Tag Archives: Brazil

2014 World Cup Draw Set

6 Dec

Yeah, I know, it’s been forever and a day since I actually posted anything, but the World Cup makes a person want to blog again, if only to complain about how rough the US has it.  Anyway, the ridiculously drawn out official draw was today and while yeah, the US has it rough, spare a thought for the Aussies, who have an even tougher go.  And while almost everyone can complain about the groups right now, in the end it’s all about what happens on the field.  Anything can happen on any given day and that’s one of the things that makes the World Cup (and sports in general) so awesome.

Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon

Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia

Group C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan

Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

Group F: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria

Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA

Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea

I’ll admit that my initial thoughts were that the USA was on the receiving end of a brutal draw (In fact I think my exact words were ‘holy shit’).  But after thinking about it a little bit, I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as it could’ve been.  I think it’s great that the US will open against Ghana.  It’s going to be huge for the Yanks to start the tournament well and if they can do so against a team that’s knocked them out of the last two World Cups, so much the better.  There’s no doubt they’ll have the motivation to take down Ghana.  Portugal is tough, even if they only qualified through the strength of one Mr. Ronaldo, but I do think they are beatable if the US can play an entire 90 minutes.  I believe that Germany is the top team in the group and probably one of the favorites for the tournament.  That will be interesting if only for the storyline of Klinsmann taking on his home country.  I’ll chalk that one up for a German victory.

As I’ve said in the past, the key to US success on the big stage is putting together a solid 90 minutes. They can’t afford to have lapses and give up early goals like they did against England, Slovenia, Ghana x2 last time around.  Coming from behind to win/draw is not a sustainable model for success. The US has been playing well in the past year and I think Klinsmann’s system is finally starting to click.  It’s just a matter of whether they can show up when it really counts and play consistent football.

Now for the extremely premature predictions.  Of course a team’s chances could go to hell in a handbasket pretty quick with a couple key injuries and we all know that there is a lot of football to be played before we get to Brazil.  But based on how things stand currently, this is what my gut says:

Advance to second round (1st, 2nd)

Group A: Brazil, Croatia

Group B: Spain, Chile

Group C: Colombia, Japan

Group D: Italy, England

Group E: France, Honduras

Group F: Argentina, Nigeria

Group G: Germany, USA

Group H: Belgium, South Korea

Knockout

A1 vs. B2: Brazil vs. Chile – Brazil

A2 vs. B1: Spain vs. Croatia – Spain

C1 vs. D2: Colombia vs. England – Colombia

C2 vs. D1: Japan vs. Italy – Italy

E1 vs. F2: France vs. Nigeria – France

E2 vs. F1: Honduras vs. Argentina – Argentina

G1 vs. H2: Germany vs. South Korea – Germany

G2 vs. H1: USA vs. Belgium – Belgium

Round of 8

Brazil vs. Colombia – Brazil

France vs. Germany – Germany

Spain vs. Italy – Spain

Argentina vs. Belgium – Argentina

Semifinals

Brazil vs. Germany – Brazil

Spain vs. Argentina – Spain

Final

Brazil vs. Spain – Brazil

Going with the home country in this one.  France was the last team to lift the World Cup in their home country, but I think Brazil has the talent to get it done.  Spain’s got the experience though and Brazil will be under mountains of pressure, so I anticipate this final going down to the last minutes.

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Brazil dominates USA, 2-0

10 Aug

I know this was just a friendly, but holy crap, I haven’t seen the U.S. play that poorly in a long time.  And yes, the score could have been much, much worse.

I’ll start with the positives because there’s hardly any.

  • Brad Guzan posted a second half shutout.  (Timmy Howard played the first.)  Guzan made some pretty awesome saves, including off a clear shot from about five yards out.  He’s a solid player, it’s too bad he can’t get more playing time.
  • No one got hurt.

And….yep, that’s all I got for the positives.  Now, onto the negatives.

  • The defense.  Where do I start?  I’ll go with too slow.  The Brazilians could beat the U.S. defenders seemingly at will. Boom, one move and they were gone. I can’t fault the guy for trying, but you are telling me that Jonathan Bornstein is seriously one of the best left backs in the United States?  That is not a pleasant thought. Brazil had way too much time and space to operate.  There should never be three open players in the box.
  • Craptastic passing. The U.S. couldn’t get anything going offensively because they couldn’t string together more than two passes.
  • Terrible first touch.  Honestly, I think I could have handled the ball better than some of the U.S. players tonight.  At the international level, you should be able to control the ball 99% of the time.  If not, you don’t deserve to be out there. (Cough, Robbie Findley, cough)
  • World Cup letdown.  Nine of the eleven U.S. starters were on the World Cup squad.  You wouldn’t have known it tonight.  All I can say is thank goodness the Yanks didn’t play this poorly at the World Cup or they would’ve been laughed off the field.

