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Entries Tagged as 'soccer'

Inspiring 2022 World Cup Team Nicknames

September 15th, 2022 · Comments Off on Inspiring 2022 World Cup Team Nicknames · FIFA World Cup, Football (Soccer)

I am loving seeing the Socceroos listed on the Team Nicknames of the teams for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, particularly as it is my national team, Australia. It’s a pretty unique name too, unlike some of the other national teams who will be competing at the Qatar World Cup.

There is a group of teams that basically don’t have a nickname, they just have a variation of the term ‘the national team‘ in their respective language (e.g. Germany, Iran, Switzerland). Equally uninspiring, many nicknames are derived from national colors – such as the Blues (France), Blue (Serbia), the Crimsons (Qatar), Orange (Netherlands) and the Tri-Colors (Ecuador, Mexico). At least some add a bit of spice to the color name game, such as the Red Fury (Spain), Red Devils (Belgium), and the Black Stars (Ghana).

football-world-cup-ball

Not all the names are so bland. If you could create a nickname, wouldn’t you want one that would strike fear in the opposition, like the Fiery Boys of Croatia, Danish Dynamite (Denmark) and Samurai Blues (Japan).

If animals strike fear in you, look out for the Eagles of Carthage from Tunisia, the Green Hawks of Saudi Arabia, the Asian Tigers of South Korea, and the Dragons of Wales.

There are also lions to contend with the Three Lions of England, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, the Lions of Teranga from Senegal, and the Atlas Lions of Morocco.

However, a fearsome team nickname does not necessarily equate to success, as one of the most successful teams is commonly known as the Little Canaries (Brazil). Watch out for them!

See our list of All National Football Team Nicknames.

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The Biggest Football Matches Left in 2022

July 25th, 2022 · Comments Off on The Biggest Football Matches Left in 2022 · Football (Soccer)

With Real Madrid’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool in Paris, the curtain has been drawn on the 21/22 season. But the glory of sport is that there’s always next season. The Premier League will be back, the Champions League will return, and we’ve got the novelty of a winter World Cup to look forward to. And even though it’s a year until we’ll discover who’ll be the champions of England and of Europe, there are still five absolutely amazing matches to look forward to before we say goodbye to 2022.

#5: The Community Shield (July 31)

Yes, you read that right. The Community Shield is one of the biggest matches left this year. Yes, it’s a glorified friendly, and yes it doesn’t count as a trophy, but this year’s Wembley curtain-raiser has something very important. Narrative.

FA Cup winners Liverpool took Premier League champions down to the wire on the last day of the 21/22 season. So this game will raise all sorts of questions ahead of the 22/23 contest. Will Mane remain at Liverpool? Will Klopp be able to reinvigorate a team that went from quadruple hopefuls to double losers in the space of a week? Will Erling Haaland prove to be the game-breaker that takes City to an absolutely uncatchable level?

We’ll learn a lot from this game. If Liverpool seems weaker and City stronger, we might learn that the Premier League title is almost a foregone conclusion.

#4: The North London Derby (TBC)

For decades, Arsenal fans celebrated a unique holiday. St. Totteringham’s Day. The day of the season that it was mathematically impossible for the Gunners to be caught by their North London rivals. But for the past six seasons, it’s Spurs who’ve finished above their rivals in the league. It’s Spurs fans who’ve needed Champions League tickets while Arsenal has been making do with the Europa League.

Can Tottenham secure a seven-year streak of finishing above Arsenal? Or is it time for an Arsenal resurgence? The first North London Derby of the season will give us some indication, even though form and history suggest the home side usually triumphs. Arsenal hasn’t won an away derby since 2014, and Spurs need to go back to 2010. Will that change in 2022? 

#3: The Women’s European Final (July 31)

Women’s Euros tickets have been selling in record numbers, and the final at Wembley is expected to host a capacity crowd. Defending European champions the Netherlands have dropped in the world rankings of late, and pundits are tipping Spain and France for the title. But England’s Lionesses aren’t far behind in the odds, and they’re comfortably ranked as one of the ten best teams in the world.

Manager Sarina Wiegman will be looking to her men’s team counterpart for inspiration. Gareth Southgate took a mostly unfancied England’s men’s team to the final of the 2020 Euros, so the women must be hoping to go one better. Football may just be coming home – and from a slightly unexpected direction.

#2: The Manchester Derby (TBC)

If the Community Shield will tell us a lot about the eventual destination of the title, the season’s first Manchester Derby might tell us something about the long-term prospects of a team who expect to be perennial challengers.

City is the finished article. An established manager, a settled team, and one of Europe’s most promising – and effective – young strikers. They expect to win the league. They expect to win the Champions League. They’ll expect to win the season’s first derby.

