*Brazil won the FIFA U-20 World Cup, defeating Portugal 3:2 in the final in Bogota. Mexico beat France 3:1 to clinch third.
The seleçao were top gunners with 18 goals in seven matches but Nigeria were the most prolific, averaging three goals a game. Spain were the most on-target team, shooting on goal 54 times in five games. Five of the 24 entrants failed to find the net – Austria, England (in four games), Mali, North Korea and Panama.
Three youngsters tied for the golden boot but Spain’s Alvaro Vasquez took the least time to score five – 219 minutes as opposed to 353 for Togel Hongkong Alexandre Lacazette of France and 557 for Henrique of Brazil.
*Scourge of FIFA Andrew Jennings continues to build the case against Chuck Blazer. The supersized American of the Ex.Co. might have blown the whistle on his CONCACAF boss Jack Warner but does not appear to be cut from much of a different cloth.
*Hernan Dario Gomez has resigned as coach of Colombia.
*Spain was unusually quiet yesterday as La Liga players went on strike over money. Actually, the nation could have done with a breather as the thermometers hit 35C, young Catholic pilgrims from across the globe succumbed to heat exhaustion on World Youth Day in Madrid and arguments continued over the latest Barça v Real bust-up earlier in the week.
The European champions won an entertaining Spanish Supercup 3:2 at home after a 2:2 draw away courtesy of another wonder goal from Lionel Messi in the Camp Nou, before the closing seconds saw the clash of the titans go back to the playground.
*Still in Spain, Valencia’s right-sided attacker Juan Mata, who starred in his country’s Euro U21 win in Denmark, is off to Chelsea, while Colombian marksman Falcao, once thought to be Stamford Bridge-bound, has signed for Atletico Madrid as replacement for Sergio Aguero.
*Arsenal’s much-trumpeted malaise appears to have begun in earnest with a 0-2 home reverse to rejuvenated Liverpool. With Cesc Fabregas now back in the blaugrana and Samir Nasri moments from Manchester City, Arsene Wenger was a tableau of sodden schadenfreude on the touchline as his dreams of an Ajax-on-Thames dissolved in the London drizzle.
Wenger’s ideal of a top-notch youth system supplying all his needs with multi-functional footballers has run out of steam in the face of his rivals’ active recruitment of established specialists. Or as Alan ‘If in doubt, launch it’ Hansen wrote in today’s Telegraph, “They need more destruction than creation.”
Only some sheepish yet hectic transfer activity can cure the sick patient that is the Gunners, but with the transfer market sure to exploit any panic-buying from Arsenal, January might realistically be the next time they can dam the flood.
*Russia opened one of its stadia for the 2018 World Cup. Yekaterinburg’s renovated Central Stadium opened and will be expanded from its current 27,000 capacity to 40,000 for the World Cup.