Archive for the ‘Brazil’ Category

Brazil #1, USA #12 In New FIFA Rankings

July 7, 2009

Courtesy of FIFA:

Victory on all fronts for Brazil: after winning the FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa, the Seleção have regained the top spot in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, thus relegating European champions Spain (2nd, down 1) to second place. The South Americans last topped the ranking in August 2007, a position to which they have climbed six times in the history of the ranking.

The Netherlands (3rd, down 1), Italy (4th, unchanged) and Germany (5th, down 2), occupy the next three places, but are some distance behind the leading duo. Russia (6th, up 3) have overtaken England (7th, down 1) and Argentina (8th, down 1), achieving their best position since August 1997 in the process.

Of the other countries that took part in the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009, finalists the USA (12th, up 2), Egypt (38th, up 2) and hosts South Africa (70th, up 2) have also progressed up the ranking. Egypt’s improved position despite their early exit from the tournament is due to their 1-0 victory over world champions Italy, which scored very highly in terms of ranking points. Meanwhile, disappointing performances by Iraq (94th, down 17) and New Zealand (100th, down 18) caused them to lose ground.

In other news, Algeria (47th, up 19) and Tunisia (49th, up 2) have climbed into the top 50 at the expense of Burkina Faso (51st, down 1) and Finland (52nd, down 3). Furthermore, the following teams have achieved their best position since the ranking was introduced in 1993: Australia (16th, up 13), Gabon (30th, up 18), Grenada (88th, up 14), Montenegro (98th, up 12) and Antigua and Barbuda (105th, up 9).

In the last four weeks, a total of 119 senior international matches were played: 16 FIFA Confederations Cup matches, 67 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying matches and 36 friendlies. This brings the total matches played this year to 406. The many matches played and the devaluation of matches at UEFA EURO 2008 are the main reasons for the many changes in position in this edition of the ranking.

The next FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be published on 5 August 2009.

Advertisements

Ronaldo Named 2008 FIFA World Player of The Year

January 12, 2009

Tonight at Zurich’s Opernhaus, Portugal and Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo was named the FIFA World Player of the Year, beating out Argentina and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Brazil and AC Milan’s Kaka (the 2007 winner), Spain and Liverpool’s Fernando Torres, and Spain and Barcelona’s Xavi (Euro 2008’s Best Player).

As he presented the award, Pele remarked that at last year’s ceremony when he handed the award to Kaka, he turned and shook Ronaldo’s hand, telling him “next year I’ll be handing it to you.”

An emotionally charged Ronaldo dedicated the award to his family, his friends, teammates, and all those involved in his career.

Perhaps FIFA was tipping its hand before it made the announcement, having the Zurich Opera perform scenes from Handel’s Rinaldo just minutes prior to the final award presentation.

The World’s Female Player of the Year was also named; Brazil’s Marta, winning for the third year in a row.

The winners of the FIFA Best Player Awards are selected by votes from the captains of all 208 member federations’ national teams.

The winners of the 2008 FIFA Fair Play Award were Armenia and Turkey, who overcame years of enmity to play each other three times in 2008, including a September World Cup qualifier attended by both heads of state. These matches set the stage for both sides to begin a reconciliation process which continues to grow.

The FIFA Presidential Award went to the US Women’s National Team for their contributions to the popularity and growth of the women’s game around the world (not to mention their overflowing trophy case). Heather O’Reilly accepted the award on behalf of the team.

Forget Beckham, Watch The Brazilians

January 10, 2009

It seems much of the English speaking soccer world is working itself up into a lather over whether the ageing David Beckham will play for AC Milan on Sunday against AS Roma. Beckham, on loan from the LA Galaxy, sought out the loan to stay sharp in order to stay in England manager Fabio Capello’s future plans.

The real story behind tomorrow’s match in the Stadio Olimpico is not Beckham but the chance to see a large portion of the Brazlian national player pool on the field at one time with 13 of them suiting up for the match. Add that to a mix of top talent from Italy and elsewhere and you’re in for some attractive attacking soccer. If he sees the field, Becks better have his wheels on, lest he be left in the dust.

