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Big Phil's defensive snub
Joao Miranda and Filipe Luis performing their defensive duties
Big Phil's defensive snub


The World Cup has officially ended and the triumph of UEFA over COMMEBOL was evident when Argentina fell short 1-0 to Germany and Brazil being humbled again against Holland 3-0. The Argentines though did show up to the tournament prepared defensively only conceding four goals in the entire competition. Brazil on the other hand lacked defensively, in the group stage the Selecao conceded only twice but the squad looked vulnerable from the back. The opening game against Croatia showed their defensive frailties from the back line when the Croats scored first from a cross on the flank. The match against Cameroon the indomitable lions manage to grab their only goal of the competition by an attack from the Brazilian flank.


After the group stage was the important knockout round of the tournament the Canarinhos defense was still pushed by Chile and Colombia. Brazil in the round of 16 faced off against the high pressing Chile. Chile forced the home side to penalties with Alexis Sanchez canceling out David Luiz's goal. In fact Chile could of stole the quarterfinal spot from Brazil if it wasn't for the woodwork. The quarterfinal match pitted the Selecao against a high tempo Colombia who was being spearheaded by the young maverick James Rodriguez. Brazil was able to score twice and defeat los cafeteros 2-1, limiting James Rodriguez to one goal but yet again Colombia had opportunities to win the game. The match against Colombia left Brazil crippled in attack and defensively as Thiago Silva picked up a yellow card to be suspended in the next match and Neymar broke his vertebrae from a challenge from Charles Zuniga.


The following matches would soon unravel the Selecao's dreams of redeeming the ghosts of 1950. Brazil faced off in the semifinal against the mighty Germans who although hit some stumbles looked strong, confident, and professional. The semifinal ended in a horrendous drubbing of Brazil by die Mannschaft 7-1. Many would soon place an excuse on the Canarinhos semifinal on "lacking Thiago Silva, the defensive rock and captain of Brazil." But in truth even if Parisian based defender played against Germany, the Germans would of still prevailed. The third place game against the Netherlands looked to be the a way for Brazilians to galvanize themselves behind their team. In fact again the match against the Dutch would also show Brazil's lack defensively.


When researching Brazil's defensive options one rather large question is raised in regards to Scolari's selection. Why was Joao Miranda and Filipe Luis omitted from the Selecao? The Brazilian duo that won the La Liga trophy this campaign for Atletico Madrid were not selected by "Big Phil" Scolari. The Colchoneros went on to win the La Liga trophy the 2013-2014 campaign; part of the success by Atletico Madrid last campaign was attributed to the Rojiblancos defense. The defense for Atletico Madrid boasted only allowing 26 goals out of 38 games in La Liga.


Many pundits, critics and fans have asked the question of "What if" Miranda and Luis were selected and played instead of Dante and Alves? Unfortunately the public will not know and although the World Cup was very thrilling. Many at first sight saw the selection for Brazil and thought to look away due to the majestic allure of the World Cup being played in a country that lives and the breathes the sport. Instead not many asked about the Brazilians capability to defend in this amazing tournament that only comes once every four years.

Posted by Gio Franco on 07/21/2014 at 3:52 PM - PERMALINK | EMAIL | DISCUSS | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
Galaxy rout the Revs
Gyasi Zardes celebrates his first goal of the match to make it 2-0 to the Galaxy
Galaxy rout the Revs

Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes were both in fine form Wednesday evening in Carson when the Los Angeles Galaxy took on the New England Revolution. The party started early when Robbie Keane opened the scoring with a goal in the 10th minute, a goal reminiscent of his glory days at Tottenham Hotspurs. Baggio Husidic assisted the Galaxy number seven and the festivities would continue several minutes after. Gyasi Zardes was sent in on goal in the 15th minute but Shuttleworth saved his shot, the tempo of this game was set very quick by the Los Angeles Galaxy.

The second goal of the night came for the Galaxy in the 18th minute. Stefan Ishizaki was deployed in the right midfield position and after fighting off a tackle and foul from the Revolutions Goncalves. Ishizaki was able beat past Goncalves tackle and foul to reach deep into the Revs own penalty box. The Swedish midfielder then sent in a low pass into the Revolution box, which Robbie Keane was able to pass it off into the path of the on running Zardes. Gyasi was able to receive the ball on the run and on his first touch blasted the ball into the back of the net for the Galaxy's second goal.

