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How Olympic football affects the World Cup

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Tim Vickery | 09:55 UK time, Monday, 30 July 2012

Olympic football may not be the main event of the Olympic Games but those teams taking part have an excellent opportunity to try things out as they prepare for the next World Cup.

This has rarely been clearer than at Old Trafford on Sunday, when 2014 hosts Brazil were confronted with a problem they will surely meet time and time again in two years' time. Opponents Belarus put 10 men behind the ball and looked to frustrate them, forcing them to pass sideways, hoping that Brazilian frustration would lead to error and then launching the counter-attack.

What made this match especially interesting was that Belarus took the lead, scoring a beautifully worked goal on almost the first occasion they crossed the halfway line. The true test of a team is always when they go a goal down. How would Brazil respond?

In the event they were level just six minutes later - but it took them another forty to get in front. And the three points were not safe until the third goal was scored in stoppage time. A crowd of 66,000 turned up, many of them Brazilians well aware of the importance of Olympic football.

Like many Brazilian national team crowds, after the initial euphoria wore off they went very quiet when things were not going well on the field. That was interspersed with moments of impatience, such as calling for substitutions. This was a fascinating test for the full ninety minutes.

Arguably Brazil made their task harder for themselves by replacing centre forward Leandro Damiao with Alexandre Pato. Damiao had scored one and made one in Thursday's 3-2 win over Egypt, but coach Mano Menezes thought Pato's characteristics were more suited to this game. Throughout his reign, the 4-2-3-1 system has worked better with an out-and-out centre forward and this was surely all the truer against Belarus.

Chelsea signed Brazilian Oscar for a fee understood to be about £25m. Photo: Getty

Against a deep-lying defence there was little space for Pato to show his speed. Meanwhile, the penalty area presence and back to goal game of Damiao were missed - it was harder for the midfielders to make runs beyond the striker and Brazil struggled to get behind the opposing defence.

It was Pato, though, who headed the equaliser, taking advantage of a superb cross curled to the far post by Neymar.

The main reason I travelled to watch the game was to see Neymar at Old Trafford. I have watched him many times over the last three years. With his balance and fluidity, his two-footed unpredictability, his capacity to improvise at speed, it seemed to me that Neymar was reminiscent of a young George Best. The chance to catch the Brazilian at Best's Theatre of Dreams was too good to miss.

There were indeed some memorable moments - an audacious attempt to score from half way stands out. There was also some showboating and some over-elaboration. By no means did he have things his own way but Neymar is one of that select group of players who can play badly wonderfully well. Even when he seems to be struggling he can come up with enough flashes of inspiration to change the course of the game. This was certainly true of Sunday's match.

As well as laying on the equaliser for Pato, he also broke the deadlock with a stunning free-kick whipped across into the far top corner. And he was then instrumental in the moment that sent the crowd home happy - cutting across for the left and wrong-footing the defence with a backheel that set up Chelsea signing Oscar for goal number three.

This could prove to be an exchange of great significance as there are signs of a massively important partnership between the two youngsters. If Neymar supplies the icing, then Oscar promises to provide the cake. The slightly built midfielder is making himself the key to Brazil's possession-based game. Always available to receive the ball, constantly seeking to generate ideas, he is becoming the man who dictates the rhythm of the team's play. He also stands out for his versatility. Oscar is stronger than he looks and capable of pressing the opposition high or of funnelling back to help with the marking. Without him, it is hard to believe that Menezes would have gone with the bold substitution he made when the score was still 1-1 - central midfielder Sandro replaced by playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso.

Once the Olympics are over, Brazil's coach will have good reason to follow Oscar's progress at Stamford Bridge. The obvious worry is that, with the European champions feverishly rebuilding, the new boy will have his playing time squeezed as he struggles to adapt to life and football in a new country. Too much time on the bench could lead to Oscar losing his edge. He could well be gambling with his international place. The move to Chelsea is the brave choice of a confident young man - but one whose confidence is well grounded in talent and intelligence.

Events on Sunday at Old Trafford could have a bearing on Brazil's quest to win the 2014 World Cup. So now will weekly events at Stamford Bridge.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.
From last week's postbag;

My team, West Brom have signed Argentina midfielder Claudio Yacob from Racing Club. All I know, from what I've read, is that he's a decent passer of the ball and has been capped a few times for Argentina. What you know about him and how do you think he'll fair in the Premier League?
Chris Adams


I'm not a huge fan, to be honest. Those Argentina caps have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Recently they've had as many as three squads on the go at the same time, so caps have been handed out all over the place. I've been following Yacob since the South American Under-20s in 2007 and I've never been over-impressed. He's neat enough and clearly has a strong personality and leadership qualities. But as a holding midfielder I'm not convinced by his tackling - I think he's off balance and a candidate for cards - or his range of passing.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Another great blog, Tim.

  • Comment number 2.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 3.

    Brazil were a joy to watch yesterday. Belarus are a decent team but Brazil showed their class to win comfortably in the end.

    Neymar has all of the attributes to be a truly great player - some of this touches were sublime.

    Oscar has been equally impressive. His range of passing and ability to bring other players into the game suggests he will be the fulcrum of the Brazilian attack for the next few years. Like Tim I would be concerned that he may find it difficult to establish himself in the Chelsea first team but if he maintains this level of performance he would surely be difficult to ignore.

    Although they attract less attention I also think the defensive midfield pair have been excellent. Defensively the Brazilians do look a bit suspect. I don't think this will prevent them from winning Olympic gold but they would certainly need to strengthen in that area to win the World Cup in 2 years time.

  • Comment number 4.

    @3

    Typo - I meant to say "his touches"

  • Comment number 5.

    Tim good blog as usual.

    I totally agree with you, I'd go to a ploughed field to watch Neymar. He's like a throwback to a time long ago and your George Best comparison is so true. I was concerned with Neymar's physique over the last couple of years, at times he looked lightweight but so did George in his heyday. Have to say I think Neymar has made, massive progress as a player since the Copa and he is starting to look the complete player that he promised to be.

    Tim after these games are over, would you give us a post tournament report, including the view from a South American stance on the teams.

    For me this tournament has been pretty good and I'm enjoying going to the matches, even the women's games, which has suprised me. What's your take on it, it would be good to hear a journo's viewpoint?

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Tim. I was wondering about the fall from grace of the Brasil keeper Julio Cesar? Inter Milan no longer want him where once he was deemed as the best in the world. Can this ALL be traced back to the loss against Holland in World Cup 2010 which seemed to affect him personally?

  • Comment number 7.