On the AC Milan side, you could see Dida in goal, Kaka and Emerson in midfield, with Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato up front in the attack (all served by Italy’s “Brazilian” Andrea Pirlo).

With a whopping eight Brazilians in the lineup, AS Roma features an all-Brazilian goalkeeping corps of Doni, Julio Sergio, and Arthur. The defense is anchored by Juan and Cicinho with the recently-recovered Taddei and Filipe in midfield plus possibly Julio Baptista up top at forward.

Both teams need a win as Milan is sitting in third place on 33 points and needs to secure at least an automatic Champions League spot.

10th place Roma, with 23 points, has struggled with consistency this year. Now, with their talisman Francesco Totti out with a hamstring injury for at least the next month, they’ll need to dig deep to top Milan tomorrow. The Rossoneri will need to overcome a road losing streak that has not seen them win away from home since a 1-0 win over Atalanta on October 26th.

But Roma is always tough to beat at home, having lost only once this season. Plus, with Milan missing mainstays defender Alessandro Nesta and defensive midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, I’ve got to give the edge to the Giallarossi.

(Full disclosure: I’m a former resident of a Roma neighborhood in Rome and my friends would beat me senseless if I predicted any other outcome).

Don’t have the game on TV? Follow along here.

Tough Draw For USA In 2009 Confederations Cup

November 22, 2008

Courtesy of U.S. Soccer Communications Center:

U.S. TO PLAY WORLD CHAMPIONS ITALY, BRAZIL AND EGYPT IN GROUP B
OF 2009 FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP IN SOUTH AFRICA

CHICAGO (Nov. 22, 2008) – The United States has been drawn into a powerful Group B along with reigning world champions Italy, five-time World Cup winners Brazil, and reigning African Cup of Nations winners Egypt for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup that will be played from June 14-28, 2009, in South Africa. The U.S. kicks off action against Italy on June 15 at Loftus Versfeld in Tshwane/Pretoria, and then faces Brazil on June 18 in the same venue. The United States finishes group play on June 21 against Egypt at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.

Tournament hosts South Africa will open the event against Iraq on June 14 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The two teams were drawn into Group A along with current European Champions Spain and OFC Champions New Zealand. Played in four venues during two weeks, the tournament will serve as excellent preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. [Opponent Capsules]

The U.S. opens Group B play against Italy, in what will be the fourth time the teams have met in a major international tournament. Most recently, the U.S. and Italy faced off the thrilling 1-1 draw in the second match of group play in the 2006 FIFA World Cup on June 17, 2006, in Kaiserslautern. One of the finest performances in team history, that match is as memorable for the massive support of U.S. fans as for the team holding off the Italians after being reduced to nine men. The United States has never beaten the current world champions, holding a lifetime record of 0-3-3. Italy, currently ranked No. 3 in the world, is participating in their first Confederations Cup.

Next up is a clash with two-time Confederations Cup winners Brazil, who qualified for the tournament after blanking favored Argentina 3-0 in the final of the 2007 Copa America. The U.S. and Brazil are meeting for the third time in Confederations Cup play, having met previously in the middle group matches both in 1999 in Mexico and the 2003 edition in France. Brazil captured 1-0 victories in both contests, Ronaldinho getting the winner in Guadalajara in 1999 and Adriano in Lyon four years later. Overall, the U.S. holds a 1-12-0 lifetime record against the five-time world champions, the lone victory coming Feb. 10, 1998, a 1-0 win in the semifinals of the Gold Cup. The teams faced off last year in Chicago, goals by Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey putting the U.S. level before Ronaldinho broke the draw en route to a 4-2 win for Brazil on Sept. 9, 2007 in front of 43,543 at Soldier Field.

The U.S. closes out group play against Egypt on June 21 in Rustenburg. They teams have only played once before, Egypt going out 3-1 winners on June 8, 1987, in Seoul, Korea Republic. The Pharaohs have been one of the dominant sides on the African continent, claiming a record six Africa Cup of Nations titles, including back-to-back triumphs in 2006 and 2008. Egypt is playing in their second FIFA Confederations Cup, having participated in the 1999 event in Mexico.

