Neymar’s Diving Antics Can’t Continue

The 2018 World Cup was very entertaining, but everything wasn’t fun and games. The tournament also had some undeniable low-points. Soccer legends across the world accosted superstar Neymar for his diving. Germany was knocked out in the group stage. And worst of all, the Japanese national team lost its 2-0 lead to fall short in its Round of 16 matchup against Belgium (okay, I’ll stop talking about that).

Aside from Japan’s unfortunate loss, I think the most unfortunate aspects of this World Cup was Neymar’s antics. Despite such talent, Neymar is wasting his potential by diving, and he’s bringing down the game with him. As said by soccer analysts, soccer legends, and Twitter, the Brazilian’s immoral actions added a dark side to the World Cup. Criticizing him is a necessary step to curb the pitch-acting. We can’t continue to overlook these flops if we want this genuine, beautiful game to continue.

Neymar’s dives have have many unfortunate consequences.

  1. Other players will feel the need to dive so that they can keep up with Neymar.
  2. These dives muddle the line between real fouls and dirty dives, not only creating difficult situations for referees, but also taking away from actual offenses.
  3. They teach the next generation to continue these antics.
  4. The game of soccer will receive a bad reputation.
  5. Slowly, the definition of “talent” will change to include diving as a criterion.
  6. For Neymar, his shot at a Balon Dor will definitely worsen.

No one likes to see diving in soccer. Flopping ruins the beauty of the game, and to put the matter simply, it’s a very dishonest act. Of course, inciting a foul is a valid tactic. However, flopping around like a fish isn’t the way to go. Neymar’s talent is superb and he surely has the potential to dominate the Beautiful Game for the next few years as he reaches his peak, so his legacy shouldn’t be his deplorable acting on the pitch.




Featured image from: Gilmer, Marcus. “Neymar’s World Cup Dive Gives Us the Top-notch Memes We’ve Been Waiting for.” Mashable. July 02, 2018. Accessed July 16, 2018. https://mashable.com/2018/07/02/neymar-dive-world-cup-brazil-mexico/#EowdHbD.Aqqa.

Crunching the Numbers of the Past World Cups: A Hopeful Trend

Beyond the laughter and tears, this past world cup continued a hopeful trend in international soccer.

In the 2002 South Korea/Japan games, of the 64 total matches, only 53% (34/64) of the matches were won by the higher ranked team, with 25% (16/64) of the games ending in an upset.

In the 2006 Germany World Cup, 52% (33/64) of the games were one by the favorites, while 31% (20/34) of the games were upsets.

In the 2010 South Africa games, 59% (38/64) of games were won by the higher-ranked nation, while 20% (13/64) of matches were upsets.

In the 2014 Brazil games, 69% (44/64) of games were won by the higher-ranked nation, while 17% (11/64) resulted in upsets.

In this recent 2018 Russia World Cup, only 53% (34/64) were won by the nation with the higher FIFA ranking, while a whopping 33% (21/64) of the matches resulted in upsets.

In the past five World Cups, the “favorites” of each matchup had only a 57% chance of winning. The inferior team won 25% of the time.

Furthermore, 92% (147/160) of the squads involved in the last 5 Cups obtained at least one point in the group stage.

These numbers sketch the unpredictable nature of the World Cup. To make the World Cup even more entertaining, lower ranked teams have improved drastically, thus decreasing the gap between the weaker sides and the European/South American powerhouses. I’m really excited about what the World Cup will hold in the future.




Citations:

FIFA.com. “2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan ™ – Matches.” FIFA.com. Accessed July 16, 2018. https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/archive/koreajapan2002/matches/index.html.

 

FIFA.com. “2006 FIFA World Cup Germany ™ – Matches.” FIFA.com. Accessed July 16, 2018. https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/archive/germany2006/matches/index.html.

 

FIFA.com. “2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ – Matches.” FIFA.com. Accessed July 16, 2018. https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/archive/southafrica2010/matches/index.html.

 

FIFA.com. “2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ – Matches.” FIFA.com. Accessed July 16, 2018. https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/archive/brazil2014/matches/index.html.

 

FIFA.com. “2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – Matches.” FIFA.com. Accessed July 16, 2018. https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/matches/.

