Archive | July, 2011

Neymar Golazo

29 Jul

In one of the games of the young Brazilian season which ended 5-4 in favor of Ronaldinho’s Flamengo (who scored a hat trick of his own), Neymar converted a Puskás Award worthy goal. Sporting a more tempered, Justin Bieber like hairdo, Neymar produced the sort of brilliance you will only see from a Samba boy.

His already stratospheric transfer fee seems destined to inflate even more if he continues to perform like this.

Where In The World Is…FC Barcelona?

28 Jul

Getting yelled at in Washington DC!! In town for Saturday evening’s Champions League Final rematch against Manchester United at FedEx Field, Barcelona kept up their tradition of training in parks by attempting to do so again on the National Mall. Unfortunately, one of the park rangers took exception with their presence and accosted the squad like an unruly group of middle school kids on a field trip.

“Who’s the leader of this group? Where’s the leader of this group?”

She even raises her hand in an effort to get their attention! Quite comical for one of the most popular and recognizable teams in the world. A lesson in American sports culture.

Look Alikes

28 Jul

Lionel Messi vs Bizarro Lionel Messi in El Prat airport (photo courtesy of Gerard Pique)

Gael Clichy + Reggie Bush = Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo)

Women’s World Cup Final Breaks Twitter Record

18 Jul

Move over fellas. The women are the biggest draw around this summer. With the viewing numbers set to be released in the next few days (and expect some records to be shattered), the internet has already revealed a new Twitter record for the Women’s World Cup final yesterday afternoon. The match between the United States and Japan drew an average 7,196 tweets per second at its peak, breaking the previously held record of 6,939 set just after midnight in Japan on New Year’s Day.

Sunday’s theme was undoubtedly penalty kicks, as viewers watched Japan defeat the United States followed by Paraguay over Brazil just minutes later. The 3:00pm kick-off for the Copa America quarterfinal, 15 minutes after the Women’s World Cup match began, provided a continuous nail-biting climax for viewers. As a result, Brazil-Paraguay generated 7,166 tweets per second, claiming second place on the all-time list.

For a bit of perspective, here are the peaks from other recent major events:

5,530 – Earthquake/tsunami in Japan
5,106 – Bin Laden’s death
4,064 – Super Bowl XLV, Green Bay vs Pittsburgh
3,966 – Kate and William’s wedding
3,051 – 2010 men’s World Cup Final, Spain vs Holland

Granted with approximately 600,000 new Twitter users daily, more recent events will generate a greater volume of tweets. Regardless, it is a testament to this World Cup and the manner in which the women competed that so many people around the world were drawn to their television screens on Sunday afternoon. Drama, resilience, and the absence of simulation and diving made the final, and the entire tournament for that matter, a must-see event.

Now if only the men can learn to emulate that…

Brazil Bottles the Penalty Shootout

18 Jul

Shambolic, catastrophic, embarrassing, shocking, unprecedented, entertaining, humorous – all accurate descriptions of Brazil’s role in the penalty shootout with Paraguay last night. In becoming the first team in history to miss every spot kick in a Copa America shootout, Brazil exited unceremoniously from a tournament in which they never looked the threatening force everyone expected.

Lauded for their technique and aesthetically pleasing ability, Brazil’s shooters were anything but. Balls airlifted to the International Space Station or misplaced so wide, the photographers found themselves in harm’s way. One after the other they approached. Elano came first and I knew he would miss, as I am a firm believer that you never choose a kicker who has only played minimal minutes in the match (see Nicolas Anelka’s sorry effort in the 2008 Champions League Final or USA’s Tobin Heath yesterday in the Women’s World Cup Final).

Elano’s approach showed indecision and a lack of confidence.  Thiago Silva, a center back, shot his ball into the gut of the keeper. Andre Santos? A souvenir for the cheap seats. Fred? Perhaps he had issues with the photographers and took his anger out on them. Of the four shooters, two were defenders while the other two were substitutes who played a combined 51 minutes of the 120.

