TIME World Cup

The Soccer Net: A Popular Destination for World Cup Players

Players have taken to the net in celebration, frustration and disappointment

TIME Soccer

Meet Brazil’s ‘Black-Magic Enthusiast’ and His Anti-German Voodoo Dolls

FBL-WC-2014-BRA-MACUMBA
An Afro-Brazilian ritual takes place at a religious-goods shop in Rio de Janeiro on July 3, 2014 Yasuyoshi Chiba—AFP/Getty Images

After Neymar's injury, the Brazilian team may need all the magic it can get

Magic, or some other supernatural tendency, has had a long and weirdly intimate relationship with the game of soccer.

This isn’t simply a matter of the clairvoyant octopus or turtle that may have accurately predicted the outcome of a World Cup match or two. When Ghana’s national team, for instance, lost to Zambia in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, Ghanaian coach Goran Stevanovic pointed to deliberate acts of witchcraft between his players as a plausible explanation for the upset. (Stevanovic, it should be said, was fired shortly afterward.)

So let us be disturbed, but not particularly surprised, by Helio Sillman, the Brazilian “black-magic enthusiast” who, via a voodoo doll in his occult curio shop in northern Rio de Janeiro, has plans to “take [Germany’s] top player and bind his legs so he can’t run on the pitch,” reports AFP.

Brazil will play Germany on Tuesday afternoon in what’ll likely be a riveting match, considering the near infallibility of both teams so far. In the past few weeks, Brazil has trounced Cameroon, Chile, Croatia and Mexico; Sillman has voodoo dolls of players from all four teams sitting in a bowl in his shop. The match results are proof, he says, that his magic works.

The Brazilian team may need all the magic it can get. Neymar, the team’s golden player, apparently fell outside the domain of Sillman’s protective aura when he was kneed in the back during Friday’s quarterfinal match against Colombia, causing a particularly nasty lumbar vertebra fracture that’ll keep him benched for the remainder of the World Cup.

[AFP]

TIME World Cup

Tim Howard Does Not Want You to Hug Him

Tim Howard
Tim Howard of Everton instructs his team during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Everton at Selhurst Park on November 9, 2013 in London, England. Bryn Lennon—Getty Images

Lovable, but maybe not huggable

Tim Howard saved a record 16 goals in the U.S.-Belgium World Cup match this week, but don’t expect him to save your wounded ego after you try to give him a hug.

This fan went in for a hug with the All-American Wall and Howard did what he does best: blocked him out and turned him around. Here’s to the fan getting some love from Kyle Beckerman or Clint Dempsey.

TIME Pictures of the Week

Pictures of the Week: June 27 – July 4

From the killing of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers and Tim Howard’s World Cup heroics to the beginning of Ramadan and Hurricane Arthur photographed from space, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

TIME Appreciation

Turtle vs. Dog Is the Best Soccer Match You’ll See During the World Cup

You’ll never guess who wins the closest thing the World Cup has to the Puppy Bowl

The World Cup this year has been even more packed than most with high-intensity, hair-raising games, but none of them holds a candle to this matchup for the ages: turtle v.s. dog.

Posted to Facebook under the title “Italian soccer :) ( a.k.a. also a turtle and a dog can manage …” by Valeria D’Innocenzo Carlantoni in Civitavechia, Italy, a small town near Rome, this 1:17-long clip features some surprisingly cheeky touches and fancy footwork. The aggressive tackle at the end is exceptional, though it’s a miracle no one got carded.

If you’ve been rooting for the U.S., soothe your broken heart (which should still be celebrating the OMG-mind-blowingly awesome performance of U.S. goalie Tim Howard) with this clip.

Try and watch this video without, at least in your head, narrating the action in a game announcer voice. This needs to be the World Cup’s version of the Puppy Bowl.

TIME

Feel Good Friday: 11 Fun Photos to Start Your Weekend

From giant pandas to rain god rituals, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right

TIME

Facebook Found Out What’s More Popular: “Soccer” or “Football”

Belgium v USA: Round of 16 - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01: Julian Green of the United States scores his team's first goal past Thibaut Courtois of Belgium in extra time during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images) Michael Steele—Getty Images

Some people are going to be very upset

As the world descended into World Cup mania, Facebook decided to sift through its 1 billion-plus tournament related posts to run a little (completely emotion manipulation-free) study. Starting at the beginning of the games, the social network decided to track what was more popular: “soccer,” “football,” futbal” … you get the general idea.

And the most prevalent translation, based on Facebook comments and posts, is going to make some people very unhappy:

  1. Soccer
  2. Football
  3. Fútbol
  4. Futebol
  5. Futbol

That might numb the burn of the USA vs. Belgium game.

Facebook also looked at the use of the word “goal” on the site. More specifically, it looked at which countries used the most letters to express its enthusiasm. It turns out that Venezuelans are the most Gooooool exuberant, using an average of 21 characters to spell it out. Here are the top five elongated spellers:

  1. Venezuela (21.2 characters)
  2. Gabon (18.4)
  3. Tunisia (13.4)
  4. Mexico (12.8)
  5. Montenegro (12.8)

And just in case you needed some visualizations:

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TIME world cup 2014

2 Dead, 19 Injured in World Cup Highway Collapse

Fire department personnel work to retrieve a car from underneath a collapsed bridge in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Thursday, July 3, 2014.
Fire department personnel work to retrieve a car from underneath a collapsed bridge in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Thursday, July 3, 2014. Victor R. Caivano—AP

The collapsed overpass was under construction for the tournament

At least two people were killed when a highway overpass collapsed Thursday in Belo Horizonte, one of the Brazilian cities hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The rubble trapped a commuter bus, a car and two construction trucks, Brazilian authorities said. An official who wished to remain anonymous told the Associated Press that 19 additional people were injured in the accident.

