World Cup 2019-England vs South Africa Match 1 Betting

[Sports] - Rugby World Cup 2019: England reminded of betting regulations, Jean Kleyn on Ireland switch and Steve Hansen hits back at South Africa | The Independent

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[Sports] - Rugby World Cup 2019: England reminded of betting regulations, Jean Kleyn on Ireland switch and Steve Hansen hits back at South Africa

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Sri Lanka vs South Africa, Match 35 – Cricket World Cup Betting Tips Free

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Free World Cup Betting Tips – South Africa vs India, Match 8

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Free Cricket World Cup 2019 Betting Tips – South Africa vs West Indies, Match 15

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Free Cricket World Cup Betting Tips For South Africa Vs Bangladesh, Match 5Th

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South Africa Vs England - 1st Match - World Cup Betting Tips

South Africa Vs England - 1st Match - World Cup Betting Tips

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After waiting for four long years finally, the cricket World Cup is just going to start soon. The eyes of cricket lovers would be on the matches and the Cup, and all thrill of Cricket World Cup 2019 will begin 0n 30th May with the very first match between South Africa vs England at Kenning ton Oval, London. ICC World Cup 2019, the biggest festival of the Cricket is now around the corner. Get prepared for the exciting matches and fun of World Cup with Bhaiji. Bhaiji is the best platform that provides more accurate online cricket betting tips and prediction for all cricket formats and series. Tune up with Bhaiji and get the Betting Tips for ICC World Cup 2019. You can subscribe to our paid services and get the betting tips and prediction to make your cricket experience more exciting. What you are waiting for!!! Subscribe us now. Source by http://www.bhaijicricketbettingtips.com/South-Africa-Vs-England-1st-Match-World-Cup-Betting-Tips
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South Africa vs Afghanistan, ICC T20 World Cup 2016: Where to watch live, prediction, betting odds, team news and live streaming information

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T20 World Cup 2016: South Africa vs Sri Lanka – where to watch, news, predictions and betting odds

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T20 World Cup 2016: South Africa vs Sri Lanka betting preview

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ICC T20 World Cup 2016: South Africa vs West Indies betting preview

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T20 World Cup 2016: South Africa vs England betting preview

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Cricket World Cup 2015: India, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand’s Betting Odds To Capture Title

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World Cup Betting –Five World Cup Betting Tips For South Africa

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Kubala, the path to glory of Barcelona's most loved legend: A story of overcoming, adventures, crazy nights, majestic matches and of a good man who made everybody around him happy.

Nothing in Kubala's life was normal. Now that TV series about sportsmen are fashionable, the one that could be made about the adventures of Ladislao Kubala Stecz (Budapest, 1927) would raze through many seasons. In one season we could go deeper into his facet of legendary footballer, capable of changing the way of playing this sport, how he saved his life at the very last moment by not getting on the Torino plane that crashed in Superga, or how he was ten minutes away from signing for Real Madrid or enrolling in the Pirate League of Colombia, all of this in order to end being Barcelona's biggest icon... who ended playing for Espanyol.
We could add a season of adventures due to his incredible escape from communist Hungary. His journey through Italy with a football team, the Hungaria, of stateless people in which in addition to Hungarians also played Croats, Albanians, Romanians and Serbs who were looking for a life as good as they could get. One could also add to this the facet of the social phenomenon that dazzled a country during the dark years of Franco's regime by becoming a pop star, and end up with another season about the legends, real, invented or simply exaggerated, of his adventures in Barcelona's nightclubs.
Everything about Kubala is like a movie.

The legend of the escape.

Born in Budapest to a Hungarian man and a Slovakian woman, he always considered himself as both Hungarian and Slovakian, even when this republic was part of the now extinct Czechoslovakia. By the age of 20, Kubala was a football star known for his performances with Slovan Bratislava and Vasas Budapest. In fact, he had already been capped by Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Later, he would go on to play for Spain, and is still the only player to have been capped by three countries. But fed up with the system that was preventing him from developing his professional football career, he embarked on an escape proper of a movie to the West. He contacted a human trafficking organisation, a mafia that, in exchange for a large amount of money, facilitated a partial escape. As is now the case with criminals who gamble with the lives of people who want to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe or pass to the United States through the southern border, the smugglers did not secure anything. The last part of the journey depended on the luck and expertise of the escapees and often ended tragically.
"I remember that when I escaped from Hungary I was just a kid. The traffickers left us in the middle of a mountain to do the last stretch on foot. We were a large group. The adults gathered the children and gave us palinka. A liquor similar to brandy to get us drunk and fall asleep. A child's cry could alert the border guards patrolling the mountain. And they had orders to shoot to kill. The group split in two. My group was lucky and we were able to win the Austrian border. Once we were safe, we learned that the other group that had travelled with us and took another road was discovered and killed." The chilling story is that of Zoltan Czibor, the son of the former Barça player who tells how he had to flee Hungary with his family to join his father in Italy. The odyssey of Kubala, six years earlier, was mirrored.
The traffickers disguised Kubala as a Russian soldier and put him in a truck that would leave the escapees at an undetermined point in the mountains so that they could cross the border into Austria on their own. Kubala remembered that this journey scared him to death because unlike his comrades, he was a national celebrity and any soldier who checked the military truck would recognize him. He was endangering his life and the lives of those who accompanied him.
When they were left in the mountain on January 27, 1949, Kubala walked, and crossing a river helped by a tire that carried him, managed to reach Innsbuck, Austria, without any documentation. He was a stateless man starting from scratch.
In Austria he managed to sign with Pro Patria, a team from Milan, but he could only play friendly matches. His escape provoked the anger of the Hungarian regime, which denounced him and blocked his registration. Kubala had married Anna Daucik two years earlier, sister of Fernando Daucik, a veteran player of the era who would later become a famous coach. When Kubala fled, he left behind his family, whom he was unable to reunite with until six months later, when Anna was able to cross the border and meet Ladislao in Udine. He arrived with one more member of the family. A baby, her firstborn, whom Kubala did not yet know.
While he is irregularly enrolled in the Pro Patria, he gets the chance to sign with Torino, Italy's dominant team at the time. He is offered a trial match. Nothing better than a friendly match that Il Grande Torino had in Lisbon as a tribute to Xico Ferreira. However, when the Turin team's plane is about to take off, the president of Torino prevents Kubala from boarding because he fears a federal sanction. On the return flight, on 4 May 1949, the Fiat G 212 of Avio Linee Italiana crashed into the retaining wall of the Basilica of Superga due to the wind, poor visibility and an error in the altimeter of the aircraft. At 180 kilometres per hour and with a visibility of 40 metres, the pilot saw the stone wall of the basilica too late when he thought the plane was at 2,000 metres and was actually at 690 metres above sea level. The 31 people who were travelling in that aircraft died. Kubala had saved his life again.

The legend of Hungaria.

With no possibility of playing in Italy because the back then very powerful Italian Communist Party was pressing to prevent people fleeing from countries in the orbit of the USSR from taking refuge in Italy, Kubala had no choice but to form a team of stateless people who hired their services throughout Europe to play friendly matches against whoever hired them.
The team was called Hungaria, was managed by his brother-in-law Fernando Daucik and was mainly made up of Hungarians, although there were also players of other nationalities. It was made up of: Kis, Marik, Torok, Mogoy, Lami, Rákosi, Hrotko, Majteny, Nagy, Kubala, Otto, Licker, Turbeky, Monsider (Croatian), De Lorenzi (Albanian), Szegedi (Romanian) and Arangelovic (Serbian).
They played their first match against Italy's B team, but again pressure from the PCI forced them to play outside Italy. And that is how they arrived in Spain, hired by Santiago Bernabéu. On June 5, 1950, they faced Real Madrid in Chamartin, losing 4-2, but with a stellar performance by Kubala, who scored both of his team's goals. Three days later, they beat the Spanish team that was preparing for the World Cup in Brazil, where they came in fourth, 1-2 again with a great performance by Kubala, who received an offer from Real Madrid to be signed.
Kubala requires that to join the team, Madrid must also hire Daucik as a coach, something that Bernabéu does not agree to. The Madrid coach at that time was the Briton Keeping, a great connoisseur of WM tactics. Daucik is offered to train the Plus Ultra, a Madrid branch that plays in the third division. That negative and the federative problems that drags Kubala cause that Madrid becomes disinterested in his transfer, that was already agreed lacking of some fringes that turned out to be determinant.
The Hungaria moves two days later to Barcelona, where on June 10 plays against Espanyol losing 6-4 in a match with Pepe Samitier, the technical secretary of Barça, in the stands. It is necessary to emphasize that Hungaria had been playing three matches in five days with a very short team and without being able to make substitutions. Even so, Kubala amazes and Samitier does not mess around. Six days after that match, on 16 June 1950, at half past six in the evening, Kubala signed his three-year contract with Barça at the Pasaje Méndez Vigo. Obviously, with Fernando Daucik as coach. President Montal, Sr., signed him as an "amateur player" in order to avoid any trouble for the federation.
Real Madrid rages and is shocked. Pablo Hernández, general secretary of the white entity and Santiago Bernabéu's right hand, assures that Barça had broken a non-aggression pact between both teams and had hired a player with whom they were in talks. Samitier, who was unbeatable in the media, declares that he had been following Kubala for months and that the pact had not been broken because it referred only to players who played in Spanish teams. And Hungaria was not Spanish. In fact, it wasn't from anywhere.
But Kubala's problems didn't end there. He still didn't have a registration card or an international certificate. Vasas in Budapest and the Hungarian Federation had reported him to FIFA. Barça used the weak argument that since professionalism had been abolished in Hungary, any amateur player could choose his destiny. But the fight was not going to be so easy.
Barça, it is fair to say, had the total support of the regime and the Federation to carry out the transfer. At the level of anti-communist propaganda, Kubala was perfect. A young and extraordinary sportsman who fled from the red hell to take refuge in Franco's Spain was a candy too sweet to let go. Muñoz Calero, president of the Federation, rowed in favor of Barça as did Ricardo Cabot, secretary of the organization, who, in addition to his affection for the regime, was a well-known Barcelona supporter.
But the procedures were very slow and Kubala could only play friendly matches. He made his debut against Osasuna on 12 October, scoring two goals on the day the Barça fans knew instantly that they had just signed a star. Then he played against Zaragoza, Frankfurt twice, Girona and the Badalona. In six friendlies he scored 11 goals. The fans and the player himself were eager to meet in an official match. For all this, the Federation to play the role with FIFA fined Barça every time he lined up Kubala with the symbolic figure of 50 pesetas.
It is at this time that Kubala is about to leave everything and go away from Barça. He needed the money and wanted to play at the highest level and in Colombia he was offered the chance to do so. The South American country had organised the so-called Pirate League outside FIFA and many of the world's biggest stars joined, including Alfredo Di Stefano who went to Millonarios in Bogota. Kubala had a tempting offer from Atletico Bucaramanga. With the option of Kubala leaving, events accelerated. To begin with, Barça fixed his financial situation by means of a peculiar amateur contract in which they paid him 1,200 pesetas for "compensation" and 3,800 for "encouragement and overfeeding".
On April 2, 1951, he was granted the status of political refugee as a stateless person, which was a step towards granting him Spanish nationality. But for this step, Kubala first had to be converted to Catholicism through the sacrament of baptism. Every Spaniard had to be a Catholic. Kubala was baptized in Aguilas, Murcia, the birthplace of Muñoz Calero, president of the Federation. It is then when Barça, to avoid problems, settles its differences economically with Vasas, which despite being against capitalism accepts a payment of 300,000 pesetas to provide the transfer, while the Pro Patria, which also complained, is satisfied with 12 million lire.
The Kubala era could now really commence.

The legend on the field.

