Dmitri Shostakovich is currently on trial in the Supreme Court. So are Fritz Lang, Sergei Prokofiev, and Astrid Lindgren, creator of Pippi Longstocking. For years, these artists’ works, and many others like them, were readily and freely available to American audiences.


The United States may have missed its chance to play Spain in the World Cup final Sunday (and the Netherlands in the semifinal, and Uruguay in the quarterfinal), but similar battles take place every day on American turf, where the world meets for pick-up soccer games. There’s weekdays outside an MIT building in Cambridge, weekend mornings behind the White House, and barefoot on the beach in Fort Lauderdale. There are, in fact, times when the U.S.


Everything said and done around the World Cup in the last month has seemed right and wrong, spot on and deluded—and often simultaneously. First it was the “African Cup.” The dream was ephemeral, save perhaps for Ghana. Then there was talk about a “new Europe”: forget aging Italy, England, and France, here came the vibrant sons of a united Germany. (Though, it must be said, less and less of them are actually German). Almost as soon as it started, however, it became the “Latin American Cup.” European tactical conservatism seemed doomed against the Latin love for the game.


"The particular insanity of the World Cup." Spain's happy hangover Zonal Marking's analysis of Spain-Germany Jonathan Wilson: Spain dominate in possession The Arjen-Robben-as-ball Photoshop meme (more here) Turf wars hurt English development Holland-Uruguay...in Legos

Paul the prognosticating octopus picks Spain Tom Williams: don't neglect the holding midfielder Zonal Marking's Germany-Spain preview The jingoistic simplification of the USA's run Fernando Duarte: Brazil's next coach Is Spain the most one-club-dependent team in Cup history? Jonathan Wilson: Netherlands vs. Uruguay analysis Steve Davis: raised expectations likely means Bob Bradley's out

The science of refereeing The memory problem of the World Cup Jonathan Wilson: Uruguay's 1950 triumph a testament to grit Uruguay aim to rekindle past glories Zonal Marking: Holland-Uruguay preview Holland 2 - Brazil 1...in Legos Tim Vickery: emotion no substitute for clear thinking Fidel Castro believes the refs are biased against South American sides  

Hand of God II

I lived in Ghana back in 1998, so their match against Uruguay was a real threat to my usual pan-Latin American approach to World Cup soccer fandom. I respect their game, and adore the country. I felt uncomfortable rooting against them, and I would’ve supported them against any team besides the U.S. or a Latin American side. Like everyone else, I was hoping to see an African side go through, and who knows what this marvelous, hard-working team might have accomplished with a healthy Michael Essien in the midfield.


The worst refereeing performances in World Cup history Zonal Marking: Ghana-Uruguay preview How the quarterfinalists line up (including a heavy dose of 4-2-3-1) The New York Times on how Brazil added a tougher edge Jonathan Wilson: Yugoslavia's brush with glory Tim Vickery: Uruguay looks to relive the glory days The corrupt "fixer" behind Australia's 2022 bid

To anticipate Argentina versus Germany or Brazil versus Holland is to again hear World Cup history whisper ever more urgently as the tournament approaches its conclusion. The coaches and players will insist that such talk is nonsense; a distraction. The game must be won on the pitch in South Africa. Eleven against eleven. The future scripts are yet to be written. What's past is irrelevant.


A good question! Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski suggest not. Their argument, summarised by Tim Harford, runs more or less like this: - England do about as well as you’d expect, given their size, economic power, proximity to football’s “core” in Western Europe, and footballing history. That is, you’d expect them to usually make the last 16, sometimes make the last 8, occasionally make the last 4 and make the final very rarely. And they do. - Managers don’t make much difference to a team’s expected performance.