Since it’s just a friendly, I’m not going to get much more involved in the negatives of this game.  I just know that I dropped the f-bomb a lot, mostly in the sentence “What the f*** are you thinking/doing?”  Sigh.  Bob Bradley’s contract is up in December and I think U.S. Soccer needs to look at bringing a new face in as manager.  They haven’t progressed nearly as much or as well as they should have under Bradley, but that’s a post for a different day.

Final thoughts on the 2010 World Cup

13 Jul

I am still slightly saddened by the fact that the most glorious month of football is over for another four years.  It all went by so fast.  I’m resigned to watching MLS and waiting on transfer rumours until the Premier League starts August 14.  Lame.  Anyways, I got the idea for this post from Sports Illustrated’s 50 observations story and figured it was a good way to do things since I have too many jumbled up thoughts in my head to actually write a coherent post.

My 27 thoughts on South Africa 2010 (in no particular order and which I’m sure to add to)

1. There was no better way to start the tournament than Siphiwe Tshabalala’s rocket shot.  An awesome start for the host nation.

2. I still can’t believe what a disaster the French team was.  Those players are going to be embarassed when they look back on this.

3. I lost track of the number of times I wished that Charlie Davies was healthy and able to play for the U.S. Robbie Findley’s inability to get a decent shot off was so damn frustrating.

4. The more replays I see of Nigel De Jong’s karate kick to Xabi Alonso’s chest, the more I’m amazed that he only ended up with a yellow card.

5. The emotion in this sport is phenomenal.  You can go from tears to cheers to outrage, all over the course of 90 minutes.  What a fantastic sport.

6. How awesome would it have been to be in Spain for the final on Sunday? 

7. Spain’s win emphasized the team over individual.  That team is full of all-stars, but they put their egos aside for their country.  Take note of that, England.

8. While entertaining, Diego Maradona is not fit for coaching.  Like I’ve said before, being a great player does not make you a good coach.

9. Germany was the most fun to watch (well, except against Spain).  The way they could move the ball up the pitch so quickly and finish so well was awesome. 

10. I still think refs needs to be held accountable for their decisions during a game.  There’s no real punishment if they screw up.

11. Landon Donovan’s stoppage time goal against Algeria was one of the highlights of my U.S. soccer watching career.  Absolutely amazing.  It made me cry.

12. Who would have thought Uruguay would make it to the semifinals?  Diego Forlan was a complete stud throughout the tournament and rightly won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.

13. Italy’s failure to advance out of the group stage was all about cockiness. They thought they could cakewalk through the group and that wasn’t the case.

14. I think the vuvuzela will stay a South African tradition.  I’m sure a few will pop up in other places, but there’s no way it’s going to replace a good old-fashioned yell.

15. Tim Howard was disappointing for team USA.  Yeah, he had a couple of good saves against England, but he was otherwise pedestrian.  I expected more from a top-class keeper.

16. Fernando Torres was clearly not 100% fit.  His touch was off and he couldn’t find the back of the net to save his life.  An apparent hamstring? groin? injury was just the crappy end he needed.  Well, at least he ended up with a winner’s medal as consolation.

17. I think there should be retroactive punishments for horrible diving.  Example: Ivory Coast’s Kader Keita’s dramatic “facial injury” after running into Kaka, which earned the Brazilian his second yellow of the game.  The game does not need that shizz.

18. How did Lionel Messi not score a goal?  He had some pretty wicked shots on goal and had some goalies make some terrific saves.

19. I have absolutely no problem with what Luis Suarez did in the Uruguay-Ghana game.  Was it illegal? Yes.  Did he get punished appropriately? Yes. It was such a big deal because Ghana was the last African team left, but I’m glad FIFA wasn’t jaded by that fact.  If things had gone the other way around, I’m sure the Ghana fans would’ve said it was worth it.

20. I would not want to be a national team manager, especially for a team like England.  Too many egos involved.  Props to those managers that put up with that crap on a regular basis.

21. My call for biggest upset: tie between Slovakia 3, Italy 2 and New Zealand 1, Italy 1.  I hate the Italian national team so these results were amazing.

22. The World Cup brought out some really good journalism.  It also brought out some total crap.  After Rick Reilly’s horrible WC column, I refuse to read anything he writes.

23. For the love of all that is holy, Bob Bradley, what the hell were you thinking with the lineup against Ghana?

24. The whole Paul the Octopus phenomenon really amused me.  It was crazy to see how seriously people were taking his predictions.  It’s an octopus, people!

