Book Review: Raphael Honigstein’s “Das Reboot” Tells Story Behind Germany’s 2014 World Cup Victory

October 9, 2015

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“‘This piece originally appeared at The New Republic.’ When U.S. Men’s National Team coach Jürgen Klinsmann declared ahead of the 2014 World Cup, “We cannot win this World Cup, because we are not that level yet,” it sparked howls of outrage across the country. Landon Donovan, who had recently been cut from the team by the Germany native, took to television to disagree, while ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon was so incensed he told Klinsmann to ‘get out of America.’ Klinsmann wasn’t wrong—the U.S. lost in the round of 16—but his cold pragmatism was unwelcome in a country that not only regularly makes heroes out of underdogs but that likes to view itself as one.” Bundesliga Fanatic

How to Build a World Cup Winner
“When U.S. national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann declared ahead of the 2014 World Cup, ‘We cannot win this World Cup, because we are not that level yet,’ it sparked howls of outrage across the country. Landon Donovan, who had recently been cut from the team by the German-native, took to television to disagree, while ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon was so incensed he told Klinsmann to ‘get out of America.’” New Republic

Das Reboot: How German Soccer Reinvented Itself and Conquered the World
“… Estádio do Maracanã, July 13, 2014, the last ten minutes of extra time in the World Cup Final: German forward Mario Götze jumps to meet a floated pass from André Schürrle, cushions the ball with his chest, and in one fluid motion volleys the ball past the onrushing Argentine goalkeeper into the far corner of the net. The goal wins Germany the World Cup for the first time in almost thirty years. As the crowd roars, Götze looks dazed, unable to comprehend what he has done. In Das Reboot, Raphael Honigstein charts the return of German soccer from the dreary functionality of the late 1990s to Götze’s moment of sublime, balletic genius and asks: How did this come about?” Public Affairs

amazon


A Troubled History – José Maria Marin

June 2, 2015

“‘Sport is very authoritarian,’ said the Brazilian marine engineer Ivo Herzog. ‘And it mobilises millions of people. Apparently, sport attracts a certain kind of human being: men who used to work inside totalitarian forms of government, who are products of non-free environments, who can’t handle a democratic reality. They appear to feel comfortable inside sports administrations, in a way they don’t out in the real world.’ For a couple of years, Herzog has been running a campaign to remove José Maria Marin from his positions as president of the Brazilian football federation (CBF) and head of the local organising committee for the World Cup.” The Blizzard


Book review – Stuck on You: The Rise and Fall… & Rise of Panini Stickers by Greg Lansdowne

May 1, 2015

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“As the subtitle of this book implies, the art of sticker collecting has been making a comeback in recent years. Author Greg Lansdowne cites research claiming that during the summer of 2014, over $4million was spent on eBay by bidders on items that matched the keywords ‘Panini World Cup’. Indeed, the album released by Panini for last summer’s tournament in Brazil appears to have been a welcome turning point not only for the company, but for the industry as a whole. Stuck on You therefore comes at a time when invigorated collectors old and new are eager to engage with one of the oldest practices of the dedicated football fan. The book begins with an exploration of this renewed enthusiasm. Ironically, this is best encapsulated not by conventional sticker collectors but by an English couple, Alex and Sian Pratchatt, in their successful attempt to draw each player into Panini’s 2014 World Cup album.” Football Pink

amazon, amazon – UK


My 2014 Sportsman nominee: Goalkeeper Tim Howard

December 2, 2014

“By any reasonable standard, Tim Howard had enjoyed a remarkable career heading into World Cup 2014. Even in a country renowned for goalkeepers, the 35-year-old Howard stood out, holding U.S. national team records for appearances and victories by a goalie. He had played in 342 Premier League games for Everton and Manchester United, and he was the only American to have won England’s FA Cup.” SI


Kaká and Scolari returned home for the hugs

October 3, 2014

“It still feels as though it was only yesterday – Luiz Felipe Scolari wandering hollow-eyed across the pitch after the final whistle, the Mineirão transformed into his own private Agincourt. Around him David Luiz, Julio Cesar and the rest his fallen troops lay prone, or sat broken on the turf. Others simply stood and stared into space. The chutzpah of a couple of hours before had been cruelly exposed by a lethal Germany. In the stands, the Brazilian fans that had not already left gazed through tears at the wreckage of their dreams or poured opprobrium down on their hapless manager.” Fusion


Optimism springs eternal as club football rolls back into town

August 24, 2014

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“I confess that it has not been easy to put the 2014 World Cup behind me and focus once more on club football. Part of that, of course, is that the party happened on my (adopted) doorstep, and I had a grandstand view. But there is something else. Nationalism can be a dangerous force. But in the heat of a giant tournament there is so much to celebrate in national team football. It is not so much ‘my country is always right.’ It is more a case of ‘my country fitting into a global context’ – a much more healthy way of looking at the world. I enjoy the power of representation that national team football engenders, and love the fact that this is a forum where the likes of Uruguay and Costa Rica can be competitive. It is striking how in the world of national teams the playing field is levelled. True, the last two World Cups were won by Germany and Spain, countries with powerful domestic leagues. The same, though, is not really true of Algeria, which pushed the Germans hard in that second round match in Porto Alegre. Many of the Algerian squad, though, have grown up in France, where they have benefited from a welfare state and from local facilities and coaching.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


In Belo Horizonte, Cruzeiro fans turn to their club to forget World Cup rout

August 24, 2014

No other graveyard in the world could be this festive, this crowded, this loud. The Estádio Mineirão, where Brazil’s World Cup hopes were cut to pieces—seven, to be precise, one for each German goal—and buried without honor, is ablaze with life. A crowd that will swell to 42,000 is on its feet, waving huge blue-and-white flags and chanting to the insistent beat of bass drums. And the game hasn’t even started. Barely five weeks after the most humiliating home loss ever suffered by a World Cup contender, soccer fans here are again finding hope and joy in the game. That’s partly because, in a fine bit of redemptive irony, the Mineirão is the home pitch of Brazil’s best football club: Cruzeiro, the defending first-division champion and a favorite to repeat. And on this overcast Sunday afternoon it’s hosting a solid side from Santos, Pelé’s old team, newly fortified by the return to Brazil of Robinho.” SI


