Tag Archives: Argentina

VIFF 2018 Review: Theatre Of War (Teatro de Guerra)

Theatre of War

Theatre Of War features six soldiers from the Falklands Islands War telling their stories of battle and aftermath.

Many people will consider the Falkland Islands War of 1982 a ‘forgotten war.’ Theatre Of War will show you six men who can’t forget it: the soldiers.

First off, I’ll answer what most of you are already asking; What are the Falkland Islands and why was a war fought over them in 1982? The Falkland Islands are a set of islands 300 miles east of the coast of Argentina. They’re 4,700 square miles wide and the population is almost 3,400. The islands were discovered by Europeans starting in the 16th century and were thought to be uninhabited. It was in the 18th century when Europeans started making the islands inhabitable with the French inhabiting the east island and the British inhabiting the west island. France eventually surrendered its ownership to Spain years later. The British captured the east island a year later, but a war was never started. Over time, the Spanish took over and the Argentineans, who refer to the islands as the Malvinas, attempted a garrison in the 19th century. Over time, the British asserted their rule over the land in 1832.

It would continue to be under British rule even though the Germans sought to own it in 1912. Naval conflict abounded with the British winning. However the Argentineans started another garrison in 1982: 150 years after British rule was declared. It was then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher started what would be remembered as the Falkland Island War. The war lasted 10 1/2 weeks and left over 900 dead. The UK won the war and British rule was reasserted.

In this documentary, we are introduced to six men: three British, three Argentinian. On the British side is Lou Armour: marine corporal, David Jackson: a young soldier at the time, and Sukrim Rai: a Nepalese immigrant who fought for the UK. On the Argentinean side is Gabriel Sagastume, Marcello, Marcelo Vallejo and Ruben Otero. Throughout the film, they tell of their experiences of what it was like to go to war at such a young age. Lou Armour actually led the British Marines. They also talk of the struggles they’ve had with their lives in the years that followed. A lot of them tell of their stories of dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, especially when it came into their lives quite late.

The unique thing about this documentary is that they don’t just talk about their stories. Very often, they act out their stories. We see all six at the pool and one talks of an incident in 2004 when he nearly drowned himself. We see two at an empty discotheque as one tells of his story of loneliness in a bar. We see one British and one Argentinean soldier showing copies of magazines published around the time of the war. It’s interesting what each magazine had to say. We see one Argentinean use tiny plastic army men to tell the story of how Argentinean soldiers first claimed the Falkland Islands and the battle that started the war. We see the six in a rock band as one ‘singer’ shouts out “Have you ever…” and tells of instances only a soldier can ever experience both in battle and in post-battle life.

However this wasn’t just simply a vanity effort what they were doing. The six also visited Argentina to tell their stories. There were times the six went to schools together telling children their stories of the war. There were times they even had to answer questions from the children. However the most interesting moment came near the end. The soldiers had six 18 year-old Argentinean men dress up like them to re-enact a moment from the war. As the soldiers were dressing them up in their war uniforms or applying scar make-up, they were telling their stories. One even showed another what it was like to wield a knife in battle. It’s interesting as they told their stories to the boys, it showed the luxury these 18 year-old boys of today have. They don’t have to be called up for battle. They can live their care free life. That was made evident just as it led to the end scene where the young men re-enacted the battle at the former soldiers’ directions.

The unique thing about this documentary is that it shows the foolish side of war. We have six men from both sides and they tell their stories. They made to be made to look like heroes in their own country but they don’t feel like heroes. They even made spoof of the political situation behind it. One scene includes soldiers in face masks of Margaret Thatcher and the Argentinean president locking lips. The film even showed that this is of a war in which the opposite sides can have a peaceful disagreement. We see that in one scene where an Argentinean and a Brit talk of the history of the Falklands/Malvinas. Both feel strongly that those islands belong to their country, but they’re able to disagree peacefully without enmity or even a fistfight.

The interesting thing is that these six soldiers did this documentary just as they were about to perform in an onstage docudrama called ‘Minefield.’ Before they performed in the play, they had the opportunity to do all this. The soldiers reunited and sorted out their differences. They went to places where they experienced these traumatic events in their lives to recreate the moment. They went to schools to educate the young children of Argentina. They even met with six young Argentinean men to give them the experience of what it is to fight in a war about a set of islands none of them really knew. This is an important docudrama worth seeing because it does tell you a lot of how a simple war that lasted three months can change lives forever, most for the worse. The film doesn’t simply show how foolish fighting over a small set of islands are, but makes other wars of past look foolish too.

Lola Arias did a very good job in creating a meaningfully documentary of what many consider a meaningless battle. Lola takes a lot of incidents from the school visits, the meeting with the young actors, the on-stage work, and various scenes solely for the documentary and brings it all together. It’s pieced together in a mixed way that may seem like it doesn’t go in a straight pattern. Maybe Arias had her reasons for doing so. She does however include a lot of important scenes and a lot of poignant moments throughout the documentary. It may not appear to have ended in a solid manner but the whole documentary tells a lot.

Theatre Of War isn’t just about six soldiers coming together, settling their differences and making peace. It’s an important reminder of that war and it shows how war is something you can’t leave behind. Even long after you’ve dropped your guns.

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World Cup 2018 Preview: Group D

The funniest thing about Group D is that Argentina and Nigeria are paired up again! Of the six times Nigeria has qualified for the World Cup, 1998 remains the only time they never had to face Argentina in the group stage! However it was Croatia that was with Argentina in that group stage. So much ridiculous trivia here! Actually one other legitimate piece of trivia is Group D features one of two teams making their World Cup debut. So for more on Group D, here I go:

argentina-Argentina (5)- Argentina is one team at this year’s World Cup with the most accolades. Two World Cups, five World Cup finals appearances, fourteen Copa Americas, and legendary players like Mario Kempes, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi. La Albiceleste however has garnered a reputation in the last few years of being a team of near-misses. They lost in the finals of the 2014 World Cup and four of the last five Copa America finals. This is especially biting for Lionel Messi. He’s had a career full of feats and achievements. However ever since he became part of the national team since 2005 at the age of 18, a major international trophy has been the one thing he’s never been able to win.

Argentina have been in struggle since the last World Cup. They’ve gone through three coaching changes and almost missed qualifying for the World Cup. It was nothing less than a win needed for their eighteenth-and-last qualifier match against Ecuador to get them in, and they did: 3-1. As for their World Cup chances, they look quite iffy. They have the talent with the likes of Messi, Javier Mascherano (who has more international caps than Messi), Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero. However they lack a strong defense. Their flaws have been exposed in the last two years upon losses to Spain 6-1 and Group D opponents Nigeria 4-2. However Argentina has delivered good wins like 1-0 against Russia, 1-0 against Brazil and 2-0 against Italy. World Cup 2018 is another test for the Argentinian team. Also Russia could be the place where Messi will either become the ‘best ever’ or the ‘best never.’

Iceland-Iceland (22)- Iceland is the team that keeps on surprising the world. Two years ago, they became the first team from a country with a population under 1 million to qualify for a European Championships, and they made it to the quarterfinals, beating England in the process! This time they become not only the first team from a country with a population under 1 million to qualify for a World Cup, but the first from a country under 500,000!

