Tuesday, June 29, 2010

World Cup 2010 Rd of 16 review


Holland looked good against Slovakia, although until the second went in, you had to wander if they would be punished for squandering their chances. RVP was active; Sneijder looked up for it; Robben did well on the wings; Elia came on to great effect. You have to wonder if the defense will hold up though. Slovakia was pounding them at the end and Brazil will do far better with the chances.

Brazil finally found an opponent who would come on to them and punished them. Juan got things started and Fabiano’s goal came from a move of real quality. It took them a while to get going again and they really should have had more. Their win sets up a match up with Holland, their opponents in the knock out in 94 and 98.

Tuesday (the day the goals disappeared)

Paraguay and Japan was dire, probably one of the worst games of the tournament. Very little edge to the game due to a combination of nerves and lack of quality. In the end Paraguay prevailed on penalties, which, to be fair, were very well taken except for Komano who hit the crossbar.

Before the tournament I took Spain to beat Brazil in the finals. After the group stage, I had a rethink. Yesterday, I predicted a Portugal victory but from the opening minute, I knew I was wrong. Spain were firing from all angles and it was only a matter of time. Villa broke through (offside?) and scored the only goal of the match. Spain have yet to hit the high notes, while Portugal continue to prove that they can’t score against anyone beside North Korea. They may be lucky to qualify in four years time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Cup 2010 Rd of 16 review/preview

Well after predicting 3 of the 4 games right, I'm feeling pretty good about myself.

Uruguay and South Korea went about how I thought it would. Suarez's second was truly spectacular. Other than that, the only thing to talk about was the rain and the pitch (terrible).

Germany tore England apart.Now there will be controversy about a possible England goal. Maybe it would have changed the game, although you figure Upson would have been exposed several more times to get Germany another goal. FIFA only have themselves to blame. Perhaps this is the goal that pushes the topic over the edge. But there can be no doubt that Germany were better and revealed England to be pretenders. Any time they face a team of quality (Argentina 98, Brazil 02, Portugal 06, Germany 10) they lose. No matter what they think, England are not among the elite.

Argentina got a gift for their first goal and then ran rampant. Mexico offered very little after a couple of good attacks in the opening minutes. Barrera came on in the second half to good effect, but it wasn't enough to overcome a catastrophic defensive error and a stunning goal from Tevez.

That brings us to the US game. What did we learn? Not that the US starts slow. Not that the US can't finish chances. Not that Ricardo Clark is done as a starter. But our central defenders are weak. Demerit was partially at fault for both goals, with Howard getting some blame for the first and Bocanegra not being strong enough on the second. I would not say that the US was the better team, but they definitely created the better chances.

In Monday's games, I see Holland handling Slovakia. It might only be 1-0 but they should advance. We are still waiting to see them throttle someone.

Brazil should have an easy time against Chile. Chile will attack which should give Brazil the space they need to create lots of chances. I look for Fabiano and Robinho to have big games.

On Tuesday, I see Paraguay continuing the South American dominance. Japan will keep it close but won't have enough.

As for Spain and Portugal, my gut says that Portugal will find a way to win. Spain just haven't been sharp enough and it my catch up to them here. I doubt there will be many goals and Portugal could advance in an ugly fashion.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

World Cup 2010 Day Round of 16 (Sat/Sun) predictions

The Saturday bracket will produce an outside semi-finalist. Uruguay has history but nothing in the recent past. South Korea was a semi-finalist 4 years ago and may match that again. The US scraped through and will get a rematch with Ghana. Any of these teams will have to fancy their chances of making the semi-finals.

In the opener I am jumping on the South American bandwagon and taking Uruguay. South Korea will hustle and bustle but don’t see them having enough to finish off Uruguay.

As for the US, I’m cautiously optimistic. I think the goal against Algeria will push them on against Ghanaians who may have used up all their luck. Of course, it will depend on the first 10 minutes. Survive that and the Americans will nick a goal and possibly a second as Ghana press.

Sunday could be absolute magic, with mouthwatering fixtures and possibilities.

England and Germany should be the game of the tournament but won’t be. I fancy the Germans in the game because they have been playing attractive football, which will unbalance a shaky English defense. Going forward England have not impressed and I don’t see them getting through Mertesacker and Freidrich. However, injuries to Schweni and Cacau for the Germans could be a factor.