Howler #5 | World Cup edition | Summer 2014

August 3, 2014

“The World Cup issue, filled with everything you could possibly want to know about the tournament. A 36-page timeline of its history. Bin Laden’s plot to blow up France ’98. Ashley Cole, Philipp Lahm, Tim Howard, and Carles Puyol on how to stop Cristiano Ronaldo. Profiles of Aron Johannsson, Graham Zusi, and Matt Besler. Eight reasons we’re optimistic for the U.S. national team. The official songs and films of the Cup. So much more. $15. Howler #5


Vanishing foam

August 1, 2014

“Vanishing foam is a substance applied to an athletic field in order to provide a temporary visual marker. Its use in association football is not regulated by the Laws of the Game, authorisation being in the hands of the governing body of a match, league, or tournament. In association football, referees use the foam to enforce the rules as to the minimum distance that members of the opposing team must remain from the ball during a free kick, as well as the spot from which the kick is taken. …” Wikipedia


World Cup 2014 best XI

July 25, 2014

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“… Jerome Boateng, Germany.  Perhaps a controversial choice – Philipp Lahm is widely regarded as the best right-back of his generation, and captained Germany to victory. But Lahm spent the first couple of games in the centre of midfield, and didn’t play particularly well, making careless mistakes against both Portugal and Ghana. Had he played the entire tournament at right-back – a move which made Germany a better side – he’d be a shoo-in. Boateng, however, played well throughout the group stage at right-back – in the game against USA, for example, he was the man who led the attacking with some dangerous bursts and good crosses.” Zonal Marking


What is Americans’ Favorite Global Cuisine?

July 25, 2014

“During the World Cup, we wondered how the countries would fare if it wasn’t their soccer teams but their national cuisines playing for glory. So we launched the FiveThirtyEight International Food Association’s (FIFA) 2014 World Cup. The group phase of the competition identified a few front-runners. Some, such as Italy, are also good at soccer. (The Italians might have done better in the soccer World Cup, but Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, apparently confused about which tournament he was playing in, decided to take a bite out of one of them). Others countries, like Mexico, will have a chance to avenge their soccer disappointments. We also introduced a few ringers, such as China, that didn’t qualify for the soccer World Cup but that belong in any discussion of the world’s best cuisines.” fivethirtyeight


Miroslav Klose: the last poacher?

July 25, 2014

“Ordinarily, a striker surpassing the all-time World Cup goalscoring record would be the major story of the day, but Miroslav Klose’s 16th goal came in Germany’s historic 7-1 thrashing of Brazil – so it was nothing more than a subplot. The man he surpassed, Ronaldo – who has since turned to a different sport as a PokerStars pro – was in the stadium to see his record defeated. There’s no question that Ronaldo was a far superior all-round footballer, but few strikers in history have shared Klose’s ability as a goalpoacher. There has been some snobbery towards Klose gaining this record, as if such a simple striker shouldn’t be entitled to such a status…but then that’s the very point of Klose. He doesn’t do anything apart from score – his link-up play is average, he’s never been particularly quick, he’s not very tall. He’s simply excellent at positioning himself, and finishing calmly.” Zonal Marking (Video)


How Dunga Reflects Brazil

July 25, 2014

“Why a previous coaching failure is back to lead his country out of its current crisis. His hair is the color of tarnished steel, brushed into an aggressive flattop. There’s that chilling, perpetually angry gaze, the tightly clenched jaw. A single tense vein throbs furiously in his temple. I’ll be back, he might have growled in that dull metallic voice, all those years ago, and now here he is. But whereas the original Terminator had the relatively simple task of destroying humankind, Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verribut, better known as Dunga, faces a considerably more daunting challenge – how to restore dignity to the most storied soccer nation in the world after an especially harrowing public humiliation.” Fusion


The Post-Mortem: World Cup 2014 – Colombia

July 22, 2014

“Brazil 2014 was Colombia’s best ever World Cup for several reasons. For the first time the team reached the quarterfinals of the tournament and, in doing so, delighted fans both at home and abroad with their exciting brand of football, their skill and their talent. Not only did Colombia have the top goal scorer, James Rodríguez, they also won the Fair Play award. When things became difficult, the Colombians picked themselves up and rose to the occasion. They went out fighting and without relinquishing their style of play. It was a most fantastic time for Colombian football. The doubts that had crept-in over the previous months were quickly washed away by the dazzling pace of the Colombian attack, the team’s confidence and its prolific goal-scoring. Memories of the tournament will endure for decades in the Colombian mindset.” Just Football

The Post-Mortem: World Cup 2014 – Ghana
“An impressive 2-2 draw with eventual winners Germany in what was touted one of the best games of the tournament had seemingly shot Ghana high up the favourites list for a round of 16 spot, after a 2-1 loss to the USA in their opener. And Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal were to be the patsies. However, a lacklustre showing twinned with a series of camp agitations at the Estadio Nacional meant the Black Stars would be heading home at the group stages for the first time, following a 2-1 reverse.” Just Football


How to Follow Soccer Now that the World Cup Is Over

July 22, 2014

“The World Cup is over, and the quadrennial outbreak of American soccer fever is slowly subsiding. In the aftermath of the most-popular soccer tournament in U.S. history, though, there are signs that some are sticking with the sport. There’s been a post–World Cup spike in Major League Soccer viewership, according to ESPN, and MLS streaming packages are reportedly up 300 percent. If you’re still feeling that soccer itch but don’t how to scratch it, here are the many ways to keep up on the sport between now and 2018. The obvious place to start is the already-underway MLS season. There are 15 American metropolises with teams, and new franchises are coming to Orlando and New York next season and to Atlanta in 2017.” Slate (Video)


