans who genuinely believed Scotland would overcome all the obstacles that stood in the way of their heroes. Peru and Iran changed that state of mind.” In Bed With Maradona (Video)


The Curious Case of Hungarian football

August 3, 2014

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“There was a time where Hungarian football was a global force, it’s clubs reckoned with and it’s players among the elite of the sport. It’s now a shadow of what it once was. Ilija Trojanovic takes a look at what happened to the country in the beautiful game, and how the political situation had a positive and eventually negative role to play.” Outside of the Boot


Explaining the difference between Germany’s and Italy’s World Cup wins

July 22, 2014

July 15, 2014. “As Germany evens Italy’s four World Cups, Brazil 2014 teaches us a lesson on the difference between Germany and Italy: the former win when they should, the latter win when they shouldn’t. On the day in which Germany pulled even with Italy, winning their fourth World Cup (they both trail Brazil with five) the two European football giants have never been so distant. And this isn’t just because the Nationalmannschaft literally dominated this Brazilian edition while Italy languished miserably, failing to qualify for the R-16 for the second straight time. This World Cup actually teaches us a lesson on how deeply different the Azzurri and the Germans are, even at football.” Bundesliga Fanatic


Zé Carlos: from selling watermelons to World Cup semi-final

July 19, 2014

“Zé Carlos knew he didn’t belong here. He stood out like a sore thumb. He looked across the training field at his squad mates: the laughing and joking duo of Roberto Carlos and Denílson, the lantern jawed Claudio Taffarel and Dunga both brimming with experience, the mercurial Ronaldo with the world at his feet. And Cafu, the legendary full-back who he was assigned to replace; whatever planet this was it wasn’t his.” World Soccer (Video)


The Ball

July 17, 2014

“Omar Larossa played over 400 times for Boca and Argentinos Juniors, Huracan and Independiente, winning four domestic titles and the 1978 FIFA World Cup.  Now, flanked by Boca and national team luminaries Alfredo Rojas, Silvio Marzolini and Antonio Rattin on a low stage inside La Bombonera, he begins to explain how it felt to lift the trophy to his lips. “I wish I could tell you, to put into words, but whenever I think of that moment…”  His voice wobbles, tears begin to well.  Unprompted, a Special Olympics athlete – one of 35 young players Boca provide free weekly training sessions for – moves out of the crowd to give the world champion a hug.  “It’s ok,” he says as the two remain interlocked, the rest of the room silent. “Thank you,” Larossa replies. “Thank you.”In Bed With Maradona


Pelé and Garrincha – Gods of Brazil (Documentary)

July 16, 2014

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“Documentary telling the story of legendary Brazilian footballers Pele and Garrincha, whose emergence following Brazil’s defeat at home in the 1950 World Cup Final heralded the dawn of a golden age of football for the country. But while one man became known as the world’s greatest footballer, the other died a broken alcoholic at the age of 49.” YouTube: Gods of Brazil 1:09:59


Germany vs. Argentina, Part III

July 13, 2014

“Will it be the goal fest of 1986 or the negativity of 1990? History will repeat itself with an Argentina-Germany rematch in the World Cup final. But will we get the thrills of 1986 or the grotesqueness of 1990? Unfortunately, signs point to the prospect of a conservative, low-scoring affair on Sunday at the Maracanã. Nearly everyone realizes the best tactics against Germany are to pack it in and counterattack. (Everyone except Brazil, that is). And that has been Argentina’s approach, anyway, so there is little chance the Albiceleste will change.” Fusion


When the Only Soccer In the U.S. Was En Español

July 12, 2014

“In the 1980s and ’90s, most of the sport televised in this country was in Spanish. An American writer says gracias. It wasn’t always like this, flicking to and fro from ESPN to ESPN2, to hear soccer commentary in English: Derek Rae rolling his Scottish Rs; Steve McManaman in sing-songy Scouse-speak; or the Manchester basso profundo of Efan Ekoku. Nor, for that matter, did you hear the flat American accents of Alexi Lalas, Mike Tirico, or Kasey Keller (and, thank goodness, not that in-between-the-pond affectation of Brad Friedel). No, there was a time when the only soccer in this country was broadcast in foreign languages, mainly en Español. And this wasn’t a bad thing. On the contrary: It was glorious.” Fusion


