Group Winners Advance to Quarterfinals

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

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World Cup Group Stage Recap

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.

 

Highlights:

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

Player Profiles: David Luiz

Player Profile: David Luiz

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David Luiz has come a long way to where he stands today. He is originally from Diadema, Brazil and is 26 years old. He started his professional career with Brazilian club, Vitoria in 2006 and then signed with Portuguese power, Benfica in 2007 after a brief loan. It took some time for David to develop, but soon enough David was the best player in the league and won Portuguese Liga Player of the Year in the 09-10 season. Clearly he was pretty fired up about it.

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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