Kubala made his official debut with Barcelona in Sevilla in a cup match. The Sevillistas at that time were one of the best teams. Sevilla and Barça had developed in that period a great rivalry in the high places of the table. In 1946 Sevilla had stolen the possibility of winning the championship from Barça by drawing in Les Corts on the last day, in 1948 Barça beat the Sevillians in the final of the Eva Perón Cup (which would be the current Supercup) and in that campaign a Barça without Kubala had lost all its options to win La Liga after losing 4-0 in Nervión three days before the end of the season.
The Cup, by that time was played once the regular season was over and in those circumstances the official debut of Kubala took place. On April 29th in Nervion, Barça arrived to play against Sevilla in the middle of a difficult atmosphere. The Andalusians had lost the league in a dramatic outcome when they drew at home in the last match against Atletico Madrid with a refereeing performance that the locals judged scandalous. For further concern, the Federation allowed Kubala to line up with Barça in the first round of the Cup, which in Sevilla was taken as a surprise.
With the stadium full to the flag, Barcelona defeated Sevilla in an exhibition of Kubala. He wasn't just the best of the match but he showed Spain a way of playing football unthinkable until that time: chest controls, shots with curve, millimetric changes of play of 40 meters, protection of the ball with his back, use of the body in the shot and touches with the heel.
Domenech, Sevilla's attacker who was the direct protagonist of that match, explained years later how he remembered that day.
"It was something never seen before. Ramallets kicked it and he would receive her with his chest, or with either of his legs. If you tackled him he would dribble you in a brick. He'd put the ball where he wanted her. Besides, from time to time he changed with César, he'd be a center forward and César would be a midfielder. They drove us crazy. The anger of the people became clamours. We were witnessing something extraordinary. It was like going from black and white cinema to colour," explained the former Sevilla player. The Sevilla crowd, who had welcomed Barça and its new superstar with anger, ended up giving Kubala a standing ovation for every action as if they were watching a glorious bullfighting performance.
Kubala's actions on the field change football forever. Since there was no television, his exploits are reported orally. There is no other way to see it than to go to the field of Les Corts, which is packed for every game Barça plays as a local. It is a very common argument to say that Kubala forced Barça to build the Camp Nou because the old Les Corts was not enough to accommodate all the people who wanted to admire him. Maybe he had an influence, but as the journalist Frederic Porta, author of an interesting biography of Kubala (Kubala, l'heroi que va canviar la història del Barça. Ed. Saldonar) explains, "the truth is that Barça had already bought the land to build the Camp Nou two years before and the idea of making a bigger field already existed, but Kubala advanced everything and justified the change".
Blessed with brutal technique, a sensational strike of the ball and an unusual physical strength, Kubala changed football. He would throw free-kicks over the wall with curve or by making the ball bounce in front of the goalkeeper, he would take penalties (he was practically infallible) with what was later called paradinha and was credited with the Brazilians although he was the first in Europe to do so. Physically he was a bull. In his youth he had practiced boxing and if he didn't become a recognized fighter with a great career it was because he had short arms. His lower body was sensational. He had a butt and legs that allowed him to protect the ball like no one else. Frederic Porta says that "in his time of splendour they measured his thighs and each one had a circumference of 69 centimetres, which would be the waist of one of his companions". He was also capable of running the 100 metres in less than 11 seconds. A total athlete with a very refined technique.
However, that physical strength and the confidence he had in her, for he never avoided a collision, were his downfall. Kubala became the target of a hunt by rival defenders. He never went into hiding and that's why in eleven years at Barcelona he suffered up to eleven injuries of some seriousness. With matches without television, the harshness that bordered on violence was the order of the day. He was being kicked to death.
But Barça was living its most golden period to date. Moreover, the club revolved around Kubala. Frederic Porta compares it with the present time: "Now they say that Messi commands the club and surely he commands, but nothing to do with the influence that Kubala had. Kubala was the boss and even the one who decided the transfers. And no one was surprised. That Barça adopted the socks with the horizontal stripes blaugrana is his imposition. He saw them on the rugby team, liked them and incorporated them into the football team by decree. In fact, it is he who insists on signing Luis Suarez when he impresses him in a match against Deportivo. Kubala was Suarez's first fan, but what happened in the stands, which was divided between Suaristas and Kubalistas, is another matter.
Suarez was eight years younger than Kubala. He arrived at Barcelona at the age of 19, Kubala was 27 and his physique was very punished by his injuries and the life he was living, as he did not deprive himself of anything. If he held out, it was because of privileged genetics.
Therefore, there never was a real competition between them, but there was a lot of influence here from the figure of Helenio Herrera, the Barça manager, who saw Kubala as older and slower and was looking forward to a quick change by the young Galician as the leader of the team. The debate reached the stands and the media. It was an absurd debate, because they didn't play in the same position, with whom Kubala really had a certain rivalry with Eulogio Martínez, who was the one with whom he alternated the position.
Kubala's physical problems were not only due to injuries. He had the whole of Spain in suspense when he suffered a tuberculosis that could have cost him his life. There are apocryphal versions that explain that this tuberculosis was actually a stab wound he suffered in a fight in a cheap pub in the fifth district (Barcelona's Chinatown) and he has to retire to Montseny to recover. Nobody is betting on his return to the pitch if he survives a "hole in the lung the size of a silver bullet" according to the chronicles of the time. But once again, Kubala's ability to survive prevails. He returns to the pitches, but already heavily punished and slowed down.
It is against this backdrop that the 1961 European Cup final arrives, with Kubala arriving at the age of 34 with a herniated disc that barely allows him to walk, but he wants to play. He knows that the club is going through a critical situation despite having reached the final of the maximum trophy for the first time: the club is bankrupt because of the construction of the Camp Nou, the fights in the board of directors are chaotic, Luis Suarez has signed for Inter (the one in Bern will be his last game with Barça), which was where Helenio Herrera had left the team in the hands of Enrique Orizaola.
Kubala tells Orizaola to line him up, that like all the Portuguese will go for him and he can barely move because of the back pain and will play with painkillers, it will give more opportunities to his teammates. But the match is a pile of misfortunes for Barcelona. Ramallets scores an own goal, Barça shoots three times to the damn square posts of the goals (from then on they would change their shape) even Kubala kicked a ball that hit a post, went through the goal line until it hit the other post and came out repelled. Barça lost and Kubala's time at Barcelona came to an end.

The man of the year.

Kubala's significance goes beyond the playing field. According to a vote made for Radio Barcelona by journalist Joaquín Soler Serrano in the mid-50s, the Catalans most loved by their fellow citizens were Doctor Barraquer and Ladislao Kubala.
"He was literally the most famous person in the city, people really venerated him, and even Messi's influence cannot be compared to that of Kubala in those years," explains Porta.
His life off the field was notorious. An unrepentant night owl, it was common to see him in Barcelona's fashionable coffee shops and nightclubs. He was a man who stood out. Alfredo Relaño defines him in some of his articles as "a demigod. Tall, strong, blond with blue eyes and an overflowing personality. He aroused the admiration of men and women alike. An idol". Frederic Porta sums it up with the argument that "he would be the sum of Messi and Beckham and on top of that, he would go out every night".
Faced with Kubala's disorganised life, the Barcelona management decided to set up a private detective agency to follow him at night. The reports of the detectives are still in the Centre de Documentació del FC Barcelona and Frederic Porta published them in the history magazine 'Sàpiens'. In them, he gives a detailed account of the nocturnal wanderings of "Mr. K.", the code name of the Blaugrana star in an exercise in absurd discretion. There is also a letter from a Sabadell businessman in the club's archives, expressing concern that Kubala and Czibor had been "found in a Sabadell establishment after 2.30 in the morning accompanied by some of those ladies who were once gentlemen, I don't know if you understand". What the businessman doesn't explain in the letter is what he was doing in the same place.
Kubala's fondness for drinking was no secret. Helenio Herrera explains in a television interview that "one day at an airport in customs they asked Kubala if he had anything to declare and he said two bottles of whisky. The official asked him to show them to him and he, laughing, touched his belly and said: 'X-ray, I have them inside'. On another occasion, in the same situation, but carrying the bottle in the bag, he was told to leave it at the airport because no alcoholic drinks were allowed to be taken on board. Neither shy nor lazy, he drank it in front of the astonished official.
The legends about the occasions when the night was made longer and he did not arrive at training sessions or matches were recurrent. In that case, he called on the services of Angel Mur Sr., the team masseur who knew where to find him. He would start a pilgrimage through the usual places or floors until he found him, took him to the changing room, gave him a cold shower, a coffee with salt, a massage and played. The fans forgave him everything and were aware that their star was a man of joyful life. But he never failed on the field. Among the crowd at the time there were comments about the Kubala ritual in those games that followed a busy night. "He started off badly, and vaguely, but the signal was when, ten minutes into the game, he rolled up his sleeves as if to say 'I'm here, let's start, I've already cleared off', and the machine started to work.
You can't find anyone in the world who speaks ill of Kubala. Absolutely no one. Everyone highlights his huge heart and that despite being by far the highest paid player of the time (he earned six times more than his teammates) he didn't have a no for anyone. His detachment from money was legendary.
As proof, the anecdote explained by his biographer Porta: "one day he arrived at the dressing room and commented that his car had been stolen and that in the glove compartment he was carrying an envelope with 200,000 pesetas, which was a fortune for the time (a good apartment could cost 130,000 pesetas). When his colleagues tried to encourage him, he simply said: someone who needs it more than I do must have taken it".
It was also usual for him to take off his coat and give it to a poor man who begged in Barcelona's winter, or to take in any Hungarian who came to Barcelona asking for help in his house in Carrer Duquesa d'Orleans. Kubala, remembering his times as a stateless refugee without papers, asked nothing. He would take them home and pay them a boat ticket to America. The motto among the refugees fleeing the Iron Curtain was that "if you get to Barcelona, look for Kubala, he will help you". He never failed.
Later, now retired, he set up a bar next to Czibor in Capitan Arenas Street, the mythical Kep Duna (blue Danube in Hungarian) that became an unofficial refugee reception centre that was monitored by the secret services of the United States, the USSR and the Spanish police. Something like the Rick's Café in the film Casablanca, but in the upper area of Barcelona.
He was the great character of Barcelona loved by all, but there was a moment when this was almost broken, strange as it may seem. It coincided with the defeat in Bern, when a part of the press came to write that "Barça must be de-Kubalized as the Soviet Union must be de-Stalinized" and, especially, when he signed for Espanyol. The earthquake was a huge one.

From the bench to Sarrià.

