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 Can’t Quite Copy Cruyff, Football Might Really Be Coming Home, and More Takeaways From the World Cup Quarterfinals

July 8, 2018


1. European dominance continues. When Germany won the 2014 World Cup, it was the first time any continent had produced three-straight World Cup winners. And after the elimination of Brazil and Uruguay on Friday, that streak will now extend to four. In 2002, it seemed like we might be seeing a challenge to world soccer’s established hierarchy. Senegal and the United States both made the quarterfinals, while South Korea and Turkey both advanced to the semifinals. Of course, it ended with Brazil and Germany, the two all-time great soccer-playing nations, in the final, but even that was something of a surprise, as they were ranked 11th and 10th, respectively, in the pre-tournament Elo Ratings.” The Ringer (Video)


Uruguay 0 – 2 France

July 6, 2018

“France are into the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 2006 after seeing off Uruguay with the help of a terrible error by goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. In terms of excitement, this quarter-final tie did not come close to Les Bleus’ win over Argentina in the last 16 but will still be remembered for the contrasting fates of the two goalkeepers, with Hugo Lloris producing a contender for save of the tournament while his opposite number made a mistake that was even more memorable.” BBC (Video)

Deschamps holds golden ticket but faces tough double for France glory
“Advantage France. On a cool summer’s day in Nizhny Novgorod, jewel of the upper Volga, Russia 2018 turned a slight but significant shade of blue. There are different ways of announcing yourself as the most likely winners of a World Cup. With nine days to go before the house lights come up the ideal outcome for Didier Deschamps’ France would have been a loosening of the throttle, a moment for those delicious attacking talents to click together and illuminate the late stages. There is of course a basic problem here. For that situation to arise it would be necessary for Didier Deschamps’ France to be somebody else’s France.” Guardian


2018 World Cup Predictions

July 5, 2018


“The World Cup is back, and so is another edition of FiveThirtyEight’s World Cup predictions. For those of you familiar with our club soccer predictions or our 2014 World Cup forecast, much of our 2018 forecast will look familiar. We show the chance that each team will win, lose or tie every one of their matches, as well as a table that details how likely each team is to finish first or second in their group and advance to the knockout stage. This year, we’ve added a few features to our interactive graphics. We have a bracket that illustrates how likely each team is to make each knockout-round match that it can advance to, as well as its most likely opponents in those matches. …”
FiveThirtyEight
Metafilter: it’s coming to someone’s home. (Video)


Manager Oscar Tabarez Wields His Influence to Mold, Adapt, Embody Uruguay

July 5, 2018


“Oscar Washington Tabarez is fascinated by history. Barely a press conference goes by in which he doesn’t, in one of his typically thoughtful answers, illustrate a point with an example from a previous World Cup. You wonder how that plays in the dressing room, in the modern world of celebrity footballers who, by reputation at least, care for nothing but their next fancy car or watch. But then you see Luis Suarez sitting next to him, gazing at his manager with rapt attention. If there were any doubt before that Tabarez is the greatest figure in post-War Uruguayan football history, it has surely gone now.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Uruguay is playing for you
“The knock came at four in morning on Sunday, April 15, 1984.  Dr. Vladimir Roslik of San Javier was informed by an officer of Uruguay’s 9th Cavalry Regiment that he was being arrested for questioning.  The next day Roslik’s wife was advised to collect her husband’s body from the Fray Bentos Hospital. Roslik, who attained his medical degree from Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow in 1969 was to be the last victim of Uruguay’s military dictatorship.” Africa is a Country


Kylian Mbappe in prime position for the Golden Ball despite just one truly good performance

July 5, 2018

“SOME feared the second round of the World Cup would prove underwhelming after an eventful group stage, but those fears now appear misplaced after a hugely entertaining four days in Russia. The second round featured nail-biting penalty shoot-outs, a major upset with Spain departing, and an all-time classic with France and Argentina’s seven-goal thriller. That game, with France prevailing, also proved crucial in the race for the Golden Ball. This round unquestionably belonged to one man: Kylian Mbappe. Fielded on the right of France’s 4-2-3-1 system against Argentina, he produced one of the most rampant, dominant performances you’ll ever witness at a World Cup.” Unibet – Michael Cox


Luis Suarez triumphs in battle with Cristiano Ronaldo as Uruguay knock Portugal out of World Cup

