Mexico World Cup squad prediction 2.0

June 22, 2022


“This past FIFA window for Mexico was replete with many of the same narratives that dominated their World Cup qualifying campaign. Goals were scarce, the team’s supposed stars underperformed and the Fuera Tata chants were heard in matches that were played both in the United States and in Mexico. Each one of those realities will shape Mexico’s run up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Head coach Tata Martino must solve El Tri’s goal drought, and perhaps recall Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernadez, Mexico’s all-time leading scorer, in order to do so. …”
The Athletic


How Canada used the 4-4-2 to success in World Cup Qualifying

April 6, 2022


“After thirteen long, hard-fought games, the Canadian Men’s National Team have officially qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. With 8 wins, 4 draws and just 1 loss in the final stage of qualifying, John Herdman’s men sealed their spot with a game to spare, after thumping Jamaica by a smashing score-line of 4-0. In the final stages of the competition, Canada smartly stuck by a 4-4-2 formation, maintaining consistency and chemistry en route to an impressive run to the finish line. Here is our analysis of how Canada used the 4-4-2 to success, and stood strong to stand on guard for thee. …”
The Mastermindsite


The 2022 World Cup draw analysed: ‘The Group of Dark Arts’, favourites France and that song

April 2, 2022


“Cringe-inducing cartoon meant to engage with no youngster we have ever met? Check. Song-and-dance routine combing local colour with avant-garde twist? Check. A massive advert for the official ball (the fastest ever, no less)? Yep, we had that, too, and several speeches, a first performance of the first song from the official Qatar 2022 album and a very contrived moment with France manager Didier Deschamps and a young lad who was in the crowd in Moscow four years ago. The 47 minutes of preamble before the draw for the 2022 World Cup at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre flew by! …”
The Athletic (Video)
NY Times – World Cup Draw Highlights: Matchups Let Teams Look Ahead to November
Guardian – World Cup draw: group-by-group analysis for Qatar 2022 – Jonathan Wilson
NY Times: World Cup Draw Brings Certainty. Now Comes the Hard Part.
The Athletic: With a marquee World Cup meeting vs. England, USMNT has a chance to change its perception writ large
BBC – Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022: What are the draw highlights? (Video)


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

April 1, 2022


“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


Despite a pair of horrible misses, the USMNT leaves the Azteca in good shape

March 26, 2022


“The final celebration was muted, more of a full-body manifestation of a sigh of relief than an explosion of joy: A fist pump, a high-five, a slap on the back and a quick exit to field level to congratulate the team. Not that U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart and U.S. men’s national team GM Brian McBride were that composed for the duration of the USMNT’s critical 0-0 draw against Mexico at Estadio Azteca on Thursday night. The former U.S. internationals, who both played in qualifiers at the Azteca, were visibly tense throughout, watching the match on a platform near the press tribune in the upper bowl of the cavernous stadium. The pair spent most of the game in a strained silence that was only punctuated by brief moments of encouraging applause and a couple instances of agonizing disbelief. Their anxiety was understandable. …”
The Athletic (Video)
The Athletic – ‘Positive disappointment’: After struggles in Mexico, a young USMNT must show their resilience once again
NY Times: U.S. Ties Mexico as World Cup Remains Just Out of Reach (Video)


Liga MX suspended as Fifa condemns ‘barbaric’ riot that leaves dozens injured in Mexico

March 7, 2022


The match between Queretaro and Atlas was in its 63rd minute when fights between opposing fans broke out
“At least 26 people were injured, including three critically, on Saturday when fans brawled during a football game in central Mexico. The Liga MX match between the hosts Queretaro and Atlas from Guadalajara was suspended in the 62nd minute when fights broke out in the stands. Security personnel opened the gates to the field so that fans, including women and children, could escape the stands. …”
Guardian
Dozens injured as fans clash at Mexico football match


Portugal 1986: Part 1: A Troubled Beginning, Part 2: The Saltillo Affair

March 2, 2022


“Playing in a World Cup is the pinnacle of a player or coach’s career. To test yourself in the world’s premier tournament is the ultimate challenge and a dream come true for many footballers. However, there are times when the dream of participating in a World Cup can turn into a nightmare. No country would have such a nightmare of a tournament than Portugal in 1986. Prior to the mid-1980s, Portugal were unable to build on the success of the 1960s, where Portugal finished third in the 1966 World Cup and Benfica won back to back European Cups in 1961/62 under the coaching of Béla Guttmann. Since then, Portugal had failed to qualify for a World Cup or European Championship. …”
Breaking the Lines: Part 1, Part 2
W – Saltillo Affair
The Saltillo affair – the story of Portugal at Mexico ’86