After the defeat in Bern's final, Kubala announced his retirement from the fields. He had taken the coaching course and was ranked number one in his class. He made a pact with the president Llaudet, who was also an interesting character as we will see, that in principle he would take charge of the footballers' school of the club and that in a couple of years he would be in charge of the first team.
Meanwhile, Barcelona is directed by Lluís Miró who faces a team in disarray. Suarez has been transferred to Inter in the worst decision in the club's history and myths such as Ramallets, Tejada and Czibor were in the decline of their careers. The season starts badly and after losing at Mestalla to Valencia by a humiliating 6-2 that forces the resignation of Miro. It was time for Kubala, who was promoted to the first team in front of the joy of the fans. And the project results from the beginning. The Barça of the second part of season 61-62 recovers in La Liga and finishes second (the distance with the white ones when Kubala arrived was almost insurmountable) and avenges the 6-2 of Mestalla beating Valencia in the Camp Nou 4-0.
Facing the next season, the 62-63, Kubala can make his team by giving painful drops of some of his former teammates as it is the case of Eulogio Martinez or Evaristo. One of Llaudet's reluctances to give Kubala the job of coach was that he would have to manage some of his former teammates.
The positive expectations about Kubala's first full project were frustrated at first when the Blaugrana team had to play the final of the Copa de Ferias against Valencia, the team that caused the fall of Miró and the promotion of Kubala. And the history, by rare that it seems, repeats: Valencia returns to him to put 6-2 to the Barça. The fans explode against the team. In the return match, obviously, there is nothing to do, but Llaudet's ability to self-flagellation has no limits. As Alfredo Relaño writes, the Blaugrana president calls a dinner with the press the day before the game and makes this statement that if it happened today would open all the news.
Llaudet, in front of the press and accompanied by the coach Kubala and Gràcia as captain, asks the fans to forgive him and announces changes in the protocol of the start of the second leg. "Valencia will go out first to receive the applause, then Barcelona, to receive the whistles. Then Kubala will come out, so he can get the thunders. And finally me, so that all the whistles fall on my person, because I am the barcelonist who loves the club the most and who is destined to die on the pitch, if necessary...". He ends his speech crying. As we can see, Gaspart didn't invent anything.
The match ended in a draw and Kubala's project as Barça's coach was doomed. The manager is fired in the middle of the season and then a bomb explodes in Barcelona. Kubala accepts the offer to return to the pitch, but not as a coach, will be as a player and nothing more and nothing less than in Espanyol, Barça's eternal rival.
On 3 September 1963 Espanyol, then Español, announced that Kubala would be hired as a player. At 36 years of age, he was capable of being competitive.
His decision divides the public opinion. On the one hand, Federico Gallo and Juan José Castillo support his decision, on the other hand, Carlos Pardo or Ibáñez Escofet shoot at him. They call him a "Jew who sells himself for a plate of beans", a "traitor" and they see political interests in his decision.
Kubala explains that he wanted to continue playing and that he saw himself capable of doing so, although he accepted that he was not at Barcelona's level. He had received offers from important clubs, including River Plate and Juventus, but he doesn't want to leave Barcelona, where he feels like another Barcelonian. The Espanyol meets his expectations.
His start of the season is not bad, on the contrary, he scores in his first two games, but the team doesn't work out. The coexistence between the veteran newcomer Kubala and the team's symbol, Argilés, is not easy. Scopelli is dismissed as coach and de facto command of the team is given to the two team leaders despite their differences. The crisis erupts when the Spaniard visits the Camp Nou. The periquitos lose by 5-0 in a match in which the Barcelona crowd booed Kubala who they are eager to humiliate with his new team. Even so, at the end of the match, Kubala has a gesture to his former team that shows that he does not hold any grudge against what he has heard from the stands. At the end of the match, he organizes his teammates to make the corridor to Barça applauding the rival in recognition of the exhibition made. That gesture feels bad among the Espanyol fans and among some of his teammates. Argilés does not make the corridor and goes straight to the changing rooms.
The following year, Kubala becomes a manager-player and among the departures that he causes, there is the one of Argilés, but by contrast, Di Stéfano arrives, also hurt by his bad exit from Madrid fighting against Bernabéu.
Di Stefano and Kubala are like brothers. Even though they haven't officially played together, they have a special chemistry. A friendship that is forged when the Argentinian is about to sign for Barcelona.
When Di Stéfano arrives in Barcelona to sign for Español, he stays first at the Avenida Palace Hotel, but after a month he is living in Kubala's house as one of the family. The children of both always maintained a relationship as if they were brothers.
One of the players under Kubala's command was Jose Maria Rodilla, one of the players who would soon form the famous 'Dolphins' forward line. At 80 years of age, Rodilla remembers Kubala.
"I have a wonderful memory of Kubala, I always had a special affection for him. Not in vain, he was the one who signed me for Espanyol", he remembers when answering the call of this newspaper to which he confesses that* "normally I do not make declarations, but to speak about Kubala I do whatever is needed"*.
Rodilla, former teammate at Espanyol, has clear that "he was the best player in the world in terms of technique. Di Stéfano was the best footballer, but he didn't have his technique. Alfredo was more intense and more player of the whole field, but he could not do things that Kubala did"
Those who had the privilege of playing with both of them remember that "for example, Di Stefano wouldn't leave you alone for a minute, he was all over you and the fights were intense, but he always set an example, he never asked you for anything that he didn't do. Kubala was more paternalistic and tolerant. For example, he would ask us to do as he did in training, and while sitting down he would be able to make 3,000 touches on the ball without dropping it. Only he could do that."
Rodilla adds a story that explains Kubala's quality as a player-coach at the age of 38: "We went to play a friendly at Amposta and they called a foul on the edge of the box. Kubala takes the ball and whacks it into the corner. The referee made him repeat it because someone had moved or I don't know what. Kubala takes the ball and wham, back to the square. And the referee tells him that he has to repeat. That day Kubala got angry and left the field."
Rodilla recalls that Kubala's move from Barça to Espanyol created controversy in the city, but that he was oblivious to it. "He was still a magnificent person, I never heard him say a bad word against anyone. He never got into an argument, he was goodness personified, he was unlucky in his time as a coach, but as a coach he is one of the best I've ever had, with a great love for young players and always trying to help you improve."

Boys well, optimal morale.

He extended his playing career for a couple more years by playing for Zurich and even trying out the American adventure at the Toronto Falcons, where he coincides with Branko and Daucik's son. At the age of 40 he played 19 games and scored 5 goals.
In 1968 he returned to Spain and trained the Córdoba team for a short period of time until he was called up to the national team. Kubala will manage the Spanish team until 1980, when he signs for Barcelona again as a coach.
Kubala's debut with Spain was, once again, a propaganda match for the regime. It was played in the Estadio de la Línea de la Concepción against Finland and Spain beat their rivals 6-0 in a match that was no longer useful. Spain had missed out on qualifying for the Mexico '70 World Cup, but the idea of that game was to showcase a great field that could be seen from Gibraltar as if to give jealousy to those in the Rock for the sports culture of Spain. Dictatorship things.
It's true that at that time Spain was struggling more than anything else on the international scene. It did not qualify for the 1974 World Cup because of Katalinski's goal in the play-off match in Frankfurt, and in both the 1978 World Cup and the 1980 European Championship the team fell in the first round, but there is still no one from that era who will make a judgement against Kubala.
"Kubala, one ahead of his time. No doubt he had a lot to do with his past as a footballer. And not just like any other player, like the best! I remember him always saying to me: 'Ruben, you have to get out of the way on the other side of the ball. Look for the space, not the ball. The goal I scored in Yugoslavia has to do with everything he taught me," he told Fermin de la Calle in an interview with AS Ruben Cano, the hero of the famous 'Battle of Belgrade' in the match that took Spain to the World Cup in Argentina. Yes, the one with the goal by Cardeñosa that could have changed Kubala's record with the national team.
He did a lot to improve Spanish football and his idea regarding the incorporation of foreigners to improve the level of Spanish football was key in the future development of the Spanish competitive level.
His players remember him as a didactic person, tactically bold and very close. At a time when fury was the hallmark of the game, Kubala never forgot that he was the heir to the Magyar tradition of the Honved and the Hungary who, by moving the ball, shocked the world the day they destroyed England at Wembley 3-6.
For the average football fan, Kubala may have been a half-hearted coach who embodied an era of the national team in which nothing was won, as has been the case most of the time, and he became popular for his expressions that would now be meme material on social networks. The national team was known as the 'Kubala boys' and the coach's catchphrase before the matches saying "boys well, optimal morale" was the fashionable phrase in the coffee shops of the 70s in Spain.
But among his colleagues, Kubala still deserved reverential respect. "The first goal was authentically Latin, cunningly scored and perfectly studied. I can only congratulate Kubala on his previous tactical work," said German boss Helmut Schön after facing and losing to Spain in a friendly in which the recent world semi-finalist and next world champion fell to the Kubala boys at the Sanchez Pizjuan with two strategic goals from Arieta. Yes, Arieta against Müller. Seeler, Beckembauer, Maier, Netzer and company.
He left the national team in 1980 to join Barça as the coach of Núñez's second project in an operation that was the prelude to what would happen in the World Cup in Russia with Lopetegui. Kubala committed to Barça while he was coach and tried to alternate functions, but Porta refused. Finally, on 8 June 1980, four days before the start of the European Championship, Kubala signed for the Blaugrana team, which he would join after the European Championship.
His second spell at the head of Barça did not go well either and he was dismissed mid-season. He continued his adventure on the bench as coach of Saudi Arabia (in that he was also a pioneer), training Malaga and the Paraguayan national team before retiring from football on the bench of Elche.
He spent his final years in Barcelona as active as ever. Playing with Barça veterans, helping his teammates, not having a no for anyone and playing tennis every day or going for a run or cycling routes exhibiting an enviable physical condition.
Until the light of genius and the glory faded away 18 years ago. A degenerative brain disease put an end to the adventure, but not to the legend of a world football myth. An icon that changed the lives of so many people that they wouldn't fit even in a stadium.
The coffin with the mortal remains of Kubala was carried on shoulders, amidst the applause of the fans who gathered at the doors of the church of Santa Tecla, by Alfredo Di Stéfano, Gustau Biosca, Eduardo Manchón, Estanislao Basora, Joan Segarra, Josep Bartomeu, Luis Suárez, Antoni Ramallets and Gonzalvo III.
He rests in the cemetery of Les Corts, next to the Camp Nou because that is what he left written in his will, while Serrat sang to him about how...
...Pelé was Pelé and Maradona was the one and that's it. Di Stéfano was a pit of mischief. Honour and glory to those who made the sun shine on our football. Everyone has his merits; to each his own, but for me none is like Kubala. Respectable silence is requested, for those who haven't enjoyed him, I'll say four things: he stops it with his head, he drops it on with his chest, he sleeps it off with his left, crosses the pitch with the ball attached to the boot, leaves the midfield and enters the box showing the ball, hides it with his body, pushes with his ass and gets in with his heels. He pisses on the centerback with a dedicated piece. and touches her gently to put her on the path to glory.

by Santi Gimenez for AS.com (2020)

submitted by HippoBigga to Barca [link] [comments]

Kubala, the path to glory of Barcelona's most loved legend: A story of overcoming, adventures, crazy nights, majestic matches and of a good man who made everybody around him happy.

Nothing in Kubala's life was normal. Now that TV series about sportsmen are fashionable, the one that could be made about the adventures of Ladislao Kubala Stecz (Budapest, 1927) would raze through many seasons. In one season we could go deeper into his facet of legendary footballer, capable of changing the way of playing this sport, how he saved his life at the very last moment by not getting on the Torino plane that crashed in Superga, or how he was ten minutes away from signing for Real Madrid or enrolling in the Pirate League of Colombia, all of this in order to end being Barcelona's biggest icon... who ended playing for Espanyol.
We could add a season of adventures due to his incredible escape from communist Hungary. His journey through Italy with a football team, the Hungaria, of stateless people in which in addition to Hungarians also played Croats, Albanians, Romanians and Serbs who were looking for a life as good as they could get. One could also add to this the facet of the social phenomenon that dazzled a country during the dark years of Franco's regime by becoming a pop star, and end up with another season about the legends, real, invented or simply exaggerated, of his adventures in Barcelona's nightclubs.
Everything about Kubala is like a movie.

The legend of the escape.

Born in Budapest to a Hungarian man and a Slovakian woman, he always considered himself as both Hungarian and Slovakian, even when this republic was part of the now extinct Czechoslovakia. By the age of 20, Kubala was a football star known for his performances with Slovan Bratislava and Vasas Budapest. In fact, he had already been capped by Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Later, he would go on to play for Spain, and is still the only player to have been capped by three countries. But fed up with the system that was preventing him from developing his professional football career, he embarked on an escape proper of a movie to the West. He contacted a human trafficking organisation, a mafia that, in exchange for a large amount of money, facilitated a partial escape. As is now the case with criminals who gamble with the lives of people who want to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe or pass to the United States through the southern border, the smugglers did not secure anything. The last part of the journey depended on the luck and expertise of the escapees and often ended tragically.
"I remember that when I escaped from Hungary I was just a kid. The traffickers left us in the middle of a mountain to do the last stretch on foot. We were a large group. The adults gathered the children and gave us palinka. A liquor similar to brandy to get us drunk and fall asleep. A child's cry could alert the border guards patrolling the mountain. And they had orders to shoot to kill. The group split in two. My group was lucky and we were able to win the Austrian border. Once we were safe, we learned that the other group that had travelled with us and took another road was discovered and killed." The chilling story is that of Zoltan Czibor, the son of the former Barça player who tells how he had to flee Hungary with his family to join his father in Italy. The odyssey of Kubala, six years earlier, was mirrored.
The traffickers disguised Kubala as a Russian soldier and put him in a truck that would leave the escapees at an undetermined point in the mountains so that they could cross the border into Austria on their own. Kubala remembered that this journey scared him to death because unlike his comrades, he was a national celebrity and any soldier who checked the military truck would recognize him. He was endangering his life and the lives of those who accompanied him.
When they were left in the mountain on January 27, 1949, Kubala walked, and crossing a river helped by a tire that carried him, managed to reach Innsbuck, Austria, without any documentation. He was a stateless man starting from scratch.
In Austria he managed to sign with Pro Patria, a team from Milan, but he could only play friendly matches. His escape provoked the anger of the Hungarian regime, which denounced him and blocked his registration. Kubala had married Anna Daucik two years earlier, sister of Fernando Daucik, a veteran player of the era who would later become a famous coach. When Kubala fled, he left behind his family, whom he was unable to reunite with until six months later, when Anna was able to cross the border and meet Ladislao in Udine. He arrived with one more member of the family. A baby, her firstborn, whom Kubala did not yet know.
While he is irregularly enrolled in the Pro Patria, he gets the chance to sign with Torino, Italy's dominant team at the time. He is offered a trial match. Nothing better than a friendly match that Il Grande Torino had in Lisbon as a tribute to Xico Ferreira. However, when the Turin team's plane is about to take off, the president of Torino prevents Kubala from boarding because he fears a federal sanction. On the return flight, on 4 May 1949, the Fiat G 212 of Avio Linee Italiana crashed into the retaining wall of the Basilica of Superga due to the wind, poor visibility and an error in the altimeter of the aircraft. At 180 kilometres per hour and with a visibility of 40 metres, the pilot saw the stone wall of the basilica too late when he thought the plane was at 2,000 metres and was actually at 690 metres above sea level. The 31 people who were travelling in that aircraft died. Kubala had saved his life again.

