Gabriel Jesus & Roberto Firmino Lead Brazil Into the Copa America Finals

Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino are hometown heroes…

The Brazilian soccer players scored the two goals that helped lead Brazil to a 2-0 victory against old rival Argentina in the Copa America semifinals.

Gabriel Jesus & Roberto Firmino

Both sides tried to impose themselves physically early on but it was Jesus who gave Brazil the lead after 19 minutes when Firmino sent in a low cross for the unmarked striker to side-foot home from close range.

The two combined again on the counter-attack after 71 minutes to make it 2-0 after great work from Jesus left Firmino with the simplest of tap-ins.

Brazil, who have lost twice in 42 games under coach Tite, will face either Peru or Chile in Sunday’s final at Maracana Stadiumin Rio de Janeiro and captain Dani Alves said their goal was within reach.

“There is one more step to go before we fulfil our objective,” he added. “The standard here is very high there are no easy teams. You have to work and fight for what you want and we worked for this.”

Argentina have not beaten Brazil in a major competitive fixture dating back to 2005 and that run rarely looked like ending in front of 52,000 fans at the Mineirao Stadiumin Belo Horizonte.

Sergio Aguero hit the bar with a header in the first half and Lionel Messi struck the post 11 minutes into the second period but the visitors had little luck in front of goal and were never on top for any length of time.

While the tournament has been plagued by lengthy stoppages for the video assistant referee (VAR), Tuesday’s officials preferred to let the game run, though Argentina were incensed VAR did not come into play when Arthur felled one of their players at a corner.

Messi, who has still not won a major title with Argentina, was more influential than in his first few matches here but was still a pale shadow of the player who has won everything with his club side.

“We had chances, the ball hit the woodwork, it flashed across the six-yard box, there were penalties that weren’t given,” said Messi, who like coach Lionel Scalonicomplained about the refereeing.

“Today it just didn’t happen.”

Argentina bow out after scoring just five goals in five games and are still looking for their first major title since lifting the Copa America in 1993.

“We knew that it would be difficult because of the players they have,” Brazil’s Casemiro said.

“It’s about details. We knew it would be scrappy and that there would be wind-ups and time wasting. But we have to congratulate our strikers who did a great job. When they got chances, they scored.”

Neymar to Launch Music Career This Week with the Release of His Debut Single

Neymar is making sweet music…

The 24-year-old Brazilian soccer star, who has already shown the world his skills on the futbol field, is getting ready to show the world his musical abilities.

Neymar

Neymar, a forward for the Spanish club FC Barcelona and the Brazil national team, took to social media over the weekend to announce the launch of his music career, saying that his debut single will drop this week.

“This Wednesday I begin my music career and I’m going to release my first song on Facebook,” he tweeted to his more than 20 million followers.

On various occasions, the soccer sensation has shown great interest for music, from jamming to Nicky Jam‘s “El Perdón” with soccer mate Dani Alves to actually sharing the stage with Brazilian superstar Michel Teló, where they sang the chart-topping song “Ai Se Eu Te Pego together.

Alves Agrees to Two-Year Deal with Juventus

Dani Alves is heading to Italy…

The 33-year-old Brazilian soccer star has joined Juventus Football Club on a two-year deal from Barcelona, the Italian club has announced.

Dani Alves

Alves, who won 23 trophies over eight seasons with Barcelona, joins Massimiliano Allegri‘s side as a free-agent, despite having one-year remaining on his contract at the Nou Camp.

Alves has signed a deal that will keep him at Juventus until 2018, with an option to extend the deal by a further year.

The Serie A champions confirmed their new signing in a statement released on social media.

“Juventus Football Club can today confirm that Dani Alves has agreed terms on a two-year contract with the club until 30 June 2018 with an option for an additional year,” read the statement.

“The unrelenting success and remarkable consistency of the second most decorated player in UEFA competition history has seen the Brazilian deservedly be considered among the greatest wing-backs of his generation.”

Alves originally signaled his intention to leave Barcelona earlier this summer, after stating football had become “too easy” for him in Spain and that he needed to step outside his comfort zone to improve.

The Brazil international joined the Catalan club from Sevilla for £25.5million in 2008 and went on to make 247 La Liga appearances for the club>

After passing his medical at the club, Alves will join up with his new team-mates as Juventus prepare for their pre-season tour of Australia.

Messi Reaches 400-Goal Milestone in Barcelona Win Against Granada

Lionel Messi has smashed another record…

The 27-year-old Argentine soccer star and first-ever four-time Ballon d’Or winner scored his 400th career goal on Saturday as FC Barcelona smashed six unanswered goals past Granada at the Nou Camp.

