Tag Archives: France

FIFA World Cup 2018 – Who Will Win It?

One year away.  We are one year away from the beginning of the most popular competition in the world of sports, the FIFA World Cup.  It seems like yesterday witnessing Germany beat Brazil 7-1 at the Maracana Stadium, in Rio de Janeiro, in 2014 in front of their home fans.  This match shook the world.

It also seemed like a recent memory looking at Lionel Messi, after Argentina lost in extra-time to those same Germans 1-0, dejected after accepting the Golden Ball award for the best player of the competition.

Qualifications are still underway and we still may be surprised if some teams can qualify or not for this World Cup, which will host for first time 48 countries instead of 32.

Argentina, for example, is currently in big trouble, being fifth in the standings and with Lionel Messi still has to serve three of a four match ban imposed by FIFA (La Pulga and Argentina Futbol Association have appealed the decision and will meet with FIFA during the summer to reduce the suspension).

European nations have won the World Cup three times in a row now starting with Italy in 2006.  Spain followed in 2010 and Germany in 2014.  In the history of the game, it would generally be one European country followed by one South America side.  After all, Brazil has five stars on their shirt, Argentina and Uruguay 2 each, making it 9 Word Cups in total.

My money is on a South American country to win it all next summer and despite the fact that Brazil has been the first country to earn its ticket to the big dance along with already qualified Russia, my prediction is the following:

Argentina, led by Lionel Messi, raises its third World Cup and the FC Barcelona genius cements his status as probably the best player to ever grace a football pitch.

Stay tuned…

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Why Lionel Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo (and will always be)

After the aftermath the UEFA European Championship in which Portugal, an unlikely winner, clinched its first international professional trophy, there were several praises for Cristiano Ronaldo, the captain of the national squad. Some deserved, some not. At the end of the day, despite the win, football fans should not forget that Lionel Messi was involved in another continental competition, la Copa America Centenario, a little earlier this summer and led his country to the final against the defending champion and, despite started the competition and on the bench injured, managed to tear the competition apart (5 goals, 4 assists in 5 games, 3 games started). Argentina ultimately lost on penalty kicks against Chile, for the second year in a row.

If Gonzalo Higuain would have been able to do to Chile and Claudio Bravo what Eder has done to France and Hugo Lloris in the final, Argentina may have won its first senior trophy since 1993, Lionel Messi would finally win a professional trophy with La Albiceleste, and critics would not have been so harsh and cruel versus the Argentine superstar, five-time Ballon d’Or winner and on the receiving end of countless individual and collective honours during his career, which started officially in 2004.

While CR7 is older and started his career a few seasons before Leo Messi, there is no doubt in my mind that La Pulga is the better player. While the former is physical phenomenon, a great header of the ball, and goal-scoring machine (especially since joining La Liga Santander) and without a doubt one of the best player of the last 20 years, Messi can do pretty everything on a football pitch. The little man can score, assist, pass the ball, direct the play and play in numerous positions with efficiency. We have seen Messi play as a number 10, 9, 9 and a half, as a winger and even as a number six (versus Germany in 2010 was shocking to see). He is up there with the likes of Pelé, Diego Armando Maradona, Garrincha, Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cruyff. His simplification of the game and the fear that he strikes towards his opponents are simply baffling, while Ronaldo has often been absent during big games and Portugal’s victory in the final without their captain plus Real Madrid CF’s penalty kicks win against their local rivals, Atlético de Madrid, in the Champions League final with an absent and inefficient number 7 can testify furthermore of this fact.

The statistics, the silverware won and the impact on the pitch do not lie. Lionel Andres Messi is currently the best footballer on the planet and the question should be: where will he rank in the history of the game when his career will end.

And he should be the current favourite for the Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or 2016 if you look at statistics and honours won so far for the calendar year.

Messi vs. Ronaldo (FIFA Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or) – Week 28-29

The 2016 European Championship ended on July 10th with Portugal winning 1-0 in extra time against the host nation, France. Eder scored the only goal of the match to clinch Portugal’s first international title.

For Cristiano Ronaldo, who was injured in the 8th minute and was substituted minutes after the incident with French playmaker, Dimitri Payet, it is a first trophy with the national squad for the native of Madeira.

Week 28 and 29 – here are the updated statistics between the two FIFA Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or collectors from January 01st to July 17th, 2016:

L. Messi 39 games 34 goals 23 assists 2 trophies won
C. Ronaldo 35 games 32 goals 11 assists 2 trophies won
Total Messi 4 games Messi 2 goals Messi 12 assists Tie

Stay tuned….

Cristiano Ronaldo and the Euros

The Portuguese superstar, fresh winner of his third Champions League medal, will feature in his fourth European championship, in France this year. Here are his results:

2004 – Loss in the final against Greece, in Portugal, 1-0.

2008 – Quarterfinal loss versus Germany, 3-1, in Austria/Switzerland.

2012 – Semifinal loss against future champions, Spain, on the penalty kicks (0-0, 5-3 a.e.t.), in Poland/Ukraine.

2016 – ?

Portugal, despite difficult results in recent tournaments, has always been a difficult team to play against. At some point, during the last decade, boasting players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Deco, Maniche, Rui Costa, Vitor Baía, Costinha, Pauleta, Ricardo Carvalho and others, the country of the late Eusebio was very close to actually win the 2004 UEFA European Championship at home (see the result above) and the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany (losing to France, 1-0, in the semifinal).

Although, I do not expect the Portuguese national squad to win it all this year, I would not be surprise if they make a good run and goes good deep in the tournament.

Unfortunately, the lack of depth will probably be a major key, especially if facing teams such as Germany, France, Belgium or Spain.

Stay tuned…