My Take On FIFA World Cup 2018

By:  Justin Holden

Okay so first of all before diving into this article let me just state for the record that yes, LitTube Channel has been slacking in terms of putting out YouTube videos in recent weeks.  There are legitimate reasons behind this slowdown in production that I will not go into detail on.  But rest assured, articles are still being put out and we will ramp up the videos soon.

I just wanted to write a brief article discussing the FIFA World Cup and my thoughts on this year’s event that is being hosted in Russia.  First of all, allow me to vent about something.  The United States did not qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.  Do you know how pissed off this makes me?  We are talking about the most exciting professional soccer tournament and it only comes along once every four years.  The last time the United States missed the World Cup main event was in 1986.  Such a sad state American soccer has become.

We lost to Trinidad and Tobago 2-1, a team that at that point had already failed to qualify.  And that result clinched the US men’s team staying at home for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.  Instead, we will be seeing Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama representing the CONCACAF group of countries in this year’s World Cup main event.  It will be Panama’s first ever World Cup main event appearance.  There is a lot the United States must do to get back on track and actually be competitive.  The top two things in my opinion are scouting/developing the younger players and actually trusting them in the starting lineup.  We’re never gonna win a tournament with an old team.  The other important thing is working to change the culture within the United States.  Our country just doesn’t give enough of a shit about soccer.  We would kick ass in a World Cup of baseball, basketball, or american football.  No doubt.  But we need to improve our culture in terms of respecting the world’s number one sport.

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A few results for 2018 World Cup are actually already in the books as of the writing of this piece.  From Group A, Russia defeated Saudi Arabia 5-0 and Uruguay defeated Egypt 1-0.  From Group B, Iran defeated Morocco 1-0 and Portugal tied Spain 3-3.  From Group C, France defeated Australia 2-1 and Denmark defeated Peru 1-0.  From Group D, Argentina tied Iceland 1-1 and Croatia defeated Nigeria 2-0.  There are eight more games to be played for matchday one in the group stage.  Of those games that are left, I believe Brazil vs. Switzerland is the must watch game.

Group E is, in my opinion, this year’s “group of death”.  Brazil and Switzerland are both high quality teams and rightfully so favorites to advance out of the group stage.  However, Serbia and Costa Rica are sneaky good teams in their own right.  Under normal circumstances, they’d make for great dark horse candidates to go far in the tournament.  But, it will be extremely difficult to advance out of this group given the quality of competition.

Group H seems to be the group with the lowest quality teams overall, although Group A is an honorable mention for this category as well.  Group H has Poland, Senegal, Colombia, and Japan.  None of those teams are powerhouses.  Whichever teams advance from this group, I do not expect them to last much longer in the tournament.  At least Group A has Russia and Uruguay.

Since the United States is not playing in 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament, I have decided to root for another team.  I am rooting for Switzerland this year.  Why?  Because they’re a high quality team that isn’t getting recognized as such, and I want to see them get the upset over Brazil for their opening game.  Full disclosure:  I am a Neymar hater.  This is mostly because my cousin Miles is a huge fan of Neymar.  But regardless, I want to see him and his country lose badly.  Aren’t we tired of seeing Brazil go far in the World Cup tournaments anyway?  I’d literally laugh my ass off if Brazil doesn’t advance from the group stage.  An unlikely event, but one that is possible nonetheless.

You can keep up with the 2018 FIFA World Cup standings and results by copying and pasting the following link into your internet browser:

https://www.google.com/search?source=hp&ei=XeQlW4fiL6jf5gLD_Y0I&q=fifa+world+cup+group+standings&oq=fifa+world+cup+group+standings&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0i131k1j0i22i30k1l9.488.5527.0.5608.31.25.0.4.4.0.133.2098.19j5.24.0….0…1c.1.64.psy-ab..3.28.2135.0..0j35i39k1j0i131i67k1j0i67k1j0i131i20i263i264k1j0i131i20i263k1j0i131i20i264k1j0i20i263i264k1.0.WqGB-dpik7E#sie=lg;/m/06qjc4;2;/m/030q7;st;fp;1

 

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Remembering Davide Astori

Written By:  Justin Holden

Some of you reading this might have already heard the news that Davide Astori, captain for Serie A club Florentina, died on March 4th of 2017.  Astori was found dead at La Di Moret hotel in Udine, with the expected cause of death being sudden cardiac arrest.  Astori was just 31 years of age at the time of his death, and spent the previous night training with his teammates in advance of a league match against Serie A club Udinese.  This news comes as quite a shock to all of us, given that Astori was an otherwise healthy young man with a career as a professional athlete.

