All good things - The AFR Voice World Cup Final Special

All good things must come to an end, even heart-stopping endlessly entertaining World Cups. It’s time for the pod to sign-off for the summer too. We’ve recorded over 45 shows this season and few will be sweeter than this – the chance to reflect on a tense, emotionally draining but ultimately fulfilling World Cup final.

There’s a stream of praise for Mario Götze’s sumptuous winner, André Schürrle’s super-sub antics and, above all, the humble team ethic and youth development system that underpinned a richly deserved night of glory for Joachim Löw’s “Jungs”.

On the flip side, we mourn an evening of missed opportunities for an Argentinian side who were so nearly dragged over the line by their talisman of the tournament…and it’s not Lionel Messi.

As we turned the final audio page on the tournament we reflected on the World Cup as a whole – the goals, the games, the personalities, the shocks, the atmosphere and the Tim Howard memes that have made us weak at the knees and besotted with Brazil for the past four weeks.

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The Calm and The Storm: Lionel Messi’s Moment

By Anthony Lopopolo

When he was a kid, Lionel Messi used to take a one-hour siesta in the afternoon. He would sleep 10 hours a night. He wasn’t really bothered. 

He is still a pretty calm guy at 27 years old, by accounts of his teammates and those around him. “You see him warming up and he’s as calm as a kid who’s going to play on the field around the corner,” said Fernando Signorini, Argentina’s fitness trainer, in the book Messi: A Biography. The Maracanã, the World Cup final, is not exactly a game on a field around the corner, but it is his last frontier, the chance to be fully embraced by the country he left when he was 11, to share the same mantle as Maradona.

Messi understands this moment. “My hopes and dreams are being fulfilled due to the hard work and sacrifice of a team that has given everything from match one,” he wrote on Facebook. But this feels almost more about his own legacy than it does about Argentina.

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Brazil vs. Germany, without Brazil

Brazil didn’t show up against Germany. So, naturally, here are Germany’s seven goals against Brazil in an alternate universe where Brazil literally didn’t show up.

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History Repeats Itself: Brazil suffers another heartbreak on home soil

By Zack Goldman

The world’s most decorated football nation waited 64 years to erase a nightmare.

Instead, a worse one came.

It has been said it could never get as bad for Brazil as the Maracanazo, the nation’s famous loss to Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup Final in Rio.

That was carnival recast into funeral, when 400,000 horrified eyes looked on as a haunting blur of sky blue rendered their heavily-favored heroes powerless.

It was the unthinkable happening to the invincible.

It was like watching one’s own home being robbed during a party.

And, while the five World Cup triumphs that followed for the Seleção certainly displaced the prominence of that memory, it would be disingenuous to say that the historical mosaic of futebol in Brazil has altogether discarded that recurring fever dream of so many years ago.

Whether the goalkeeper Barbosa’s infamous blunder — which has long been blamed for the loss — was heard in the stadium or through staticky radio waves or via trembling voices or quivering hands or lines of print on a page years later, it is a story whose legacy lives on and that no Brazilian of any generation since has forgotten.

If anything, the Maracanazo's influence and significance is more alive this year, as the country hosts the World Cup for the first time since 1950, than at any moment in recent history.

Yet, while every Brazilian grew up hearing the legend, the vast majority of the country never knew anything of the taste, the smell, the sight of that kind of disappointment. After all, this is a nation that hadn’t lost a competitive match on home soil since 1975.

Until today.

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Brazil vs Germany, in an image. 
[via Matthew CR]

Brazil vs Germany, in an image. 

[via Matthew CR]

As We Watch Brazil’s Dance

By Anthony Lopopolo

In the beginning of Dave Zirin’s book, Brazil’s Dance with the Devil, one of America’s pre-eminent political sports writers tells us that he simply had to write a book about Brazil – a country, said one of his professors, that is certainly not for “beginners.” But Zirin is no beginner. He is the voice of reason in a country of unreasonable disparity.

He first starts in the favelas, one of them surrounding Rio’s Maracana, where hundreds of homes, once built by generations of families, were “cracked open.” Those residents were relocated, some moved hours away, some getting no compensation at all.

Zirin then interviews journalists and academics, street sweepers and the indigenous peoples, as he searches for the meaning behind everything that has happened in Brazil over the past year. His latest book is an essential companion for this month. It examines what it means to be Brazilian and explains why FIFA is exploiting the land like its colonizers from Portugal so many years ago.

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And then there were eight - The AFR Voice World Cup Review

It may have got a whole lot tighter in the second round – six matches hit a 0-0 stalemate at half-time – but the drama in every dying minute of both regulation and extra time, or every game, was truly breathtaking.

Exhibit A was the Unites States against Belgium – a match which put USMNT fans through the full gambit of emotions. They came up just short but put in a courageous performance that will live long in the memory of all football fans, no matter their affiliations, or indeed their location.

To break down the game and the colossal swell of support that lifted it to seminal heights, AFR contributor Nathen McVittie joins the pod. Fresh from a trip to Brazil for AFR, he also shares his experiences from the eye of the tournament’s storm, with tales of entire neighbourhoods coming alive for the greatest show on earth. With Nathen’s Atlantic-straddling background, there’s a discussion on quite how powerfully the USMNT’s heroic World Cup campaign can impact upon the American sporting public’s psyche, as well as another dose of late night viewing with the London chapter of the American Outlaws.

With the Tim Howard eulogising finally coming to an end, the guys cast a broad eye over the tournament – assessing the major headlines to come out of the last-16 fixtures, and make their predictions for some mouth-watering quarter-finals.

Amidst heat maps that looked fit for an avant-garde art exhibition, they tackle a flurry of ensuing questions - Will James Rodriguez put Neymar in his shadow? Will Messi continue to drag Argentina one step closer to glory? Will Miroslav Klose bag that record? And most importantly of all - will Costa Rica’s fairy-tale journey continue against a hot-and-bothered Holland?

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More Than Just a Flag
The World Cup is often portrayed as an event that brings a diversity of countries together, but it’s not just the teams, so much as the diverse people who make up each of those countries.
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Regardless of color, creed, or orientation, we’re all fans, and we’re all family. [Posted by Nathen]

More Than Just a Flag

The World Cup is often portrayed as an event that brings a diversity of countries together, but it’s not just the teams, so much as the diverse people who make up each of those countries.

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We made it. AFR has arrived at the World Cup!

A Football Report has just landed in Rio in time to catch a match at the legendary Maracanã.

We have just under a week to see as much as we can— faces, fans and of course, football, courtesy of Budweiser. As always, we’ll be using #whereisfootball to document it. Tag along with us. [Posted by NathenPhoto by Mark Forrer]

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