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Jamaica’s hex: “a sense of urgency”

The kickoff of the CONCACAF hexagonal round is only days away and although Mexico and the United States are favored to advance out of
the three automatic spots to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz is very much in the mix as the last Caribbean hope.

Jamaica opens the hex round against Mexico in Mexico City on Wendesday, and I consider it to be a game that will bring out the best in the Reggae Boyz since motivation is a factor. Players usually relish playing against the best and Mexico is undoubtedly the best team in the region at the present time.

Taking everything in context I feel like Jamaica has nothing to lose and all to gain in Mexico. The most important thing in that game is for the Reggae Boyz to give a good performance and keep the score close.

While all games are important, Jamaica’s next game against Panama is huge in terms of importance.

Jamaica not only has to get positive results at The Office against Panama on March 22 but the Boyz have to show up for their point in Costa Rica four days later on March 26.

The hex is very competitive and there is not much difference in the teams. According to the hex trend any of the six participating teams can lose away from home and style of play may only determine which team had the advantage in the run of play, but at times not on the scoreboard.

Player availability is the key since injury and suspensions can be hindrances. Mental and physical readiness has to be expected when technical and tactical maneuvers will create individual brilliance at opportune times for teams to score and win games.

Mexico, the U.S., Panama and Honduras were picked by the pundits as the four teams to advance, but the last time I looked at the match-ups, Jamaica and Costa Rica chances seemed just as good as any of the other teams.

With only three automatic berths available for Brazil, the fourth spot is another way of getting to Brazil. It is what I call the scenic route, via a playoff series against the winner of the Oceania region.

The most successful trend has been to take care of home field advantage. It does not always hold true when the race tightens in the second half of the schedule but at the last (2010) hexagonal round there were no undefeated teams at the end of the first half of the schedule based on the home field trend.

Trinidad and Tobago was the only team which had lost at home (Tobago) to Costa Rica in the first half of the 2010 schedule
while home field was instrumental in El Salvador upsetting Mexico and Costa Rica defeating both USA and Honduras.

Hence, it is important for Jamaica fans to turn out in their large numbers to support the Reggae Boyz, who have had an undefeated streak at The Office in Kingston in the semifinal round of the 2010 World Cup qualifying that included Mexico, Honduras and Canada and seems more capable this time around.
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

MENGÃO BI DA AMÈRICA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RlVt8zJhXQ
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5. feb. 2013 11:20
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Praise the lord.....


England-Brazil: Chelsea star David Luiz a doubt with calf injury

Chelsea defender David Luiz is a doubt for Brazil´s friendly against England tomorrow due to the calf injury that has sidelined him for the previous three fixtures.

The 25-year-old last featured as a second-half substitute during the Blues´ 0-0 League Cup draw at Swansea on January 23.

However, the Seleção star ended the game limping and hasn´t appeared for Rafa Benitez´s side since, missing Chelsea´s draws with Reading and Brentford, as well as Saturday´s 3-2 defeat at Newcastle.

The former Benfica centre-back is awaiting confirmation on the extent of his injury and could miss out on lining up alongside club team-mates Oscar and Ramires against England at Wembley on Wednesday.

Luiz told Globoesporte: "I didn´t play for three matches because my calf still hurts.

"Today I´m going through some exams with [Brazil´s physician Jose] Runco, he asked me.

"I´m training at 100% already and I hope to play for the Seleção."

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

MENGÃO BI DA AMÈRICA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RlVt8zJhXQ
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5. feb. 2013 11:49
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All square at the Engenhão


Iain Pearce on 5 February 2013

No sooner is he back from eastern Europe, Iain Pearce has upped sticks again and headed to Brazil. First up: Clarence Seedorf´s Botafogo v Fluminense.

If you’re like me then by the time June rolls around on a World Cup or Euros-less summer you’re starting to feel a bit rudderless. The fresh hope of the new fixture list still isn’t out and even the tennis at Wimbledon has started to sound appealing. The Brazilian football season concluded in December, but around here they’ve come up with the perfect solution to the football-lessness: the State Championships.

