Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Trials and tribulations: Brazilians and gringos alike look to catch the eye in Série A ahead of World Cup

The 2014 Campeonato Brasileiro got underway at the weekend, to relatively little fanfare. For European fans weaned on the pizzazz of the Premier League, La Liga et al, the start of the Brazilian season can seem like a strangely anodyne affair. Sure, people are excited, but there’s little of the urgency that defines the big kick-off in the Old Continent.

This is a perennial problem. The structure of the season in Brazil ensures that Série A begins just when the two most important cup competitions – the Copa Libertadores and the Copa do Brasil – are clicking into gear. With the former offering prestige and the promise of a money-spinning Club World Cup campaign, you can understand why contenders tend to take things easy in the Brasileirão. The Copa do Brasil, meanwhile, is a de facto qualifying competition for the Libertadores. It also matters.

This year, the proximity of the World Cup could have its advantages, however. In this early stage of the season, a number of players will be looking to impress enough to secure their place at the competition.

Read the rest of this piece over at Yahoo! Eurosport.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The season starts here: Brasileirão 2014 preview

It’s springtime in Europe. Blossom and leaves are returning to the trees, birds are chirping louder than ever, while for a hardy subset of the football-loving world, the internet’s blurriest, most unreliable streams beckon anew. That’s right, after a meagre four-month lay-off, the Campeonato Brasileiro crashes back into our lives this weekend, promising thrills, spills and unpaid bills.

This year’s edition is set to be even more fraught than usual; as you may have heard, there’s a bit of a football thing happening in Brazil in June and July. The Brasileirão has therefore been split into two chunks: a starter course before the Copa and the rest after. With the transfer window also guaranteed to play havoc with squads, fans are preparing themselves for what might just be the most disjointed league season in recent memory.

Read the rest of this preview over at WhoScored.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The final countdown: Thoughts on Luiz Felipe Scolari's plans ahead of World Cup squad announcement

In just over a month, Luiz Felipe Scolari will name his provisional squad for the 2014 World Cup. On June 2, he will whittle the group down to 23 men, who will be handed the task of discharging what has come to be seen as a national obligation: winning the thing on home soil.

Brazil awaits the decision with bated breath. Every man, woman and child will have their say in the coming weeks. As bossa nova pioneer Tom Jobim once remarked, “You need balls of steel to be a football manager in a country that has 150 million of them.”

Happily for the Seleção, Felipão is not a man to doubt his convictions. Read the rest of this piece on the Yahoo! Eurosport website here.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Community values: Street Child World Cup highlights football’s power for good

Against the backdrop of stadium accidents, it was heartening to see evidence of football’s power to shape the world in a positive manner this week. The Street Child World Cup (SCWC) got underway in Rio on Sunday, bringing together over 200 children between the ages of 13 and 17 from around the world for a 10-day celebration. On the schedule are small-sided games, cultural events and debates, culminating in a declaration of rights at Fluminense’s historic Laranjeiras ground.

The tournament, which took place for the first time in Durban in 2010, aims to shed light on the plight of street children the world over, challenging negative perceptions and mistreatment. By setting up in World Cup host countries, the organisers – who are backed by Save the Children – believe the event will encourage governments to put in place front-line responses to tackle an issue that affects millions.

Read the rest of this article on the Yahoo! Eurosport website.