You can question Mano Menezes’ selection of kickers or the shoddy playing surface (although the Paraguayans had no issue), but the Brazilians have only themselves to blame. While they never fail to thrill in their victories, at least they remain consistent in defeat.

Does Hair Style Affect Goal Tally?

13 Jul

French international Djibril Cissé signed with Lazio today, citing racism as the main reason for his departure from Greece. Cissé is probably best known for his eccentric and creative hair styles, which include not only the hair atop his head but facial hair as well. From the neck up, the man appears to be dressed like a clown. What you may find surprising, though, is the amount of goals he has scored throughout his career. Although he’s moved around to a number of clubs, each destination has resulted in consistent and at times significant goal tallies.

Which made me wonder: does the hair have anything to do with goal production? Does he score more with a blue mohawk than he does with a bleached beard?

In order to find out, a collage of pictures was created from each of the five clubs where he has played (Auxerre, Liverpool, Marseilles, Sunderland, and Panathanaikos). Each collage was then compared to the number of goals scored for that club and voilà, a conclusion was drawn.

The results may surprise you… Continue reading

River Plate Fan Goes Mental

11 Jul

Every supporter reacts to their team’s successes and failures in different ways. Some are loud, outgoing, boisterous folk who can barely stay seated throughout an entire match. Others are laid back and quiet, more comfortable beating themselves up rather than a piece of furniture. Of course, there is no right or wrong way to support your club. However, I think everyone can agree that whatever your personality, a game of unprecedented historical significance  involving your beloved club or country can evoke unbridled enthusiasm from even the most reserved of individuals.

Which brings us to the gentleman in this video. A diehard River Plate supporter, he witnessed his club’s relegation to the Argentine Second Division at the hands of Belgrano from the confines of his home along with the rest of his family. Facing an event never before seen in the 110 year history of the Buenos Aires club, it is little surprise this match tugged at the very fabric of this man’s heart and soul.  Luckily, his son set up a camera to record his father’s shenanigans over the course of ninety minutes. Somehow, it was summarized in seven.

I won’t even bother translating the tirades as they are extremely offensive and vulgar, and frankly you don’t really need to understand what is being said. Just sit back and enjoy.

Where In The World Is… Arsene Wenger?

7 Jul

Off the coast of Corsica having quite an enjoyable time as his club falls apart piece by piece (or at least he was). It seems that in all aspects of life these days, Wenger is heading down a slippery slope. (Boy that was too easy!!) The Fabregas saga continues to drag out with the player becoming more frustrated each day. Clichy has already shipped off to the Middle Eastlands, while Nasri seems destined to follow – which side of Manchester is yet to be determined. Inter outbid them for Ricardo Alvarez, and it appears the previously considered surplus requirements now can’t find an interested buyer, yet Arsenal may be forced to keep them to fill roster spots as more players leave. At least Gervinho, another French-based unproven player, is en route to the Emirates.

And Wenger? Carefree as ever by the looks of these photos. Always the optimist, I’m sure that once the exodus is complete, he’ll claim that the current squad is as strong as it has ever been and will challenge for trophies.

Where are the reassurances that all will be well at the Emirates, as the rest of the big clubs in England bolster their squads? Where is the new great talent to convince supporters the 6.5% increase on season tickets is worth it?

Wenger’s silence is criminal, and his actions this transfer period are preposterous. He does not deserve this pirates of the Mediterranean yacht trip with Arsenal’s former Vice-Chairman David Dein while his club look set for a Europa League spot this coming season. But then again, Arsene knows best right?

More photos below: Continue reading

La Liga Releases 2011/12 Fixture List

6 Jul

Almost every country treats the release of the fixture list like a national holiday, crafting the rumors, conspiracy theories, and potential outcomes months in advance just to spark interest. Luckily for Spain, the press need not conjure up such ridiculous and outlandish stories since the boneheads who run the RFEF do all the work for them. And believe me, bonehead is an understatement.