If ten Hag’s Red Devils can make sure that expectation comes to nothing, we’ll have some idea of how his much-needed rebuild is progressing. City strolled through an uninterested United midfield as they strolled to a 4-1 win last time out. A committed, professional – and perhaps victorious – performance from the red half of Manchester would be a massive statement.

And with Erling Haaland out for revenge against a team whose volatile ex-captain crippled his dad, there’s a hefty dose of personal narrative in play too. Definitely worth getting your hands on Manchester United tickets.

#1: The 2022 World Cup Final (18 December)

It had to be. Everyone wants World Cup tickets, and everyone wants to see their team in the final. This year’s competition is incredibly hard to call. Defending champions France were shambolic at the Euros, while Euro runners-up England can call on even more young talent than two years ago. Brazil will always fancy their chances, while Argentina and Portugal know this is the last chance for Messi or Ronaldo to win the ultimate prize. 

And then of course there are the unknowns, the dark horses. Hosts Qatar will benefit from home advantage in very difficult conditions, Senegal has a team that’s quietly packed with top-level talent, and Denmark will rally around their returning talisman Christian Eriksen. 

No matter which two teams are fighting for glory, the World Cup Final will be a must-watch, can’t-miss affair. It’s the biggest match left this year.

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At the FIFA World Cup, Does Size Matter?

July 13th, 2018 · No Comments · FIFA World Cup, Fitness Testing, Football (Soccer), Sports Nutrition

The FIFA Football World Cup in Russia is coming to its conclusion in a couple of days with the final between France and Croatia. Many of the top teams have been surprisingly knocked out early or not even making the tournament. It is challenging predicting which team will be successful, with none of the top three teams who were predicted to win making the final. What makes a team successful? There is no one factor which determines success; factors such as player skill, speed, agility, game experience, teamwork, coaching, fatigue level and mental focus are just some of the elements. Another factor, body size, may have only a minor effect, but an effect nonetheless.

Prior to the tournament, FIFA released the anthropometric data of the 736 players (squads of 23 from the 32 nations), which gave us the opportunity to compare the body size of players from each team and playing position. We found that out of all the teams, the goalkeepers at the 2018 FIFA World Cup stood out – they tended to be older, taller and heavier than the field players. The youngest players were the forwards, the shortest the midfielders, and the leanest based on BMI were the midfielders. Now that the two teams that are to battle out the final on Sunday are known, we have pulled out their team data and had a look at how they match up.

silhouettes of soccer players

Squads Compared

We compared the body size data of the French and Croatian 23-man squads. The Croatians are on average older (27.9 v 26.0 years), a couple of centimetres (an inch) taller (185.3 v 183.3), but of similar average weight (79.3 v 80.0kg). If we just compare the expected starting 11 players (based on their semi-final match), the age difference is even greater (29.5 v 26.2 years). For both teams, the average weight of the players in the starting 11 is lower than the full squad average (Croatia 79.3 to 77.6kg, France 80.0 to 78.9kg), indicating the top players are leaner. The lower weight was not just because they are shorter, as the Body Mass Index was lower too (Croatia 23.1 to 22.8, France 23.8 to 23.5).

Players Compared

The two goalkeepers expected to play in the final are Danijel Subasic of Croatia and Hugo Lloris of France. The Croatian has a couple of years more experience (aged 33.7 versus 31.5 years), and also has an advantage in size: he is taller (191 v 188cm) and heavier (84 v 82 kg).

Of the starting four defenders, the noteworthy difference is their age. The Croatians are on average more than five years older (28.9 v 23.6 years). If this age difference translates to greater maturity and experience on the field, then they have a distinct advantage.

Comparing the midfielders, the French players are on average quite a bit heavier (76.7 v 70.7 kg) despite being of very similar height. At this level, we don’t expect players to be carrying much excess body fat, so the difference in weight would be mostly due to them being more solidly built, having more muscle and therefore being stronger. If this World Cup final becomes a physical encounter, the French midfield players are going to have a big advantage.

The Croatian forwards are also a couple of inches taller than their French counterparts (187.0 v 181.7cm), which may be an advantage around the goals, particularly for corners and other set pieces.

Conclusion

When it comes to the physical attributes of the two teams, in most cases it has been the Croatian team that has the advantage. Of course, body size is not the most important factor for successful performance in football, though, if all other things are equal then it may be the difference that could win a World Cup for Croatia. However, it may just come down to luck, particularly if it finishes with a penalty shootout.

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Is Basketball the World’s Most Popular Sport?