Then comes Mexico/Argentina, a rematch of 2006 Round of 16. Argentina will surely score a goal. Can Mexico score one or two to win? Don’t think so. Don’t see how the Mexicans will hold on the ball enough to create enough dangerous chances.

World Cup 2010 Day 15 Group H Review

Group H


1 Spain 7

2 Chile 5

3 Switzerland 4

4 Honduras 0


1 Spain 6

2 Chile 6

3 Switzerland 4

4 Honduras 1

If you take away Switzerland’s 1-0 victory over Spain in the opener, I did pretty well in this group.

Spain are not quite on song. Villa is scoring but missing lots of chances; Torres is ineffective; lots of possession but not dominating; defense looks solid but prone to the occasional error. The game against Portugal will be extremely tricky. Portugal don’t give up goals but don’t score.

Chile were great to watch. Sanchez is quite the player and will trouble any defense. Can Chile go for it against Brazil and not get punished?

The Swiss were boring and deserved to go out.

Honduras were overmatched in every game. Hopefully this will be a platform to build from.

World Cup 2010 Day 15 Group G Review

Group G


1 Brazil 7

2 Portugal 5

3 Ivory Coast 4

4 North Korea 0


1 Brazil 7

2 Portugal 5

3 Ivory Coast 4

4 North Korea 0

What can I say? I got this group spot on.

Brazil struggled to impress but I think Dunga has things right where he wants them.

Portugal finally took the Saran Wrap off the goal but only against North Korea. I still don’t see how they are going to score against big teams. I don’t see them beating Spain, although if they do they could make the final.

Ivory Coast. Welcome to the big time. They have endured two groups of death with very little to show for it. Maybe 2014 will give them a more favorable group.

North Korea. We have some lovely parting gifts for you. Which will be promptly taken away by the government.

Friday, June 25, 2010

World Cup 2010 Day 14 Group F Review

Group F Group of Ugh.


1 Paraguay 7

2 Italy 5

3 Slovakia 4

4 New Zealand 0


1 Paraguay 5

2 Slovakia 4

3 New Zealand 2

4 Italy 2

My Group of Ugh really turned everything on its head. I managed to get Paraguay right, and had they beaten the Kiwis in the last match, I would have been spot on.

As pessimistic as I was about Italy’s chances, I could not have forseen the implosion that occurred. Were they too old? Was Pirlo missing that big of a factor? Was luck against them? The Azzurri were very poor and the defeat in a must win against Slovakia was devastating to say the least. The question becomes now what? Really now who? Will lead the line for them going forward? Will pull the strings?

New Zealand gave it everything and really turned some heads. They weren’t fantastic but they worked hard, got stuck in and took their chances. They went from one of the most unfancied teams going in to at least a respected side.

Slovakia. To be honest, I only watched the Paraguay game and they were totally taken out of the game. I don’t give them a chance against Holland, which means they will upset them to play Brazil in the quarters.

World Cup 2010 Day 14 Group E Review

Group E


1 Holland 7

2 Cameroon 5

3 Denmark 2

4 Japan 1


1 Holland 9

2 Japan 6

3 Denmark 3

4 Cameroon 0

Holland made hard work of it but won all three matches. I was am totally convinced based on their matches against Denmark and Japan. If teams get an early goal against them, I find it hard to see how they will break them down. If they do indeed meet Brazil in the quarters, I don’t think they will physical enough to knock them out.

Several previews told me this would happen (Japan progressing to the knockout phase) and I ignored them. The Blue Samurai got a scrappy goal to set them on their way against Cameroon. After that they were a little unlucky against the Dutch and had Sorensen to thank against the Danes. They progress but will have a tough time knocking out Paraguay.

Denmark were terrible. They kept Holland at bay before caving in. Against Cameroon, they recovered from a 1-0 deficit to win and looked to have a great chance of moving on but 90 minutes of utter dreck against Japan knocked them out. Jon Dahl Tomasson may have been the worst player in the tournament. Get out.

Cameroon. Everyone wonders why they don’t do well at the African Cup of Nations. They only start pressing when they go and behind, but by then it’s too late and they aren’t good enough. Le Guen really cost his team with a puzzling lineup in the first game and they never recovered. No points in the group is very disappointing. (Especially when I picked them to go second.)

