Brazil’s Corinthians capture FIFA Club World Cup. You know what that is, right?


Congratulations to Corinthians, first the champions of South America and now the holders of FIFA’s Club World Cup.

The Brazilian club claimed the trophy in the wee smalls, beating Chelsea in the tournament final from Japan in a match that finished well before most of America awoke on a sleepy Sunday morning.

In bettering Chelsea, 1-0, Corinthians demonstrated that they wanted this thing a little more. That’s hardly surprising; it’s a bigger deal in some parts of the world than in others. In Europe, FIFA’s Club World Cup holds little regard and, if we’re honest, even less brand value.

For South American teams it’s a chance to “play with the big boys,” to remind everyone that Europe may be where the money is in the global game, but they play some pretty decent soccer in South America, too, of course.

Sometimes, “want-to” isn’t enough, as with last year when Barcelona FC did to Santos what they do to so many – flummox the hapless and helpless foe with that wonderful passing and interchange. They kicked Santos, 4-0.

So while Sunday’s result may have provided a certain measure of revenge and re-validation, you do have to wonder about Chelsea’s motivation.

To that point, how to make the tournament a little bigger? How to make it something more of the world cares about and wants to check out?

First, it’s still fairly young, competed for on an annual basis only since 2005. History count for a lot, and this event does not have much.

Past that, they’ll need to move the even around a little more. Since it became an annual event, every tournament has been in Japan or United Arab Emirates. FIFA does have plans to add more sites to the rotation in the future. Expose an area to one tournament and they have a much better chance of connecting with it – and therefore caring enough to scan for the next one.

So diversifying the geography is a good thing; otherwise the FIFA Club World Cup will continue to come and go with barely a worldwide whisper.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.