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2010 FIFA World Cup Final

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

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Today, Spain and Netherlands will play the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final in the Soccer City Stadium, in Johannesburg.

In November of 2009, Spain already was the main favorite to win the 2010 World Cup (along with Brazil), whereas the Netherlands was in the fourth block of favorites (with the same odds as Italy and France). In the very first day of the World Cup, Spain was still top favorite, with Netherlands a few notches up from previous standings.

Spain, the current European Champion, did their job. A surprising defeat in the first match against Switzerland, followed by winnings against Honduras, Chile, Portugal, Paraguay and Germany.

The Dutch are very far from being considered an underdog. They come from a flawless campaign in the Qualifying (8 winnings in 8 matches), and continued with 6 winnings in the finals (Netherlands is the only team to have won all their matches in these finals), against  Denmark, Japan, Cameroon, Slovakia, Brazil and Uruguay.

So, the two best teams deserved to reach the final. Spain have more skillful players, resembling Brazil from other times. Netherlands have a stronger tactical preparation, with a tradition of also playing skillfully.

It looks a 50/50 chance for each team.

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Brazil didn’t make it

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

Brazil lost to Holland and was eliminated from the World Cup 2010.

Brazilian fans were disappointed, because, after easily winning Chile, the team was considered favourite to win Holland. And Brazil easily commanded the game against Holland in the first half.

In the beginning of the second half, Brazilian players looked nervous; after Holland scored their first goal, Brazilian players entered in despair; and after the second goal, players entered in panic.

Holland have several excellent players, played a better second half, and deserved to win (just as, in 2006, France played better than Brazil and deserved to win).

However, for Brazilians, loosing a World Cup is never natural. A guilty (or a escape goat) must be found.

Brazil vs Ivory Coast

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
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Brazil will face Ivory Coast on June 20th. That will be the first official match between the countries.

Brazil have  respect for Ivory Coast. When the groups were drawn, all Brazilian journalists agreed that Ivory Coast was the strongest African team in the Cup. Brazilians know that Didier Drogba is a successful player in English Chelsea and deserves attention.

This respect should only increase, after Ivory Coast tied their match with Portugal, and even more after Brazil won North Korea by just 2 x 1.

However, nobody in Brazil expects Brazil to loose this match. Brazil expects to win by a tight margin, but even a tie will be considered a surprise.

Brazil won North Korea

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Brazil won North Korea by 2 x 1.

The starting line-up, as expected, was Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Juan and Michel Bastos; Gilberto Silva, Felipe Melo, Elano and Kaka; Robinho and Luis Fabiano.

Brazilian fans and media were deceived. Everyone expected an overwhelming victory.

During the game, when the score was 2 x 0, coach Dunga attempted to make the team more offensive; however, the tactic backfired and Brazil conceded a goal instead.

In an interview right after the match, Dunga declared that he was happy with the performance of the team in the second half, and that the important was to win the match (rather than to have an spectacular performance).

A remarkable fact of this game was the Korean player crying copiously at the moment that the National Anthem was being performed. In 1966, the only World Cup that North Korea had played before, the English refused to perform the Korean Anthem (because of this, in 1966, the National Anthems were performed only at the first and last games); so, this was the first time ever that the North Korean National Anthem was performed during a FIFA World Cup.

Brazil friendly matches: Zimbabwe and Tanzania

Monday, May 24th, 2010

The Brazilian Football Federation announced today that the Brazilian team will play two friendly matches before the World Cup.

Brazil will play against Zimbabwe on June 2nd and against Tanzania on June 7th; the venues were not informed yet.

Update, May 27th: CBF confirmed today that the match against Zimbabwe will be in the National Stadium of Zimbabwe, and the match against Tanzania will be in the capital of that country, Dar es Salaam.

Brazil won Zimbabwe by 3 x 0, goals by Michel Bastos, Robinho and Elano.

Brazil won Tanzania by 5 x 1, goals by Robinho, Kaka and Ramirez.

Zimbabwe and Tanzania are African countries, with very little tradition in football; both teams rank  worse than #100 in the FIFA ranking.

According to coach Dunga, there is not much more to improve in the team; the matches will be useful to change Brazil’s mode from training to playing. The last serious friendly match, which Dunga probably used to define the lineup of Brazil in South Africa, was against Ireland, last March.