World Cup 2010 Day 13 Group D Review

Group D


1 Serbia 7

2 Germany 4

3 Ghana 3

4 Australia 1


1 Germany 6

2 Ghana 4

3 Australia 4

4 Serbia 3

Germany have looked a decent side and could have won all three matches had Klose not been sent off. Oezil has to be the revelation of the tournament. His movement and technique have really come to the fore and one of the big boys will surely try to pry him from Werder Bremen. I see the Germans dispatching of England and moving on. I really thought they would struggle but now have a chance to meet Argentina in the quarters again.

Ghana have been tough. Got a little lucky against Serbia; should have done more against Australia; really didn’t do too much against Germany. They made the round of 16 again and will fancy their chances against the US. Should they win, they would have every chance of making the semis.

Who would have though that Australia would have turned it around after getting thrashed by Germany? They hung on against Ghana to give themselves something to play for in the last game. A great result against Serbia but they weren’t able to overcome their dire goal differential. Big ups for making a go of it and nearly coming all the way back.

Serbia. What can I say? I took them as dark horses and got crushed. Once they lost the opener to Ghana, I knew I was in trouble, but they got a life line against Germany. A terrible performance against Australia sent them crashing out, bottom of the group. They will have a lot of players back for Euro 2012 and WC 2014 so I expect them to make a big impact.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

World Cup 2010 Day 13 Group C Review

Group C


1 England 9

2 USA 4

3 Slovenia 2

4 Algeria 1


1 USA 5

2 England 5

3 Slovenia 4

4 Algeria 1

What a finish. I was still shaking an hour after the final whistle.

The US had it all to do in the last match, especially when England went 1-0 over Slovenia in the first half. Based on the three matches, they played well enough and deserved to go through. They still need to overcome their slow starts and lack of finishing, but their determination could get them to the quarters. Altidore and Dempsey worked their socks off in the last game against Algeria, but will need to do better to put bigger teams under pressure.

England have been disappointing, but looked to have some measure of control against Slovenia. The draw in the round of 16 should be interesting, especially if they get Germany, but I don’t see them progressing. Although if they go out at the quarters, what’s the difference between Capello and Sven?

Slovenia got a gift in the first match, couldn’t hold on against the US and couldn’t find the back of the net against England. Glad they are out.

Algeria just aren’t good enough. The Desert Foxes have decent players but can’t consistently create enough chances to challenge big boys. No goals scored says it all.

Juventus Roster Questions for 2010-2011

So I took some time during the last week to jot down some thoughts for next season's Juventus squad. Here they come, fast and furious.

Buffon keep

Chimenti put out to pasture

Manninger serviceable backup

Càceres give another yr

Cannavaro SOLD

Chiellini must sign; future captain of team

De Ceglie give another yr

Ariaudo bring back from loan and play

Grosso retain

Grygera ??

Legrottaglie squad player; not starter

Zebina sell

Candreva retain

Camoranesi sell, cut

Diego sell if doesn’t fit into system

Yago just know he came from FC Barclona

Giovinco play

Marchisio anchor in MF

Melo give another yr

Poulsen ok squad player

Tiago sell

Salihamidzic time to move on

Sissoko 1st player to be sold; absolutely must go

Amauri sell

Del Piero impact sub

Paolucci give time and see what he can do

Iaquinta sell

Trezeguet great servant but may be time to go

Martinez SIGNED


Tentative first day lineup


Grosso Chiellini Legrottaglie Caceras

Pepe Melo Marchisio Giovinco

Paolucci Trezeguet

I really think the club are moving in the right direction. Still need another CB and some forwards. Overall, need to get younger and more active. I think a top 3 finish and a cup run would be a decent expectation.

World Cup 2010 Day 12 Group B Review

Group B
1 Argentina 9
2 Greece 4
3 South Korea 4
4 Nigeria 0

1 Argentina 9
2 South Korea 4
3 Greece 3
4 Nigeria 1

I missed the last match day due to work commitments, so my insights will be even less informed than usual.

Argentina did well. Messi still has not scored, so he will need to come through in the knockout stage. They should handle Mexico. My worry comes further along in the knockout phase. Can they take their chances? They have squandered a ton of goals, and, if they go down early, I could see them crashing out. The defense has done enough but will have to shut down better attacks as they progress.

Greece were started slowly, and then settled into Euro 2004 mode. Nigeria handed them the second game, and then they were overmatched by group winners Argentina. Glad to see the back of them.

It could be argued that Nigeria were disappointing, but let’s face it, they just aren’t that good. Argentina could have hammered them by 3, 4 or 5; they hung in against Greece with 10 men and then gave up the game on a mistake by Enyeam, who did quite well in the group stage. They scored early against South Korea to give themselves a chance of progressing, but let it slip away. Still waiting for them to deliver.

