Tag Archives: Brazil

Confederations Cup: What the hell just happened?

Kaka and Shawki at the Confederations Cup

I am, of course, talking about this: Brazil 4-3 Egypt. What the hell?

I can appreciate that Egypt is an underrated team, especially by me. I had them firmly in the underdog category a couple of days ago. But they played well today. They bounced back agaisnt one of the best teams in the world. And they scored 3 goals! Take a look, New Zealand: that is how you go about challenging a top team. It took a Kaká PK to finally seal the deal. The United States should be very, very afraid and probably wishing they had a time machine to go back and be drawn into Group A.

Side note: Brazil and Egypt have two of the plainest kits I’ve ever seen. Although Egypt has, hands down, the best team nickname: The Pharaohs.

And then, of course, there’s the WTF feeling the US must be having after losing 3-1 to Italy. After having Ricardo Clark red carded (I thought he deserved a yellow, but not a straight red) and going down to 10 men (seriously, will the US ever field a full 11-man squad versus Italy?), Landycakes scored on a PK to put them up 1-0. Everything was fine until Giuseppe Rossi showed up. He proceeded to score not once but twice. The first, it must be said, was spectacular.

Rossi ConfederationOne of my goals this week is to try to gauge exactly how good the United States is. I think, at number 14 in the FIFA rankings, they might be a tad overrated. Then again, they could just be going through a rough bit of form. They were lethargic against Italy until Clark got red carded; then Landycakes turned it on played like a man possessed. That’s two straight world-class performances for him, for those of you keeping track at home.

Bob Bradley’s tactics were acceptable, though they could have been better. Charlie Davies is overrated by the US hierarchy and should not have been subbed in for Jozy Altidor. What he should have done was put in another defender – perhaps someone to play a sweeper role – or a defensive midfielder. Benny Feilhaber and Michael Bradley provided nice offensive options at times but once the lead was their and they were down to 10 men, defense becomes the priority. I’m not saying they should have collapsed into a shell because that puts too much pressure on the keeper.

Hopefully the lesson was learned for what looks like two difficult encounters coming up.

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So why should you care about the Confederations Cup?

Confederations Cup 2009

I’m glad you asked.

1. It’s a mini-World Cup. Eight teams, all champions of some sort (except the host nation, South Africa). All looking to prove something ahead of the real World Cup next year. Where else are you going to see Spain, Italy, and Brazil playing, other than a World Cup or some sort of super-duper friendly schedule? Nowhere, that’s where.

2. How good is the US? Will the Confederations Cup provide a concrete answer as to how good Bob Bradley’s boys are? No, I don’t think so. But it will be high quality competition with something on the line. International friendlies are great practice. But let’s be honest: with a trophy on the line, people try harder. The US will not send a B-team, like the Gold Cup. Spain’s A-team and Italy’s A-team will be on display. Not to mention everybody’s second favorite team, Brazil.

3. Is South Africa ready for the World Cup? We’ve all read the horror stories of getting stadiums prepared in South Africa. Consider this a dry run.

4. What will the underdogs bring to the table? The top dogs are Spain, Italy, and Brazil, likely in that order. The US exists in a netherworld between elite and underdog. That is, it should be able to beat the underdogs but likely can’t compete with the top dogs. So, what will South Africa, New Zealand, Egypt, and Iraq bring to the table? I’m hoping for competitive games to get all of those countries hyped for the World Cup.

Who are your key players to watch, esp. for the lesser known teams? List them all with short reasons below!

Prediction: Spain will take the Confederations Cup.

A bunch of games will be on ESPN, starting tomorrow (Sunday, July 14) at 10am EST.

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Kaká’s transfer by the numbers

Two days. That’s how long Kaká’s reign at the top of the world record transfer list lasted. On 9 June 2009, he moved from AC Milan to Real Madrid for £59 million. This is after saying, in January, that he would stay at Milan for the rest of his career. Six months later, he’s off to Madrid.

30 percent. That’s how much salary AC Milan must cut because of the worldwide economic decline. Apparently, when he turned down the January move, Kaká agreed to a personal salary freeze. The move to Real Madrid puts money in the player’s pocket and the team’s. ESPN, which was not the only outlet to report this, decided that Kaká moved not only to help himself but also to help AC Milan.

Kaka in Madrid colors

The number 18. Kaká’s reported shirt number at Real Madrid. This is fascinating to me because shirt numbers say a lot. Some players want a specific number at all stops; others don’t care. Kaká is interesting because he wore number 8 at São Paulo, then number 22 at AC Milan. He wore number 8 with Brazil but has since changed to number 10 (which is, of course, sacred in Brazil and in the larger world of soccer).

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