June 30, 2018

“Two sumptuous goals from Edinson Cavani set up a tantalising quarter-final meeting with France on Friday on a day when hope of a Messi-Ronaldo showdown in Nizhny Novgorod was vanquished. Yet this was not quite the fairytale for Cavani that France’s thrilling 4-3 victory over Argentina had proved for his club team-mate, Mbappe, earlier in the day. There was only 10 minutes between Cavani scoring Uruguay’s decisive second after the Portugal defender Pepe had cancelled out his opening goal and the striker limping off with a crestfallen look on his face.” Telegraph

Edinson Cavani sends Uruguay to World Cup last eight as Portugal bow out
“Cristiano Ronaldo walked Edinson Cavani out of this game, helping the Uruguayan to the touchline, but not before the Uruguayan had put Portugal out of the World Cup. Cavani departed with 20 minutes remaining, slowly making his way around the edge of the pitch, a lost look on his face. His two goals, both of them superb, took Uruguay through to the quarter-finals but it appears unlikely he will be with them when they face France in Nizhny Novgorod on Friday. Twenty minutes later, it was Ronaldo wearing that look: his World Cup is over, too.” Guardian


World Cup Knockout Stage Statistical Primer

June 29, 2018


“The World Cup enters its knockout stage this weekend, which means we’ll see heartbreak and joy in every game. From multigoal thrillers to dour defensive battles that lead to anxiety-inducing penalty shootouts, the emotional roller coaster is about to ramp up a notch. Here are some statistical primers derived from the World Cup data collected by StatsBomb during the group stages.” The Ringer


World Cup 2018: Russian city Samara, football and the space race

June 29, 2018

“Where the Sputnik stadium used to stand there is a housing block, Orbita’s pitch is now wasteland and the old Voskhod ground, named after a space rocket, is crumbling into ruin. These are just some of the old football arenas in Samara, the Russian World Cup host city that is most famous for helping drive the Soviet Union’s space race with the United States. About 1,000km south east of Moscow on the Volga river, Samara has so far hosted three World Cup matches, including Uruguay’s win over Russia on Monday.” BBC


Spain, Portugal Survive Simultaneous Madness; Uruguay Roughs Up Russia at World Cup

June 25, 2018

“Day 12 of World Cup 2018 is done, and the drama reached a peak level. In Group B, favorites Spain and Portugal couldn’t manage three points against their game foes (Spain 2, Morocco 2 and Portugal 1, Iran 1) but still advanced to the knockout rounds, even though Iran made it heartbreakingly close late against the Portuguese. Earlier in the day in Group A, things were considerably less dramatic, as Uruguay beat Russia 3-0 to win the group and leave the Russians in a we’ll-take-it second-place spot.” SI


Spain, Portugal, Uruguay Restore Order With Narrow World Cup Wins

June 20, 2018

“MOSCOW — Day 7 of World Cup 2018 was defined by 1-0 scorelines and winners from established soccer countries that never really seemed like they were in danger of squandering those slim advantages. Portugal 1, Morocco 0; Uruguay 1, Saudi Arabia 0; and Spain 1, Iran 0 kept the tournament from having its first scoreless tie, and after a run of surprises in recent days, order was (at least temporarily) restored. Uruguay’s win ensured that La Celeste and host Russia will go through to the last 16 from Group A, while Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Morocco were all eliminated from contention after two matches.” SI


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


José Giménez’s late show snatches victory for Uruguay over Egypt

June 15, 2018

“Slowly, slowly, it had been coming. After 80 minutes in which almost nothing had happened, other than the non-appearance of Mohamed Salah, Uruguay had begun to increase the pressure. Edinson Cavani had a volley pawed away by Ahmed El-Shenawy then smacked a free-kick against the post before, with a minute to go, José María Giménez rose to meet a right-wing corner with a powerful header and Uruguay, for the first time since 1970, had won their opening game at a World Cup.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson, Guardian: Uruguay’s Diego Godín: ‘They kicked Luis Suárez out like a dog. It was unjust, disproportionate’


Nine Reasons Why Brazil Will Win the World Cup

June 14, 2018

“… They’re among the betting favorites, but the Selecao still haven’t quite emerged as the favorite. ‘As good as Brazil are, they’re still arguably underrated,’ said Omar Chaudhuri, head of footballing intelligence at the consultancy 21st Club. There’s a chance we’ll get to July 15 and wonder, as we watch Neymar lift the World Cup trophy, how we didn’t see it all along. So, to prevent that from happening—and to risk some relatively minor, low-stakes, online embarrassment—here are nine reasons why Brazil is gonna win it all.” The Ringer (Video)


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)


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)


