Mehndi Designs elephant1-restoration: 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Argentina 1 - Brazil 0: Messi sinks Brazil in Doha Friendly

In a moment of injury time magic, FIFA World Player of the Year Lionel Messi weaved through a tangle of Brazilian defenders and dispatched a left footed shot past goalkeeper Victor to seal a stunning, last minute 1-0 victory for Argentina against Brazil at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar today. Messi's goal ended a 5 match winless streak for the Albiceleste against Brazil and, amazingly enough, marked his first ever goal against the Selecao. The goal did justice to a match rife with high percentage scoring opportunities from both teams. Brazil pressed the attack in the first half with Dani Alves and Andre Santos roaring down both flanks, and Alves, in particular, threatening the Argentine goal. Brazilian midfielders Lucas, Ramires and Elias aggressively closed down the Argentine attack while playing without the ball and, conversely, distributed nicely to Neymar, Robinho and Ronaldinho when surging forward. Alves had the first real scoring opportunity of the match when a one-two pass with David Luiz enabled him to fire a rocket at the Argentine goal that hit the cross bar. Later in the half, a Neymar corner resulted in a ball falling to Ronaldinho in the box who, with his back to goal, opted for a back heel strike that goalkeeper Romero scooped up comfortably. Dinho also threatened the Argentine goal with a curling free kick off his right foot that Romero punched out of danger. As the half progressed, Argentina began to collect themselves and posed their own threats on goal with shots from Gonzalo Higuain saved by Victor in a match that was rapidly turning into a showcase for goalkeeping talent. Messi started to impose himself in the Argentine midfield and began one of his patented, Maradona-like runs based off passes from Zanetti and Banega that resulted in a long range, left footed shot that sailed over the crossbar by inches. He was seen wearing a cool tattoo design for men on his arm. The second half continued the end to end football that fans expected from the South American clasico with Neymar and Robinho running at defenders and setting up dangerous free kick opportunities for Ronaldinho and Dani Alves. On the Argentine side of the equation, the substitution of Ezequiel Lavezzi for Higuain paid dividends as the Napoli striker created opportunities for Lionel Messi by commanding the right flank and distracting Andre Santos and David Luiz in the process. In the 56th minute, Lavezzi tore down the right flank and passed to Javier Pastore, whose shot appeared to have been blocked by the elbow of Thiago Silva, though no penalty was awarded. Meanwhile, Neymar continued to press the attack for Brazil and found himself repeatedly fouled and manhandled the closer he got to goal. In the 63rd minute, the Argentine defense hacked down Neymar in the box and the ball neatly fell to Robinho, but his shot went just wide. Mano's flurry of substitutions with twenty minutes remaining--Douglas for Ronaldinho, Andre for Neymar and Jucilei for Ramires--seemed to suggest resignation to a 0-0 draw and an accompanying decision to provide his young players with much needed international experience. But Ramires's departure marked a deep, tactical mistake by Menezes because it freed Messi to find space in midfield that he had rarely enjoyed before. Deep into injury time, the Barcelona number 10 picked up the ball near center circle, burst forward, cut the ball onto his left foot and hit a lawnmower of a shot past Victor's left to seal a landmark victory for Argentina after their humiliating, 3-1 loss at home to Brazil in Rosario in World Cup qualifying in September 2009 and the team's recent 1-0 loss to Japan under coach Batista himself. This was a humiliating defeat for Brazil as it exposed their lack of a single, world class, pure striker. Ronaldinho did his best to generate attacking opportunities alongside Corinthians star Elias but he lacked a powerful center forward such as Luis Fabiano with the strength to carve out that extra yard of space and put the ball in the back of the net. On the brighter side, Brazil's midfield is finally starting to click as the Lucas-Ramires partnership promises to bring much needed coherence to the team, although they still lack a creative playmaker in the form of Kaka, Elano or Paulo Henrique Ganso. Despite not having as many high percentage shots on goal, Argentina clearly deserved the victory because Batista succeded where Maradona failed in freeing up Lionel Messi, the best striker in the world. Batista will have to worry about his defense, however, as he cannot rely on Romero to bail out the Albiceleste as often as he did today in Doha. Overall, this was great end to end football and a tantalizing glimpse of two teams who will, in all likelihood, be the clear favorites for the World Cup in 2014, based as it will be on South American soil in Brazil. If Mano shores up his strikeforce with more mature incarnations of Neymar, Pato and Andre, Batista consolidates his defense, and Messi stays fit, the Selecao v. Albiceleste will probably be everyone's favored match-up for the World Cup final in 2014. Team Captains: Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina) Robinho (Brazil) Shirt Numbers: Argentina Messi: 10 Higuain: 9 Brazil Neymar: 11 Ronaldinho: 10 Robinho: 9