Having accepted a six month contract to teach English in rural Brazil, I did my darndest to sync my weekend Rio de Janeiro arrival with some futebol, the result being a Guanabara Trophy match between the Carioca giants of Botafogo and Fluminense.

The Rio State Championships is a ludicrously drawn out affair featuring the city’s big four teams with twelve other clubs from around the state. The year starts with the Guanabara Trophy, where two groups of eight teams play home and away to determine group winners and runners ups, who then battle it out for the silverware.

Not enough? With a Guanabara Trophy champion laboriously decided they then do the same thing all over again in the Rio Trophy, the two separate cup winners then face off to become the undisputed and no doubt fatigued champions of Rio de Janeiro.

Well, it certainly fills a hole before the national championship starts up again in May.

The third game of the group stage heralded the first derby between any of the big guns. Across town Flamengo were also in action with some minnows, meaning the botecos were awash with the teams’ reds, blacks, whites and greens, swilling beer from morning time onwards.

Hosts Botafogo are the team of Garrincha and now Clarence Seedorf, while Fluminense are the current Brazilian champions and boast the likes of Fred and Deco, though this early in the competition none of them were starters.

And they aren’t the only ones having the night off. Despite the match’s on paper importance the Estádio Engenhão only ever fills to a quarter of its capacity.

And the five year-old venue hardly lives up to its more famous city brother, the Maracanã. It’s large, has nice curves and when enlarged it will amply serve the 2016 Olympic athletic competitions, but it’s just another grand yet soulless paint by numbers stadium.

The occasion is certainly enjoyable, but League Cup enjoyable, with the start of the competition yet to have captured local imaginations. The numerous gigantic flags being flown in synchronicity by both sets of colourful supporters only hint at the might of the matches that are likely to follow as the trophy narrows towards its conclusion.

What’s more, a sizable chunk of the home Botafogo fans are made up of not maracas-shaking Brazilians but camera-weilding tourists. It seems that going to watch a football match in Brazil is as essential a city tour as the ones that go into the favelas or up to the famed mountaintop Christ the Redeemer statue.

Fortunately, the photo clicking of the tourists is easily drowned out by the horns and drumming of the Botafogo support. It’s by no means deafening, but the tempo sweeps you along and the rustiest of hips could be forgiven for moving along with the pulse of the rhythm. Forget Sloop John B and inane shouted insults, here the drum is in time with the flow of the game and there is a connection between the men performing on and off the grass.

Most leading nations have their typecast styles of play, but the joga bonito of the Brazilians is untouched in both its fame and enduring appeal, I wasn’t going to be satisfied with balls lumped up to a journeyman striker in Rio, and thankfully it wasn’t offered.

The close control of even the central defenders would put England international Shaun Wright-Phillips to shame, and the amount and ease of the one touch passing was joyous to behold. What frustrated, however, was the attackers’ constant desire to take one touch too many and pass up clear shooting opportunities in search of the spectacular. On such occasions my natural national impulse to bellow an inane shouted insult bubbled up after all.

Botafogo where in charge but approaching half time Fluminense’s backfoot kneejerked spectacularly forwards to give the visitors a half time lead. Brazilian international Washington Nem picked the ball up in his own half and set off on a direct path to goal. Reaching the edge of the Botafogo box he wisely accepted help in laying the ball out wide, continuing his forward charge to meet and precisely drill home the low centre.

The home side were more purposeful after the break, but were sorely in need of inspiration, a near scripted cue for the introduction of Clarence Seedorf. The dutch master’s arrival lifted the stadium and everyone in it, breath drawn as he received each possession.

And he didn’t disappoint. His first touch was a raking crossfield ball on a sixpence for the far flanking winger and that was just the start of a repertoire that included dummies, rapid one twos and lollipops.

But Seedorf’s show stopping moment came fifteen minutes from time when in traffic he deftly chipped a half cleared corner to the backpost where an unmarked Bolivar headed home to equalise.

All square it ended, and despite the unpromising starts most will have come away wanting more: the Botafogo fans for their latest hero and me for further Brazilian football.