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


Uruguay Got The World Cup’s Ultimate Prize: Russia’s Group

June 6, 2018

“Picking the winner of Group A feels a bit pointless. Possibly the weakest group in the history of the World Cup will advance two teams to the round of 16. When they get there, FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index projects a roughly 50 percent chance that both teams will lose — and that will be the end of Group A. But before they can become the underdogs of the knockouts, the best teams in Group A must try to hold on to their place at the top. …” FiveThirtyEight


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


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)


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


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 2018 groups: Your complete guide to the teams

April 5, 2018

“The World Cup draw is done and dusted with England drawn against Belgium, Panama and Tunisia. Here is your guide to the eight groups for the 2018 World Cup…” Telegraph


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

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


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


Applause at the Draw, but Will Russia Keep Cheering?

December 3, 2017


“MOSCOW — Half a million fans — by current, suspiciously optimistic, estimates — will descend on Russia next year for what Gianni Infantino, the FIFA president, has already decreed will be the ‘best’ World Cup in history. Every single fan, he has decided, will have “an amazing experience.” Billions of dollars have been spent on new, or renovated, stadiums to host the finest players in the world: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, on Friday promised a ‘major sporting festival of friendship and fair play.’ …” NY Times, The Ringer: The Four Must-Watch Games of the 2018 World Cup Group Stages (Video), NY Times – World Cup Draw: Group-by-Group Analysis


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

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


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

October 12, 2017


“Twenty-three nations have booked their places for the World Cup in Russia, with the holders and Brazil looking in good shape but we rank England in 13th place, below Iceland.” Guardian (Video)


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

December 19, 2016

fi-s-america-1
“1. LIONEL MESSI No real prize for guessing the occupant of this position. Messi stakes his claim this season as not just the best of South America, but also the best of the world. There were noises last season about Messi disagreeing with Enrique and having a training ground bust up with the manager, but he turned it all around after a point, and an incredible send half of the season saw him lead Barcelona to glory in 3 competitions.” Outside of the Boot


Uruguay desperately short of ideas in Venezuela upset

June 12, 2016

“This time there was no Luis Suarez to save the day. Two years ago, Uruguay lost their opening game in the 2014 World Cup to CONCACAF opposition, only for Luis Suarez to return from injury to inspire the team to consecutive victories which ensured the team’s qualification for the second round. Suarez wanted to try for a repeat. Having missed Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to Mexico he seemed anxious to come on in the dying moments of the 1-0 loss to Venezuela. But Uruguay clearly did not want to risk his muscle injury. After coach Oscar Washington Tabarez had made his third and last substitution Suarez remonstrated and punched the dugout wall in frustration — a feeling that all of his teammates will now share.” ESPN


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

June 6, 2016

MEX-celebrate
“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)


Show Your Copa Colors

June 6, 2016

“The 100th edition of the Copa America hits U.S. shores from June 3 to June 26, and all 16 nations from CONCACAF and CONMEBOL will be sporting some slick new kits. Check out their home/away looks and download your favorites.” ESPN


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

June 4, 2016

“The Copa América Centenario, born in scandal and saved only by the promise of better behavior (and the presence of some pretty good soccer teams), kicks off Friday night when the United States faces Colombia in Santa Clara, Calif. The 16-team event is being played outside South America for the first time as a celebration of its 100th anniversary, and while a handful of top players have been left out or ruled out by injury, there is plenty left in the cupboard, including four of the eight quarterfinalists from the last World Cup. Here’s what you need to know before the tournament begins.” NY Times


Copa America 2016: 10 Young Player to Watch

June 4, 2016

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


SI’s Copa America Centenario picks

May 31, 2016

Copa-America
“Copa America Centenario is a unique competition, one that pits South America’s 10 sides against each other and some of the best CONCACAF has to offer. Despite some of the stars who won’t be participating this summer–namely Neymar–and some of the nations who missed out, this is as close as it gets to a World Cup-style competition reserved for the Western Hemisphere. With that said, there can only be one winner. Argentina is out to end a trophy drought that is in its third decade. Mexico is out to make a statement against its South American foes. The U.S. is out to achieve material success under Jurgen Klinsmann for the first time since the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.” SI

Copa America Centenario group previews

Chicharito has been loved, hated and loved again
“HE’S THE FIRST player out of the clubhouse. The Mexican reporters are unprepared, chatting with each other behind the metal barricade. They turn their heads when the door scrapes open, lunging for their microphones. A camera stand nearly topples. Javier Hernandez is small and slight. At 28, his body seems barely removed from boyhood. Yet even in an unadorned black tracksuit, charisma flies off him like sweat off a boxer. As he strides through the mixed zone underneath Vancouver’s BC Place, someone calls his nickname: ‘Chicharito! Hey, Chicharito!'” ESPN

