Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

Confederations Cup 2013: Team Guide (Group A)

The Confederations Cup will kick-off with hosts Brazil taking on 2011 Asian Cup winners, Japan. The tournament will run for just over two weeks, concluding at the world-famous Maracana on June 30th.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Confederations Cup, it is a warm-up tournament for the World Cup effectively. The winners of various continental tournaments will take part. The eight sides participating in it are Brazil (hosts), Spain (2010 World Cup & Euro 2012 winner), Mexico (Gold Cup winner), Japan (Asian Cup winner), Tahiti (OFC Nations Cup winner), Uruguay (2011 Copa America winner), Nigeria (African Cup of Nations winner) and Italy (Euro 2012 runners-up).

 

Brazil

FIFA world ranking: 22nd

Manager: Felipe Scolari

Host nation Brazil will be aiming to win their third consecutive Confederations Cup after triumphs in 2005 & 2009. However, the lack of competitive games will hurt the team. “Spain are way ahead…the fact that we’re only playing friendlies doesn’t help” admits Lucas Moura. Despite falling down the world rankings – now at an all-time low position – Brazil will be hoping to put on a display for their fanatic supporters and the watching world.

Is Neymar set to shine at the Confederations Cup?

Key players:

While a majority of football fans around the world are familiar with Neymar, he is yet to justify the hype surrounding him on a ‘major stage’, or so they claim. At 21 years old, he has already found the back of the net a total of 20 times in 33 appearances for his country. However, a majority of the goals scored were against below par opponents in international friendlies. The Confederations Cup is the perfect stage for Neymar to silence the doubters before playing his football in Europe for Barcelona after the €57 million euro deal.

Arguably one of the worlds best defenders, Thiago Silva is a key figure in the Brazilian team. After a frustrating start to the season with PSG due to niggling injuries, he recovered well to help the star-studded French outfit lift the league title for the first time since 1994. At the age of 28, Silva is one of the more experienced players that features in the Brazil side. It will be down to him to organise the back line to ensure they do not leak any unnecessary goals.

Japan

FIFA world ranking: 32nd

Manager: Alberto Zaccheroni

Japan became the first team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. The Confederations Cup will offer a real test for the Asian side who will most definitely welcome the challenge. Former Milan, Inter and Lazio coach, Alberto Zaccheroni, has failed to find a clinical finisher for the national team which has led to a reliance on the talented midfield. A total of 14 of the Japanese squad play their football in Europe, a majority of which are contracted to German clubs so they are used to playing at a top-level. If the manager can finally strike a balance between attack and defence then Japan could cause an upset or two this month.

Key players:

Shinji Kagawa is possibly the most famous name on the team sheet. He is also the most creative player in the Japanese squad, who has the ability to stretch the opposition and leave defenders falling out of position. His first season in the Premier League was shortened with an injury but he still managed to score six goals in 20 games for the league champions. He will be out to impress new United manager, David Moyes with a string of good performances at the Confederations Cup.

Can Japan upset the odds?

Another player that will cause opposition problems, is midfielder Keisuke Honda.  The attacking midfielder caught the eyes of many with his performances for Japan at the 2010 World Cup, where they were narrowly defeated by Paraguay in the last 16. Considered a deal ball specialist who can slot into a second striker position if need be.  Honda will be a threat to opposing goalkeepers if granted the opportunity. He is out of contract at the end of the season, so there will be plenty of clubs keeping an eye on him.

Football at the Olympics: Who Cares?

Last Saturday, I found myself at Wembley Stadium watching a highly entertaining game between Mexico and Senegal. Despite it being a six goal thriller and an almost full Wembley, I couldn’t help but ask myself  “Does the Olympics really care about football?”. Over 81,000 spectators at the match would suggest that people do care but then again a lot of people I talked to (Some of them football fans) didn’t even realise that football was in fact an Olympic sport.

Olympic football made its first appearance in 1900 at the games in Paris, a total of 30 years before the World Cup (Although international sides didn’t really make an appearance until 1908) . It has appeared in every Olympics since, apart from the 1932 Los Angeles games where it was dropped to try and promote American Football.

