Archive for the ‘Brazil’ Category

Brazilian football is often the source of incredible video highlights showcasing some of the most breathtaking individual goals around.

But today, the host of the 2014 World Cup has provided us with something far better.

During a second division match between Atlético Clube Goianiense and Avaí on Tuesday, the former made the following substitution that will no doubt go down as the best in the history of the game.

The match may not have been a Thriller – Atlético would claim a 2-1 victory — but just Imagine the party in the city of Goiânia if those three points help them win promotion to the top flight next season.

And no, I’m not sorry for the references.

Brazil v Spain: Final - FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013

Prior to Sunday night’s Confederations Cup final against World and European champions Spain at the Maracanã, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari anticipated that victory for his team “would regain a lot of credibility and respect from our fans.”

It’s worth remembering, more so than ever in the afterglow of their astonishing 3­-0 win, what state the Seleção were in as they approached the competition a month ago. Confidence wasn’t high. People around the world were sceptical about the team and its individual components.

The received wisdom was that this Brazil side wasn’t up to the high standards set by its predecessors. They had slipped to 22nd in the FIFA rankings, an imperfect and often derided metric, but an indicator nonetheless of how a country rates.

After their elimination in the quarter­finals of the 2010 World Cup by the Netherlands, Dunga was replaced as head coach with Mano Menezes. It was supposedly a move away from a counter-­attacking, un-­Brazilian style of play, in which the physical appeared to take the priority over the technical, to one that was closer to their traditions of flair, seizing the initiative and entertaining the crowd.

There was a transition from one generation to another too. The old guard was more or less done away with and a new breed brought through in order to prepare them for the 2014 World Cup. So Brazil went from one extreme to the other. Many of the players weren’t ready. For the most part, they were based at home and so lacked international experience. It would take time to make the adjustment.

In the meantime, Brazil looked like a soft touch. They lost some of their aura. Paraguay knocked them out in the quarter­finals of the 2011 Copa America on penalties. Mexico beat them in the final of 2012 Olympic football tournament.

If Menezes had been sacked there and then few would have been surprised. Ironically, his dismissal came a few months later just as Brazil had started to show signs of real progress under his management. Were they shooting themselves in the foot?
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Confederation Cup over, now back to the grinding of that best of mills, the Transfer Mill.

What sludge doth pour forth from its weathered timber tower today?

Hello Paulinho! For £17 million to Tottenham Hotspur from Corinthians. There are many clear reasons why this could be a very beneficial move (although Ted Knutson for one has his doubts), but his asking price is just under double transfermarkt’s guesstimated value from last December at £9 million. His performance with Confed Cup winners Brazil no doubt played a part, although we shouldn’t be quick to blame Spurs for the inflation—if even one dumbass throws money at Corinthians based on a summer friendly holiday tour with a major home advantage, everyone has to pay more. This is why transfer market stupidity must be rooted out of the system completely.

There may in fact be method in Spurs’ madness. Knutson for example questions the value in picking up another midfielder on a team that seems to be in desperate need of a better back line. But Jonathan Wilson’s Five Things We Learned from the Confed points to the trend of the attacking full-back gone wild, and he singled out Paulinho as a paragon of restraint:

Yes, they beat Spain 3-0 and, yes, they improved as the tournament went on but this Brazil side still have major flaws. The forward surges of Marcelo and Dani Alves can leave them dreadfully exposed at the back, particularly when both go at the same time. It’s true that Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho became increasingly adept at covering for them as the tournament progressed, and that relationship should improve over the next 12 months, but even so, Brazil again and again were saved by David Luiz, who popped up to resolve crises with the implausible regularity of an Agatha Christie detective.

While not exactly totaalvoetbal, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the old “two stable guys at the back” approach may no longer be enough. One wonders what Roberto Carlos thinks of his countrymen’s failure to run the other way.

That’s not the only bit of transfer weirdness for us to scoff at. Christopher Samba is heading back to Russia for 12 million after an ill-fated stint in Shepherd’s Bush:

QPR defender Christopher Samba is set for a swift return to Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala.

Mega-rich Anzhi, who have the likes of former Barcelona star Samuel Eto’o and ex-Chelsea and Arsenal man Lassana Diarra on their books, sold the former Blackburn defender to the Hoops last January for a reported £12.5m.

However, the Russian side are keen to re-sign the giant centre-back and QPR look set to recoup most of the money they paid for the 29-year-old.

This may seem mad until one realizes that transfer fees are paid in installments and that the £500,000 lobbed off the transfer fee from the original deal had likely already been paid. As an astute Tweeter points out:

In other words this is probably just a mulligan. Still, it’s fun to let everyone think that this is about as dull as football’s decision-makers get.