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

MENGÃO BI DA AMÈRICA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RlVt8zJhXQ
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5. feb. 2013 11:52
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:-)


Maradona dice no haber robado nada

ROMA -- El exfutbolista argentino Diego Armando Maradona aseguró en un vídeo grabado en Dubai y emitido por las televisiones italianas que quiere volver a Italia como "un señor que no ha robado nada", en referencia a sus problemas con el fisco de ese país.

En el mensaje, el "Pibe de oro" explica en italiano que "no es un evasor fiscal" y que en Italia "sólo jugó al fútbol" y expresa su deseo de volver a Nápoles y encontrar a los napolitanos que tanto ama.

"No tienen pruebas para perseguirme. Yo pido a todos los políticos italianos que miren bien quién está detrás de todo esto", acusó Maradona, que añadió que "quiere volver a Nápoles como un señor que no ha robado nada".

La semana pasada el abogado del "Pibe de Oro", Angelo Pisani, quien difundió este vídeo a los medios italianos, había anunciado que la Comisión Tributaria Central italiana había confirmado la nulidad de las investigaciones fiscales realizadas a finales de la década de los ochenta sobre el Nápoles y sus jugadores extranjeros, entre ellos Maradona.

Sin embargo, pocas horas después la Agencia Tributaria italiana negó que la deuda de Maradona, al que le reclama más de 30 millones de euros por unos supuestos impuestos no pagados en la época en la que era jugador del Nápoles, haya quedado anulada.

El fisco reclama a Maradona más de 30 millones de euros, por la falta de pago del impuesto de las personas físicas IRPF entre los años 1985 y 1990, cuando el argentino jugaba en el Nápoles.

En un principio, la deuda era de 13.000 millones de las viejas liras, que ha aumentado a más de 30 millones de euros al sumarse los intereses por la demora del pago.

En el intento de recuperar la deuda que se le reclamaba, la Guardia de Finanzas italiana (policía fiscal) ya confiscó a Maradona unos pendientes que llevaba puestos mientras se encontraba en una clínica de adelgazamiento del norte de Italia, que fueron subastados en 2010 por 25.000 euros.

Y en 2006, aprovechando otra visita del astro del fútbol argentino a Italia, se le confiscó un reloj Rolex valuado en 11.000 euros.

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

MENGÃO BI DA AMÈRICA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RlVt8zJhXQ
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Back to the future: Felipe Scolari shows that oldies like Ronaldinho can be goodies for Brazil

With plenty of familiar faces and a distinct lack of invention, those expecting an epoch-defining Scolarian Revolution may have been disappointed by Felipão’s opening Brazil squad, announced yesterday for the game against England at Wembley on February 6th.

But after the pimples and smoking behind the bike shed atmosphere of the youthful sides fielded by Mano Menezes, perhaps that was the point. Alan Hansen may have been entirely wrong when he famously proclaimed that “you never win anything with kids”, but successful international sides almost always contain at least a couple of greybeards.

Of the old lags called up yesterday, Ronaldinho Gaúcho is the one who will attract the most attention, after a vintage season for Atlético Mineiro that brought memories of his Barcelona glory days flooding back. It remains to be seen if that form can be recreated against tougher opposition – he looked well off the pace in his last international comeback, against Bosnia in February last year. But Ronaldinho has reinvented himself since moving to Belo Horizonte. The legs are no longer what they were, but in their place a wiser, cannier playmaker has emerged. If he is able to find enough time and space on the ball, his link-up with the nimble Neymar is an enticing prospect.

It might need to be. For other than the Santos wunderkind the squad looks somewhat threadbare in the forward positions. Luís Fabiano romped through Brasileirão defences at will for most of last year, but was dreadfully ineffective against an Argentina side made up only of domestic based players in a friendly in September. Suspicions remain that O Fabuloso may be something of a flat track bully these days, and given that he will be pushing 34 by the time the Mundial comes to town, his call-up seems a little pointless. Fred, inspirational in leading Fluminense to the title last year, probably has a better case for inclusion, though his name is unlikely to strike fear into too many seasoned international defenders. Perennial Tottenham target Leandro Damião, dropped after a run of poor form and injury, and Alexandre Pato, recovering fitness after his recent move to Corinthians, will expect to be part of future squads.