Lionel Messi

Messi’s landmark strike came in the 61st minute of the match — heading in Dani Alves‘ volleyed cross — to put Barca up 4-0 after a goal from Ivan Rakitic and two from Neymar had all but wrapped up three points before the break.

Neymar completed his hat-trick in the 66th minute before Messi tucked away his 401st career goal late on to complete the rout and seal Barca’s biggest win in La Liga this season.

Messi has now scored 359 goals in competitive matches for Barcelona and 42 for Argentina.

“I never imagined I could achieve anything like this in my career,” Messi said on his official Facebook page.

“Thanks for all the congratulations on scoring 400 goals with FC Barcelona and the Argentinian National Team. I’ll continue working hard to reach more targets,” he added.

The four-ton mark was passed by his La Liga rival Cristiano Ronaldo last January, but the Argentine has bragging rights after reaching the total in just 525 appearances compared to the Portuguese who took 653 games.

Messi Wins Record Fourth Ballon d’Or

Lionel Messi is officially in a league of his own…

The 25-year-old Argentine fútbol has become the first four-time winner of the Ballon d’Or, FIFA’s Player of the Year award, after breaking the world record for most goals in a year with 91 goals for Barcelona and Argentina.

Lionel Messi

Messi won for the fourth straight time, beating Real Madrid‘s Cristiano Ronaldo and his fellow Futbol Club Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta in voting announced Monday. His 91 goals topped Gerd Mueller‘s mark of 85 for Bayern Munich and Germany back in 1972.

Messi received 41.60 percent of the points in votes by national team coaches and captains plus selected media. Ronaldo got 23.68 percent and Iniesta 10.91 percent.

“To tell the truth, this is really unbelievable to get the fourth award. I am so nervous,” Messi said in Spanish, wearing a black tuxedo jacket and bow tie, both with a white polka-dot pattern in an unexpectedly flamboyant touch.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann and captain Carlos Bocanegra both voted Messi first, as did Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy.

Zinedine Zidane of France and Ronaldo of Brazil were voted FIFA Player of the Year three times before the award merged in 2010 with France Football’s Golden Ball, given to the European player of the year. The Golden Ball, or Ballon d’Or, was won three times by Michel Platini of France and Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten of the Netherlands.

Vicente del Bosque was voted top men’s coach after leading Spain to its third straight title in a major tournament, the 2012 European Championship. Del Bosque got 34.51 percent to win over Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho (20.49), who won last year, and Pep Guardiola (12.91) who won in 2011 and retired from Barcelona last spring.

The three men’s Player of the Year candidates were on the World XI All-Star team chosen by the FIFPro group of players’ unions, comprising 50,000 members worldwide.

They selected a team composed entirely of players from Spanish clubs, with nine repeating their selection from one year ago.

Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas was selected as goalkeeper, joined on defense by teammates Sergio Ramos and Marcelo and by Barcelona’s Dani Alves and Gerard Pique. Iniesta was joined in midfield by Barcelona teammate Xavi Hernandez and Real Madrid’s Xabi Alonso. Messi led the attack with Ronaldo and Atletico Madrid‘s Radamel Falcao. Marcelo and Falcao replaced Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic and Wayne Rooney from the 2011 team.

Messi Ends the Year with Record 91 Goals…

In what’s proved to be a banner year, Lionel Messi has extended his goal-scoring record…

The 25-year-old Argentine fútbol star and UNICEF Goodwill Ambasador, who broke German great Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old record for most goals in a year earlier this month, ended his record year this weekend with his 91st and final goal of 2012 in Fútbol Club Barcelona‘s 3-1 win at Valladolid, which the team dedicated to ailing coach Tito Vilanova.

Lionel Messi

Messi scored in the 59th minute by dribbling between a defender’s legs before making it 2-0 after Xavi Hernandez had opened the scoring two minutes before halftime.

Barcelona’s players wore T-shirts before the game with messages of support for Vilanova, who had throat surgery to remove a second tumor in two years on Thursday.

“This win is for Tito,” Barcelona defender Dani Alves said. “It’s a surprise and joy that he is home now. We are here to help him any way he can. Football is secondary now, he is fighting for his life.”

Barcelona remained perfect in nine away games and extended its record league start with its 16th win in 17 rounds. It opened up a nine-point lead over second-place Atletico Madrid and a 16-point gap over Real Madrid after it lost to Malaga Saturday.