Photo of the Day

World Cup: July 7, 2014

Neymar out with back injury.
Brazil’s Neymar grimaces in pain during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Brazil and Colombia at the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil, Friday, July 4, 2014. Brazil’s team doctor says Neymar will miss the rest of the World Cup after breaking a vertebrae during the team’s quarterfinal win over Colombia. (AP)

Historical Rivalry

France-Germany: A Grand Classic in the Church of Football

German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher, left, and defender Hans-Peter Briegel, right, stop France's William Ayache during the World Cup semifinal in Guadalajara, Mexico, on June 25, 1986.

Harald Schumacher, the German goalkeeper, and defender Hans-Peter Briegel (right) stop William Ayache of France in the semifinals of the 1986 World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico. (AP)

As luck would have it, Rio’s Estadio Maracana, considered a “temple” of world football, will host this classic dream match between two giants of world football: France and Germany. The neighbors will meet Friday for the fourth time in World Cup history. Their two previous meetings in 1982 and 1986, won by West Germany, were memorable.

France - Allemagne.

Manfred Kaltz of West Germany (left) hits the ball beyond Gérard Janvion of France, in the semifinals of between West Germany and France, in Seville, Spain, on July 8, 1982. (AP)

July 8, 1982. semifinals. Seville, Spain. 

An unforgettable match in the warm night of Seville. The two teams are tied at one apiece at halftime, but then the game switches into madness. France quickly takes the lead, sending Tresor and Giresse into ecstatic joy. But the Germans then equalized and snapped a shot on goal. Thirty-two years later, the night in Seville is legend.

June 25, 1986. semifinals. Guadalajara, Mexico.

At Jalisco Monumental, Germany beats France 2-0. The “Platini Generation” lets slip a last chance to win the World Cup.

July 4, 2014. quarterfinals. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

France has a better face with a young and dynamic team: watch Benzema, Pogba and Sakho closely.  But the Mannschaft which has not lost its status as favorites.

(Material from AFP was used in this report)

Photo of the Day

World Cup: July 3, 2014

France practices.

France’s national soccer squad sprint during a training session at the Santa Cruz stadium, in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil, Wednesday, July 2, 2014. France will face Germany in their World Cup quarterfinal, Friday. (AP)

News You Can Use

What Is The Universal Football Sign for AAAARRRGGGHHH?

Here’s a question I’m sure many non-football aficionados (a.k.a. heathens) have been asking themselves for weeks, as the World Cup runs into its third week and builds to a fevered crescendo:

Why do so many football fans grab the heads, with both hands, during moments of distress?

It pretty much seems to be a universal sign of anguish for footballers, one that transcends culture, language, time zones and generations (one could argue that football culture is its own subculture of humanity, I suppose).

A thoroughly unscientific review of the scientific and popular literature that’s been published on the subject (and there ain’t much) turns up the conclusion by Chris Ulrich, a senior instructor at the Body Language Institute in Washington D.C., who tells an ABC News Web writer that the gesture is called a “pacifier” gesture “because it’s meant to self-soothe in times of disaster.”

The Guardian investigated this critical element of humanity 11 years ago and found:

“They [are shutting] out the world,” says Robert Phipps of Smart Training UK Ltd and resident body language expert for ITV’s Trisha. “They don’t want to see anything, and they don’t want anyone to see them. They want to hide their blush of disaster. Footballers may also collapse on to their knees – all their energy has been sapped by the embarrassment.”

Another expert– a man named Allan Pease, who is identified as a bestselling author and expert on body language– offers the British paper a slightly different theory: “The head cradle is a replication of a mother holding the baby’s head to give comfort and reassurance in stressful circumstances.”

You be the judge:

 Brazil Soccer WCup


Or this:

France Soccer WCup France Nigeria


Or how about this:

WCup Soccer Surge


what about this one:

Brazil WCup Soccer Brazil Chile


and there’s this one:

Greece Brazil Soccer WCup


don’t forget this:

Brazil soccer fans react as they watch penalty shootout against Chile during a 2014 World Cup round of 16 game, at Guarulhos International Airport in Sao Paulo


 I feel your pain, man: Fan of Chile reacts after losing their 2014 World Cup round of 16 game against Brazil at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte


Photo of the Day

World Cup: June 30, 2014

Costa Rica fans take a selfie.

Costa Rica soccer fans pose for a selfie before watching their team’s World Cup round of 16 match against Greece on a live telecast inside the FIFA Fan Fest area on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, June 29, 2014. Costa Rica won a penalty shootout 5-3 after the match ended 1-1 following extra time. (AP)