Juan Zuniga with a vicious knee to Neymar’s back, fracturing his vertebrae, put the Brazilian star out of the semi-final of the World Cup. Zuniga’s tackle on Neymar should have been treated quite similar to Suarez’s bite of the Italian defender yet FIFA has failed to act.
Brazil’s captain and defensive technician, Thiago Silva, ridiculously attempted to kick the ball out of the hands of the Colombian goalkeeper and received a second yellow card which meant Brazil would face Germany devoid of its offensive star and defensive stalwart.
Winston Churchill was fond of reiterating that the sun never sets on the British Empire. The decolonization movement after World War II was instrumental in dismantling the British Empire. In recent decades, Britain has been unsuccessful in establishing itself as a world power in soccer. Its Premier League is considered one of the better leagues in the age of global soccer but the England national team has not fared well in the European Cup or the World Cup in recent decades. Britain playing at home won the World Cup in 1966. Since then Britain has been plagued by a trophy drought.
In Brazil 2014, England was knocked out of the group stage. Italy beat them 2-1 and Uruguay also beat them 2-1. England went to the World Cup with a nucleus of young talented players like Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Jordan Henderson and some seasoned hands like Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard.
The World Cup group of Germany, Poland, Ghana and the United States has been characterized as the “Group of Death”. All things being equal, logic dictates that Germany and Portugal should emerge as the two teams that advance. But in soccer, the ball is round.
Portugal played pitifully against Germany and Ronaldo was missing in action. Germany looked like world class material and spanked Portugal 4-0 opening some space for the United States to advance.
In the 2006 and 2010 World Cup, Ghana had beaten America and forced them to return home prematurely. In the 2014 World Cup, Klinsman, the American coach and psychologist, convinced his players that 2014 was a new day and should produce a different outcome.
Like Usain Bolt, America was out of the blocks like a bolt of lightning and in thirty seconds, Dempsey netted to put America ahead. Ghana kept coming like waves of Chinese troops in the Korean War but Tim Howard, the American goalkeeper, kept his team in the game. The Americans were under siege but the Ghanaians did not attack with great imagination. Nonetheless, they did equalize in the latter stages of the second half. The game was deadlocked but in the eleventh hour, the American substitute, John Brooks, a central defender, scored on a corner to put America ahead 2-1. Americans in Brazil and outside of Brazil erupted with unbelievable joy.
America still has a steep mountain to climb. Portugal is wounded but still dangerous. The Americans must beat or draw with Portugal to have a chance to advance. The Gods are smiling on Jurgen Klinsman and the Americans. Twenty thousand Americans travelled to Brazil to cheer on the red, white and blue.
The opening game of the World Cup will take place in Sao Paulo between the host country, Brazil, and the Baltic nation of Croatia. The beautiful game, to use Pele’s description of soccer, is being played in the political arena of a burgeoning protest movement in Brazil. The protesters are not taking a holiday as the visitors from all parts of the world descend on Brazil to enjoy the spectacle of the World Cup.
Brazil sought both the World Cup of 2014 and the Summer Olympic Games of 2016. The government did not anticipate the domestic turmoil. Brazil has made much progress in recent decades in expanding the middle class and made some efforts in reducing extreme poverty. But the income inequality chasm, though narrowed, is still gaping and fuels the discontent in the favelas and with the unions.
As Yogi Berra was fond of saying, “It isn’t over until the fat lady sings” and the fat lady will not sing until the final whistle has blown on May 11, 2014.
Liverpool lost control of their destiny when they lost to Chelsea a week ago. It was an undeserved goal brought about by a slip by the veteran skipper, Steven Gerrard. In the final outcome, Liverpool was defeated 2-0.
It was easy pickings for Everton as they ran roughshod over Arsenal, emerging with a convincing 3-0 victory. Everton should topple Arsenal from the exalted fourth spot to qualify for the UEFA Champion’s League.The Toffees have a game in hand and have amassed 63 points. The stumbling Arsenal have 64 points with five matches to play.
Under Manager Roberto Martinez, Everton not only plays the beautiful game but players like Barkley, Lukaku and Naismith are excellent passers of the through ball, running into space and finishing with conviction.
Brendan Rodgers’ Red Army has marched themselves to the top of the Barclay’s Premier League. Liverpool find themselves in a splendid position to win the title after a drought of twenty-four years.
Tottenham was in the way but as they did the first time they had an encounter in 2014, Liverpool outplayed the ailing Spurs 4-0. They got a gift from Spurs’ central defender, Kaboul at the opening minutes of the match, another from Suarez, a free kick from Henderson and a spectacular goal from Coutinho. For the ninety minutes, Spurs was not in the same class as Liverpool.
Mourinho has been coy in denying that Chelsea are the favorites to win the English Premier League title in 2014 but their clobbering of Arsenal 6-0 demonstrates that they are on target to be triumphant in 2014. Liverpool and Manchester City must be considered as serious contenders.
Liverpool beat Cardiff City this weekend but once again they gave up three goals in their 5-3 victory. Suarez and Sturridge were the potent combination that we expect of them. Between them they scored three goals, Suarez 2 and Sturridge 1 and Skrtel, the central defender, scored a brace, making him one of the difficult defenders in the EPL to mark on set plays.
Wenger’s team are more pretenders than they are contenders. Manchester City destroyed them 6-3, and Liverpool also hammered the Gunners 5-1. One would expect a contender facing a contender, that it would be a hard fought game, not a walk in the park.
Coming back from international friendlies, the top players have seldom recuperated from representing respective national teams. Nonetheless, the F.A. Cup quarter final of Arsenal playing against Everton produced a highly competitive game.
It was an even tug-of-war at the end of the first half with the score tied 1-1. Ozil seemed resuscitated and scored in the sixth minute. Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, scored for Everton.
Brazil had not fared too well in the World Cup in Germany in 2006 and worse the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. Playing at home in 2014, they are favorites to win their sixth World Cup. Brazil last beat the World in 2002 and the question is the 2014 team better than the 2002 World Cup team?
Playing against the South African national squad in the March 5, 2014 friendly, South Africa failed to test the Scolari squad. Brazil won 5-0 with Neymar scoring a hat-trick and the newly called-up Fernandinho scored from way outside the penalty box.
The 2002 squad had Dida in goal, Cafu and Roberto Carlos as wing backs, Lucio and Rogue Junior were the central defenders.
Liverpool gave up ball possession to Southampton but their deadly counter-attacks gave them the coveted three points to leap above Arsenal and to sit in second place behind leaders Chelsea.
Rodgers opted to strengthen his mid-field so he left out Raheem Sterling and inserted Joe Allen. Liverpool was down to two Ss, Sturridge and Suarez, and not far into the first half, Suarez registered his twenty-fourth goal. Sturridge failed to score but whenever Liverpool went on the attack, both Suarez and Sturridge looked threatening.
Tottenham has made some strides forward in the post AVB age but they are still a middle tier club bereft of Gareth Bale.
Against Norwich they failed to score and for the lion share of the ninety minutes had difficulty putting passes together. In the latter part of the second half, Tottenham looked more threatening and then the not so new coach, Tim Sherwood, substituted Soldado for Paulinho. Soldado needs a Turkish bath as he was poised to score twice and as he has done all season “bushed” both chances.