The night would then turn into a massive uphill battle for the New England Revolution when AJ Soares was sent off for studs up challenge on Juninho in the 28th minute. The obstacle placed ahead of the Revolution was evident, but they would be given a lifeline by the referee and the Los Angeles Galaxy's Dan Gargan. Gargan was sent off in the 35th minute for a cynical challenge on Bunbury, which awarded the Revolution with a penalty kick that Lee Nguyen was able to convert. At this point the match looked like it could potentially open up for both sides the Galaxy only led by one goal 2-1 and were also on a equal playing ground with each side playing with ten.

After the halftime Bruce Arena looked to exploit the space that had opened up from the two sending offs. The Galaxy head coach decided to make a change; Landon Donovan came on for Baggio Husidic at the half. The scoring would resume as well after just three minutes from the restart when AJ de la Garza played Robbie Keane out wide on the left. Keane immediately whipped a low cross into the box where Gyasi Zardes was able to get on the other end of the ball. Zardes off his first touch redirected the ball high into the roof of Shuttleworth's net making it 3-1 to the Galaxy. At that moment Robbie had broken his scoring drought and assisted two of the Los Angeles Galaxy's goals.

Things would soon turn into a nightmare for the New England Revolution in the 75th minute. Stefan Ishizaki sent his free kick into the top of the wall which the ball took a nasty deflection off of both Bengston and Neumann and into the back of Shuttleworth's net making 4-1 to the hosts in the 75th minute. Things did not settle down there in the 75th minute, Robbie Keane would grab his second goal of the night in the 78th minute from a awful back pass by the Revs. Keane was easily able to run onto the pass that if made by a white shirt at the time many would revel in the passes perfection. Shuttleworth was forced to come out of his penalty area, which the veteran striker was able to round the goalie and easily slot home the fifth for the Galaxy and his second of the night.

The Los Angeles Galaxy has been undefeated in eight matches in Major League Soccer so far this campaign. The next test for the Galaxy will be the next two road matches coming up on the 19th and 28th of July. The Galaxy on Saturday the 19th will be entertained by Graham Zusi's Sporting Kansas City. Kansas City currently sits top of the Eastern Conference and have been undefeated in five Major League matches. The next match on the 28th the Galaxy will be in Seattle taking on the number one team in Major League Soccer currently and number one in the Western Conference the Seattle Sounders. Will the Galaxy be able to continue their recent form into the next coming weeks, only time will tell.


Photography credited to Angelica Orozco

Posted by Gio Franco on 07/19/2014 at 1:45 AM - PERMALINK | EMAIL | DISCUSS | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
Football betting at a record-breaking high
Congrats to the German National Team
Football betting at a record-breaking high

When Germany and Argentina went head to head at the World Cup Final, English bookmakers were set to record some of the biggest takings in history. It seems that football has become an invaluable sport in the betting industry and wagers are currently hitting all-time highs, especially with some of the rather surprising moments the World Cup has produced.

Bookies were expected to take in around 40 million pounds for the final, breaking the previous record of the amount wagered on the 2012 Champions League Final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea. William Hill has already exceeded its 200 million pound target for this summer’s World Cup, despite the home team’s rather hasty exit from the tournament.  England’s biggest bookies have already doubled the amount wagered during the 2012 FIFA World Cup, and this shows the increase in the number of bettors who are taking an interest in this aspect of the sport.

Record-breaking World CupSports betting sites are doing a roaring trade and this has had a knock-on effect on football entertainment, with slots games like Soccer Safari being in demand at sites like It’s clear that with mobile and online portals now available, sports betting is far more accessible to punters and there’s a whole new generation of bettor whose been putting their money behind their predictions in the hope of winning big.

Bookmakers have clearly capitalised on the World Cup and the amount of ads pushed during televised matches has certainly had an impact on reaching an all-time betting high. The tournament has also come at a good time for the industry, as when the new taxes come into effect they will be expected to shell out around 400 million pounds annually, so record breaking takings now are holding them in good stead.

It’s not only the bookies who are making money this World Cup; punters are also reaping the rewards from the surprise results of the games. 4 lucky bettors struck it rich when they put money on Germany to beat Brazil by an outlandish score of 7-1 in the semi, and there have been many others who have been surprised by their successful payouts.

