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Shadowed by the Hand of God

FIFA World Cup

Boca Juniors vs. River Plate confirms why it's one of the greatest rivalries

Boca Juniors vs. River Plate never disappoints. A January 2016 friendly even saw five players sent off.

Editor's Note: this piece originally ran in April, 2016, and has been republished ahead of the two-legged Copa Libertadores final, which sees Boca Juniors and River Plate competing for a trophy for the first time in the rivalry's history.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- They gather twice a year, sometimes more often, for the most important civic event in the port city of Buenos Aires: Boca Juniors vs. River Plate. The last time I was in this beautiful, weird city was last September, as the South American...

Italy and AC Milan are in good hands with Gianluigi Donnarumma, Buffon's successor

MILAN -- Shifts from one generation to the next rarely happen as cleanly and as publicly as the one that saw the Italian goalkeeping burden truly pass from Gigi Buffon to Gigio Donnarumma during the Italian Cup final in May. It was nearly the end of Buffon's career with Juventus, and he collected a clean sheet while Donnarumma let in four goals, making mistake after mistake. When the match mercifully ended for AC Milan, Buffon approached the younger keeper and whispered something in his ear.


The eternal derby reveals why Italian football finds its way into your blood

ROME -- On the day before the Rome Derby, in which AS Roma beat Lazio 3-1 on a viciously hot afternoon, I met Luciano Rossi and his son at a restaurant near the Roma training facility. A lot of people from the club come here for lunch, including Francesco Totti, now retired but still the most beloved living Roman. Both Rossi men are Roma official team photographers, and their roots in this city stretch back at least seven generations. Luciano's family comes from Trastevere, the old neighborhood...

Juventus wants to be great in Europe but must conquer Napoli first

TORINO -- On a chilly night in the shadow of the Alps, Juventus easily dispatched Bologna, 2-0, and finally Serie A could focus on the biggest match of this young season: Napoli's return to Juventus on Saturday. Down beneath the stadium, with midnight approaching, Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri took his seat for post-game questions. Somehow, two reporters managed to not ask about Allegri's next opponent but the third got straight to the point: Napoli was seeking its second straight win at Allianz...

Milan has everything -- passion, support and history -- except the team it deserves

MILAN -- On a day like Sunday, Milan can feel like the center of the universe. I landed with eight hours to kill before going to San Siro. A little breeze blew through the piazzas and narrow streets. It felt great. The cheese on Manuelina's focaccia recco burned my mouth in a good way, washed down with euro cups of Caffe Si. I sipped a Mi-To cocktail made of Campari and vermouth and wrote two postcards. A man set up an amplifier outside the Duomo and played psychedelic Pink Floyd guitar solos...

Shadowed by the Hand of God

Day 14 of the beautiful game and it's turning into a ghoulish affair, as Anthony Richardson and Ian Fiveankles bring you the latest of what's happening in Russia.

This article was first posted on ESPN on June 15, 2014.

EVEN IN THE warehouse studio where artists designed the sets for an upcoming film about his life, Leo Messi cannot escape the oppressive shadow of Diego Maradona. A few months before the World Cup, hanging with some set designers, I played my favorite Argentine mind game: making heads explode by talking s--- about Maradona, the soccer legend.

The young, hip artists laughed, in the way folks from Brooklyn laugh at a Jesus joke that would hurtle...