Iceland surprised everybody not just by qualifying for the World Cup, but topping their qualifying group in the process. Iceland proved the fire is still there after Euro 2016. However it appears the fire may have faded since the World Cup qualifying. Iceland’s only wins since have been against two Indonesian teams. They’ve since had to endure losses to Mexico, Peru, Norway and the Czech Republic. Chances are Icelandic fire can come back once they start play in Russia.

Croatia ficed-Croatia (18)- Croatia is a team that has had a lot of hard luck over the past few years. There is less news copy about the playing prowess of the team and more copy about the team’s fans’ obnoxious behavior. And don’t get me started about the Euro 2016 game against the Czechs! Mind you, Vatreni is a team loaded with talent worth noticing.

The Blazers are coached by Zlatko Dalic who has come off of coaching mostly club teams in Croatia and the Arabian Peninsula. The team boasts of top players like midfielder Luka Modric, striker Mario Mandzukic and defenseman Vedran Corluka. Croatia has done well playing against European teams and even won against Mexico 1-0. However they’ve also lost to Peru 2-0  and Brazil 2-0 just recently. Croatia have what it takes to once again move to the knockout round and hopefully go far. World Cup 2018 could be the place where they’re finally back.

Nigeria-Nigeria (47)- Nigeria may not be one of the three African teams that have gone as far as the quarterfinals at a World Cup. However the Super Eagles the only African team that has made it past the group stage in three World Cups. That’s a feat in itself along with three Africa Cup of Nations wins and four more Cup finals appearances.

The current team is coached by German Gernot Rohr who has been coaching African teams for the past eight years and features a wealth of talent young and old. Seven of the teams’ players play for teams in the Premier League. The team features forward Ahmed Musa (who plays for CSKA Moscow), midfielder John Obi Mikel and defenseman Elderson Echiejile. Sure, Russia 2018 may become the fifth time out of Nigeria’s six World Cup runs where they have to face Argentina in the group stage, but they have an advantage; they won in a friendly against the Argentines back in November: 4-2. However they’ve had some noticeable losses this year against Morocco 4-0, Serbia 2-0, and England 2-1. However they could all come together in Russia 2018 and go further than they ever had.

Now that I’m done summing up the teams, it’s time for me to predict the two I think will advance to the Round of 16. It’s a tough challenge, especially since all four have noticeable strengths and weaknesses, but I predict it will be Argentina and Nigeria. However don’t be surprised if it ends up the second qualifier is Iceland. Remember they beat Croatia in World Cup qualifying.

STADIUM SPOTLIGHT

These past three reviews, I’ve reviewed two stadiums at once. I’ve already reviewed six out of the twelve so I’ll save my next double-review for Group H as I will review the stadiums staging the finals and semis. Save the best for last, right? So here’s my first solo stadium review for this World Cup:

VOLGOGRAD: Volgograd Arenavolgograd

Year Opened: 2018

Capacity: 45, 568

World Cup Groups Hosting: A, D, G, H

Volgograd Arena may be one of the stadiums that’s brand-spanking new for Russia 2018, but it’s on familiar ground. The Arena’s ground is on what used to be the ground for Central Stadium which was opened back in 1962. It was the age of the stadium, FIFA demands and the ability to change capacities that led to the new Volgograd Arena. Its original expense was to be 10 billion Russian Rubles, but ended up being 17 billion Rubles, or $275 million US, in the end.

It has a unique shape where it’s shaped like an overhead truncated cone. The large roof, which rests over a cable frame, resembles a bicycle-wheel pattern through steel-wire cables. The stadium will have many features available to fans like navigation and information support, information, a storage room, and audio visual commentary for those with sight impairment. After the World Cup, the stadium is to be the host venue for local team FC Rotor Volgograd and host a fitness centre.

And there you have it again. Another World Cup group review. And another stadium review. More to come in the ten days leading up.

 

VIFF 2016 Shorts Segment: Teen Trouble

Cinema

One thing about the VIFF is that you will have the opportunity to see shorts films whether it be a short shown before a feature or a segment of shorts assembled together. They pack a lot of entertainment value for something brief in length. The first shorts segment I was lucky to see was Teen Trouble. It consisted of seven different shorts situated in seven different countries all with a teen-related subject and boy were they entertaining:

-I Love Anna (Finland)- 12 year-old Finnish boy Santeri has always had a crush on Anna: the local farm girl. Anna likes Santeri too. One night Anna’s parents are away and she has to look after her little sister. This could be Santeri’s chance to take it to new levels.

The quality of this short is that it takes you into the excitement of the moment as it progresses without any added music score. It adds to the excitement of the moment. Another added quality is it will remind you of when you fell in love for the first time or even of your own sexual curiosities when you were that age.

-Fabrizio’s Initiation (Argentina)- Sexual feelings many years later. Only Fabrizio is now a 15 year-old Argentinian boy who has been in a relationship with Nadia for over a year. Their chances of doing it for the first time are constantly interrupted. However Fabrizio’s friends derive a plan to make it work by conniving the village elder into giving them his car and fixing it up for the moment. Will this finally be it? The film ends with a surprise in more ways than one.

This is a humorous short about the constant pressure of losing your virginity for the right moment and trying to make it right. Hey, it’s not always prom night! It also will remind you of your own teenage love and of all the stuff you tried to do behind your parents’ back.

-The Law Of Moments (UK)- The lessons of Isaac Newton younger sister Mal studies from physics class play into this drama. Mal and Lucy are teen sisters who lost their closeness as older sister Lucy got involved with partying. It’s been of concern to Mal as she sees Lucy and her mother constantly fighting. One night, Mal goes to the farm to see what kind of crowd she’s hanging with. It’s not pleasant at all. Mal goes to help Lucy only for things to end not as it should.

Here we go from comedy to drama. This is a good story that shows the end at the beginning and how it came to be. The addition of Mal’s physics lesson as well as her childhood memory of her and Lucy on the see saw add style to the story line. Very creative.

-Three Minute Warning (UK/Palestine)- This possibly the darkest short of the segment. Palestinian teen girl Miriam has to look after her mother who has a leg problem. It’s a daily thing which includes cooking for her mother and even assisting her to the bathroom and it robs her of the carefree life most teenage girls have. One night a warning bomb– a bomb sent three minutes before the real bomb is to hit its target– hits their apartment. Miriam has to help her mother make the escape while all the others leave them behind. It’s hopeless and it sets up for the heartbreaking ending.

No doubt Palestinian director Iqbal Mohammed has something to say in this short. It was very well-told and will leave you infuriated with the political situation in the Middle East today.

-On The Roof (Spain)- Five Barcelona teen boys love to go to the top of their apartment balcony to spy on sunbathing women during the summer. Bonus points if they’re topless. One day they go to check out a topless sunbather. One boy, Adrian, spots a naked man showering. He also learns something of himself he never knew. One of Adrian’s friends senses his attraction and reacts with hostility. He even senses it on the youngest of the friends and pressures the young boy to take a photo of the bather standing on the top ledge. Adrian stops and volunteers to do it. The end comes with a surprising result but nothing dreadful.