Brazil is training in the Brazilian city of Curitiba. The team will fly to South Africa on May 26th. The first official match of Brazil in the World Cup 2010 will be on June 15th, against North Korea.

Note: besides not being useful to help in the preparation of the team, some say that the game against Zimbabwe could raise political problems, as that country is ruled by a dictator, Robert Mugabe. However, these friendly matches are arranged by CBF, the Brazilian Confederation, which is guided primarily by financial reasons (Brazil doesn’t set foot in an stadium for less than US$ 1 million).

Brazil: from now until the kick off

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Coach Dunga announced the roster of Brazilian players for the World Cup 2010.

Until May 21st, all players must show up at Granja Cumari, the CBF training center in Rio de Janeiro. On the 22nd, the team flies to Curitiba, in the Southern State of Paraná, where they will stay for five days training at the stadium of Atletico Paranaense.

Curitiba is one of the host cities of the World Cup 2014; CBF chose Curitiba because the latitude of the city is nearly the same as the cities in South Africa where Brazil will play, hence having the same temperatures.

On May 26th, Brazil will fly to South Africa. Brazil will stay at the Hotel Fairway, in Randburg, close to Johannesburg. Not much was informed about this training period, but Dunga already said he won’t repeat the mistakes of the World Cup 2006, and one such mistake was the excessive freedom of the players.

CBF announced that between May 26th and June 11th, Brazil will play two friendly matches; the countries or teams which will play these friendlies are not known yet (however, there are rumors that the South Africa team asked Brazil to be one such country; South Africa is coached by Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira, who said that, because his players didn’t have to play the Qualifyings, they missed opportunities to face stronger teams during the preparation).

On June 15th, Brazil plays the first match, against North Korea, in Johannesburg.

On June 20th, Brazil plays against Ivory Coast, in Johannesburg.

On June 25th, Brazil plays against Portugal, in Durban.

After then, nobody knows where Brazil will go.

Brazil wins last match before the World Cup 2010

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Today, March 2nd, Brazil won Ireland by 2 x 0, in the Emirates Stadium, in London. This was a friendly match, one of the several matches that CBF uses to make some cash.

The photo above shows the starting line-up:

brazil-line-up-last-match-before-Cup-2010

Maicon, Gilberto Silva, Julio Cesar (GK), Juan, Adriano and Lucio (C); Ramirez, Robinho, Kaká, Michel Bastos and Felipe Melo.

Robinho was the player of the match (he scored one goal – see video below).

The match was important because, according to Dunga, most of the players in this match will be in South Africa.

Update, May 11th 2010: indeed, all the players who participated of this match will be in South Africa; the team which started playing against Ireland will probably be in the line-up of the first match of Brazil in the World Cup.

The Brazilian team for the last match before the Cup

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Coach Dunga announced today the players who will be in London on March 2nd to play against Ireland, the last match of the Brazilian team before the World Cup 2010.

dunga-last-call-world-cup-2010

The roster: Julio Cesar (Internazionale); Doni (Roma); Maicon (Internazionale); Daniel Alves (Barcelona); Lúcio (Internazionale); Juan (Roma); Thiago Silva (Milan); Luisão (Benfica); Michel Bastos (Lyon); Gilberto (Cruzeiro); Gilberto Silva (Panathinaikos); Felipe Melo (Juventus); Josué (Wolfsburg); Kleberson (Flamengo); Ramires (Benfica); Julio Baptista (Roma); Elano (Galatasaray); Kaká (Real Madrid); Robinho (Santos); Nilmar (Villareal); Luís Fabiano (Sevilla); Adriano (Flamengo).

The list draws attention because past experiences and common sense show that there are usually few differences between the roster for the last match before the Cup and the actual roster for the Cup. The only certain alteration is that Dunga is taking only two goalkeepers to London (Julio Cesar and Doni), and will take three to South Africa (the third one will probably be Victor, from Gremio Porto Alegre).

The most noticeable absence is Ronaldinho, from Milan.