In writing this article, I wanted to shine some light on the positives of Astori’s life.  He was a great man who was dedicated to a sport and also his family.  I hope that we as sports fans and fellow human beings can take something away from this tragedy.

Astori is best known for his appearances with Italian clubs AC Milan, Cagliari, and Florentina.  Astori also made 14 appearances for Italy’s international team and scored one goal while representing his country in those games.  Astori had an impressive 12 year career as a professional athlete.  Astori primarily played the defender position and helped his teams post clean sheets on numerous occasions.  He finished his club career with 8 goals as well.

Perhaps the saddest thing about Astori’s death is that he has a two year old daughter who will never get to see him again.  But the scariest thing has got to be how young he was at his time of death.  To die in your early thirties is a great tragedy and you honestly wouldn’t think that a man of that age would die of cardiac arrest unless he had a serious heart condition.  Let us all take some time to keep Astori’s family in our thoughts and prayers, and live every day realizing that life is short and can be snatched away from you at anytime, so live your life to the fullest.

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One For The Future: Pietro Pellegri

Written By:  Justin Holden

In my lifetime, there has never been a more obvious up and coming 16 year old player destined for superstar status than Pietro Pellegri.  Yes Indeed, at the time of writing this article Pietro Pellegri is age 16 and he will be turning 17 on March 17th of 2018.  Already in his professional career, Pellegri has accomplished quite a bit.

Pellegri originally played for Genoa in Italy’s Serie A.  He was a product of their youth squad.  But, on December 22nd of 2016, Pellegri was given his chance to be called up from the youth squad and play for Genoa’s senior squad.  His debut game was unspectacular, with Genoa losing in an away game to Torino with a final score of 1-0.  Pellegri came on as an 88th minute substitute in this game, and the significance was that made him tie the record for youngest player to ever debut in a Serie A game (15 years and 280 days old).  Pellegri went on to score his first goal with the Genoa senior squad in May of 2017, making him the third youngest goal scorer in Italy’s Serie A league.

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Pellegri has also had some success on the international stage.  He has played games for Italy’s under 15, under 16, under 17, and under 19 national teams.  Through 19 international appearances, Pellegri has scored 2 goals.

On January 27th of 2018, Pellegri signed with France Ligue 1 club Monaco for a reported €25 million transfer fee to his previous club, Genoa.  He has since debuted for the club in February 2018.  I expect Pellegri to take on a more prominent role as a “super sub” in the near future, and then eventually become a starting forward for the club.  Monaco has done a great job in recent years of scouting, buying, and developing talented youth players.  Pellegri will be a solid fit for the club.

Pellegri’s total career statistics (at the club level with Genoa and Monaco) are as follows:  10 league appearances, 3 league goals, 1 cup appearance, 0 cup goals.  Pellegri is on record saying that Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimović is the best in the world at the position, and a player that he has drawn inspiration from.

While it would be foolish for me to compare Pietro Pellegri to Zlatan Ibrahimović this early on, the kid has a bright future nevertheless.  Pellegri is a 6’2 striker who displays the ability to score while under intense pressure from defenders.  He has decent passing skills and great dribbling skills.  Definitely more of a finisher than a creator in the final third of the pitch, but that’s what you want anyway from a striker.  I expect Pellegri to develop into a more well rounded forward over time.  I’m putting the world on notice that this kid is the real deal.  I won’t be surprised if a huge transfer market bid from a top club comes within another year or two.

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