Germany beats ArgentinaThe increase in football betting began long before the World Cup, but it’s almost certain that this event has attracted new punters who are contributing to the record breaking takings.

Posted by Rafa Gonzales on 07/14/2014 at 8:34 AM - PERMALINK | EMAIL | DISCUSS | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
The Phantom of 1950 rests
Alcides Ghiggia scores the winning goal for Uruguay to win their second World Cup in 1950
The Phantom of 1950 rests

When discussing soccer in Brazil, or as many in the world say football, nothing brings Brazilians together more than futebol. Football folklore has always depicted Brazil as this mighty giant to watch over when playing against them. In the 1994 World Cup hosted in USA, Brazil defeated Italy in penalty kicks to take their fourth World Cup trophy. In 1998 the hosts then France would defeat Brazil 3-0 in the final, but in 2002 Brazil again won the World Cup defeating Germany 2-0. Claiming their fifth trophy the most by any football nation. Afterwards Brazil would fall short in the quarterfinals twice, once to France in 2006 and the other to the Netherlands in 2010. These defeats although at the world stage were not considered this football nation's low point in history.


In the year 1950 Brazil hosted the World Cup for the first time in the wake of the aftermath of World War II. The World Cup also took a bit of a hiatus due to the fact the entire globe was practically locked in armed struggle. The setup to the tournament back then was made into four groups and the winners of the group were placed into a final group, which the winner of the group won the tournament. The Brazilians in 1950 looked as promising and confident as they ever could be. The Selecao in 1950 were sharp, technical and confident. Brazil defeated Mexico in the opening match 4-0; the only hiccup appeared to occur against the Swiss when they drew Brazil 2-2. The Selecao would finish their group on top with a 2-0 victory over Yugoslavia, which booked the hosts to the final group.


 The hosts then entertained Sweden in the first game of the final group and made the Swede's feel the wrath of the Selecao. The Swedes were completely deflated by the hosts, 7-1 at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. The Verde-Amarela would also make mince meat out of Spain, defeating the Spanish 6-1. The Canarinhos looked poised to take the trophy at that point, Brazil only had one more game to play against Uruguay knowing that even a draw would see them to glory. The Uruguayans who were the winners of the first World Cup had drawn their first match of the final group against Spain 2-2 and won 3-2 against Sweden.


The final match between Brazil and Uruguay would echo in Brazilian minds and dreams for generations. Brazil would soon put their hands on the trophy during the final, scoring the first goal in the 47th minute making it 1-0 to the hosts. What would unfold 19 and 32 minutes later would silence an entire crowd of 170,000 and the voices of an entire nation. Uruguay scored in the 66th minute to tie the match and again in the 77th minute to steal the World Cup trophy from the hosts. Uruguay emerged victorious to achieve their second World Cup trophy at the expense of the hosts and Moacir Barbosa (goalkeeper then) who was the scapegoat for the loss.  


Today although Moacir past away in April of 2000 can finally be exonerated for something he wasn't entirely "responsible" for. That 2-1 defeat back in 1950 has now been completely exorcised. After Tuesday's fever dream score line which if it wasn't for Julio Cesar could of been far worst than how it ended. Brazil's lowest low from 1950 has been surpassed and surpassed with flying colors. The Canarinhos were totally and completely humbled when they played Germany Tuesday afternoon in Belo Horizonte, losing 1-7. Many described the night in 1950 as a sad day in Brazil football folklore, but if that was a sad day and it echoed for generations after. The drubbing that Brazil received Tuesday will ring through the annals of football history for an eternity.


The semifinal Brazil played against Germany will be in the dreams haunting Brazilians for what can possibly be an eternity. Especially if the "phantom of 1950" loomed in Brazilian folklore 64 years later to today in 2014. Tuesday's 7-1 defeat has to echo in the history of Brazilian football forever which millions of viewers and football enthusiasts will always remember Brazil's worse ever defeat on Brazilian soil in their history. 


Posted by Gio Franco on 07/10/2014 at 10:26 PM - PERMALINK | EMAIL | DISCUSS | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
Fitness With Football: Week 1
I honestly don't know what I was thinking. 

It seemed like a really good idea at the time, to get fit after a summer of doing very little. The trouble is that I'd forgotten how much this sort of training takes it out of you.  

Before I go any further, let me explain what's happening.