It seems to me that a vast majority of non-football fans almost look down on Football in the Olympics and feel that it should be done away with due to the fact that it features professional footballers who “make millions a year”. The same could be said for Tennis, Basketball and eventually Golf which will feature at the next Olympics. In my opinion that is no reason to want to get rid of the sport which has been in the Olympics for so long.

Then again the hardcore football fan doesn’t seem to care too much for Olympic football either, seeing it as more an inconvenience than anything as they eagerly await the new football season to start. It seems to me that they would rather see their player take part in pre-season with his club than try to get an Olympic medal for his country.

From my experience the people going to the games weren’t the usual crowd who would be attending football matches across Britain. It was definitely a more relaxed family atmosphere and I have to admit it felt strange at first but soon enough I started to really enjoy myself as a neutral. Something I don’t get the pleasure of doing too often but it’s not something I want to get used to either.

A talented Brazilian side.

One country that is really going for gold this Summer is Brazil, who arguably have one of the most talented and star-studded squads. With the likes of Neymar, Pato, Hulk, Thiago Silva and Marcelo in the team it was hard to bet against them. The Brazilians have never won gold at the Olympics and it has now almost became an obsession for them, especially since their rivals Argentina are the current holders. One country that definitely cares about Olympic football.

They will face Mexico in the final on Saturday, a side who has fewer stars than Brazil but is packed with young talented footballers.

Being Irish I obviously couldn’t get emotionally attached to any team at this Summers Olympics but I enjoyed the football on display nonetheless. For me, it is a chance to see the next group of players coming through the ranks for each country and potentially witness a star being born on the world stage.

Leave your opinions in the comments below.

Time is golden

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has asked for an alternative to penalties, so is it time to bring back the golden goal rule?

The golden goal rule: Following a draw, two fifteen-minute halves of extra-time are played. If any team scores a goal during extra time, that team becomes the winner and the game ends at once. The winning goal is known as the “golden goal.” If there are no goals after both periods of extra time, penalties decide the game.

Golden goal was introduced in 1993 by Fifa but was not made compulsory, individual competitions could choose whether to stick with traditional extra time (15 minutes a half) or golden goal. The first major international tournament the rule was introduced for was Euro ’96 in England, hoping to promote more attacking play. However it didn’t exactly promote attacking play at all, with teams more concerned about conceding than trying to get the match winning goal. Oliver Bierhoff did in fact score a golden goal in the final to win Germany the Euro’s though.

Probably the most famous golden goal was scored at Euro 2000 when French striker David Trezeguet sealed the winner with a stunning strike.

Many will also remember the Italians crashing out of the World Cup 2002 to a South Korea golden goal that shocked the world.

Golden goal didn’t really last too long though, officially being removed in 2004 despite giving us some great moments over the years along with some very dull moments.

As a football fan I do believe that reintroducing golden goal would add more excitement and suspense to extra-time, knowing that one mistake or one kick of the ball could win or lose the game for either side. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve watched two teams knock the ball about during extra-time, both looking pretty content to bring it to penalties. Golden goal, I believe, would somewhat do-away with the defensive mentality adopted during extra-time.

David Trezeguet famously scores a golden goal to win Euro 2000 for France.

Task Force Football 2014 was set up to come up with an alternative to penalty shoot-outs even though I don’t think penalties are the main problem, extra-time is. It looks likely that golden goal could be that alternative but what will make it different than before? How can they guarantee that teams will not adopt a defensive mentality once again? We’ll have to wait to see what they come up with, if they do come with an alternative at all.

Do you think they should reintroduce golden goal or should everything remain as it is?

Spain, The Best Ever?

Amid all the celebrations of Spain’s success comes the argument; Are they the best national side ever?

But first, which teams rival Spain?

First up: The Brazil team of 1970, a fantastic side with fantastic players, playing with the traditional Brazilian brass and style. A side that included Pelé, Carlos Alberto, Roberto Rivelino and Tostão and was coached by Mario Zagallo. It certainly has all the attributes to be credited with the award. The Brazilian team won the World Cup in Mexico beating Italy 4-1 with goals from Pele, Gerson, Jairzinho, and Carlos Alberto and up until this Spanish side they were regarded as the greatest national side by many. But you have to remember that in 1970 the World Cup was made up of just 16 teams, which means fewer teams but also suggests that it was more competitive from the start with no easy games.

