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This blog reflects on soccer qua football all over the world. The blog has a specific investment in attractive, attacking football and, as such, focuses on Brazil, the most emphatic historical exponent of the beautiful game.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Neymar Voted South American Player of 2011

Santos striker Neymar earned the distinction of South American Player of Year according to a vote organized by the Uruguayan newspaper El Pais. Neymar won the award by receiving 130 votes out of 247 from South American journalists, 60 more than second place winner Eduardo Vargas of Chile. Santos midfielder Paulo Henrique Ganso took third place with 33 votes while Uruguayan and Tijuana midfielder Egidio Arevalo Rios took fourth. No Brazilian has won the award since Romario in 2000. Neymar’s achievement caps a phenomenal year for the 19 year old Brazilian. Neymar led Santos to victory in the Copa Libertadores and Paulista championships. He also spearheaded Santos’s journey to the Club World Cup Final in Japan, where Santos lost 4-0 to Barcelona. Neymar won the trophy by the most lopsided margin in the history of the award and succeeds 2010 winner Andres D'Alessandro of Argentina. The list of the top five winners is as follows:

1. Neymar (Santos) 130 votes
2. Eduardo Vargas (Univ.de Chile) 70 votes
3. Paulo Ganso (Santos) 33 votes
4. Egidio Arévalo (Xolos de Tijuana)
5. Rolando Schiavi (Boca Juniors)

El Pais's South American dream team features the following four Argentines, three Chileans, two Brazilians and one player each from Uruguay and Ecuador:

Johnny Herrera (Univ.de Chile) | Chile
Néicer Reasco (LDU Quito) | Ecuador
Marcos González (Univ.de Chile) | Chile
Rolando Schiavi (Boca Juniors) | Argentina
Clemente Rodríguez (Boca Juniors) | Argentina
Egidio Arévalo (Xolos de Tijuana) | Uruguay
Paulo Ganso (Santos) | Brazil
Juan Riquelme (Boca Juniors) | Argentina
Eduardo Vargas (Univ.de Chile) | Chile
Hernán Barcos (LDU Quito) | Argentina
Neymar (Santos) | Brazil

The South American Footballer of the Year originated from Venezuelan newspaper El Mundo. El Mundo presided over the award from 1971 to 1985, before the Uruguayan newspaper El Pais took over stewardship of the award in 1986. The most lopsided result of the South American Player of the Year, prior to Neymar, was Juan Sebastian Veron in 2009, when the Argentine garnered 109 votes.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Messi Humbles Neymar In Barca's 4-0 Rout of Santos in Club World Cup Final

Barcelona routed Santos 4-0 in the final of the Club World Cup on Sunday in a formidable display of one touch passing, attacking firepower and possession football. The scoreline humbled South American club champions Santos and underlined Lionel Messi’s position as the best player in the world in the wake of a much touted rivalry between Messi and Santos striker Neymar. Barcelona raced to 3-0 lead at halftime thanks to goals by Messi, Xavi and Fabregas. Despite a 5 man back line, Santos defended sloppily and allowed Messi too much space on the right flank, from which he tended to cut inside and head toward goal. Santos looked more threatening in the second half but failed to convert a Neymar shot and ended up conceding a fourth goal ten minutes from time. After the match, Santos coach Muricy Ramalho remarked that no one can beat Barcelona though he pledged his team would attempt to return to the Club World Cup final next year with the hope of winning the title. Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, meanwhile, oozed admiration for his team’s performance by noting that Barca played “like artists” and that Messi delivered a near perfect performance, under pressure. Before the match, Neymar had remarked how he plans to continue playing in Brazil until 2014. After being humbled by the Spanish champions, however, one wonders whether Neymar and Ganso will opt to ply their trade in Europe after taking a lesson in footballing mastery from the Catalan greats.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Neymar, Borges and Danilo Lift Santos to Club World Cup Final

Santos defeated Kashiwa Reysol 3-1 in the first Club World Cup semifinal on Wednesday thanks to spectacular goals from Neymar, Borges and Danilo. The match showcased Santos’s finishing accuracy and aptly illustrated how the philosophy of Brazilian football hinges on attack as opposed to defense. Coach Muricy Ramalho remarked that Santos would need to produce a much better display against Barcelona in the final if, indeed, Barca beat Al-Saad in the other Club World Cup semifinal. Santos will take heart from the way their star players Neymar, Ganso and Borges go into the final in scintillating form. Neymar, in particular, illustrated his brilliance yet again by running at the Kashiwa Reysol defense or sidestepping it completely, as in the case of the first goal. Neymar seems to gain confidence with every international match. Now, Santos need a match winning performance from Paulo Henrique Ganso to feel confident of victory in the final.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ramalho Praises Neymar Ahead of Santos's Club World Cup Semifinal

Santos coach Muricy Ramalho claimed Neymar’s talent was comparable to that of Brazil legends Zico, Rivelino and French midfielder Zinedine Zidane. In an interview with Globoesporte.com, Ramalho claimed that Neymar’s talent was “absurd” and stemmed from his ability to “see a play before others do.” Ramalho made his remarks ahead of Santos’s initial game in the Club World Cup against Kashiwa Resyol on Wednesday. In the other Club World Cup semifinal, Barcelona play Al-Sadd on Thursday. If Santos and Barcelona both win their respective matches, the final of the Club World Cup will feature a mouthwatering clash between Santos and Barcelona, and by extension, Neymar vs. Lionel Messi. Ramalho conceded that Barcelona would always garner at least 65% of ball possession but noted that Santos could win based on Neymar's brilliance, slick passing from Elano and Ganso, and aerial balls that destabilize Barca's defense.