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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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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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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The World Cup Week 2 Review - AFR Voice

It still feels like it’s only just started, and yet half of it has gone already - but my word what a World Cup it has been so far. After fully submerging themselves in Brazil 2014 for another week, the pod take a moment to come up for some air and look at what has happened so far, and what could happen as the groups comes to their conclusions.

In the wake of Luis Suarez getting up to his old tricks and Italy joining the ever-growing list of European casualties at this tournament, it’s the South and Central American teams who seem to be making it their own. We also take a look at Brazil’s stuttering start, potentially the end of an era for Spain, and of course the subject of everyone’s favourite Vine, Mexico boss Miguel Herrera.

With England packing their suitcases after a delightful week-long stay in Rio, the gents from the pod were in need of new allegiances - and where better to find in a traditional British boozer. Boosted by their thrilling opening-game victory, the newly formed London chapter of the American Outlaws were in fine voice for the crunch Group G clash with Portugal, and the pod caught up with a few of their members to hear tales of the joy of beating Ghana, and sharing beers with Jürgen Klinsmann in Bosnian hotel bars.

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It’s time. - AFR Voice’s World Cup Preview

It’s almost here. The wall chart is up, the office sweepstakes have been drawn, and all social engagements for the next month have been put on hold. After four years of waiting, Brazil 2014 is about to kick off.

To celebrate the imminent arrival of the greatest tournament of them all, this week’s show sees us delve deep into its underbelly. Join us as we rummage through all eight groups, looking at those players who have the potential to drive their nations into the last 16, and those who will be watching the knockout stages on the TV back home.

To make this World Cup Preview Special, well, special, we’re joined by two guests to give us the inside line on two of the tournament’s big hitters – Brazil and Italy. We chat to journalist and broadcaster Musa Okwonga about the weight of expectation on the hosts, and just why the beautiful game is so important in Brazil (to hear more from Musa check out his excellent BBC radio documentary, The Burden Of Beauty). Then we switch out attention to England’s opening Group D opponent as we talk to Italian football expert and friend of the show Giancarlo Rinaldi about all things Azzurri – how far can they go, will they be seriously hampered by the loss of Riccardo Montolivo, and just how do you stop Andrea Pirlo?

Now, let the games begin…

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Atleti’s Adventure Ends - AFR Voice Ep. 42

And… breathe out. The whole world was treated to an exhausting but fascinating Champions League final at the weekend. The praise, press and acclaim has inevitably swamped victors Real Madrid, but what about Atletico? With their amazing adventure finally hitting the buffers, the La Liga winners find themselves at a cross-roads. AFR and Bleacher Report writer Anthony Lopopolo joins us to examine why Atletico fell just short and help identify the major obstacles to another year of unprecedented Simeone-fuelled success.

Anthony also provides analysis on the shocking news that new all-time leading MLS goalscorer Landon Donovan has been left out of the USMNT’s trimmed-down roster. Is there any method in Klinsmann’s apparent madness?

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Ryu x Rio - AFR Voice Ep. 41

Over the last few years, AFR has had the great fortune of sharing with you the work of Ryu Voelkel – professional football photographer and host of the Big Lens Fast Shutter podcast. Thank the football gods, he’ll be in Brazil this summer to capture the essence of the beautiful game in his unmistakable style – poetic, poignant and just plain beautiful to look at.

You can own a piece of the action too – Ryu has just embarked on a Kickstarter project. He’s raising funds to produce a photography book showcasing the very best of his snaps from the tournament – from the fruits of his exceptional access metres from the action to the beauty of the Brazilian nation bathing in the ultimate football festival, it’s going to be a stunning souvenir of the 2014 World Cup. Back his project here.

We spoke to Ryu to find out about the inspiration for the project, how funders can get their hands on the book and why the World Cup is the perfect sporting canvas for his talents.

This show also sees us highlight the major absentees and attendees of the World Cup, remember some of the greatest moments of the freshly retired Ryan Giggs and analyse the potential legacy of Arsenal finally ending their trophy drought with a thrilling FA Cup victory.

All that plus, a predictable but unabashed gushing of praise for La Liga victors Atletico Madrid. With such a low budget, small squad and monumental competitors, nothing could possibly overshadow their seismic against-all-odds achievement…except possibly Andrea Pirlo getting very drunk on an open top bus.

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City Slickers - AFR Voice - Ep. 40

After 10 months of highs and lows, twists and turns, head butts and slips, it’s over (well in the Premier League at least). Join us this week as we talk through Man City’s title win, Liverpool coming up just short, the continued emergence of yet another Belgian superstar, and all our favourite moments from what has been yet another superbly entertaining season in the English top flight.

Premier League aside, there have been some rather interesting developments elsewhere lower down the pyramid in football’s spiritual home. We’ll be taking a look at The FA’s idea to create a league for Premier League B-teams with the premise of helping to develop the nation’s young players. However, without consulting lower leagues and supporters before making the proposals, the governing body have opened themselves up to protest, and ridicule from their own members.

Elsewhere, the pod crew throw any pretensions of neutrality to one side as World Cup excitement builds, going through Roy Hodgson’s England World Cup squad with a finer toothcomb than passport control at Rio airport; as well as looking at a familiar, goal-hungry face in Germany’s provisional 30-man squad, and some more predictable omissions from the hosts’ roster.

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Three Times and An Old Lady - AFR Voice Ep. 39

They’ve done it again. For the third year running the Scudetto will be sitting pretty in Juventus’ trophy cabinet after they took the title at the weekend without even having to kick a ball. On the show this week we take a look at what’s been another superb domestic season for the Old Lady, as well as trouble at the Coppa Italia final, a certain aging striker who might just find himself sneaking onto the plane to Brazil this Summer, and a 24 goal thriller in Serie D. And no, you didn’t read that wrong – 24 GOALS.

Things may be wrapped up in Italy, but the opposite can be said of La Liga. After a weekend when neither Barcelona, Atlético or Real Madrid managed to notch up a win the three-way title race continues to be wide open with only one thing now clear – it will be going down to the final day. So why not join us and get bogged down in the seemingly infinite potential outcomes involved in what’s going to be a truly great run-in for fans of permutations and confusing head-to-head records.

If that sounds a bit much, then things are a bit simpler in the Premier League where we cast a keen eye on a Man City side edging ever closer to the title, Chelsea running out of steam, and plenty of drama at the bottom of the table both on and off the pitch.

Away from Europe, we’ll head Down Under where a new A-League champion has been crowned after this weekend’s Grand Final between Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers. Hear us talk through the game, as well as discuss why there could be a strong Aussie showing in next year’s Asian Champions League, and how the league moving away from big name players isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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