Next up: West Germany of 1974 no doubt one of the finest sides that Germany produced and one of the finest to come from Europe. A side that included Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, and Paul Breitner. West Germany beat a Johan Cryuff led Dutch side 2-1. West Germany also hosted the tournament.

My third challenger: This would be the French side that won the 1998 World Cup which was also hosted by France. This French side was littered with stars including the irresistible Zinedine Zidane. Alongside Zidane there was a 20 year old Thierry Henry, Laurent Blanc, and Didier Deschamps. France beat Brazil 3-0 with Zidane getting two and Petit getting the third. This French side also won the European Championship in 2000.

But what about the current Spanish side? What makes them most people’s stand out choice?

This Spain side become untouchable, quite literally, with stats showing that Spain dominate most matches in possession and passes attempted/completed. But for me what stands out between this Spain side and the other great national sides is that this isn’t just a great team but this is more of an era. The Spanish era started in 2008 when they won the European Championship they continued their good form and style in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with Spain lifting the iconic trophy after beating Holland 1-0 after extra time. In this year’s European Championship Spain always looked in control of their own destiny and ran out 4-0 winners against an Italian side that merited more than the scoreboard suggested. But in any case it seems Spain are set to be the team to beat in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and if they do manage to retain their World Cup crown they would defiantly be regarded as the best by almost all.

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In any case the beauty about football is that it is a game of opinions and the simple case is that we will never know which side is the best national side ever.

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The Ultimate Debate: Pele vs Messi

As you get to a certain level you will always be compared to the best in any sport. In football the greatest of all-time in many people’s eyes is Brazilian legend Pele.  Not much people imagined somebody challenging Pele for the title of ‘greatest of all time’ but then came along Lionel Leo Messi. Are these comparisons premature or justified?

Last night saw Messi score four goals against Espanyol. This brings him to 50 goals in La Liga and 72 in all-competitions this season which is now a new record, having beaten Archie Stark’s 70 goals in one-season for Bethlehem Steel in 1924/25. Nobody can argue that it’s an amazing achievement.

Despite the numerous records he has broken is he on Pele’s level?

Pele claims Messi needs to score 1,000 goals before he can be compared to him. Also making a rather absurd statement  “Now everyone is talking about Messi, he is a star. But for Messi to be the best ever, he must first become better than Neymar.”

Pele claims to have scored 1281 goals but only 760 of these were actually official goals. Messi is now on 276 goals, so it’s achievable considering he is still only 24 years of age.

For some people, Messi has to win a World Cup to prove he is the best of all-time as Pele won three with Brazil. Is this fair though? The current Argentina squad who are ranked 10th in the world aren’t even the best team in South America, never mind the world. Whereas Pele played in arguably the greatest international team of all time. Surrounded by world class players like Garrincha, Gilmar, Carlos Alberto and Jairzinho. Brazil lifted three world cups between 1958 and 1970.

Pele celebrating at the 1970 World Cup.

The only success Messi has on the international stage is a under-20 World Cup back in 2005 and an Olympic gold medal won at the 2008 games in Beijing.

However Messi is playing in arguably the greatest league in the world, the La Liga, as well as the worlds greatest club competition the Champions League. These are two competitions Pele never played in. The Brazilian spent most of his playing days at Santos before a two year stint with star studded New York Cosmos.  This is why some (very few) people doubt Pele’s ability as he never tested himself in Europe.

Another day, another record broken for Lionel Messi.

Lionel Messi now has three Ballon d’Or’s to his name and looks likely to add his fourth which will also be another record broken for the Argentinian. He also has won five La Liga titles, three Champions Leagues and two Club World Cup trophies among others with Barcelona. Although this season wasn’t as successful as previous campaigns for Barcelona it is possibly Messi’s greatest individual season so far.

Is Messi the greatest of all-time?

Will he eventually be or is Pele going to remain the best player to ever grace the pitch?