Archive for the ‘World Cup 2014’ Category

A replica of the FIFA Soccer World Cup Trophy is pictured at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich

The World Cup is fast approaching (duh duh duh). While most of us are steeped in Football Think 24/7, the World Cup offers a moment to reflect on the history and meaning of the game. As such, whether you’re a hardcore football nerd or a relative beginner, this is a good opportunity to some reading in order to better appreciate the four week tournament in Brazil. Here therefore are six books worth your time ahead of the big show in June. I’ve also included whether it’s good for quick reads in the bathroom, or long reads on the subway.

1. The Story of the World Cup by Brian Glanville ($14.79)

Bathroom read or subway read?: Bathroom.

Why it’s great: This book is the reason I decided to start writing about football. Glanville summarizes every World Cup stretching back to the 1930 tournament, and his storytelling ability will change not only how you view football, but sportswriting itself. Unfortunately, some of the later entries are in need of a solid edit or two, but pretty much everything through to 1998 is fascinating and will genuinely make you excited for the inevitable let down this summer (kidding, maybe).

2. Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life by Alex Bellos ($7.58)

Bathroom read or subway read?: Subway.

Why it’s great: Alex Bellos gives the reader an incredible glimpse into the passion for football in Brazil, including a retelling of the disastrous World Cup final at the Maracana in 1950. My favorite bit involved the story of the Brazilians plying their trade in the Faroe Islands.

3. The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football by David Goldblatt ($19.26)

Bathroom read or subway read? Subway, definitely.

Why it’s great: Goldblatt presents an exhaustive global history of the sport, starting from its ancient origins and moving through the modern game. At 911 pages It is incredibly long but you basically leave this book armed with over 150 years of football history banging around in your brain. I don’t know if that’s a good thing necessarily, but it’s an interesting read.

4. Inverting the Pyramid: A History of Football Tactics by Jonathan Wilson ($15.43)

Bathroom read or subway read?: Subway.

Why it’s great: The subtitle could just as well have been “The history of football through football tactics”, though that wouldn’t be very good. I’m not sure if this book will get you to understand tactics any better than you do now, but you’ll get a good sense of formations throughout the years. A must-read.

5. And Gazza Misses the Final: Epic World Cup clashes minute-by-minute as they really happened by Rob Smyth and Scott Murray (£8.99)

Bathroom read or subway read?: Neither. Read surreptitiously at work alongside YouTube vids of the relevant matches.

Why it’s great: There is no way to understate this: Murray and Smyth are two of the best MBMers (and writers) the Guardian ever had on staff. It may seem weird to do a compilation but this is a hugely accessible way to relive some classic World Cup matches in context. Cannot recommend enough.

6. Falling for football: The teams that shaped our obsession compiled & edited by Adam Bushby and Rob MacDonald ($2.93 on Kindle)

Bathroom read or subway read?: Bathroom, for those…longer…sessions?

Why it’s great: Though this is a bit of a plug as I’m in it, having read most of it, it’s a wonderful group of stories of how regular joes first came to fall in love with football. Feeling good about things before the World Cup is sometimes difficult to do…this should help.

Brazil's Neymar carries a young soccer fan at the end of their international friendly soccer match against South Africa at the First National Bank (FNB) Stadium, also known as Soccer City

Devang Desai, James Bigg and pod newcomer Gianluca Nesci sit down to talk about Jack Wilshere’s injury, Brazil’s sterling performance and Mesut Ozil’s rough 2014.

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Valcke holds up the slip showing "Portugal" during the draw for the 2014 World Cup in Sao Joao da Mata

So! The draw! It happened! The World Cup is an event that is happening! With teams! Thirty-two of them!

First, the presentation. Things began in very FIFA-like fashion with no audio, then suddenly the booming, familiar world feed voice of John Helm (who’s reigned in his sniffing over the years) giving us badly timed English translation over the pretty Portuguese speaking faces of Fernanda Lima and her husband Rodrigo Hilbert, a choice that might turn out to be racist. The sound production was awful pretty much throughout, though this is a visual exercise.

Things kicked off with a well-put together tribute to the late Nelson Mandela and his long association with football, although there was a choice, long cut of Mandela embracing FIFA president Sepp Blatter. This was cancelled out a little by a lovely shot of Pele kissing Mandiba, which was the only earnestly moving moment of the day.

Then what followed for the next hour or so was vintage FIFA. Awkward transitions. Musical numbers with a lack of choreography. Unfortunate choices in dress. Poor audio (did I mention the sound production?).