How to Strengthen Cross-Border Ties Between U.S. and Mexican Pro Soccer

February 24, 2022


“You’d be forgiven for not knowing what the Leagues Cup is. The annual series featuring eight teams—four from Liga MX and four from Major League Soccer—hasn’t garnered much enthusiasm since it began in 2019. It has the feel of an exhibition tournament awkwardly placed on the calendar, lacking the history and high stakes necessary to make it a credible competition. The Leagues Cup was in many ways more significant for what it represented: the possibility of a union between the two largest professional leagues in North America. Consolidating Liga MX and MLS makes a world of sense. It would bundle the popularity and prestige of the Mexican league with the commercial power of the American and Canadian markets. …”
The Ringer (Audio)


Forge FC 0-1 Cruz Azul – Match Analysis

February 19, 2022


“While they won’t be overly pleased with the result, Forge FC continue to showcase just how far soccer has come in Canada, going toe to toe with Cruz Azul in their first appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League this season. Cruz may have dominated the match, but Forge put up a valiant fight to the end, and could have easily secured an important result on a different day. Here is our tactical analysis of Forge’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Mexican giants Cruz Azul, and how the Hammers should progress into the second-leg. …”
Mastermindsite


How Atlas FC broke a 70-year title drought and completed its ‘transformación’

December 27, 2021


“When Atlas FC striker Julio Furch stepped up to the penalty spot in the Liga MX final against Club León last Sunday, he was poised to end 120 minutes of intense football and 70 years of anguish for the Guadalajara-based club. The capacity crowd at Atlas Estadio Jalisco were in the beginning stages of celebratory fervor. Atlas’ Colombian international goalkeeper Camilo Vargas, who joined the club in 2019, had just saved León’s fifth penalty in a shootout. A make from Furch would seal the title for Atlas. …”
The Athletic (Video)


The World’s First Football Match

December 13, 2021


“The first ever football match did not take place between the Old Etonians and Darwen FC, it did not take place around the formation The FA (the oldest football association in the world), it did not even take place with a game of Cuju in ancient China. It dates back even further, and took place in Mesoamerica. As David Goldblatt explains. Marco Bevilacqua illustrates.”
YouTube (Video)


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

November 19, 2021


“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


U.S. Beats Mexico and Then Rubs It In

November 14, 2021


Weston McKennie and his teammates beat Mexico with goals and then taunted them in song.
“Michael Jackson’s 1988 song ‘Man in the Mirror’ — a classic tune, but no one’s idea of a rousing sports arena jam — was blaring over the stadium speakers late on Friday night as the U.S. men’s soccer team rollicked and embraced happily on the field. A bit less than half an hour earlier, Christian Pulisic had charged toward the sideline to celebrate the first of the Americans’ goals in their 2-0 victory against Mexico, lifting the front of his No. 10 jersey to reveal the same phrase, ‘Man in the Mirror,’ scrawled in permanent marker on his white undershirt. At that moment, even reasonably well-informed American soccer fans might have been left scratching their heads at the references, struggling to understand what, exactly, was afoot. …”
NY Times (Video)


USA-Mexico: 5 things to know about El Tri before crucial World Cup qualifier

November 12, 2021


“So begins Mexico’s most challenging – and most frigid – World Cup qualifying window. Following a promising start to the Octagonal with four wins and two draws, manager Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino and his squad will now embark on a demanding two-game away trip against the United States (Nov. 12) and Canada (Nov. 16). There’s much more than just World Cup qualifying points on the line here. After already losing to the USMNT twice this year in the Nations League and Gold Cup finals, Mexico will seek to avoid a potential third consecutive defeat since June. As for Canada, Mexico have had some issues with John Herdman’s team after narrowly defeating them 2-1 in the Gold Cup semifinals and being held to a 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw at the Estadio Azteca in October. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. …”
MLS Soccer (Video)