    Neymar was great to watch against Belarus. However, on occasion he does choose the wrong option. Sometimes he plays to the crowd a little to much! Oscar is a fantastic signing for Chelsea, intelligent, composed with wonderful technique. If he can cope with the cultural differences, then he could be a revelation next year.

    Shame to see Spain go home, but I have a feeling that they have not really prioritised this tournament.

    Biggest shame has been the half empty stadiums and the continued moronic booing of Luis Suarez by the sheep. Hopeful of a Uruguay win against Team GB with Suarez getting the winner!

  • Comment number 8.

    An intersting final game between GB and Uruguay in Cardiff awaits.

  • Comment number 9.

    Great article as always, Tim. Long time reader, can't remember if first time commenting or not!

    Anyway, I went to see Mexico v Gabon yesterday in Coventry, and all I can say is how underwhelmed I was by the Mexicans. I expected them to be too good for Gabon. The general consensus around us was that Gabon were actually unlucky to lose. A decent striker to partner Aubameyang and the Mexicans could've been in real trouble. It was only won by a decent finish from Giovani and a penalty. Tim, I know technically not your territory, but how does the future really look for Mexico?

  • Comment number 10.

    Interesting as ever Tim.
    They certainly look to be putting a very strong side together.

  • Comment number 11.

    Tim always makes the point of tournament football representing time speeded up in the development of any team, and these Olympics have already taught us plenty of lessons.

    We now know what many of us suspected - there is no "gifted next generation" for Spain - their Under'23 team is utterly ordinary and plays (and loses) like the pre-2008 Spanish national team always did. The question now is whether the older generation can win one last time in Brazil in 2014, or whether the game is already up for Spain.

    There is no golden next generation for Uruguay either. Alarmingly, they don't have a new generation of defenders to replace the ageing Lugano and declining Godin and Tabarez looks once more like a good builder of a team but a dodgy tactician, which is what his reputation was in Europe before national team success came at the end of his career.

    Mind you, if Uruguay can organise their defence and beat Team GB they would enter the easy side of the draw (with South Korea and Japan in the knockout phase) whereas Senegal's reward for topping the group would be a semi-final v Brazil!

    As for Brazil, it is difficult to know whether a Gold medal would prevent or cause a catastrophe in 2014.

    If they don't win Gold, Menezes gets the sack and the older generation get brought back in, with only Oscar, Neymar, Ganso and Pato of the Under-23s surviving.

    But if they do win Gold, the pressure then is to keep the Olympic team as the World Cup eleven on the basis that the team is maturing nicely. But that means Rafael might displace a slowing Dani Alves or Maicon as right-back and that Sandro might displace Lucas Leiva as a holding midfielder.

    It is one thing for Neymar and Oscar to scheme their way past the massed defensive ranks of Belarus Under-23. But what happens in Belo Horizonte in a World Cup Second Round clash against Italy? If the youngsters can't unravel the Italian defence they may need Kaka to try his luck - but if they win Gold in twelve days' time he probably won't make the squad.

    As Barry Davies might say: "Interesting.....very interesting!"

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi Tim. Neymer and Oscar were great to watch as they were in the Egypt game, but what did you think of Hulk? As a Chelsea supporter i would love to see him playing at Stamford Bridge, especially the way him and Oscar link up..but is he worth the massive transfer fee?

  • Comment number 13.

    jamtay1 @7

    Shame to see Spain go home, but I have a feeling that they have not really prioritised this tournament.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Not wishing to start the usual Spain debate on here.

    I felt the squad Spain picked showed their intent for these games, on paper it did look strong and capable of going a long way in the tournament. I would imagine the Spanish are just as suprised as many people, at their perfomance here and it is too easy to put it down to just their approach.

    They have not really suprised me in any way and look a million miles away, from reaching the heights of the senior team.

  • Comment number 14.

    I've yet to see much of Oscar but as a Chelsea fan I'm excited by what I hear. I'd just quickly like to put in a word for a player he may be competing with for a place - Josh McCeachran, who from what I've seen recently is really starting to look like a star in the making - his vision, passing and tackling make for an excellent all round game and his work rate to boot. As similarly aged prospects how do you think they compare Tim?

  • Comment number 15.

    @7 JamTay1

    I would agree that occasionally Neymar chooses the wrong option but I expect that he will improve this aspect of his game over the next couple of years.

    I can't think of any player that is the finished article at 20 - even the likes of Maradona and Messi were still honing their skills at that age.

  • Comment number 16.

    @13 Londoner in Exile Returns

    Your comments about Spain's next generation absolutely do belong here. Talk of "the next generation" has always been based on faith rather than fact - the likes of Mata, Javi Martinez, Adrian, Tello et al are all they have, and they are frankly no better than England's 2011 Under-20 team, whom they failed to defeat at last year's Euro Under-21 championship.

    In fact, I'd rather have Cleverley, Jones, Carroll, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Butland than Mata, Javi Martinez, Adrian, Tello and De Gea. The Spaniards certainly aren't any clear-cut margin better than their England Under-23 counterparts.

    As a long-since-emigrated Englishman like Tim Vickery, I find it sad that Team GB has no future. If you added Ramsey, Allen and Bale to the current England team you would create a far stronger side. They might actually win some senior tournaments as Team GB.

  • Comment number 17.

    @11 yakubusdiet

    I've been surprised at how poor Uruguay have been. GB have not been great so far (how Sordell started against UAE is a complete mystery) but they have produced better results against Senegal and UAE than Uruguay so must be slight favourites to progress in second place behind Senegal.

    Brazil certainly have the attacking talent to trouble any team in the world in my opinion. As I pointed out earlier they will have to improve their defence and find a better goalkeeper than the chap playing at the Olympics. Two years is a long time in football and these young players will have more experience by the World Cup.

    I've been very impressed with Japan. They are very well organised (as you would expect) but also have some flair and purpose in attack and will certainly not be a walkover.

  • Comment number 18.

    Neymar is a brilliant talent and one that i was ver sceptical of, what with all the hype of another 'Brazilian wonderkid' if he keeps his feet on the ground, carries on the way he is, we will see him in a Real Madrid shirt sooner or later :)

    Impressed with Oscar too, hope he gets his chance at Chelsea,another promising youngster.

    I have also been impressed by Japan, who look to have a few handy players Higashi their number 10 especially so.

    Senegal play like a Leeds United team from the 70's and 80's no nonsense fouling when deemed 'necessary'

    enjoying the matches so far, and have ti say Brazil look the team to beat.

  • Comment number 19.