Football is all the easier to love, or hate, because it is unquantifiable

July 22, 2014

July 9, 2014. “Sometime around the fourth goal, I descended into hysterics. No exaggeration – as Toni Kroos nicked the ball from Paulinho on the 25th minute and slotted the ball into the back of the net, almost from kickoff, moving and passing around Brazil’s backline like cones laid out on a training pitch, I convulsed with hysterical laughter. When the rational disappears, we must confront the irrational and unexpected, and there was little as unexpected as Brazil capitulating as they did last night. When the fifth went in I had to leave the room.” News Statesman


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

July 22, 2014

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


The Post-Mortem: World Cup 2014 – England

July 21, 2014

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“The Breakdown. This was not a tournament to remember for England. A miserly one point from three games was England’s lowest-ever return in a World Cup group stage and this was the first World Cup that England have been eliminated from at the group stage since 1958. Valiant defeat to Italy (2-1) gave way to a gut-wrenching late defeat to Uruguay (again, 2-1). So by the time Roy Hodgson’s team took to the field for their last game against Costa Rica, they were out – Los Ticos’ 1-0 win over Italy sealing England’s fate without a ball being kicked. Joe Hart was already back home sat on his settee while his ‘we all know it will go down to penalties’ adverts continued to run on our TV screens and Daniel Sturridge was back in time to replicate his own pre-tournament advert, order a six inch chicken teriyaki Subway, find a TV and watch the real teams contest the World Cup knockout stages. All in all, a pretty meek, dispiriting World Cup.” Just Football – England

Part I – Portugal, Part II – Italy, Part III – Ivory Coast, Part IV – Brazil, Part V – Spain


Howler #5 | World Cup edition | Summer 2014

July 21, 2014

“The World Cup issue, filled with everything you could possibly want to know about the tournament. A 36-page timeline of its history. Bin Laden’s plot to blow up France ’98. Ashley Cole, Philipp Lahm, Tim Howard, and Carles Puyol on how to stop Cristiano Ronaldo. Profiles of Aron Johannsson, Graham Zusi, and Matt Besler. Eight reasons we’re optimistic for the U.S. national team. The official songs and films of the Cup. So much more. $15 Howler


The unforgettable sea of blue and white

July 21, 2014

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“After a major tournament, the global media fly off home with brutal speed. There is little chance of catching up with old friends and mulling over what has happened – Brazil 2014, then, was like a good meal when you are unable to prolong the experience with a leisurely chat over coffee.” SBS – Tim Vickery


Brazil’s World Cup Was Never Simple, Always Irresistible

July 19, 2014

“They had a soccer tournament, and the best team won. If only the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were as simple as that. Let’s look backward—before Germany’s extra-time victory over Argentina in the final, before the host country’s agonizing, indelible 7-1 loss in the semifinals, before the individual greatness of Lionel Messi, Miroslav Klose, James Rodríguez, Neymar Jr. and Tim Howard. Before 20,000 fans jammed Grant Park in Chicago to watch the U.S. team. Before Luis Suárez launched his infamous incisors. Let’s go back to the beginning, to the original idea: a World Cup in Brazil.” WSJ


Best of 2014 World Cup In Brazil: Games, Goals, Underdogs and More

July 19, 2014

“The people who don’t steadfastly admit that the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has been the best ever edition of the great tournament will at least grant this: It’s the best World Cup in ‘recent memory.’ Or, in other words, this may not be the best World Cup ever but I can’t remember a better one. It has been an incredible month. It’s been the event the World Cup needed, just as ridiculous claims that the Champions League was growing bigger and relegating the World Cup to a place of lesser importance. Never has the passion, drama, and heartening value of the World Cup been higher. Now, it’s time to celebrate the best of what we saw in Brazil. World Cup 2018 can’t come soon enough.” World Soccer Talk


Soccer The ‘World Cup Is Over, Now What?’ Guide to Soccer

July 18, 2014

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“Just because the World Cup is over doesn’t mean soccer stops. Soccer never stops; that’s one of its biggest appeals. There are so many different teams, leagues, club competitions, and international tournaments that, if you want to, you can always find someone to cheer for or some team to root against. It can also be a bit daunting to wade into without any experience. Luckily, you have me, your Russian Premier League–watching, tactics board–chalking, Opta Stats–devouring Gandalf, to help you tailor your soccer-watching habits. And now I will answer some completely made-up questions to guide you along your soccer path.” Grantland


Germany’s Narrative Hangs by a Final

July 18, 2014

“The narrative is crafted: finally, Germany has been rewarded for its fußballing makeover. More specifically, the narrative unspools this way: over the last decade, Germany have transformed themselves from a stolidly “German” side of efficiency (and whatever other cliches apply) to one of exciting open football, thanks to revamping its entire development system. Like any narrative of this magnitude, there’s necessarily simplification and truth shading. However, dots of truth do indeed clot the cloth. Yet what’s even more remarkable is that the entire narrative of German’s makeover hangs on the vicissitudes of single football matches. Really, in the minds of us fußball lovers, the whole thing was contingent on what happened at the Maracanã on Sunday night. So much depends … Indeed.” Bundesliga Fanatic


Argentina Wins! (for Best Fans)

July 18, 2014

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“They flooded the cities of their rival—an estimated 100,000 Argentines were in Rio for the World Cup Final on Sunday. They came in caravans and campers and old taxis and whatever could bring them from their homes in Rosário, La Pampa, Santa Fé, Santa Rosa, Buenos Aires, Cordoba and Mendoza. They slept and ate and screwed and drank and maybe even tangoed at their temporary home at the Samba-drome, a concrete dance pavilion where they had been sequestered for the city’s safety and their own. In Buenos Aires after the loss, Argentina rioted a little, but in Rio, the loyal fans took their loss in peace. Photographer Eduardo Leal spent the last weeks following the Argentines’ journey through the tournament, from the early tight games to the final wundervolley that sank them. There were other fervent fans that made a showing, from Iranians to Chileans, but for sheer determination, emotion, and size of pilgrimage, the supporters of La Albiceleste would clearly deserve this tournament’s Golden Winnebago, if such a thing existed.” Roads and Kigdoms