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Hulk, The Beast and The Emperor: Nicknames in Brazilian Football (Part 2)

The Hulk Givanildo Vieira de Souza, known as the Hulk because of the green suit he wore for Tokyo Verdy, in the J-League in Japan. Also nicknamed the Hulk for his physiognomic and bodily resemblance to the Marvel comic hero, The Incredible Hulk. The Hulk lived up to his name by losing his temper and assaulting a match steward in December 2009, incurring a 4 month suspension for his club team Porto in the process. The Beast Júlio César Baptista who currently plays for AS Roma as an attacking midfielder. Was used by Dunga as a replacement for Kaka in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. Member of the 2010 World Cup team in South Africa. Known as The Beast for his strength and instinctive ability to find his footing amidst a tangle of defenders. The Emperor Adriano Leite Ribeiro, better known as Adriano, is an AS Roma striker for known for his physical strength. Nicknamed the Emperor for the way his power and strength commands submission from defenders. Member of the 2006 World Cup attacking quartet composed of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka and himself. The King Pele. Winner of the World Cup for Brazil in 1958, 1962 and 1970. The most complete player in the history of football. Scored over 1000 goals in his professional career, including 77 goals for the Brazilian national team. Known as the King because he widely believed to be the ruler amongst all football greats. The Phenomenon Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, better known as Ronaldo, is the greatest pure striker of all time. At his peak in 1996 and 1997, Ronaldo averaged a goal a game and was virtually unstoppable by even the most disciplined defenders. Known for coming back deep into the center of midfield and running at the center of defenses with awesome speed, strength and dribbling ability. Nicknamed the phenomenon because he created a phenomenon in the world of football unseen since Diego Maradona. Two time World Cup winner in 1994 and 2002. Owns the record for the number of World Cup goals at 15. Scored 8 goals in Brazil's 2002 World Cup victory in Japan. Mozart Mozart Santos Batista Júnior, better known as Mozart, is a defensive midfielder for the Italian football club Livorno. Plays both a defensive and attacking midfield role. Known as Mozart for dictating the tempo of the game and orchestrating lethal counterattacks from a deep midfield position. The Grave Digger Jenílson Ângelo de Souza, better known as Júnior, played for Brazil in the 2002 World Cup, scoring one goal in Brazil’s 5-2 rout of Costa Rica in the group stages. Currently plays for Goias in Brazilian Serie A. Called the grave digger because he supplemented his income as a grave digger when he thought he was not going to make it in professional football. Junior is also known to have dug a grave for many a defender in Brazil with his dribbling skills on the left side of the field. Tostao (the Little Coin/Penny) Eduardo Gonçalves de Andrade. Brazilian striker and key member of the great team of 1970. Known as the little coin for his ability to turn through and around defenders. Scored 2 goals in Brazil's victorious 1970 World Cup campaign in Mexico. The Goose Paulo Henrique Chagas de Lima, commonly known as Ganso, is an attacking midfielder for Santos who recently suffered a torn ACL injury. Expected to play a key role in Brazil’s 2014 line-up in the attacking part of central midfield. Tagged by Socrates as the most gifted player in Brazil. Nicknamed the goose for his lanky gait and uncanny ability to shuffle by defenders. The Animal Edmundo Alves de Souza Neto, better known as Edmundo, is a retired Brazilian player who won the Campeanato Brasileiro Serie A for Vasco da Gama in 1997 with 29 goals in one season. Played on the 1998 World Cup team in France as a substitute striker. Called the animal for his volatile temper and habit of picking up red cards for rough play.