The legend of Hungaria.

With no possibility of playing in Italy because the back then very powerful Italian Communist Party was pressing to prevent people fleeing from countries in the orbit of the USSR from taking refuge in Italy, Kubala had no choice but to form a team of stateless people who hired their services throughout Europe to play friendly matches against whoever hired them.
The team was called Hungaria, was managed by his brother-in-law Fernando Daucik and was mainly made up of Hungarians, although there were also players of other nationalities. It was made up of: Kis, Marik, Torok, Mogoy, Lami, Rákosi, Hrotko, Majteny, Nagy, Kubala, Otto, Licker, Turbeky, Monsider (Croatian), De Lorenzi (Albanian), Szegedi (Romanian) and Arangelovic (Serbian).
They played their first match against Italy's B team, but again pressure from the PCI forced them to play outside Italy. And that is how they arrived in Spain, hired by Santiago Bernabéu. On June 5, 1950, they faced Real Madrid in Chamartin, losing 4-2, but with a stellar performance by Kubala, who scored both of his team's goals. Three days later, they beat the Spanish team that was preparing for the World Cup in Brazil, where they came in fourth, 1-2 again with a great performance by Kubala, who received an offer from Real Madrid to be signed.
Kubala requires that to join the team, Madrid must also hire Daucik as a coach, something that Bernabéu does not agree to. The Madrid coach at that time was the Briton Keeping, a great connoisseur of WM tactics. Daucik is offered to train the Plus Ultra, a Madrid branch that plays in the third division. That negative and the federative problems that drags Kubala cause that Madrid becomes disinterested in his transfer, that was already agreed lacking of some fringes that turned out to be determinant.
The Hungaria moves two days later to Barcelona, where on June 10 plays against Espanyol losing 6-4 in a match with Pepe Samitier, the technical secretary of Barça, in the stands. It is necessary to emphasize that Hungaria had been playing three matches in five days with a very short team and without being able to make substitutions. Even so, Kubala amazes and Samitier does not mess around. Six days after that match, on 16 June 1950, at half past six in the evening, Kubala signed his three-year contract with Barça at the Pasaje Méndez Vigo. Obviously, with Fernando Daucik as coach. President Montal, Sr., signed him as an "amateur player" in order to avoid any trouble for the federation.
Real Madrid rages and is shocked. Pablo Hernández, general secretary of the white entity and Santiago Bernabéu's right hand, assures that Barça had broken a non-aggression pact between both teams and had hired a player with whom they were in talks. Samitier, who was unbeatable in the media, declares that he had been following Kubala for months and that the pact had not been broken because it referred only to players who played in Spanish teams. And Hungaria was not Spanish. In fact, it wasn't from anywhere.
But Kubala's problems didn't end there. He still didn't have a registration card or an international certificate. Vasas in Budapest and the Hungarian Federation had reported him to FIFA. Barça used the weak argument that since professionalism had been abolished in Hungary, any amateur player could choose his destiny. But the fight was not going to be so easy.
Barça, it is fair to say, had the total support of the regime and the Federation to carry out the transfer. At the level of anti-communist propaganda, Kubala was perfect. A young and extraordinary sportsman who fled from the red hell to take refuge in Franco's Spain was a candy too sweet to let go. Muñoz Calero, president of the Federation, rowed in favor of Barça as did Ricardo Cabot, secretary of the organization, who, in addition to his affection for the regime, was a well-known Barcelona supporter.
But the procedures were very slow and Kubala could only play friendly matches. He made his debut against Osasuna on 12 October, scoring two goals on the day the Barça fans knew instantly that they had just signed a star. Then he played against Zaragoza, Frankfurt twice, Girona and the Badalona. In six friendlies he scored 11 goals. The fans and the player himself were eager to meet in an official match. For all this, the Federation to play the role with FIFA fined Barça every time he lined up Kubala with the symbolic figure of 50 pesetas.
It is at this time that Kubala is about to leave everything and go away from Barça. He needed the money and wanted to play at the highest level and in Colombia he was offered the chance to do so. The South American country had organised the so-called Pirate League outside FIFA and many of the world's biggest stars joined, including Alfredo Di Stefano who went to Millonarios in Bogota. Kubala had a tempting offer from Atletico Bucaramanga. With the option of Kubala leaving, events accelerated. To begin with, Barça fixed his financial situation by means of a peculiar amateur contract in which they paid him 1,200 pesetas for "compensation" and 3,800 for "encouragement and overfeeding".
On April 2, 1951, he was granted the status of political refugee as a stateless person, which was a step towards granting him Spanish nationality. But for this step, Kubala first had to be converted to Catholicism through the sacrament of baptism. Every Spaniard had to be a Catholic. Kubala was baptized in Aguilas, Murcia, the birthplace of Muñoz Calero, president of the Federation. It is then when Barça, to avoid problems, settles its differences economically with Vasas, which despite being against capitalism accepts a payment of 300,000 pesetas to provide the transfer, while the Pro Patria, which also complained, is satisfied with 12 million lire.
The Kubala era could now really commence.

The legend on the field.

Kubala made his official debut with Barcelona in Sevilla in a cup match. The Sevillistas at that time were one of the best teams. Sevilla and Barça had developed in that period a great rivalry in the high places of the table. In 1946 Sevilla had stolen the possibility of winning the championship from Barça by drawing in Les Corts on the last day, in 1948 Barça beat the Sevillians in the final of the Eva Perón Cup (which would be the current Supercup) and in that campaign a Barça without Kubala had lost all its options to win La Liga after losing 4-0 in Nervión three days before the end of the season.
The Cup, by that time was played once the regular season was over and in those circumstances the official debut of Kubala took place. On April 29th in Nervion, Barça arrived to play against Sevilla in the middle of a difficult atmosphere. The Andalusians had lost the league in a dramatic outcome when they drew at home in the last match against Atletico Madrid with a refereeing performance that the locals judged scandalous. For further concern, the Federation allowed Kubala to line up with Barça in the first round of the Cup, which in Sevilla was taken as a surprise.
With the stadium full to the flag, Barcelona defeated Sevilla in an exhibition of Kubala. He wasn't just the best of the match but he showed Spain a way of playing football unthinkable until that time: chest controls, shots with curve, millimetric changes of play of 40 meters, protection of the ball with his back, use of the body in the shot and touches with the heel.
Domenech, Sevilla's attacker who was the direct protagonist of that match, explained years later how he remembered that day.
"It was something never seen before. Ramallets kicked it and he would receive her with his chest, or with either of his legs. If you tackled him he would dribble you in a brick. He'd put the ball where he wanted her. Besides, from time to time he changed with César, he'd be a center forward and César would be a midfielder. They drove us crazy. The anger of the people became clamours. We were witnessing something extraordinary. It was like going from black and white cinema to colour," explained the former Sevilla player. The Sevilla crowd, who had welcomed Barça and its new superstar with anger, ended up giving Kubala a standing ovation for every action as if they were watching a glorious bullfighting performance.
Kubala's actions on the field change football forever. Since there was no television, his exploits are reported orally. There is no other way to see it than to go to the field of Les Corts, which is packed for every game Barça plays as a local. It is a very common argument to say that Kubala forced Barça to build the Camp Nou because the old Les Corts was not enough to accommodate all the people who wanted to admire him. Maybe he had an influence, but as the journalist Frederic Porta, author of an interesting biography of Kubala (Kubala, l'heroi que va canviar la història del Barça. Ed. Saldonar) explains, "the truth is that Barça had already bought the land to build the Camp Nou two years before and the idea of making a bigger field already existed, but Kubala advanced everything and justified the change".
Blessed with brutal technique, a sensational strike of the ball and an unusual physical strength, Kubala changed football. He would throw free-kicks over the wall with curve or by making the ball bounce in front of the goalkeeper, he would take penalties (he was practically infallible) with what was later called paradinha and was credited with the Brazilians although he was the first in Europe to do so. Physically he was a bull. In his youth he had practiced boxing and if he didn't become a recognized fighter with a great career it was because he had short arms. His lower body was sensational. He had a butt and legs that allowed him to protect the ball like no one else. Frederic Porta says that "in his time of splendour they measured his thighs and each one had a circumference of 69 centimetres, which would be the waist of one of his companions". He was also capable of running the 100 metres in less than 11 seconds. A total athlete with a very refined technique.
However, that physical strength and the confidence he had in her, for he never avoided a collision, were his downfall. Kubala became the target of a hunt by rival defenders. He never went into hiding and that's why in eleven years at Barcelona he suffered up to eleven injuries of some seriousness. With matches without television, the harshness that bordered on violence was the order of the day. He was being kicked to death.
But Barça was living its most golden period to date. Moreover, the club revolved around Kubala. Frederic Porta compares it with the present time: "Now they say that Messi commands the club and surely he commands, but nothing to do with the influence that Kubala had. Kubala was the boss and even the one who decided the transfers. And no one was surprised. That Barça adopted the socks with the horizontal stripes blaugrana is his imposition. He saw them on the rugby team, liked them and incorporated them into the football team by decree. In fact, it is he who insists on signing Luis Suarez when he impresses him in a match against Deportivo. Kubala was Suarez's first fan, but what happened in the stands, which was divided between Suaristas and Kubalistas, is another matter.
Suarez was eight years younger than Kubala. He arrived at Barcelona at the age of 19, Kubala was 27 and his physique was very punished by his injuries and the life he was living, as he did not deprive himself of anything. If he held out, it was because of privileged genetics.
Therefore, there never was a real competition between them, but there was a lot of influence here from the figure of Helenio Herrera, the Barça manager, who saw Kubala as older and slower and was looking forward to a quick change by the young Galician as the leader of the team. The debate reached the stands and the media. It was an absurd debate, because they didn't play in the same position, with whom Kubala really had a certain rivalry with Eulogio Martínez, who was the one with whom he alternated the position.
Kubala's physical problems were not only due to injuries. He had the whole of Spain in suspense when he suffered a tuberculosis that could have cost him his life. There are apocryphal versions that explain that this tuberculosis was actually a stab wound he suffered in a fight in a cheap pub in the fifth district (Barcelona's Chinatown) and he has to retire to Montseny to recover. Nobody is betting on his return to the pitch if he survives a "hole in the lung the size of a silver bullet" according to the chronicles of the time. But once again, Kubala's ability to survive prevails. He returns to the pitches, but already heavily punished and slowed down.
It is against this backdrop that the 1961 European Cup final arrives, with Kubala arriving at the age of 34 with a herniated disc that barely allows him to walk, but he wants to play. He knows that the club is going through a critical situation despite having reached the final of the maximum trophy for the first time: the club is bankrupt because of the construction of the Camp Nou, the fights in the board of directors are chaotic, Luis Suarez has signed for Inter (the one in Bern will be his last game with Barça), which was where Helenio Herrera had left the team in the hands of Enrique Orizaola.
Kubala tells Orizaola to line him up, that like all the Portuguese will go for him and he can barely move because of the back pain and will play with painkillers, it will give more opportunities to his teammates. But the match is a pile of misfortunes for Barcelona. Ramallets scores an own goal, Barça shoots three times to the damn square posts of the goals (from then on they would change their shape) even Kubala kicked a ball that hit a post, went through the goal line until it hit the other post and came out repelled. Barça lost and Kubala's time at Barcelona came to an end.

