BBC BLOGS - Tim Vickery

Archives for June 2010

Bielsa plots Brazil downfall

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Tim Vickery | 14:09 UK time, Sunday, 27 June 2010

Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa came to the World Cup with a point to prove. Eight years ago, in charge of his native Argentina, his side turned up in the Far East as favourites but crashed out in the first round and despite their impressive start in South Africa, there was a moment when it seemed that Chile, too, would not make the knockout stages.

When they went two goals down to Spain and had a man sent off, hopes of a place in the last 16 appeared to be slipping away but they pulled a goal back, and with Switzerland held by Honduras, Chile were safe.

You might have expected Bielsa to be ecstatic. But then you would have misjudged the man. "To celebrate qualification," he mused, "when it is superimposed with a defeat generates ambivalence." It was classic Bielsa . The language, the approach - it could only come from one of the most curious and refreshing coaches in the world game.

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South American stars shine in South Africa

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Tim Vickery | 14:22 UK time, Monday, 21 June 2010

The time for definitive conclusions on the World Cup is 12 July. Until then, as we have already seen, Monday's marvel can easily be transformed into Friday's flop. On what has been served up so far, though, it is safe enough to argue that Brazil look best equipped to win the competition.

The 2010 model might not be the easiest Brazil side to love but it is one of the hardest to beat. Well balanced, physically and mentally strong, sure of what it is doing and blessed with deadlock-breaking moments of individual magic, Dunga's team will take some stopping.

This is hardly a surprise. In South Africa, Brazil are reproducing the form that lead them, along with Spain, to be considered pre-tournament favourites.

What might be more of a shock is that Brazil are leading such a strong contingent from their own continent. With an accumulated seven wins and two draws, this has been South America's World Cup so far.

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World Cup winners pace their tournaments

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Tim Vickery | 06:55 UK time, Monday, 14 June 2010

A World Cup is like time speeded up, a kaleidoscope of emotions crammed into a month.
But the tournament is rarely won by the team that gets out of the blocks fastest.

For those sides that start well, dealing with euphoria can often present problems - as the Germans might find after their superb 4-0 win over Australia.

Pacing tournaments is normally a traditional German strength, but the 2010 team are young and it will be interesting to see how they cope with the expectations they have now aroused.

And Argentina may find themselves in a similar situation.

Without an excellent performance from Enyeama in the Nigeria goal Diego Maradona's men would have won by more than 1-0.

And bearing in mind their problems in qualifying, Argentina can feel as ecstatic as the Germans at getting their campaign off to a winning start. And therein could lie the danger.

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Lights, Camera, Action

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Tim Vickery | 13:12 UK time, Friday, 11 June 2010

Back in December, when England and the United States were drawn in the same World Cup group, an instant thought went round my head: This might just revive my flagging career as a Hollywood movie star.

Six decades before Saturday's clash in Rustenburg, the two nations met in Brazil in what turned out to be the biggest World Cup upset of them all. The shock 1-0 victory for the US was immortalised in film a few years back, with yours truly playing the part of the BBC radio commentator in order to help tell the story. The movie, released in 2005, was initially called The Game Of Their Lives, although it was later retitled The Miracle Match for DVD.

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Uruguay have case for local support at World Cup

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Tim Vickery | 08:48 UK time, Monday, 7 June 2010

Once the World Cup hosts have got the action under way in South Africa on Friday afternoon the drone of the vuvuzelas might die down and the sound of drums should come through as the second game kicks off in Cape Town. They might sound straight out of Africa but the drums will be pounding for Uruguay, telling a tale that stretches across oceans, religions and races.

It is entirely fitting that Uruguay grabbed the last place in the 2010 tournament - and not only because they were the first champions. Africa's World Cup is surely strengthened by the presence of the country that did most to pioneer the selection of people of African descent.

One of them, Isabelino Gradin, was top scorer in the first Copa America in 1916. Three years later he played in the third version of the tournament in Brazil, where his presence had a huge motivational effect on his forbears from Africa, If ever a player deserves a statue for his influence on the development of the global game, it is Gradin.

His presence in the sky blue shirt of Uruguay was not a coincidence. It was the product of enlightened social policies in the country at the start of the 20th century, where Uruguay attempted to replace the feudal hierarchies so common in South America with a prototype welfare state.

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