And of course bumbling old Blatter himself, strutting out out after a short tourism video, violently grabbing the mic out of Lima’s lovely hands while avoiding eye contact, only to aggressively exhort the audience to “applaud, please!” The Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff added some words on Brazil’s multicultural make up, and the Blatter was back doing his “football builds bridges” and making a barely disguised plea to the Brazilian people to play nicey nice next summer.

Then a montage featuring a little kid wearing his dad’s blazer or something, running through World Cup history in a kind of high school production only to literally pick up an hour glass at the end to represent the passage of time. That happened. No I don’t have a GIF of it.

Del Bosque came out to threaten the other 31 nations with annihilation, and then more creepy dancing with poor audio featuring a man in a white suit gesturing for his mic to be turned up because of the poor audio, and then Ronaldo! RONALDO! Thank the Lord! And he promised us the best World Cup ever, for which we should be grateful.

As if that wasn’t good enough, the giant furry Armadillo came out! And don’t sniff at the jittery Fuleco—his Wikipedia page is longer than some dead English kings. This preceded a pretty neat dance choreography thing with attractive people moving their bodies, wearing short shorts.

Then Pele! I don’t know what he said though: poor audio and Helm’s booming voice. After a quick panorama featuring the stadiums, Jerome Valcke walked on, which is the best way to know that this was all about to go down.


Geoff Hurst. Mario Kempes, Fabio Cannavaro, Lothar Matthaus, Zidane, Cafu…lovely. After a completely, utterly bewildering explanation of the existence of something called Pot X, we got into it in earnest, and…well…it was quick. The highlight of the night? Geoff Hurst grabbing one of the few remaining European nations in the pot, smirked, nodded his head confidently, and then brought it over to Valcke. The man who scored a World Cup final hat-trick, winning England the World Cup, drew them in Group D alongside Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Italy. Anyway, this is how the draw unfolded:

And the USA…oh the USA. At first it was funny, and things got sick. Group G with Portugal and Ronaldo, with Ghana and a history of failure against Ghana, with Germany, a World Cup favourite. They will pray for some of this:

For the neutral though, there is a LOT to like in the early stages. Group B could be a blockbuster, and an opportunity for Chile to cause a major upset. Group C is a very interesting prospect, with a potential barnstormer in Colombia vs Ivory Coast, and a good chance for Japan to do some real damage. Group H is a good a group as Belgium could have wished for, and France will be counting their blessings having drawn Group E for easy.

And we also talked about the draw on the podcast!

Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship - Final Round

Eric Beard Tweeted this earlier:

Here’s the scoop from Ad Age:

Setting up its own version of an upfront market, Twitter will be conducting a blind auction overseen by PricewaterhouseCoopers to sell promoted trends later this month, according to a sales deck obtained by Ad Age. It’s the first time Twitter has set up an auction specifically for a tentpole event and an indication of how it will sell scarce inventory connected to events like the Olympics, the Oscars or the Super Bowl in the future.

Because promoted trends are viewed by an entire nation, and globally during the World Cup, the money on offer should be pretty good. The article claims the base rate per promoted trend will be $600,000 US. The “reserve” price for the Gold package is $3.06 million. Long gone it seems are the days when we’d all joke about how football “broke Twitter.” Social media FTW.

The auction is set for July 25th, which only gives the enterprising activist thirteen days to Kickstart a grassroots promoted Twitter trend campaign.

Some suggestions:





Please leave yours. We’ve got less than two weeks people!

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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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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By Carlo Campo

The seemingly endless cycle of South American qualifiers is back underway and, believe it or not, it’s finally approaching the final stages. After Tuesday’s fixtures are completed, no team will have more than six fixtures remaining. There should be a clearer picture as to what nations will reach Brazil 2014 and what nations will miss out.

Not surprisingly, Argentina’s lethal offence has the country leading the supergrupo. With 23 goals in 10 matches and the best goal difference on the continent, a win away to Bolivia on Tuesday would give La Albiceleste a total of 26 points, a number many believe is already good enough to qualify them for next year’s World Cup.

And if there’s one team that’s making a lot of noise in the region, it’s Colombia. After a sketchy start that included a draw at home to Venezuela followed up by a 2-1 home loss to Argentina, Los Cafeteros are on a four-game winning streak that has seen them tear apart Uruguay 4-0, snatch an important 3-1 away win against Chile, and humiliate Bolivia 5-0 last Friday. Some believe Colombia’s current crop of players is the best generation of players their national team has ever had.

Against this backdrop, there is a third team whose campaign is also in cruise control and who is quietly sitting in third place in South American qualifying: Ecuador.
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