France vs Germany: The 5 Best Players

Germany starting XI: Manuel Neuer; Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Benedikt Hoewedes; Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil; Thomas Mueller, Miroslav Klose

France starting XI: Hugo Lloris; Mathieu Debuchy, Raphael Varane, Mamadou Sakho, Patrice Evra; Yohan Cabaye; Mathieu Valbuena, Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba; Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezmann

300 000 German fans
300 000 German fans assembled in Berlin to watch the game (via @_Borsti)

It was a matter of two European heavy weights facing off. Both previous World Champions. Neighbours. Before the game, questions were raised over the fitness of the German side, Mats Hummels was so unwell he couldn’t make it to training, and 7 other German players were reportedly exhibiting flu like symptoms. On the French side Sakho was back, fit from injury, and Griezmann got the nod ahead of Giroud. It was a clinical display from the Germans as they piped Les Bleus 1-0 thanks to a tantalizing Mats Hummels header from a set piece. On the night, the better team won. Here’s my pick of the best players from the game:

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5 reasons why Louis van Gaal will be a success at Manchester United

1) He is a shrewd tactician

He’s known for his expert, but we were given a show of just how effective he is when the Dutch played Mexico. They were trailing 1-0 when he switched from a 3 man defense to a 4 man defense and pulled Arjen Robben to the right to give their attack more width. He’s also not afraid to take bold decisions, like substituting Robin van Persie.

2) He has a wealth of experience

His CV boasts some of the biggest clubs in Europe: Ajax, FC Barcelona, AZ & Bayern Munich. He’s won La Liga with Barcelona and the Champions League with Ajax. He’s in the middle of his second spell with the Dutch National team. And most importantly he is well versed in “Total Football.”

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7 reasons why Brazil 2014 is turning into the best world cup ever

We’re down to the last 8. If you feel like you don’t know what to do with yourself in the two day “break” until the Quarter finals, then you’re not alone.  Here’s a dose of World Cup magic for you: 7 reasons why this world cup is shaping up to be one of the best ever

Brazil World Cup 2014
Brazil: “Let us entertain you”

1) The goals.

With 154 goals scored, Brazil 2014 has already overtaken South Africa 2010 and its bound to be one of the highest scoring world cups if not the highest- the record is 171, France 1998.

2) Miguel Herrera 

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Argentina vs Switzerland: Match Review

Argentina XI: Romero, Federico Fernandez, Zabaleta, Garay, Rojo, Gago, Mascherano, Di Maria, Higuain, Messi, Lavezzi.
Subs: Orion, Campagnaro, Biglia, Perez, Maxi Rodriguez, Augusto Fernandez, Demichelis, Palacio, Alvarez, Aguero, Andujar, Basanta.

Switzerland XI: Benaglio, Lichtsteiner, Schar, Djourou, Rodriguez, Inler, Behrami, Xhaka, Shaqiri, Mehmedi, Drmic.
Subs: Sommer, Ziegler, Senderos, von Bergen, Lang, Barnetta, Seferovic, Stocker, Dzemaili, Fernandes, Gavranovic, Burki.

Lionel Messi vs Switzerland

Lionel Messi carried the team for most of the match (via @FCBarcelonaFl)

 

The clear skies matched the light blue of Argentina – los Albiceleste. They had overwhelming crowd support but the few Swiss fans put up a competition. The situation was similar on the pitch. Argentina’s defense has been suspect this whole tournament, and again today it was below par. The two real chances of the first half came from Switzerland, first Xhaka with a tantalizing shot that was saved by Romero. The second came from an Argentine defensive error that saw Drimic run away with the ball form the half way line, had his finishing been better, Argentina would have been a goal down.