One conspicuously absent veteran is Kaká, who had made an encouraging return to the side under Menezes. While his club career remains in stasis, he will most likely remain on the outside looking in, particularly as Scolari seems determined to ditch his predecessor’s promising “False Nine” formation and return to the use of a traditional reference point up front. It may also be that the manager thinks that to have Ronaldinho and Kaká in the same squad is one reclamation project too many.

There are a few welcome surprises. Lazio’s skilful Hernanes more than merits a second chance in midfield, and Atlético Madrid’s Filipe Luis and Miranda also deserve a look following their excellent club form this season. The name of Bayern Munich zagueiro Dante had many fans and journalists reaching for their Wikipedias, though it shouldn’t have – the player has been a more than solid Bundesliga defender for a few years now, and there was even recent talk of him representing Germany (he said, reaching for his Wikipedia). Although David Luiz and Roma’s Leandro Castan are the likely starters against England in the absence through injury of Thiago Silva, Dante may get a run out as a substitute.

Last but not least of the changes brought about by Felipão, there is a welcome return for Julio César in goal, now seemingly recovered from his Pesadelo In Port Elizabeth. If nothing else, his experience is bound to be a benefit to younger keepers such as Diego Alves.

What the squad clearly shows is that even under the new leadership, the Seleção remains in something of a state of flux, the team’s goals confused by a lack of competitive fixtures and the great mothership of 2014 hovering on the horizon. Is the objective to pick a team to win now, seeking the golden fleece of entrosamento (understanding, or gelling), and adding and subtracting parts up until the World Cup? Or is it to focus on younger players, as Menezes did, building a side that you hope will mature in time for the big event? The lack of experimentation, and the absence of any of the breakout stars of recent Brasileirão campaigns, such as Atlético Mineiro’s Bernard or Fluminense’s Wellington Nem, suggests Felipão has chosen the former path (though there is still time for younger players to make their mark). As the man himself explained, “Most of our key games are in 2013…we’re going to work hard, organize ourselves, and chose the players this year, basically.”

One thing, at least, was achieved with yesterday’s selection – a little of the feel good factor is back. Brazil cherishes its former idols, and affords them almost limitless amounts of forgiveness. When they reciprocate as Ronaldinho did last year, even better. The player was certainly feeling the love yesterday. “It’s wonderful to be back,” he said, “I want to thank everybody that believed in me.”

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

MENGÃO BI DA AMÈRICA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RlVt8zJhXQ
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5. feb. 2013 12:03
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Venezuela se entrenó en Madrid

MADRID -- La selección venezolana realizó este lunes su primer entrenamiento en Madrid, con la ausencia de Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, que finalmente no ha podido acudir a la concentración al no contar con permiso de su club, y con la mala noticia por la lesión de Julio Álvarez en la sesión de trabajo vespertina.

Apenas llegaron este lunes a la concentración los futbolistas José Salomón Rondón, Nicolás Fedor ´Miku´, Yonathan Del Valle, Juan Arango, Luis Manuel Seijas, Ronald Vargas, Julio Álvarez y Roberto Rosales, realizaron un entrenamiento vespertino en las instalaciones de Matapiñoneras, en el municipio madrileño de San Sebastián de los Reyes.

Estos jugadores se incorporaron a un grupo de otros 16 (Dani Hernández, Eduardo Herrera, Alexander González, Sema Velázquez, Fernando Amorebieta, Andrés Túñez, Gabriel Cichero, Rolf Feltscher, Franco Signorelli, Francis Fajardo, Tomás Rincón, Francisco Pol, Juan Pablo Añor, Josef Martínez, Fernando Aristeguieta y Frank Feltscher) que habían ido llegando a la concentración entre el sábado y domingo pasado.

La mala noticia de esta primera sesión de trabajo fue la lesión del centrocampista del Numancia Julio Álvarez, que sufrió una "rotura del semimembranoso de los isquiocrurales del muslo del lado derecho", según informó el médico de la selección Gerardo Cañas.

Pese a que en la convocatoria inicial había 25 jugadores, finalmente el seleccionador César Farias no ha podido contar con el defensa Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, que milita en el Lanús argentino, por la negativa de su club a dejarlo estar en esta concentración.