    Tim,

    I haven’t seen a great deal of Juan but obviously Inter Milan and Mano Menezes see something in him.

    What do you perceive to be his strengths and weaknesses as a defender and do you think he has any chance of lining up alongside Thiago Silva in the 2014 World Cup?

  • Comment number 20.

    @16 yakubusdiet

    I would agree with you on Spain. In this tournament so far it has been tika without the taka.

    There were question marks about the ability of the senior team to come from behind to win matches but they have not often been in a position where they need to overturn a deficit. In their 2 mathces at the Olympics Spain have not really looked like scoring.

    Mata is a really good player but apart from him not many of the Spanish youngsters look anywhere near as good as the senior players. There are certainly no players of the calibre of Alonso, Iniesta, Puyol and Xavi coming through.

    In many ways this should not be surprising. The fortunes of international teams ebb and flow through the decades. We have witnessed a remarkable team Spanish team over the last few years but they will not go on for ever. I think they will still be the team to beat in 2014 but Xavi will be 34 by then so it's questionable if he will have much of an impact even if he plays.

  • Comment number 21.

    20.BaggiosPonytail

    Pirlo was 33 at the Euro's........he didnt do too badly :)

  • Comment number 22.

    Comment number 15.At 11:29 30th Jul 2012, BaggiosPonytail wrote:
    @7 JamTay1

    I would agree that occasionally Neymar chooses the wrong option but I expect that he will improve this aspect of his game over the next couple of years.

    I can't think of any player that is the finished article at 20 - even the likes of Maradona and Messi were still honing their skills at that age.
    --------------------------------
    @Baggio

    Yep my comment wasn't intended to be too critical. One of the things that I admire most about Neymar Is his ability to improvise and pull off the unexpected. He has all the natural talent to be one of the Worlds best. If he can be careful with the fame, celebrity, and other dangers outside of football he could be one of the very best.

    Although your point is correct, I would argue that maybe (Brazilian) Ronaldo had just about peaked at 20. However, a lot of this was due to his rotten luck with injuries, and the knock on effect that had on his fitness.

  • Comment number 23.

    16.
    At 11:37 30th Jul 2012, yakubusdiet wrote:

    As a long-since-emigrated Englishman like Tim Vickery, I find it sad that Team GB has no future. If you added Ramsey, Allen and Bale to the current England team you would create a far stronger side. They might actually win some senior tournaments as Team GB.
    _______________________________

    You are not alone with that view. The Welsh midfielders in Team GB have been excellent so far and England demonstrated at the Euros that they have a very solid defence. Rhodes from Scotland looks like a good prospect up front.

    It will never happen though.

  • Comment number 24.

    A superb article - certainly the best football blogger on the beeb!

    Brazil are one of a few teams who turn up and take Olympic football seriously, and it saddens me that our England vs TeamGB setup means we'll likely never get the chance to do the same (and indeed nor will Wales, Scotland or N.Ireland). It's the perfect opportunity for blooding youngsters, as well as giving the national sides much needed time together in a competitive environment.

  • Comment number 25.

    21.
    At 12:03 30th Jul 2012, signori wrote:

    20.BaggiosPonytail

    Pirlo was 33 at the Euro's........he didnt do too badly :)
    ___________________________

    He was absolutely brilliant. He was only just 33 though - Xavi will be 34 and a half at the next World Cup.

  • Comment number 26.

    I'm surprised Tim's made no mention of Uruguay's so far mediocre displays as SAM's other entrant.

    Spain have been diabolical, and I suppose it shows that "tiki taka" is not the future unless you have the players of xavi, iniesta, xabi etc.

    Brazil have been a joy to watch so far. Suggests they are getting back to their "glory days" of attacking footbal. Neymar and Oscar have been the stars. Rafael is looking good at RB.

    Will be interesting to see how the last group games go as it's all to play for.

  • Comment number 27.

    23. At 12:09 30th Jul 2012, BaggiosPonytail wrote:

    You are not alone with that view.

    It will never happen though.

    ===

    Agreed. What a team we could have if everyone got on board and we looked to take it seriously.

    Part of me hopes we come away with some success in the football, purely to add some weight to the idea that we shouldn't make this a one-off.

  • Comment number 28.

    And suddenly, it looks like exciting times for Chelsea fans again. It was always going to be difficult to replace Frank Lampard in central midfield but Oscar looks like he can fill out this role with some aplomb. He is not just technically gifted but appears to be able to "read" the game. It is his high-speed decision-making that renders him such an exciting prospect. I have not seen much of Hazard but if he is as good as people say he is then Chelsea will have a formidable midfield next season. Mata, Ramires, Hazard and Osacar - with Lampard, Romeu, Essien, Marin and Obi etc all waiting on the bench! I can't wait!

  • Comment number 29.

    Comment number 14.At 11:21 30th Jul 2012, DeepDarkBlue wrote:
    I've yet to see much of Oscar but as a Chelsea fan I'm excited by what I hear. I'd just quickly like to put in a word for a player he may be competing with for a place - Josh McCeachran, who from what I've seen recently is really starting to look like a star in the making - his vision, passing and tackling make for an excellent all round game and his work rate to boot. As similarly aged prospects how do you think they compare Tim?
    -------------
    Josh McEachran is currently benefiting from that peculiar English trait of been rated higher and higher the less he plays. Other players benefitting from this are Cleverley and Wilshire.

    To compare a guy who couldn't get off the bench for Swansea, with a full Brazilian international is perhaps stretching it a bit!

    I expect him to leave Chelsea within the next 12-18 months. Looking at the midfield they have assembled it is hard to see where he will get a game.

    Perhaps the truth about McEachran can be found by the fact that Romeu (who Barca did not put up much of a fight to keep) has played far more often, and Oscar has been brought in.

    I'm sure McEachran will be a decent player and have a decent career. But a 'star'? Only as long as he isn't playing!!!!

  • Comment number 30.

    @22 JamTay1

    Yes Brazilian Ronaldo was a phenomenon - pace, power and skill at the age of 18/19. You could probably say that Owen reached his peak by about 20 too but like Ronaldo injuries took their toll at a young age.

  • Comment number 31.

    @13.

    Spain I believe set a new record for hitting the woodwork yesterday. They played some sublime stuff but failed to convert and were denied a blatant penalty.

    However this is the Olympics, and you just have to look at Brazil, who have had some amazing teams at the Olympics previous but are still yet to win gold. Younger players may have the skill, but lack the consistency of more mature players.

  • Comment number 32.