For better or for worse, depending on how you see the rivalry progressing, Real Madrid and Barcelona will resume their war of attrition before the season kicks off with the two-legged Spanish Super Cup. Here’s the fun part: the first leg will be played in Madrid on August 14th at 10pm, while the second leg will kick off in Barcelona on the 17th at…11pm!!!! That is not a mistake. The reason for this is that UEFA Champions League qualifiers will be held that day, and UEFA forbids any other matches to be played in the same time slot. So rather than exert a little bit more energy to sit around a table and find new dates, the league pushed the return leg to 11pm. And they still wonder why they can’t attract more viewers around the globe…

The first regular season Clásico will take place on December 11th in the capital, just four days before Barcelona are scheduled to play in the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan, so expect plenty of verbal sparring as they try to change the date. The second leg is scheduled for April 22nd in Barcelona, which will be the third-to-last fixture of the season wedged between the Champions League Semifinal legs. Tasty!

Don’t expect a slow first weekend either as the docket is loaded with derbies and a potential top three clash. The reason I say “potential” is that Málaga has never come close to finishing that high up the table, but with the arrival of new owners from Qatar accompanied by a war chest of money to spend, Málaga could very well be the surprise team to fight the duopoly. What better way to start that campaign than welcoming Barcelona on the very first day?! As for the derbies, both Madrid clubs will face the two Basque outfits, Real Sociedad vs Atlético and Real Madrid vs Athletic, while down in Andalucia, Betis reacquaint themselves with top flight football by welcoming their hated crosstown rivals Sevilla.

Five of the next eight matches will be tricky for Barcelona, who usually find their rhythm in late November into December. Following Málaga they return home for Villarreal,  but then travel to Sociedad and Valencia, and host Atlético and Sevilla at home.  Real Madrid won’t face stiff competition until week nine at Málaga followed by a home match against Villarreal.

La Liga supporter depression aka the Christmas break begins December 19th, with the league scheduled to resume play on January 6th, at which point English players will be “exhausted” from lack of a break and the press will already have their excuses for the team’s early dismissal from the European Championships in the Summer.

Overall, it appears the schedule was not fixed, and the league should benefit from big early season matchups.

For a full list of the fixtures, click here. Just a little over a month away from the first Clásico! Buckle up.

WAG Wednesday Part 23 – Women’s World Cup

6 Jul

Please forgive me for not having presented the best football being played in the world right now (apologies to MLS, Copa America, and the “racially biased” Russian league), and you need look no further than the Women’s World Cup in Germany. Not only are there as many group stage goals now, twenty games in, as there were in South Africa last summer (51 compared to 39), but a number of them are some of the best pieces of technique and brilliance you will see all year.

Top of the list has to be the thunderous strike from East Brunswick, New Jersey’s very own Heather O’Reilly on Saturday afternoon against Sweden. O’Reilly latched on to the ball from about 30 yards out and ripped it inside-out past a keeper who couldn’t do anything but watch. Adding to the goal’s greatness was, of course, Ian Darke’s commentary – a voice that can make a great goal stand the tests of time. It was also personally special for this author, who had the pleasure of watching Heather in high school as she single-handedly tore apart team after team throughout the state. A trip to powerhouse North Carolina, taking up Mia Hamm’s number nine shirt, and a career that brought her all the way to Germany with that strike the other day, made it a truly special moment to watch.

Now unlike the Men’s World Cup last summer when countless models only conditionally stated they would strip, these girls have the mettle to actually do so. Therefore, in order to welcome the world to their country, the German team shed all for Playboy just before the tournament began. German hospitality, eh?

As for the rest of the lot, we’ve already had our first Brandi Chastian moment of the tournament. While celebrating with some home fans in the corner following her team’s 1-0 win over North Korea, Josefine Oqvist was greeted by a German fan looking to swap shirts in true post-game fashion. And just like her fellow German footballers, the straw-haired Swedish bombshell showed some skin, much to the delight of every fan in that section.

 

 

With that, you have every reason you need to watch this tournament. More photos of Josefine after the jump: Continue reading

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