La estancia en el municipio de San Sebastián de los Reyes servirá para que Farias prepare con los futbolistas que militan en equipos europeos los partidos de clasificación de las eliminatorias sudamericanas del Mundial del 2014 contra Argentina (22 de marzo) y Colombia (26 de marzo).

Los venezolanos se estarán entrenando hasta este jueves próximo en San Sebastián de los Reyes, dónde disputarán dos partidos amistosos. El primero el martes frente a un combinado formado por jugadores del Rayo Vallecano Juvenil y Rayo B, y otro el miércoles frente al Sanse.

Paralelamente a esta concentración, otros 23 futbolistas que militan en la liga venezolana están igualmente concentrados hasta el día siete en Caracas para preparar los partidos ante Argentina y Colombia.

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

MENGÃO BI DA AMÈRICA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RlVt8zJhXQ
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5. feb. 2013 13:59
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Manchester City keeper Joe Hart on Brazil clash: If we can beat them, we can beat anyone

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart believes that if England can beat Brazil at Wembley on Wednesday then they have no-one to fear ahead of next year’s World Cup.

Hart, 25, believes it would be a great achievement to beat the Seleção in the game to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Football Association and is looking forward to playing a country he has always admired.

“Brazil are such a big name in football and to beat them would be very special,” Hart told the London Evening Standard.

“If we can beat them, we can beat anyone. I grew up watching the magic of Brazil so it would be a really special match to play in.

“As a kid I remember watching the skills of Ronaldo and Ronaldinho and now there are new names like Neymar and Oscar.

“Even as a goalkeeper, you want to play Brazil. My first World Cup memories are from USA ’94, which Brazil won.

“England weren’t there so I think I was an Ireland fan for that. But the only way I will enjoy the game is if we come out with a positive result.”

The Shrewsbury-born star will win his 28th cap for his country against Brazil, for whom it is Luiz Felipe Scolari´s first game back in charge since replacing Mano Menezes in December.

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

MENGÃO BI DA AMÈRICA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RlVt8zJhXQ
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Vasco da Gama hope Dedé will regain form soon

Vasco da Gama are hopeful that their star centreback Dedé will regain the form that made him one of the most sought after defenders in the world after a poor start to the season.

Dedé, 24, returned to the Vasco starting line up this season after a long spell on the sidelines injured but the defender, who is now the club captain, has failed to perform at the level he did before his injury, something that has left the club concerned.

“Every great player has a stage that is not so good,” director of football Ricardo Gomes told Lancenet!

“This is what has happened to Dedé. Now, there were just two games. We are working to shorten this phase. Failure is going to happen but we have to diminish it.”

Gomes believes that the defender, who has been linked with a move to Corinthians, is suffering from so many games in a short space of time.

“We are working with all aspects of his game. It´s the start of the season, has the issue of tenderness and the short space between the games.

“But nothing more than that. Anything beyond that is spoken is wrong,” he added, dismissing talk of more serious issues for the player.

However, the Vasco fans have stood by Dedé and he went onto social networking side Twitter to thank them for their patience.

"Thanks guys for all the support ☹," he posted.

Vasco are back in action in the Carioca championship this Saturday against rivals Fluminense.

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

MENGÃO BI DA AMÈRICA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RlVt8zJhXQ
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Et par uger gammel men stadigvæk spot on...


Five intriguing storylines to look out for in the Brazilian state championships

The Brazilian football season kicks off this evening. Jack Lang picks out some points of interest...

"The Brazilian football season starts in earnest this evening, as state championship competitions kick off around the country. These regional tournaments are the traditional building blocks of the Brazilian game - totems to local rivalries that gained currency before cross-country travel was even possible. Unfortunately, they are also bloated: the state championships last for four months, meaning the national championship is condensed into a seven-and-a-half month Sunday-Wednesday-Sunday sprint.

Despite compelling arguments for the continued importance of local bragging rights, the state championships are also heinously unbalanced. The São Paulo competition, for instance, pits Club World Cup winners Corinthians against Penapolense, a club whose stadium holds less than 5000 people yet rarely attracts half that number.