Copa America Centenario – News


Uruguay legend Alvaro ‘El Chino ‘ Recoba bids farewell to football

April 1, 2016

“‘One last magic act.’ That’s how El Pais, Uruguay’s biggest newspaper, chose to headline their preview of Alvaro Recoba’s farewell match, which took place on Thursday night in the Gran Parque Central, a stadium he knew so well and lit up so frequently during his playing days with Nacional. Recoba debuted for Danubio back in 1994, but enjoyed his first successes — and his most recent ones too — with Nacional, where he became a club idol.” ESPN


Luis Suárez returns to a thriving Uruguay camp ready to unsettle Brazil

March 28, 2016

“From a narrative point of view, it would have been better if Uruguay had been struggling in World Cup qualification. It is appropriate that Luis Suárez’s return after his ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup in Brazil should come in a World Cup qualifier in Brazil, on Friday, but a sense of drama demands that he should be riding buck-toothed over the horizon to drag Uruguay from a position of hopelessness to qualification for Russia. As it is, he returns to a Uruguay side who are actually in pretty good shape.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Top South American clubs launch Liga Sudamericana to challenge disgraced CONMEBOL

January 25, 2016

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“Last week, 15 of South America’s top soccer clubs got together in Montevideo, Uruguay, and decided to create an organization named Liga Sudamericana, or the ‘South American League’ (as in ‘League of Nations,’ not ‘Premier League’). And even though the organization has no clear leadership yet, it does have a clear purpose: to shift the power balance from CONMEBOL, the South American confederation, to clubs looking to depend less and less on the discredited continental confederation for their earnings.” Fusion


Copa America 2015: Team of the Tournament

July 11, 2015

“Chile ended their near century drought with a penalty shoot-out victory over Argentina in front of a sea of red in Santiago on Saturday to claim their first ever Copa America. It was a triumph of the collective over the individual and fittingly rewarded the country’s best ever generation with victory on home soil. Yes, there had been some kind refereeing decisions that had gone their way but that shouldn’t take anything away from a fantastic team performance by Sampaoli’s men. For Argentina, it was so close but yet so far as they fell at the final hurdle for the second year in a row. For them the wait continues. After a memorable tournament, now comes the time for reflection and a chance to recognise some of the best performers from Chile 2015. Playing in a 4-2-3-1, here are the players that stood out for me over the course of the last few weeks.” Outside of the Boot


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

June 30, 2015

“Brazil’s ousting in the quarter-final stage was the talking point, but Peru’s run along-with Chile’s impressive showing has kept enthusiasts intrigued. Though Argentina remain as favourites with online sports betting at Sportsbook.ag, it may not be as simple to call these games. Paraguay too who eliminated Brazil for the second successive Copa America, have shown they aren’t to be overlooked. Finley Crebolder picks his four players that defined the quarter-final stage, a stage that has left us with two enticing fixtures.” Outside of the Boot


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


A Guide to Copa America, in Queens

June 24, 2015

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El Gauchito, 94-60 Corona Ave in Queens.
“Copa América, the South American soccer championship, is in its third week in Chile, and has given the world everything it could handle from a tournament: dramatic comebacks, shocking suspensions, all-out scoring feasts, and acts of idiocy and manslaughter off the pitch. Now, after the end of the group stages, eight of the original 12 teams remain, and they will begin the direct elimination rounds today. There is still plenty of action to catch—with some potential classic matchups coming up—and as we wrote during the World Cup, there is no finer place to watch international soccer than New York City. So if you aren’t able to make your way over to Chile, your next best shot at living the fever of South American soccer is right here, in the almost impossibly diverse borough of Queens. From Astoria to Sunnyside, bars, bakeries and butcher shops are turning their establishments into prime viewing spots. Here are the upcoming matches and the best places to catch them with diehard fans from each country.” ROADS & KINGDOMS