The man of the year.

Kubala's significance goes beyond the playing field. According to a vote made for Radio Barcelona by journalist Joaquín Soler Serrano in the mid-50s, the Catalans most loved by their fellow citizens were Doctor Barraquer and Ladislao Kubala.
"He was literally the most famous person in the city, people really venerated him, and even Messi's influence cannot be compared to that of Kubala in those years," explains Porta.
His life off the field was notorious. An unrepentant night owl, it was common to see him in Barcelona's fashionable coffee shops and nightclubs. He was a man who stood out. Alfredo Relaño defines him in some of his articles as "a demigod. Tall, strong, blond with blue eyes and an overflowing personality. He aroused the admiration of men and women alike. An idol". Frederic Porta sums it up with the argument that "he would be the sum of Messi and Beckham and on top of that, he would go out every night".
Faced with Kubala's disorganised life, the Barcelona management decided to set up a private detective agency to follow him at night. The reports of the detectives are still in the Centre de Documentació del FC Barcelona and Frederic Porta published them in the history magazine 'Sàpiens'. In them, he gives a detailed account of the nocturnal wanderings of "Mr. K.", the code name of the Blaugrana star in an exercise in absurd discretion. There is also a letter from a Sabadell businessman in the club's archives, expressing concern that Kubala and Czibor had been "found in a Sabadell establishment after 2.30 in the morning accompanied by some of those ladies who were once gentlemen, I don't know if you understand". What the businessman doesn't explain in the letter is what he was doing in the same place.
Kubala's fondness for drinking was no secret. Helenio Herrera explains in a television interview that "one day at an airport in customs they asked Kubala if he had anything to declare and he said two bottles of whisky. The official asked him to show them to him and he, laughing, touched his belly and said: 'X-ray, I have them inside'. On another occasion, in the same situation, but carrying the bottle in the bag, he was told to leave it at the airport because no alcoholic drinks were allowed to be taken on board. Neither shy nor lazy, he drank it in front of the astonished official.
The legends about the occasions when the night was made longer and he did not arrive at training sessions or matches were recurrent. In that case, he called on the services of Angel Mur Sr., the team masseur who knew where to find him. He would start a pilgrimage through the usual places or floors until he found him, took him to the changing room, gave him a cold shower, a coffee with salt, a massage and played. The fans forgave him everything and were aware that their star was a man of joyful life. But he never failed on the field. Among the crowd at the time there were comments about the Kubala ritual in those games that followed a busy night. "He started off badly, and vaguely, but the signal was when, ten minutes into the game, he rolled up his sleeves as if to say 'I'm here, let's start, I've already cleared off', and the machine started to work.
You can't find anyone in the world who speaks ill of Kubala. Absolutely no one. Everyone highlights his huge heart and that despite being by far the highest paid player of the time (he earned six times more than his teammates) he didn't have a no for anyone. His detachment from money was legendary.
As proof, the anecdote explained by his biographer Porta: "one day he arrived at the dressing room and commented that his car had been stolen and that in the glove compartment he was carrying an envelope with 200,000 pesetas, which was a fortune for the time (a good apartment could cost 130,000 pesetas). When his colleagues tried to encourage him, he simply said: someone who needs it more than I do must have taken it".
It was also usual for him to take off his coat and give it to a poor man who begged in Barcelona's winter, or to take in any Hungarian who came to Barcelona asking for help in his house in Carrer Duquesa d'Orleans. Kubala, remembering his times as a stateless refugee without papers, asked nothing. He would take them home and pay them a boat ticket to America. The motto among the refugees fleeing the Iron Curtain was that "if you get to Barcelona, look for Kubala, he will help you". He never failed.
Later, now retired, he set up a bar next to Czibor in Capitan Arenas Street, the mythical Kep Duna (blue Danube in Hungarian) that became an unofficial refugee reception centre that was monitored by the secret services of the United States, the USSR and the Spanish police. Something like the Rick's Café in the film Casablanca, but in the upper area of Barcelona.
He was the great character of Barcelona loved by all, but there was a moment when this was almost broken, strange as it may seem. It coincided with the defeat in Bern, when a part of the press came to write that "Barça must be de-Kubalized as the Soviet Union must be de-Stalinized" and, especially, when he signed for Espanyol. The earthquake was a huge one.

From the bench to Sarrià.

After the defeat in Bern's final, Kubala announced his retirement from the fields. He had taken the coaching course and was ranked number one in his class. He made a pact with the president Llaudet, who was also an interesting character as we will see, that in principle he would take charge of the footballers' school of the club and that in a couple of years he would be in charge of the first team.
Meanwhile, Barcelona is directed by Lluís Miró who faces a team in disarray. Suarez has been transferred to Inter in the worst decision in the club's history and myths such as Ramallets, Tejada and Czibor were in the decline of their careers. The season starts badly and after losing at Mestalla to Valencia by a humiliating 6-2 that forces the resignation of Miro. It was time for Kubala, who was promoted to the first team in front of the joy of the fans. And the project results from the beginning. The Barça of the second part of season 61-62 recovers in La Liga and finishes second (the distance with the white ones when Kubala arrived was almost insurmountable) and avenges the 6-2 of Mestalla beating Valencia in the Camp Nou 4-0.
Facing the next season, the 62-63, Kubala can make his team by giving painful drops of some of his former teammates as it is the case of Eulogio Martinez or Evaristo. One of Llaudet's reluctances to give Kubala the job of coach was that he would have to manage some of his former teammates.
The positive expectations about Kubala's first full project were frustrated at first when the Blaugrana team had to play the final of the Copa de Ferias against Valencia, the team that caused the fall of Miró and the promotion of Kubala. And the history, by rare that it seems, repeats: Valencia returns to him to put 6-2 to the Barça. The fans explode against the team. In the return match, obviously, there is nothing to do, but Llaudet's ability to self-flagellation has no limits. As Alfredo Relaño writes, the Blaugrana president calls a dinner with the press the day before the game and makes this statement that if it happened today would open all the news.
Llaudet, in front of the press and accompanied by the coach Kubala and Gràcia as captain, asks the fans to forgive him and announces changes in the protocol of the start of the second leg. "Valencia will go out first to receive the applause, then Barcelona, to receive the whistles. Then Kubala will come out, so he can get the thunders. And finally me, so that all the whistles fall on my person, because I am the barcelonist who loves the club the most and who is destined to die on the pitch, if necessary...". He ends his speech crying. As we can see, Gaspart didn't invent anything.
The match ended in a draw and Kubala's project as Barça's coach was doomed. The manager is fired in the middle of the season and then a bomb explodes in Barcelona. Kubala accepts the offer to return to the pitch, but not as a coach, will be as a player and nothing more and nothing less than in Espanyol, Barça's eternal rival.
On 3 September 1963 Espanyol, then Español, announced that Kubala would be hired as a player. At 36 years of age, he was capable of being competitive.
His decision divides the public opinion. On the one hand, Federico Gallo and Juan José Castillo support his decision, on the other hand, Carlos Pardo or Ibáñez Escofet shoot at him. They call him a "Jew who sells himself for a plate of beans", a "traitor" and they see political interests in his decision.
Kubala explains that he wanted to continue playing and that he saw himself capable of doing so, although he accepted that he was not at Barcelona's level. He had received offers from important clubs, including River Plate and Juventus, but he doesn't want to leave Barcelona, where he feels like another Barcelonian. The Espanyol meets his expectations.
His start of the season is not bad, on the contrary, he scores in his first two games, but the team doesn't work out. The coexistence between the veteran newcomer Kubala and the team's symbol, Argilés, is not easy. Scopelli is dismissed as coach and de facto command of the team is given to the two team leaders despite their differences. The crisis erupts when the Spaniard visits the Camp Nou. The periquitos lose by 5-0 in a match in which the Barcelona crowd booed Kubala who they are eager to humiliate with his new team. Even so, at the end of the match, Kubala has a gesture to his former team that shows that he does not hold any grudge against what he has heard from the stands. At the end of the match, he organizes his teammates to make the corridor to Barça applauding the rival in recognition of the exhibition made. That gesture feels bad among the Espanyol fans and among some of his teammates. Argilés does not make the corridor and goes straight to the changing rooms.
The following year, Kubala becomes a manager-player and among the departures that he causes, there is the one of Argilés, but by contrast, Di Stéfano arrives, also hurt by his bad exit from Madrid fighting against Bernabéu.
Di Stefano and Kubala are like brothers. Even though they haven't officially played together, they have a special chemistry. A friendship that is forged when the Argentinian is about to sign for Barcelona.
When Di Stéfano arrives in Barcelona to sign for Español, he stays first at the Avenida Palace Hotel, but after a month he is living in Kubala's house as one of the family. The children of both always maintained a relationship as if they were brothers.
One of the players under Kubala's command was Jose Maria Rodilla, one of the players who would soon form the famous 'Dolphins' forward line. At 80 years of age, Rodilla remembers Kubala.
"I have a wonderful memory of Kubala, I always had a special affection for him. Not in vain, he was the one who signed me for Espanyol", he remembers when answering the call of this newspaper to which he confesses that* "normally I do not make declarations, but to speak about Kubala I do whatever is needed"*.
Rodilla, former teammate at Espanyol, has clear that "he was the best player in the world in terms of technique. Di Stéfano was the best footballer, but he didn't have his technique. Alfredo was more intense and more player of the whole field, but he could not do things that Kubala did"
Those who had the privilege of playing with both of them remember that "for example, Di Stefano wouldn't leave you alone for a minute, he was all over you and the fights were intense, but he always set an example, he never asked you for anything that he didn't do. Kubala was more paternalistic and tolerant. For example, he would ask us to do as he did in training, and while sitting down he would be able to make 3,000 touches on the ball without dropping it. Only he could do that."
Rodilla adds a story that explains Kubala's quality as a player-coach at the age of 38: "We went to play a friendly at Amposta and they called a foul on the edge of the box. Kubala takes the ball and whacks it into the corner. The referee made him repeat it because someone had moved or I don't know what. Kubala takes the ball and wham, back to the square. And the referee tells him that he has to repeat. That day Kubala got angry and left the field."
Rodilla recalls that Kubala's move from Barça to Espanyol created controversy in the city, but that he was oblivious to it. "He was still a magnificent person, I never heard him say a bad word against anyone. He never got into an argument, he was goodness personified, he was unlucky in his time as a coach, but as a coach he is one of the best I've ever had, with a great love for young players and always trying to help you improve."

Boys well, optimal morale.