This short focuses on a teen boy’s discovery of his same-sex attraction which catches him by surprise and causes hostility among one of his friends. The short also focuses on teen male machismo which naturally approaches same-sex attraction with hostile discomfort. A reminder of some of the difficulties gay teens go through.

-Winds Of Furnace (Mexico)- A young Mexican teen boy faces a daily responsibility of looking after his grandmother. One day, two of his friends come to his house with a van they stole. The three go out to have fun in their neighborhood. However you know something will go wrong when they take a body found in the van and dispose of it. It’s the case as a van driven by a cartel crosses their paths and shoots one of the friends. This leads to a vicious chase where the boy fires a gun at the cartel. The ending ends with you thinking this is what’s meant to be.

This short didn’t have its subtitles on at the time so it was hard to make sense. However it was a good story of peer pressure taken to the extreme with the potential for dangerous consequences. The heat of the moment left you wondering if he would be killed by the end. I’m sure a lot of boys in Mexico have gone through this temptation. It’s good to see he was possibly the one who didn’t get killed.

-Aeris (Canada)- A young rising teen snowboarder is seen as a possible future great in the sport. However, the 19 year-old suffers a broken leg during competition requiring plates, screws and months of healing. Months later, she goes snowboarding with her friends to see if she still has it and to get her competitive drive back. This proves difficult as she encounters fans on the mountain and even the fear of her broken leg returning if she tries another jump.

This may be the least heavy short of the seven but it does feature a pressure: a personal pressure young rising phenoms in sport know all too well. It makes for a good snowboarding story. It even gets you fearing for her as well as she questions whether to make that big jump.

In summary, all seven shorts were very good and had a lot to say about teen life in the humorous moments, the tense moments and even tragic moments. All definitely gave an image of what it’s like to be young.

Teen Trouble was an impressive selection of shorts. Anyone can be entertained by something in the selection.

 

2015 Copa America Finals Prediction: 2015 Finales de la Copa América Predicción

CopaYes, before I can predict for the Women’s World Cup, I should predict for the finals of the Copa America. I’ll admit I haven’t seen any games of the Copa but it’s not easy as the WWC is the prime focus. Nevertheless I do plan to see the final live someplace. Anyways here are my predictions.

Third-Place Match: Peru vs. Paraguay

Of course there should be a prediction for the third-place match. It’s tempting to decide who will end up the bronze-medalists here. Peru has come alive like never before in recent years while Paraguay appears to have regained their prowess. Despite losing to Chile, Peru has been impressive. They may have lost to Brazil but they were able to bring Colombia to a tie. They actually deserve some respect for actually conceding less than what most people thought they would. Paraguay was especially impressive at the beginning of the Copa bringing Argentina to a 2-2 draw and even drawing against both Uruguay and Brazil 1-1. It’s tempting to declare Paraguay’s success at the Copa as flukey especially after their 6-1 loss to Argentina in the semifinals. Nevertheless it is impressive to see Paraguay rebound from finishing last in the World Cup qualifiers two years ago.

My Prediction:

I predict Peru will win the bronze medals with a 3-1 win over Paraguay. Like Paraguay, I feel Peru is starting to get its groove back and they’re doing it in impressive style.

FINAL FOR THE COPA: Chile vs. Argentina

Team Breakdown:

CHILE- It’s a surprise how a team with so much World Cup success has never been a Copa America winner. There are a lot of other CONMEBOL teams that have less of a World Cup legacy than Chile but have won the Copa in the past. Chile is going through one of their most impressive eras ever. Some say it may have to do with rebounding after a cheating incident in World Cup qualifying in 1993 that led to their disqualification. If that in fact led to Chile’s improvements, they’re definitely on the right track as they’ve qualified for three World Cups since.

As for the Copa America, this is their fifth time to the final and they’ve done it in very impressive fashion with straight wins over their opponents. Their only draw came in group play against Mexico 3-3. However going against Argentina is a challenge. They’ve played each other eighty-something times in the past with Chile only winning six times. Chile may have one of their best selections ever but it’s going to be a challenge against Argentina with so many top talents.

ARGENTINA- This makes Argentina the country that has hit the Top 2 at the Copa America the most times with 27. Once again, the Albiceleste are sensational. Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero have delivered in this tournament. If Argentina wins, they will tie Uruguay’s 15 wins as the country with the most Copa wins and they sure look poised to do it.

It’s not to say it’s a 100% guarantee. Argentina may have delivered a 6-1 win over Paraguay in the semifinals but team-by-team tells a whole different story. Argentina did draw against Paraguay 2-2 in group play and had a scoreless draw against Colombia in the quarterfinals where it took an intense penalty kick round to decide Argentina the winner. So Argentina does have a vulnerable side. This is something Chile could take advantage of where they could pull a surprise win.

My Verdict:

Sure, home turf advantage could give Chile a boost but I think this is where the boost ends. I think Argentina will take it 3-1.

And there you go. My prediction for who will win the Copa. One thing we should take note is whoever wins the Copa here will represent the CONMEBOL at the 2017 Confederations Cup. Will my prediction be right? Find out for yourself July 4th.

Sí, antes de que pueda predecir para la Copa Mundial de la Mujer, que debería prever para la final de la Copa América. Admito que no he visto ningún juego de la Copa, pero no es fácil ya que la WWC es el foco principal. Sin embargo yo no planeo ver el algún lugar vivo final. De todas formas aquí están mis predicciones.

Tercer Lugar Partido: Perú vs Paraguay

Por supuesto debe haber una predicción para el partido del tercer lugar. Es tentador para decidir quién va a terminar los medallistas de bronce-aquí. Perú ha cobrado vida como nunca antes en los últimos años, mientras que Paraguay parece haber recuperado su destreza. A pesar de perder a Chile, Perú ha sido impresionante. Es posible que hayan perdido a Brasil pero eran capaces de traer a Colombia un empate. Ellos realmente se merecen un poco de respeto para encajar en realidad menos de lo que la mayoría de la gente pensaba que lo harían. Paraguay fue especialmente impresionante en el comienzo de la Copa Argentina trayendo a un empate 2-2 e incluso dibujar tanto contra Uruguay y Brasil 1-1. Es tentador para declarar el éxito de Paraguay en la Copa como flukey sobre todo después de su derrota 6-1 ante Argentina en las semifinales. Sin embargo, es impresionante ver Paraguay rebote de terminar último en las eliminatorias de la Copa Mundial de hace dos años.

Mi predicción:

Predigo Perú va a ganar las medallas de bronce con una victoria por 3-1 sobre Paraguay. Al igual que Paraguay, siento Perú está comenzando a conseguir su ranura espalda y lo están haciendo en el estilo impresionante.

