Neymar 4-0 Japan

2014 10 15 neymar show

Just very briefly: Yes, we were at the game here in Singapore last night to see Neymar single handedly demolish Japan and overtake Bebeto to become the Selecao’s fifth leading scorer of all time — at the age of just 22:

Neymar scored all four goals as Brazil eased to a 4-0 friendly win over Japan in Singapore.
The 22-year-old has now taken his tally to 40 in 58 internationals.
He rounded Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and slotted in for the first, before adding a second from a pass by Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho.
The Barcelona forward, who helped Brazil to victory against Argentina on Saturday, swept in to make it 3-0 and headed the fourth from Kaka’s cross.
Neymar also went close with a free-kick that hit the post, while Kaka’s header was pushed on to the bar by Kawashima.

The pitch was poor.

Japan were in disarray.

The rest of the Brazil side were less than scintilating.

But Neymar. His quickness, his control, his creativity, his pinpoint finishing.

Yes, he’s that good.

Here’s a video I shot of his third goal, though it’s not great footage:

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Neymar bags his third, a real poacher's goal, against Japan here in Singapore tonight. Brazil 4-0 Japan.

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And here’s a video of all his goals:

Spectacular.

David De Gea’s Goalkeeping Masterclass Against Everton

As I Tweeted on Sunday, Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea was absolutely incredible in his team’s 2-1 victory over Everton.

It was the kind of goalkeeping performance you only see once ever few years: The variety of saves, many late in the game, combined with the importance of securing all three points at home as Manchester United, a team in transition, struggle to succeed.

As the Vine below illustrates, there was the Spaniard’s fantastic penalty save — De Gea guessed correctly, diving to his right and parrying the shot well away from danger. And then there was the instinctive save late in the game, sprawling to his right again, followed by the last minute wonder-save, to his left, which is drawing most of the plaudits.

Here’s another look at that last one:

The final save, as I also Tweeted, was reminiscent of this classic stop by Fabien Barthez for the Red Devils years ago:

But there was another save that appeared to be routine that also stood out to me because of the agility it took for De Gea to get down quickly to his right and catch the ball just outside his right foot. Always difficult, and he did it perfectly:

As Eric Steele — the goalkeeping coach when Man U bought De Gea — noted on the BBC yesterday, De Gea not only has all the physical tools, but he’s also extremely even-keeled.

All in all, not bad for a 23-year-old — much less one who many pundits and fans said, after he’d made several errors after his debut, wouldn’t be good enough.

Just think where he’ll be in a a decade, when he’s in his prime.

Must-Follow World Cup Pundits: Men in Blazers

If you’re not following them already — and if, as I’m assuming, you love everything about the World Cup and the U.S. team — be sure to follow Roger Bennett and Michael Davies, a.k.a. Men in Blazers.

The two pundits, Brits who are long-time U.S. residents, combine in depth knowledge of the sport with an immigrant’s love for U.S. soccer.

They are especially well informed about the transformation in style and attitude that U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has brought to the American side. (For more on that topic, see this WSJ interactive from earlier this month.)

Also, they are delightfully silly.

While I also follow The Guardian‘s World Cup Football Daily podcast and occasionally BBC 5 Live’s World Cup Daily, Rog and Davo, as they’re known, are so enjoyable because they’re lighthearted: They frequently weave in cultural references and inside jokes, and do not at all take themselves seriously.

Here are some of their recent podcasts.

You can also find their ongoing videos and other contributions on ESPN FC here.

They’re on Twitter at: @meninblazers.

Sample Tweet:

Embedded above and online here: their recent take on the U.S.-Germany game, and an audio podcast after the U.S.-Portugal match.

On England and the World Cup

Snips from “A Soccer Empire, Deeply Confused,” David Winner‘s contribution to the New York Times‘s feature on the World Cup and national playing styles:

Soccer has long been a bastion of a peculiarly 19th-century conception of Englishness the nation seems reluctant to relinquish. The game was born during the era of empire when the country’s elite public schools adapted earlier forms of violent folk football for the purpose of education.

Typical rustic folk games involved hundreds of drunken men from rival villages rampaging through streets and fields, trying to drive, say, a casket of beer (the proto-ball) into the crypt of a church (the proto-goal). The schools distilled such testosterone-fuelled rituals into new formats involving smaller teams, sober boys and sodden leather balls. Codified by the Football Association and later disseminated to the world, this style of soccer was never the so-called beautiful game; the original purpose of educators was to instill manly and martial virtues into future imperial soldiers and administrators.

And:

Just as adapting to their diminished, post-imperial status in international affairs has been a struggle, so the English are taking a long time to abandon the fantasy that, having invented the game, they should still expect to win the World Cup.

The truth — as everyone elsewhere noticed long ago — is that the nation has only once gone further than the quarterfinals of a major tournament played abroad (it reached the semifinals in Italy in 1990).

English soccer confusion, delusion and cloying nostalgia have become tedious. The time for the national team to adopt a bit of modesty and modernity — and to move to embrace change — is long overdue.

Read the whole thing.

(Via Amy Lawrence.)

This happened today

Yes, that’s me with Juventus, Fulham and Manchester United great Edwin van der Sar.

That is all.

My Favorite Moment from the Confederations Cup Final: Brazil Sings the National Anthem

Brazil beat world and European champions Spain 3-0 to win the Confederations Cup last night.

But really, the game was decided before the teams even kicked off.

It was hard to imagine Brazil losing, at home in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã stadium, after seeing this (video embedded below and online here):


HIMNO BRASIL by dm_505f34141e1f6

That, my friends, is not a team that is willing to lose on its home turf.

It wasn’t the prettiest game, to be sure, but the Seleção won through sheer determination. And, as the video demonstrates, incredible passion.

Euro 2012: English Commentary on GMM Grammy

For the record:

I wrote, in a earlier post, that the GMM Grammy Euro 2012 broadcast doesn’t offer English-language commentary.

But it does.

Simply click the button labeled “audio,” near the bottom of the remote*, two or three times to alternate between Thai and English.

Thanks to @tonygjordan for the tip.

(*The remote and AV cables are tucked under a flap in the GMM Grammy satellite box. I missed seeing these items at first.)

More on Thailand, TrueVisions, and Euro 2012

2012 06 07 euro 2012

To follow up on my earlier post: I have a story today at the WSJ‘s Southeast Asia Real Time blog that sums up the situation.

It begins:

The UEFA Euro 2012 football tournament in Poland and Ukraine kicked off Friday. In the run-up to the kickoff, though, the discussion among many fans in soccer-mad Thailand had nothing to do with who might win the competition, regarded by many as the world’s most important football tournament after the World Cup.

Rather, much of the chatter online was about whether subscribers to Thailand’s biggest cable TV provider, TrueVisions, would even be able to watch the matches at home.

(Image: via.)