    29.
    At 12:15 30th Jul 2012, JamTay1 wrote:

    Josh McEachran is currently benefiting from that peculiar English trait of been rated higher and higher the less he plays. Other players benefitting from this are Cleverley and Wilshire.
    _______________________________

    Agreed. At his age he needs to be playing games and with the players Chelsea have at their disposal I can't see him getting much (if any) game time.

    I think his best bet might be to go on a year loan to a promotion chasing Championship side. He would walk into a team and hopefully be able to show what he is capable of.

    He would certainly be welcome at the City Ground...

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    28. iwash
    lets not get carried away. the lad has played 2 games in the Olympics against 2 not very good Mostly Under 23 aged players and looked good........i dont htink this is a real test for the lad. too much too soon to predict his capabilities in the premiership.

  • Comment number 35.

    Brave move joining a CFC undergoing a radical transformation; wiser choice than THFC I suspect, with the capricious AVB in charge?

  • Comment number 36.

    Comment number 32.At 12:28 30th Jul 2012, BaggiosPonytail wrote:
    29.
    At 12:15 30th Jul 2012, JamTay1 wrote:

    Josh McEachran is currently benefiting from that peculiar English trait of been rated higher and higher the less he plays. Other players benefitting from this are Cleverley and Wilshire.
    _______________________________

    Agreed. At his age he needs to be playing games and with the players Chelsea have at their disposal I can't see him getting much (if any) game time.

    I think his best bet might be to go on a year loan to a promotion chasing Championship side. He would walk into a team and hopefully be able to show what he is capable of.

    He would certainly be welcome at the City Ground...
    ________________________
    As he was loaned out to Swansea last year (and couldn't make their team) it's unlikely he will get into a Chelsea midfield which now has Hazard and Oscar in it!

    Spending a season at an ambitious Championship club like Forest would be a sensible move. I'm hoping it's something that Liverpool consider doing with Sterling as well.

    The problem with these 'young stars' is that all they have is potential. Some will become top players, but the vast majority will not live up to the hype. They need games, experience and sensible coaching. Often this means that they are a lot better off away from the top clubs to develop at a sensible rate. There are plenty of examples (Bentley always comes to mind) of players who have believed their own hype and fallen away into relative obscurity.

  • Comment number 37.

    Hi Tim great article

    Watching Neymar in the Olympics - breath of fresh air. Assured on the ball, looks stronger than originally reported, quick and most of all confident to try things the average player wouldn't even think about.

    As for Oscar and Moura im not sure. Are they as good as we are led to believe?

  • Comment number 38.

    16.At 11:37 30th Jul 2012, yakubusdiet wrote:
    In fact, I'd rather have Cleverley, Jones, Carroll, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Butland than Mata, Javi Martinez, Adrian, Tello and De Gea
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Based on what? A few games at the Olympics?

    Juan Mata and Javi Martinez are both excellent players, they've played for the Spain senior team and not looked out of place, they're also U-21 European Champions. Mata won the Champions League last season with Chelsea.

    As is De Gea, who has already played 120 club games at the top level, won the U-21 title and the Europa League with Atletico Madrid...compared to Butland, who has played a handful of games for Cheltenham Town and is/was Birmingham City's third choice keeper (albeit he is two years younger).

    Carroll was awful last season apart from the last month and a header against Sweden. Liverpool are begging someone to take him off their hands. Cleverley and Butland, completely unproven, Jones looked shakey at times last year, Oxlade Chamberlain, yes he is quick and strong for his age, but proved nothing yet. I don't think you can say that about those British lads just yet, or write off the Spanish players based on 2 Olympic games.

  • Comment number 39.

    I see we have moved onto Oscar, possibly a complete player in the making. Good vision, work rate, involvement from back to front, there is not much he cannot do and he is the type that every successful team needs. Certainly an all rounder.

    Have to say this current Brasilian crop look to be far more defined as a team, than we have seen for sometine now.

  • Comment number 40.

    @35

    Brave move? Not sure about that. I guess the move will be due to a) Champions League football and b) huge wages and payments for player and agent.

    If the move fails I'm sure Oscar can move to a Spanish/Italian/Portuguese or Brazilian club and resume his career with little damage done to his reputation (outside England).

    If the move goes well, then I fully expect Oscar to be playing for one of the big 2 in Spain within the next 3-4 years.

  • Comment number 41.

    39., Londoner in exile returns

    How many times have you seen Oscar play or is your evaluation based on the 2 games in the Olympics? had you heard of him before?

  • Comment number 42.

    Tim,

    With Argentina not being in the Olympics, do you think they would have put in better performances than Uruguay (naturally being successful historically in this competition)?

    Also can you shed any light on the progress of some of the other players from the 2011 SAM Youth Championships? Namely Facundo Ferrerya, Edwin Cardona, Bryan Carrasco and Luis Felipe Gallegos?

  • Comment number 43.

    If this is supposed to be aq pointer to to the world cup then it looks as though our hopes are not likely to be raised.

    Goalkeeper and Cleverly apart I haven't seen anything that makes me expect any of the u23s to make it to the senior team, at least on merit. Sturridge might make it because he's a Chelsea player and therefore has media support.

    Yes, Sinclair can run like the wind but when you've said that, you've said it all.

    If it wasn't for the oldies in the team we'd be nowhere. The ladies team are far better to watch.

  • Comment number 44.

    @17 BaggiosPonytail

    I am disappointed but not surprised by how poor Uruguay has been.

    The coach is both their greatest strength and fatal weakness. He does a great job at creating team spirit and an appreciation for history. But tactically he has been inept a number of times over the last few years.

    Exhibit A is his inability to make the most of Cavani, either as a duo with Suarez or a trio with Suarez and Forlan. We know the problem is not Cavani, because he worked just fine with Lavezzi and Hamsek at Napoli. He needs to be at the point of the attack, not wide on the right.

    Exhibit B is the shambolic performance of the defence. The two centre-backs (Coates and Rolin) are as capable a pair as any at the Olympics, yet they are interacting like complete strangers. This team has been in camp for a month, and the warning signs were there in a 6-4 victory over Chile Under-25. We have all seen how Roy Hodgson can drill any defence (yes, I know he can't manage as well further forward), so why hasn't Tabarez got Coates and Rolin to rehearse their positioning?

    And how can a team concede two goals from corners, with noone on either post?

    And how can a team have so little width?

    Uruguay may still beat Team GB if their coach can finally wake up. Team GB's best players are 38 and 34, and this will be their third game in six days. Let's just say that they now face a monumental test of character.

  • Comment number 45.

    @15 Pele WAS the finished article by 19 never mind 20! At 17 years he was the best player at the 1958 World Cup and by some distance too

  • Comment number 46.