FINAL DE LA COPA: Chile vs Argentina

Desglose del equipo:

CHILE- Es una sorpresa cómo un equipo con éxito tanto la Copa Mundial nunca ha sido un ganador de la Copa América. Hay una gran cantidad de otros equipos de la CONMEBOL que tienen menos de un legado de la Copa Mundial de Chile, pero han ganado la Copa en el pasado. Chile está pasando por uno de sus más impresionantes épocas de la historia. Algunos dicen que puede tener que ver con el rebote después de un incidente de engaño en las eliminatorias mundialistas en 1993 que dio lugar a su descalificación. Si eso, de hecho, llevó a mejoras de Chile, son definitivamente en el camino correcto ya que han calificado para tres Copas del Mundo desde entonces.

En cuanto a la Copa América, esta es su quinta vez en la final y lo han hecho en muy impresionante la manera con victorias consecutivas sobre sus opositores. Su único empate llegó en el juego en grupo frente a México 3-3. Sin embargo va en contra de la Argentina es un desafío. Han jugado unos a otros tiempos de ochenta y tantos en el pasado con Chile solamente ganar seis veces. Chile puede tener una de sus mejores selecciones nunca, pero que va a ser un desafío contra la Argentina con tantos talentos superiores.

ARGENTINA- Esto hace Argentina el país que ha golpeado el Top 2 en la Copa América la mayoría de veces con 27. Una vez más, la Albiceleste son sensacionales. Lionel Messi, Ángel Di María, Gonzalo Higuaín y Sergio Agüero han entregado en este torneo. Si Argentina gana, van a atar 15 victorias de Uruguay como el país con más victorias de Copa y seguro que parecen a punto de hacerlo.

No es para decir que es una garantía del 100%. Argentina pudo haber entregado una victoria por 6-1 sobre Paraguay en las semifinales pero el equipo por equipo cuenta una historia completamente diferente. Argentina tuvo un empate ante Paraguay 2-2 en el juego de grupo y tuvimos un empate sin goles ante Colombia en los cuartos de final, donde se tardó alrededor de una intensa penal para decidir el ganador Argentina. Así que Argentina sí tiene un lado vulnerable. Esto es algo que Chile podría beneficiarse de donde podrían sacar una victoria sorpresa.

Mi veredicto:

Claro, hogar ventaja césped podría dar un impulso Chile, pero creo que aquí es donde termina el impulso. Creo Argentina tardará 3-1.

Y ahí lo tienes. Mi predicción para quién va a ganar la Copa. Una cosa que debemos tener en cuenta es el que gana la Copa aquí representará la CONMEBOL en la Copa Confederaciones 2017. ¿Mi predicción estar en lo cierto? Descúbrelo por ti mismo 4 de julio.

2015 Copa America Semifinal Predictions/ Predicciones de semifinales de la Copa América 2015

 

Copa America semisThe Copa America has contested their group play and their quarterfinals. As I say, it can be anyone’s game. Some things went as predicted while some didn’t. Who would’ve expected Neymar would deliver an outburst on Colombian player Pablo Armero that would give him a red card and a four-game suspension?

Anyways the semifinalists have been decided. Here’s my rundown of the four semifinalists and my prediction for the winners.

SEMIFINAL #1 – Chile vs. Peru:

What can I say? Chile has proven themselves strong in their home country. They’ve scored well and they’ve defended well. Their quarterfinal win over defending champs Uruguay proves this team’s strength even as they play their own. It’s obvious the team wants to win its first Copa ever right at home.

However the team did suffer a bit of a setback. For those who don’t know, star striker Arturo Vidal drove drunk on Tuesday the 16th and crashed his car. His injuries ended up being minor as he has played in Copa matches since but he has not scored a goal since the incident. Even despite the incident, Chile has won both games since. So even though Vidal is one of two players at the Copa to score three goals, team Chile is not just Vidal.

As for Peru, they have been going beyond pre-Copa expectations. They weren’t too spectacular during group play but were consistent enough to qualify for the quarterfinals. There Peru really gave a show as they beat Bolivia 3-1 thanks to a hat trick from Paolo Guerrero. This already sends a message that Peru is ready to deliver excitement of their own.

My Final Verdict:

Okay, Chile have been consistent and showy. Peru have been conservative but consistent and only started showing fire recently. I will have to predict Chile to win 2-1. I could be wrong as Guerrero could pull another stunner. Nevertheless I’ll stick to my prediction.

SEMIFINAL #1 – Argentina vs. Paraguay:

Argentina have been playing consistently if not invincibly as they have the reputation for. The 2-2 draw against Paraguay is a reminder that anything can happen between the CONMEBOL countries. They, more than any other confederation’s countries, know each other inside out and all are capable of winning against each other. That reminder also came into play in the quarterfinals when they went scoreless against Colombia into penalty kicks. Once again, Argentina were victorious as they’re second only to Germany in terms of penalty kick prowess. So the Copa has shown Argentina’s strengths as well as their weaknesses too.

Paraguay is another example of how any of the CONMEBOL countries can come out among the top. Brazil was hoping for a comeback in this tournament but Paraguay had comeback ambitions of their own, especially after finishing last in the World Cup qualifiers. In their quarterfinal, they were able to take advantage of a Brazil with Neymar suspended, tied the game 1-1 and won on penalties. Sure, Paraguay has really picked themselves up lately but they still face a stiff challenge from an Argentina that still has Messi, Di Maria and Higuain.

My Final Verdict:

I will have to say Argentina will win 3-1. I don’t see Paraguay too serious of a challenge of a team full of greats.

And there you go. My predictions for the Copa America semifinals. The next Copa prediction you’ll hear from me will be the final.

La Copa América han impugnado su juego de grupo y sus cuartos de final. Como digo, puede ser el juego de nadie. Algunas cosas salieron como se predijo, mientras que otros no. ¿Quién hubiera esperado Neymar entregaría un arrebato de jugador colombiano Pablo Armero que le daría una tarjeta roja y una suspensión de cuatro partidos?De todas formas los semifinalistas se han decidido. Aquí está mi resumen de los cuatro semifinalistas y mi predicción para los ganadores.

SEMIFINAL # 1 – Chile vs Perú:

¿Qué puedo decir? Chile ha demostrado ser fuertes en su país de origen. Han anotado bien y que han defendido bien. Su victoria en cuartos de final sobre campeones defensores Uruguay demuestra la fortaleza de este equipo, incluso mientras juegan su propia cuenta. Es obvio que el equipo quiere ganar su primera Copa siempre como en casa.

Sin embargo, el equipo ha hecho sufrir un poco de un revés. Para los que no saben, delantero estrella Arturo Vidal conducía ebrio el martes 16 y se estrelló con su coche. Sus lesiones terminaron siendo de menor importancia ya que ha jugado en la Copa partidos desde entonces, pero él no ha marcado un gol desde el incidente. Incluso a pesar del incidente, Chile ha ganado los dos partidos desde entonces. Así que a pesar de que Vidal es uno de los dos jugadores en la Copa de anotar tres goles, el equipo de Chile no es sólo Vidal.

En cuanto a Perú, que han ido más allá de las expectativas pre-Copa. No eran demasiado espectacular durante el juego de grupo, pero eran lo suficientemente consistentes como para calificar para los cuartos de final. Hay Perú realmente dio un espectáculo al vencer a Bolivia por 3-1 gracias a un ‘hat trick’ de Paolo Guerrero. Esto ya envía un mensaje de que el Perú está listo para entregar el entusiasmo de los suyos.

