TIME World Cup

It’s Pope vs. Pope in the World Cup Final

Pope Francis embraces Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the Castel Gandolfo summer residence in 2013.
Pope Francis embraces Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the Castel Gandolfo summer residence in 2013. Osservatore Romano/Reuters

But the Argentine pontiff and his German predecessor probably won't watch the game together, the Vatican says

The Vatican has cast doubts on a papal soccer party after saying Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, probably won’t watch the World Cup final together, the Associated Press reports.

Sunday’s final sees Argentina and Germany go head to head for the trophy but for Argentine Pope Francis, the final’s a little past the 77-year-old’s bedtime.

The Vatican’s spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Pope normally goes to bed at 10pm local time, an hour after kick off. However, he added that though the Pope isn’t a big sports fan “we’ll see in the coming days” whether the Pope will delay his slumber.

Pope Francis has already promised that he won’t pray for his home team to win. German Pope Benedict is also unlikely to pay much attention, apparently preferring intellectual hobbies over the athletic.

“Both would want the better team to win, without taking sides,” Lombardi tactfully stated.

Nevertheless, social media has already dubbed Sunday’s match “the final of the two popes” and has spawned the hashtag, #holywar.

On Sunday, Argentina and Germany will meet in their third World Cup final. In 1986, Diego Maradona led Argentina to victory, which Germany quickly overturned in the 1990 World Cup final. Despite their history, Germany remains the clear favorite to win.

[AP]

TIME

Brazil Moves From Sadness to Acceptance in Its World Cup Loss

Brazil and the World Cup
Brazilian fans react with sorrow as their team goes down in the World Cup semi-final FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

Yes, it was just about the worst defeat in World Cup history. But Brazilians are resilient

With sadness, self-reflection and gallows humor, Brazil was today coming to terms with its most humiliating sporting defeat, a 7-1 thrashing by Germany in the World Cup semi final.

“It was really bad. No one expected to lose by that much,” said Enio Monteiro, aged 55, who was having a sandwich at a bar in Rio de Janeiro the day after the game. “But it happened, and I’m not thinking about it any more. You’ve got to move on.”

As he spoke, a customer nearby was reading local daily O Globo, whose front page screamed: “Shame. Embarrassment. Humiliation.” And on the wall above, a TV screen was showing the lunchtime news. The two presenters were giggling as they read out the funniest social media posts from the game.

Brazil began the World Cup as overwhelming favourites to win the World Cup for a record sixth time, and for the first time as hosts. Yet this World Cup will now be remembered for the country’s historic hammering by the Germans: the first time Brazil have let in seven goals in an official game, the only time a team has conceded 5 goals in 29 minutes in all World Cups, and the worst defeat ever of a World Cup host.

“The dream of winning the sixth title at home has turned into a horrible nightmare,” wrote Globo columnist Renato Maurício Prado. “Who would have thought that in the Cup of Cups, Brazil would end up having the humiliation of humiliations?”

Brazilians were expecting the game against Germany to be difficult, especially since they were without their best player Neymar, out injured, and their captain Thiago Silva, missing a game for an accumulation of yellow cards. “But not even the most delirious pessimist would have predicted the result,” the Folha de S. Paulo said in an editorial.

Pundits here have been united in stating that in terms of national shame, Tuesday’s game now eclipses the conclusion of the 1950 World Cup. Brazil lost the title in a 2-1 defeat to Uruguay, which was watched by 200,000 people in Rio’s Maracanã stadium, still the largest audience ever present at a soccer game.

“The team who played on Tuesday in Belo Horizonte have rewritten our memories [of 1950] by taking part in the bleakest day in the national team’s glorious 100 year history,” wrote Antero Greco in the Estado de S. Paulo.

Since the 1930s soccer has been the greatest symbol of Brazilian identity and a good performance in World Cups is seen as crucial for the nation’s self esteem. Within minutes of the end of the game, President Dilma Rousseff—who is on the campaign trail for re-election later this year—spoke to the nation in four tweets: “Like all Brazilians, I am very, very sad by the defeat. I feel immensely sorry for all us. Fans and our players. But we wont let it break us. Brazil, ‘get up, shake off the dust and come out on top again’.”

