Neymar Falls, Epic Semifinals Await

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

Brazil Clinches Confederations Cup Semi-Final with 2-0 Win Over Mexico

bra con cup

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.

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Confederations Cup Squad

Yesterday, Scolari officially announced the 23 man squad he will use in this summer’s Confederation Cup. The squad featured many players that have been on team in the past and a few newcomers, mostly from the domestic league clubs. Like always, Scolari was criticized for some of the players he snubbed from the squad. Here is a breakdown of the squad:

Goalkeepers:

Julio Cesar (QPR)

Diego Cavalieri (Fluminense)

Jefferson (Botafogo)

These three goalkeepers have all been in the squad before so this is no surprise. Julio Cesar has had a great season even though his club, QPR, has been relegated from the English premier league and will most likely be the starter for Brazil in the tournament. It is thought if Julio Cesar wants to keep his spot in the squad, he must leave the club for another top league club in either Europe or Brazil. One player that has an argument for having made the squad is Valencia’s Diego Alves who is another great goalkeeper who has experience with the national team. After Julio Cesar, the rest of the keepers are pretty even so Scolari probably just picked the players he was most comfortable with.

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Current State of Brazilian Soccer

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Brazil’s men’s national soccer team is currently at its lowest FIFA ranking in its history at the 19th position. It can be argued that this is mainly due to the fact that Brazil has not played any World Cup qualifying matches because they have an automatic bid to the World Cup they are hosting. The qualifying matches have a higher weight in the rankings than international friendlies which puts Brazil at a big disadvantage, but in reality Brazil’s form has been below what it has been in the past. Continue reading