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Colin's Column

2014 World Cup Final preview

July 10, 2014

Soccer fans are counting down the hours until Sunday's World Cup Final, but which team will win — Argentina or Germany?

Argentina

Strengths

Defense: Although it has had relatively straightforward route to the final, Argentina has proved a hard team to break down and has only conceded three goals in its six games. Marcos Rojo and Ezequiel Garay have been superb in its defense, which has been well protected by defensive midfielders Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia.

Lionel Messi: Messi has had an unspectacular tournament so far, but he is arguably the best player in the world, and perhaps one of the greatest ever. And the World Cup final — the biggest match in international soccer — is the perfect chance for him to enhance his reputation as an all-time great.

Shootout experience: Argentina has already been through tension and drama of a penalty shootout. And it couldn’t have gone much better: Goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved two penalties, and each Argentine taker scored as the South American side defeated the Netherlands 4 – 2. Should the final end in a shootout, Argentina has good reason to be confident. Read full story >>

Neymar’s reaction to devastating injury is uplifting

July 8, 2014

Brazil will be without its star player Neymar for the rest of the tournament after the striker suffered a fractured vertebra in the quarterfinal with Colombia.

In the 87th minute, Neymar went down after Colombia defender Juan Camilo Zúñiga kneed him in the back. He left the pitch on a stretcher and was taken directly to the hospital, where doctors discovered the fractured vertebra in the lumbar region of his spine. Read full story >>

FIFA must give Suárez the Biter maximum ban

June 25, 2014

Last night Uruguay forward Luis Suárez bit defender Giorgio Chiellini in his side’s 1-0 win over Italy.

Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez did not see the incident, and despite Chiellini showing Rodriguez the bite marks on his shoulder, no action was taken.

FIFA announced after the game that it has opened disciplinary proceedings against Suárez for breaching player conduct regulations. A decision will be published before Uruguay’s next match, against Colombia, on Saturday. Read full story >>

Group of Death draws keep all teams' hopes alive

June 23, 2014

In every tournament, there is inevitably a “Group of Death” — the one group that will kill the chances of even a strong team to advance to the next stage. Group G was the almost unanimous choice ahead of this World Cup. As well as being the toughest group, it has probably produced the most entertaining matches so far.

Group G comprises one of the tournament favorites, Germany, as well as a Portugal side filled with talented players from top European clubs and one of the world’s greatest players, Cristiano Ronaldo. The other two nations, Ghana and the United States, have performed well in recent World Cups. Read full story >>

Spain’s defeat marks the end of an era

June 19, 2014

In another lackluster performance, Spain’s World Cup hopes were ended in an ignominious 2-0 defeat to a determined Chile team. Less than a week into the tournament, the defending champions are already eliminated, an abrupt end to an era of Spanish dominance in international soccer.

With European Championship wins on either side of its 2010 World Cup victory, Spain, for a time, was almost unbeatable in a sport that rarely produces back-to-back champions. Its success was based on a resolute defense led by its vastly experienced center half Carles Puyol and its ever-reliable goalkeeper Iker Casillas, a pressing midfield that gave opponents no time to think or space to work in, and the patient passing style known as tika taka, which exhausted opposition midfields and left them chasing after the ball. Read full story >>

Van Persie lights up World Cup goalfest

June 18, 2014

Less than a week into the World Cup, the tournament has already been living up to expectations as a showcase of the finest and most exciting international soccer.

Already there have been 49 goals — 24 more than in South Africa 2010’s opening set of group games.

And many of the goals scored in the last six days will live long in the memories of fans around the world: The USA’s late winner to gain a vital victory in a "Group of Death" game against Ghana; Claudio Marchisio’s wonderfully worked opener for Italy against England; and Bosnia’s and Herzegovina’s first ever World Cup goal, to name a few. Read full story >>

Brazil's young stars repay Scolari's faith


June 13, 2014

Brazil opened its World Cup campaign with a 3-1 victory over Croatia. It was not a classic game — few openers are — but it will have satisfied the vast majority of Brazil’s passionate supporters.

Few will have been more relieved than Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. “Big Phil” has a huge responsibility: He manages a national team competing to win soccer’s biggest prize for a record-extending sixth time, a team that shoulders the hopes of the host nation’s millions of avid fans, and one that bookmakers have made the clear favorite to win the trophy. Read full story >>

All eyes on Brazil


June 11, 2014

With just hours to go before kick-off, World Cup fever has taken over the world as soccer fans revel in anticipation. Over the last four years, 207 countries competed for just 32 places in the tournament; in contrast, there are just 194 in the United Nations, so competition is arguably fiercer in the World Cup. Over the next month, many debates will be settled:

Can host nation Brazil become world champion for a record sixth time? Will Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo solidify their status among the all-time greats? And is Belgium’s team really as good everyone says?

But soccer-loving Brazil has been concerned with other matters as the rest of the world has been gearing up for soccer’s biggest event. Amid labor rights issues and concerns about economic costs, infrastructure and safety, this World Cup has become one of the most controversial. Read full story >>



                            Please check this page for regular columns throughout the World Cup.

About Colin Robinson

Colin Robinson is a writer and editor who specializes in sports. He has a master’s degree in Online Journalism from the University of Sheffield and worked as Features Editor at global sports business network iSportconnect.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup will be the 20th FIFA World Cup, an international men's association football tournament that is scheduled to take place in Brazil from 12 June to 13 July 2014.