21
Jun

Mexico’s stars relax by playing beach soccer with Brazilian locals

Fresh from Tuesday’s valiant 0-0 draw with Brazil, the Mexico squad decided to show off their beach soccer skills. Instead of preparing for the crucial clash with Group A rivals Croatia on Monday, the players stripped down to their Speedos and invited some lucky locals to join in the fun:

El Tri forward Marco Fabian looked most at home on the shore — his silky flicks and delicate touches wowed spectators. Mexican teammate Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was given a stint between the sticks. On this showing, the Little Pea should stick to what he does best — goal poaching:

When the sandy spectacle reached its climax, the players mingled with other locals, signing autographs and posing for photos. All the players came away from the beach unscathed, to the delight of Mexican supporters everywhere.

(H/T: NESN)

28
May

Cuauhtemoc Blanco bids farewell to Estadio Azteca, spells doom for Mexico

image

Cuauhtemoc Blanco, one of Mexico’s proudest sons, took a final bow in his final match in Mexico colors at the Estadio Azteca.

It was an emotional testimonial for the 41-year-old schemer, though it also signaled an ominous sign for El Tri fans right before the 2014 World Cup kicks off in two weeks time.

Blanco, who earned the starting nod for Mexico against Israel on Wednesday night, got a full 38 minutes and was arguably El Tri’s best player on the pitch. And Twitter agreed:

Blanco undoubtedly served as the center of attention in Mexico’s superfluous 3-0 victory over the Israel and as the rallying point for El Tri’s final match on home soil. The former Club America legend relished the opportunity to play his part one last time.

Yet somewhere in the world, you can’t help but think that Group A rivals Brazil, Cameroon and Croatia are licking their chops.

Image provided by Mexsport Agencia Fotográfica.

30
Aug

Champions League Group A Predicted Finishes

Here is a synopsis of each club and their projected finishes from Leander Schaerlaeckens.

Group A:

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN (PSG)

Champions League titles: 0

Monied, powerful, stocked with talent — and a perennial disappointment. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. A team with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Thiago Motta, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Jeremy Menez should be tearing up Ligue 1. It hasn’t worked out that way and Carlos Ancelotti is under the gun to quickly turn these stars into not only a Ligue 1 force but a European superpower as well. But make no mistake: if PSG can get themselves going, they boast a lot of weapons. If they descend into finger-pointing and blamestorming, then their stay in European play will be short.

PORTO

Champions League titles: 2 (1 as the European Cup)

The back to back Primeira Liga champs have a really big attack and a far better midfield and defense than you think. Man of the hour is obviously Hulk, the bustling forward who is highly coveted by a number of teams in the Premier League. James Rodriguez runs alongside him and Kleber, Silvestre Varela and Jackson Martinez are in the mix. Play starts out of the back with Nicolas Otamendi and Maicon, but the puppeteer remains Joao Moutinho, who works alongside Lucho Gonzalez. They did lose Fredy Guarin and Alvaro Pereira in big money deals but the bottom line remains the same: Porto’s a team you don’t want to play.

DYNAMO KIEV

Champions League titles: 0

The former kings of the Soviet league, Dynamo now faces tough competition in a surprisingly tough Ukrainian league that has been buoyed by post-CCCP money. Dynamo doesn’t have the flashiest of squads – they faced a tough playoff with Borussia Moenchengladbach to get here — but they have some grit in Andriy Yarmolenko and loanee Taye Taiwo. Ideye Brown has been the eye-catching goalscorer but Niko Kranjcar and Oleh Husev have been chipping in as well. Dynamo is certainly not a team you want to play against, but they’re not kings of the walk as they once were.

DINAMO ZAGREB

Champions League titles: 0

The kings of Croatian football, Dinamo have run riot over the Prva HNL for the last two decades, winning 14 titles since 1994. They’ve been less successful in Europe, where their best showing was a semifinal appearance in the now-defunct Cup Winner’s Cup…way back in 1961. (They did win the 1976 Balkan Cup, however.) But this is their first back-to-back Champions League group stage appearance and anything has to be better than last year’s run. They lost all six games, conceding 22 goals. To be fair, they were cannon fodder in a group with Lyon, Ajax, and Real Madrid. Their best player is Brazilian Sammir; Josip Simunic is their uncompromising defender.