‘Confederations Cup 2013’

Report: Nerveless Navas sends Spain into final

“FORTALEZA, Brazil — Jesús Navas settled a nail-biting penalty shoot-out 7-6 for Spain as the world and European champions edged Italy on a sultry evening in Fortaleza on Thursday to set up a Confederations Cup final meeting with Brazil.”

My AFP match report on Spain’s rope-a-dope semi-final victory over Italy at the Confederations Cup can be read here.

Feature: Uruguay, Brazil, and the ghosts of 1950

“On July 16, the day of the game, Rio newspaper O Mundo carried the headline “THESE ARE THE WORLD CHAMPIONS!” alongside a picture of the team, and an estimated 200,000 fans streamed into the giant concrete arena in anticipation of Brazil’s coronation. Opponents Uruguay, narrow victors over Sweden in their previous game, were offered up as the sacrificial victims and they seemed destined to fulfil that role when Friaça put Brazil ahead early in the second half. Juan Alberto Schiaffino equalised, but Brazil remained on course for the trophy until Uruguay winger Alcides Ghiggia surprised goalkeeper Moacir Barbosa with a low shot in the 79th minute that stunned the stadium. “Only three people have ever silenced 200,000 people at the Maracanã with a single gesture,” Ghiggia once said. “Frank Sinatra, Pope John Paul II, and I.””

I’ve written a piece for AFP on the Maracanazo, and you can read it here.

Report: Spain book Italy date in Confederations Cup semi-finals

“FORTALEZA, Brazil –  Spain set up a Confederations Cup semi-final reunion with Euro 2012 final victims Italy after beating Nigeria 3-0 on a steamy afternoon in Fortaleza on Sunday to secure top spot in Group B.”

My AFP match report on Spain’s characteristically slick defeat of Nigeria can be read here.

Reaction: Spain’s Total Football delights Del Bosque
Reaction: Injuries, finishing cost Nigeria, says Keshi
Analysis: Italy blunted by Balotelli withdrawal

Report: Centurion Forlán sets Uruguay on course

“SALVADOR, Brazil — Diego Forlán marked his 100th international appearance with a magnificent winning goal as Uruguay closed on the Confederations Cup semi-finals by beating chief Group B rivals Nigeria 2-1 in Salvador on Thursday.”

My AFP report on a famous night for Diego Forlán at the Confederations Cup can be read here. I’ve also written a piece on the players’ reaction to the mass protests sweeping Brazil, which can be found here.

Related links: Nigeria swamp Tahiti in Confederations Cup opener

Feature: Neymar renews Brazil’s number 10 love affair

“By asking for the number 10 shirt, Neymar gave a clear sign that he believes he is now ready to live up to the expectations that have awaited him ever since his fledgling steps for Santos as a prodigious 17-year-old. He has played down the switch, insisting the number has “no importance”, but he will know, like any Brazilian, that it symbolises the heritage of the pastime by which the entire nation defines itself.”

After Neymar put Japan to the sword in Brazil’s Confederations Cup opener on Saturday, I looked at how he measures up against the great Brazilian number 10s of yesteryear. You can read my piece for AFP here.

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