The U.S. will play its first two matches at Loftus Versfeld in Tshwane/Pretoria. The stadium currently has a seating capacity of 45,000. Opened in 1903, the ground hosted matches for the 1995 Rugby World Cup and 1996 CAF Africa Cup of Nations. It is now used by Mamelodi Sundowns as their home ground.

The match against Egypt will be held at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg. The stadium is named after the Bafokeng people who live in the area. Upon completion, the stadium will seat 42,000. The South African national team played a FIFA World Cup qualifying game in the venue against Bakino Faso in 2001.

The U.S. is playing in its fourth FIFA Confederations Cup tournament, having appeared most recently in the 2003 event in a group with Brazil, Turkey and Cameroon. The team reached the semifinals of the 1999 tournament, beating Germany and New Zealand in group play before losing to hosts Mexico in the semifinals. The matches next year will represent the USA’s second time playing on South African soil, the team having defeated South Africa 1-0 on Nov. 11, 2007, in the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

2009 FIFA Confederations Cup
Group B Schedule
Date Match Venue Time (local/ET)
June 15 Brazil-Egypt Mangaung/Bloemfontein 4 p.m. / 10 a.m.
USA-Italy Tshwane/Pretoria 8:30 p.m. / 2:30 p.m.
June 18 USA-Brazil Tshwane/Pretoria 4 p.m. / 10 a.m.
Egypt-Italy Johannesburg 8:30 p.m. / 2:30 p.m.
June 21 Italy-Brazil Tshwane/Pretoria 8:30 p.m. / 2:30 p.m.
Egypt-USA Rustenburg 8:30 p.m. / 2:30 p.m.

Ronaldinho: Getting His Mojo Back

July 13, 2008


Over a year ago in a column for Soccer Times, I recall noting that the great players like Ronaldinho were starting to burn out due to a non-stop season of club, European, and international matches – not to mention the promotional tours that reduce any off time to recharge. In Ronnie’s case, we watched him degrade over time until it reached a point where some said he had “fallen out of love with football.”

This summer, he apprears to be getting his mojo (and fitness) back under the supervision of Brazilian national team fitness coach Paulo Paixao. This week, Paixao spoke about the superstar who is currently working to get ready to play in the Olympics – something his club (Barcelona) is not happy about.

“He is very happy and motivated.” “He has rediscovered his joy, and is once again the Ronaldinho we all knew.”

“He has been very cooperative in the work we are doing to improve his physical form, and take him back to his best.”

Ronaldinho is aiming to represent Brazil in the Olympics (as an overage player), motivated it seems to prove something to both Barcelona and Brazil boss Dunga who has left him off the national team roster. If Ronnie plays in the Olympics, it means he’ll miss club’s Champions League qualifiers at a time when Lionel Messi will also be unavailable to the Catalan side.

All the while, speculation continues about whether Ronaldihno will transfer to AC Milan, Manchester City, or remain at Barcelona. Regarless, a Brazil side led by a healthy and motivated Ronaldihno will be sure to make the Olympic soccer tournament more enjoyable for fans, but less so for opposing teams.

Ronaldihno in Talks with LA Galaxy? Doubtful

July 3, 2008


The Spanish sports daily Sport is reporting that the LA Galaxy have made an offer to Barcelona to buy Brazilian star Ronaldihno for a 3-5 year deal paying nearly $30 million (18 million Euros) per year. With $48 million being the minimum transfer fee Barcelona would accept, its hard ti imagine MLS could outbid the deep pocketed AC Milan, which has been pursuing Ronaldihno for the last year. Even if it did, they would have a difficult time justifying sending him to the LA Galaxy, where truckloads of money are already being spent on David Beckham. If anywhere, a player like him would go to New York.

According to Sport, Ronnie’s agent (and brother), Roberto de Assis, will be meeting with Galaxy officials in Houston in the next few days. Since MLS negotiates player contracts, this statement smells fishy. Thus, the whole rumor is hardly plausible and only seems intended to put upward pressure on the pay package AC Milan has on offer.