Monday, 30 October 2017

Kerlon's retirement at 29 is a sad tale, but we'll always have the joyously goofy theatre of the seal dribble

“I had the privilege of doing something unique in the game.

"Guided by my greatest partner and friend, my father, we created a skill that had never been seen before. I did it in big moments, both for Brazil and for Cruzeiro, even in a big derby at a packed Mineirão.

“Even knowing that I would suffer a foul or a violent challenge, I still tried it, flicking the ball up in the air and travelling metres with the ball on my head, not letting it drop. That was my style of football: irreverent, with lots of joy.”

His own words sum it up rather nicely, but for more on the stunted career of Kerlon – now retired but destined to be remembered for his famous 'seal dribble' – read my latest Unibet blog.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

The Emperor's new clothes: Adriano's comeback plans are ambitious, but he does not deserve ridicule

The last seven years have been tough for Adriano. 

There were eight games and no goals at Roma, who sent him on his way after nine months. He returned to his homeland with Corinthians, replacing the retired Ronaldo, but managed just five appearances in his first eight months after rupturing his Achilles tendon. One year and 67 skipped training sessions later, his contract was torn up by the club.

Flamengo, with whom he had won the 2009 Brazilian title, offered him another lifeline, but that came to nothing. So too did brief stints with Atlético-PR (2014) and Miami United (2016), announced to some fanfare but ultimately unproductive. "It was an error," Furacão president Mario Celso Petraglia has said since. "He was a good kid, a spectacular guy with a good heart, but sadly he didn't have the strength. There's no way back for him."

Now, though, the Emperor is planning a fresh comeback. I take a look at his chances in my latest piece for Unibet. 

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Stick or twist? Five lingering questions for Brazil coach Tite as Brazil begin their World Cup countdown

Qualified for the World Cup early? Check. Clear set of tactics? Check. Settled line-up and plentiful options on the bench? Check, check, check.

With nine months to go until Russia 2018, things are certainly looking good for Brazil. The progress made under Tite has been startling, drawing an emphatic line under the dog-eared dog days of the Dunga era.

Yet a a coach's work is never done and now begins the challenge of ensuring that the Seleção are reaching their very best form next June. It's no easy task, as Luiz Felipe Scolari would certainly tell you.

In my latest for Unibet, I look at five lingering questions that Tite will have to answer in the months ahead if Brazil are to live up to expectations next summer.

Monday, 2 October 2017

On Edinson Cavani, Neymar and the morals of penalty theft, football's ultimate dick move

You wouldn't put up with it at your workplace.

Imagine it: you're just about give that knockout presentation you've been working on since last Tuesday when Dominic (it's always a Dominic, isn't it?) from accounts comes over and grabs your laptop, in full view of all your colleagues and the board of directors. "I'm giving this presentation," he whispers to you while avoiding eye contact.

You're flabbergasted, obviously. Dominic's the office whizzkid and you've been getting on well. Beers on Thursday, football chat by the coffee machine, all that jazz. Now here he is being... well, being a total w*****. Your name was down for this; this presentation was yours to give. As a wave of revulsion swells in your belly, you tear the laptop back from Dominic's duplicitous mits. After an unseemly struggle, he backs down.

The damage is done, however. Your confidence shot, you give a bad presentation, stuttering and sweating in front of your PowerPoint slides. Dominic, now lurking beyond the glass room divider over by the pot plant, catches your eye. He's smirking. He knows the next one is his.

Belatedly, here's my piece on the Neymar/Edinson Cavani penalty scuffle at Paris Saint-Germain, for Unibet.