Bayern Munich players continue to break records at the World Cup

July 18, 2014

“Over the past couple of seasons, it has become a common sight to see Bayern München crush all the record books. At the start of the World Cup, the Bavarians had 14 players featuring in the World Cup, 7 of whom played for Germany. Over the course of the tournament, these players have made waves and grabbed several of the headlines all over the world. Here’s a look at some memorable stats just pertaining to Bayern München’s players.” Bundesliga Fanatic


World Cup retrospective

July 17, 2014

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“Well that was fun, wasn’t it? Previous World Cups have kind of come and gone from my consciousness: I was 8 for Italia ’90 and have very little recollection of it at all; I remember snatches from USA ’94, largely a grudging admiration for Taffarel; France ’98, a blur of blue and enormous jealousy that my sister was in Paris on a French exchange for the final; Japan and South Korea ’02, drunkenly going to first year university exams having watched games that started at 7, and manically cheering Senegal as my sweepstake team, especially after that win; and Germany ’10, revelling in that Spanish team. But, having started to write about football and, more importantly in many ways, become part of a community who talk and think about football, this is the first World Cup where I’ve really inhaled it, really been carried by the highs and lows of such a glorious celebration of football. So I thought I’d do a quick look-back. A good place to start would be the piece I did in The Football Pink: Issue 4 – The World Cup Edition, which was a group-by-group preview. And boy did I get some things wrong.” Put Niels In Goal

amazon: The Football Pink: Issue 4 – The World Cup Edition [Kindle Edition] $1.50, amazon: £0.97


World Cup 2014: BBC pundits pick their best moments in Brazil

July 17, 2014

“After 32 days, 64 games and 171 goals, there was only one winner. Germany are the new world champions after grabbing the glory at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The tournament will be remembered for its exciting games and spectacular goals but also some of the biggest shocks of recent times, with the hosts Brazil and defending champions Spain both suffering humiliating defeats. England, meanwhile, only lasted eight days and two games before being eliminated. BBC Sport’s TV and radio football presenters and pundits look back on the action and choose their best goal, best player and most memorable moment of the tournament, before considering how far away England are from being contenders.” BBC


Brazil’s national team, club woes are rooted in complex, long-term issues

July 17, 2014

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“Now that the dust has settled and the visiting fans and teams have packed up and gone home – their suitcases filled with for the most part happy memories – it is time to look back and reflect. And, most importantly, it’s for Brazilian soccer to ask the question with the complex answer: What went wrong? It is perhaps fitting that in this country blessed with such abundant gifts but cursed with a luckless history – colonization and slavery bleeding into a 21-year military dictatorship and now this modern Brazil, where a stable democracy is tainted by an often grubby and corrupt governing class – that the team left with the most regrets after this kaleidoscopic tournament is the host nation. Like the high school student with no date to the prom, Brazil was left looking sadly on from the porch as Germany and Argentina donned their best tuxes, climbed into the limo, and drove off into the night.” SI


2014 FIFA World Cup Awards: Best Player, Best Young Player, Best XI and many more

July 17, 2014

“With the World Cup drawn to a close, many are left disappointed while others celebrate their achievements. Germany won the World Cup, but many other individuals & teams left admirers in their wake. While FIFA gave out it’s individual honours with Messi the choice for Golden Ball particularly bewildering football enthusiasts. We at Outside of the Boot thought long & hard before deciding our choices which might just be a bit more fair & rational than FIFA’s choices! There are some surprises, and also occasions where the hipsters may not be pleased. Nevertheless, here are the best performers at the World Cup divided into Primary Awards, Talent Radar Awards and Secondary Awards.” Outside of the Boot


Die Größte Show Der Welt

July 17, 2014

“It’s staring at me, that wallchart. It’s a little bit frayed and crumpled now since the move back from Greece and after finding its way around Jesse’s sticky fingers and teething gums. Since Sunday, I haven’t been able to summon the requisite will to complete the final vacant space. The one that states that Germany beat Argentina, one-nil, AET. It’s the finality that daunts me; the knowledge that once complete it becomes a historical artefact, no more a tantalising map of an unknown future. All those games, all those goals, all those hours. Gone forever.” Dispatches From A Football Sofa


The Ninjas in Brazil

July 17, 2014

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“‘Stop. Stop. Stop, stop, stop,’ Caio says. He’s seen something. We’re on a side street in Rio de Janeiro — within walking distance of Maracanã Stadium, where Argentina is taking on Bosnia-Herzegovina in the first World Cup game the city is hosting — and a protest that had been marching on, compact and peaceful for the past hour, has just splintered. The packs of Rio police officers, who had been treading silently and steadily alongside the banner-waving protesters, suddenly formed a cordon. The tear gas quickly followed, sending the protesters helter-skelter. Now I follow Caio, a member of the independent media collective Mídia Ninja, a veteran of this kind of thing, out of the scrum. ‘It’s dangerous what they decide to do,” he says of the protesters. “The street is very small. There is no strategy.’” Grantland


Writing the World Cup

July 17, 2014

“There’s nothing like a World Cup to nail down some narratives, and flip the finished product through the other door at a substantial mark-up (marketed, of course, as self-evident truths). Man vs. machine, Messi vs. Maradona, pragmatism vs. idealism. Let’s kill ‘em all.” blogistuta


Was Lionel Messi Tired?