25. Game of the tournament: Uruguay-Ghana, hands down.

26. I don’t think Robert Green will ever live down his howler against the United States.  He’s just lucky that draw didn’t cost England a spot in the knockout round or it could’ve gotten a lot uglier.

27. The supposed “stars” of this World Cup didn’t shine, but I’m ok with that.  It allowed players that are equally as awesome like Diego Forlan, Xavi, Asamoah Gyan and more to get their deserved chance in the spotlight.

My World Cup best XI

12 Jul

I’m sure everyone in Spain is drunk with glee, the Dutch are drunk with sorrow, but I’m sober and it’s time for my World Cup best XI.  Let me know what you think.

BEST XI

G – Iker Casillas, Spain – He didn’t win the Golden Glove for nothing.  The Real Madrid keeper posted four straight shutouts in the knockout round and came up huge when it counted, notably on two breakaways from Arjen Robben in the final.  He also saved a key penalty in the quarterfinal win over Paraguay.

D – Carles Puyol, Spain – He was a rock in the back and a leader for Spain throughout the tournament.  His flying header to send the team through to the final.   Puyol was part of a defense that only gave up two goals in seven games.

D – Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, Netherlands – The Dutch captain was crucial to their final run.  Playing in his final World Cup, Van Bronckhorst scored one of the goals of the tournament in the semifinal win over Uruguay, unleashing an absolute cracker from about 30 yards out.  The defender was aggressive, yet controlled throughout the tournament and helped keep David Villa off the score sheet in the final.

D – Sergio Ramos, Spain – Sorry for the multitude of Spanish players, but Ramos deserves to be here.  This guy probably ran more than anyone else in the tournament, thanks to his long runs into the attacking third.  He put on a solid defensive display, particularly in the final, and was also a threat to put the ball in the back of the net.

M – Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany – He had a stellar World Cup.  Playing in the middle of the field, he was the lynchpin for Germany’s offense.  His field vision and calmness on the ball was excellent and he wasn’t afraid to mix it up in there either.  He’s clearly matured a lot since his first go-round in 2006.

M – Xavi, Spain – Spain’s passing game would not be nearly as fluent without Xavi.  He was a catalyst for the champions and plays his non-glamourous role with aplomb.  He also played a major role in shutting down key players like Wesley Sneijder and Schweinsteiger.

M – Thomas Mueller, Germany – The 20-year-old won the Golden Boot and was also named Young Player of the Tournament.  Not too shabby.  He finished with five goals (same as three others), but won the tiebreaker with three assists.  He made his presence known as part of the killer German counterattack and his dynamic play was sorely missed in the semifinal.

M – Wesley Sneijder, Netherlands – What a season for Sneijder.  He won the Champions League with Inter Milan and came oh-so-close to winning the World Cup.  Although his impact was minimal in the final, his five goals in the tournament helped propel the Dutch into the final.

M – Asamoah Gyan, Ghana – Although maybe best known for missing the penalty at the end of extra time against Uruguay, Gyan was a force for Ghana in its quarterfinal run.  He scored three goals, including the extra time winner against the U.S.  He also gained major respect (at least from me) for nailing Ghana’s first penalty in the shootout with Uruguay mere minutes after missing in extra time.

F – Diego Forlan, Uruguay – Forlan won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player and rightly so.  Another five-goal man, Forlan was key to Uruguay’s surprise fourth place finish. (If you called Uruguay as the last remaining South American team, more power to you.)  He came up big when it mattered and was thisclose to sending the third place match into extra time after clanging a last second free kick off the crossbar.

F – David Villa, Spain – He continued to excel on the international stage, scoring five goals, including three game-winners.  He has shown that he can be a threat from anywhere on the field, including 50 yards out (goal against Chile).

BENCH

M – Landon Donovan, USA – Finally shed the big game choker label and scored the goal that sent the U.S. through to the knockout round.  Showed the ability to carry the team on his back.

D – Gerard Pique, Spain – Had a great tournament anchoring Spain’s defense, probably bled more than any other player.

D – Maicon, Brazil – So dangerous down the right flank.  Strong defender with an excellent touch on the ball (See: goal vs. North Korea)

F – Luis Suarez, Uruguay – Made up a fearsome  partnership with Forlan, not afraid to shoot from anywhere.

Quarterfinal drama

2 Jul

Wow, what a day.  This was by far the best day of the tournament. 