    People are very quick to write off Spain... The same thing happened at this year’s Euros.
    This young squad have failed here no doubt, maybe got too cocky ??

    But I saw enough in their play yesterday to see they have quality, only the wood woodwork, some good saves and two clear pens not given stopped them yesterday.

    This young squad are still the current Under 21 champs, they also just won the under 19 or 18 champs, don’t think they will be panicking just yet.

    They have at least 3 - 4 top players that will filter into the senior squad with no problem.

    Sometimes a good defeat is needed just to get your focus and effort back, they will be better for it.

  • Comment number 47.

    45.At 13:49 30th Jul 2012, Dazz wrote:
    @15 Pele WAS the finished article by 19 never mind 20! At 17 years he was the best player at the 1958 World Cup and by some distance too
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    You're correct to some degree... however people also have to bear in mind that Pele played with some great players. He did not win the 1958 World Cup on his own.

    You've seen how good Brazil have been in the last 20 years, look at the talent that comes out of their country. Well 1950s-early 1980s is considered their golden era.

    In '58, Pele played with Garrincha, Nilton and Djalmar Santos, Didi, and Vava. They may not be still as famous or a celebrity like Pele is in 2012- but they were great players. Garrincha is one of the greatest wingers to have played the game, one of the best of all time.

    In 1962 Pele got injured in the World Cup quarter final, Amarildo replaced him. Brazil still went on to win the '62 World Cup.

    In 1970 Pele played with Jairzinho, Tostao, Gerson, Carlos Alberto and most notably Rivelino. These were seriously good footballers. If you have seen footage of them you will know what I am talking about- Rivelino's skills and free kicks are amazing. Maradona said he idolised Rivelino, Ronaldinho said he was inspired by Rivelino's skills.

    Pele is often acclaimed as the superstar and he is probably the greatest centre forward of all time but he wasn't playing with a bunch of clowns. The players around him in 58, 62 and 70 were not just merely competent- they were brilliant players in their own right.

  • Comment number 48.

    44.At 13:46 30th Jul 2012, yakubusdiet wrote:
    @17 BaggiosPonytail

    I am disappointed but not surprised by how poor Uruguay has been.
    ________________________________

    If you're not surprised, why were you doing your best to "big them up" pre-Olympics. You had them down as favourites.

    Shouldn't the likes of ramirez be providing the width? And didn't you hail the team as balanced and disciplined? They're clearly missing the creativity of Forlan to set things up, and the stability of lugano. I think they're very much a case of Spain, reliant on several key players (that's not to say lots of other teams are not either)..

  • Comment number 49.

    46.At 13:57 30th Jul 2012, Creamfresh wrote:
    People are very quick to write off Spain... The same thing happened at this year’s Euros.
    ___________________________

    THey won the Euros not get knocked out it! They've had some good players before but were unable to get to that next level and win the big games.

    The Olympic team pales massively to the Senior team in terms of skill, discipline, composure etc. Spain have won the other eurpean youth tournaments, but Argentina are a prime example that winning youth tournaments does not mean you will win the senior ones.

  • Comment number 50.

    Spain are reliant on several key players.....do you mean David Villa , golden boot winner at the previous Euros and joint top scorer at the last world cup and their old time record goal scorer.............opps they still won this years Euros with out him....oh and Puyol....

    Yep I am sure if take enough players out of the Spain tema, you might just get equal with them

  • Comment number 51.

    Any Olympic event that is treated as a warm up for another competition should not be an Olympic event in my opinion. If the Olympics is not the pinnacle of the sport, it should not be included.

    This opinion is further supported by a swimming interview i heard with one of the gold medalist (forget which one) where she said she had been dreaming since she was a little girl of winning Olympic gold. Footballers dream of winning the world cup. Golfers dream of winning a major.

    If its not the elite of the sport, it takes something away for me.

  • Comment number 52.

    50.At 14:05 30th Jul 2012, Creamfresh wrote:
    Spain are reliant on several key players
    _______________________

    No I mean they're reliant on xavi, iniesta and xabi alonso. Take them out and they're nothing.

    It's also going to be very hard to replace them.

  • Comment number 53.

    Londoner in exile and Yakubusdiet on with their usual biased, one track mind nonsense as ever... sigh...

  • Comment number 54.

    @48 eduard_streltsov_ghost

    I'd say most teams rely on several key players. It's probably no coincidence that 2 of the best GB players have been Bellamy and Giggs. Both are well past their prime but they have still benefitted the team with their vast experience.

  • Comment number 55.

    50.Creamfresh

    they clearly didnt mean those players then did they.

    perhaps slow/calm down on your next post, then your spelling may improve, thus improving your post. That and make a valid point.

  • Comment number 56.

    51., Devereux

    agree with your post, however my Olympic viewing would drop by about 70% if football wasnt at the games.

  • Comment number 57.

    Hi everyone,

    I have watched both Brazilian matches so far on the stadiums, Cardiff and Manchester, where you can get a much better view of the tactics than on TV, so then:

    OSCAR:
    Even though he left Sao Paulo (the team I support), on a strange negotiation with International (Porto Alegre). He is far the best player in the Brazilian squad during the Olympic tournament. He is the tempo dictator and the main supplier for the attack, including Neymar.
    Somebody has commented about Oscar adaption to new culture, football style and language. I also think it is true. Being a Brazilian and playing one the Inslington's amateur league helps to emphasize it.
    However, Oscar will be helped by the fact he has an Italian coach and also Ramires, David Luiz, Mata and Torres, all of them are able to exchange passes with Oscar and help him with the English culture. I see this move with good eyes, as Oscar has played for two clubs in Brazil that are well known inefficiency and hard to be beaten, rather than "Samba football". He is much more about intelligence than skill!!

    Neymar:
    Far the most gifted Brazilian in this generation, however, I still think he has a lot to prove. He is indeed gifted, although he does play for the crowd and sometimes it costs some goals for Brazil. Basically too selfish and lack of intelligence sometimes. Yesterday during the match another Brazilian screamed during the match "Neymar your are new Robinho". Little true and extremely sarcastic, anyways it made me think a lot!!. He plays for Santos, a well know team in Brazil for high skillful Players (including Pele and Robinho) and the crowd in Santos love this kind of football, it is cultural. Neymar must come to Europe soon and play for a Manager that can shape him and in a team where he is not the star. A kind of Ferguson/Ronaldo effect which can make him everything the media, EARLY, is saying about him!!

  • Comment number 58.