July 16, 2014

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“In Argentina’s final match of the World Cup, Lionel Messi — on whom Argentine hopes have rested for over a decade — only touched the ball at a rate of once every two minutes. One of those touches was a great opportunity to win the game near the end of regulation, which he failed to even put on goal. Despite this, and despite a decrease in goals and assists as the tournament progressed (four goals in his first three games, an assist in his fourth, and nary a goal or assist since), he won the World Cup’s Golden Ball award (essentially the tournament MVP). That prompted Diego Maradona, Messi’s Argentine forefather and foil, to say, “It’s not right when someone wins something that he shouldn’t have won just because of some marketing plan.” The sharply worded op-eds, so plentiful on Sunday and Monday, are dying down — for now — but even Messi’s fans may start to wonder what was going on, and whether Messi was playing like his usual self.” Five Thirty Eight


The End

July 16, 2014

“The World Cup doesn’t end so much as it slips back into itself. As soon as the whistle is blown one last time, the recaps, the nostalgia, and the smart surmises begin. But then, a day later, after the last team has returned to its home country and the cheers of hundreds of thousands of euphoric fans, the specifics start to stretch beyond the immediate recall they enjoyed during these June and July days. The locations and stadia whose names were on the tip of your tongue begin to hang back as you go forth with your life. You’ve suddenly forgotten the name of that player you didn’t know on that team you weren’t familiar with—the player you’d enjoyed so much that you’d learned to pronounce his name perfectly. Or, if you’re American and have grown through this tournament to love the game, the world may suddenly seem farther away again. The excuses to strike up a conversation with a stranger dwindle. The news of the rest of the world starts with the Middle East again. And left to fend for themselves, the details of your World Cup experience begin to connect their own dots.” The Paris Review


World Cup 2014: How might England line up for Russia 2018?

July 16, 2014

“As the World Cup drew to its conclusion amid the colour and splendour of the Maracana in Rio, England’s brief and undistinguished contribution to Brazil’s World Cup did not even merit a footnote. Blink and you would have missed them. Months of preparation amounted to defeats by Italy and Uruguay in the space of six days before England manager Roy Hodgson and his squad were making the plans for the flight home. When the story of Brazil 2014 is told, it will be a tale of ambitious attacking football, Luis Suarez’s bite and the World Cup semi-final carnage inflicted on the host in a 7-1 loss to Germany that will be revisited as long as the tournament is staged. England? Move along. Nothing to see here.” BBC


Seeking Soccer Respect, Qatar Looked Abroad

July 15, 2014

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“A little more than a decade ago, Andreas Bleicher, then a director of one of Germany’s Olympic training centers, arrived in the tiny gulf nation of Qatar, wooed there by its royal family to help turn the hopeless national soccer program into something worthy of the world’s respect. There were plenty of reasons this would be difficult — the country hardly has a tradition of soccer excellence, and its record of producing premier athletes in any sport is sparse. But there was one problem that seemed insurmountable. With a native population of only 300,000, Qatar simply did not have enough young players to form a team that could hope to compete with the likes of Brazil, Argentina and Germany.” NY Times – 1, NY Times – 2


Photos: Brazilian Riot Police Squashed a Big Protest During the World Cup Finals

July 15, 2014

“It was a whirlwind of a weekend in Rio de Janeiro. The drama began on Saturday with the third-place match, which is in and of itself a depressing affair. After being on the edge of fulfilling World Cup dreams, two teams are forced to conjure up one last effort to save face. Brazil, in its case, had just suffered one of the worst defeats in World Cup history and didn’t want to compound it with another loss. The Dutch coach, meanwhile, thought everyone should hang up their boots instead of tempting fate once more. Nothing felt right about the match, so instead I decided to visit the Maracanã, the epicenter of the futebol universe, where Brazil never got to play a match as host of this World Cup.” New Republic


Full Time: Fading Images of the World Cup

July 15, 2014

“Watching sports is, among other things, a special way of experiencing time. Sport is like music or fiction or film in that, for a predetermined duration, it asks you to give it control over your emotions, to feel what it makes you feel. Unlike (most) forms of art, though, a game has no foreordained plan or plot or intention. The rules of a game impose a certain kind of order, but it’s different from the order of an artwork. A movie knows where it wants to take you; no one can say in advance where a game will go. All of its beauty, ugliness, boredom, and excitement, all of its rage and sadness emerge spontaneously out of the players’ competing desires to win. For however long the clock runs, your feelings are at the mercy of chance. This happens and then this happens and then this happens. You’re experiencing, in a contained and intensified way, something like the everyday movement of life.” Grantland – Brian Phillips


Schadenfreude

July 15, 2014

“How apt that the Brazilians are living off Schadenfreude: after the debacle against Germany and a little extra humiliation from Holland, all Brazil’s fans seemed to want was for Germany to prevent Argentina from victory dancing on the beach at Copacabana. Believe me, I get it. As a lifelong supporter of Tottenham Hotspur F.C. in the English Premier League, much of my soccer pleasure in the last half-century, sadly, has derived only from misfortunes experienced by Arsenal F.C., Tottenham’s arch rivals. In the years 1960–1962, Tottenham was clearly the superior team—since then, not so much. Like Brazil and Argentina, the two clubs are neighbors, and Arsenal, like Brazil, has the larger fan base and more money.” The Paris Review – Jonathan Wilson


World Cup Expectations Rankings: Brazil’s over- and underachievers

July 15, 2014

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“Teams come to the World Cup with their own expectations. For some, just being there is enough, reaching the last 16 an almost impossible dream. For others, so exalted were their ambitions that even a quarterfinal feels like a disappointment. This is an attempt to grade teams according to how they did against their own expectations, looking both at results and at how well they played…” SI – Jonathan Wilson


The Two Brazils Revisited: What does the future hold after World Cup 2014?

July 15, 2014

“I first met Vitor Lira last December, when I was here on a reporting trip for an SI magazine story called The Two Brazils. The article examined the complex nature of a country that can both love soccer and engage in mass protests over the public spending and societal impact of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Lira, 33, is a community leader in Santa Marta, one of Rio’s oldest favelas. Five generations of his family have lived there, and over the past two years he has organized resistance to the government’s plans for removals of Santa Marta residents as part of the sweeping changes in Rio around the World Cup and Olympics.” SI (Video)


World Cup Tactical Analysis | Germany 1–0 Argentina: Götze ends Germany’s quest for glory

July 15, 2014

“Lionel Messi’s face appeared on Maracanã’s displays as he stood over a free kick that was, by anybody’s guesstimates, far-flung and too wide of goal to think about shooting. But then this was one of the finest footballers in the world, a goal down in the World Cup final with two minutes remaining and history flitting through his fingers. He skied it and so went the opportunity of probably his lifetime. Replacing a retiring legend came 22 year old, Mario Götze in the 88th minute of the match, with bustling energy – and a fatiguing opposition. When the goal came, it was typical of this Germany side – probe for a flaw, make the opponents slog and punish callously. Götze’s left-footed volley past Sergio Romero at the end of Schürrle’s delivery was enough to affix a 4th star on Die Mannschaft’s crest and become the first European side to claim the trophy on Latin American soil.” Outside of the Boot


The World Cup Is Over. Now What?