As Tweets of the increasingly large protests in Brazil continue to reveal a country in turmoil, the national football sections are mostly silent. The Guardian leads with news of Arsenal signing Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain, The Daily Mail leads with news of Thiago Alcantara signing for Manchester United for £17 million, and ESPNFC has a lead editorial on the continued vilification of Fernando Torres.

This is not to blame anyone. Football sections are for football, and the reasons for the protests are becoming more and more politically diverse, as is often the pattern with national uprisings. We cannot expect soccer writers to be political scientists. For those of them not in Brazil, and for us at home, the only sense of the tournament is a static green pitch with changing teams and changing backgrounds. The stadiums are simply names, as are the cities in which they’re located. Once the game is over, it all disappears. Television separates football from geographical and cultural context.

FIFA understands this. Their interest is not in the well-being of Brazil, but in the World Cup. This is why they required the Brazilian government to override the national Fan Code of Consumer Protection to make way for FIFA’s draconian General Law of the World Cup, allowing for tax-free consumer zones and the end of provisions allowing ticket discounts for students and seniors, all to maximize profits for FIFA.

This is why people like FIFA’s general secretary Jerome Valcke have said in the recent past, “…less democracy is sometimes better for organizing a World Cup.” FIFA regards the world as a giant television studio for its lucrative product, convincing host nations to claw at each other and submit bribes to ExCo members in return for the right to sign over their economic rights and build white elephant stadiums for a month-long tournament.

They did not count of course on the nation of football worshippers to dare question their governments allegiance to the self-interested whims of an unaccountable governing body. Now, the preparatory event is in shambles, the subject of rumours of cancellations. If FIFA want the World Cup to be a celebratory event, they will need to work with the government to allow concessions to satisfy protesters that every day Brazilians will eventually see tangible benefits from the tournament. They’ll need to start right now, today.

FBL-WC2014-CONFED-BRA-MEX-SUPPORTERSIt took 21-year-old Brazilian striker Neymar all of three minutes to collect the first goal of the 2013 Confederations Cup. After his one-touch volley hit the corner of the net, the home crowd in Brasilia flooded the stands with the white noise of an applauding ocean, forcing an unorchestrated wave of yellow and green shirts.

The tournament is little more than a dress rehearsal for hosting next year’s World Cup, but strikes like that – so refined as to appear natural – have a way of making fans huddled in a stadium forget about context and embrace the moment in and of itself. For the Brazilians outside the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha on Saturday, the conditions that surround their country hosting this tournament and the 2014 FIFA World Cup weren’t so easily escaped.

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Neymar strikes in Brazil

The Confederations Cup is underway in Brazil and one of the main attractions–Barcelona newcomer Neymar–has already stolen the show. Less than 3 minutes in the Brazilian star opened the scoring against Japan.


The Lead

First, this:

So Suarez’s agent’s damage control was all for naught. This is happening. Remember kids: any less than 40 million pounds and LFC don’t know what they’re doing. And yes, it does seem the press did play a role:

Anyhoo, tis the season for friendlies! And while they don’t exactly lend themselves to white hot preview action as well as their competitive counterparts, there is always some grandiose theme to extrapolate out of the otherwise meaningless proceedings.

Over in Brazil for example, a judge called off a friendly that was to be held at Rio’s newly-renovated Maracana stadium. That is until her ruling was reversed:

However a statement on the Rio state government confirms the stadium complies with “all safety rules”.

The statement also confirmed the safety certificate was granted.

“All safety requirements for the friendly between Brazil and England have been complied with and, because of a bureaucratic failure, the appraisal from the public ministry that proves the compliance with the rules on safety at the Maracana have not been sent to Suderj,” the statement read.

Suderj is a division of the Rio de Janeiro state authority that holds responsibility for administrative issues with major sports venues.

Apparently these safety guarantees didn’t make it to the office responsible for approving sporting venues because of a “bureaucratic mistake.” And, make no mistake, this and the first person testimonials we’ll be seeing on Monday about the shoddy state of the place from England fans will be used to push an “Is Brazil Really Ready?” line.

As for the game itself, a bit of pish, a reason to look at Neymar, and whinge about two banks of four.

A little further north, Toronto’s slightly sturdier BMO Field will be the site of another, potentially more fiery rematch between the Canadian and American national women’s teams. They haven’t met since the epic 4-3 Olympic semifinal match in London, a game that still draws a bitter divides otherwise friendly soccer nations.

Equally bitter: fans of the Canadian mens team over the lavish attention paid to their more successful female counterparts? Perhaps, and there is some grumbling about a smaller pool of talented nations in women’s soccer flattering Canada. But fans of the program should put any sniping aside; Canadian soccer rarely enjoys this kind of attention, and the Canadian Soccer Association is milking it well.

The trick, as Duane Rollins wrote yesterday, would be to view this match as another opportunity to spur on a national development program, rather than a glorified back-slap. Attendant media would do well to ask Canada’s technical director and president what movements have been made to implement the recommendations for a division three national league.