The national team’s spectacular elimination comes in the closing stages of a tournament that had already created much anger in the Brazilian population for the amount of public money that it cost. A year ago two million people protested against the spending during the Confederations Cup, the World Cup warm-up event. “I think that the Brazilians have been at odds with the World Cup all along, and the defeat was a reflection of this to a certain extent,” said Norberto Schlanger, aged 49, a stationery distributor in Rio de Janeiro, who said he was cheering for Germany. “Not because my name is German but because I wanted the money to go to hospitals and schools.”

Fears that a defeat would lead to more protests or riots have so far proved unfounded, with only minor reports of scuffles in Rio and some buses were set alight in Curitiba and São Paulo on Tuesday night. In fact, Brazilians have been reacting with resignation and good humour to the result, possibly because it was so shocking. Even in the Mineirão stadium the Brazilian fans were shouting “olé” at the German team, a traditional chant you sing when your team is winning.

Many past Brazilian stars have been making their comments known via social media, TV interviews and newspaper columns. Tostão, who played alongside Pelé in the 1970 World Cup and is one of the most respected pundits, wrote in the Folha de S. Paulo: “It was a tragedy: sad, very sad, the biggest defeat in the history of the Brazilian national team. As a consolation, maybe it will serve to force big changes in Brazilian soccer, both on and off the pitch, from junior levels and up. There needs to be a change in the way of thinking, and to lessen the promiscuous exchanges of favors, a national disease, that riddles the country.”

For some, though, the only way to get over the pain of the defeat is to look to the future. Luciano Santos, aged 39, said: “It is sad, but everyone will have forgotten this game when the next World Cup starts in four years time.”

TIME World Cup

Argentina Beats Holland, And Completely Ruins Brazil’s World Cup

Argentina players celebrate defeating the Netherlands in a shootout at Arena de Sao Paulo on July 9, 2014 in Sao Paulo.
Argentinian team celebrates defeating the Netherlands in a shootout at Arena de Sao Paulo on July 9, 2014 in Sao Paulo. Julian Finney—Getty Images

It'll be even worse if they win the final against Germany

If the Germany vs. Brazil World Cup seminfinal game was no contest, with the Germans crushing the hosts 7-1, then the Netherlands-Argentina semifinal clash was the opposite: a contest of wills. A chess match and a cage fight masquerading as a football game. The Argentines were determined to put the brakes on the freewheeling Dutch footballing machine led by Arjen Robben. The Dutch were determined to make someone other than Lionel Messi beat them. He didn’t. At least not during the run of play.

Messi was one of four perfect penalty takers as Argentina bested the Netherlands 4-2 on PKs after 120 minutes of slug-it-out soccer yielded no goals, few shots and strangulation defense. “We didn’t create very much. In all the other matches we created more opportunities than we did today. That says something about Argentina, ” Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal said after the match. And the fact that Messi was bottled up for most of the game also spoke to the tactical scheme that Van Gaal had set up to thwart Argentina’s ace.

Argentina’s keeper Sergio Romero, who was once coached by Van Gaal, looked a bit shaky during the game, on several occasions punching the ball clear when he could have easily caught it. But in the penalty shootout, he got down to block Ron Vlaar’s first kick going to his left; then after Messi and Robben coolly made their kicks, he dove high to his right to deny Wesley Sneijder.

The match was now clearly in Argentina’s hands. Ezequiel Garay then smashed one down the center preserve the Argentina lead. After Dirk Kuyt kept Dutch hopes alive by making the fourth kick, Maxi Rodriguez ended them—keeper Jasper Cillessen got a glove on the ball but couldn’t keep it out. Van Gaal didn’t get a chance to use his PK blocking specialist Tim Krul, because he’d used up his last sub in replacing the weakening Robin Van Persie. The striker had been fighting off flu systems, and he was never a match for Argentina’s defenders.

Argentina now has the opportunity to make Brazil’s World Cup a complete disaster by winning the final against Germany.