How Germany Got its Game On

July 11, 2014

“Paul Breitner (1974, 1982). Spain, 1982. It was the saddest goal in a World Cup final. Paul Breitner reacted quickly to a loose ball in the Italian box, adjusted his body, and volleyed neatly into Dino Zoff’s bottom right corner. It was a goal that begged to be scored, had to be scored, but there was no joy, no sense of relief, not even hope. It wasn’t even a goal at all, really, but an anti-goal. It marked defeat, not victory. Breitner knew it. He raised his hand to acknowledge his inconsequential achievement and jogged back to the halfway line. Nobody came over to congratulate him. The West Germany vice captain looked like a schoolboy who had come up to the board and solve a problem for which there is no solution. Seven minutes before the final whistle at the Santiago Bernabéu, the time was up—for the World Cup (West Germany were 3-1 down against the Azzurri), for Breitner’s team, and for Breitner himself. …” 8 of 8


25 of the best World Cup photos ever – in pictures

July 11, 2014

“Our sports picture editor, Jonny Weeks, has trawled the archives to pick out some of the best World Cup images ever taken. From the iconic shot of Diego Maradona taking on six Belgium players in 1982 – the real story of which can be read here – to the moment John Aldridge went berserk on the touchline at USA ’94, the shots range from the eye-catching to the unorthodox, the unforgettable to the bizarre. Beneath each image is a short explanation of why it made the cut.” Guardian


O Jogo Bonito

July 10, 2014

“A little more than halfway through Brazil’s horrible, galling victory over Colombia last Friday, I began to wonder what type of foul might actually persuade the Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo to issue a yellow card: A studs-up, two-footed, kung-fu fly-kick to the chest, like the one launched by Eric Cantona against a fan in the stands back in 1995? Any one of the number of egregious fouls, including punches to the head, committed by Italy against Chile, and then by Chile on Italy, in the infamous Battle of Santiago in World Cup 1962? Maybe multiple Suárez-type bites by a hyena pack of players on a prostrate Colombian felled by a scything tackle might have done the trick.” The Paris Review – Jonathan Wilson


Spain ’82: My First World Cup

July 9, 2014

“The first World Cup I remember was Spain ’82. I was eleven and in my fifth year of primary school and living at the Holy Child Teacher Training College, in Ikot Ekpene, in southern Nigeria, where my mother taught home economics. This is about an hour from my village. It was two years since I watched Nigeria’s Green Eagles (as they were called then) defeat Algeria to lift the African Cup of Nations for the first time, in 1980. I remember the three goals against the Desert Foxes, or Les Fennecs, by Segun (Mathematical) Odegbami and Muda Lawal and the celebrations that swept through the land. The image of our captain, Christian (Chairman) Chukwu, lifting the cup after the game was something to behold.” New Yorker


Shades of Oranje

June 25, 2014

“France ’98 remains the standard for World Cups in my lifetime. The number of great players in their prime, the quality of the games in the knockout rounds, the last-second drama of the now (thankfully) abolished Golden Goal—a rule by which the first team to score a goal in extra time won—it all proved irresistible. France as a nation had turned to embrace the right, and up had risen the National Front; nevertheless, people traveled in happy droves to spend days, if not weeks, in their dream of Romantic France. During those June days, football flourished under what should have been a crushing paradox of love and hate, more felt than fully understood.” The Paris Review


The World Cup’s top 100 footballers of all time – interactive

June 23, 2014

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6. Johan Cruyff
“Welcome to the Guardian’s choice of the World Cup’s top 100 footballers. Led by Lothar Matthäus and Zico, our international panel of 40 experts compiled a countdown of the finest players to grace the globe’s greatest sporting event. You can see who the judges are and read how we compiled the list here. Starting with No1 in the top left corner, click on the individual players to read more about them.” Guardian


Garrincha

June 19, 2014

GARRINCHA 3
“Manuel Francisco dos Santos (28 October 1933 – 20 January 1983), known by the nickname ‘Garrincha’ (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɡaˈʁĩʃɐ], ‘little bird’), was a Brazilian footballer who played right winger and forward. He is regarded by many as the best dribbler in football history. The word garrincha itself means wren. Garrincha was also known as Mané (short for Manuel) by his friends. The combined ‘Mané Garrincha’ is common among fans in Brazil. Due to his immense popularity in Brazil, he was also called Alegria do Povo (Joy of the People) and Anjo de Pernas Tortas (Angel with Bent Legs).” Wikipedia

YouTube: Garrincha – The Genius of Dribble ( Documentary ) Part 1, Part 2


Restored Footage from the First World Cup: Uruguay, 1930

June 18, 2014

“The 19th FIFA World Cup is now underway in Brazil, and that gives us an excuse to revisit the first World Cup, played in July, 1930 in Uruguay. Only 13 teams participated in the tournament, and all matches were played in Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital. In the semi-finals, the United States lost to Argentina, 6-1. Uruguay crushed Yugoslavia by the same score. In the end, Uruguay, the favorites all along, triumphed over Argentina (4-2) before a home crowd of 93,000, to become the winner of the inaugural FIFA World Cup.” Open Culture (Video)