July 15, 2014

“The best team won the 2014 World Cup. Sometimes Germany won its games early—it scored the winning goal in its semifinal against Brazil in the 11th minute; it scored it in the 13th minute of its quarterfinal against France. Sometimes it won its games late—in the Round of 16 against Algeria, Germany didn’t score until the 92nd minute; in yesterday’s final against Argentina, its only goal came in the 113th minute. Sometimes Germany won with offense—Die Mannschaft, or ‘The Team,’ as the German team is nicknamed, scored seven goals against Brazil and four in its opener against Portugal. Sometimes it won with defense—Argentina had zero shots on goal against Germany in the final, and German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer recorded four shutouts in seven matches.” Vanity Fair


Germany 1-0 Argentina

July 14, 2014

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Germany 1-0 Argentina (AET): Gotze’s extra-time goal wins the World Cup
“Germany won their fourth World Cup after victory over Argentina in a tense but enjoyable final. Joachim Low’s team selection was compromised by the late withdrawal of Sami Khedira through injury. Christoph Kramer took his place – although he only lasted 30 minutes himself. Alejandro Sabella’s side was unchanged from the semi-final against the Netherlands. Both sides had promising moments in an even match – Argentina had the better chances before Mario Gotze’s late winner.” Zonal Marking

Germans End Long Wait: 24 Years and a Bit Extra
“For years, Brazilians had a phrase they would inevitably utter when things went wrong. ‘Imagina na Copa,’ they said after an endless traffic jam or a construction accident or an ugly rash of violence dominated the news — imagine if this happened during the World Cup. It became a foreboding warning, a pre-emptive sigh at the presumed disasters that lay ahead. Over five weeks, though, Brazil avoided any of the major catastrophes it feared. Thrilling games and entertaining soccer — as well as the national team’s own stunning collapse — generally overshadowed any logistical issues, and the tournament was seen as a global success. So it was fitting, then, that in the tournament’s final game, the Brazilians managed to dodge the ultimate on-field nightmare, too.” NY Times

Germany 1 Argentina 0 (BBC)
“Germany were crowned world champions for the fourth time as Mario Gotze’s extra-time winner beat Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final. Gotze demonstrated perfect technique and commendable calm to chest down Andre Schurrle’s pass and sweep in a left-foot finish with the prospect of a penalty shootout only seven minutes away. Argentina, with skipper Lionel Messi looking subdued despite flashes of his talent, could not respond and Germany claimed their first World Cup since they beat the same opponents in Rome 24 years ago.” BBC

Germany’s World Cup title a result of revamped development, identity
“At the final whistle, after Germany claimed a fourth World Cup by beating Argentina 1-0 in extra time, BastianSchweinsteiger collapsed to the turf, utterly spent. He had given everything, running to the point of exhaustion, the only holding midfielder in the Germany squad still standing by the end, and that only just, a stray arm from Sergio Aguero having caught him across the face leaving him with a gash on his cheek.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

The Party’s Over: A Critic’s Take on Brazil’s Dismal World Cup Legacy
“About a five minute walk from Rio de Janeiro’s historic Maracanã stadium, the site of today’s Argentina vs. Germany final (Update: Germany won, obvsly), there used to be a small community of about 700 families called Favela do Metro. The reason the city demolished the tightly-packed neighborhood is hotly disputed: Residents said it was to build a parking lot, while the city claimed it had more ambitions urbanization plans, such as a park. But at least for now, there is little left except a jumbled mess of concrete and brick.” Fusion

Germans See World Cup Win as a Symbol of Global Might
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“Even normally quiet streets were electrified early Monday by Germany’s dramatic 1-0 win of the World Cup in extra time, a victory that symbolized, at least to fans, not just the country’s dominance of Europe, but its global prominence. Car horns and vuvuzelas honked, and fireworks and firecrackers exploded. On the Kurfuerstendamm, the gleaming street of stores and restaurants that was the symbol of West Berlin during the Cold War, cars quickly jammed traffic and fans draped themselves in the black, red and gold of the German flag.” NY Times

World Cup Pass & Move: Germany Wins It All
The World Cup came to a close on Sunday, with Germany defeating Argentina in extra time, 1-0, in Rio’s Maracanã Stadium. Here, five Grantland writers look at five important characters from the match. Be sure to check out all of our coverage of the final, and the entire month of wonderful soccer action, at our World Cup landing page. Grantland (Video)

A Final Prediction: Germany Wins a Thriller
“Like the Sex Pistols in their prime, World Cup finals rarely fail to disappoint. After all the buildup and hype, the games often turn out to be low-scoring, bad-tempered affairs. In 2010, Holland, the nation that, during the nineteen-seventies, invented “total football,” a free-flowing, attacking style of soccer that enchanted the world, disgraced itself by trying to kick the Spanish “tiki-taka” men off the park in Johannesburg, and almost succeeded. Four years earlier, during the latter stages of a tense 1-1 tie between Italy and France, Zinedine Zidane, the French midfield maestro, was sent off for headbutting an Italian player, Marco Materazzi, who had allegedly called his sister a whore. (Italy went on to win on penalties.)” New Yorker