It would be easy, then, to become jaded with the state championships. But that would be an error. There remain plenty of points of interest dotted around the country, and the potential for giant-killing is FA Cup third round day-esque. Here are five intriguing questions that will be answered in the 2013 editions:

Can Rivaldo roll back the years?

Most people assumed that Rivaldo´s last spell in Brazil - for São Paulo in 2011 - would be a final hurrah in a career lasting two decades. But most people were wrong. At the ripe old age of 40, old Skeletor has signed for São Caetano, who will compete in the Campeonato Paulista.

The last decade has been a strange one for Rivaldo: his playing days in Europe ended with something of a whimper, and gave way to a nomadic existence that has seen him feature in the Uzbek and Angolan leagues. São Caetano, meanwhile, are a mere shadow of the side who challenged for domestic and continental honours in the early 2000s. A match made in heaven? Many neutrals will hope so.

How will Flamengo deal with austerity measures?

Even in a football culture known for its short-termism, loose purse strings and public grandstanding, Flamengo have always managed to stand out. The Rio side, for all their support (estimates put their fanbase at over 30 million in Brazil alone), never seem to be too far away from another public relations meltdown. How refreshing, then, to witness new president Eduardo Bandeira de Mello start his stewardship in such sensible style. Since replacing the much-maligned Patrícia Amorim, Bandeira de Mello has set about putting the club back on an even financial keel, moving big earners such as Vágner Love and Liédson off the wage bill and starting the long-overdue modernisation of Fla´s commercial revenue strategy.

At a club usually obsessed with craques (marquee players), the signings Elias and Gabriel are also worthy of praise. The former has plenty to prove after flattering to deceive with Atlético Madrid and Sporting, while Gabriel was one of the best young players in last season´s Brazilian championship. One simply hopes that the new project – and coach Dorival Júnior – is given ample time to progress.

Will Neymar get bored?

With Santos failing to qualify for this season´s Copa Libertadores, many fear that Brazil´s superstar striker will have little to motivate him in the early part of the year. Clássicos against São Paulo, Corinthians and Palmeiras aside, Neymar will be playing against journeymen, veterans and part-timers. While this is unlikely to do his confidence too much harm (Neymar chalked up 20 goals in 16 matches in the 2012 Paulistão), this is hardly a fitting stage for one of the world´s best players. With the World Cup just 18 months away, his decision to remain at Santos is increasingly a double-edged sword; fans have the pleasure of seeing him score hat-tricks every other week, but he - and the seleção - could end up suffering as a result.


Who will benefit most from the reopening of the Mineirão?

After over a thousand days of frantic hammering, drilling and sanding, the Estádio Governador Magalhães Pinto, better known as the Mineirão, was reopened by Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff last month. The stadium, the second-largest in Brazil, was sorely missed; Cruzeiro and Atlético Mineiro, who both host games there, have been forced to trundle round surrounding cities for almost three years, their average attendance figures plummeting as a result. A dispute that threatened to exclude fans of the nominal ´away´ side in derby games was quickly cleared up this month, meaning the opening game at the new-look Mineirão will be some event on February 3. Home is where the heart is, after all.


How will São Paulo fare without Lucas?

It would take a true contrarian to argue that the sale of Lucas to Paris Saint-Germain for €45m represented anything other than excellent business for São Paulo FC. While the winger was the Tricolor´s standout player, the windfall has allowed the club to build a more rounded squad. Former World Cup winner Lúcio should prove to be an excellent acquisition in defence, while Wallyson and Aloísio are solid additions to an attacking roster that already includes the likes of Luís Fabiano and Paulo Henrique Ganso.

The signing of Bayern Munich centre-back Breno is a calculated gamble; he may have been convicted of arson in Germany but São Paulo will have some player on their hands if they can successfully manage his psychological issues. Most important of all, however, is coach Ney Franco, who whipped the side into shape towards the end of last season and is unlikely to take his foot off the gas with the Copa Libertadores approaching.

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

MENGÃO BI DA AMÈRICA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RlVt8zJhXQ
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Sudamericano 2013: Paraguay U20s report card

Despite the dampener of defeat on the final day the Paraguay U20s players and coaching staff should be very pleased with their performances in Mendoza which culminated in a 2nd place finish and of course an invaluable spot in the U20s World Cup which takes place later this year in Turkey.