He extended his playing career for a couple more years by playing for Zurich and even trying out the American adventure at the Toronto Falcons, where he coincides with Branko and Daucik's son. At the age of 40 he played 19 games and scored 5 goals.
In 1968 he returned to Spain and trained the Córdoba team for a short period of time until he was called up to the national team. Kubala will manage the Spanish team until 1980, when he signs for Barcelona again as a coach.
Kubala's debut with Spain was, once again, a propaganda match for the regime. It was played in the Estadio de la Línea de la Concepción against Finland and Spain beat their rivals 6-0 in a match that was no longer useful. Spain had missed out on qualifying for the Mexico '70 World Cup, but the idea of that game was to showcase a great field that could be seen from Gibraltar as if to give jealousy to those in the Rock for the sports culture of Spain. Dictatorship things.
It's true that at that time Spain was struggling more than anything else on the international scene. It did not qualify for the 1974 World Cup because of Katalinski's goal in the play-off match in Frankfurt, and in both the 1978 World Cup and the 1980 European Championship the team fell in the first round, but there is still no one from that era who will make a judgement against Kubala.
"Kubala, one ahead of his time. No doubt he had a lot to do with his past as a footballer. And not just like any other player, like the best! I remember him always saying to me: 'Ruben, you have to get out of the way on the other side of the ball. Look for the space, not the ball. The goal I scored in Yugoslavia has to do with everything he taught me," he told Fermin de la Calle in an interview with AS Ruben Cano, the hero of the famous 'Battle of Belgrade' in the match that took Spain to the World Cup in Argentina. Yes, the one with the goal by Cardeñosa that could have changed Kubala's record with the national team.
He did a lot to improve Spanish football and his idea regarding the incorporation of foreigners to improve the level of Spanish football was key in the future development of the Spanish competitive level.
His players remember him as a didactic person, tactically bold and very close. At a time when fury was the hallmark of the game, Kubala never forgot that he was the heir to the Magyar tradition of the Honved and the Hungary who, by moving the ball, shocked the world the day they destroyed England at Wembley 3-6.
For the average football fan, Kubala may have been a half-hearted coach who embodied an era of the national team in which nothing was won, as has been the case most of the time, and he became popular for his expressions that would now be meme material on social networks. The national team was known as the 'Kubala boys' and the coach's catchphrase before the matches saying "boys well, optimal morale" was the fashionable phrase in the coffee shops of the 70s in Spain.
But among his colleagues, Kubala still deserved reverential respect. "The first goal was authentically Latin, cunningly scored and perfectly studied. I can only congratulate Kubala on his previous tactical work," said German boss Helmut Schön after facing and losing to Spain in a friendly in which the recent world semi-finalist and next world champion fell to the Kubala boys at the Sanchez Pizjuan with two strategic goals from Arieta. Yes, Arieta against Müller. Seeler, Beckembauer, Maier, Netzer and company.
He left the national team in 1980 to join Barça as the coach of Núñez's second project in an operation that was the prelude to what would happen in the World Cup in Russia with Lopetegui. Kubala committed to Barça while he was coach and tried to alternate functions, but Porta refused. Finally, on 8 June 1980, four days before the start of the European Championship, Kubala signed for the Blaugrana team, which he would join after the European Championship.
His second spell at the head of Barça did not go well either and he was dismissed mid-season. He continued his adventure on the bench as coach of Saudi Arabia (in that he was also a pioneer), training Malaga and the Paraguayan national team before retiring from football on the bench of Elche.
He spent his final years in Barcelona as active as ever. Playing with Barça veterans, helping his teammates, not having a no for anyone and playing tennis every day or going for a run or cycling routes exhibiting an enviable physical condition.
Until the light of genius and the glory faded away 18 years ago. A degenerative brain disease put an end to the adventure, but not to the legend of a world football myth. An icon that changed the lives of so many people that they wouldn't fit even in a stadium.
The coffin with the mortal remains of Kubala was carried on shoulders, amidst the applause of the fans who gathered at the doors of the church of Santa Tecla, by Alfredo Di Stéfano, Gustau Biosca, Eduardo Manchón, Estanislao Basora, Joan Segarra, Josep Bartomeu, Luis Suárez, Antoni Ramallets and Gonzalvo III.
He rests in the cemetery of Les Corts, next to the Camp Nou because that is what he left written in his will, while Serrat sang to him about how...
...Pelé was Pelé and Maradona was the one and that's it. Di Stéfano was a pit of mischief. Honour and glory to those who made the sun shine on our football. Everyone has his merits; to each his own, but for me none is like Kubala. Respectable silence is requested, for those who haven't enjoyed him, I'll say four things: he stops it with his head, he drops it on with his chest, he sleeps it off with his left, crosses the pitch with the ball attached to the boot, leaves the midfield and enters the box showing the ball, hides it with his body, pushes with his ass and gets in with his heels. He pisses on the centerback with a dedicated piece. and touches her gently to put her on the path to glory.

by Santi Gimenez for AS.com (2020)

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[OC] What if every world cup team had the same population? - Group C

Hello again all, trying to distract myself from the fact that it’s already May, I’ve put my matching Friday pants and socks set on to bring you another edition of the alternative World Cup. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the premise of this series why not indulge yourself in the last two groups.
Group A, Group B
Whilst yesterday featured a group with sprinkles of quality throughout, I’m afraid to say this gathering is a little one-sided. One African team dwarfs three squads of an Asian persuasion, so with more utopian island spots than full time pro’s on display, I’ll try my utmost not to drift into a Thomas Cook holiday blog, no promises though.
Group C
West Africa
Togo, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinnea Bissau, Senegal, The Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Western Sahara, Algeria, Morrocco
Population (millions): 240.19
When it comes to brainchildren it’s strongly advised not to have favourites, but between you and me this is the funnest squad of the lot.
Similarly to Eastern Europe, West Africa has often been a hive of sporting talent restrained by the labyrinth of borders within its confines. George Weah, Emmanuel Adebayor, Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba and Abedi Pele are some notable stars of the past, but the conveyor belt of sporadic world-class attacking talent over the last 30 years appears to have crescendoed into a full blown production line of stars in every outfield position.
Something that my hypothesis can’t fairly simulate is what affect an open plan Africa would have on the decision making of some of our games Euro-Africano elite. N’Golo Kante is of Malean descent whilst fellow Parisian Paul Pogba boasts his Guinean parentage. It would be a safe bet to assume at least some juggling would take place with the region's newfound affluence, but until I am able to read the minds of millionaire athletes I’m not going to touch the subject with a barge pole, besides I think I’d go for the sort codes well before I look at their national preference.
What we DO have however is a terrific squad on paper that will continue to improve as the years continue, with 17 year old Barcelona wunderkind Ansu Fati hailing from Guinea-Bissau, as long as he doesn’t succumb to a Spanish inquisition.
Goalkeepers Birthplace FM20 Value Age
Edouard Mendy SEN Rennes GK Montivilliers, France 65 €4.40 28
Yassine Bounou MAR Sevilla GK Montreal, Canada 68 €10.00 29
Defenders
Faouzi Ghoulam ALG Napoli LB Saint-Priest, France 72 €17.10 29
Dakonam Djene TOG Getafe CB Dapaong 74 €26.80 28
Kalidou Koulibaly SEN Napoli CB Saint-Die, France 84 €64.30 28
Achraf Hakimi MAR B. Dortmund RWB Madrid, Spain 72 €23.30 21
Eric Bailly CIV Man United CB Bingerville 72 €31.40 26
Salif Sane SEN Schalke 04 CB Lormont, France 69 €9.00 29
Serge Aurier CIV Tottenham RB Ouragahio 70 €19.90 27
Kwadwo Asamoah GHA Inter Milan LWB Accra 74 €21.10 31
Midfielders
Riyad Mahrez ALG Man City RW Sarcelles, France 77 €62.00 29
Hakim Ziyech MAR Ajax CAM Dronten, Netherlands 79 €42.80 27
Thomas Partey GHA Atleti CDM Krobo Odumase 76 €33.40 26
Naby Keita GUI Liverpool CM Conakry 78 €52.20 25
Ismaila Sarr SEN Watford RW Saint-Louis 67 €22.20 22
Pepe CIV Arsenal RW Mantes-la-Jolie, France 76 €45.60 24
Idrissa Gana Gueye SEN PSG CDM Dakar 75 €28.80 30
Amine Harit MOR Schalke CAM Pontoise, France 69 €10.07 22
Forwards
Sadio Mane SEN Liverpool LF Sedhiou 90 €92.40 28
Wilfried Zaha CIV Crystal Palace CF Abidjan 77 €59.60 27
Moussa Marega MLI Porto ST Les Ulis, France 70 €16.80 29
Islam Slimani ALG Monaco ST Algiers 68 €19.80 31
Average/Totals 74 €712.90 27.13636364
A difficult pick but I’ve settled on a squad that could play in numerous formations, Sadio Mané and Riyad Mahrez are two of the Premier Leagues most potent wide players whilst the midfield is a superfluity of athleticism and technique.
The likes of Feghouli, Kessie and Gervinho didn’t survive the longlist but the competition was stiff. I’m not overly happy with the inclusion of goal starved Islam Slimani but the area is surprisingly scarce of talented out and out forwards.
If this team fails to collect all nine points in this group it would be the worst thing to happen to West Africa since Di Caprio’s accent in Blood Diamond.
South India & Arabian Sea
6 Indian provinces (Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Goa), Sri Lanka, Maldives
