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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:27 am
 


Quote:
Neymar: Brazil ready to ‘fulfil World Cup dream of all Brazilians’
• ‘This is our World Cup’ says Luiz Felipe Scolari on eve of game

Barney Ronay
The Guardian, Wednesday 11 June 2014 22.38 BST

There are times to keep your counsel and talk in measured tones. This was not one of them. On the eve of Brazil’s opening match of its own Copa Das Copas Luiz Felipe Scolari was instead unambiguous. “For all Brazilians, I want to say our time has arrived,” Brazil’s manager said, addressing journalists in the half-finished depths of the São Paulo Arena. “We want to go together. This is our World Cup.” Scolari’s bullishness was echoed by Neymar, sat beside his manager with the air of a presidential running mate rather than a 22-year-old star striker playing at his first World Cup.

“As Mr Scolari has said, the time has arrived, that all Brazilians and I think the whole world was waiting for. And we the players hope that the last day goes by very quickly. I am anxious, of course. But also I’m extremely happy of being where I am today. So I really hope I can help my team in the best possible way to fulfil the dream of us players, Brazilians, to win the World Cup.”

If Brazil are confident on the eve of their own tournament, this is with good reason. All the elite footballing nations of the last century (plus England) have won a home World Cup. This, the thinking goes, is Brazil’s turn. Plus, they are in prime form. The transformation wrought by Scolari after taking over from Mano Menezes at the end of 2012 has been widely noted, a complete re-gearing of squad and tactics garlanded by the Confederations Cup victory last summer and a current run of 15 wins in 16 matches.

At the end of which, as Brazil holds its breath before Thursday night, there was something agreeably bullish about Scolari and Neymar appearing together to front up the last knockings of this fraught and occasionally exhilarating seven-year process. Neymar, who walked in grinning like a schoolboy at Christmas, is a figure of particular interest right now, a young man of sublime gifts caught in a moment of rare grand-scale sporting tension.

There will be other World Cups, but never another like this, or another in which he is presented to the world so un-scarred and full of promise. “I don’t want to be the best player in the World Cup,” he said. “I don’t want to be the [most prolific] striker, I want to win the World Cup. What I want is to win the World Cup with my team.”

There were some chortles between Scolari and Neymar. The player brushed off a question about sleepless nights – “I’ll sleep well tonight” – while Scolari produced a dad-ish joke –“If you ask at home, I sleep very well. I don’t know if I do other things very well, but I sleep very well.” But there is also a protectiveness towards his star player.

Asked which players he models himself on Neymar brought up Ronaldo, Romario and Ronaldinho. “They are the players, the star players that when we talk about the World Cup I always think of … yes, I do inspire myself on these players.”

At which point Scolari reached across and cuffed the back of his No10’s neck, turning a rather ambitious comparison to three revered former winners into a joke about haircuts.

“I would say this squad and the 2002 squad are collectively the same,” Scolari said, asked to compare then and now .“They didn’t play the way they wanted but they played to help the Brazilian squad in 2002 and we achieved what we wanted, to win. This 2014 squad is a squad that in specific situations some players do some things on the pitch that are different to what they do on the whole team. One of them is beside me. He doesn’t specialise in marking but sometimes he does try to give his contribution to the whole team.”

These have been difficult times personally for Scolari and there had been some talk he might leave the squad to tend to his family after the death of a nephew in a car crash in Rio Grande do Sul. “Yes, we have gone through difficult times,” he said. “But life goes on. We do what we have to do and we go on. Each one has a path to follow. I find my strength from working with the players. These players dedicate themselves every day. They work among themselves. Even when we are not among them. They are always trying to improve. All this makes us, even when we’re feeling sad, to forget the sadness and feel the beauty of what is happening around you.”

Scolari is known for carrying around his own little portable shrine of porcelain saints: take Brazil to victory here and they will be churning out china Big Phils.

If there is a concern for Brazil it is perhaps in the recent indifferent form of their most creative players. Neymar has scored five goals in 21 matches this year, while Oscar did not so much finish the season with a bang at Chelsea as drift to a halt. This, though, is something different and Brazil seem not just settled but genuinely confident on the eve of their own big kick-off.


