Cup spilleth over
Ronaldinho earned himself a place in the history books when his Atletico Mineiro side overturned a 2-0 first leg deficit before defeating Olimpia on penalties to win the Libertadores Cup for the first time.
In so doing, Ronaldinho becomes just the fourth Brazilian in the history of the game to win both the Libertadores and the European Cup. The others were Dida for Cruzeiro in 1997 and Milan in 2003 and 2007, Cafu for São Paulo in 1992 and 1993 and Milan in 2007, and who, apart from most fans of Leeds United, could forget Roque Junior who won the Libertadores Cup with Palmeiras in 1999 and its European equivalent for Milan 2003.
Ronaldinho, twice FIFA’s World Player of the Year and a World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002 and Champions League winner in 2006 with Barcelona, said he had craved the South American title since returning home in 2011.
“This is why I came back to Brazil,” he said. “Not long ago people were saying that I was done but we showed today that isn’t the case.”
While the iconic Ronaldinho garnered the headlines, the key figure in Atletico’s success was, arguably, their goalkeeper, the aptly-named Victor. His penalty save in the closing moments of the quarter-final against Tijuana and another in the semi-final shootout victory over Newell’s Old Boys took the Belo Horizonte-based side to the final, where a shootout save from from defender Herminio Miranda set Atletico on their way.
“When it’s written, it’s written, this was meant for us,” said Altetico coach Cuca.
Here are the goals, the penalty shootout and the gleeful celebrations.
Show me the money
FIFA has confirmed it was yet to reimburse Nigeria its share for participating at the recent Confederations Cup in Brazil.
But almost a month after Brazil beat Spain 3-0 to win the tournament the Nigeria federation is still waiting for its payment for attending the event.
According to FIFA, they were still working on the processes for the payment. While the exact amount due to Nigeria after all calculations is unclear, it will definitely be less than $1.7 million which FIFA announced it would pay each of the countries that failed to reach the semi-final from the group stage.
After Nigeria’s elimination from the tournament, President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Aminu Maigari, told reporters in Brazil that FIFA would pay Nigeria after working out the cost of services used by the Super Eagles while in Brazil.
The expenses included accommodation, feeding, security, cost of flights and other services.
Nigeria did save FIFA some money on accommodation by turning up late for the tournament. Ironically, their delayed arrival in Brazil was caused by the refusal of the players to travel. Their reason? A delay in receiving bonus payments from the NFF.
What goes around comes around.
An unnamed Jamaica international has failed a dope test following a World Cup qualifying match, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has revealed.
The JFF said they received notification from FIFA that a member of the Jamaica squad for the match against Honduras on June 11 had “returned an adverse analytical finding on his urine sample.”
“The JFF has taken this matter very seriously and a thorough investigation has already started by the chairman of the JFF Medical Committee,” the federation said on their website (www.jamaicafootballfederation.com).
The test was carried out by FIFA and the player has been informed.
The news is a fresh blow to Jamaican sport, following last week’s revelations that sprinters Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson had tested positive for oxilofrine, a banned stimulant.
Jamaica are bottom of their 2014 World Cup qualifying group with no wins and two points from six matches.
Back from the dead
After an absence of 29 years, New York Cosmos are back. Their rebirth came via a 2-1 friendly defeat to League One side Leyton Orient.
It was all a far cry from their 1970s heyday when the Cosmos, still the most famous club name in United States football, included the likes of Pele, Carlos Alberto and Franz Beckenbauer in their ranks. But, small steps and all that. This was their first official match since being reformed in 2010, following demise of the original franchise in 1984.
It was an significant moment in their preparation for the start of the North American Soccer League season and coach Giovanni Savarese was delighted with his side’s performance.
“It was a great night and I am very satisfied with what I saw. It was a good test for us and I have identified what we need to work on,” he said after the game played in London.
“Leyton Orient are a good team and gave us a very good game and it was exactly what we needed. Our team has been assembled in the last two months and from having no one then to what we showed tonight, I think we gained some respect.
This is the only match Savarese’s team will play in public on their English tour before their opening NASL game against Fort Lauderdale on August 3.
The Cosmos face League One club Gillingham in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Friday before returning back to the United States.
Going, going, Gotze
Borussia Dortmund have decided to cancel the scheduled farewell ceremony for Mario Gotze ahead of this weekend’s German Super Cup match against Bayern Munich, in order to prevent any supporter protests.
Gotze agreed to sign for Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich in a deal worth €37 million earlier this year, a move which understandably, left many Dortmund fans disappointed with the German international. Dortmund were nonetheless keen to give the 21-year-old an official goodbye and thank him for his contribution to the club’s recent successes.