For the first half hour of the match, it became quickly apparent that both teams’ strategies were working. Robben barely got an introduction to the ball and when he did Javier Mascherano, Argentina’s designated butcher, was there to make sure he didn’t get any momentum going. And Messi had a two-man Orange escort anytime the ball was on his foot. Bruno Martins Indi spent most of the first half trying to bite Messi’s leg, which finally earned him a yellow card and then a seat on the bench. He was replaced at the half because Van Gaal knew that Messi would toy with him in the second 45.

The only hint of an Argentine advantage was the deep runs being made by Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gonzalo Higuain. But at the end those runs stood Vlaar, Holland’s giant defender, who had a magnificent game until his penalty kick troubles.

The second half and extra time had very little to offer in terms of offense. Robben finally broke through the Argentine line in the 91st minute but Mascherano was there once again to save his team. In the 106th minute, he was leveled by a shoulder from Kuyt, but played the rest of the game clutching cotton wadding between his teeth to contain bleeding from a cut inside his mouth. It was an enormous performance. Meanwhile, in the 117th minute, Messi finally outran Vlaar in the corner, but his cross back across goal to Rodriguez was hacked into the ground. That miss would allow “Maxi” to become the hero a few minutes later in the PKs.

TIME World Cup

Beautiful World Cup Fan Nabs Modeling Contract After Picture Goes Viral

Guess sometimes it does pay to root for a losing team

Updated Thursday, July 10 at 1:50 pm ET

Belgium may have gotten the boot from the World Cup after falling to Argentina last Saturday, but one of the team’s fans reportedly scored big. After a photo of 17-year-old Axelle Despiegelare cheering on her country’s team during the group stages went viral, she captured the attention of beauty brand L’Oreal Professionnel.

And on Tuesday, the Red Devils supporter told her thousands of Facebook fans (17,603 at the time of this writing) that she officially nabbed a modeling contract. A representative for L’Oreal Professionnel informed TIME on Thursday that it was a one-time contract and has been completed. The company has no plans to work with her again.

Despiegelare appears in number of promotional videos for the beauty brand on their Facebook page, in which she’s referred to as “ la plus belle des supportrices de la coupe du monde,” or the most beautiful World Cup supporter. Guess sometimes it does pay to root for a losing team.

 

 

TIME

Cheer Up, Brazil: Here Are 7 Other Infamous Sports Blowouts

The Seleção got hammered by Germany in the World Cup, but plenty of other sports teams have also suffered abject humiliation

Brazil’s loss to Germany in Tuesday’s World Cup game was a defeat of epic proportions. The 7-1 loss is the largest margin of defeat in the tournament’s semi-finals history.

To be fair though, lopsided scorelines sometimes happen. Just ask the dozens of professional teams who’ve been blown out in the past. Even the Miami Heat, one of the NBA’s current powerhouses, has a stain on their name; in 1991, they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 148-80. It’s a blowout record they hold, still.

So in an effort to ease the hearts of Brazil fans, here are 7 other teams who’ve lost in infamous blowouts.

TIME World Cup

World Cup Players’ Crazy Haircuts

From mohawks to dreadlocks, these World Cup players have quite the array of styles

TIME World Cup

The Best World Cup Meme Was Ripped Off by One of Twitter’s Worst Accounts

The modified Brazilian flag rather accurately summarizes the host country's humiliating 7-1 semifinal defeat to Germany — but who created it?

Brazil lost to Germany in absurd, ridiculous and unprecedented fashion yesterday. The Germans scored five goals in 18 minutes before eventually winning the semifinal matchup 7-1. Predictably, the game provided everyone with anguished photos, clever headlines and tweets. Lots and lots of tweets. 35.6 million of them, per Twitter data. But one amusing take stood out above all the others:

Now under ideal circumstances, this altered version of Brazil’s flag would be lauded for its creativity and flawless execution, and @zoowithroy would be the one getting all the credit. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Unfortunately, self-described entertainment website Men’s Humor had other ideas. The #brand (for lack of a better term) tweeted the image from its Twitter account to its 3.13 million followers, but left out one very important detail: any sort of credit.