    57.
    I meant. Oscar has played for two Brazilian team well know for efficiency and hard to be beaten...

  • Comment number 59.

    52.
    At 14:19 30th Jul 2012, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:


    50.At 14:05 30th Jul 2012, Creamfresh wrote:
    Spain are reliant on several key players
    _______________________

    No I mean they're reliant on xavi, iniesta and xabi alonso. Take them out and they're nothing.

    It's also going to be very hard to replace them.
    __________________________

    It's like most great teams. France have been unable to replace the likes of Henry, Thuram, Viera and Zidane. The last great Brazil team had Cafu, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho and Brazil have produced few players of their quality since.

  • Comment number 60.

    54.At 14:22 30th Jul 2012, BaggiosPonytail wrote:
    _________________________
    In my previous post that is pretty much what I have said, most teams are reliant on 3-4 key players.

    The point of my post is that Spain U-23s dispel the popular myth that by them winning Euros, U-21s and U-19s there's an endless supply and line of "tiki taka" stars that would fit seamlessly into the team once the current stalwarts hang up their boots.

    Now history tells us that there's always been a golden generation of players for nations, however that golden period always comes to an end, and this is no different. Spain's U-19s stars were hardly winners in the 2011 U-20s tournament. Let's see who wins it in 2013.

  • Comment number 61.

    55.
    At 14:22 30th Jul 2012, signori wrote:


    50.Creamfresh

    they clearly didnt mean those players then did they.

    perhaps slow/calm down on your next post, then your spelling may improve, thus improving your post. That and make a valid point.
    ................

    So if you take Ineista, Xavi, Alonso....... and VIlla and Puyol out of the Spain team they would not have won the Euros.........I agree...

    As for my spelling, English is my joint second language, hows your Swedish or Danish ???

  • Comment number 62.

    53.At 14:21 30th Jul 2012, Joan_Burton wrote:
    Londoner in exile and Yakubusdiet on with their usual biased, one track mind nonsense as ever... sigh...
    ________________________

    Aren't everyone's opinions biased? Hence why it is called an "opinion"? Sigh

  • Comment number 63.

    @56 signori

    You are missing out. I've been watching quite a bit of the weightlifting - it's always good to see a nice snatch or clean and jerk...

  • Comment number 64.

    joan burton @53

    Londoner in exile and Yakubusdiet on with their usual biased, one track mind nonsense as ever... sigh...

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I wouldn't normally answer a fool but find anything that i have ever written that suggests a biased viewpoint.

    I am suprised by your petty observations because you are one of the most biased posters present on the beeb sites.

    i do not support any team that is ever featured in a blog and if i did, for me if it looks like **** then it is **** t wouldn't matter if it was my team or not.

    That is the problem on these sites, inundated by the can't see further than their own team types.

    The only posts I have written are on the ability of Neymar, who is truly a gifted player and Oscar possibly destined to become a complete footballer. Now if that has a biased, then i suggest you discover what biased actually means and then come back.

    Maybe you could eventually write a post, that actually has an input and is part of an intelligent debate, although that in itself is highly debatable.

  • Comment number 65.

    as a chelsea fan i must say i am very very pleased with the performances of oscar. seems cool, calm and collected. needs a bit of shooting practice (apart from his goal there were a few shots which should have tested the keeper) but still at 20 years old he seems like he can light up the premier league in a few years

  • Comment number 66.

    61. Creamfresh

    not too great but my Italian, French and English are spot on.

    It wasn't even my point, i was pointing out that you took great offense to the fact that someone else had put that Spain are reliant on a few individuals. you then went onto list 2 players who were not at the las tournament, and your point was that they still won. All i was saying was these players are obsviously not the ones Spain rely in to win!

  • Comment number 67.

    63.At 14:39 30th Jul 2012, BaggiosPonytail wrote:
    @56 signori

    You are missing out. I've been watching quite a bit of the weightlifting - it's always good to see a nice snatch or clean and jerk...
    _________________________

    I'd have thought that's the correct technique for watching the women's volleyball, synchronised diving and synchronised swimming? Each to their own I guess.

    I'm annoyed I missed the weightlifting yesterday, always fascinated to watch it. Glad to see Russia hammer Team GB in the basketball as well! ;)

  • Comment number 68.

    @64

    In what way am I biased?

    Because I don't try and knock Spain at every opportunity?

    Because I attack anyone who suggests that Uruguay aren't favourites for the next Eorld Cup?

    Because I don't think that Neymar is the best player to have ever kicked a football?

    Do me a favour...

  • Comment number 69.

    Tim, I think your comparison of Neymar to Best is an astute one. They are both of similar build and skill and excell at producing the unexpected. I am impressed at the way Neymar has matured over the last couple of seasons. If only Ganso could surround himself with the same quality of influence. I used to rate him higher than Neymar, but something has got into his head and it's ruining his game and his attitude on and off the pitch. However, I hear talk that suggests his experience away with the 'seleção' is helping him sort himself out - I really hope so, as he is so talented (in the Falcão mold).
    @ 47: I'm so glad you gently put No.15 right. Pele was a novice in '58, injured in '62 and only reached maturity as a player in the mid-60s. And those questioning the ability of 'mature' players to influence a World Cup only have to look at his display in '70, or Forlan in 2010. If the body can hold out, the head is usually several moves ahead of the others at that stage of a career.
    For those lamenting the UK's foolish tribal in-fighting, this is something that has frustrated me for many decades. In the 50s, 60s and 70s it always seemed that Scotland, Wales and Ireland had great players in exactly the positions England was weakest in and that together a UK team would have been a formidable force in international competitions (who knows how many World Cups we might have won). But perhaps the general decline in the home nations may be the spur to finally overcome the resistance (which I am sure is mainly administrative anyway). If we can at least regularly produce a UK Olympic team that will be progress.
    And on that note, why is it called Team BG? GB = Great Britain, the largest island of the British Isles, but the Olympic Team is representing Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man too, so it should be Team UK.

  • Comment number 70.

    the boss @65

    My only reservation for Oscar signing for Chelsea is the number of games he will play and when he plays them.

    I often think at Oscar's age, he is like most, still developing. His price tag and position suggests he has to hit the ground running and maybe he will but it is also likely that he will need some time to adapt to the Premiership. I hope he gets the time to prove himself at the Bridge because he has all the attributes needed, to be top class.

  • Comment number 71.

    68.At 14:53 30th Jul 2012, Joan_Burton wrote:
    In what way am I biased?
    _________________

    I refer you to post #62.