El Gráfico

November 3, 2021


Heleno de Freitas (Boca)
El Gráfico is an Argentine online sports magazine, originally published by Editorial Atlántida as a print publication between 1919 and 2018. El Gráfico was released in May 1919 as a weekly newspaper, and then turned to a sports magazine exclusively. It began to be scheduled monthly from 2002, and was discontinued in 2018, continuing only on internet. El Gráfico is widely the most regarded sports magazine in Argentina and Latin America. The magazine was nicknamed La Biblia del deporte (‘The Bible of sports’) due to its chronicles, notable journalists and collaborators and its photographies. … The best selling era of El Gráfico was during the 1986 FIFA World Cup when Argentina crowned champion, with 690,998 sold. The second place in the ranking of all-time best seller magazine is for the 1978 FIFA World Cup with 595,924. Diego Maradona was the sports man with the most appearances on the cover: 134, followed by Daniel Passarella (58) and Norberto Alonso (54). …”
Wikipedia
Angels with Dirty Faces – Jonathan Wilson: 15 – Our Way
Diego Maradona: A genius and the soul of a nation – Jonathan Wilson
El Pibe del Barrio: Understanding the Latin American archetype and what it means for U.S. Soccer


Le Tigre: André-Pierre Gignac and a Mexican revolución

October 16, 2021


“Football is nothing without its mavericks. Unfathomable men and women whose exploits on and off the pitch keep opponents and teammates alike guessing. Players whose downright unpredictability forces fans to fall in love with them. In 2015, coming off the back of an impressive 21-goal haul for Marcelo Bielsa’s Marseille, André-Pierre Gignac rejected El Loco’s offer to prolong his time on the French Riviera and did something thoroughly unexpected, moving 6,000 miles west to Monterrey, Mexico. Narrative is a powerful thing. … Turning down such offers ensured that Gignac had carved his name into the heart of every Tigers fan before he even kicked a ball. …”
These Football Times
W – André-Pierre Gignac
YouTube: Gignac Scoring the most Outrageous Goals in Mexico !!


Chasing New Revenue, FIFA Is Considering Major Move to U.S.

October 4, 2021


FIFA officials toured the United States in September, visiting possible host cities for the 2026 World Cup.
“Looking to expand its global footprint beyond its cloistered headquarters next to a zoo on the outskirts of Zurich, soccer’s governing body, FIFA, is studying the feasibility of moving its financial engine, the commercial operation that produces billions of dollars in revenues for the organization, to the United States. The possible move will be determined by technical factors including the suitability of locations on both coasts, the ease of acquiring work visas for overseas staff members and tax rules, according to an official with direct knowledge of the discussions who declined to speak publicly because a final determination had yet to be made. The operations involved represent a vital part of FIFA’s business: They oversee FIFA’s sale of sponsorships and broadcasting rights, which represent some of the most lucrative properties in global sports. …”
NY Times


Mexico–United States soccer rivalry

September 23, 2021


“A sports rivalry exists between the national soccer teams of Mexico and the United States, widely considered the two major powers of CONCACAF. The first match was played in 1934, and the teams have met 72 times, with Mexico leading the overall series 36–15–21 (W–D–L). Matches between the two nations often attract much media attention, public interest, and comment in both countries. The U.S.-Mexico matches are widely attended; several matches at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico have drawn over 100,000 fans, and several matches at the Rose Bowl in the United States have drawn over 90,000 fans. The most important matchups take place in quadrennial FIFA World Cup qualification matches and major tournaments such as the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The rivalry plays out often in annual friendlies scheduled during the early months in U.S. cities with large Mexican American populations such as Los Angeles, Houston, and Chicago. …”
Wikipedia
Guardian: The beautiful chaos of the USA-Mexico rivalry has returned (Video)
ESPN – USMNT-Mexico rivalry, post-Nations League classic: What’s next? (Video)


USMNT, Ricardo Pepi shine against Honduras in second half of World Cup qualifier

September 9, 2021


“The U.S. men’s national team has gotten its World Cup qualifying campaign back on the rails with a 4-1 win over Honduras on Wednesday night. After entering halftime down 1-0, manager Gregg Berhalter made three substitutions to start the second half with aplomb. What ensued was a four-goal onslaught, as the USMNT climbed all the way to third in the Octagonal as the first international window comes to a close. It was a classic ‘tale of two halves’ type of match. After struggling in the 4-3-3, Berhalter lined his team up in a 3-4-3. What ensued was an even sloppier 45 minutes than any of the previous four intervals, with gaps galore in the midfield, between the back seven and the attack, and all over the defensive line. …”
The Athletic
NY Times: For U.S. Men’s Team, Win Salvages a Week They’d Rather Forget
Guardian: A brilliant 45 minutes against Honduras failed to mask US World Cup problems


What’s the Endgame in the M.L.S.-Liga MX Alliance?