Three times a week, myself and a couple of friends, will be running high intensity football drills on BerkoAstro near my home town.  The idea is to improve our fitness and our footballing ability, two things that I needed before the World Cup even began. We all play on Monday nights together so the four sessions of football, combined with three or four gym visits a week should do the world of good.

The sessions, in theory, should be more fun than just going to the gym and using a treadmill or going for a run because, as we all know, the only thing better than watching football is playing football. When you play football I find that I do a lot more cardio, push myself that little bit more, because there's an end goal to the process, going in search of that wonder-volley etc.

It was interesting to see on our first session just have addictive it is to play the game, especially when you've got 15 footballs and a big open area to have a knock about in. As soon as we'd finished pumping them up we couldn't get them away from our feet, except when one of us struck a wayward shot that we had to go and chase - that actually happened a lot. 

Because one of us (TOBY) couldn't be in attendance in these first couple of sessions, we decided to take it slow and just sort out a handful of the drills and give them a few test runs. Even with this, supposedly, more casual approach to the sessions we still got moving and ran ourselves into the ground. It became more and more apparent that both Jon and myself's estimations of our own fitness levels had been much higher than they actually are.

After just a few runs of the first two drills on the Tuesday and then three runs each of three drills the following day I can honestly say I was shattered and Wednesday night's sleep came pretty easily after the Argentina v Holland World Cup semi-final.

It's been a serious wakeup call and, although I was able to hit the goal in both sessions of getting at least 3000 fuel points - I hadn't been wearing the Fuel Band until I got to the sessions - it's just gone to show how much I really need this.  

There will be a little more reflection and review of the Fuel Band and its ability to motivate as we go through the weeks, and hopefully we'll improve (10 minute videos of us missing the target aren't going to be fun for anyone to watch) but at least we've broken ground on this plan.

Week 1, the casual week, is in the books.

We'll be back with week two when the intensity level is meant to go up......uh oh.
Posted by Oliver Wilson on 07/10/2014 at 6:26 AM - PERMALINK | EMAIL | DISCUSS | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
Albiceleste clash with the Clockwork Oranje
Lavezzi fights off a tackle against switzerland in the round of 16
Albiceleste clash with the Clockwork Oranje


Messi and company are set to take on the Clockwork Oranje in a few hours; many eyes will be glued to this particular match from all over the globe. Rightly so, after some critics vouched both teams to be considered dark horses since both sides performed abysmally in their regional cup competitions before the World Cup. Argentina has been described in this tournament as being dependent on "la Pulga " (Lionel Messi). Holland in the group stage was clinical but at certain moments was pushed and the Dutch were more than bumped around in the knockout round.  


Albiceleste currently do emulate their squad from the past, when Juan Roman Riquelme was the provider and supplier of much of Argentina's goals. Currently the role and responsibility of that Argentina number ten shirt rests on one Lionel Messi. After what was a very upsetting and dismal season with FC Barcelona, "La Pulga" looks motivated and determined to make up for that horrid season in La Liga. During the group phase of the tournament Lionel Messi would score four out of the six goals scored in the group. After the Group Albiceleste faced the resilient Swiss, who managed to take Argentina all the way to the end of extra time losing to a Lionel Messi assisted goal to Di Maria. Argentina would also edge Belgium in the same manner they did Switzerland, winning on a goal based on Messi's determination, this time finished by Gonzalo Higuain inside 90 minutes.


Argentina proved to show some kind of defensive fortitude as well limiting their opponents to three goals in the group and none in the knockout round. The goals in the Nigeria game although were made by players who had pace to run at the Argentine back line, Holland might have some attacking threats facing the Albiceleste that fit that criteria. The Argentinean defense must be vigilant when handling the Dutch, Marcos Rojo, Garay and Mascherano will be working overtime.


Clockwork Oranje is one interesting machine to look over, their veteran attacking lineup is one to stand up to take notice for. The likes of Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie (going through stomach issues possible food poisoning, he may not play tomorrow), and Wesley Sneijder are all massive threats to observe. Robben is a massive attacking threat (no matter what Rafa tells you) the man has pace if a defender falls asleep on him, Arjen can punish you. Nigel de Jong might possibly make a return also for the Netherlands, which should be a massive defensive boost in the midfield. Louis Van Gaal has so far done everything right in regards to tactics and set up for his side.