Population (millions):239.70
Another region that practises footballing atheism, this was one of the most difficult to research. But if any documentarians want to make this into a series then I’d be happy to take some time out to fly out and research the Maldives for a while.
The two island nations donate their services to an uninspiring mess of Indian nonentity. Including the world’s sixth highest scoring active player Ali Ashfaq, never heard of him? Nah me neither.
Goalkeepers Birthplace FM20 Value Age
Kamaljit Singh IND Hyderabad GK Goa 24 €0.02 24
Chathura Ekanayake SRI Eagles Malé GK Sri Lanka 22 €0.00 27
Defenders
Anas Edathodika IND ATK CB Kerala 33 €0.03 33
Adil Khan IND Hyderabad RB Goa 32 €0.02 31
Mandar Rao Dessal IND Mumbai City LB Goa 31 €0.02 28
Lenny Ridrigues IND Goa CDM Goa 24 €0.02 32
Mohamed Imtiyas SRI Renown CB Kotahena 25 €0.01 24
Akram Abdul Ghanee MDV Valencia (MDV) CB Maafaru 28 €0.01 33
Edwin Sydney IND Chennaiyin RWB Kerala 21 €0.01 27
Asikur Alawadeen SRI Pelicans CB Kurunegala 23 €0.01 26
Midfielders
Brandon Fernandes IND Goa CAM Goa 33 €0.03 25
Rowllin Borges IND Mumbai City CDM Goa 32 €0.02 27
Sahal Abdul Samad IND Kerala Blasters CM Kerala 34 €0.04 23
Michael Soosairaj IND ATK CM Tamil Nadu 32 €0.03 25
Nikhil Poojari IND Hyderabad CM Karnataka 29 €0.02 24
Ahmed Razeek SRI Berliner AK CDM Berlin 44 €0.06 26
Mohamed Umair MDV Maziya CM Malé 27 €0.01 20
Romeo Fernandes IND Odisha RM Goa 23 €0.02 27
Forwards
Ashique Kuruniyan IND Bengaluru CF Kerala 35 €0.04 22
Jobby Justin IND ATK ST Kerala 28 €0.02 26
CK Vineeth IND Jamshedpur ST Kerala 27 €0.02 31
Ali Ashfaq MDV Club Green Streets ST Malé 27 €0.01 34
Average/Totals 29 €0.47 27.04545455
Ali Ashfaq has officially netted 463 times in his now 19 year career. Haters will say most of that was in the Maldivian league but I think I’d only be able to score half that amount so fair play to him.
The most notable islander is German born Sri Lankan Ahmed Razeek, the Berliner came through the ranks at now-Bundesliga team Union Berlin, but finds himself playing fourth tier football at the time of writing. At 25, Razeek only dedicated his services to Golden Lion in 2019, a bit of European experience may help the nation who have commanded just four wins in the last five years.
India’s most promising contribution to the side is 22 year old Ashique Kuruniyan, the young forward lacks goals but is known as something of a playmaker, Kuruniyan to Ashfaq could be the new Ozil to Ronaldo, but realistically I think this team will be lucky to find the net at all if the ratings are anything to Goa on.
Oceania and Southeast Asia
Australia, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Cambodia, Singapore, Phillipines, Malaysia, 11 Indonisian Provinces (Papua, West Papua, Maluku, North Maluku, Sulawesi Island, East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara)
Population: 231.57
I almost broke the comma button on my laptop writing out all those islands, and it still doesn’t quite reach 240m. The pacific islands are home to some of the worst national teams out there, none more infamous than American Samoa who hold the record for the biggest ever defeat in international football, a 31-0 loss to Australia. If anyone hasn’t seen the documentary that was inspired subsequently to the loss, ‘next goal wins’ is perhaps my favourite football film and couldn’t recommend it highly enough when trying to explain the humanity of playing football in this part of the world.
The antagonists of the Samoan’s defeat, Australia have since changed confederations from lack of challenge. Joining the Asian Football Confederation in early 2006, the Socceroo’s have since won the Asian Cup on home soil and qualified for each of the previous four iterations of the World Cup. In 2006 a ‘golden generation’ fronted by Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill narrow missed out on a quarter final berth being beaten by eventual champions Italy in the 95th minute thanks to a controversial penalty.
While the likes of Kewell, Cahill and Mark Schwarzer have long since retired, the Aussies produce a modest yet constant procession of pro’s. Along with fellow anglophone New Zealand, the select Oceanic islanders often choose a path of playing in England’s football pyramid, with a few Premier League stalwarts found within the squad below.
Southeast Asia has a curious footballing culture, a strong general interest in the European game with seemingly little rewards for their appropriation, no malaysians manage to sneak into the selection whilst the Phillipines’ most famous athlete behind Manny Pacquiao only makes back up keeper.
Goalkeepers Birthplace Football manager Value Age
Matthew Ryan AUS Brighton GK Plumpton 66 €15.80 28
Neil Etheridge PH Cardiff GK London, England 64 €11.00 30
Defenders
Winston Reid NZ West Ham CB Auckland 66 €14.50 31
Milos Degenek AUS Red Star CB Knin, Croatia 62 €1.30 26
Trent Sainsbury AUS Maccabi Haifa RB Thornlie 60 €0.88 28
Bailey Wright AUS Bristol City CB Melbourne 59 €3.30 27
Wesley Lautoa NCA Dijon CB Epernay, France 62 €2.20 32
Aziz Behich AUS Basaksehir LB Melbourne 60 €2.20 29
Brad Smith AUS Bournemouth LWB Penrith 63 €9.50 26
Stephan Schrock PHI Cares RB Schweinfurt, Germany 57 €0.77 33
Midfielders
Aaron Mooy AUS Brighton CM Sydney 70 €26.70 29
Tom Rogic AUS Celtic CAM Griffith 67 €11.90 27
Mathew Leckie AUS Hertha Berlin CM Melbourne 65 €4.80 29
Robbie Kruse AUS Mebourne Victory RM Brisbane 64 €1.30 31
Awer Mabil AUS Mitdtjylland RW Kakuma, Kenya 63 €1.50 24
Craig Goodwin AUS Al-Wehda LM Adelaide 58 €4.60 28
Ryan Thomas NZ PSV CDM Te Puke 65 €6.50 25
Massimo Luongo AUS Sheffield W CDM Sydney 62 €7.80 27
Forwards
Chris Wood NZ Burnley ST Auckland 67 €23.40 28
Adam Taggart AUS Suwon Bluewings ST Perth 62 €0.84 26
Aposrolos Giannou AUS AEK Larnaka ST Nousa, Greece 63 €1.30 30
Daniel Arzani AUS Celtic CF Khorramabad, Iran 60 €8.20 21
Average/Totals 63 €160.29 29.68181818
As you can see the team is dominated by Aussie and Kiwi men, but there is some polynesian persuasion in the way of Wesley Lautoa who takes restbite trying to defend the likes of Neymar, Mbappe and Depay by bullying semi-pro strikers playing for New Caledonia.
Daniel Arzani is the best bet for a future talisman, despite really struggling to make the grade in Europe he’s still only 21 and could yet fulfil his potential. The Celtic forward has impeccable technical ability and has an eye on one day becoming a regular at his parent club Man City.
Chris Wood has a Premier League goal record that any striker would be proud of and is the archetypal Sean Dyche forward, but I would suggest that his physical play style precedes his genuine international quality. New Zealand famously exited the 2010 World Cup as the only side to leave undefeated, and part of that was due to the defensive talents of Winston Reid, who at that time was a 21 year old padawan learner to Blackburn hero Ryan Nelson. Now 31, The former West Ham captain Reid leads this sides defensive line where he’ll do his best to make the younger lads do most of the legwork.
Neil Etheridge is unlucky not to be the standout number one in this team, the keeper come underwear model caught the eyes of English fans saving three penalties in the 2018-19 season, although when on loan to Bristol Rovers he caught a free-kick and stepped backwards into his own goal, don’t think we’ve forgotten Neil.
Western China
9 Chinese Provinces (Feng Jin, Gansu, Shaanxi, Sichaun, Tibet, Xinjiang Uygur, Ningxia, Qinghai)
Population (millions): 256.25
A little over the limit for this one but you wouldn’t notice from the squad. The west of China is the least densely populated region and the one with the least investment in the club game, so it is no surprise that there is correlation to the talent, or lack thereof.
Every metric I’ve used in research points to this being the Chinese team that will struggle the most, the bulk of the players hail from Sichuan, which since we’re on reddit may give most of you PTSD of Rick and Morty fans standing on McDonalds counters.
None of the following players featured in the most recent Chinese national squad. In a sporting wilderness that hasn’t been invited to the game of Monopoly out east, you can’t blame this side for underwhelming.
Goalkeepers Birthplace FM20 Value Age
Wang QI CHI Shaanxi Athletic GK Shaanxi 35 €0.60 27
Yerjet Yerzat CHI Chongqing Lifan GK Xinjiang Uygur 36 €0.72 27
Defenders
Yang Xiaotian CHI Jiangsu Suning LB Shaanxi 40 €1.40 30
Wang Erzhuo CHI Shaanxi Athletic CB Shaanxi 28 €0.24 33
Alishat CHI Xinjiang Sport Lottery CB Xinjiang 40 €0.43 25
Zhang Ao CHI Xinjiang Sport Lottery RB Shanxi 28 €0.37 29
Liu Yu CHI Shanghai Shenxin CB Sichuan 30 €0.44 25
Zhou Xuri CHI Dalian Yifang CB Sichuan 29 €0.30 21
Otkur Hesen CHI Sichaun Jiuniu LB Xinjiang 20 €0.00 27
Bari Mamatil CHI Qiangdao Huanghai RWB Xinjiang 39 €1.50 31
Midfielders
Peng Xinli CHI Shanghai Shenhua CM Shanxi 47 €2.60 29
Mirahmetjan Muzepper CHI Shanghai SIPG CAM Xinjiang 46 €3.30 29
Zhang Xiuwei CHI Guangzhou E CM Sichuan 46 €2.70 24
Luo Senwen CHI Hebei China Fortune CDM Sichuan 44 €2.10 27
Li Yuanyi CHI Shenzhen CM SIchuan 42 €1.30 26
Zhang Chiming CHI Tianjin RW SIchuan 38 €1.10 31
Shewket Yalqun CHI Guangzhou E LW Xinjiang 33 €0.94 27
Yehya CHI Xinjiang Tianshan CM Xinjiang 24 €0.24 32
Forwards
Yan Dinghao CHI Gondomar CF Sichuan 45 €2.40 22
Li Fang CHI Chongqing Lifan ST Sichuan 34 €1.30 27
Gan Yingbo CHI Sichaun Longfor CF Sichuan 24 €0.16 35
Abduhamit Abdugheni CHI Jiangsu Suning CF Shaanxi 35 €0.75 23
Average/Totals 36 €24.89 27.59090909
Finding a 22 was a real struggle and there is an imbalance of positions to show for it. The only true striker is Chongqing’s Li Fang, who is officially listed as a striker-come-right back which is an oddly specific duology of skills.
The squad is predominantly composed of players from the nations second tier CL1, which to enlight the general reader means they probably aren’t going to win the tournament.
Another day another group, tomorrow we finally see one of the long anticipated Western European megasquads, and play a game of spot the Uzbekistani. Thanks again for reading, let me know if you think I've missed anyone from the squads or made an error and try to have a stab at the starting XI’s for today's teams.
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[OC] What if every world cup team had the same population? - Group G