August 26, 2021



“One could forgive the top soccer players in Mexico and the United States if they feel as if they have seen quite a lot of each other recently. When some of the best players from Mexico’s Liga MX lined up against some of the biggest stars from Major League Soccer in the M.L.S. All-Star Game on Wednesday night in Los Angeles, it was not — for a handful of them — the first time they had played an important match north of the border this summer. Whether in a series of new cross-border club competitions or in two important national team tournaments, the Nations League and Gold Cup, U.S.-Mexico matchups — in a variety of jersey colors — are now more frequent than ever. …”
NY Times


Gregg Berhalter’s Plan for American Men’s Soccer Is Working

August 3, 2021


Some two dozen players sat in neat rows of chairs and peered at the projector screen in front of them, waiting for the tracksuited man to start the meeting. ‘I’m Gregg Berhalter, head coach,’ he announced, as if anybody in the room didn’t already know it. So began Berhalter’s first training camp in charge of the United States men’s national soccer team in January 2019. He paced around the room as he spoke, holding a marker in one hand and scraps of paper in the other. He smiled a lot but spoke seriously. …”
The Ringer
W – Gregg Berhalter


United States beats Mexico in Gold Cup final on late Miles Robinson header

August 2, 2021


Miles Robinson headed home an extra-time winner as the United States beat Mexico 1-0 in the 2021 Gold Cup final Sunday night at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Matt Turner made a stellar save just after 10 minutes — his 20th of the tournament — from a goal-bound Rogelio Funes Mori header to keep the score level early. The U.S. missed a great chance to take the lead at 25 minutes when, after dispossessing Mexico in its own half, Sebastian Lletget sprang Paul Arriola in the area, but his shot came back off the post with only the keeper to beat. Despite having the better of the shots and possession, Mexico failed to score as a scrappy U.S. side went into halftime tied 0-0. …”
ESPN
USMNT vs. Mexico score: Miles Robinson nets dramatic extra time Gold Cup winner as USA beat El Tri again (Video)
YouTube: Extended Highlights: USA 1-0 Mexico – 2021 Gold Cup Final


USA 1 – 0 Jamaica, Mexico 3 – 0 Honduras

July 26, 2021


Matthew Hoppe rose up, got his head on a deflected cross and, by the time his feet hit the ground, the United States had a 1-0 lead against Jamaica in the Gold Cup quarterfinals. The decisive 83rd-minute goal was Hoppe’s final involvement in the game, capping his first breakthrough international performance. …”
ESPN: Matthew Hoppe rises to the occasion as USMNT withstands Jamaica test (Video)
“Saturday’s 3-0 win over Honduras in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup quarterfinals was a big night for a pair of Mexico players, but for varying reasons. For DF Alan Cervantes, it marked his debut in a Gold Cup, as he played the final nine minutes of the match after replacing Edson Alvarez. Appearing in an official Concacaf tournament for the first time is something the 23-year-old will always remember. …”
Concacaf: Mexico make more memories, while Honduras turn the page


Nestor Araujo: “To win the Gold Cup is an amazing feeling”

July 24, 2021


“Mexico continue their quest for a ninth Concacaf Gold Cup title on Saturday with a quarterfinal clash against Honduras in Glendale, Arizona. Mexico are fresh off a group stage in which they conceded zero goals in their three matches. A key member of that Mexico back line is center back Nestor Araujo, who played in the 0-0 draw with Trinidad and Tobago and the 3-0 win over Guatemala. …”
CONCACAF
W – Néstor Araujo


2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup

July 17, 2021


“The 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup is the ongoing 16th edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the biennial international men’s football championship organized by North America, Central American, and the Caribbean’s football ruling body CONCACAF. The tournament was originally scheduled to be held from 2 through 25 July 2021, but was later rescheduled for 10 July through 1 August. Mexico are the defending champions. For the first time, the video assistant referee (VAR) system is used at the tournament. …”
Wikipedia
CONCACAF Gold Cup


U.S. 3, Mexico 2: All the Plot Twists

June 9, 2021


Weston McKennie
“You will not find the word Concacaffy in any dictionary, but any soccer fan in North America knows what it means and how to use it in a sentence. It can explain anything from a terrible field to a terrible call to terrible behavior, and the word works just as well as an anguished cry or accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders. Can’t believe that foul wasn’t a red card? That’s so Concacaffy. Field surrounded by a 20-foot moat? That’s so Concacaffy. Were there really just 11 minutes of stoppage time after a 15-minute overtime? Sooooo Concacaffy. Even before the United States men’s national team beat Mexico, 3-2, on Sunday night to win the Concacaf Nations League final on Sunday, the word has been tossed around quite a bit. For fans of the two teams — the twin poles of North American soccer dominance and hand-wringing — the whole night was thrilling and frustrating and exhilarating and maddening. …” NY Times (Video), W – 2021 CONCACAF Nations League Finals, Overtime Goal From Christian Pulisic and Heroic Penalty Kick Save (Video), YouTube: USA vs Mexico 3-2 Highlights All Goals CNL Finals, USA vs. Mexico: Extended Highlights | Concacaf Nations League Final | CBS Sports Golazo