Mi veredicto final:

De acuerdo, Chile ha sido consistente y llamativo. Perú ha sido conservador pero consistente y sólo comenzado a mostrar fuego recientemente. Voy a tener que predecir Chile para ganar 2-1. Podría estar equivocado como Guerrero podría tirar de otra maravilla. Sin embargo, me quedo con mi predicción.

SEMIFINAL # 1 – Argentina vs Paraguay:

Argentina ha estado jugando constantemente si no invencible, ya que tienen la reputación de. El empate 2-2 contra Paraguay es un recordatorio de que cualquier cosa puede suceder entre los países de la CONMEBOL. Ellos, más que los países de cualquier otra confederación, se conocen entre sí dentro hacia fuera y todos son capaces de ganar uno contra el otro. Ese recordatorio también entró en juego en los cuartos de final cuando se fueron sin goles ante Colombia en tiros penales. Una vez más, Argentina salieron victoriosos, ya que son sólo superado por Alemania en términos de destreza tiro penal. Así que la Copa ha mostrado fortalezas de la Argentina, así como sus debilidades también.

Paraguay es otro ejemplo de cómo cualquiera de los países de la CONMEBOL puede salir entre los primeros. Brasil esperaba una reaparición en este torneo, pero Paraguay tenía ambiciones remontada de los suyos, sobre todo después de terminar último en las eliminatorias de la Copa Mundial. En su cuarto de final, fueron capaces de tomar ventaja de un Brasil con Neymar suspendido, empató el partido 1-1 y ganó en los penaltis. Claro, Paraguay realmente se ha recuperado la ventaja de últimamente, pero que todavía se enfrentan a un duro desafío de una Argentina que todavía tiene a Messi, Di María e Higuaín.

Mi veredicto final:

Voy a tener que decir que Argentina va a ganar 3-1. No veo Paraguay demasiado serio de un desafío de un equipo lleno de grandes.

Y ahí lo tienes. Mis predicciones para las semifinales de la Copa América. La predicción de la siguiente Copa oirás de mí será la final.

2015 Copa America: Group B Focus/ Grupo B Enfoque

The Copa is just two days away but the excitement still builds. This group should be especially exciting because there are two World Cup winners here. Hey, the Copa’s any country’s game. So here’s the run-down of Group B:

GROUP B:

argentina-Argentina (2): Argentina is one country that keeps on having a stellar reputation and a team full of talent. Argentina is also a team that is known to have legendary misses such as losing in the quarterfinals at the last Copa America in 2011. Even the shots in the World Cup final where they’ve could have won it but missed still linger in the memory of many. Since the World Cup, Argentina has had a mixed bag of results. They got their revenge on Germany in September 4-2 and they’ve have wins Against Croatia, Ecuador and Bolivia. However they’ve also endured losses to Brazil and Portugal. This Copa will be another proving point for Messi and the boys.

Uruguay-Uruguay (8): Uruguay looks great to repeat as Copa champions. However they still face the difficulty of playing without Luis Suarez as he will be suspended from the tournament because of the biting incident at the 2014 World Cup. Nevertheless we should remember that Uruguay is not just Suarez. It’s Edinson Cavani, Cristian Rodriguez and Maxi Pereira too. They also never official lost a game since the World Cup, only enduring a penalty kick loss to Costa Rica in November. I’m sure football’s ‘little giant’ can surprise us once again.

Paraguay-Paraguay (81): Paraguay appeared to have a stellar era starting back in the late 1990’s and ending just years ago. That included qualifying for four straight World Cups and even being runners-up at the Copa in 2011. However Paraguay is going through a difficult time now. They finished last in the CONMEBOL qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup. They’ve also only had two wins in the last twelve months: against Cameroon and Peru. Few players on their team play in leagues outside of Paraguay. However this tournament could be one where Paraguay can see it as a stepping stone for a comeback. No matter what they do, they can always grow.

Jamaica-Jamaica (74): Caribbean teams have been taken more seriously in the last few decades. In fact FIFA is thinking of expanding its World Cup to forty nations in hopes of making it more global and even including Caribbean countries. Jamaica has a big  part in it. They played in the 1998 World Cup. Even though they didn’t qualify for the next round, they did win over Japan. Trinidad and Tobago was the next Caribbean team to qualify for the World Cup. However it’s Jamaica that first caught the eyes of FIFA.

Currently their team has five players in England’s Premier League and five in the MLS. Their recent play has not been the most spectacular as they have endured some big losses in friendlies. However they did win against Venezuela and Cuba recently. This tournament will give another sign how the Reggae Boyz are doing.

PREDICTION:

This is a tough one. Argentina’s the leader but this competition has traditionally been Uruguay’s domain. I’ll pick Argentina to top the group with Uruguay second. Third to Jamaica.

And there you go. My summary of the Group B teams of the Copa. Only one more group to sum up and that’s Thursday.

La Copa está a sólo dos días de distancia, pero la emoción todavía construye. Este grupo debe ser especialmente emocionante porque hay dos campeones del mundo aquí. Oye, la Copa es el partido de cualquier país. Así que aquí está la decadencia del Grupo B:

 

GRUPO B:

argentina-Argentina (2): La Argentina es un país que sigue teniendo una reputación estelar y un equipo lleno de talento. Argentina también es un equipo que se sabe que tiene fallos legendarios como de perder en los cuartos de final en la última Copa América en 2011. Incluso los disparos en la final del Mundial donde han podrían haber ganado pero se perdió aún persisten en la memoria de muchos. Desde la Copa del Mundo, Argentina ha tenido una mezcla de resultados. Ellos consiguieron su venganza en Alemania en septiembre 4 a 2 y han tener victorias contra Croacia, Ecuador y Bolivia. Sin embargo, también han soportado pérdidas a Brasil y Portugal. Esta Copa será otro punto de prueba para Messi y los chicos.

Uruguay-Uruguay (8): Uruguay se ve muy bien para repetir como campeones de Copa. Sin embargo todavía se enfrentan a la dificultad de jugar sin Luis Suárez como será suspendido del torneo debido al incidente de morder en la Copa del Mundo de 2014. Sin embargo, debemos recordar que Uruguay no es sólo Suárez. Es Edinson Cavani, Cristian Rodríguez y Maxi Pereira también. También no oficial perdieron un partido desde la Copa Mundial, sólo soportar una pérdida de tiro penal a Costa Rica en noviembre. Estoy ‘pequeño gigante’ Seguro de fútbol nos puede sorprender una vez más.

Paraguay-Paraguay (81): Paraguay parecía tener una era estelar empezando de nuevo a finales de 1990 y terminando apenas hace años. Eso incluía clasificación para cuatro rectas Copas del Mundo y aun siendo subcampeón en la Copa en 2011. Sin embargo Paraguay está pasando por un momento difícil ahora. Terminaron última en las eliminatorias de la CONMEBOL para la Copa del Mundo de 2014. Han también sólo tenían dos victorias en los últimos doce meses: contra Camerún y Perú. Pocos jugadores de su equipo juegan en ligas fuera de Paraguay. Sin embargo este torneo podría ser aquella en Paraguay puede verlo como un trampolín para un regreso. No importa lo que hagan, siempre pueden crecer.