Germany Grinds Its Way To World Cup Triumph
“Well, I got the result right. But my prediction that it would be a thrilling World Cup final turned out to be wishful thinking. Instead of thrills, we got another tense, low-scoring game, in which both teams accumulated more bookings for bad fouls (two each) than clear-cut chances. By the middle of the second half, it was evident that one goal would settle it, and, in the second period of extra time, Germany nabbed one, thanks to a great piece of finishing by the young striker Mario Götze, who had come on as a substitute.” New Yorker

Success for Brazil, Just Not on the Field
“When Mario Götze settled a crossing pass with his chest and volleyed a goal that won the World Cup, German fans roared in ecstatic release. Those from Brazil were nearly as delirious, even if it was out of relief as much as celebration. It might have seemed an odd sight, Brazilian fans celebrating another team inside their own cathedral of soccer, the Maracanã stadium. But after two demoralizing losses brought national embarrassment, solace finally came Sunday as Germany defeated Argentina, 1-0, to become the first European team to win a World Cup played in North or South America.” NY Times

In a Latino Enclave, the World Cup Puts Everything on Pause
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“Something unusual happened on Sunday afternoon on the streets of Jackson Heights, Queens: Quiet. As crowds gathered to watch the World Cup final around the Latin American enclave — in bars and barbershops, in electronics stores and by food trucks — the usually frenetic area beneath the elevated No. 7 train grew uncharacteristically still. Business, which spills onto the streets in the form of carts and trucks and tables, came to a halt. There was no merengue. Or cumbia. Or bachata.” NY Times

Don’t Cry for Messi, Argentina. This Germany Team Is One of the Best in Years.
“Lionel Messi seemed to recognize that he had lost the World Cup several minutes before the final whistle had blown. Moments after substitute striker Mario Götze scored a wundervolley in the game’s 113th minute to put Germany up by the decisive margin of 1–0, the Argentine legend had his last somewhat realistic chance at goal. Defender Marcos Rojo sent a high arcing cross deep into the German area and Messi came flying in for a free header from about 15 yards out. Had his shot gone in, it would have been a glorious goal. Instead, the ball fluttered harmlessly over the bar, and Messi walked away with his head down, staring desperately at the turf.” Slate (Video)

Brazilians Go Back to Real Life
Brazil suffered mightily with its national team’s 7-1 rout at the hands of Germany in the World Cup semifinals last week, but the authorities here breathed sighs of relief as the tournament came to a close on Sunday with Germany’s victory over Argentina, amid muted street protests and a display of Brazil’s ability to successfully organize sporting megaevents.” NY Times

Germany May Be the Best National Soccer Team Ever
“Germany didn’t begin the World Cup as the favorite. That honor belonged to (ahem) Brazil. But that’s a slightly deceptive measure. This was a top-heavy World Cup; not only Brazil but also Germany, Argentina and Spain would have been the front-runners in many past editions of the tournament. By the end of the World Cup, Germany left little doubt it is the best team in the world. In fact, it may be the best national soccer team ever assembled. One simple way to compare World Cup winners is by their goal differential throughout the tournament. Germany, with 18 goals scored and four allowed, comes out at a plus-14.” Five Thirty Eight


Tactical Guide to World Cup finalists, Germany & Argentina

July 13, 2014

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“After an enthralling month of football, the World Cup has finally reached it’s end. It was expected to disappoint like the previous edition, but what transpired in Brazil left many claiming it as possibly among the best yet. It had everything, and a little more; from Spain’s early elimination to Costa Rica’s unbelievable run, Brazil’s humiliation to Algeria’s display, James Rodriguez’ goal to Ochoa’s save, and so much more in between. The spectacle culminates into one final clash between two sides who as the fixture list suggests, deserve to be there. It’s been incredible, and Outside of the Boot have been there every step of the way with regular content for our readers. On this historical day we take a look at this memorable journey of the two finalists through our tactical lens.” Outside of the Boot


World Cup Final 101: All you need to know about Germany – Argentina

July 13, 2014

“Germany and Argentina square off for the World Cup trophy in Brazilian soccer’s Mecca, Estádio​ do Maracanã, in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday. The game is littered with storylines, legacy implications and star power and promises to provide a thrilling ending to what has been a riveting World Cup. Our live chat for the spectacle will kick off at 2 p.m. ET, leading up to the 3 p.m. first kick (ABC/Univision). In the build-up until then, our Brian Straus, Jonathan Wilson, Liviu Bird, Adam Duerson and Tim Newcomb have compiled everything you need to know about the clash with a World Cup Final 101 crash course…” SI


World Cup Spirits Dampened, Brazilians Show Waning Support for 4th-Place Team

July 13, 2014

“The yellow-clad fans arrived at Estádio Nacional later, more quietly and with far less face paint than usual. And no wonder: They were attending the World Cup’s third-place game, a match that newspapers around the world had called ‘a meaningless exercise,’ ‘a pointless sideshow’ and ‘the final insult.’ André Gonçalves, 48, an accountant in Brasília who was attending his fifth game in the stadium with his family, was struck by the difference in the scene outside the stadium Saturday afternoon before the Netherlands played Brazil. ‘This silence, this calm,’ he said. ‘It conveys sadness.’ André Galvão, a reporter for TV Bandeirantes, was having trouble finding the usual energy from Brazil fans.” NY Times


Germany’s Haunting Emptiness in Goal

July 13, 2014

“Manuel Neuer is the latest in a line of German goalkeepers regarded by many as the best in the world. German soccer fans often reminisce about the greatness of Sepp Maier and Harald Schumacher and Oliver Kahn, and if Neuer helps Germany win the World Cup final on Sunday, his place in history — even in the middle of his career — will be secure. Yet there is also a darker side to the lineage of German goalkeepers, an incident that lingers over German fans and also started Neuer along his current path.” NY Times