Uruguay have the history to hit Copa América heights against Chile
“Chile have scored more than twice as many goals as anybody else in this Copa América. They will be playing at home in front of 40,000 red-shirted fans. They have played with a verve and a fluidity nobody else in this tournament has matched and, if anything, Arturo Vidal’s drink-driving charge, which could have been a destabilising influence, seems to have given them an enhanced sense of purpose. Uruguay scraped through their group in third place, having scored only two goals. Other sides in their position might have approached Wednesday night’s quarter-final like lambs to the slaughter but not Óscar Washington Tabárez’s team. This is the sort of situation Uruguay have traditionally relished.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Copa America: Group C’s key tactical system, game-changing performance, and best young player
“Group C has easily been the Copa America’s most engaging, as shock wins by Venezuela and Colombia saw all four teams level on points entering the final match day. With a resurgent Thiago Silva leading Brazil to victory over Venezuela to top the group, the final placing may not seem like much of a surprise. However, with Brazil needing a last-minute winner to beat Peru, Neymar’s suspension, and a host of strong defensive performances, many from unsung, domestically based players, these six games provided us with multitudes of knife-edge tension. As the three survivors lick their wounds ahead of the quarterfinals, here is a brief look back at some of the keys to the way things played out.” Outside of the Boot

Copa America quarterfinals: Argentina and Brazil face tense challenges
Chile vs. Uruguay. All the momentum is with Chile, but all the history is with Uruguay. The hosts have looked to be far and away the best team in this tournament so far, scoring twice as many goals as everybody else, but Uruguay have by far the best record in spoiling such house parties. On the past three occasions that the latter have met the home team — Argentina 2011, Venezuela 2007 and Paraguay 1999 — they have eliminated them. That’s all the more relevant here because it reflects just how good the Uruguayans are at digging in and disrupting more exciting and excitable sides. Oscar Tabarez’s current side are experts at that, and abnormally difficult to beat. … ” ESPN


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


Tactical Analysis: Argentina 1-0 Uruguay | Argentina exploit width to win a tight game

June 21, 2015

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Argentina 1-0 Uruguay
“The classic clash of South America, had the favorites (Argentina) as the winners of the match. With Messi in charge, Argentina are the favorites to win it all. A very clear game, with one team playing attack minded football and the other team focusing on blocking the spaces. Uruguay were focusing on the counter-attacks and did create some chances and were really close to scoring a late equalizer. Argentina were the better side this evening, even if they were struggling to play through this low positioned Uruguay team, and they did find the goal with a cross from Zabaleta to Aguero, scoring the only goal of the game.” Outside of the Boot


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


Eight things we learned from the Internet about Copa América 2015

June 11, 2015

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“For the next three weeks, the pulse of South American futbol beats from Chile, where the continent’s 10 national teams plus invitees Mexico and Jamaica will battle it out for a piece of international silverware that’s been contested for 99 years. This is the Copa América, a tournament renowned for its storied rivalries, vibrant fan support, politically-charged history, and incredible star power on the pitch; a competition which, for the past near-century, has ignited a continent. With just days left until the tournament kicks off, we turned to the world’s greatest source for information on the tournament — Wikipedia — and came back up with a few gems. The Copa América, it turns out, is a weird, weird tournament.” Fusion

Copa America preview roundtable: Games, players, stories to watch
“For a second straight summer, a massive international prize is on the line in South America, and even though it may not carry the weight of the World Cup, the 2015 Copa America features plenty of star power and a winner’s medal that includes a ticket to the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. Days after winning the Champions League together, two-thirds of Barcelona’s record-setting front line–Lionel Messi and Neymar–will be on display as adversaries (the third member, Uruguay’s Luis Suárez, is still banned internationally for his World Cup bite of Giorgio Chiellini); Brazil puts its undefeated mark under Dunga (this time around, anyway) on the line in its first meaningful games since last summer’s disappointment on home soil; host Chile and Colombia aim to build on the success they enjoyed last summer; and a series of upstarts look to spring surprises in what promises to be an intense 12-team competition. Jonathan Wilson and James Young are on the ground in Chile, and here are some of their games, story lines and other items to watch over the next three-plus weeks…” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Never forget your roots – Palmeiras’ illustrious history

February 25, 2015

“One of the most successful clubs in Brazil, Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras have won eight league titles, as well as two Copa do Brasil trophies. The champions of South America in 1999, having beaten Colombian side Deportivo Cali to claim the Copa Libertadores, with their success culminating in the awarding of ‘Best Team of the 20th Century of Brazil’ by the Sao Paulo State Football Federation, they are a club of immense power and wealth. Palmeiras’ team is predominantly Brazilian, with ex Bayern Munich and Inter Milan defender Lúcio among their ranks. Apart from a smattering of Chilean, Argentinian and Uruguayan players, their squad is entirely made up of footballers from the ‘Futebol Nation’.” backpagefootball