Jamaica-Jamaica (74): Los equipos del Caribe se han tomado más en serio en las últimas décadas. De hecho la FIFA está pensando en ampliar su Copa del Mundo de cuarenta naciones con la esperanza de lo que es más global e incluso incluyendo los países del Caribe. Jamaica tiene un papel importante en ello. Jugaron en el Mundial de 1998. A pesar de que no calificaron para la siguiente ronda, que ganaron sobre Japón. Trinidad y Tobago fue el siguiente equipo caribeño clasificarse para la Copa del Mundo. Sin embargo, es Jamaica, que primero llamó la atención de la FIFA.

Actualmente su equipo tiene cinco jugadores de la Premier League inglesa y cinco en la MLS. Su obra reciente no ha sido el más espectacular, ya que han sufrido algunas grandes pérdidas en los amistosos. Sin embargo ellos ganaron contra Venezuela y Cuba recientemente. Este torneo dará otra señal de cómo los Reggae Boyz están haciendo.

PREDICCIÓN:

Esta es una pregunta difícil. Argentina es el líder, pero esta competición ha sido tradicionalmente el dominio de Uruguay. Voy a recoger Argentina al principio el grupo con Uruguay segundos. Tercero a Jamaica.

Y ahí lo tienes. Mi resumen de los equipos del Grupo B de la Copa. Sólo un grupo más para resumir y que es jueves.

World Cup 2014: My Prediction For The Final

Netherlands v Spain: 2010 FIFA World Cup FinalWhat can I say about the World Cup? All I can say is that it starts with 32 teams, takes a month and at the end, only one country’s left smiling. And so after 62 games and loads of surprises, they’ve weeded out the thirty pretenders and gave us the two contenders: Germany who has won the Cup three times before and Argentina who have won it twice before. The Maracana will be the stage for deciding the World Cup winners. Here I’ll do a rundown of the two teams and even make my prediction on who I think will win the Cup.

First an interesting note I came about. Isn’t it ironic that both the final for the Cup and the 3rd-place match are both like rematches of quarterfinals of the last World Cup? Anyways I’ll get on with it.

World Cup

Past Head-To-Head Results:

Germany and Argentina have squared off against each other 20 times. Argentina has won the most often with nine times. Germany has won six and five were draws. Both Germany and Argentina have scored 28 goals against each other. Germany and Argentina have crossed paths at seven World Cups starting in 1958. Surprisingly this is the third World Cup in a row they both challenge each other. The previous two were in quarterfinals. In 2006 when Germany hosted, they tied 1-1 and it took a round of penalty kicks to decide Germany the winner. Last World Cup it was Argentina that had their own version of the Mineirazo as Germany won 4-0. Also as surprisingly, this is the third World Cup Final they both face each other: the most World Cup finals pairings ever. The first was in 1986 when Maradona and the boys won 3-2. The following World Cup they met again and it was German revenge 1-0. In both cases, that was the last World Cup either team won.

Argentina FootballARGENTINA: One word that can best describe Argentina here at the World Cup is consistent. They won all three of their Group Stage games: 2-1 against Bosnia, 1-0 against Iran, and 3-2 against Nigeria. They also won their Round of 16 match against Switzerland in extra time 1-0, their quarterfinal against Belgium 1-0 and their semifinal against the Netherlands in a penalty shootout.

There’s another word to describe Argentina’s play at this World Cup: lackluster. The phenomenal big play that Argentina has been known for was missing. Instead it looked like they were focusing on the conservative.  Sure, the conservative style worked for France last world Cup but this is not what you’d expect from Argentina. Sure Lionel Messi has been one of the stars of the tournament and has lived up to his reputation during the World Cup but other Argentinians like Gonzalo Higuain and Angel di Maria have been playing rather modestly than what they’re reputed for. That scoreless draw should be cause for concern since it was mostly a contest of ball control and very little attacking. In fact I remember a scene near the end of regulation where it appeared Dutch players were lollygagging with the ball.

Whatever the situation, conservative play will not come in handy, especially against a team that annihilated the host country on Tuesday. That game has to be the biggest signal to Argentina that if they were to win the Cup, they will be pressed to pour it on like never before at this Cup. There’s no doubt Messi and Higuain have what it takes here. They have to be prepared for a similar attack like Germany gave Brazil on Tuesday. It’s evident that Germany can take full advantage of an opponent’s vulnerability and come down hard on them. They should know because Germany beat them in the quarterfinals at the last World Cup 4-0, just after winning every other previous game they played.

As for the team, I’m not worried about Messi. I think of him as Maradona without the ego. Especially since it’s evident he knows what he needs to do to deliver here and he’s done that. Sergio Romero has been an excellent goaltender as he has delivered each time and has only conceded three goals. The rest of the team will have to be prepared for anything from Germany whether it be conservative play or an all. And with Angel di Maria out, they will have to step up their midfield. Coach Sabella knows the job he has to deliver and I’m sure he’ll mean business, especially to bring Argentina back on top after 28 years.

Germany FootballGERMANY: What can I say? They are not called the Mannschaft for nothing. What we have is a team that is lacking in superstars and celebrity. Heck, Miroslav Klose has scored the most goals in World Cup history and he doesn’t have the star power as say Neymar, Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Instead we have a team full of players that are focused, know what they have to do and deliver. And they definitely know how to pour it on as evident in the Mineirazo and their opener of 4-0 against Portugal. You can bet Germany is a team that knows how to deliver.

Or do they? Sure, they had big wins against Portugal and Brazil but they have had their share of tight matches at the World Cup, like when they temporarily trailed Ghana before they tied 2-2. Or even going scoreless against Algeria in regulation before winning 2-1. It’s evident in those matches that Germany has weaknesses of their own and could be made vulnerable by Argentina. Argentina is a team very familiar with them and knows how to rival them. It’s also very possible Argentina will want to avenge Germany for the last two World Cup quarterfinals. Sure, Argentina has not been too spectacular but they could just pour it on when they have to. It’s happened before in major play.

One thing about Tuesday’s game, it’s that coach Joachim Löw doesn’t want that big win to make his team overconfident. Even Miro Klose stated that he doesn’t want the win to get to the team’s head. What they’ll have on Sunday is a new team and will need a new plan to win. It’s evident with each passing match, it’s all about knowing the rival, controlling them and monopolizing on your chances. And that’s what Germany will have to do on Sunday to win the Cup for the fourth time and for the first time ever as a unified nation.

MY PREDICTION: Okay. So here goes. My prediction for the winner of the 2014 World Cup. I believe it will be Germany 2-1 in extra time. Wow! I’ve been making a lot of predictions where the score is 2-1, haven’t I? But that’s what I believe it will be. Germany have that edge in terms of delivering goals and will continue to be the case if Argentina don’t step up their game. Argentina know how to defend and control opponents but they lack the ability to monopolize on their chances. So that’s why I give Germany the edge.

