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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We’ve waited four years for this weekend - AFR Voice

And then there were two. With two equally compelling semi-finals from the opposite ends of the footballing spectrum now complete, we now know that it’ll be either Germany or Argentina taking a 6.1kg, 36.8cm high World Cup souvenir back home with them.

One side that most certainly won’t be in the Maracana on Sunday is the tournament’s generous hosts. Join the pod as they discuss how things went so horribly wrong for Brazil, the ruthlessness of a German side of have tasted big game defeats so frequently of late, and where the game in Brazil goes from here.

It may have not had all of the drama of the other semi, but nevertheless Argentina did just enough to make their way to the tournament’s final hurdle, and end Louis van Gaal’s reign as Dutch coach on a bittersweet note. With the world’s attention turning to Lionel Messi and the bizarre scenario of the little man being forced to forge his own legacy at the ripe old age of 27, the guys weigh up Argentina’s chances against Germany, and give some very much less than convincing predictions for Sunday’s showpiece event.

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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]

A Monument to Losing: The Importance of World Cup Heartbreak

By Zack Goldman

No feeling is more coveted in football than World Cup triumph.

But, is there any one more fascinating—or important—as World Cup heartbreak? 

In any tournament, it’s only natural that the language and tone that we use to discuss the event is elevated and inflated.  This is especially true during the World Cup.  No matter how banal any loss may appear—it’s not just a loss.  It’s billed as a death.

It’s that moment when hearts, full of hope, founder—going down with the wreckage of a cup dream sailing smoothly only breaths earlier.  The moment when thoughts of “oh?” turn to “oh no” and then, emptily, just to “oh.”

That’s not to say achievements in the World Cup are only measured by winning the whole thing—or even winning games at all—but it is to say that there is something deeply sonorous and bleak that comes with being knocked out.

Yet, if one of football—and, indeed, sport’s—truest beauties is that it provides a vehicle for sharing the power of an emotion with others, then the importance of losing is the essence of that virtue more than victory.

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Reimagining the World Cup, by James Taylor

The World Cup is quickly approaching, with kick-off in Rio de Janerio less than one hundred days away. That said, there’s still plenty of time to remember and admire the past. In a poster series commemorating previous World Cups, Manhattan-based graphic designer, James Taylor, reimagined posters for each tournament, using era-specific design principles to illustrate the unique style of each World Cup. You can find the whole collection on Pennarello Design[Posted by Maxi

"Following Die Löwen"

Travel with AFR and photographer Mixen as he follows his beloved TSV 1860 München around Germany

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