zoowithroy.com

 

Predictably, Mr. Zoo With Roy wasn’t too pleased about this, and rightfully called out Men’s Humor (best known for tweets like this and this — and other that are far more offensive) for its appropriation of his content. Men’s Humor eventually pulled the tweet, but offered no sort of public apology or retraction for not providing credit for the image in the first place. Men’s Humor did not respond to request for comment.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot to be done about all this. Anonymous Twitter accounts like Men’s Humor that make a business out of clicks don’t have any interest in crediting anyone else with the work that they steal — it only muddles their otherwise pristine tweets. But it’s encouraging that the outrage over the theft reached the point that Men’s Humor felt compelled to delete the tweet. Brazil likely wishes it had that option for yesterday’s semifinal.

TIME World Cup

Blitz Breakdown: How Mighty Germany Ripped Apart Brazil

World Cup Team Germany
German team celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the World Cup semifinal against Brazil on July 8 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Martin Rose—Getty Images

The German team scored an historic five goals in 18 minutes of play

sportsillustrated

By Liviu Bird

A match’s opening period is dicey for analytical purposes. It usually can’t be analyzed too thoroughly because teams may settle in slowly or make tactical adjustments to respond to an opponent. Not so much for Germany on Tuesday.

Germany needed very little time to acclimate to its World Cup semifinal, demolishing Brazil 7-1 after a strong first 30 minutes, which included five goals in an 18-minute span for the ages.

For Brazil, World Cup reams turn to worst nightmare in semifinal rout

Germany controlled the match through calculated, choreographed pressing in its front block, as well as targeted ball movement in possession. The style wasn’t too surprising, considering the pressing emphasis in the Bundesliga recently, with Jurgen Klopp’s gegenpressing at Borussia Dortmund and Pep Guardiola’s system at Bayern Munich.

The magnitude of the result, though, will be shocking for decades to come, especially because Brazil was on the front foot in the first five minutes, winning a corner kick within 60 seconds of kickoff. Germany fired warning shots in transition, and after riding the initial chaos of Brazil’s energetic start, it put Brazil in a stranglehold.

Germany’s main defensive posture was a 4-1-4-1 medium block, drawing its line of confrontation just above the center circle. Brazil couldn’t build out of the back, playing long balls into the strong German defense or over the touchline. An inability to create was a constant theme for Brazil this tournament, minus Neymar’s individual brilliance.

WATCH: Germany thrashes Brazil in historic fashion to reach World Cup final

The fourth German goal resulted from Khedira and Kroos’ direct central pressure, as Dante played a poor short pass to Fernandinho, who had his back to the field and no outlet. That was the only first-half goal that came from the middle, as the other four were created wide.

Germany’s first good chance was in the seventh minute, exploiting the space Marcelo vacated when he bombed down Germany’s right flank. With Thomas Muller and Philipp Lahm running the channel and Mesut Ozil tucking in from the left, Germany built 53 percent of its attacks down the right.

The corner kick that led to the first goal also came from using the space Marcelo conceded. He could only recover and knock the ball out for a set piece. As Brazil scrambled to regain defensive positioning in transition, the player on the ball in that wide space had an array of options.

Simply Stunning: Three Thoughts on Germany’s 7-1 semifinal rout of Brazil

This is where the analogy of football as chess comes in. Rehearsed team movements cause reactionary movements in the opponent, leaving spaces to attack. Germany created seven scoring chances in the first half hour to Brazil’s zero, mainly through Khedira and Muller down the right.

The Germans looked for a vertical initial ball to catch overlapping players in transition. In instances where that was nonviable, they built up through short passes and quick movements.

Despite having clear control of the match, Germany never maintained the majority of possession statistically. It was a pragmatic approach that kept the ball away from Brazil’s top block and allowed square passes by Brazil’s defenders that led to nothing.

Still, possession elements were especially noticeable on Germany’s second and third goals.