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


100 Best Young Players to Watch in 2015 | Forwards 10 – 1

December 29, 2014

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“It’s hard to accurately predict future Ballon D’Or nominees based on a players current exploits in the early part of his career. But given the propensity of usual Ballon D’Or nominees bearing rather conspicuous goal-scoring traits, you wouldn’t go too wrong in betting Memphis Depay as a potential future nominee.” Outside of the Boot


Colombia 2-0 Uruguay: James Rodriguez steals the show

June 30, 2014

“Colombia took a while to get going, but never looked in trouble after James Rodriguez’s astonishing strike. Jose Pekerman selected Jackson Martinez, though he played from the left rather than alongside Teo Gutierrez upfront. Oscar Tabarez was without Luis Suarez, as you might have heard…Edinson Cavani moved upfront, and Diego Forlan played the support role. Tabarez stuck with the 3-5-2, so Maxi Pereira returned with Alvaro Gonzalez shifting inside and Nicolas Lodeiro dropped. This was a pretty simple victory – Colombia are a far superior side to Uruguay, and demonstrated that for the first 50 minutes before sitting back.” Zonal Marking


World Cup 2014: Coaches praise Colombia’s James Rodriguez

June 29, 2014

“His name is James, but he pronounces it Hahm-ez, and that was the way the Colombian fans shouted it on Saturday night. They have been singing James Rodríguez’s praises all along, in fact, but in the flurry of goals and teams and story lines in this World Cup, there was a chance a few people had not yet noticed Rodríguez. Everyone knows him now. Rodríguez scored two more goals — giving him five at this World Cup — in a 2-0 victory over Uruguay that sent Colombia to the quarterfinals for the first time.” NY Times

World Cup Tactical Analysis: Colombia 2-0 Uruguay | Pekerman’s smart James plan
“In the second all-South American Round of 16 clash at the World Cup, the ever impressive Colombia took on Uruguay for a chance to face hosts Brazil. Colombia came into the game on the back of three comfortable wins in the group stage; Uruguay on the other hand, despite defeating both England & Italy, were yet to convince anyone of their proposed superiority and this was further thrown into doubt with Luis Suarez and his ‘behaviour’ once again.” Outside of the Boot


Group D – ESPN

June 25, 2014
Group D Overall
POS TEAM PTS GD P W D L F A
1 Costa Rica 7 3 3 2 1 0 4 1
2 Uruguay 6 0 3 2 0 1 4 4
3 Italy 3 -1 3 1 0 2 2 3
4 England 1 -2 3 0 1 2 2 4

World Cup Tactical Analysis: Uruguay 2-1 England

June 21, 2014

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“In a World Cup where England lacked expectations heading to the tournament, they somehow still managed to disappoint. After a lot of positivity in defeat against Italy, England were expected to carry on and impress vs Uruguay but put in a lackluster performance Uruguay on the other hand also came into the game in disappointment after defeat and were expected to do the same, but encouraged by the returning Luis Suarez. The striker struck twice to keep Uruguay’s hopes alive, all but ending that of their opponents.” Outside of the Boot

World Cup Tactical Analysis: Cameroon 0 – 4 Croatia
“With both teams losing their first group game, this was a real test for both Cameroon and Croatia, where one side would be leaving the tournament if they succumbed to yet another defeat. Croatia had a slight advantage with Eto’o being out injured; as well as the return of their main striker, Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandžukić, who missed out against Brazil due to a one match suspension which he earned all the way back in the qualifiers. The game also featured a return of Danijel Pranjić on the left flank for Croatia, and Brazilian-born Sammir playing as a starter right behind Mandžukić instead of young Mateo Kovačić. As for Cameroon, the absence of Eto’o meant Aboubakar of FC Lorient was going in as his replacement, with a few more rotations in the team tactics.” Outside of the Boot

World Cup Tactical Analysis: Colombia 2-1 Ivory Coast
“With the second round of matches underway, groups are beginning to take shape as teams fight for qualification to the knockout stages. In Brasilia, the two teams from Group C that won their opening encounters, Colombia and Ivory Coast, met to see which team would take sole control of the group. Both teams enjoyed contrasting wins in their opening games: Colombia routed Greece 3-0 while Ivory Coast had to come from behind to beat Japan 2-1. With top spot potentially at stake, both teams were determined not to concede early ground, resulting in a deadlocked first half. However, a flurry of goals in a matter of minutes set up an exciting finish.” Outside of the Boot