So there you go. It was fun making predictions for the World Cup. I hope to do football/soccer predicting again sometime soon. Maybe my next chance will be for next year’s Copa America. Provided if TSN or ESPN broadcast it.

World Cup 2014: Semifinals Prediction

Last 4Well it’s getting closer and closer. We’re down to the last four countries standing. Tuesday and Wednesday will decide Sunday’s finalists for the World Cup. It’s a pair of interesting pairings as both look like rematches of a World Cup final from the past. And in both cases, both teams have played each other well to give a sign who has the advantage. So without further ado, I’ll look into the two semifinals and make my predictions.

SEMIFINAL #1 – BRAZIL vs. GERMANY

Head-To-Head Stuff:

Brazil and Germany have played each other 21 times. Brazil has won 12 of those times, Germany 4 and drawn 5 times. They have played each other only once in the World Cup: in the 2002 Final which Brazil won 2-0. Brazil has scored 39 total goals against Germany and Germany has scored 24 against Brazil.

Team-By-Team Analysis:

Brazil FootballBrazil: Oh yes, the pressures of being the host nation. Many times it’s been a plus as six host nations would go on to win the World Cup. However it can backfire and sometimes the host nation can miss. Even teams like Italy and Germany that have won World Cups in the past–even once before as host country– would miss. Brazil has performed very well in play and has delivered stellar wins such as 3-1 against Croatia and 4-1 against Cameroon. They have also shown their weak side with a 0-0 draw against Mexico and a 1-1 draw against Chile where they advanced after penalty kicks.

Brazil's chances of winning the World Cup have been under huge question after Neymar's devastating back injury in Friday's match against Colombia.

Brazil’s chances of winning the World Cup have been under huge question after Neymar’s devastating back injury in Friday’s match against Colombia.

Their most recent match-up against Colombia ended with a good win of 2-1 but it was not without incident as Neymar had been injured terribly in the back. He was even carried of in a stretcher and is currently hospitalized at his home near Sao Paulo. Doctors say his spinal cord is broken but he is expected to make a full recovery within six weeks. They also said had it been an inch higher, he would have been paralyzed permanently. Not to mention Thiago Silva amassing two yellow cards and out of the semifinal.

With Neymar out and recovering and Thiago Silva sitting the semi out, Brazil is trying to get its team ready against Germany. Even Sports Illustrated have spoken about what Brazil needs to do. Brazil will face more pressure to win but it’s not to say they don’t have what it takes to do it. They have David Luiz, Hulk and Fred still active on their team. However David Luiz knows that he will have to step up his defense. Also coach Scolari knows he will have to make a wise choice for a replacement for Neymar. On a positive side, Brazil did demonstrate its defense after Neymar was injured and taken off with impressive results. So it shows it can be done.

Germany FootballGermany: Germany keeps on adding to their record of consistency. Their semifinal appearance here makes it their thirteenth time in their eighteen World Cup appearances they’ve cracked the Top 4. The biggest surprise of it all is that despite Germany’s consistency, they’re one of the least celebrated great teams of the World Cup. Sure, you’ll walk down the street and see a lot of people wearing jerseys of Brazil, Italy, England, Argentina, Portugal, Netherlands and  Colombia most of the time but how often do you see one wearing a Germany jersey?

Germany's feats, like Thomas Muller's hat trick, often go underexposed.

Germany’s feats, like Thomas Muller’s hat trick, often go underexposed.

Even now Germany continues to perform well and their achievements go quietly. Thomas Muller scored a hat trick against Portugal but that received less mention than the two-pointers from Neymar, Lionel Messi and James Rodriguez. Some may feel that it’s a bad thing but others, like possibly some Germans, may not feel that way. We shouldn’t forget that Germany has one of the most closely knit teams. Most of the players are less interested in individual glory and more interested in making wins happen. People like Muller, Miroslav Klose, Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger may have what it takes to be stars of the team but they’re top interest is playing.

Their unity as a team has paid off here in Brazil. They won 4-1 against Portugal and 1-0 against the United States. However it’s not to say they’ve had some strugglers here too. They did draw 2-2 against Ghana and had to go into extra time against Algeria after remaining scoreless in regulation. They did however win 2-1 in extra time. However a 1-0 win against France puts their chances of winning the World Cup, if not against Brazil, in question.

The German team appear confident after knowing of Neymar’s injury. Many people have already predicted Germany will win this match because of both Neymar’s injury and Thiago Silva’s expulsion. However it’s too soon to assume things. Brazil has won games before without their best players. Nevertheless this is a golden opportunity for Germany to seize.

My Verdict: Okay. This is a tough call since things can go either way. Some people will think this is a risky call for me but I’ll call it anyways. I think Brazil will win 1-0 in extra time. Brazil has performed well without their best players at times–heck, they won the 1962 World Cup while Pele was sidelined with injuries– but I’m confident they have what it takes to do it and a strong coach like Scolari to lead the way. Also let’s hope the spectators make it there safe and sound after the news of the freeway collapse in Belo Horizonte on Saturday that left two dead and 23 injured. One trivia note: whoever wins will set a World Cup record for the most finals appearances with eight.

SEMIFINAL #2 – ARGENTINA vs. NETHERLANDS

Head-To-Head Stuff: Argentina and the Netherlands have squared off against each other eight times in the past including three times during World Cup matches including the 1978 final for the Cup. Argentina was host that year and won in extra time 3-1. Surprisingly this was the only time Argentina has defeated the Netherlands. The Netherlands have won four times including a 1998 World Cup rematch in the quarterfinals 2-1 and there have been three draws. Netherlands has scored 13 goals against Argentina while Argentina have scored six against the Dutch.

Team-By-Team Analysis:

Argentina FootballArgentina: Argentina have not played as spectacularly as they have been known to do. They have won all their games but all their wins have been at a margin of just one goal: 2-1 against Bosnia, 1-0 against Iran, 3-2 against Nigeria, 1-0 against Switzerland and 1-0 against Belgium. Already this makes it the fifth time Argentina has made it as far as the Top 4 at the World Cup. This is especially relief for them since the last time they made it past the quarterfinals was back in 1990.  Argentina has been known to have a spectacular flavor about them but it appears missing this time around. One thing that is not missing is spectacular play from Lionel Messi. He came as one of the superstars with high expectations and he has delivered with a total of four goals and even delivered excellent supporting play. There has also been excellent supporting play from Gonzalo Higuain.

Here in Brazil, Argentina will have to pick up their game if they want to win. Sure, conservative play has paid off in the past like for Spain at the last World Cup. However it can be a risk as who knows how much the opposing team can score. And the Netherlands already delivered a big win with 5-1 against Spain. If Argentina want to have their first win against the Netherlands since the 1978 World Cup final, they have to pick it up and have all their players deliver more than what they delivered in the past.