2020–21 Liga MX season

April 30, 2021


“The 2020–21 Liga MX season is the 74th professional season of the top-flight football league in Mexico. The season is divided into two championships—the Torneo Guardianes 2020 and the Torneo Guardianes 2021—each in an identical format and each contested by the same eighteen teams. Both the Apertura 2020 and Clausura 2021 tournaments were renamed Torneo Guardianes 2020 and Torneo Guardianes 2021 (stylized as Guard1anes) to honor healthcare workers in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico. The Guardianes 2020 tournament began on 24 July 2020. …” Wikipedia, W – Liga MX, Liga MX 2021: Schedule, format, results and dates (Video)


Tyler Adams’ maiden goal lifts USA to first win over Mexico in three years

September 12, 2018


“Tyler Adams showed he might be able to help when the rebuilding US soccer team resumes competitive matches next June. So did Antonee Robinson and goalkeeper Zack Steffen. Adams scored his first international goal, four minutes after Angel Zaldivar was ejected for a studs-up tackle, and the United States rebounded from a poor first half for a 1-0 victory over Mexico on Tuesday night and their first win over El Tri in three years.” Guardian


The Player Kylian Mbappe Really Plays Like

August 2, 2018


“Breakout performances seemed to be everywhere at the 2018 World Cup — young talents were launched to international fame, and established players had their names crystallized on the world stage. The world’s biggest soccer tournament gives players a chance to shine outside the club-level paradigm of consistency and — apart from the English Premier League — a largely domestic audience. On the back of a few impressive performances, players like CSKA Moscow’s Aleksandr Golovin, one of the key players in Russia’s run to the quarterfinals, can earn themselves the chance to move to one of Europe’s top clubs, even if this recruitment trend is less common than it once was.” FiveThirtyEight


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

July 17, 2018


“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

July 17, 2018

“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

July 17, 2018


“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

July 10, 2018

“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


Neymar and Firmino take Brazil past Mexico and into World Cup last eight

July 2, 2018

“Beneath the fancy hair, the absurd solipsism and the antics of a latter-day Sun King, it is good to be reminded sometimes that Neymar is an exceptionally gifted footballer. It was his goal that broke the deadlock and if his influence on this game was far more positive than in any in the group stage, it was almost entirely because he played without that same furious determination to be the protagonist. But, of course, he is the same Neymar, the same diva who must always be the centre of attention. Just when everything seemed to be going well, just when it seemed there might be an argument he was growing into his role, he reacted ludicrously as Miguel Layún picked the ball from between his feet as he lay by the side of the pitch. Perhaps the Mexican midfielder did brush his ankle but the fourth official was roughly six inches away and saw nothing untoward, and neither did VAR.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


World Cup 2018: Waiting for ‘Golazo!’

July 1, 2018

“I was supposed to have gone to Gonzalo and Pia’s house, in Chimalistac, a southern neighborhood of Mexico City, to watch the Mexico-Belgium 1998 World Cup match. I must have gotten got caught up in something else; I didn’t care much about ‘soccer.’ In high school, in Massachusetts, I’d played football, and was a Red Sox fan. When I left my apartment in the Condesa at the start of the second half, Mexico, El Tri—as the national team is called, for the tricolor flag—was losing, 2-0. It was a sunny Sunday, the sidewalks and streets empty because everybody was inside watching the match. I caught a taxi, one of those green VW Beetles with the front passenger seat taken out. On the lowered door of the glove compartment sat a battery-operated black-and-white TV. The driver asked me to hold the antennae out the window.” NYBooks


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

June 29, 2018


“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


Germany Out, Brazil Through, Mexico Gets a Hand in Decisive World Cup Group Finales

June 27, 2018

“Day 14 of World Cup 2018 is done, and it will be remembered for defending champion Germany going out in the group stage—the fourth time in the past five World Cups that has happened—in a 2-0 loss to South Korea; for Mexico hanging on to survive with Korean help despite losing 3-0 to Sweden; and for Brazil and Switzerland maintaining their spots atop Group E to advance to the knockout rounds.” SI