GALLERY: Germany 7, Brazil 1: The headlines in Rio de Janeiro

On the second, Muller ran in from his wide starting position, slashing through the back line to create a central opportunity. Marcelo kept him onside as the only Brazilian defender inside the penalty area, and Klose was on hand for a simple layoff, as he was behind the ball but ahead of the center backs.

Marcelo struggled defensively all night, a product of his focus on getting forward too high and too early. Germany exploited him as the weak link in the back four, and Brazil never adjusted despite facing similar attacks the entire first half-hour.

GALLERY: Brazil fans react to semifinal demolition

On Germany’s third goal, two more typical elements of a possession system emerged: a central overload and playing between lines. Ozil moved to create a 5-on-3 advantage in the middle, and Lahm overlapped on the right.

Muller stayed between Brazil’s holding-midfield block and defensive line from build-up to finish, constantly looking over his shoulder to check his positioning in respect to his opponents’. Nobody tracked his run, and although he whiffed his shot at the top of the penalty area, Toni Kroos made a similar movement just behind him and finished emphatically.

The team-first emphasis and selflessness in this German attack is strongly reminiscent of Spain in the height of its golden generation that crashed to earth this World Cup. Players interchange effortlessly and pass fluidly — such as on Germany’s fifth goal, capping 30 minutes of misery for Brazil — rather than go for glory alone.

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari: Loss to Germany was ‘worst day of my life’

It should come as no surprise with six Bayern Munich players in the lineup that Germany’s emphasis on organized pressing and fluid play between opposing lines is Guardiola-flavored, possession-based football at its best.

Germany has always been difficult to beat on the big stage; Tuesday’s performance was anchored in a typically detail-oriented tactical approach. However, the particulates of this German machine are meshed with tiki-taka characteristics to give the team a tilt toward a more flexible Spanish style of play.

In a lot of ways, Joachim Low has created an evolution of Vicente del Bosque’s dominant force from much of the last decade. Kickstarted by Jurgen Klinsmann after Germany’s embarrassing winless group stage at Euro 2004 and fine-tuned by Guardiola coaching the majority of the team’s starting lineup all club season, this is perhaps what Germany needed to take the next step for the first time in 24 years and win another World Cup.

The most obvious holdover characteristic from great past German teams is this group’s winning mentality, also seen in the early 4-0 destruction of Portugal and in resilient performances against scrappy challengers the United States and Algeria.

When Brazil finally scored Tuesday, in second-half stoppage time while facing a 7-0 deficit, Neuer slapped the ground in frustration. Schweinsteiger openly berated Ozil for missing an obvious chance moments before conceding. That goal was all that stood between Germany and perfection in Belo Horizonte, a shutout the only flourish missing from a cold, ruthless machine’s devastation of a pressure-laden team collapsing under the weight of its own emotional expectation.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

GALLERY: Brazil’s Having a Bad Day

TIME viral

Ref Hands Out Yellow Cards for Social Violations in NYC

If only we could do this to everyone who displays poor subway etiquette

Taking a cue from World Cup refs, comedian Yoni Lotan decided to dash around the streets of New York City to charge pedestrians with various penalties. Transgressions included taking selfies in inappropriate places and donning the wrong footwear.

He seems to camp out in popular tourist areas like Times Square and the Theater District, so he’s mostly handing out penalty cards to visitors rather than New York residents. This makes sense, because tourists are more likely to play along, whereas New Yorkers would be more likely to tell him to, you know, get outta here. Still, we kind of wish the city would hire real referees to hand out yellow cards to people who do things like lean their entire bodies against the pole in a crowded subway car.

(h/t Digg)

TIME World Cup

Messi in Motion: All Eyes on Argentina’s Star Striker

The World Cup semifinal match, which pits Argentina against the Netherlands, promises to be a nail-biter. But as the two teams battle it out, there's one player who's bound to steal the show. Lionel Messi, widely considered the best player in the world, is Argentina's trump card. Captain of his team, and with a string of record-breaking wins, the formidable striker appears unstoppable. Whether the Netherlands will beat the man who Diego Maradona called his successor remains to be seen

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