Archive for April, 2013

PostHeaderIcon Maracana stadium reopens for the 2014 World Cup

Brazil’s super iconic Maracana Stadium has re-opened after nearly three years of renovations and upgrades, last night, offering the world a first glimpse at the arena that will host the 2014 World Cup final and the 2016 Olympic opening ceremony.

The construction workers who helped upgrade the famous stadium and their families were treated to the first action in the ‘new’ Maracana as Friends of Ronaldo and Friends of Bebeto played an exhibition match.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and other big name guests were among the 30,000 who attended the inauguration.
Following years of delays, criticisms and protests, it was finally tangible proof that the Maracana will be ready not only for the World Cup finals, but also this summer’s Confederations Cup in June and will be ready to give a treat sports fans all over the world.

‘It looks amazing,’ said former Brazilian star Ronaldo. ‘I’m happy to see the stadium ready again. The Maracana is a symbol of this country.’

Bebeto, his former Selecao teammate, added: ‘I’ve played at Wembley, Camp Nou, Santiago Bernabeu and other top stadiums, but this is the greatest venue in football, it’s very special.’

Welder Antonio Pereira had the honour of rolling the ball to Ronaldo in a ceremonial kick-off. ‘I was moved,’ he said. ‘It’s like being able to enter in the house that you built yourself.’

Ronaldo, who won the World Cup in 1994 and 2002, and is a member of next year’s organising committee, told the construction staff they were ‘heroes’ in a message at half-time. However, not all is roses in the garden for the government. There were a few hundred protesters arguing that  it will give the government less money that it invested in the venue and will lead to the demolition of an indigenous museum, a public school and some athletics facilities in the area.

As reported by an online sportsbook information source Brazil although many argue are the worst team of all time, playing on home soil, they are still considered to be favourites to lift the World Cup.

The $500m (£322m) cost of the face-lift, just six years after the last one, also attracted criticism, as did the continual missed deadlines. The stadium was originally scheduled to be completed last December.

PostHeaderIcon Brazil may be forced into some soul searching!

For Brazil’s football team, the pressure is on. Fact.

Next year the FIFA World Cup arrives in the South American country for only the second time, with the nation’s near 200 million inhabitants expecting to celebrate a record sixth triumph in the tournament.

But all is not well in the land of “jogo bonito” — the beautiful game.

So much so that with Brazil falling to an all-time low of 18th in the world rankings, a couple of old stagers are back to try and breathe new life into a nation that in many ways represents the very essence of international football.

Luis Felipe Scolari, the coach of Brazil’s 2002 World Cup winners, has been drafted in to replace Mano Manezes. And one of Scolari’s first actions was to recall a hero of the triumphant campaign in Japan and South Korea 11 years ago.


But the plan failed. Scolari, Ronaldinho and co. slipped to a 2-1 defeat, with England playing more of the slick, attacking football Brazil has made its trademark.

For Ronaldinho, now plying his trade with Atletico Miniero in his homeland after dazzling for Barcelona between 2003 and 2008, it was a miserable evening. The standard of the local league in Brazil has vastly improved and and players reaching the pinnacle of their careers are now returning to their birth place. Brazil’s attack is likely to be spearheaded by Fred, the Flu striker. Fred enjoyed a largely successful spell with Lyon, and is still scoring goals for fun.There is a growing feeling in Brazil, that the country is not manufacturing the natural talent that we are so accustomed to. If Brazil do not do well in the Confiderations cup, this nation will have to do some soul searching for the first time in a very long time.

Fact : As reported by online sportsbooks information source, the online betting experts have put Brazil as the firm favourites to win the World Cup, as it will be played on home soil.

PostHeaderIcon Ramos admits that criticising the national team is doing no favours…

Spain defender Sergio Ramos admits it has hurt the national team to have come under fire from some supporters for recent setbacks when in the past five years La Roja have enjoyed an unprecendented period of just record-breaking success after success.

The Spanish went into last night’s crunch FIFA World Cup™ qualifier with France lying two points below Les Bleus in Group I after being held to a surprise 1-1 draw at home by Finland on Friday night.

That was the second successive qualifier Vicente del Bosque’s men have been held at home, having also conceded a late equaliser to draw 1-1 with France in October, and led to questions marks being raised against the national team.  Another fact is that although Spain play the most attractive football they have only scored two goals in the last two games, something which has not gotten down well with the fans. It is evident due to their recent success, fans have remarkable high expectations when Spain play.

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However, the Spanish answered the doom-mongers last night with a 1-0 victory in Paris which puts them back on top of Group I and on course for an automatic qualifying berth for next year’s FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil.

Speaking after the match, Real Madrid defender Ramos, who has been a key member of the Spain squad that has won back-to-back European Championships and the World Cup since 2008, and who is expected tho become the youngest ever Spanish player to reach 100 appearences, told reporters: “We respect the critics, but it hurts that a section of the fans criticise you after all that we’ve done. We are very pleased with this game. We were in a delicate situation and we’ve been able to react.”

Barcelona forward Pedro scored the only goal of the game in the 58th minute while France finished with ten men following Paul Pogba’s dismissal with 12 minutes to go. Pedro said: “It was important to win, we’ve managed it and I’m very happy. We couldn’t slip-up.”



PostHeaderIcon Buffon Moan after Italy struggle against Malta

Gianluigi Buffon was not a happy man despite leaving Malta with the points as Italy shaded their World Cup qualifier on Tuesday night.

A double from the in-form Mario Balotelli earned Cesare Prandelli’s men a 2-0 win at Ta’ Qali, but they looked far from comfortable. It was also evident that Buffon came twenty yards out screaming at his players at one point in the second half.

Buffon had to save a Michael Mifsud penalty and saw a fierce shot from the Mlata captain cannon off the bar, after Balotelli’s opener – itself from the spot – and the Juventus man admitted to being frustrated at how the evening panned out.

After finishing a contest which Italy started with only Juventus and AC Milan players, Buffon told reporters: “There were some difficult playing conditions, as it was very windy and the pitch was extremely wet. Plus if there isn’t 100 per cent focus and concentration, then you are going to run into trouble.

“I wasn’t the only one who got angry, as we all did. These situations happen when there are games that aren’t high profile.

“It is a characteristic (we have) had for years, as we always seem to leave it open for ourselves, our fans and our opponents.

“The penalty was an incident, but added to the other five or six chances it showed it was not a walk in the park.

“Those no longer exist in football, especially away from home.”

Malta can take some satisfaction with these comments. A few days ago, their competence was being questioned after being whipped by six goals from a Bulgaria side, although conditions could also shoulder some of the blame. However, Malta are a step above all the European minnows, they played constructive football, approached the game in a positive way, also players ran the marathon and should have easily found a consolation goal.

One was the retirement of one of Buffon’s understudies, Morgan De Sanctis, the other was the form of Balotelli.

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Chastised during his time with Manchester City, the striker has been sensational since joining Milan in January and last night’s goals were his ninth and 10th in nine games for club and country.

“He behaves very well on the field, but what really interests me is that he’s ready to work hard and sacrifice himself when playing,” Buffon said.

“He has always done that. The difference now is that he is playing consistently, which he had never really done in his career.”

Italy lead qualifying Group B by three points from Bulgaria, having played a game less.



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