March 10th, 2011 · Comments Off on Is Basketball the World’s Most Popular Sport? · Basketball, Football (Soccer), Sport

I have seen a lot of articles online trying to determine what are the most popular sports in the world, and almost without exception Soccer (World Football) is listed on top. I came up with the idea of looking at the page view stats on Wikipedia to see what sport pages are the most popular. Surprisingly, the highest ranked Sport page was in fact Basketball. This would partly be due to the high US based traffic to the English version Wikipedia site, but mostly it was because the stats for Soccer is split between Soccer and Association Football pages.

Football Flag Wavers

Fans at a soccer game

When all the stats are combined, soccer (football) regains it title of the most popular sport in the world! See more analysis of the World’s Most Popular Sports According to Wikipedia.

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Bet on the Octopus

July 12th, 2010 · Comments Off on Bet on the Octopus · FIFA World Cup, Football (Soccer)

Paul the ‘Psychic’ Octopus, also known as the ‘Oracle of Oberhausen’ and ‘Pulpo Paul’, is a resident of the Oberhausen Sea Life aquarium. He became a celebrity after a 100% success rate at predicting the winners of eight World Cup matches – all of Germany’s games and the final between Spain and The Netherlands. I want to go out on a (octopus) limb, and say that it was all due to chance. I know it may sound far-fetched and very unlikely, but maybe he was just lucky and was able to select the winning teams through chance. No psychic abilities, no hand of God, and no conspiracies – just luck. A lot of luck.

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The World Cup Sends Me To Sleep

June 23rd, 2010 · Comments Off on The World Cup Sends Me To Sleep · FIFA World Cup, Football (Soccer)

With the World’s greatest sporting event currently well on the way in South Africa, it may be surprising that this is my first post about it. It would not be surprising if you knew that I support Australia, and up until today, they have not done anything to write home about.

After getting up at 2 am this morning to watch Australia play Serbia, I am much happier and very impressed with their performance. Although they won today, they just missed out on progressing to the knockout round.

world-cup-2010 Spain
Spain at the world-cup-2010

The team did us proud, playing great football and giving everything for their country. Missing out of the final 16 is no great disappointment, the Aussies have played above expectations.

I cannot say the same about the French team, and cannot imagine the public outcry at their team’s performance. There is always drama at the World Cup, and that is why we are captivated. A few more sleepless nights to come!

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Zidane, a 21st-Century Portrait

March 12th, 2007 · Comments Off on Zidane, a 21st-Century Portrait · Football (Soccer)

Last night I went with a couple of friends who are big soccer fans, to watch a very interesting movie about a match between Real Madrid and Villareal in the Spanish league. It wasn’t the usual match footage, the whole movie was following the French international football player Zinedine Zidane, often up very close and pixilated. It is a mix between a documentary and a sporting match.

The game was played on April 23, 2005, with 17 cameras tracking just Zidane in real-time. There is no commentary, just the noise of him spitting, shouting to his teammates and muttering the occasional complaint to the referee.

In the end, it is not a football game you are watching, but a voyeuristic view of a public figure. It is not his best game, but maybe his best view. You see a hardworking player, searching for opportunity. The final score was Real Madrid 2, Villareal 1. But who cares?

more about soccer

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A-League Grand Final

February 18th, 2007 · Comments Off on A-League Grand Final · Football (Soccer)

Last night I was privileged to be at the Docklands Telstra Dome to witness the A-League Grand Final, held in front of 55,000 people – the biggest crowd to ever watch a domestic football match. And even better, my team the Melbourne Victory humiliated Adelaide, largely thanks to a remarkable goal-scoring effort by Archie Thompson.

Soccer Game

Such a crowd at a soccer match is rarely seen in Australia. If they can continue to have games and spectacles like that, then the crowds will continue to come. The crowd seemed pretty tame to me, though I later read that ten flares were let off in the stadium and 41 people evicted. Maybe that is pretty tame relative to what goes on in English football stadiums.

more about football / soccer

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Miss plane, Miss game

October 4th, 2006 · Comments Off on Miss plane, Miss game · Football (Soccer)

Leading up to the Australian Soccer Team’s game against Paraguay this weekend, the captain of the squad Craig Moore was controversially dropped from the team. He did not turn up for a training session as he slept in and missed his plane. In a time of ‘bad boys’ football players, my first thought was that he was out all night partying and drinking. It was not the case; he was probably affected by jetlag more than anything. However, he still needs to be more responsible and get himself to the national squad training session no matter what. It may seem harsh to be dropped for a game for missing one training session, but a standard has to be set, and the rules upheld. It is a hard decision to leave out one of our best players, but right nevertheless. No matter how good the player is, or how good their record has been in the past, I think it was the right thing to do and send the message to the other players and the supporters that this team means business, and everyone has to pull their weight.

Related Pages: Soccer, Craig Moore profile

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