Want the Winner? Look to Germany

Will Germany determine the winner?

If you’re looking to pick the winner of this year’s World Cup, look no further than Germany.

Well, don’t look at Germany – look at who they’re playing.

In the past three World Cups, Germany has lost in the knockout round to the eventual winner: in 2002, they were runners-up to Brazil in the final; in 2006, they lost to Italy in the semifinals; and in 2010, they lost to Spain in the semifinals.

Given their track record, a loss by Germany today suggests that Brazil will win the title. Meanwhile, if Germany wins, look to the winner of the Argentina/Netherlands match to win it all.

…unless, of course, Germany can break their losing streak – as we noted yesterday, it’s up to the Soccer Gods.

Mario Madness!

Mario Balotelli’s 5 Craziest Moments

Illustration of Mario Balotelli setting off fireworks in his bathroom.

Illustrations par Steve Fuchs | VOA

As many football fans know, Mario Balotelli of Italy is quite the character. Here are five of his craziest moments on and off the field – a list that only scratches the surface of his many exploits and adventures:

5. Use fireworks in his bathroom

In 2011, Mario Balotelli was on fire as a star player for Manchester City. Unfortunately for him, his house in Cheshire was also on fire one night…and it was entirely his own fault. When firefighters arrived at his house to put out the blaze, he told them that four of his friends were playing with fireworks from the window of his bathroom. The fireworks caused some towels to catch fire, which spread to an entire floor of his house.

4. Trying to break into a women’s prison

In 2010, Balotelli and his brother decided to make an impromptu visit to, of all places, a women’s prison in Bresica, Italy. When stopped by police in their Mercedes at the entrance, Balotelli explained, in all seriousness, that he and his brother wanted to see the prison and decided to go on a whim. Unfortunately for them, the authorities turned them away.

3. Using his karate skills…on an opponent

Italians can have a reputation for being hot headed, and Balotelli is apparently no exception. But Balotelli takes his anger to a whole new level. In a crucial match between Manchester City and Kiev in March 2011, Balotelli’s frustrations got the best of him when he delivered a ninja kick to one of his opponents. In response to this blow, the referee dealt Balotelli a blow of his own: a red card.

2. Dueling with rolling pins in a restaurant

In 2011, before an important match against Chelsea, Balotelli went to an Indian restaurant for dinner. One thing led to another, and somehow, by the end of the night, he and a friend were playfully dueling… using rolling pins. His amateur swordfight cost him a week’s worth of wages – £150,000 – but didn’t seem to affect his playing: Balotelli would go on to score two goals the next day, as Manchester City beat Chelsea 6-1.

1. Earn over $10,000 in parking fines

Mario Balotelli loves Italians…Italian cars, that is. He also apparently loves racking up parking and traffic fines. He racked up an impressive $10,000-plus in parking fines; as a result, his Maserati was impounded 27 times. Not that the fines are any burden: one time, when stopped by the police, Balotelli had over $25,000 next to him on the passenger seat. When they asked him why he was carrying so much money on the front seat of his car, he simply replied: “Because I can.”

(this post courtesy VOA’s French language World Cup blog. Check it out at http://football.lavoixdelamerique.com/)

Chomp Chomp Chomp

Suarez Bites: Uncalled & Uncalled For

During Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez appeared to bite Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini – an action that, despite Chiellini’s protests, went uncalled by referees.


Suzrez Bites.
Suarez Bites.

This wouldn’t be the first time Suarez’s mouth has gotten him in trouble – he’s been fined and suspended for two previous bite attacks on players.


Luis Suárez bites Otman Bakka when playing for Ajax in 2011

Uruguay (1-0) Italy

Italy vs. Uruguay: Win and They’re In (UPDATE: It’s Uruguay!)


Balotelli mural.

UPDATE: Uruguay scores on a late goal, beating Italy 1-0 and advancing to the Round of 16. With the win, Uruguay knocks four-time World Cup champions Italy out in the group round.

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The first match of the day (12 PM ET; 4 PM UTC) is arguably the most exciting: with Costa Rica into the Round of 16 and England knocked out, Italy and Uruguay are the last teams standing in Group D.  Both teams have one win and one loss, and are separated by a one goal differential. Whoever wins this match is into the knockout round; if they tie, Italy will advance based on goals.

For play-by-play, minute-by-minute coverage of every ball touch, throw-in, direct kick, indirect kick, yellow card, red card, corner kick, goal kick and every other possible football feat in every World Cup match, tap into VOA’s multilingual, multinational analysis.

Click here to follow the action live, or follow along on Facebook, or on Twitter with #WorldCupVOA.

And for even more exclusive VOA coverage with a special focus on Africa’s national teams, check out VOA’s Francophone blog.