Hang on to your seats gang. It's going to be an exciting few weeks.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:38 am
 


playoff hockey seguing right into World Cup. Doesn't get any better than that. I'm rooting for England, US and Brazil, in that order. Maybe Holland too.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:57 am
 


Image
Brazil has all the skills they need to win the tournament.

However...USAUSAUSAUSA


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 10:21 am
 


Fuck Brazil and the donkey they rode in on. [BF]


Go Chile [cheer]


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:33 pm
 


Quote:
Neymar ensures World Cup hosts Brazil start with win over Croatia
Brazil 3 Croatia 1


So far, so Brazil. On a fretful, at times sleepy, but ultimately rousing night, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team came from behind in the opening match of Brazil 2014 to beat a well-grooved Croatia 3-1 with the help of a soft penalty and some helpful goalkeeping. In doing so they confirmed what had already seemed clear. The tournament hosts are a resilient, well-drilled team: with added Neymar.

The World Cup’s 22-year-old poster boy not only scored twice, he also confirmed his status as a worthy star of this tournament. Brazil has been enjoying a committed case of Neymar fever for at least the last year. Get ready for a double dose.

Otherwise, despite the usual giddy sense of pre-mondiale tension, this was a familiarly low-key first sight of Brazil, who have often tended to start slowly in World Cups, and who had all but promised a slow start here at the pre-match press conference. Scolari will still have much to ponder in the next four days, not least an obvious weakness at full-back and an over-reliance for incision on that wonderfully limber attacking sprite of a No10 and his deputy Oscar, who was also excellent.

Not too much, though: a 3-1 victory is a fine result with which to start any tournament, not least against a composed, fast-breaking Croatia whose manager, Niko Kovac, was visibly enraged by key decisions by the Japanese referee, Yuichi Nishimura.

It was evident before kick-off that Croatia had come to play, lining up without a holding midfielder and relying instead on the keep-ball skills of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic in a dual playmaking role. There were no surprises from Scolari, who picked the team he was always going to pick, with Luis Gustavo and Paulinho providing a muscular central shield and cover for Dani Alves and Marcelo, a pair of fun but flighty full-backs.

The first sight of the teams was in itself a brilliantly stirring sight, the moment all the thrashing around, seven years of fretfulness and speculation, just dies away and what we are left with finally is a football match. Brazil’s anthem was sung with the customary a cappella gusto in its final verse, the White Doves of Blatter were released in the centre circle, and as Croatia kicked off there was a great rolling crackle of nervous energy around the steeply banked stands.

At which point Brazil 2014 took its own turn as Croatia settled the quicker. There was at times a semi-silence around the stadium as Brazil kept the ball without any great thrust and Croatia broke with purpose three times in the opening minutes So much so that when the first goal arrived after 11 minutes it was no great surprise that Croatia scored it. Ivica Olic sprinted clear down the left and his low cross found Nikica Jelavic in between Brazil’s centre halves. The Hull City man’s finish was scuffed, but deflected kindly off Marcelo and into the net.

The goal did at least wake the crowd up, although it was Croatia who continued to press, with Olic maintaining his almost unhindered mastery of Dani Alves’s flank. Brazil’s right-back may be a wonderful, much-garlanded footballer. But he is at times scarcely a right-back at all.

Steadily, Brazil began to creak into life. Neymar wriggled past Sime Vrsaljko by the goal-line, crossed low and from the clearance Oscar’s booming left-footed shot was saved by Stipe Pletikosa. Moments later Neymar was booked for what looked like a deliberate arm into the face of Luka Modric. Croatia’s players gathered around gamely. Neymar defending a high ball in his own half: this was where Kovac will have dreamed about playing this game. A yellow seemed just about fair though. There wasn’t quite the malice for a red.

At which point: enter the other Neymar. For all his struggles at Barcelona, this is a genuinely fine, delicately ruthless world star. Within two minutes of being booked he had levelled the scores, although the goal owed much to Oscar, who muscled his way through two Croatian challenges and then played a pass to his No10. Three jinking touches and the ball was in the net, the last a low, slightly scuffed shot that beat Pletikosa’s grasp too easily. Neymar ran to Scolari on the touchline, the stadium erupted, fireworks popped in the city and with half an hour gone, Brazil 2014 had its unofficial official opening.