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Mauricio Pinilla’s crazy tattoo

Chile put on a good display this World Cup, despite being narrowly beaten by Brazil in the round of 16. The outcome of that match in particular was decided on penalties. The situation would have been very different if Chile, who in my opinion outplayed Brazil, scored in extra time. One particular chance they had was by Mauricio Pinilla who took a sweet long range shot that hit the cross bar, literally inches from from winning. Pinilla has now immortalized that moment by tattooing it onto his back. I don’t know why anyone would want to remember that moment, but hey, each to their own. Take a look:

Mauricio Pinilla Tattoo Chile

Mauricio Pinilla gets a tattoo of a moment most would want to forget(image via @EurosportCom_EN)

-P

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Suarez and Chiellini kiss and make up

Chiellini Suarez bite
Giorgio Chiellini displays his bite marks

If you haven’t heard about the latest Luis Suarez biting incident, even if you’re not a football fan, you may be living under a rock. Suarez bit Chiellini, he received a lengthy ban: 9 international games, four months off the game completely on an international and club level (he’s not allowed to train with his team or even attend matches). The ban was described by Chiellini himself as “excessive.” What has happened in the aftermath as been a complete circus. The president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, has come to his defense and described FIFA as “a bunch of old sons of bitches.” The Uruguayan coach, Oscar Tabarez has since quit the FIFA Technical Committee in a sign of solidarity with his star striker, citing that Suarez was being made a scapegoat by the British media. It got even weirder still, Suarez himself then released a statement claiming he tripped and fell onto Chiellini, apparently face first, therefore his mouth made contact with the Italians shoulder, making the incident look like a bite. He has since been demonized by the global media. He decided to fly back to him hometown in Uruguay where he received a hero’s welcome:.

Now in a twist of events, Suarez has apologized to Chiellini on twitter:

And Chiellini responded:

 

Word of the Street (read:twitter) is that Suarez’ apparent change of heart is because FC Barcelona has insisted on him publicly apologizing before he can even think of transferring to the Catalan giants. And if reports are to be believed, any contract with Barca will include an anti-biting clause.

-P

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Brazil vs Chile: the Hosts Edge into the Quarters

Brazil XI: Cesar, Alves, Silva, Luiz, Fernandinho, Marcelo, Hulk, Fred, Neymar, Oscar, Luiz Gustavo

Chile XI: Bravo, Mena, Isla, Silva, Sanchez, Vidal, Vargas, Medel, Jara, Aranguiz, Dias

It promised to be a big one, and it was. So far this World Cup, Chile were impressive in group B, while the general consensus of Brazil is that there was much room for improvement. I wish I could say it was a fair showing, but I felt Brazil were out performed by a length, fortunately with a bit of luck, they managed to pull off a win on penalties.

Barca team mates in the tunnel
Barca team mates in the tunnel (image via @messileftfoot)

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11 Things I Learnt from the World Cup

Can you believe its already been two weeks? This tournament has been so enthralling that its flown faster than you can say “Fred”. This week saw the round up of the group matches. It was action packed and with a healthy share of controversy. Heres what I learnt from the Brazil 2014 so far:

Football will unite people
People I’ve never spoken football with are now ready to discuss the latest game. The world Cup hype and excitement can bring together almost anyone.

Everyone is now a football expert:
On the same vein of thought, all those now watching seem to have an opinion on everything and everyone. Some of these humble folk actually know squat about football – like, not even the offside rule, or what a back pass is. Some can’t even tell the difference between the Boateng brothers. Worse still, some are so footy naive they still believe FIFA is a trustworthy custodian of football, cos you know, for staging “such an awesome world cup” and “banning that cheat Suarez.” Sigh. Two more weeks and the fakers will go back to their knitting.

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Nigeria vs Argentina: Messi & co. Keep their Perfect Record

Argentina are through. Nigeria are through, the first African team to progress in this World Cup. Argentina may have gotten by in their first two group games, but they were made to work for their win against Nigeria. Regardless of whether you rate Lionel Messi or not, you have to hand it to him, he’s come to the party this World Cup. Carrying Argentina the first two games, he got them rolling in this match. Continue reading

Luis Suarez: Toeing the Line Between Genius and Insanity

The Headline in the Liverpool Echo this morning read: “He Needs Help”

The Headline in the Liverpool Echo

The Headline in the Liverpool Echo

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