World Cup

Best of the Web, AM Edition
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July 02, 2010

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

Best of the Web, PM Edition
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July 01, 2010

Nike's cursed "Write the Future" advert, re-edited Jonathan Wilson: Brazil vs. the Netherlands a potential classic A new book on the darker parts of World Cup history Zonal Marking: a preview of Argentina-Germany Richard Williams: Kaka "could ignite the tournament" Dunga vs. Johann Cruyff Brian Glanville: "England's pitiful debacle" Jon Stewart interviews Bob Bradley and Landon Donovan

The Good, the Bad, und die Rache
July 01, 2010

With the group stages over, the sextodecimal matches played, and the quarterfinals about to begin, what kind of a World Cup has it been so far? It has been good for South Africa, with large, happy crowds and none of the violence that pessimists predicted, altogether nothing worse than the horrible vuvuzela. The home nation were eliminated, but not before a glorious victory over France, who scuttled home in disgrace, as did the Italians, and then the English. No, it hasn’t been a good year for Europe, even with Germany, Spain and Holland in the last eight.

Bracing for the Quarter-finals
July 01, 2010

Of all the match-ups, the most intriguing one (by a narrow margin) is Brazil-Holland. For one thing, they have a nearly identical tactical formation: two holding midfielders in De Yong and Van Bommel for Holland and Melo (or Ramires) and Silva for Brazil, a linking attacking midfielder in Kaka (Brazil) and Sneijder (Holland), four in the back, and a single man up top (Van Persie and Luis Fabiano) supported by pacey wingers.

Best of the Web, AM Edition
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July 01, 2010

Tim Vickery: "when the Dutch led the way" The disturbing trend of World Cup homogeneity Zonal Marking: clean sheets the key to Cup success Top 20 World Cup hats BackpageFootball's quarterfinals preview Gabriele Marcotti: national teams aren't playing to the standard of club teams Best goals from USA '94

The Unbearable Weight of World Cup History
July 01, 2010

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.

Best of the Web, PM Edition
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June 30, 2010

Jonathan Wilson: the glorious past of Ghanaian football Steve Davis: final USA player ratings Sean Ingle: "South America boosted by travel, hard work…and luck" Wilson (again!): England's obsolete 4-4-2 What's next for Bob Bradley? Blatter's strange technology flip-flop Is fear undermining England's best youth?

Best of the Web, AM Edition
and
June 30, 2010

Nike's Cup-conquering culture For Lionel Messi, is context all that matters? FIFA's disgraceful "code of ethics" Martin Samuel: "when it comes to football, English players are not very bright" Should England look to youth? Who should Jewish Americans now root for? How Spain's madcap sports media sees their team now

The Jabulani Virus
June 30, 2010

Whining about the World Cup ball is almost as old as the tournament itself. During the last Cup in Germany, scientists postulated that it might “unsettle goalkeepers.” In Korea and Japan, the ball was universally deemed too light and bouncy. This year the now typical smattering of complaints began during the final tune up matches, when most teams were given a first chance to get their touches on it—but the whingeing really got started with Robert Green’s blunder against the U.S. Green, to his credit, refused to blame the ball for his woes, but Capello was not so tactful.

The Counter-Insurgency Spain Must Wage
June 30, 2010

How will Spain manage to crack Paraguay? They have struggled against teams that have packed players into the final third and dared them to elegantly kick the ball about the midfield, with Spain looking so refined and yet so lacking in goals. Paraguay are, of course, the supreme example of this genre in the tournament. (I’m very moved by Sasha’s paeans to their lyrical dullness.) Spain should be able to pick that lock. But the lameness of Fernando Torres has been a major liability. Without him running rampant, teams have horded resources and used them to swarm Xavi.

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