Update, Feb. 27th. Luís Fabiano got injured, and won’t be in London. To replace Fabiano, Dunga chose Grafite, currently playing in German Wolfsburg (Grafite already played in the Brazilian team, back in 2005). Besides, Dunga also called mid-fielder Carlos Eduardo, currently playing in German Hoffenheim (Carlos Eduardo is not replacing anyone, Dunga just decided to call one extra player).

Carlos Eduardo is unknown to most Brazilians. He won’t be in South Africa.  It looks like Dunga is trying to pass the messages: even if someone gets injured, he won’t call Ronaldinho (or Ronaldo, or Pato, or whoever else is being “demanded” by the media) – instead, he  preferred to call Grafite; and even if, for any other reason, any other player must be called, it will be someone of the sorts of Carlos Eduardo.

Update, March 1st. Read this interview with Dunga about the roster.

Brazil vs North Korea

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
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Brazil will play against North Korea on June 15th 2010, in Johannesburg; that will be the first match of Brazil in the World Cup 2010.

This will be the first time that Brazil will face North Korea. North Korea is a very closed communist country (the North Korean Government announced that the World Cup will be censored, and only images favorable to the country will be aired – which means that it is likely that the Cup will not exist for Korean citizens), and very seldom performs in non-official matches.

Coincidentally, Brazil is one of the countries in the world which best knows the football in North Korea. There is a team, currently disputing the Second Division in Sao Paulo, called Clube Atletico Sorocaba; in 2000, Atletico Sorocaba was purchased by Reverend Moon, a controversial religious leader born in Korea. Thanks to these connections, Atletico Sorocaba played a friendly match against the North Korea national team in November of 2009, which finished 0 x 0.

North Korea played in only one Cup, in England 1966; in that Cup, Korea lost to Soviet Union, tied with Chile and got past the groups stage by winning Italy; in the quarter-finals, Korea lost to Portugal by 3 x 5, after being leading by 3 x 0.

Coach Dunga said in an interview that North Korea being unknown shall be a reason of concern, not of oblivion; besides the surprising role in England 1966, Korea surprised also by winning Iran and Saudi Arabia in the Qualifying, and by winning recent FIFA World Cups for Young Women.

However, nobody in Brazil thinks of anything but a victory over Korea. Brazil hope (but many Brazilians don’t expect) that Portugal win Ivory Coast in the first round, Brazil win Ivory Coast in the second round, so that Brazil vs Portugal can be just a friendly match.

Who will be on the way of Brazil

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

The first stage of the World Cup is drawn in a way so as to spread the strongest teams evenly across each group. So, the matches which should draw more attention during this stage are probably England vs. USA, Netherlands vs. Denmark, Brazil vs. Portugal and Spain vs. Chile, thanks mostly to historic rivalries.

What can happen after this first stage?

In the 2006 World Cup, six of the eight seeds finished first in the groups stage. The two seeds which failed were Mexico (outdone by Portugal) and France (who couldn’t beat South Korea and were outperformed by Switzerland). So, it’s quite a good assumption that most seed countries finish first in their groups.

Let’s make the assumption that France will finish first in group A (the seed of his group is South Africa, but just because they are the host country – France is clearly superior; in 2006, the host which became seed was Germany, which clearly deserved it), and all other seeds finish first in the other groups.

So, the leaders of the groups stage would be, from 1A to 1H: France, Argentina, England, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Brazil and Spain.

matches-2010-world-cup

If this happens, and given the match schedule above, in the round of 16 Brazil would play against the 2nd of group H, probably Switzerland or Chile.

If all the seeds get past this round of 16, we would have the following matches in the quarter-finals: France x England, Netherlands x Brazil, Argentina x Germany, Italy x Spain.

If Brazil wins Netherlands, then the next match would be against France or England in the semi-final, and the final match would be Brazil against Argentina, Germany, Italy or Spain.

However, Brazil is said to be in the Group of Death, which means that there are plausible chances that we finish 2nd in the group. If that happens, the situation changes completely.

Brazil and Spain, the two main favorites to win the World Cup, would face each other very early in the tournament, right after the group stage (one of these teams would go home three rounds before the final). If Brazil wins, then next would probably be Italy in the quarter-finals, Argentina or Germany in the semi-finals and the final would be against France, England, Netherlands or Portugal.

The quarter-finals, semi-finals and final matches comprise a total of 13 matches, which will sure be very thrilling.