El Portero – Iker Casillas

Spain vs Netherlands - Casillas
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The legend and fury of Spain’s style of play came to a stunning halt yesterday as the Netherlands handed them a devastating 5-1 loss.

Iker Casillas was dragged all over the field by a cutting Robben, who blasted a goal into the back of the net and through Casillas’ heart.

Seeing Casillas defeated and humiliated five times over reminded me of Eduardo Galeano‘s “El Portero” from Fútbol A Sol y Sombra:

…It is always the keeper’s fault. And when it isn’t, he still gets blamed. When-ever a player commits a foul, the keeper is the one who gets punished: they abandon him in the immensity of the empty net to face his executioner alone. And when the team has a bad afternoon, he is the one who pays the bill, expiating the sins of others under a rain of flying balls.

The rest of the players can blow it once in a while or often, and then redeem them-selves with a spectacular dribble, a masterful pass, a well-placed volley. Not him. The crowd never forgives the goalkeeper. Was he drawn out by a fake? Left looking ridiculous? Did the ball skid? Did his fingers of steel turn to putty?

With a single slip-up the goalie can ruin a match or lose a championship, and the fans suddenly forget all his feats and condemn him to eternal disgrace.

Damnation will follow him to the end of his days.

Count it! World Cup Challenge Bracket Analysis

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As thank you for participating in the first quadrennial Count it! World Cup Challenge, I am offering feedback and analysis on the choices you’ve made. There’s a lot riding on the outcome of this tournament, the least of which is a hefty ransom and bragging rights over yours truly.

Without further ado, here is a breakdown of the choices you’ve made,which you now have to live with. #COUNTIT

