Die Mannschaft it is then!!

After coming on as a substitute for Klose in the dying minutes of the game (~ 87th minute), Mario Goetze controlled a swirling cross from Schurrle on his chest and tapped it with beautiful precision past Sergio Romero in the 113th minute to shut the door on Argentina, who till then, unlike Brazil, fought valiantly against the marauding Germans.

Goetze’s shot reminded one of Iniesta’s goal that sealed victory for the Spaniards against the Dutch 4 years ago at Johannesburg. It won Germany their 4th world cup. This one came after a gap of 24 years. Although they came close last 3 times, closest being in 2002 when a rampaging Brazilian side (which had all the famous R’s) won the title in Korea-Japan. 

The bench strength of Germany is a tribute to the system put in place by the DFB in Germany. The players, most of them, enrol as young kids in the footballing academies and come through the competitive and gruelling system. The team spirit as described by their coach Loew was exceptional. 

James Rodriguez and Manuel Nuer’s Golden Boot and Golden gloves awards were deserving as both were simply outstanding. What was odd though was the Golden Ball given to Lionel Messi. He himself seemed surprised at the announcement and was reluctant to accept it. Thomas Mueller, Arjen Robben certainly seemed more deserving. SMH has this . Maradona and Blatter openly expressed surprise at the decision. 

BBC has this on the German victory. In the end it seemed logical and almost inevitable that Germany win the cup. 

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Flying Dutchmen!!

Even though RVP’s “flying” goal was a spectacular one and it actually opened the account for Netherlands against Spain, it is their fifth goal, scored by winger Arjen Robben that remains with us even after 3 days after the game.

Metro has this here Apparently, the dutch winger’s sprint was clocked at 37 kmph whereas defender Ramos run was clocked only at 30 kmph. It has even managed to beat Theo Walcott’s record of ~ 35 kmph.

Robben’s blistering pace and then supreme control of the ball proved too much for the Spanish defence. He toyed around for some time with the goal keeper Casillas and then scored.

What a match. What a goal!!   

Brazil WC 2014 Kicks off

In a few hours the greatest spectacle after the Olympics would kick off. More than 30 teams would battle it out for the WC Champions tag. Brazil is hosting the WC after a gap of almost 65 years. Some interesting facts of the WC include;

  • Use of goal line technology for the ever so controversial goals,
  • Vanishing spray paints (to allow referee’s a chance to ear mark the spot for free kicks etc),
  • Robots & drones for increased security,
  • Eye popping $ 35 million for the winning team and $ 25 million for the runners up.

Brazil seem to be punter’s favourite.

Following are the odds to win the groups

  • Group A – Brazil minus 600 (risking $6 to win $1 or 6:1 risk reward ratio)
  • Group B – Spain minus 175
  • Group C – Colombia minus 120
  • Group D – Italy plus 120 (risking $ 1 to win $ 1.2)
  • Group E – France minus 150 
  • Group F – Argentina minus 600
  • Group G – Germany minus 200
  • Group H – Belgium minus 175

Odds to win 2014 World Cup

  • Brazil: 5-to-2
  • Argentina: 4-to-1
  • Germany: 5-to-1
  • Spain: 13-to-2
  • Italy: 20-to-1

There are 3 European teams in there. Not surprisingly since europeans have managed to get to the finals of every world cup sans 1. 

Visiting Brazil for the World Cup? Then be prepared to pay “Custo Brasil”

The Brazilian Real has broadly been appreciating against the dollar since 2003. This reflects the strong economic growth experienced by Brazil last decade with ~ 5% average annual GDP growth. Per capita GDP has more than doubled from 2005 to $ 5700 in 2013 (per capita PPP $ 10200). Offlate though growth has fallen off the cliff.

High economic growth seems to have set off a consumerist frenzy. Coupled with high taxes, import tariffs (negating the positive impact of a strong currency) and high minimum wages means a cascading impact of high retail prices and leading to what is locally known as “Custo Brasil” or “Brazil Cost”. 

Here is a sample of Brazilian prices;

  • Cocktail –  $10,
  • Cheeseburger – $17 ,
  • Pepperoni pizza – $35.
  • I – Phone 5S – $ 1200 which is 5x the retail price in US.
  • Nike Flyknit Lunar 2 – $313 at a Rio shopping mall which is 3x the price in US.
  • Levi 501 jeans – $80.
  • McDonalds burger – $ 6.28 (is among the most expensive in the world)

This reflects in the very high consumer price inflation in Brazil with the price index having doubled over past 10 years translating into 7% inflation compounded annually leading to the central bank there raising rates to curb it.

Economist has this and this .

