Friday, 25 November 2016

Inter the abyss: Struggling Internacional in need of a miracle as first ever relegation beckons

It wasn't meant to be this way for Internacional. Their opening eight matches of the Brasileirão season yielded 19 points – enough to take them to head of the table, three points clear of the chasing pack. A good season looked in prospect.

Since then, however... well, you could only really call it a disaster. Inter went on a 14-game winless run, sacked three managers and, with two seasons of the season remaining, find themselves in the relegation zone.

They have never been relegated from Brazil's top flight, but the Colorado now need a miracle – or a couple of them – if they're to avoid demotion on the weeks ahead. Read about their situation in my latest for WhoScored.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Job security? You've come to the wrong place! Why Brazil's sacking culture is holding coaches back

Levir Culpi wasn't going to go quietly. The coach, axed by Brazilian giants Fluminense, had a few things he wanted to get off his chest first.

"I'm pissed off," he wrote in an open letter to the club. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to be part of Fluminense's history. To work for nine months at a club famous for being the best in the world at sacking coaches is no mean feat."

His ire was understandable. True, Flu had gone six games without a win – a run marked by some fairly miserable football. But Levir had brought stability to a club rocked by behind-the-scenes turmoil and the sale of star player Fred, even guiding the Tricolor to glory in the inaugural edition of the Primeira Liga.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing is all too common in Brazil. While Levir's claim that Flu are the worst offenders is up for debate, there can be little doubt that Brazilian clubs on the whole are world-class sackers of football managers.

Read my latest for FourFourTwo here.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Back to the scene of the crime: Brazil return to the Mineirão looking to exorcise ghosts of Germany thrashing

Even two years on, the memories remain fresh. It was a harrowing, indelible night, one that continues to be spoken about with a vague sense of disbelief. There are defeats and then there are defeats, and Brazil's World Cup capitulation at the hands of Germany – 'the 7-1', as it has come to be known – will forever merit the italics.

On Thursday, the Seleção return to the scene of the criminal defending for the first time, looking to exorcise some of the demons that have taken up residence at the Mineirão. Brazil vs Argentina: it's a match that doesn't really need subplots, but by God, we've got one.

Read my match preview for WhoScored here.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Diary of an unlikely hero: Meet Botafogo cult favourite Camilo, the best player in Brazil at the moment

He doesn't look like a hero. He's short, stumpy, has a scrunched-up face and the kind of haircut that should have been left in the last millennium.

He doesn't sound like a star. He's 30 and has never played for his country. His CV is that of a ten-a-penny Brazilian journeyman, elevated above the mundane only by spells in China and Saudi Arabia. They didn't go very well. He has all the global cachet of the salt shaker in your cupboard.

Appearances can be deceiving, though, for this is the best player in Brazil at the moment. Meet Fernando Camilo Farias (Camilo to his friends),  full-time cult figure and the creative force behind Botafogo's unlikely ascent to the upper echelons of the Campeonato Brasileiro.

Read the rest of this piece on the WhoScored website.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Ronaldo, Romário and Denílson run riot at the airport: Nike's classic Brazil advert in excruciating detail

For football fans of a certain generation, adverts – sports-related or otherwise – will never, ever reach the heights achieved by Nike's airport spot, which aired before the 1998 World Cup.

There was Ronaldo, the star of the moment. There was Romário, ageing but still cool as hell. There was Denílson, a man who thought nothing of doing, oh, 34 consecutive stepovers during a match. There were flicks, tricks and moments of humour.

But if you're anything like me, you probably don't recall all of the little touches that further elevate the ad. But fear not! Help is at hand.

Join me on this Proustian rollercoaster ride on the Unibet blog.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Like a pneumatic drill through butter: Five great Ronaldo goals you've probably never seen before

Ronaldo – the original Ronaldo – turned 40 last week, prompting a fresh wave of appreciation for one of the icons of the modern game.

Ronaldo was also the master of reinvention, battling past a string of serious knee injuries that forced him to continuously adapt to diminishing physical capabilities, yet always remaining vital – both to his clubs and country.

We all know some of Ronaldo's great goals by heart. But there are plenty of lesser-known gems in the back catalogue.

Here are five – plus the stories behind them – I picked out for Unibet.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Flamengo may be homeless, but they can smell another Brazilian title with 'Ricardiola' at the helm

They haven't been able to play matches at the Maracanã all year, due to the Olympics and Paralympics. But that has not stopped Flamengo feeling right at home wherever they have travelled this term.

For with brilliant former youth team coach Zé Ricardo in the dugout, the Rubro-Negro have captured the hearts and minds of Fla fans throughout Brazil, many of whom have flocked to see them in 'home' games in São Paulo, Brasília and Natal.

Palmeiras continue to set the pace in Série A but there is a growing feeling that the Rio giants might just be able to overhaul them to secure an unexpected title. As their supporters would have it, the 'cheirinho de hepta' is in the air.

In my latest for WhoScored, I take a look at Flamengo's surge and Zé Ricardo's ability to squeeze performances out of previously unloved players.