German's Winner
Individual Analysis:We can only assume the user was feeling the pressure of NOT picking Mexico to win the tournament, and as a result, he ended up with a less than inspiring bracket name. I was disappointed when I didn't see "Si Se Puede" as one of the participants.
Final Prediction:Argentina over Brazil.
Surprise Pick:Germany not making it out of the group of death. Stick THAT in your ubermensch pipe and smoke it, Jurgen.
Believes in the USA?Sure does! Quarterfinals appearance after defeating Belgium.
Husky Heart
Individual Analysis:Staunch supporter of #Team1776 along with yours truly. Dead pent on ruining our World Cup elation by posting about political unrest in Brazil and Kobe Bryant.
Final Prediction:Argentina over Brazil.
Surprise Pick:None; All safe picks. Prediction for number of Argentine goals seems low.
Believes in the USA?Yes, Husky Heart has seen the future and it is outfitted in red, white and blue, at least until the semis where #Team1776 will lose to the eventual champ, Argentina.
G Moneybags85
Individual Analysis:Calm, cool, collected and calculating in his logic and execution. This man is a sports assassin of the most gentlemanly kind. How else do you think he earned all those money bags?
Final Prediction:Brazil over Argentina
Surprise Pick:Japan coming out of group C in second place over Colombia.
Believes in the USA?No! He’s straight up #Jurgen, bro. USA doesn't get out of the first round according to his bracket.
HexaCampeao2014
Individual Analysis:The only Brazilian in our group, which gives him an advantage in this tournament despite being far away from home. • Even his bracket name is scary: HexaCampeao2014 – which means Hexa Campeon in Spanish, and "we’re going to kick your ass and dance all over your grave" in English.
Final Prediction:Brazil over (it doesn't even matter, insert anything here).
Surprise Pick:Nigeria coming out of Group F over Bosnia Herzogovina. (But really, do any of us know anything about Bosnia Herzogovina?)
Believes in the USA?No! He’s too loyal to the original motherland (Portugal) and has them moving on in second place in lieu of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Kickin like Fu Schnickens
Individual Analysis:Sofrito, his lady, and Cristiano Ronaldo - this is the holy trinity of Fu Schickenness and the fabric that binds Mambo Jedi's atoms together (as he is known worldwide), and not necessarily in that order. +1 for infusing 90s hip hop into the bracket name.
Final Prediction:Argentina over Uruguay.
Surprise Pick:Not following his heart and nixing Cristiano's run in the semis vs. Uruguay.
Believes in the USA?No! Jurgen.
OscarG7919
Individual Analysis:As a younger, nicer, more innocent version of myself, my brother has chosen a classic naming tactic for his bracket. He'll let the results do the talking.
Final Prediction:Argentina over Brazil.
Surprise Pick:Choosing to play after originally declining my offer. His bracket is one of the strongest ones I've seen yet - partly because he's blood, but partly because he chose well.
Believes in the USA?Yes, or else I would have disowned him. USA makes it to quarter finals.
Ronaldo > Messi
Individual Analysis:This man's infatuation with Ronaldo is only surpassed by his obsession with Cristiano. You read that right and it's not even based on CR's fútbol skills (as can be seen by egregious falsity of his bracket name).
Final Prediction:Spain over Germany.
Surprise Pick:Spain over Germany is too Eurocentric and most likely forged after an entire night of playing FIFA on XBOX and having consumed a few brewskies.
Believes in the USA?Jurgen. Does not have them getting out of the group stage.
Melisspooh
Individual Analysis:Limited knowledge of fútbol but she's a good sport and wants to partake in the fun.
Final Prediction:Spain over Brazil.
Surprise Pick:Switzerland somehow coming out first of Group E and then beating Nigeria (losing in quarter finals against the weight of Ronaldo’s earrings).
Believes in the USA?She's dead to me. #Jurgen
Master Beer
Individual Analysis:This man (and his logic) are powered by beer. He claims to have found a mathematical formula that backs up his picks.
Final Prediction:England over Brazil.
Surprise Pick:England making it to the finals after beating Spain, Argentina, and Brazil en route to the trophy. A path more deadly than any road in Westeros.
Believes in the USA?No. #Jurgen
Gooooooooool!!!!!
Individual Analysis:<3 <3 <3
Final Prediction:Brazil over Argentina.
Surprise Pick:None. She can do no wrong, and if you say otherwise, I will find you like Liam Neeson and I will... kick you on the shins—repeatedly.
Believes in the USA?She wouldn't betray our love by choosing against my other love, would she? Wait... yes, yes she would. #Jurgen
CristianoMcDonaldo
Individual Analysis:Frankly, I'm just puzzled by the word "McDonaldo." It's hard to type. Also, I'm not sure how much KSor keeps up with fútbol.
Final Prediction:Argentina over Brazil.
Surprise Pick:Argentina will get to the finals and beat Brazil with a TOTAL of TWO goals all tournament. Amazing. I don’t even know how that’s possible.
Believes in the USA?More than any of us! USA will come out of their group in first place and make it all the way to the SEMIs where they’ll lose to Brazil. USA! USA! USA!
Youngsta Boogie
Individual Analysis:A dapper chap that keeps it very real when it comes to bracket names.
Final Prediction:Spain over Brazil.
Surprise Pick:Can’t really say there are any surprise picks here. He's openly declared war on fanaticism by stating he's only interested in taking your money, chump.
Believes in the USA?Only in the capitalistic sense. #Jurgen
Brasil fo Real
Individual Analysis:Loves brackets, surfing and his family. Has a beautiful head of hair worthy of being pitted against the likes of Mix Diskerud's free flowing mane.
Final Prediction:Brazil over Spain.
Surprise Pick:Honduras coming out of Group E as #2 and Algeria coming out of Group H along with Russia (no Belgium). Bold! Brazil will only score 9 goals in the entire tournament.
Believes in the USA?Definitely not a Jurgen (USA to the quarter finals). I knew I could count on his patriotism.
Th3 One
Individual Analysis:See surprise pick information below.
Final Prediction:Brazil over Spain.
Surprise Pick:Japan coming out of Group C as #1. Also predicts Brazil will not score any goals en route to winning the championship. TABASCO SAUCE BOLD!
Believes in the USA?Yes (USA to the second round; eliminated by Belgium). #NotAJurgen
Team 1776
Individual Analysis:Spent way too much time putting this together.
Final Prediction:Argentina over Brazil.
Surprise Pick:Mexico over Croatia to come out of Group A. I should have never gone against my instincts.
Believes in the USA?On a Colbert type level! USA will be defeated in the quarterfinals by the eventual champion: Argentina! #Countit

ESPN – World Cup Ad – Time Zone

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ESPN continues to properly capture the World Cup sentiment in their ads leading up to the opening ceremonies.

Every four years, if you’re a football fan, depending on where you live and which country is hosting the World Cup, you may find yourself waking up at odd hours of the night to catch your country playing.

Such is the spirit of ESPN’s newest ad, which does a nice job of capturing the experience of football lovers from all over the world and from all walks of life.

Whether you’re going to be waking up at 3 a.m., taking time off work, or just straight up making up excuses to extend your lunch so you can catch a full game during the day, I think you’ll be able to appreciate the essence of this newest ad.

Nicely done, ESPN.

Eduardo Galeano on Football

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An astonishing void: official history ignores football. Contemporary history texts fail to mention it, even in passing, in countries where it has been and continues to be a primordial symbol of collective identity.

I play therefore I am: a style of play is a way of being that reveals the unique profile of each community and affirms its right to be different.

Tell me how you play and I will tell you who you are.

Eduardo Galeano