Pichações: The Streets Against the World Cup

July 13, 2014

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“As the World Cup in Brazil comes to an end without the predicted large-scale protests, there’s been a subtle but consistent message visible on the streets, as photo-journalist Gabriel Uchida has documented. ‘Pichação’ is the punk brother of graffiti. Pichadores don’t want to make art, they want to shock, to vandalize. It’s made to be ugly and agressive. In Brazil it was born in São Paulo and their main influence was the typography of punk rock and heavy metal band logos. Although it is illegal, it’s the most current cultural expression in the Brazilian streets. It’s possible to see ‘pichações’ everywhere, even at the top of the highest buildings. As it’s made to protest, recently Brazilian ‘pichações’ have found a new target: the World Cup.” World Cup 2014

The Rio the World Cup didn’t show
“There’s shit in the water. Two days after Brazil crashed out of the World Cup, on Thursday morning, one of Rio’s foremost sanitation activists, Leona Deckelbaum, came down to Copacabana Beach to work. She couldn’t help laughing. Tourists swam in the ocean across the street, and up and down the coast in both directions. In a city with a terrible sewage system even in the fancy neighborhoods and no complete sewage or water service in any of the 900-plus favelas, this is a terrible idea.” ESPN


World Cup Adept? Yes. Adored? Not Yet.

July 13, 2014

“Argentine fans unfurled a banner at a World Cup semifinal match in São Paulo depicting Diego Maradona on one side, Lionel Messi on the other and Pope Francis in the middle. The fans chanted, ‘Olé, olé, olé, Messi, Messi,’ but the relationship with their star remains complicated. A full embrace will not come unless Messi can win soccer’s ultimate prize against Germany on Sunday, just as Maradona did in 1986.” NY Times


What Will We Take From This Tournament?

July 13, 2014

“In writing on sport there is always a fine line between reading too much into what happens on the field and reading too little into it. The problem is particularly acute when it comes to the World Cup: no other sporting event creates the same torrent of hyperbole and cliché, or incites quite the same kind of grandiose pontificating. The best of sports writing and commentary manages to deal with this through a combination of grace, humor, and true emotion: something that the Men in Blazers have offered us, thankfully, on ESPN, and that has defined the wonderful writing of Brian Phillips for Grantland during the tournament.” New Republic – Laurent Dubois


Germany vs. Argentina, Part III

July 13, 2014

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


What the World Cup Looks Like to a Refugee Child

July 12, 2014

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“I wanted to write a post predicting who will win the World Cup, but then truly, who really cares about my prediction? What do I know? I’m no pundit, not that pundits know anything anyway. Also, I’m a firm Bohrian. It was Niels who said, ‘Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.’ Basically, a child could do just as well as me. So why not have a child do it? Not just any child, but a refugee. I had friends who work with two NGOs ask kids served by their groups some questions about the World Cup. The first organization is the World Food Programme in Beirut, which provides essential food and nutrition to over a million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The second is Faros, an NGO in Athens, Greece, that provides individual assistance and long-term, durable solutions for unaccompanied refugee minors, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan.” New Republic


After Soccer Loss, Dilma Rousseff Soothes Brazil With a Song

July 12, 2014

“As her country recovers from its humiliating loss to Germany in the World Cup, President Dilma Rousseff sang a samba to express Brazil’s resilience and gave no quarter to opponents who suggest that the soccer disaster may haunt her in the election this fall. ‘Soccer doesn’t mix with politics,’ Ms. Rousseff told a small group of foreign correspondents here on Friday night. ‘We’ll be discussing this defeat in Brazil for a long time to come,” she added, defending her government’s handling of the World Cup, which has unfolded without major problems. “It would have been more serious if we had lost outside the stadium than within it.'” NY Times (Video)


Soccer in Brazil, and Outside the World’s Glare

July 12, 2014

“Mauricio Lima has been in Brazil for the World Cup. Not exactly at the games, mind you, but going deep into the hearts — and jungles — where love of the game sustains and thrills (at least until the Brazilian team’s loss this week to Germany). He has ventured to a floating village where children kick improvised soccer balls along narrow docks, to a prison where inmates make balls, to an amateur tournament where teams and beauty queens compete together and to indigenous villages that are an overnight boat ride away from the nearest World Cup match.” NY Times


Photos: Displaced Brazilians Protest as Argentina Prevails in Sao Paulo

July 12, 2014

“I landed early in Sao Paulo after a sleepless night in Belo Horizonte. I was too consumed with the thrashing of Brazil to get any real sleep. I had always thought an early exit from the tournament would be a crucial moment in the Brazilian psyche, but the way it played out was much more complicated. The crippling of Neymar by the knee of Zuniga along with the Thiago Silva ban were daggers in the heart of the host nation. The absolute dismantling of the rest of team by Germany was the fatal twist of the blade. It was shocking and, in the end, humiliating. Newspapers around Brazil trumpeted the great shame brought upon the country. There was a new blight in the history of the beautiful game: the Mineirãzo. It was a time for soul searching, not impetuous rioting as everyone feared. Only fate could have come up with such a tragic ending.” New Republic


The Third-Place Game Is Often the Best Game

July 12, 2014

“Back in the nineteen-seventies, when Brazil still played the jogo bonito, the Dutch star Johan Cruyff was setting joyous new standards of creative attacking play, and Italy had not yet transformed soccer with the dour technique of stifling defense known as catenaccio (‘door-bolt’), the Austrian writer Peter Handke wrote a play called ‘Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter’ (‘The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick’). Wim Wenders followed up with a movie of the same name two years later. That title comes to mind as being extraordinarily prescient. With the exception of Germany’s spectacular 7–1 thrashing of Brazil in the first semifinal, the latter stages of the World Cup have, for many years, had a sorry tendency to be dominated by anxieties and goalies and penalty kicks.” New Yorker


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

July 12, 2014

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


World Cup 2014: Goals, drama & that bite – is Brazil the best?

July 11, 2014

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“Record goals, Suarez gnaws, that James Rodriguez strike, passion, drama, colourful fashion – what a World Cup this has been. It was a tournament that started with a bang as the hosts came from behind to beat Croatia, and has since delivered fantastic entertainment almost game after game. Here, BBC Sport’s chief football writer Phil McNulty and the BBC’s much-loved and most experienced commentator John Motson consider whether this has been the best ever World Cup.” BBC