The overpass that fell was under construction, one of the many infrastructure projects undertaken for the World Cup that is still unfinished. It lay about three miles from the Mineirao stadium, where the semifinal game will be played Tuesday.

One of the people killed was a woman who was driving the commuter bus.

[AP]

TIME World Cup

Here’s How World Cup Fans Represent Their Favorite Soccer Icons

Messi. Suarez. Rooney. Around the world, fans construct idols, some more creative than others, of their favorite players.

TIME World Cup

World Cup Cheat Sheet: No Tim Howard, But Some Great Games Ahead

Brazil FIFA World Cup 2014-Argentina v Switzerland-Round of 16
Messi dribbles at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, Brazil on July 1, 2014. Reinaldo Coddou—H./Pixath/SIPA

Bummer about the U.S., isn’t it? Tim Howard deserved another game just on his performance alone. But let’s be honest, you can’t suddenly start attacking after you’re down 2-0 and expect to win. Lack of attack is what often happens as underdog teams get deeper into the World Cup. But the quarterfinals promise a lot more attacking, and are well worth watching, even if you’re just a casual fan.

France vs. Germany (Friday, 12 noon ET): No European team ever lacks motivation to play against Germany. The grudge list of history is too long. But for France, it’s more about redeeming the reputation of Les Bleus, which the team trashed in the 2010 World Cup, following a player revolt against Raymond Domenech, the coach from another planet. Relatively speaking, the current French squad is playing blissfully. Coach Didier Deschamps has a lot of buttons to push, from precocious Paul Pogba and the vibrant Mathieu Valbuena in the midfield, Karim Benzema and Olivier Giroud up front and the world-class Hugo Lloris in goal. Germany has looked less impressive every game so far, gasping for air against the suffocating Algerian pressure until Andre Schuerrle rescued die Mannschaft in extra time. Germany coach Joachim Loew is probably busy tinkering with the parts of his Bayern Munich-centered team —Thomas Mueller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm— as well as the lethargic Mesut Özil, to get them to produce more power. Right now Loew has a Mercedes sedan and he needs an F-1 model. The Germans, as you know, are very good mechanics. This game is going to be about French style vs. German muscle, and style is looking good.

Brazil vs. Colombia (Friday 4 p.m.): Which team would you rather be coaching? The glamorous home side, the famous Seleção of Brazil, or the guys from the country nearby? Brazil coach Big Phil Scolari’s team was on the verge of collectively wetting its pants against Chile. The pressure to win is so great that Scolari had to bring in a psychologist to consult some emotion-wracked players after the narrow penalty-kick shootout win over the Chileans. But if you are Colombia’s coach José Pekerman, you can just tell your team, “Take it to’em, boys.” Colombia is a team playing without its leading scorer but, more importantly, playing without fear. And it has the wondrous James Rodriguez in the middle—the Monaco man’s price has skyrocketed during this tournament— creating highlight reel goals. Colombia will feel free to go at Brazil’s vulnerable defense, which features wingbacks like Marcelo who just hate hanging around their own end of the field. Brazil will also be missing Luis Gustavo, who has held its midfield together. Brazil’s offense, run by the endlessly inventive Neymar, lacks any cohesive imagination in its attack. There’s no beauty in Brazil’s beautiful game at moment. The Seleção had better find some, or the party could well end this weekend.

Argentina vs. Belgium (Saturday 12 p.m.): Game after game, Argentina has faced opponents trying to frustrate its attack at all costs. The Swiss erected massed ranks of defenders in front of its goal like so many Alps, and waited to counterattack. It’s a strategy that almost worked but for another burst of genius from Lionel Messi to set up Angel di Maria’s winning goal. Belgium, like Switzerland, is a small country, but unlike the Swiss, the Belgians are loaded with talent. They are here to play, not defend. Against the U.S., midfielder Kevin de Bruyne spent 68% of the game in the American end of the field, leading endless attacks. So did Eden Hazard, whose penchant for getting behind defenses should worry Argentina. Then again, if Messi is on your team, you can relax a little bit, knowing that he’s capable of miracles. Not that Argentina should need them. In a wide-open game, with players like di Maria and Sergio Aguero surging forward, this match could restore the high scoring that marked the group stage, and should restore Argentina as a favorite to win it all.

Netherlands vs. Costa Rica (Saturday 4 p.m.): The Ticos are one of the last teams that anyone would figure to reach the quarters, but its qualifying and World Cup run has been impressive. Costa Rica beat Uruguay, Italy and Greece, and drew with England. Led by Bryan Ruiz, who only recently had a hard time getting a game with Fulham, the Ticos have also handled Mexico, a team that gave the Oranje fits in the round of 16. Still, any team featuring Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder is going to be a handful, as Spain learned. Each player has the ability to change a game in an instant, although Robben’s conspicuous diving—it ought to be a red card offense— is hardly recommended viewing. Don’t expect the Ticos to be awed by this much talent; do expect them to be done in by it.

 

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