For all the sense of relief it was a troubling first half for the hosts, who looked barely half a team at times with both full-backs vulnerable, and Hulk and Fred marginalised. Brazil emerged after the break looking enervated. This is a peculiar stadium, plonked on a red clay, São Paulo hillside with views of the city fringes through its great cantilevered corners. As Brazil kicked off the second half, with mist drifting across and fireworks popping, there was a sleepiness about the place with great swathes of empty plastic seats in the main stand. For Croatia, Modric – the kind of all-round central passing pivot Brazil lack – continued to direct his team’s breaks, and with 59 minutes gone Olic again broke down the left, set free by the kind of pass inside Alves a schoolboy full-back would expect to see coming.

Hulk finally departed with 22 minutes left, replaced by the fresh-faced Bernard. And within a minute, out of nowhere, Brazil had a penalty. It was a soft one too, Fred throwing himself down as he felt Loveren’s hand on his shoulder with his back to goal. Croatia were furious. The referee, though, had seen enough contact. Neymar scored past Pletikosa’s right hand, but it was a horrible penalty in many ways, a terrible, stuttering, jinking run-up, with the ball hit just well enough at saveable height. But this was Neymar’s moment, a second goal to reward a performance of ferreting industry.

Croatia continued to press and Ivan Perisic might even have equalised before Oscar’s goal sealed the game in stoppage-time. Turning over possession in midfield Oscar took two paces and hit an instant toe-poked shot low into the corner from 20 yards, a superb Ronaldo-style finish that was past the goalkeeper before he could dive with conviction, and a sight finally of Scolari’s Brazil at its best.


Tomorrow:
Mexico v. Cameroon
Spain v. Holland
Chile v. Australia


Last edited by xerxes on Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:34 pm
 


As for the opening ceremony...it was best watched with the sound down.

Image


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:49 pm
 


DanSC wrote:
Image


The behaviour on display in that image is the exact reason why I won't watch a second of this nonsense. It's undignified and unmanly. :evil:


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 6:59 am
 


This is just a weekend think right? Will it be over on Sunday?


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 7:03 am
 


Alta_redneck wrote:
This is just a weekend think right? Will it be over on Sunday?

I hope so.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 7:15 am
 


Regina wrote:
Alta_redneck wrote:
This is just a weekend think right? Will it be over on Sunday?

I hope so.


I ask myself that every time baseball season starts. But then it's on 100 hours a day for the next 10 months.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 7:54 am
 


xerxes wrote:
Regina wrote:
Alta_redneck wrote:
This is just a weekend think right? Will it be over on Sunday?

I hope so.


I ask myself that every time baseball season starts. But then it's on 100 hours a day for the next 10 months.

Haven't really watched much baseball since the mid 90s. Shortly after they used Velcro name plates on the uniforms. Players jumping from team to team make it hard to follow and be loyal. Dynasties in the past were built not bought.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:45 am
 


Regina wrote:
Alta_redneck wrote:
This is just a weekend think right? Will it be over on Sunday?

I hope so.


Thanks Captain Bringdown and the Buzzkills. We're enjoying the show here. Go start a soccer bitch and gripe thread somewheres else. :lol:

Neymar looks like a skid. Kid can sure play though. Crappy penalty call--crappy ref period, but then I'm used to EPL--but the writing was on the wall for Croatia. Brazil had 65% possession or something. Even when Croatia got the ball, they couldn't advance it. Oscar was surprisingly effective.

Image

Taping Spain and Holland today.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:50 am
 


Soccer: a game for gentlemen played by ruffians. But I like it too.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 9:51 am
 


DanSC wrote:
Image
Brazil has all the skills they need to win the tournament.

However...USAUSAUSAUSA


USA has 0 chance at winning.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 9:58 am
 


Thanos wrote:
DanSC wrote:
Image


The behaviour on display in that image is the exact reason why I won't watch a second of this nonsense. It's undignified and unmanly. :evil:


Check out the back heel toe stomp though I've lost a few toenails to those.


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