In the day’s opening game, Brazil dominated the first half against the Netherlands.  Robinho gave Brazil an early lead after a gorgeous through ball from Felipe Melo and it looked like it was going to be all Brazil.  The second half, however, was a different story.  Dunga’s disciplined defense showed signs of cracking after Melo was credited with an own goal after a long ball into the box from Wesley Sneijder.  (To make matters worse, it’s Brazil’s first ever own goal in World Cup play.  Although to be fair, it could have easily been called a Sneijder goal.)  Sneijder scored the game-winner in the 68th minute, heading the ball in after Dirk Kuyt headed a Arjen Robben corner across the goal.  Melo put the stamp on a crappy game minutes later, rightfully earning a red card by stomping on Robben’s leg.  

It was a huge victory for the Dutch as they have a long history of underachieving at the World Cup.  A win over Brazil will give them a major boost of confidence going into Tuesday’s semifinal.  It was an impressive turnaround in the second half after a seriously lackluster first half.  

The day’s second game was one for the ages.  A resurgent Uruguay against Africa’s final hope.  Sounds like a bad TV movie.  Anyways, Uruguay came out strong, but Ghana fired back with a couple close chances of their own.  Ghana struck first with a long range strike from Sulley Muntari in stoppage time of the first half.  It could’ve been a knockout blow for Uruguay, but Diego Forlan had other ideas.  The striker curled in a free kick in the 55th minute to level the game at 1-1.  It continued to be a back-and-forth affair with neither team able to break through in regulation.  

So to extra time we went.  Again, both teams struggled to find the back of the net.  It looked like things would be headed for penalties, but no.  A last minute free kick from Ghana caused chaos in the box and Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez deliberately handled the ball on the goal line.  Penalty to Ghana in the dying seconds of extra time – holy cow!  Asamoah Gyan stepped up to take it and looked set to send an African nation through to the semifinals for the first time, but he hit the crossbar!  Holy drama batman, what an ending.  To penalties they went.  Gyan showed nerves of steel to convert first for Ghana mere minutes after missing in extra time.  Uruguayan keeper Fernando Muslera made two saves on less than stellar shots, but it was enough to send Uruguay through to the semifinals and cause ultimate heartbreak for Ghana.

It was definitely the game of the tournament so far.  Both teams played solid football and created good chances.  It was quite the game to watch and ended in one of the most dramatic way I think I’ve ever seen.  The (I think) deliberate handball from Suarez ended up being Urguay’s saving grace.  He will now miss the semifinal, which is a big loss for the team.  I think it was a smart move by Suarez to get the red card though because at the point in the game, you’d rather give up a penalty than a goal because players can miss penalties (like Gyan did).  

I can’t say that I wanted Ghana to win, but that had to be the most heartbreaking loss to handle.  Gyan is probably kicking himself for missing the penalty in extra time after he was able to make it in the shootout.  It would have been something else if Ghana had been able to become the first African nation to make it to the semifinals of the World Cup.

Here’s hoping the Germany-Argentina game and Spain-Paraguay game live up to today’s standards.

Video of Gyan’s extra time miss right this way:

World Cup results – June 28

28 Jun

Well, the refs did not take center stage today.  In the day’s opening game, the Netherlands notched a 2-1 win over Slovakia.  Arjen Robben made his first start of the tournament and made his presence known with an 18th minute strike.  Wesley Sneijder added a goal of his own in the second half after Dirk Kuyt did all the dirty work and gave Sneijder a lovely cross.  Slovakia’s Robert Vittek scored on a penalty in stoppage time, but the final whistle blew before they even had a chance to get a equalizer.

Brazil ran rampant over Chile in the second game of the day with a 3-0 win.  Juan opened the scoring in the 34th minute with a header off a corner kick.  Luis Fabiano added one of his own a mere four minutes later.  Robinho put the exclamation point on the win with a goal in the second half.  

Both the Netherlands and Brazil are starting to get on a roll, so the quarterfinal match between the two teams should be stellar.  I can’t wait.

Monday, June 28 results
Netherlands 2 (Robben 18, Sneijder 84)
Slovakia 1 (Vittek 90 – pen)

Brazil 3 (Juan 34, Fabiano 38, Robinho 59)
Chile 0

Quarterfinal matchup
Netherlands vs. Brazil

World Cup round of 16 set

25 Jun

The group stage is officially over and the round of 16 match-ups are all set. I made some predictions earlier at the beginning of the tournament and it turned out that I picked 13 of the 16 teams correctly, not too shabby. Anyways, there’s some very enticing matches coming up.  Germany and England has potential, as does Spain and Portugal.  Of course, at this stage, all the games should be close and exciting.  Let the drama begin!

Saturday, June 26
Uruguay vs. South Korea
USA vs. Ghana

Sunday, June 27
Germany vs. England
Argentina vs. Mexico

Monday, June 28
Netherlands vs. Slovakia
Brazil vs. Chile

Tuesday, June 29
Paraguay vs. Japan
Spain vs. Portugal