Netherlands FootballNetherlands: The Netherlands is considered by many the greatest team never to have won the World Cup. Three times the bridesmaid including the last World Cup, never the bride. Before this World Cup, not much was expected of Oranje. They had a disappointing Euro 2012 and they appeared like they hadn’t proven any improvements. However Louis van Gaal had a message to send the world. The team had already been made up of a lot of young players–nine of which were born in the 1990’s–and had top veterans like Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben. Boy did they prove a lot starting with their 5-1 win over defending cupholders Spain, a 3-2 win over Australia and a 2-0 win over Chile. They also continued well with a 2-1 win over Mexico in the Round of 16. Their 11 goals have made them the top scoring team of the Cup so far with both Robben and van Persie scoring three goals each and 20 year-old Memphis Depay a strong favorite for the Cup’s Young Player award.

However with all their spectacular play, they were given a reality check when they drew 0-0 against Costa Rica in regulation. Much to the teams relief, they won the penalty shootout 4-3 after substituting goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen with Tim Krul. If the Netherlands want to win en route to their fourth World Cup final, they should not rely on the facts that they’ve beaten Argentina more often. They should know Argentina can deliver when they have to. Also Argentina is better conditioned than the Netherlands at playing in the hot climates as seen in many games this World Cup.

My Verdict: I have to go with Argentina on this with the score 2-1. They haven’t been as spectacular as the Netherlands but they’ve been showing a lot of team unity and have delivered whenever they’ve had to. Also they know how to play hot weather better than the Netherlands.

Well that wraps up another set of predictions. I like how a lot of you like the predictions I’ve been making with the Group Stage and the first knockout games. All that’s left to predict is the final. Stay tuned Friday.

World Cup 2014 Preview: Group F

Group F is one group that has one country almost guaranteed to come out on top. However the second team to move on could be any of the other three. I guess Group F is a ‘Group Of Death’ in that sense. Here’s my rundown of the Group F teams:

argentina-Argentina (7)- Argentina is another country at the World Cup with a legacy. This is their sixteenth World Cup. They’ve made it to the finals four times and won twice. Argentina has always been seen as a real threat in football these past few decades with a well-known aggressive play. They’ve been churning out great after great with Mario Kempes, Diego Maradona, Gabriel Batistuta, Carlos Teves and most recently Lionel Messi. However they do have their glitches. For starters, they have not made it past the quarterfinals since 1990. With Maradona coaching, it looked like 2010 would be the year they’d break their bad luck. They almost did as they were brilliant in group play and in their Round of 16 match against Mexico but were halted by Germany 4-0. Getting knocked out in the quarterfinals at the 2011 Copa America didn’t help either. However the team made considerable improvement with the addition of Alejandra Sabella as coach. Since then their only losses came to South American teams like Brazil, Venezuela and Uruguay, teams they would eventually beat in another recent game. On top of that, Argentina never lost to a European team under Sabella’s coaching. No doubt they have the talent to win. Many predict them to be finalists in Brazil at least. It’s just a matter of them delivering.

Bosnia-Bosnia-Hercegovina (25)- It’s very common for an athlete or a sports team to lift the spirits of a troubled nation. Bosnia-Hercegovina is a nation still recovering from its brutal civil war from 1992 to 1995. However at last year’s World Cup qualifying, Bosnia’s team gave the people something to cheer about. Also people on the streets could talk about something other than the war. The team was brilliant in qualifying play winning eight games, drawing one and losing one. They scored 30 goals and only conceded six. You can credit this to the guidance of coach Safet Susic and the play of Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko.  They were impressive in World Cup qualifying play and they’ve had varied results in friendly play with wins against Mexico and the Ivory Coast but 2-0 losses to Egypt and Argentina. The World Cup is a chance for Bosnia to grow as a team. They’re the only team in Brazil competing in their first World Cup. They pretty much have nothing to lose and everything else to gain.

Iran-Iran (37)- Iran comes to their fourth World Cup here in Brazil hoping for a breakthrough. They’ve won the Asian Cup three times from 1968 to 1976 but have never been able to advance past the Group Stage at the World Cup in their three previous appearances: 1978, 1998 and 2006.  The current team is coached by Carlos Queiroz who managed Portugal at the 2010 World Cup. Top player is Charlton Athletics forward Reza ‘Gucci’ Ghoochannejhad who did most of the scoring in World Cup qualifying. They have been able to show their prowess well by beating South Korea, who is traditionally Asia’s strongest team, twice. Most of their friendly play has been so-so as they’ve drawn three of their four matches, only losing to Guinea 2-1. 2014 looks like a great chance for Iran to have the World Cup breakthrough they’ve been waiting for.

Nigeria-Nigeria (44)- Nigeria had its best days in the 1990’s when it made it to the Round of 16 in two World Cups. They come to their fifth World Cup hoping to reclaim their greatness despite not having a lot expected upon them. They are the reigning African Cup of Nations holders from 2013. The team is led by Stephen Keshi who was part of Nigeria’s first ever World Cup team back in 1994. The team’s players come from a mix of players from European leagues and Nigeria’s national league. Some of their star players like John Obi Mikel, Victor Moses and Efe Ambrose play for the top teams like Chelsea and Celtic. Nigeria has performed well in friendly play, losing only to Mali and Ghana in penalty kicks. They’ve also has scoreless draws against Mexico and Greece and 2-2 draws against Scotland and Italy. 2014 could be a comeback for Nigeria.

Now my prediction for the two advancers: they only way I cannot see Argentina from being #1 in this group or failing to advance is if they’re too overconfident, but I highly doubt it. Second advancer will be Iran, though Bosnia-Hercegovina can have a case of beginner’s luck if they play as brilliant in Brazil as they did in qualifying.

STADIUM SPOTLIGHTSalvador

-SALVADOR : Arena Fonte Nova

Year Opened: 2013

World Cup Capacity: 48,747

World Cup Groups Hosting: B, E, F, H

Additional World Cup Matches Contested: Round of 16 (H1 vs. G2) & a quarterfinal

Salvador was one of those cities that needed a new stadium. However its top reason wasn’t because of the luxury of hosting a World Cup but of a tragic disaster instead. The older Estadio Fonte Nova, built in 1951 and home to football club EC Bahia, was starting to show its wear. Then on November 25, 2007, a section of the stadium’s highest terrace collapsed during a game celebration. Seven people were killed and forty others were injured. The governor of Bahia was fast to act as the next day he closed the stadium and the day after ordered that the stadium be demolished and a new one be created. The stadium seats were all demolished with only the field being kept. A group of architects from Brunswick, Germany who helped redesign Hanover’s old stadium in time for the 2006 World Cup were put in charge of the redesign of the Fonte Nova including turning it from a stadium into an arena with a lightweight roof.

The new stadium was opened in April 2013 and even hosted some games of the Confederations Cup. In the months leading up to the World Cup, the stadium has had problems such as blind spots for some spectators as well as some puddles and excessive dust. In addition, the lightweight rood proved to be too lightweight as a section collapsed May 27, 2013 because of heavy rain. No one was injured. The organizers said they were aware of the problems. Whatever the situation, they had a whole year to get it right in time for the World Cup. The World Cup scene and the months thereafter will determine its effectiveness and functionality.

Not only will the stadium be home for FC Bahia but the surrounding area includes a panoramic restaurant, museum of football, car parks, shops, hotels and a concert hall.

And there you go. Another group and another stadium reviewed. Two more groups and three more stadiums to focus on.