For a 90-Minute Game, a Train Ride of 27 Hours

June 27, 2018


“YEKATERINBURG, Russia — After nearly 27 hours and 900 miles on a train from Moscow, Hans Josefsson’s pedicure remained immaculate. Before leaving Sweden 10 days earlier for the World Cup, he had his toenails painted blue and gold, the colors of the national soccer team. ‘A professional did it; I knew I would do a lot of walking in these sandals,’ Mr. Josefsson said before arriving here Tuesday afternoon in the easternmost Russian city in which matches are being played. A fellow passenger on the daylong trip, Luis Aragones, 24, an architect, had watched in Mexico City as Mexico stunned Germany, the defending champion, in its opening game. He had joined a delirious celebration whose mass jumping may have caused the equivalent of a minor earthquake.” NY Times


The Sleepers To Watch In The World Cup Knockout Rounds

June 25, 2018

“The World Cup is not traditionally the tournament for underdogs. The trophy has been lifted by just eight countries — and five of those have won multiple times. But there’s usually enough room for a few Cinderella stories to creep into the knockout phase: Bulgaria (1994), South Korea (2002) and Turkey (2002) were unexpected semifinalists, while Cameroon (1990), Ghana (2010) and Costa Rica (2014) crashed the quarterfinals. At least one country seems to do this every four years. We see three teams that could fit the bill this summer. Before the tournament, each of them had no greater than a 3 percent chance of winning it all, according to FiveThirtyEight’s model, but each has performed well so far and could make a strong run in the knockout rounds.” FiveThirtyEight


Germany Saves Its World Cup Life, But Champions Show Their Vulnerability

June 23, 2018


“Finally, in the second half of its second game at the 2018 World Cup, Germany began to play. It looked as though it had left it too late, that it would be relying on Mexico and Sweden not playing out a draw of self-interest but then, in the fifth of five minutes of added time, Toni Kroos swept home a free kick from the left. It was a stunning goal to end a game of constant drama and give Germany a much-needed 2-1 win. It means that Germany will qualify for the last 16 if it gets a better result against South Korea on Wednesday than Sweden manages against Mexico. It also, in one moment, perhaps explained just why Germany has not gone out of a World Cup in the first round for 80 years.” SI – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

Germany Finds a Way; Mexico, Belgium Take Big Steps Toward World Cup Knockout Stage
“Day 10 of World Cup 2018 was full of drama. Defending World Cup champion Germany was seconds from being all but eliminated in the group stage, but the shorthanded Germans used a sensational Toni Kroos free kick deep into stoppage time to beat Sweden 2-1. Elsewhere, Mexico continued its hot start to the tournament, beating South Korea 2-1 to stay in first place in the group. In the day’s first match Belgium blasted Tunisia 5-2 in the most freewheeling game of the day, all but securing its place in the last 16.” SI


World Cup 2018: Serbia chief accuses Fifa of ‘brutal robbery’ after Swiss defeat

June 23, 2018

“The head of the Serbian Football Association has accused governing body Fifa of showing bias against his country at the World Cup in Russia. Slavisa Kokeza says Serbia were victims of a ‘brutal robbery’ during Friday’s loss to Switzerland, accusing Fifa of ‘directing’ officials to work against them. ‘We will send a protest to Fifa today,’ Kokeza told the BBC on Saturday. A Fifa spokesman confirmed a letter of protest had been received but that no further comment would be made.” BBC (Video)

Mexico Fans Stop Homophobic Chant, Excel at Good Chants
“Saturday’s match against South Korea went about as well for Mexico as its fans could have hoped. The 2–1 victory all but guaranteed a trip to the World Cup’s knock-out stages and bolstered El Tri’s chances of winning its tough group outright. The game also didn’t feature any homophobic chants, so it was a very fine day indeed. On Wednesday, FIFA fined the Mexico Football Federation $10,000 for its fans’ use of the ‘discriminatory and insulting’ puto chant during the opening match against Germany.” Slate


An Exorcism 40 Years in the Making

June 21, 2018

“It’s been 48 hours and I still can’t believe it: On Sunday, against all odds, Mexico beat Germany, reigning World Cup champion and undisputed machine of world soccer, in a stunning display of tactical brilliance, athletic prowess, and pure sporting hunger. Over the past decade, the Germans have methodically altered their approach to the game through an unprecedented development program that has radically altered the way the country plays the sport, teaching youngsters to forgo pure German strength and embrace possession and flair. The experiment reached its pinnacle four years ago in Brazil, where Germany destroyed the home team at its own game and won the tournament handily. The rest of the world could only watch in awe.” Slate


