World Cup 2014

2014 World Cup all-stars

Featured image The World Cup ended two weeks ago, which means that it’s high time for me to offer my World Cup all-star team. But first, a word about the tournament. The consensus among those who covered it is that this was the best World Cup in modern memory. I’ve followed every World Cup since 1978 (ten in all), but my memory of the early ones has become hazy. Certainly, though, this »

World Cup preview – The Final [UPDATE: Germany wins]

Featured image Germany and Argentina will play tomorrow in the World Cup final. Germany is the betting favorite. Nate Silver’s team estimates that the Germans have a 63 percent chance of winning. That sounds about right to me. Ever since it settled on its current lineup, Germany has been the best team on display in Brazil. The reshuffling was substantial. Lahm moved from midfield to right back; Schweinsteigger and Khedira were paired »

Germany vs. Argentina, the history

Featured image When Germany and Argentina play in the World Cup final on Sunday, it will be the fifth time in the past eight World Cups the two teams have met in the knock-out stage. Argentina beat Germany in the 1986 final and Germany reversed the result in the final four years later. In 2006, Germany eliminated Argentina on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals. In the 2010 quarterfinals, Germany routed Argentina 4-0. »

World Cup preview — Argentina vs. Holland [UPDATED — Argentina wins]

Featured image Before taking a look at tomorrow’s World Cup semifinal between Argentina and Brazil, let’s take a quick glance back at today’s remarkable 7-1 victory by Germany over Brazil. It’s clear that Felipe Scolari made a huge mistake by not using three central midfielders. As I suggested before the match, doing so might have enabled Brazil to protect its back four, which was missing its best player (Thiago Silva); to limit »

World Cup preview — Brazil vs. Germany [UPDATED]

Featured image The romance of the free flowing, relatively high-scoring World Cup Group Stage is a distant memory now. At this point, the big boys are playing for keeps, and they are taking no prisoners. All three of the big boys in the semifinals — Brazil, Germany, and Argentina — won their quarterfinals match by scoring early and then grinding the life out of the opposition — Colombia, France, and Belgium. Only »

World Cup update: What goes around comes around for Brazil

Featured image Brazil defeated Colombia 2-1 yesterday in a foul-filled match. But the hosts paid a price. Neymar, their best attacking player, will miss the rest of the tournament due to injury. And Thiago Silva, their best defender, will miss the semifinal due to suspension. Brazil’s manager, Felipe Scolari, came up with both the lineup and the tactics necessary to bring down the high-flying Colombians. He replaced Dani Alves with Maicon at »

An islamist critique of soccer

Featured image Conservative pundits aren’t the only activists with ideological objections to soccer. Salafi clerics in Saudi Arabia and Egypt issued fatwas against viewing the World Cup before the tournament began. Their beef is that watching the World Cup will cause Muslims to neglect their religious duties and expose themselves to negative influences. Saudi cleric Sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Barrak put it this way: There is no doubt that football, played according to »

World Cup preview — The Quarterfinals

Featured image So far, this World Cup has delivered almost everything a soccer fan could want: lots of scoring in the Group Stage, plenty of matches decided by late goals, star performances from most of the tournament’s superstars, the emergence of major new stars, seven tense matches of the eight games played in the Round of 16, and six or seven formidable teams remaining in the tournament’s last eight. The only thing »

World Cup Update: How good is the U.S. team?

Featured image Now that the U.S. has been eliminated from the World Cup, the excitement our run generated has given way to disappointment over the realization that we were constantly on the back foot against Germany and Belgium. So how good, really, is the U.S. team? The answer, I think, is clear. We’re one of the top 20, and probably one of the top 16, teams in world. But we aren’t in »

Landon Donovan’s World Cup exclusion — is it wise?

Featured image Earlier this week, Jurgen Klinsmann named his squad for the upcoming World Cup. Landon Donovan, the face of American soccer and for my money the best player we’ve ever produced, was not included. Did Klinsmann make the right call? I doubt it. There’s no question but that at age 32 and with 156 games played for the national team, Donovan isn’t the player he once was. Klinsmann is almost certainly »