Sights from Brazil
Sights from Brazil
By Kyle McCarthy, FOXSoccer.com
Ronaldinho returned to Brazil with one rather glaring omission from his staggering list of honors. And now the Copa Libertadores is within his grasp.
The veteran schemer will lead Atlético Mineiro into uncharted territory in Asuncion on Wednesday night. Both he and his club hope to emerge triumphant in this competition for the first time at the end of this two-legged tie. It will not prove an easy brief to fulfill with three-time champions Olimpia standing in the way of Libertadores glory.
“We have no greater wish than to bring the title to Atlético,” Ronaldinho Tweeted on Monday.
Estamos treinando forte pra esses próximos 2 jogos. Nada é maior do que a vontade de trazer o título pro Galo. pic.twitter.com/wZxqXfDKfU— Ronaldinho Gaúcho (@10Ronaldinho)
Atlético enters the final as slight favorites after engineering a great escape in the second leg against Newell’s Old Boys in the semifinals a week ago. Guilherme struck in the sixth minute of stoppage time to draw level on points in the series. Ronaldinho then converted the winning penalty to ensure Galo booked its place in the final.
The ample talent with Atlético’s ranks – including Brazilian internationals Bernard (expected to depart for a major European club after this tie concludes), Jô and Réver – warrants significant attention, but the Paraguayan outfit possesses the resolve to create significant problems for its lauded competition. Olimpia proved its mettle by securing its place in the final with a 1-0 defeat against Independiente Santa Fe in Colombia last Wednesday and underscored its ability to claim the title by holding out under significant duress in the waning stages of that affair.
Ronaldinho seeks his first Copa Libertadores title (Photo: Victor R Caivano/AP Images).
Ever Almeida’s side must produce similar heroics over these two legs to set the stage for another Libertadores triumph in these trying circumstances. The contrast in styles – Atlético with its array of attacking weapons, Olimpia with its reliance on organization and shape – presents the possibility for an intriguing final if the two sides play to their strengths over the two legs.
Those technical concerns, however, fall well down the pecking order of priorities for the former Barcelona star. His focus – as always – remains on the overriding objective and the prospect of adding this elusive title to his protracted level of success.
Photo: Jamie Trecker/FOX Soccer
By Jamie Trecker, FOXSoccer.com
The gunship flew low over the beach, heading north to Recife’s Derby Square. The protests would soon start, blocking the bridges in this city and snarling traffic to and from the set of interconnected islands.
Recife is a strange city. For two blocks along the coastline, you could be in Miami or Santa Monica, albeit with far fewer strip malls. But walk a block further inland, and you are in the favelas. Crossing the Avenue Domingos Ferreira puts you into a different city altogether. Here, the streets are unpaved, there are no windows on the cinderblock shanties, and laundry flaps from the telephone lines. There is sewage in the street, and the residents collect rainwater to wash in.
The city makes its money on tourism and textiles, and lately, it hasn’t been doing much of either. The beaches here, from Pina to Boa Viagem and beyond, have been virtually empty. The vendors who patrol up and down the sands have found few takers for the buckets of shrimp on their shoulders. The umbrella chairs were empty, and there was but one set of players on the vast tennis courts that stretch up and down the boardwalk. The beach soccer field was flooded, a product of the prior week’s rains.
Photo: Jamie Trecker / FOX Soccer
By Jamie Trecker
Dawn. The city lies below the 757, an outpost on a craggy steppe. It looks like a toy, or maybe a prop until the plane descends further. The arcs of the city form two giant wings – or perhaps Orion, clutching a bow and firing an arrow toward Brazil’s coast.
Brasilia was to be Brazil’s great leap: a city that erupted whole cloth, perfectly planned. It was to be a utopia of sorts, but it is not. It is, however, an architectural marvel, a modernist edifice that fifty years after its construction has the power to shock and amaze. It is also one of the places I had always wanted to visit.
I’m here because the Confederations Cup, something of a modernist construct itself, will kickoff here this Saturday. There is a lot of pressure on the hosts both on and off the field. Brazil’s staging of the 2014 World Cup has been somewhat star-crossed; budgets have been blown, strikes have been waged, protestors have marched and there is a weary sense that the government funds have been looted by this tournament.
Photo Credit: Francisco Vega
By Kyle McCarthy
Everything proceeded according to plan for Club Tijuana for the opening hour of the 2-2 home draw with Atlético Mineiro in the first leg of their Copa Libertadores quarterfinal tie.
Xolos manager Antonio Mohamed watched his side expose and unsettle a Mineiro side visibly uncomfortable with the unique task presented at Estadio Caliente. The home side asserted control over the proceedings early in the match (Mohamed’s unexpected switch to a 3-4-3 at the outset and the subsequent return to the normal 4-3-3 after 25 minutes or so helped a great deal) and piled the pressure on the visitors.
It eventually told. Duvier Riascos handed Tijuana a deserved opener after 32 minutes. Fidel Martínez doubled the lead at the back post inside the first 10 minutes at the second half. And the Xolos looked like they would take a comfortable and ultimately necessary advantage to Brazil ahead of the second leg.
Fan violence reared its ugly head in Latin America once again as Palmeiras supporters attacked club players at an airport following the team’s 1-0 Copa Bridgestone Libertadores loss to Tigre.
Prass had to be treated for cuts to his head and ear, but no one was seriously hurt in the altercation before the team’s return to Brazil. Palmeiras said three fans were detained in Argentina but were later released.
”They threw a cup at Valdivia and it hit me,” Prass said through his Twitter account. ”I got three stitches in the head and a cut in my ear.”
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