World Cup 2018: How Mexico stunned Germany by exposing their full-backs and harassing Toni Kroos out the game

June 18, 2018


“The first four days of World Cup 2018 have featured a string of impressive underdog performances, largely about sitting back and frustrating the opposition. Iceland’s defensive-minded approach worked well against Argentina, Switzerland were content to soak up pressure against Brazil, and both recorded unexpected draws. Mexico’s approach in yesterday’s 1-0 victory over reigning champions Germany, however, was braver, bolder and ultimately more successful. Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio has been criticised for his constant chopping and changing, but while he might be reactive, that doesn’t mean he’s defensive. Here, he used a 4-2-3-1 system, rarely seen throughout Mexico’s qualifying campaign, in order to nullify Germany’s strengths and expose their weaknesses.” Independent – Michael Cox (Video)

World Cup 2018: Germany ‘crestfallen’ as shock Mexico defeat is called ’embarrassing’
“It was a defeat that left Germany ‘crestfallen’, was described as an ’embarrassment’ by the country’s media and even triggered an earth tremor, such were the celebrations in Mexico. World Cup holders Germany looked a shadow of their usual selves as they were humbled 1-0 in Moscow – and the result could have been much worse for them. But despite the loss – the first for a German team in a World Cup opener since 1982 – coach Joachim Low remains confident that his side will progress to the knockout stage in Russia.” BBC (Video)


Seismic Event: Mexico Stuns Germany at the World Cup

June 17, 2018


“MOSCOW — Hirving Lozano’s first-half goal and sturdy second-half defense gave Mexico a 1-0 victory over Germany on Sunday, providing the first major surprise of the 2018 World Cup. It was hard to recall a bigger result for Mexico, which has hosted the World Cup twice but has never advanced past the quarterfinals. Germany, the defending World Cup champion, has won the tournament four times, and was expected to seriously challenge for a fifth crown in Russia. But the Germans seemed flummoxed by the Mexicans’ speed and directness in the first half, and they couldn’t find a reply to Lozano’s goal.” NY Times

Mexico Just Taught Germany a Lesson: Never Win a World Cup
“The World Cup had its first great game on Friday when Spain and Portugal dueled to a 3-3 draw, and it had its first upset on Sunday, when Hirving “Chucky” Lozano gave Mexico a stunning 1-0 win over Germany. Mexico’s gameplan from the start was to rely on a counter attack to pressure their opponents, and Germany allowed them an unimpeded path. They pushed a high line—and stuck with 31-year-old Sami Khedira, a once rangy but now limited midfielder—in the middle to keep Mexico out of the box. Khedira is a step slower than he was four years ago, and Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger aren’t around to clean up for his mistakes.” The Ringer

He’s Got a Winning Record. So Why Do Mexican Fans Want the Coach Fired?
“PASADENA, Calif. — A few weeks ago, Juan Carlos Osorio, the coach of Mexico’s national soccer team, sat in the sunny courtyard of a Beverly Hills hotel, nursing a cup of coffee and reliving the moment in 2016 that very nearly derailed his 20-year journey from a small club on Staten Island to his first World Cup. Osorio, 57, had just presided over the most humiliating defeat in Mexico’s history, a 7-0 demolition by Chile in the quarterfinals of the Copa América, the world’s oldest international tournament. It was the sort of loss that gets a coach fired, especially in Mexico — provided Osorio didn’t quit first.” NY Times

Joshua Kimmich leaves a Philipp Lahm-shaped hole in the Germany defence
“There is no position over which the opinion of supporters and football managers can clash more starkly than full-back. Fans invariably love a marauding type who gets up and down the wing, dives into tackles and is generally both no-nonsense in defence and a swashbuckling attacking presence. Note the cult hero status that was quickly bestowed last year on Sead Kolasinac at Arsenal and note too how Arsène Wenger very quickly decided that he would rather stick with the more positionally disciplined Nacho Monreal. Telegraph


Mexico May Need To Beat Germany To Have Hope — Good Luck With That

June 13, 2018

“Germany, the defending World Cup champion, is one of the favorites to win the tournament — FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index ranks Die Mannschaft third behind only Brazil and Spain. Although their personnel may have evolved over the past few years, the Germans still maintain a style of methodical possession football that has been consistently successful on the world stage over the past 15 years. They don’t face any particularly fierce challenges in this relatively soft group; they were rather lucky to catch Mexico in a down year, a tame Swedish side and a South Korean team that is one of the weakest in the field.” FiveThirtyEight


World Cup favourites choosing defensive-minded midfielders over deep-lying playmakers

