World Cup

The Best of Group A
June 22, 2010

As Group A wraps up, here's some selections from our writers. Leon Krauze on the quality of Mexico's victory over France: It’s not only that Aguirre’s men played a wonderful game tonight: air-tight defending, wonderful ball rotation and physical fitness that, as far as I’ve seen, is probably the best in the whole tournament. By the end of the match, even Jeremy Toulalan—by far the most committed of Domenech’s disappointing team—simply wanted to throw in the towel. Rabih Alameddine was succinct in his judgment: Everyone should celebrate Mexico’s defeat of France.

Being Dunga
June 22, 2010

Anyone nicknamed Dopey-- or as the moniker quite nicely translates into Portuguese, Dunga--will be an easy mark for ridicule. Even Carlos Dunga’s most tender gestures, like wearing attire designed by his daughter to big matches, result in the commentariat doubling over in cruel laughter at his expense. But in this World Cup, he has cut an image that is more villainous than comic. He is cast as the heartless assassin of joga bonito, the mercenary who took a pillow and snuffed the élan out of the Brazilian game.

Best of the Web, AM Edition
June 22, 2010

Mexico and Uruagay both aim to win The French media tries to make sense of their team's collapse Does the World Cup need width? Jonathan Wilson: wide play will be key for U.S. against Algeria Legos make England-Algeria slightly more entertaining. Slightly. How players should deal with the vuvuzelas John Terry made to look like "a guilty schoolboy" And finally, yesterday was the 40th anniversary of what many consider the greatest goal in World Cup history:

About Those Kiwis...
June 21, 2010

I have to take issue with Zach's assessment last week that the World Cup has been "crap" so far. Sure, only 67 goals have been scored in 32 games. But two of them were scored by New Zealand. I happen to be a Kiwi myself, and so it's possible that this means more to me than it does to any of you. To be honest, like most New Zealanders, I don't normally pay any attention to soccer. Rugby is the national religion—it dominates the culture in a way that reminds me, as one of the country's twelve non-fans, of those droning vuvuzelas.

Best of the Web, PM Edition
June 21, 2010

The best World Cup game you never saw How Chile broke down Switzerland's defense The Cup's mixed economic legacy for South Africa The sorry state of African football Reasons for England fans to feel positive Tim Vickery: Dunga's Brazil only concerned with winning Jonathan Wilson: "England camp surrounded by dissent and discontent" Time for Lippi to make difficult decsions

The Ritual Attack Of The Soccer Scolds
June 21, 2010

Jonathan Last calls the quadrennial World Cup "The Ritual Attack of the Soccer Scolds": But the thing is, you never hear football--or baseball, or ultimate frisbee, or tennis, or cycling, or hockey, or curling--or any other kind of fans railing against people who don't share their passion as if there's something morally and politically wrong with them. Why is it that soccer fans care so much about what American's don't care about? In defense of the soccer scolds, there's a counter-ritual of soccer haters. It takes two sides to have a culture war.

Black and Blue
June 21, 2010

Last week I wrote about the self-destruction of the French team, though even I did not expect things to get as bad as they have. (Could anyone?) Yes, the French as a nation like to go on strike, but the current meltdown is unprecedented and humiliating. But I wonder if the full extent of this mutiny may have a more damaging impact than an intense blush. A recent poll in France—and one poll is only indicative of one poll—revealed that, compared with earlier surveys, French racism is on the rise.

Best of the Web, AM Edition
June 21, 2010

Simon Kuper: Brazilian football has moved from poetry into prose Familiar pattern emerging in Capello's reign Will fans just have to accept diving? Rob Hughes: cracks in the European camps Tim Vickery: South American stars shine Zonal Marking: Brazil always in control against Ivory Coast, Portugal exploits the space against North Korea Gabriele Marcotti: Denmark's Simon Kjaer is a throwback to the ball-playing defenders of old Can the Cup really spur grassroots soccer in South Africa?

Does England Just Need a Good Shag?
June 21, 2010

Things are not looking good for England. Two draws against opponents many in the global football community had quickly written off. The passes aren’t coming through, the runs are being cut off, the set pieces are blasting over the cross-bar. Exasperation was clear and bright red on the faces of players during Friday’s match against unexpectedly impressive Algeria. They were snippy with each other, with the officials and with their coach. Their game could simply be described as frustrating.

Fat Players Got No Reason
June 20, 2010

Soccer, unlike baseball or football, is not a sport which lends itself to portly participants. In football the offensive linemen can resemble sumo wrestlers, and no one can argue that baseball’s David Ortiz and Joba Chamberlain are not at least slightly rotund. This largess makes sense when it comes to protecting a quarterback from the blitz or hitting a fastball out of the park. But in soccer, the fluidity of the game dictates that all players save the keepers be in a constant state of motion for all ninety minutes.

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