Here I’ve done a quick report card for the main squad members, like all ratings systems of this kind it isn’t perfect but hopefully gives you an idea of the major performers and the ones to look out for over the course of the year.


Diego Morel (Goalkeeper, Libertad)

Started the tournament with a howler that cost them the game against Colombia but as the competition progressed he proved to be a very good shot stopper and a safe pair of hands, needs improvement under the high ball and command of his area. 6/10


Teodoro Paredes (Centre-back/Right-back, Cerro Porteño)

The big man from Caaguazú showed plenty of power and strength but also has the technique to be comfortable at full back, his disciplinary record let him down with four yellow cards in the tournament it isn’t a mental problem more a question of timing his tackles. 7/10


Gustavo Gomez (Centre-back, Libertad)

The captain was very strong throughout the Sudamericano, he’ll be disappointed with his sending off but in general he defended well, marshalled his troops and almost led them onto glory. 8/10


Matías Perez (Centre-back, Nacional)

A good tournament from a player who has played his fair share of senior football already, his three goals are evidence of his strength from set pieces and in general he was unruffled at the back. 7/10


Jorge Manuel Balbuena (Left wing-back, Cerro Porteño)

Balbuena looked good at times going forward, strong in patches defensively but didn’t shine consistently and it wasn’t easy with the defender often helplessly exposed at left wing-back. 6/10


Jorge Rojas (Right wing-back/Right winger/Attacking midfielder, Cerro Porteño)

Arguably the best performer in the side he showed pace, power, dribbling skills and awareness to finish the Sudamericano with 2 goals and 3 assists. His versatility was something new, we are used to him as an out-and-out winger with the azulgrana but Víctor Genes moved him into a central role for some games where he impressed. Sure to have caught the eye of some European scouts. 9/10


Rodrigo Alborno (Left midfield, Novara)

More was expected from Alborno, if only because he has been so good at Inter Milan and is now a Serie B regular – there were certainly flashes of his talent including that well-taken goal against Chile but he let himself down at times with the basics, short passing and deliveries from the dead ball. 6/10


Miguel Almirón (Central midfield, Cerro Porteño)

A revelation in the middle, while he looks like a stick insect he is full of energy and was a yard quicker than most of the midfielders in the tournament. A lovely range of passing with an eye for the important through ball he also has that canny knack of making room for himself in crowded spots of the pitch. 8/10


Derlis Gonzalez (Striker, Benfica)

Solid proof that there are benefits to leaving for Europe at a young age if you are going to get regular football, his time with the Benfica II side has seen Gonzalez develop much more tactical nouse while he still frightens defenders with his searing pace and his clinical finishing. An excellent tournament finishing with 4 goals and 2 assists and maybe posing a question to Pelusso and the senior side. 9/10


Cecilio Dominguez (Striker, Sol de América)

More than a ‘number 9′ he showed that he is a well rounded player with good skill and the ability to play in a three or a two up front. The fact he only scored one goal doesn’t mean he played badly, he brings in the players around him and created a good partnership with Derlis Gonzalez. 7/10

Others

Juan Villamayor (Striker, Libertad) – nippy, good set piece delivery

Ivan Ramirez (Midfielder, Libertad) – one tremendous performance against Argentina, essentially a ball winner

Angel Lucena (Midfielder, Rubio Ñu) – got better during the competition, needs to improve balance between attacking and defending

Robert Piris (Midfielder, Rubio Ñu) – didn’t impose himself as much as expected considering the amount of senior football he has played, still a talent worth watching

Brian Montenegro (Forward, Tacuary) – inconsistent but at times was very good especially drifting to left to create space for Derlis Gonzalez

Junior Alonso (Defender, Cerro Porteño) – two important goals and clearly a quality left-back but not as suited to being a wing-back

Miller Mareco (Defender, Libertad) – game in during the final stages and like Alonso looks better in a more defensive role

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

MENGÃO BI DA AMÈRICA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RlVt8zJhXQ

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