June 11, 2018


“The most fascinating tactical development over the past few World Cups has been the increased popularity of the deep playmaker. Having nearly become extinct around the turn of the century, it’s notable that recent World Cup winners have generally depended upon a great creative influence from deep.” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)


América’s Team

June 11, 2018

“I hate the Mexican national soccer team. I hate the Azteca, with its whisper-thin polluted air and stands that reach up into the sky. I hate the diving Chicharito, the enervating Giovani dos Santos, and the downright detestable Rafa Márquez. Even Mexican players I’d otherwise enjoy watching, like Miguel Layún, are equal parts irritating and terrifying—I’d enjoy watching him a lot more if he’d go do his thing to someone else.” The Ringer


World Cup Preview 2018: Messi vs. Ronaldo, Magic Cats, Iceland!!, and the Entire Emotional Context in Which Much of Human Life Transpires

June 10, 2018

“Ladies and gentlemen, start your psychic octopuses. The biggest and strangest sporting event in human history resumes next week in Russia, where thirty-two men’s national soccer teams will begin the monthlong competition for the strangely un-cup-like trophy given to the winners of the FIFA World Cup. For many of the world’s best soccer players, the tournament offers a chance to become legends in their home countries and icons in the history of the game. For billions of soccer fans, the tournament offers a chance to participate in modernity’s most sweeping collective frenzy, a spectacle that will shape the emotional context in which much of human life transpires for the next few weeks. For the United States men’s national team, which did not qualify, the tournament offers a chance to feel gloomy while eating Cheetos on the couch.” New Yorker – Brian Phillips


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

June 9, 2018


“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

June 9, 2018

“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)


Mexico Wages a Psychological Battle Against Its World Cup Demons

June 7, 2018

“It is a legacy of World Cup consistency, but one in which Mexico no longer wants any part. For six straight World Cups, Mexico has sent a team to the tournament. And for six straight World Cups, it has cheered its heroes through the first round only to see them crash out in the second. One coach after another has tried to break the streak. A few emphasized hard work. One appealed to national pride. One even sought a new mind-set, and a different kind of ending, at the top of an ancient pyramid. As Mexico arrives at the World Cup in Russia, it will be with the country’s most promising lineup in decades.” NY Times


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

June 7, 2018

“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


Meet the Five Most Exciting Prospects at the 2018 World Cup

June 6, 2018

“Yes, club soccer has overtaken the international game. And sure, all of the best players play for the best club teams, where they get coached by the best managers, who get to use the best facilities on a daily basis. Meanwhile, national teams congregate only a few times per year, for a friendly there or a qualification match here—and most sides get to play in a competitive tournament only once every 24 months. That’s why a tactic like pressing—swarming your opponent while they have the ball in their own defensive third—has dominated the club game but will be a rare sight in Russia this summer.” The Ringer (Video)


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

June 4, 2018


“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


North American Bid for World Cup Gets High Marks, but Still Needs Votes

June 2, 2018

“The organization that controls soccer’s World Cup released a report Friday that raises serious concerns about Morocco’s ability to host the 2026 event, but the country’s bid was not disqualified. The assessment by evaluators for FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, could have essentially delivered the World Cup back to North America for the first time since 1994 had it outright rejected Morocco’s bid on technical grounds. Instead, Morocco’s survival sets up a furious two-week chase for votes against the other remaining bid, a combined entry from the United States, Mexico and Canada. …” NY Times


Claudio Suárez picks his all-time Mexico XI

May 29, 2018


“In goal it has to be Jorge Campos. Like me, he played in three World Cups and also played in over 100 games for the Mexico national team. In my opinion, he was the best goalkeeper that Mexico has ever had. My first centre-back is Rafael Márquez because of what he has done in Europe with Barcelona, where he won four league titles and two European Cups. He has played over 140 games for the national team too – and he could feature in a fifth World Cup! Carlos Salcido was an extremely efficient centre-back and was so effective in over 120 appearances so he earns a place in my team. …” Guardian


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

May 25, 2018


“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

May 25, 2018

“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)

May 25, 2018

“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)


Mexico World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide

April 5, 2018

“As seems to be the case every four years, Mexico will arrive at the 2018 World Cup with the mission to advance to the quarter-finals while wrapped in doubts and in the middle of a heated public debate about the quality of the team and its coach. However, unlike on most other occasions, this time El Tri topped the CONCACAF qualifying table with ease . Given the quality at their disposal, if the draw is kind to them, this time around the team might just end its streak of six consecutive round-of-16 exits. …” World Soccer