 

FIFA.com. “Men’s Ranking-15 May 2002.” The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking – Ranking Table. Accessed July 16, 2018. https://www.fifa.com/fifa-world-ranking/ranking-table/men/rank=97/index.html.

 

FIFA.com. “Men’s Ranking-17 May 2006.” The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking – Ranking Table. Accessed July 16, 2018. https://www.fifa.com/fifa-world-ranking/ranking-table/men/rank=144/index.html.

 

FIFA.com. “Men’s Ranking-26 May 2010.” The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking – Ranking Table. Accessed July 16, 2018. https://www.fifa.com/fifa-world-ranking/ranking-table/men/rank=191/index.html.

 

FIFA.com. “Men’s Ranking-05 June 2014.” The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking – Ranking Table. Accessed July 16, 2018. https://www.fifa.com/fifa-world-ranking/ranking-table/men/rank=239/index.html.

 

FIFA.com. “Men’s Ranking-07 June 2018.” The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking – Ranking Table. Accessed July 16, 2018. https://www.fifa.com/fifa-world-ranking/ranking-table/men/index.html.
Featured image from: Sky Sports. “World Cup Fixtures: The Full Schedule for Russia 2018.” Sky Sports. July 15, 2018. Accessed July 16, 2018. http://www.skysports.com/football/news/12098/11154890/world-cup-fixtures-the-full-schedule-for-russia-2018.

ReCaP: What a World Cup!!

World Cup 2018 was absolutely amazing. The sheer excitement across every single match was unparalleled. We witnessed so many jaw-dropping games, with 169 goals scored across all matches. We watched Croatia dominate its group before they nearly lifted the Cup. We watched the Russian team put its nation on its shoulder as they nearly reached the semi-finals. Kylian Mbappé became the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since the legendary Pelé. And of course, France lifted the Cup for the first time in 20 years.

These people got the anecdote correct…

 

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Every year? Maybe every two years so that the Cup doesn’t lose its incredibleness.

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Yeah, it was absolutely nuts.

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Can’t agree more with this guy. Japan stole the show.

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And just like that, life is back to normal.

 



Citations

FIFA.com. “2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.” FIFA.com. Accessed July 16, 2018. https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/statistics/.

Comments from: FIFATV. “France v Croatia – 2018 FIFA World Cup™ FINAL – HIGHLIGHTS.” YouTube. July 15, 2018. Accessed July 16, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrsEAvRerTg.

Featured image from: Mirror. “Didier Deschamps Calls on France Stars to Follow in His Footsteps with World Cup Final Victory over Croatia.” Evewoman – Woman’s World. July 15, 2018. Accessed July 16, 2018. https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/sports/article/2001288124/didier-deschamps-calls-on-france-stars-to-follow-in-his-footsteps-with-world-cup-final-victory-over-croatia.

 

 

 

 

 

Nightmare at Rostov: Japan Falls Short Against Belgium

Japan once again failed to reach the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup in a nightmarish thriller.

Japan sustained their defensive might throughout the first half as their defense successfully kept a clean sheet. The scoreline at halftime was 0-0. This standoff awfully reminded me of Japan’s match against Paraguay in 2010, where the Samurai Blue lost in a penalty shootout.

However, with a beautiful goal from Haraguchi (MF) and Inui (MF) in the opening minutes of the second half, the Japanese dream of reaching the quarterfinals of the World Cup was astonishingly tangible. I started watching the World Cup in 2010, and all I could remember since then were the great number of stories regarding Japan’s lack of “the thing” that could send them into the top 8 of the FIFA games. Today’s game seemed to reflect otherwise.

Unfortunately, with a 69th minute goal from Vertonghen (DF) and another header from Fellaini (MF) in the 74th minute, my heart shattered. We were so close. Japan had multiple opportunities to score thereafter, but they couldn’t convert. A deathblow in the 94th minute by Chadli (MF) sent the Belgium boys past the Samurai Blue.

To be completely frank, I feared this outcome all along. Even after Japan’s two goals, I just had a nagging feeling that a comeback would occur. Japan is missing “something.” The physical attributes? The ability to finish games off? The confidence? This “something” is so difficult to grasp because even after three tries at the Round of 16 match, Japan can’t overcome this towering barrier, and each game seems to have its own problems for Japan.

