June 28th, 2013
02:40 PM ET

Do Brazil still play the beautiful game?

Neymar has scored three superb goals during the Confederations Cup. (Getty Images).
Neymar has scored three superb goals during the Confederations Cup. (Getty Images).

While Brazil’s World Cup winning team in 1970 entranced the world it ensured that that golden generation became the benchmark by which every subsequent Brazilian coach and player would be measured.

No pressure then for the current wearers of the famed yellow shirt as they prepare to meet current World Cup champions Spain in the Confederations Cup final on Sunday in Rio de Janiero's Maracana Stadium.

Brazil's captain Carlos Alberto scored the final goal in the 4-1 destruction of Italy in the 1970 World Cup final - arguably the most perfect epitaph to a team that had captivated millions of people watching across the globe who were not lucky enough to be in the Azteca Stadium on that June 21 day.

Encompassing wonderful individual skill within the framework of a team that seemed to have an almost telepathic understanding, the move that led to the goal started with Tostao deep in his own half.

By the time Alberto had crashed the ball into the net the majority of the team's outfield players had been involved in the build up to its devastating denouement.

There was midfielder Clodoaldo bewitching a quartet of Italian players, with Rivelino and Jairzinho also linking up.

Jairzinho then passed to Pele, who was standing just outside the penalty box's "D". Time seemed to stop as Pele assessed his options - before sensing Alberto’s run to his right - he nonchalantly flicked the ball into the path of his captain. The rest is history. FULL POST

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June 24th, 2013
07:49 PM ET

Cycling faces watershed of credibility

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How much of an impact do you think the Lance Armstrong scandal over the last few years has had is the question I put to British cycling star Mark Cavendish.

Cavendish stares from behind his sunglasses. There is a stony silence before he smirks and, six seconds later, finally shrugs and replies, "I don’t know. I think it’s had more of an effect on you journalists trying to make a story out of it than on the actual riders.”

It doesn’t reflect that well on him –- or me for that matter. But my chat with Mark Cavendish at last month's Giro D’Italia summed up pretty early on in our filming for CNN's Changing Gear series the current view within cycling of the events of the last 12 months. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Cycling
June 18th, 2013
02:21 PM ET

Can anyone stop Spain at 2014 World Cup?

Andres Iniesta was outstanding for Spain in the 2-1 Confederations Cup win over Uruguay. (Getty Images).
Andres Iniesta was outstanding for Spain in the 2-1 Confederations Cup win over Uruguay. (Getty Images).

The final of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil’s Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro is just over a year away, but already it’s difficult to look any further than Spain as tournament winners.

That’s a statement likely to provoke guffaws from hosts Brazil, who hope home advantage will propel the South American side to a record-extending sixth title.

Argentina, who have the world’s best player Lionel Messi in their team, might also have something to say about that prediction. FULL POST

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June 11th, 2013
03:28 PM ET

Who are Europe's next young soccer stars?

Lorenzo Insigne, Kevin Strootman and Isco have all made an impression in Israel (Getty Images).
Lorenzo Insigne, Kevin Strootman and Isco have all made an impression in Israel (Getty Images).

Yalla! The football stars of the future are on display in Israel - and they’re lighting up the UEFA Under-21 Championship in style.

Having spent the past week in Tel Aviv covering the tournament for CNN, it’s given me a great opportunity to take a look at some of the top prospects coming through onto the international stage.

Some of the biggest names in the game have forged their reputations at this tournament and I’ve picked out a few “ones to watch” following the opening week’s action. FULL POST

June 4th, 2013
10:54 AM ET

Can Chelsea go 'Back to the Future?'

Jose Mourinho was sacked as manager of Chelsea in 2007, but has now returned.
Jose Mourinho was sacked as manager of Chelsea in 2007, but has now returned.

“Getting back was only the beginning.” Not only the strapline for Hollywood sequel Back to the Future II but also a fitting description of Chelsea’s decision to reappoint Jose Mourinho on a four-year contract.

The return of the self-dubbed “Special One” after a six-year absence has prompted a euphoric response from the Premier League club’s fans, who are delighted owner Roman Abramovich has decided to go “Back to the Future."

Between 2004 and 2007, Mourinho’s Chelsea, for a time, dominated English football. The Portuguese coach guided the west London team to a first league title in 50 years as well as four other major trophies.

But his return is being greeted with caution by some who warn it is never wise to return to the scene of former glories. FULL POST

June 1st, 2013
04:14 PM ET

Have FIFA's 'reforms' actually changed anything?

FIFA president Sepp Blatter claims the ruling body is now transparent in its workings. (Getty Images)
FIFA president Sepp Blatter claims the ruling body is now transparent in its workings. (Getty Images)

How much faith do you have in FIFA? Can we as fans really believe football's overlords are in it for the good of the game? Now the 63rd Annual FIFA Congress has been and gone - how much has really changed? It was a summit sold on its significance for world soccer's much trumpeted reform plan, but should we all have saved our air fares?

Given Sepp Blatter invited us to the wonder that is Mauritius for this year's annual meeting of football's parliament, I feel it's only right to contemplate this question from the comfort of a sun bed, with cocktail in hand. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Football