Soccer has relied on human judgment to decide whether or not a player is offside for as long as we can remember, but is this system efficient in this day and age? In soccer, where each and every goal is so important, offsides has incorrectly been called on many occasions and has changed the outcomes of various extremely important games at both the domestic and international level. While a very high percentage of offside calls are called correctly, it seems like almost every time it is incorrectly called, it completely changes the game. Recently FIFA has implemented new rules and procedures to the game that I believe to have benefited the game without stopping play. The first change is goal-line technology which will vibrate the referee’s watch if the ball crosses the goal-line. This system has helped referee make crucial calls from potentially problematic angles. The second change has been the vanishing spray used for free kicks, which in my opinion has successful stopped players in the wall from creeping forward toward the ball. Yes, it has added a few seconds during each free kick, but it has helped monitor the wall to allow players to have a fair chance of taking free kicks. Continue reading
After the first two rounds of the knockout stage, I have predicted 11 out of 12 outcomes correctly. While there were a lot of upsets in the group stage, the knockout stage has seen the favorites advance to create two semifinal matches between the two most storied South American sides and two European titans. It will be interesting to see how these teams will fare as they have all gone through some struggle on their way to the semifinals. Will South America’s dominance at home continue or will Europe finally break through? I have already said that this may be the best World Cup of all-time and I am sure that the final three games will firmly cement Brazil 2014’s place in history.
Brazil vs. Germany
Brazil suffered some major setbacks in their quest for their sixth world cup title in their 2-1 victory over Colombia. Star man, Neymar, suffered a broken vertebra on a late challenge and will miss the remainder of the competition. To make things worse, Thiago Silva received a second yellow card for a stupid playground foul on the Colombian goalkeeper punting the ball out of his box. Silva will be missed just as much as Neymar against Germany and will leave the hosts with an uphill battle to win. An unsung hero will have to step up for the Selecao at a crucial moment in order to challenge either Argentina or Netherlands for the title. David Luiz came up big with the free kick of the tournament and it will take another play like that for Brazil to advance. Germany, on the other hand, did just enough to beat France on a header from their center back Mats Hummels. France had a greater number of chances in the game, but did not possess the final touch in order to find the net. The win against France and setbacks suffered by Brazil will give the Germans a lot of confidence heading into the semifinal as they look to become the first European team to win in South America. Continue reading
Calm down. See, you think you already know where this is going. You’re already riled up because someone is about to say something that’s not glowing about the global game of fútbol. Before I begin, let me preface by saying that I’ve played soccer my entire life. It just may be my favorite sport. But every four years, the World Cup brings a complex blend of bitterness, along with the obvious joy. In the United States, every four years brings the unfulfilled promise that soccer will soon rule the land. Soon, its biggest supporters say, it will eclipse basketball and baseball. Even American football too. Of course, it never does. I mean, how popular is it going to get when just surviving the group stage feels like we’ve won the World Cup final? Now, that’s not my issue with soccer. Actually, I don’t have any issues with soccer. I think the penalty shootout compromises how great the game can be, and I’m frustrated by the diving that takes place throughout the game. But those are minor points. What really gets me is the fans.
I understand the frustration that soccer fans feel in the United States. Especially when things like this are actually published. Purely asinine pseudo-jingoistic journalism at its finest. That’s what that is. All of the so-called journalists in the country who celebrated the US’ elimination from the tournament don’t deserve an audience. That is just Skip Bayless provocation. Sure, the United States went 1-2-1 in the World Cup. We get it: that’s not good enough for you, for the United States. And thus, doesn’t deserve all the attention that it brought. Pieces like that should rile up soccer supporters. Continue reading
Brazil 2014 is quickly starting to shape up as one of the best World Cup tournaments of all-time. As I predicted in my last post, all eight group winners advanced to the quarterfinals although Algeria, Mexico, and the United States gave me a run for my money. All three teams performed valiantly in games that many people gave them no chance in. Even with a loss, the United States has shown that they have made positive strides towards becoming a consistent contender in the knockout stage of World Cups to come. That being said, with all the group winners advancing, there are some very interesting quarterfinal match-ups.
France vs. Germany:
Two of Europe’s powerhouses will meet in the first of four quarterfinal games. Both countries are former world cup winners and have shown their skill in this tournament. Germany began the tournament ranked as the second best team in the world and while they have been solid, they have not looked like a top team. France on the other hand struggled mightily in the qualifications of the world cup. Having to beat Ukraine in playoff game for a spot in the tournament, many had ruled France out from contention; however, this French team looks to be peaking at just the right time. With some young stars coming into their own, France has looked very solid in this tournament. In a competition on this magnitude, momentum means everything and look for France to pull off the upset.
Prediction: 2-1 France
Imagine if at the end of a tied basketball game, each team went to the foul line. Each team chose five players to shoot free throws. The team with the higher percentage of made shots won the game. There would be a huge uproar over this, and not because otherwise-worthless shooters would suddenly become invaluable. One team shooting free throws better than another does not necessarily indicate that one team is better or worse than the other. It is a gimmicky way to decide which team is better. Now imagine if at the end of a tied football (American football, of course) game, each team decided five players to kick field goals. I know, crazy, right? Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson would probably be on the bench. And just imagine Peyton or Brady trying to kick a field goal. The analogy doesn’t fit quite as well with football, as it does with basketball. The point stands though, that both ways of deciding a game are pointless. They don’t show that one team is better than another. Continue reading
The group stage of Brazil 2014 has not failed to entertain. With the focus prior to the World Cup being on Brazil not being prepared, the world’s greatest sporting event has started much better than many were expecting. There has been no shortage of goals in the games and just about every game has been fun to watch no matter what team you are rooting for. Many teams have surprised in the groups of death. Below I will share my highlights and disappointments of the group stage.
South America – With 5 of the 6 teams from South America qualifying for the final 16 (and Ecuador almost qualifying), South America has shown that it is the dominant continent in this tournament. Columbia has arguably been the most impressive team so far from South America this tournament and looks primed to battle for a semi-final spot. Both Brazil and Argentina have not been at their best, both have shown in glimpses why they are projected to face off in the finals. With both Neymar and Messi in great form, a Brazil-Argentina final would be one for the ages. Chile has also impressed by knocking the reigning champions Spain out of the tournament in just their second game. Unfortunately, four of the five remaining teams all been paired up in the same leg of the bracket, meaning only a maximum of two South American teams making it to the semi-finals. Continue reading
Every four years, Americans try their best to like Soccer. Forgive me, I meant Fútbol. Nearly everyone bases their limited knowledge on his or her youth soccer career and experience playing XBox’s Fifa game. For anyone experimenting with the sport for the first time, trying to become a fan, the soccer snobbery can be an instant turn-off. Those few, impassioned fans of the sport, who reside in the United States, act as if their sport is being infiltrated by outsiders unworthy of its beauty. You will often hear sentiments, like this one in the New York Times:
“So it is with the new crowds of World Cup fans. If I feel a little protective of my game, it’s because my enthusiasm for it has been uneven and hard won. The good news is I don’t have to worry about this ever happening with cricket.”
Brazil extended its win streak to 3 games with a 2-0 win over Mexico in its second game of the Confederations Cup. With the win, Brazil has qualified for the semi-finals along with Italy who defeated Japan 4-3 in a thriller. The Saturday match-up between Brazil and Italy will decide the group’s winner which could be crucial because the winner will most likely avoid playing Spain in the semi-finals. Brazil will win the group with a draw or win because of goal differential which gives them the upper hand entering the final group stage match.