Afternoon all, welcome back to the series that Gary Neville described as ‘How did you get this number, no I don’t know what you’re on about, piss off’. So far I’ve brought to life the teams of 24 hypothetical regions, that’s an entire Euro 2020’s worth! hmm that gives me an idea...
Before I begin separating the counties of Estonia, let’s stay focused and remind ourselves of how we got this far.
Group A, Group B, Group C, Group D, Group E, Group F,
Today’s post details the squads of the tournament’s penultimate group. Whilst this pool of players isn’t the greatest, they will be playing in front of the most participant sets of fans. Mexican waves meet Vuvuzelas in the battle for top spot while the other two’s wavin flags will look like this.
Southern Africa
South Africa, Lesotho, Eswantini, Mauritius, Reuinion, Comoros, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Angola, Tanzania
Population (millions): 255.34
The part of the world that brought us the only African world cup to date (and some other less wholesome moments in history), this southern hemispheric subcontinent has underachieved in modern memory.
The region is a mix of engrossed and apathetic when it comes to footballing subscription in the public consciousness, with four of the top seven African GDP’s per capita, their resources should theoretically be better than anyones. Just four World Cup qualifications (one of those by default) makes this the second least punctual region of the continent.
Lusophone’s Angola are the exception to an otherwise South African sweep of appearances. The ‘Giant sable antelopes’ (I’m sure it sounds better in portuguese) shocked the CAF by toppling Nigeria by the narrowest of margins to reach the 2006 finals; the nation’s top scorer and Barbie Girl singing eurodance group Akwá was the protagonist in a 1-0 win against the Super Eagles, this retrospectively acted as a tie-breaker when David & Goliath finished with the same points in their qualifying group. Their time in Germany was short yet respectable, conceding just two goals in three games and almost holding their colonisers Portugal to a bore draw, revenge is sweet.
A rugby nation by trade, South Africa were crowned World Cup champions just last year, unfortunately for soccer fans they have flattered to deceive in the world’s most beloved game. A ‘golden generation’ in 2002 featured the coloured careers of Steven Pienaar, Benni McCarthy, Lucas Radebe and Quinton Fortune; failing to escape an easy group, a huge opportunity missed. 18 years on Bafana Bafana’s only big names are of a literal sense.
Contrary to what I would have guessed, South Africa is not the regions most populous nation; Tanzania’s 56 million inhabitants puts them level with England, and the nation seem to identify as footyholics as much as their historic oppressors, unfortunately they haven’t got their money's worth for their sporting subscription.
The tiny island of reunion has produced the likes of Dimitri Payet and Laurent Robert, but since still being a French territory, anyone worth their salt gets a plane to Paris.
Botswana fail to feature in the squad, but with top clubs called ‘Meat Commision’ and ‘Miscellaneous’, it might be safe to say the nation isn’t taking the game as seriously as others.
Goalkeepers Birthplace FM20 Value Age
Itumeleng Khune RSA Kaiser Chiefs GK Ventersdorp 67 €0.47 32
Darren Keet RSA OH Leuven GK Cape Town 58 €0.80 30
Defenders
Bastos ANG Lazio CB Luanda 70 €12.70 28
Mexer MOZ Bordeaux CB Maputo 65 €4.50 32
Clinton Mata ANG Club Brugge CB Verviers 63 €7.70 28
Jeremy Morel MAD Rennais CB Lorient, France 63 €0.30 35
Bruno Gaspar ANG Olympiakos RB Evora, Portugal 60 €1.70 26
Romain Metanire MAD Minnesota RB Metz, France 60 €3.30 30
Reinildo MOZ Lille LB Beira 54 €0.75 26
Nurio ANG Charleroi LB Luanda 60 €3.60 25
Midfielders
Wilson Eduardo ANG Braga RW Pedras Rubras 66 €5.90 30
Percy Tau RSA Club Brugge RW Witbank 65 €17.60 25
Marvelous Nakamba ZIM Aston Villa CDM Hwange 64 €14.00 26
Khama Billiat ZIM Kaiser Chiefs RW Harare 66 €0.50 30
Thulani Serero RSA Al Jazira CDM Soweto 61 €4.90 30
Keagan Dolly RSA Montpellier CAM Johannesburg 62 €3.70 27
Bongani Zungu RSA Amiens CM Duduza 64 €4.80 27
Djalma ANG Alanyaspor LM Luanda 60 €1.10 32
Forwards
Mbwana Ally Samatta TAN Aston Villa ST Dar Es Salaam 66 €19.90 27
Patson Daka ZAM RB Salzburg ST Chingola 64 €2.60 21
Lebo Mothiba RSA Strasbourg ST Johannesburg 62 €3.70 24
Tinotenda Kadewere ZIM Lyon ST Harare 62 €3.70 24
Averages/Totals 63 €118.22 28
On paper the team shouldn’t need to rely on talismanic powers as the middling quality runs true throughout this team. Aston Villa surely have a scout in this part of the world as they are blessed with the services of key players Marvellous Nakamba and Mbwana Samatta.
Samatta became the Premier League’s first Tanzanian in January and will hopefully have a chance to add to his three appearances sooner rather than later. The imposing frontman scored 23 goals in the Belgian league in 2018-19 which makes him almost over qualified to lead the line in this XI.
Patson Daka was 13 and playing for locals Nchanga Rangers when Zambia sensationally shocked the world to lift the 2012 AFCON; the goldenboy of a generation determined to sequel the Copper Bullets’ success. The speedy Salzburg striker already has 24 caps for his country, time will tell if he is to follow Haaland and Minamino out of Austria to a European giant.
Mononymous Angolan Bastos will command the defence as best he can. Although recently struggling to make the squad, Bastos has served Lazio well with his protective prowess.
A plethora of pacey playmakers completes the assembly that will most likely finish runners up in this group. An exit in the round of 16 is on the cards as by process of elimination lots of you have already worked out Group H’s heavyweights are North & Central Europe.
West India
3 Indian States (Maharashtra, Gujurat, Madhya Pradesh)
Population (millions)
All the way back to the simpler time of Group A I hastily declared Uttar Pradesh as the worst region in the world, I’d like to publicly apologize for that remark as it’s become clear to me that West India is the bottom of a very deep barrell.
The region that provides the setting for Slumdog Millionaire has plenty to answer for as finding 22 players in this part of the world was harder than a where's wally of Manish market.
Goalkeepers Birthplace FM20 Value Age
Kunal Sawant IND Mumbai City GK Maharashtra 16 €0.01 28
Sukhdev Patil IND Churchill Brothers GK Maharashtra 14 €0.00 21
Defenders
Rahul Bheke IND Bengaluru RB Maharashtra 33 €0.03 29
Ashutosh Mehta IND Mohun Bagan RB Gujurat 22 €0.02 28
Raju Galkwad IND Kerala Blasters CB Maharashtra 21 €0.01 29
Jayesh Rane IND ATK RB Maharashtra 21 €0.01 27
Abhishek Ambekar IND East Bengal LB Maharashtra 20 €0.01 28
Rohan Adnaik IND DSK Shivajians CB Maharashtra 13 €0.00 28
Karan Amin IND Jamshedpur LB Maharashtra 13 €0.01 30
Pratik Chaudhuri IND Mumbai City CB Maharashtra 18 €0.01 30
Midfielders
Raynier Fernandes IND Mumbai City CDM Maharashtra 26 €0.02 24
Farukh Choudhary IND Jamshedpur CAM Maharashtra 25 €0.02 23
Kean Lewis IND Bengaluru LM Maharashtra 21 €0.01 27
Alwyn George IND Minerva Punjab CM Maharashtra 20 €0.01 28
Shilton D'Silva IND Mohun Bagun CM Maharashtra 19 €0.01 27
Aditya Ashok Jha IND ARA fc LW Gujarat 11 €0.01 20
Nikhil Kadam IND Northeast United RW Maharashtra 17 €0.01 25
Darren Caldeira IND Kerala Blasters CM Maharashtra 17 €0.01 32
Forwards
Aniket Jadhav IND Jamshedpur CF Maharashtra 16 €0.01 19
Arif Shaikh IND Gokulam ST Maharashtra 13 €0.01 26
Bipin Singh IND Mumbai ST Maharashtra 17 €0.01 25
Girik Khosla IND Minerva Punjab ST Maharashtra 17 €0.01 25
Averages/Totals 19 0.25
With 8 caps for the national team, Rahul Bheke is made to look like prime Cafu alongside his defensive compatriots. The Bengaluru full back plays a leading role in a one-star Bollywood show.
Aniket Jadnav is maybe the one to keep an eye on, the wide forward failed trials at Blackburn late last year, but the fact that they even asked him makes this teenage talent the side’s crappy Mbappe.
A Bombay mix of unknowns will be thankful they haven’t drawn against the real heavyweights of the competition, or they could be on the end of a cricket score.
Mexico & Central US
Mexico, 16 US States (Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois)
Population (millions): 244.75
The big wall will have to wait as this side leaves rednecks turning in their trailers. The region has fathered two point three tournaments with one on the way, but the main feature of this team always seems to leave the party early when it’s not at their house.
Mexico have been excruciatingly expelled in the second round an eye-watering SEVEN times running, the sombrero wearing soccer obsessed Senior’s are so frequently the bridesmaid it’s no exaggeration to call them football’s spinsters.
The US’s largest state, Texas, is the birthplace of one of America’s greatest players and worst rappers, Clint Dempsey. His impressive club career was an MLS sandwich with a London filling, the posterboy of a Fulham team that miraculously reached the Europa league final. Romantically tied with fellow yank legend Landon Donovan, Dempsey retired joint top scorer for USMNT, including four goals in three seperate world cups.
Mexican legends of the game include Hugo Sanchez, who scored over 200 goals for Real Madrid, and Barcelona treble winner Rafael Marquez who incredibly played 19 games across five World Cups, considering they never manage more than four, that’s almost as good as it gets.
Today El Tri are seemingly at the beginning of a promising Mexican generation that coincides with some notable late bloomers.
Goalkeepers Birthplace FM20 Value Age
Guillermo Ochoa MEX America GK Guadalajara 71 €4.20 34
Jonathan Orozco MEX Santos Laguna GK Monterry 68 €2.90 33
Defenders
Jesus Corona MEX Porto RB Sonora 72 €23.00 26
John Brooks USA Wolfsburg CB Berlin 67 €7.10 26
Hector Moreno MEX Al Gharafa CB Sinaloa 68 €6.10 31
Carlos Salcedo MEX Tigres CB Guadalajara 68 €5.70 25
Nestor Aruajo MEX Celta Vigo CB Guadalajara 70 €15.80 26
Hugo Ayala MEX Tigres CB Michoacan 68 €2.70 32
Miguel Layun MEX Monterrey RB Veracruz 66 €3.80 31
Jorge Sanchez MEX America LB Coahuila 63 €2.30 21
Midfielders
Isaac Brizuela MEX Chivas RM California 64 €4.40 29
Hector Herrera MEX Atleti CM Tijuana 75 €33.40 29
Hirving Lozano MEX Napoli RW Mexico City 75 €27.70 24
Victor Guzman MEX Pachua CM Guadalajara 66 €4.20 24
Andres Guardado MEX Real Betis CM Guadalajara 71 €9.20 32
Jonathan Dos Santos MEX LA Galaxy CM Monterry 70 €5.60 29
Rodolfo Pizarro MEX Miami FC CAM Tamulipas 72 €4.40 25
Edson Alvarez MEX Ajax CDM State of Mexico 70 €8.10 21
Forwards
Raul Jimenez MEX Wolves ST Hidalgo 74 €39.00 28
Javier Hernandez MEX LA Galaxy ST Guadalajara 66 €4.10 31
Gio Dos Santos MEX America CF Monterry 64 €2.20 30
Carlos Vela MEX LAFC LF Quintana Roo 75 €6.30 30
Averages/Totals 69 €222.20 28.04545455
One of the more mundane concoctions, it’s plain to see that Johnathan Brooks is the only ‘American’ to dare cross the border. The centre back scored a winner against Ghana in 2014 avenging the defeat of 2010.
After struggling badly at Atleti and then Benfica, it’s an unlikely story that aged 27 Raul signed for Wolves and has since become one of the Premier Leagues most feared strikers. The nation is hoping to harness whatever time he’ll be able to stay at this level, having scored five goals in a winning Gold Cup campaign.
Eredivisie fans will be familiar with Guardado and Alvarez, the bookends of a variety of age groups in the middle of the park.
‘Chucky’ Lozano is the posterboy, the Napoli winger scored the only goal in an historic victory over 2014 champions Germany. At just 24, it shouldn’t be of too much concern that he is competing to become a regular amongst fierce Neopolitan competition.
As usual, perhaps North-America’s best bet for success. They should win this group, but with the second round curse yet to be broken, maybe another John Brooks goal is needed to make the quarters.
Greater Beijing
7 Chinese provinces (Beijing, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Liaoning, Tianjin)
Population (millions): 246.63
The capital with plenty of capital, Beijing is the focal point of a Chinese region that stands the best chance of all it’s countryfolk. The region boasts half of the national team’s top ten appearance makers.
Liaoning is the most vibrant reserve of Chinese talent, defender Sun Jihai is often revered as the country's greatest player with 127 premier league appearances for Man City, after years of battling relegation his departure came just one month before the Abu Dhabi group took over, a cautious tale of what happens when you let cookies decide your fortune.
Domestic football is rife in the region with six of 16 CSL teams, including Beijing Guoan, who pay for the services of Cedric Bakambu and Renato Augusto.
Goalkeepers Birthplace FM20 Value Age
Liu Dianzuo CHN Guangzhou E GK Liaoning 47 €1.90 29
Wang Dalei CHN Shandong Luneng GK Liaoning 53 €3.70 31
Defenders
Nico Yennaris CHN Beijing Guoan RB London 59 €10.40 26
Li Xuepeng CHN Guangzhou E LB Liaoning 51 €3.40 32
Wang Tong CHN Shandong Luneng RB Liaoning 50 €3.20 27
Liu Yiming CHN Guangzhou E CB Liaoning 49 €3.40 25
Dai Lin CHN Shandong Luneng CB Liaoning 49 €2.00 32
Feng Xiaoting CHN Guangzhou E CB Liaoning 48 €1.10 35
Gao Zhunyi CHN Guangzhou E CB Jilin 48 €3.50 25
Ren Hang CHN Hebei C Fortune CB Liaoning 48 €2.40 31
Midfielders
Wu Xi CHN Jiangsu Suning CDM Hebei 53 €4.40 31
Yu Hanchao CHN Free Agent RM Liaoning 53 €2.50 33
Chi Zhongguo CHN Beijing Guoan CDM Jilin 52 €4.60 30
Zheng Zhi CHN Guangzhou E CM Liaoning 52 €0.48 40
Zhang Chengdong CHN Hebei C Fortune RM Hebei 50 €3.20 31
Jin Jingdao CHN Shandong Luneng CM Jilin 47 €2.60 28
Piao Cheng CHN Beijing Guoan CM Jilin 47 €3.20 31
Yin Hongbo CHN Hebei C Fortune CAM Jilin 47 €2.70 30
Forwards
Dong Xuesheng CHN Hebei C Fortune ST Liaoning 49 €3.50 31
Yang Xu CHN Tianjin ST Liaoning 47 €3.00 32
Tan Long CHN Changchun Yatai ST Liaoning 47 €3.00 32
Wu Xinghan CHN Shandong Luneng ST Liaoning 46 €2.40 32
Average/Totals 50 €70.58 30.81818182
Ex-Celtic and Charlton midfielder Zheng Zhi has 108 national caps and counting, still wearing the arm-band at 39 years old. An industrious and efficient playstyle combined with terrific passing range lends itself to still being able to compete at such a late age, although he will require the leg work of fellow 30-somethings Wu Xi and Chi Zhonguo if moves can be made.
Born in London, Nico Yennaris or ‘Li Ke’ was the first ever naturalised Chinese player, the former Arsenal youth and Brentford stalwart is hoping to become a trailblazer to the development of Asian football.
It isn’t an absolute certainty that this team will come third, but beating Southern Africa will be key, in a group of subjectively low quality, China’s best team is maybe their only hope.
Emotional times as tomorrow brings the final group, by this point it should be obvious who’s left.
See you all in the comments to discover what I’ve got wrong today (I will comb through the whole thing with your suggestions once this is done).
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