  • Comment number 72.

    signori
    Well I would say any team that wins without their top scroer and their main central defender...is special.
    For me the one player they cant replace.....is Casillas, he is the main man
    Also with regards Ineista and Alsono they were not in the starting 11 of Euro 2008 So how did they win that one ????

  • Comment number 73.

    Brazil were difficult to watch at the last world cup and were difficult to watch at times after it. With the starlets improving with each passing game and building a better understanding with each other it has been a joy to watch. There were a lot of doubters about the youngsters talents saying that they will never be top quality. I suppose this was to be expected after the fiasco in Europe with every french playmaker being touted as the next Zidane as an example.

    I couldn't quite understand why the likes of Ganso, Oscar and even Piazon were compared to Kaka. Kaka had a great 3 years where he became one of the worlds best but never really proved himself with Brazil. Form is temporary, class is permanent. As a great admirer of Kaka I wonder if that 3 years was just great form. He has never reproduced close to that form since. People will point to injuries but maybe that is just a convenient excuse.

    From what I have seen of Oscar his style appears similar to the late great Socrates. He glides with the ball, is very intelligent in finding space and distributing the ball well. He also has a good shot from range. Needs polishing but a wonderful player. For those concerned about his playing time at Chelsea I am not so worried. For me he could easily displace anyone in front of him be it Marin, Hazard, Ramires, Lampard and even Mata. The question will be how quickly he adapts to the league. He is the type of player Chelsea have been missing.

    The media and masses alike I think became entranced by Spain and that has clouded their judgement. Being realistic the next world cup is their last hurrah as it were. Xavi, Cassilias, Puyol, Iniesta etc will all be retiring from international football while the likes of Fabregas etc will be close to 30. This phantom next generation does not exist. They neither have direct replacements or equal quality to replace those who will be exiting the squad. Who replaces Xavi? Iniesta? Villa? Torres? Puyol? Alcantara, De Gea and Martinez for me are the only ones worth noting at the moment.

  • Comment number 74.

    joan Burton

    Your becoming a bore

    I have never suggested Neymar as the next coming but a fool would say he wasn't truly gifted. You only have to have watched him for the past 2 years to see that.

    Uruguay to be the favourites for the next world cup, they will be there or there about, totally dependent on who stays in the team.

    I never knock Spain, I recognise them for what they are. A very good team bordering on great.


    As for bias, whenever anybody writes as you did recently ....................United fans are the best in the world ....................I think every player does want to join Man United as they are the number one team with the most loyal fans,

    THEN that is either BULL or BIAS, now take your pick either way it is the hallmark of a fool.

    A balanced approach would be Utd fans are amongst or maybe one of the most. You took the biased option with a large amount of bull thrown in.

  • Comment number 75.

    @ Joan_Burton

    You are incredibly biased towards Manchester United and are constantly bringing them up to back up your warped opinions. You are the stereotypical United fan. Have you ever even been to Old Trafford or is it too much of a trek from London for you?

  • Comment number 76.

    Good article once again by Tim
    Must admit i've enjoyed watching the Olympics football. Liked the way Brazil have played their game, they look like they're finally gelling into a proper team with a proper playing style.
    However it has to be remembered that this is the Olympics, not the world Cup or Euros or Copa America.
    Not surprised about Uruguay. I think they are overrated, even their passage in SA 2010 was fortuitous, playing their knockout games against ordinary opponenets until they came up against the Dutch in the semis. Their success in the Copa America was due to the lack of a good team, both Argentina and Brazil were in disarray under new management and teams trying to find their feet..
    As for the Spaniards, their behaviour with the referee against Honduras was nothing short of appalling, They resort to squabbling and fighting if things don't go their way.
    They seem to feel they have a divine right to win every competition they enter.

  • Comment number 77.

    @71

    1. Look up the word "biased" in the dictionary.

    2. Note the inclusion of the word "unfair" in its definition.

    3. Re-evaluate your "clever" point that you are making

    4. Consider looking up other words which you don't fully understand

  • Comment number 78.

    I went to the game yesterday, and have to comment that the Brazialian fans made the atmosphere the best I have ever experienced before and after a football match, and I am a Premier League season ticket holder.

    Their friendliness and jovilaity was a joy to behold, particularly in a sport where negative fan behaviour normally catches the headlines.

    I know it can be a bit different around Brazilian club football, but I for one am considering a flight to Brazil in 2014

  • Comment number 79.

    Yes football is not the main event at the Olympics, thats a race that lasts less than 10seconds :(

    But its a real Education for us all here in GB. And if only we could have got a better squad together and put our own stamp on it, but hey politics and sectarian limited thoughts have scuppered that one.

    I think Brazil so far have been the best team to watch but alot of the games show a decent level of football and it will be interesting to see how it develops.

    Brazil favourites i am sure, but Spain have just been dumped out so anything can still happen. But as i was saying to a friend last night Brazil are really leading by example. The world cup is 2 years away and while it seems a very distant event to us here the Brazlians are doing the preparations now, if all the teams would be like this and politics club managers ect would also have the same approach just imagine the level of football we could be seeing.

    Hope Brasil wins it and lets hope that Neymar come sto the prem although it sounds like Barcelona will snap him up and his physique is probably more suited to Spanish football.

    Bring back the days when the Brazilians play there own game with flair and attack.

  • Comment number 80.

    @ 67: I thought the UK did very well in the basketball, considering that we are relative novices at the sport and Russia is one of the few teams capable of threatening the US hegemony. It will be interesting to see how they do against the lesser, but still very good (second tier) Brazil and Australia.
    @ 51: I fully understand your argument and sympathise 100%. However, the Olympic Games has become such a huge financial burden for the countries that stage it that they apparently need to include the more popular sports in order to have a chance of recouping their investments. With people in Europe trying to figure out how to resussitate the Greek economy, perhaps a permanent Olympic venue could be built there (although I rather like the cultural diffusion provided by different countries and continents staging these mega-events).

  • Comment number 81.

    77.At 15:10 30th Jul 2012, Joan_Burton wrote:
    ________________________

    1. Look up "opinion" in the dictionary
    2. Surely by definition "unfair" is subjective
    3. RE-evaluate your own point / postings

    That is all

  • Comment number 82.

    freelions @75

    I go to matches weekly [usually twice a week in the season] at all levels but the two grounds i hate visiting are Old Trafford and Anfield because of the bias. It is almost impossible to talk to a fair percentage of both clubs fans because of their bias and hatred.

    True i have no team allegiance in the prem but i do love my football. My season started with the TNS champions league game [a dour affair] and tickets for 5 Olympic Games [including the womens] but i am not looking forward to my first premiership game Everton/Utd.