The club has now opted against the initial plan to bid Gotze farewell on Saturday after talks with the attacking midfielder’s agent Volker Struth, in an effort to placate fans who remain bitter over his switch to the Allianz Arena.
The playmaker has been the subject of a torrent of social media abuse after announcing his move to Bayern Munich. Gotze has been unable to feature in any pre-season action for Bayern due to a muscular injury picked up in last season’s Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid – an injury which kept him out of the final, against, ironically, his new club Bayern.
Nothing to do with me
Lionel Messi has dismissed suggestions that he was responsible for Barcelona’s decision to hire Gerardo Martino as the club’s new coach.
The 44-year-old was confirmed as Tito Vilanova’s replacement – who stepped down to continue his recovery from a cancer relapse – on Tuesday, after a successful stint in charge of Messi’s childhood side Newell’s Old Boys.
That has led to speculation that Messi played a part in Martino’s appointment, something he was quick to dismiss.
He said: “I don’t have anything to do with the signing of Martino and I have nothing to explain. It’s Rosell and the club’s thing. At that time, I said that he looked like a good coach, but I have nothing to explain.
“I don’t know him personally and have never seen him or Luis Enrique, who was also linked. He seems to be a good signing as he has demonstrated with Newell’s and Paraguay that he is capable. Hopefully he’ll do well here.”
Goal of the day
Acrobatic effort by Lyon’s Clement Grenier who confuses the Real Madrid goalkeeper by not looking at the goal.
Quote of the day
“In Sydney Moyes said: ‘We’ve overtrained Robin this week to build up his fitness’. [In Japan] he picked up muscle injury. It really makes you wonder how these prehistoric training methods can still take place at the highest level. The only way to solve this problem in Jurassic Park is to improve education of these dinosaur coaches, fitness clowns & scientific cowboys. But as long as most dinosaurs are still in denial & ignore how things develop in other countries, nothing will ever change in Jurassic Park.”
Dutch fitness expert Raymond Verheijen delivers a withering verdict on David Moyes training methods at Manchester United.
The chief executive of the Premier League has revealed his concern that momentum is swinging in favor of shifting the 2022 World Cup from summer to winter.
Richard Scudamore has long been a critic of such a move, arguing it would disrupt Europe’s domestic leagues for up to three seasons. Now, he is more perturbed than ever after a recent statement by FIFA President Sepp Blatter in which he advocated the Qatar tournament should be played in the cooler winter months.
Speaking in Hong Kong on Thursday, Scudamore says: ”Of course one is worried. We’re not silly. We can see that that’s the way the momentum is shifting.”
Meanwhile, FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce has called on the Premier League to drop their opposition to the proposed switch to winter.
“A sensible decision has to be made,” Boyce told the BBC. “I would appeal to people in the Premier League.
“I know Qatar has said they will air-condition the stadiums and I’m sure they will be fantastic but you have to be realistic.
“You’re taking thousands of people, who want to see and enjoy a World Cup, but in temperatures exceeding 50 degrees, that would not be comfortable or healthy for all of those people.
“Probably the main objectors at the moment are the Premier League and I can understand why because there’s a lot of money involved.
“But from a common sense and especially a health point of view, (a winter World Cup) is something I would dearly love to see and I would hope that people would sit down and try to sort it out.”
Blatter said last week he planned to ask FIFA’s executive committee to consider playing the tournament in the winter to avoid the searing summer heat in the Persian Gulf. A decision is expected at the next exco meeting in October.
Stat of the day
For the first time in over five years, Barcelona have been beaten in the possession statistics. If it had to happen then who better for it to happen against than a Bayern Munich side coached by tiki-taka disciple and former Barca boss, Pep Guardiola.
At the end of a low key friendly match against Guardiola’s new side, won at a stroll by the European champions, Barcelona had managed just 47 per cent of possession.
The last time Barcelona did not enjoy the majority of possession in a match was back in May 2008 when they were beaten 4-1 by Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, with the goals coming from Gonzalo Higuain, Raul, Arjen Robben and Ruud Van Nistelrooy.
It was only 5 years ago, but looking at the line-ups from that game and it feels like a different era.
Real Madrid: Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Heinze, Marcelo, Diarra, Gago, Guti, Sneijder, Raul, Robben.
Barcelona: Valdes, Zambrotta, Marques, Puyol, Adibal, Xavi, Toure, Gudjohnsen, Messi, Bojan, Henry.
Real Madrid were managed by Bernd Schuster while for Barcelona, it was the dying days of Frank Rijkaard’s tenure.