Maybe the Japanese players are too analytical, but then again, with beefed up players like Lukaku and Fellaini on the Belgian side, however, playing the game without deep analysis of opponent’s play style, game conditions, etc. seems impossible for the Japanese team. Something is missing for Japan. Japanese soccer is facing a predicament of what the Samurai Blue needs to do to find greater success at the international stage.

This game was an absolute tragedy. The two goals from Japan put me in euphoria, but to see that final whistle blow after a last-second winner from Belgium completely knocked out Japanese hearts that had been waiting for decades to see the national team make the quarterfinals. I also sympathized greatly for players like Honda, Nagatomo, Kawashima, Kagawa, and Okazaki. They have revolutionized soccer in Japan. They put Japanese soccer under international spotlight, yet they couldn’t win that ONE match. Sadly, they may never stand on a World Cup pitch again to experience what they have dreamt of.

Other players like Inui and Shibasaki (MF) also shined in this year’s World Cup, and seeing all of these breakout players fall to the ground after the whistle was absolutely terrible.

At the end of the day, the Japan national team worked their butt off and should be proud of what it accomplished. To reach the Round of 16 alone was a great achievement considering the odds put against them. I want to see Japanese soccer succeed in the 2022 World Cup.




Featured image on:

Images), (Image: 2018 Getty, (Image: REX/Shutterstock), (Image: Getty Images Europe), (Image: AFP), and (Image: REUTERS). “Belgium 3-2 Japan Report: Chadli Bags 94th Minute Winner to Complete Comeback.” Mirror. July 02, 2018. Accessed July 02, 2018. https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/match-reports/belgium-japan-world-cup-live-12578964.

World Cup Game Analysis: Japan vs. Columbia

WHAT A THRILLING WIN FOR JAPAN!!

Everyone counted against Japan winning their World Cup opener against Columbia. Well, they were wrong. The Samurai Blue led a superb upset.

Japan started off with a bang as Yuya Osako (FW) pressured the Columbian backline and created a breakaway. Kagawa’s (MF) following shot led to a penalty kick and a red card for Carlos Sanchez (DF). I have already seen people saying that Sanchez’s hand ball was accidental and wasn’t deserving of a red card. This claim is ridiculous. To say that Sanchez’s hand naturally floated mid-air for that long until the ball hit it, is just absolutely insane. He definitely intended to pull a Suarez. Anyways, the Japanese shooter calmly put away the PK, and I hoped the rest of the game would go Japan’s way.

However, I saw a sloppy 30 minutes from both sides afterwards, as passes seemed to go wide. Japan is not used to having the upper-hand because people count us out. Their playing reflected this reality.

A dive from Falcao and a terrible referee decision led to a sneaky freekick goal by Quintero (MF) as he rolled the ball under Japan’s wall. Honestly, the ref’s decision to reward Falcao’s blatant dive was much worse than his decision to send off Sanchez. Watch the highlights, and you’ll notice that Falcao was LITERALLY the one who tried to lay the body on Hasebe (MF), but the Columbian dove. WHY? HOW DOES THAT WORK?

The second half was all Japan. Japan created chance after chance, but the Blue boys failed to concede. But in the 73rd minute, Osako scored a beautiful header. Ospina (GK) was caught off the goal-line as he fails to decide between punching the ball and keeping his ground. Columbia never seemed to find their attacking rhythm. Despite James Rodriguez’s entering the match in the second half, chances were minimal for the Columbian side. The long 5-minute stoppage time felt like an hour, but Japan came out with three points.

My man of the match was easily Osako (FW), and he rightfully won the award. Throughout the match, he made beautiful runs that exposed the Columbian backline. The opening goal was a result of Osako’s breakaway even though his initial shot was blocked. Furthermore, in the 78th minute, he barely blocked a close-range shot from James Rodriguez. Most importantly, he scored the decisive goal.

Other great performances came from Nagatomo (DF) and Gen Shoji (DF). Nagatomo showed outstanding ability to keep up with Cuadrado, and he made quick runs and had a few crosses. Shoji displayed his defensive coolness by outplaying Falcao in many situations.

