A joint North American World Cup is inevitable – but crazy

THE extension of the World Cup to 48 teams has, effectively, killed off the single host structure for future World Cups, certainly in Europe. With the exception of Germany, no individual nation in the old world can realistically hope to stage the competition – it is just too damn big. But we think there’s more to it than that. After all, we’ve all read about … Continue reading A joint North American World Cup is inevitable – but crazy

Argentina: Last tango in Russia under threat

ALL THE furore over Argentina’s precarious World Cup qualifying campaign may be just wishful thinking or journalists hoping for a big story. The fact is, aside from Brazil, who have booked their place for 2018, the entire CONMEBOL qualifying series is wide open. There’s no denying that Argentina have made a mess of their programme, but with four games to go, the likelihood is that … Continue reading Argentina: Last tango in Russia under threat

American dreaming – MLS continues to progress

A 0-0 DRAW and a penalty shoot-out, the scourge of the modern game, demonstrated that Major League Soccer is no different than its more celebrated counterparts – in other words, it ended in anti-climax. But a new name is on the MLS Cup – Seattle Sounders, the best supported club in the competition with an average of almost 43,000 people, an impressive figure by any … Continue reading American dreaming – MLS continues to progress

La Paz, football city in the sky

BOLIVIA doesn’t get much football publicity but historians will tell you that Los Altiplanicos did play in the first World Cup in 1930. They’ve barely made a mark on the global game since and have qualified for just three tournaments, the last being in 1994. It already looks unlikely that Bolivia will feature in 2018. They are languishing near the bottom of the CONMEBOL qualifying … Continue reading La Paz, football city in the sky

Carlos Alberto and a night in London SW6

AS WE WALKED down the steps into Chelsea’s old West Stand lower tier, the uncomfortable bench seats that used to provide budget-priced  accommodation for fans that didn’t want to try their luck in the maelstrom that was the Shed, we attempted to play “I spy a World Cup legend.” “Is that Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer?..Who’s that tall fellow…the Brazilian…it’s not Pele, is it? No, … Continue reading Carlos Alberto and a night in London SW6

Football Read Review: Few angels, but some great players

Angels with Dirty Faces: The footballing history of Argentina by Jonathan Wilson I HAVE to admit to being a little biased here as Jonathan Wilson is just about my favourite contemporary football writer. Following classic tomes such as Inverting the Pyramid, Behind the Curtain and the books involving England and Liverpool’s defining matches, Wilson has done it again, producing an absorbing book that tells the … Continue reading Football Read Review: Few angels, but some great players

Boca at the double…now a stab at the Libertadores?

WHEN Carlos Tevez returned to Argentina and signed for his old club, Boca Juniors, many people raised their eyebrows. Tevez was still in good form at Juventus and had been top scorer at the club. But after 50 goals in 96 games for Juve, was he going home to graze? No, said Tevez. “I am still in my prime,” he insisted, pointing to a slimmer … Continue reading Boca at the double…now a stab at the Libertadores?

Very big deal for América

MEXICAN teams invariably represent CONCACAF in the FIFA Club World Cup, that ugly child of international club competitions. The annual FIFA bun-fight, which still struggles to gain momentum and credibility, returns to Japan in a week or so and this year, the field is as imbalanced as ever: Barcelona, River Plate, Auckland City, Guangzhou Evergrande, TP Mazembe, a host representative from Japan (Sanfrecce Hiroshima and … Continue reading Very big deal for América

Uruguay kicks off and pins hopes on Forlan

The Uruguayan league kicked off last weekend and predictably for a small nation, Montevideo will continue to dominate the Primera Division. Thirteen of the 16 teams are from the capital city, with three – Villa Teresa, Liverpool and Defensor Sporting – added to the 10 that survived last season. It might have been 14 had Rampla Juniors not been relegated. The top two clubs, Penarol … Continue reading Uruguay kicks off and pins hopes on Forlan

Santiago or bust for Chile

It has been some years since Chile made any sort of impact on international football. In World Cup 2014, they pushed Brazil close in the round of 16 before losing on penalties. It’s a year ago this weekend that La Roja scared the host nation to death and let’s not forget they beat holders Spain in the group stage of that competition. Chile are capitalising … Continue reading Santiago or bust for Chile

Paraguayan surprise packet Guarani will have to “hold back the River”

When we think of South American football, we invariably see Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay as the main players. Indeed, between these three countries, 48 Copa Libertadores titles have been won, with Argentina accounting for almost half of them. Guarani v River Plate, Paraguay v Argentina, Bugre v Los Millonarios Outside the big three, Paraguay accounts for three winners and eight runners-up. The most successful club, … Continue reading Paraguayan surprise packet Guarani will have to “hold back the River”

South American Way: Botafogo – Elvis has left Serie A

The Brazilian national league gets underway next week (May 9) and there will be a familiar face missing from the Serie A line-up, Botafogo, the club that spawned the great Garrincha. It’s a club that most football followers with an international eye are aware of, but by no means are they Brazil’s most successful. At the end of the 2014 season, Botafogo were relegated for … Continue reading South American Way: Botafogo – Elvis has left Serie A