  • Comment number 83.

    @79 shadow warrior

    While it is not the main event at the Olympics it certainly seems to be discussed more than any other sport.

    It would be great if a player such as Neymar came to the Premier League although as you say it is unlikely to happen.

  • Comment number 84.

    72. Creamfresh

    once again, i wasnt the one who made the point in regards to Spain relying on a few key players.

    What i will say is that Casillas is not the main man for Spain at all, he isnt relied on at all, plus if im not mistaken they have Valdes, reina and De Gea in reserve, if anything he is the easiest to replace.

  • Comment number 85.

    @81

    Exactly. It is my opinion that certain comments on here are unfair and that certain posters have a one track mind.

    I'm glad you now understand!

  • Comment number 86.

    73. EddieHoweforEngland

    Kaka is a world class player, a true genius on the pitch, anyone that has watched him play will know this.

  • Comment number 87.

    These bra kids are just something else, they are a TEAM!!! Neymar is prob only lacking a bit more stamina to keep up his pace for the full 90, but other than that i cant really see past them for the gold. bring on the next WC, in 2 years time these kids will be ready to take on the best.

    On another note, Tim what do you think of the purposed lucas deal to utd? i have been watching him for a few years and have always said he'd be perfect for united, now that my hopes are high enough to start thinking about his name on the back of my shirt im getting worried the transfer may not happen. what do you think?

  • Comment number 88.

    @ 78: you won't be disappointed, I can assure you. The Brazilians tend to go about everything in life in the same joyous way. Of course it is a complex country, with plenty of problems, but they are able to make visitors feel welcome like no other I know. That's why I stayed!

  • Comment number 89.

    75.
    At 15:06 30th Jul 2012, Free_Lions wrote:

    @ Joan_Burton

    You are incredibly biased towards Manchester United and are constantly bringing them up to back up your warped opinions. You are the stereotypical United fan. Have you ever even been to Old Trafford or is it too much of a trek from London for you?
    ===========================

    AND BINGO HERE WE GO AGAIN...... CAN WE GET THROUGH ONE DAY WITHOUT SOMEONE COMING ON TRYING TO SLATE UNITED AND THEIR FANS!

    What has the world come to when a fan is biased towards his own team!!!! nupty!

  • Comment number 90.

    78.
    At 15:13 30th Jul 2012, Mancun Ian wrote:
    ---------------------------------------------
    the next world cup will be the best we have seen. ok some 3 star hotels may have a few cocroaches, but the actual football played will be out of this world. plus i just cant wait to get away from the typical British media during the world cup. they always put a downer on things!!!

  • Comment number 91.

    Spain has lost out here, but to call them over-rated is more like jumping the gun. They did not gel as a team and they were unlucky with calls against the Hondurans who were overly physical. Let us not forget that these are U-23s, Xavi and Iniesta were not finished articles at U-23 either. As long as those young Spaniards continue to play first team football for their respective clubs like they do at the moment, I expect Spain to continue to be a footballing force for the foreseeable future. There might be an interlull in-between, but Spain's national team will never deteriorate to the level of England's.

  • Comment number 92.

    80.At 15:17 30th Jul 2012, BLRBrazil wrote:
    It will be interesting to see how they do against the lesser, but still very good (second tier) Brazil and Australia.
    _______________________
    Australia are ranked higher than Russia in the BBall rankings so I would assume they'd get spanked in that as well.

    I'm surprised the brits have not joined the European Leagues that are about to improve their "skills".

  • Comment number 93.

    72. Creamfresh

    Oh and P.S. both Alonso and Iniesta featured in the final just FYI...

  • Comment number 94.

    been watching him for a few years and have always said he'd be perfect for united,
    _____________________________________________________________________

    Of course you did!

  • Comment number 95.

    85.At 15:25 30th Jul 2012, Joan_Burton wrote:
    @81

    Exactly. It is my opinion that certain comments on here are unfair and that certain posters have a one track mind.

    I'm glad you now understand!
    _________________________

    The whole point is that I found it funny you accuse someone of bias yet fail to grasp the massive irony in making that statement.

    Not to mention you haven't even posted a footballing opinion, just slating others.

  • Comment number 96.

    @89 King Red

    I dont see where I slated United or their fans in my post!? I'm slating Joan_Burton who is open in his/her support of United and has come out with some outlandish comments such as the usual "best fans in the world" nonsense and saying Fergie is the best manager at brining in youth talent using Neville, Scholes, Beckham etc as examples!

  • Comment number 97.

    signori

    Senna was the main holding player at 2008 way ahead of Alonso & and both Silva and Fabregas were ahead of Iniesta at 2008.

  • Comment number 98.

    this may not be the right place for it, but 10 to 12 million for Fletcher...........yikes

  • Comment number 99.

    Re the women's football, the standard is continually improving and yet it has tended to offer an old fashioned game, in that the play tends to be more open and also a lot cleaner. As in the men's game, Brazil plays exciting samba football, while the northern Europeans are more defensive and tactical and the USA goes mainly for athleticism, while the Asian sides are increasingly organized. Although relative novices, because of the foolish infighting of the associations, Team UK is quite an exciting prospect, as it seems to blend all the different facets of the game. Tomorrow's match with Brazil promises to be spectacular and may in retrospect be seen as an early final (although the USA must be considered favourites, because of their track record, and Japan are current world champions).
    @ 87: Brazilian clubs are starting to play hardball over transfers. They are keeping their young players longer and repatriating older players sooner, as economic strength and sponsorship deals bring more money into the game. Ambition is also focusing around the Libertadores, much as in Europe it does around the Champions League, with the added attraction that the winner gets a crack at the World Club Championship, which South Americans have always taken much more seriously than European clubs. As a result, it has become much more expensive to pry young talent away and it is always going to be considered a risky venture, due to questions about whether the player will be able to make his mark in Europe (reinforced by a growing list of promising South American talents who have failed to evolve in Europe). The EPL has the additional disadvantages that the culture, weather and playing style are (at first glance) far less suited to South Americans - the EPL has a reputation for being violent and players like Charlie Adam only help to reinforce that image. Where the EPL can compete is in money, CL success and quality of life.

  • Comment number 100.

    97.At 15:51 30th Jul 2012, Creamfresh wrote:
    signori

    Senna was the main holding player at 2008 way ahead of Alonso & and both Silva and Fabregas were ahead of Iniesta at 2008.
    ________________________
    It would help if you actually knew what you were talking about.

    Alonso played every game but 2. Iniesta started every match. Hope that helps.

 

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