Louis Van Gaal has one more test left, if his tough determined Oranje side could get pass Messi and company. Will Holland perform and make it to another World Cup Final with the possibility of finally gaining World Cup glory? Or will Sabella's Argentina book their place into final instead of Holland? Only time will tell who will progress to the final and who will emerge as the best football nation in the world.

Posted by Gio Franco on 07/08/2014 at 11:07 PM - PERMALINK | EMAIL | DISCUSS | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
Selecao must adapt against Germany
Neymar Jr is airlifted back to his home in Sao Paulo Brazil
Selecao must adapt against Germany


The group stage is over, the round of 16 washed; quarterfinals have just simmered down and now on to the crescendo. The opening rounds of the World Cup gave many spectators the lure they wanted, especially here in the United States. Even after the elimination of the US Men's National Team to Belgium, the magic of the World Cup has enthralled many merely by watching the superstars perform. The time has come to the final four in the tournament with Brazil taking on Germany and Argentina will be taking on the Netherlands. In some ways these giants were thought to make it this far in the tournament now.


The next game Tuesday will be the large semifinal between the hosts Brazil and Germany. The quarterfinal on how both teams reached the semifinal were both tricky and unfortunately for Brazil their quarterfinal result is rather more pyrrhic than decisive. The match up Germany had in the earlier game on Friday was against France. Both Germany and France showed their dominance in the group stage; also they showed how they could also stutter. France in the group entertained a very drool 0-0 match against Ecuador in the group; Germany also had a tough but also very thrilling 2-2 draw against Ghana in the group stages. Although the Germans at times this tournament looked a bit slow, they have been physical enough to get the job done. Germany had a tough ordeal to get as far as they have, 1-0 against France after 90 minutes and stretched to 2-1 after extra time against Algeria.


Brazil on the other hand entertained two tough South American opponents in the knockout phase of the tournament. The match against Chile stretched the hosts, being forced to play 120 minutes and take the game to a stressful penalty kick showdown. Which Brazil emerged victorious over the Chileans after Chile, Brazil faced a tough much-hyped Colombia, who was led by the young talisman James Rodriguez. The match against Colombia pushed and beaten the Brazilians physically but the score board had a different story. The Selecao found themselves ahead in the early stages of the match after Thiago Silva struck home a goal off a set piece. David Luiz would add the second from a beautifully taken free kick to make the dreams of many Brazilians come to a possibility. Despite conceding a penalty kick later in the match Brazil was able to withstand the onslaught and prevailed 2-1.


 Although there are some notes to take into the Selecao's semifinal against Germany on Tuesday. Brazil will be without Thiago Silva, who is rated as one of the best defenders in the world today. Thiago Silva is suspended for the semifinal game against Germany for an accumulation of yellow cards. Thiago Silva is not the only player who will not be able to play in the semifinal; Neymar suffered a broken vertebra after being kneed in the back by Colombia's Zuniga. Neymar will not only be out of the semifinal but more than likely done for the remainder of the tournament. A broken vertebra is a rather serious matter, if one were to watch his post match video and saw how rigid the young man looked. It's a rather serious injury that will set both Neymar and Brazil back a bit.


Brazil will now take on the strong and physical Germany, who although had a few hiccups in qualifying in the knockout rounds against both Algeria and France. The Germans will be definitely looking forward to this match since it’s more than evident the advantage does goes to Germany. Two large questions loom over Brazil and their national team for the semifinal. Who will score the goals with Neymar out with a broken vertebra? Who will lock up the defense with Thiago Silva on suspension? Heads will now turn to Fred and Hulk in the form of attack to cover for the injured Neymar. The pressure has also fallen onto possibly Dante the Bayern Munich defender who unfortunately hasn't played his tournament but perhaps does know a thing or two in regards to the against some of his team mates at Bayern Munich.


The World Cup is slowly coming to an end, although hope is somewhat dwindling for the home side. Another factor to take into account in the first semifinal match, the twelfth man will more than likely be out in force. Brazilians will be behind their team, their Selecao, even though on paper Germany might enjoy being considered the favorite. Average Brazilians know what is at stake in this clash of titans Tuesday, one thing is also for sure the world and all of Brazil will be on pause for those possible two hours. The tension and stress that will be exhibited in this matchup will be one for the history books of sporting events. 

 Who would want to let these fans down?!?!

Posted by Gio Franco on 07/07/2014 at 5:10 PM - PERMALINK | EMAIL | DISCUSS | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
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