Beyond the News
The main sport event this weekend was the Confederations Cup that kicked off last Saturday in the city of Brasilia, the Capital of Brazil. On the open match the host nation beat Japan by 3 x 0, but there is much more to talk about this game which is beyond the pitch itself. However, on this review you will also see a quick analysis on other events worldwide: Federer won his first title in 2013, Stanley Cup is tied and the surfer Kelly Slater lifted the trophy for the second time in the year to take him ahead in the race to become 12 times world champion.
But let’s start with football. The Confederations Cup in Brazil kicked off in a moment when the country is facing tough protests in major capital cities. Mayors of towns like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have recently increased the bus fare in 20 cents of Real and infuriated people across the country. In São Paulo, specifically, there were several confrontations between police and protesters.
These manifestations, which initially did not have any relation to the Confederations Cup, eventually, also took place at the Mané Garrincha Stadium (or officially called by FIFA during the competition as National Stadium) and Maracana. Once again, protesters were violently stopped by the police making the environment a bit spooky for the attendees, media and delegations in Brazil.
The Mané Garrincha Stadium was built back in the 70’s and it is named after a Brazilian player who won the 1958 and 1962 World Cups, and who is also constantly reverenced by commentators and football lovers as a better player than Pelé. Garrincha died in 1983, poor and completely dominated by alcoholism at age 49. The stadium on the other hand was recently demolished to give space for a new and modern football arena following the European standards. Although the city of Brasilia does not have a major team playing in the National Championship, millions of dollars were invested on the stadium, which makes the local society and even journalists in the entire country skeptical about the use of this premise in the future.
And this, perhaps, is one of the reasons why the Brazilian president Dilma Roussef was welcomed at the stadium with a huge boo from the audience. FIFA’s president, Joseph Blatter, tried to intervene asking for a “fair play” and also got some boos in return.
In the pitch, Brazil beat Japan for 3 x 0 and that was all! I say that because Brazil did not show anything beyond the basic. The team seemed to be lost! The passes between defense and attack were always on the “hope” to find someone, who could find another player, who could do something that could result in a goal. In other words, Brazil played like Chelsea. And just like the English team, might become the champion… Football sometimes is really weird!
The only thing that showed some consistency in the Brazilian team was the defense. Thiago Silva and David Luiz could be a synonym for “China Wall”. And behind them Julio Cesar seems to be fit enough to handle the responsibility. The tendency is that the team will continue to play with same players until the end of the competition, so a better game plan can be developed.
On the other hand, the players cannot be blamed alone by the poor performance. The pitch that they played in was beyond perfection for a bull riding competition, but far away to a football match at this level. The Brazilian left-back Marcelo was almost a victim on Saturday when he twisted his knee after stepping in the uneven grass of Mane Garrincha. Hopefully Brazil will show a better performance when playing in other arenas.
Yesterday, Italy beat Mexico (2 x 1) with Balotelli once again showing his muscles on TV by taking off his jersey after scoring a goal. He got a yellow card as a complement! Spain played the second match of the day and won over Uruguay with the same score from the previous game. The highlight here was the way how Spain was welcomed, pretty similar to the Brazilian president, with a loud boo! The supporters were a bit upset with the short passes that characterize the Spanish team. Eventually, boos turned into applauses after Spain scoring two goals in 15 minutes.
The Confederations Cup continues today with Tahiti x Nigeria.
Roger Federer finally won a title in 2013. At the ATP 250 in Halle, Germany, he beat once more the Russian Mikhail Youzhny, this time by 2 sets 1 (6-7, 6-3, 6-4). The funny thing here is that in the last Roland Garros couple weeks ago, the Europsport channel made a joke with the players during the Game, Sets and Mats show that happens every evening during the tournament. They asked to the top seeds what they would tell Roger Federer now that “he has announced his retirement” (it was a prank). And Youzhny said that the surprising news was bad because he never managed to beat one of greatest tennis players in history! Well, the Russian will have to pray a bit more for Federer to continue playing for longer, so he can try again.
On the other hand, Andy Murray is back! He won the Queens this weekend over Martin Cilic, from Croatia, after losing the first set. Last year Murray lost the final in Wimbledon to Roger Federer and took the entire court and Great Britain into tears during his emotional speech after the game. He will have the chance for revenge this year again; however, with a break in the beginning of the summer, is Murray ready for a 5 sets match? From Sunday 24th this question starts to be answer!
In Ice Hockey the Stanley Cup is tied. By the way, what a first match between Boston Celtics and Chicago Blackhawks! Chicago managed to win in the very last moments! Tonight they will clash again in Boston.
At last, I just would like to highlight the win of Kelly Slater in the 4th leg of Surf World Tour in Fiji. The American surfer is 41 years old, won 11 seasons in his career and leads the current ranking even though he has to compete against athletes 22 years younger than him. Considering how physically demanding the sport of surfing is, Kelly Slater is an example of sportsman who will leave a legacy to any individual in the world: “do what you love, and make it at your best”!
This is about to be another busy week with Confederations Cup, and I look forward to it! I will be back with another review next Monday! See you there!