Thursday, 26 January 2017

Brazil and Colombia honour Chapecoense victims in Rio, but half-empty stadium provides pointed contrast

It was always going to be emotional. Two months after the tragic plane crash that robbed 71 people of their lives and a football club of its happy anonymity, Brazil welcomed Colombia to Rio de Janeiro for a meeting that was not about the match.

The marketing men had dubbed it 'The Game of Friendship', but the feelings ran deeper than that. In the first instance, it was a chance to pay tribute to the fallen – to the players, officials and journalists who boarded LaMia Flight 2933 and never returned home.


Beyond that, this was also an opportunity for Brazil to say thank you to Colombia. Footballing relations between the two countries have not always been the warmest, but the humanity with which the Colombian people reacted to November's devastating events struck a real chord among their south-eastern neighbours.

Yet for all the heartening brotherhood on display, it was hard to deny that there was something a touch unsatisfying about the occasion. Find out why by reading my ESPN FC piece.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Brazil's 2002 World Cup winners: Where are they now?

The three Rs, Cafu, Roberto Carlos... Brazil's squad for the 2002 World Cup was certainly not lacking in star power or quality. Under Luiz Felipe Scolari, the Seleção made amends for the disappointment of 1998 by taking their fifth title, seeing off Germany in the final.


You'll know what happened to quite a few of the players in the years following that success. But which member of the squad appeared in a reality show? Who is still playing in India? And who has a zoo animal named in his honour?

I've taken a look at the 2002 heroes for the latest instalment in FourFourTwo's Where are they Now? series.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Porto Alegre giants Internacional facing up to life in the second flight after year to forget on and off the pitch

2006 was a high watermark in the history of Sport Club Internacional. The side from Porto Alegre won the Copa Libertadores for the first time and, just before Christmas, came to global attention by beating Barcelona in the final of the Club World Cup.

Under normal circumstances, the tenth anniversary of that golden year would have prompted a fresh wave of celebration; Brazilian clubs rarely need an excuse to hark back to past glories, after all.


But few fans had much time for the commemorative medals and sticker books that hit the market in 2016, for Inter endured an annus horribilis both on and off the pitch.

You can read about their plight in the February edition of When Saturday Comes magazine, which is available in newsagents and on their website.

Monday, 16 January 2017

The new Rivellino, the ultimate utility man, 'Jorge Alba' and more Brazilians YOUR club should be trying to sign

After a five-month wait, Gabriel Jesus could make his debut for Manchester City this weekend.

The Brazilian, who joined the Blues in a £27million deal before being loaned back to Palmeiras, is hoping to be in Pep Guardiola's squad for the visit of Tottenham.

Of course, England has not always been a fruitful stomping ground for Brazilian players. For every Juninho, there has been an Afonso Alves; for every Gilberto Silva, a Paulinho. Yet the success stories are becoming more and more frequent: Willian, David Luiz, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Fernandinho have all thrived in the last few seasons.


Those players, admittedly, did not come directly from Brazil, but via other European clubs. But if Gabriel Jesus can settle and live up to his colossal potential, other clubs will be tempted to dip into the Brazilian market in search of rough diamonds.

I picked out five that should be your club's radar, for Mirror Football.