Falling economic growth offlate coupled with high prices and the high costs involved in staging the sporting spectacle i.e. FIFA WC 2014 has led to street protests in Brazil which started with increase in bus fares. NYT has this .  

Germans & Uruguayans, hot favourites for Brazil WC 2014

British sports data analysis firm Opta has analysed last season’s league data from top 5 European leagues (English, French, German, Italian and Spanish football leagues).

They have constructed a playing 11 through filtering by poring over exhaustive data of players across different positions.

Reuters has this http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/05/28/soccer-world-dream-team-idINKBN0E800K20140528 

‘Dream Team’ is as follows; 

Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)

Defenders: Philipp Lahm (Germany), Diego Godin (Uruguay), Giorgio Chiellini (Italy), Leighton Baines (England)

Midfielders: Arturo Vidal (Chile), Marco Reus (Germany), Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast)

Forwards: Luis Suarez (Uruguay), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Football extravaganza begins!

The most anticipated and watched sporting event – FIFA Football WC is just round the corner commencing from 12th June 2014 and to be held in the football crazy land of the samba boys, Brazil.

In all 32 teams (including the host) will participate in the football extravaganza. Brazil 2014 WC is going to be the costliest ever with an estimated cost of around $ 14 billion surpassing the $ 6 billion of Germany 2006 WC.

So, 8 groups of 4 teams each, will play the group stages. Top 2 teams from each group will qualify for the round of last 16. Winner of these rounds will enter the quarter finals followed by semi-finals and then the coveted finals on 13th July 2014.

Out of the 8 groups, Group D and Group G look the toughest.

Group D:

England: One of the most followed and watched football team (and the most hyped?) in the world with a galaxy of superstars who have made their name in leagues around the world. They have won the WC once. Names such Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard are the old warhorses of England but would also be carrying with them some painful memories of WC exits especially penalty shoot – outs.

Italy: The Azzurri team is the second most successful football team ever having won the WC 4 times is also one of the most defensively strong team

Uruguay: 2 times champions are a dangerous side on their own day and also have the in-form Luis Suarez with them.

Costa Rica: A dangerous side and the 3rd most successful side in the CONCACAF cup.

Group G:

Germany: 3 time world champions, have qualified for 17 / 19 world cups. They have some of the best talents in their team. Last WC in South Africa threw up names such as Mesut Ozil & Thomas Mueller for Germany. They would be leading from the front this time round.

Portugal: A talented bunch led by Cristiano Ronaldo.

United States of America: Although not won a single WC yet, they are still a dangerous side with players who have experience in playing for various leagues world wide

Ghana: They are one of the most successful African teams and have a good set of players

We will have a look at some exciting young talent that will be at display during the WC and some that missed the bus.

Young Players:

  1. Thibaut Courtois: Chelsea/Belgium

19 year old goalkeeper standing at 6’6” is currently on loan to Atletico Madrid from Chelsea. He has been one of the main reasons for their success. He is youngest keeper ever to represent Belgium and one player to look out for.

  1. Wilfried Zaha: Manchester United/England.

This young winger is one of the rising stars of international football. He was overlooked by Moyes and was sent on loan to Cardiff City where he proved his worth. He misses out

   3. Raphael Varane: Real Madrid/France

He is currently one of the best centre-back in world football who can also play as holding midfielder and one to watch out for.

  1. Lucas Moura: PSG/Brazil

PSG paid a whopping Euro 45 million for this young midfielder who has not let them down. He is a creative midfielder who can also fit in at the no.10 role

  1. Stephan El Shaarawy: AC Milan/Italy

This young striker has blossomed at AC Milan this year after the departure of Ibrahimovic. He is expected to give Italy the cutting edge and form a deadly partnership with Mario Balotelli.

  1. Andre Schurrle: Chelsea/Germany

Schurrle can play both as winger and as a forward. He is another talent that has emerged from the German football factory and has given Chelsea a lot of important goals in this season.

  1. James Rodriguez: Monaco/Colombia

Monaco paid Euro 37 million for this wonder kid and has been a revelation for them. He is one to look out for this WC.

  1. Thiago Alcantara: Barcelona/Spain

He is considered to be of same class of Xavi and Iniesta and a perfect replacement for them. He is a very skilled player and people are waiting to watch him in action.

  1. Marco Verratti: PSG/Italy

This young defensive midfielder is highly rated player and many clubs around the globe are interested in signing him.

   10. Marco Rues: Borussia Dortmund/Germany

This creative midfielder is highly rated player and one to look out for.

   11. Eliaquim Mangala: Porto/France

Mangala is the most sort after centre-back in football circuit currently. He is a rock solid player at the back of France and gives them the stability they require.