The Columbian side didn’t display their South American flair in their first match, but I hope to see some exciting soccer from players like Cuadrado (MF) and James Rodriguez in the upcoming Group H matches.

Conclusively, Japan’s victory was a historical one as it was the Samurai Blue’s first time winning a World Cup matchup against a South American team. The game was yet another upset. I’m super hyped that Japan finally got their revenge against Columbia, following their 1-4 defeat four years ago. Never count us out!



Citations:
“Colombia vs Japan June 19, 2018 – 2018 FIFA World Cup Commentary.” FOX Sports. Accessed June 19, 2018. https://www.foxsports.com/soccer/fifa-world-cup/colombia-japan-june-19-2018-match-commentary-108590.
FIFA.com. “2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – Matches – Colombia – Japan.” FIFA.com. Accessed June 19, 2018. https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/matches/match/300331550/#motm.

World Cup Match Preview: Japan vs. Columbia

Japan will face Columbia in match-day 1 of the FIFA World Cup 2018. With the kickoff less than four hours away, 27 out of 28 betting companies have indicated that Japan are 5 times more likely to lose than they are to win.

To give a brief history, four years ago in the 2014 World Cup games, Japan fell to Columbia 1-4. With the round of 16 hopes on the line, Japan couldn’t handle the offensive force led by Jackson Martinez and James Rodriguez as the Samurai Blue conceded 3 goals in the second half. Will history repeat itself?

Well, the talent in Columbia’s national team will be tough to handle for Japan. Columbia have a strike-force led by James Rodriguez and veteran Radamel Falcao and a defensive crew that includes David Ospina at GK and Zapata at CB. The Columbian squad have physical attributes that overpower the smaller Japanese side.

Columbia definitely has some weaknesses that Japan can capitalize on. First off, Columbia’s offense has not seen much success in recent games. They only scored a dull 21 goals in 18 qualifier games. Also, James Rodriguez’s start is in question as he has experienced a training injury days before the match.

The Japanese side aren’t all that bad either. Japan has some talented, veteran players to lead the way. These players include Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa, Maya Yoshida, and Shinji Okazaki, who have all had much success on the international stage. Most notably, Honda, Kagawa, and Okazaki were stars on the national team that reached the Round of 16 in the 2010 World Cup. Furthermore, the first few days of the Cup have already seen some upsets. Mexico defeated Germany in a thrilling match, while Iceland and Switzerland successfully held off Argentina and Brazil, respectively, to ties. Japan can do the same.

Being a Japanese person, I am obviously a biased commentator. However, as we have seen time and time again, anything can happen in soccer. Japan doesn’t necessarily need a miracle, either. Despite being the underdogs, the Samurai Blue aren’t a weak side. Regardless of how the match turns out, we can expect to enjoy a clash of two ambitious teams.



Sources:

“Colombia Team Roster.” FOX Sports. Accessed June 19, 2018. https://www.foxsports.com/soccer/colombia-men-team-roster?competition=12&season=2018.

 

“Colombia v Japan Winner Betting Odds | Football.” Oddschecker.com. Accessed June 19, 2018. https://www.oddschecker.com/football/world-cup/colombia-v-japan/winner.

 

“Japan Team Roster.” FOX Sports. Accessed June 19, 2018. https://www.foxsports.com/soccer/japan-men-team-roster?competition=12&season=2018.

 

Pringle, Ben. “Colombia Team News: Predicted Colombia Line up vs Japan – Rodriguez Injury Doubt.” Express.co.uk. June 18, 2018. Accessed June 19, 2018. https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/975978/Colombia-team-predicted-line-up-Japan-World-Cup-Group-H-sportgalleries.

 

Tyers, Alan. “Colombia World Cup 2018 Squad and Team Guide.” The Telegraph. May 30, 2018. Accessed June 19, 2018. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-cup/0/colombia-world-cup-2018-squad-team-guide/.


Featured image on:

“2018 FIFA World Cup- Colombia Vs Japan-Preview! Live Streaming Information, Predicted Teams, World Cup Fixtures, Team News, Kick-off times.” BeIN SPORTS Australia. June 18, 2018. Accessed June 19, 2018. http://www.beinsports.com/en/2018-fifa-world-cup-russia/news/2018-fifa-world-cup-colombia-vs-japan-preview/905506.