South Korea took the Asian flag and ran with it. They got the vital three points against Greece before being humbled by Argentina, a game that turned on a couple of key moments in the second half. The South Koreans responded well and earned a point against the Nigerians to progress to the second round.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

World Cup 2010 Day 12 Group A Review

Group A:

1 France 7
2 Uruguay 5
3 Mexico 2
4 South Africa 1

1 Uruguay 7
2 Mexico 4
3 South Africa 4
4 France 1

Well I bet on France and lost my shirt. Shambolic would be kind to describe their performance. A drab opening game was following up by an absolute catastrophe against Mexico. Internal struggle disrupted their preparations for the last group game and they duly lost to an inspired South African side. All of this could have been avoided had they fired Domenech after Euro 2008. Reap what you sow.

The hosts played well but a poor game versus Uruguay doomed them to the distinction of being the first host nation to not qualify for the round of 16. The Bafana Bafana left their fans with an inspired match against Les Bleus but it wasn’t enough.

Uruguay made it through as group winners. That means they will avoid Argentina, which gives them a shot at the quarters. Forlan is in good form and they have just enough edge and toughness to make a go of it.

Mexico make the round of 16, just. Should have done more against South Africa, very lucky to get the first against France and lost to Uruguay. I don’t see how they will hang with Argentina, but they did take them to extra time four years ago. Giovanni has looked good and he might ask questions of an OK Argentinean defense.

Monday, June 21, 2010

World Cup 2010 Day 11

Trying to catch up from the weekend.

Only saw highlights of Holland/Japan and Ghana/Australia. I picked both matches, so I was pleased.

Holland are through but have yet to convince, which may be good. A dicey round of 16 against the Italians is beckoning and we’ll see if the Dutch have the winning mentality. Ghana have it all to do against the Germans. The Black Stars will have to stay compact and finish the couple of chances they get to stay in the competition. They are in commanding position but have to figure that Serbia will beat the Socceroos, which means they will need at least a draw.

As for Denmark/Cameroon, a lot of people posted on Facebook, Twitter, etc. about how valiant the Indomitable Lions were. They only played when they went behind. Doesn’t work when the opponents are organized and have something to play for. Cameroon was pretty disappointing and have only themselves to blame. Le Guen got the first game wrong, lost to Japan and after that, it was uphill and out. The Danes now have a chance to go through. I imagine their game v Japan will be the strictest definition of cagey as both teams will want to progress but not take any chances doing so. Japan have a slight edge in GD so we’ll see.

Sunday was stunning. Paraguay really nullified Slovakia and put one foot in the round of 16. Then came New Zealand/Italy. Along with the French, the Italians have to be one of the disappointments of the Cup. It was great watching them have to go for it. Thought Lippi’s subs really added the edge to the Italians and hopefully they start on the attack against the Slovaks. Couple of thoughts re: the Italians: Gilardino must go; thought Montolivo was quite good; Cannavaro is well past it.

I missed the Brazil game. I watched highlights and their goals were of real quality (except Fabiano’s second). Looks like a draw with the Portuguese will get them through. It will be interesting to see how they play without Kaka.

This morning I missed the Portugal game. How they put 7 past the North Koreans, I’ll never know. Why? This team couldn’t score in a brothel. I fear they have used up their goals though.

Chile/Switzerland was ugh. Once the Swiss went down to 10, they bunkered in like the Spain game. Chile should have had so many goals and may pay the price.

Spain really turned on the style against Honduras but couldn’t score the goals. They easily could have matched Portugal’s seven or at least Germany’s 4 but failed to finish their chances. Villa’s missed PK screwed up my pick of 3-0 but oh well.

Friday, June 18, 2010

World Cup 2010 Day 7

Today the refs get it all wrong.

In the first game, the Spanish referee boxed himself in with a series of yellow cards for the Germans and Serbs. I felt most of them were justified, but when Klose committed his second negative challenge, it really changed the game. The Germans looked good again but the goal immediately after the red card, Kheira hitting the cross bar and the PK miss doomed them to defeat. Podoloski was definitely not wearing his scoring boots, with the only shot on target being the PK and the keeper saved that. Oezil was good again, and his substitution really took the edge off the German attack. Serbia retreated and defended well and looked to break. Krasic was fantastic on the right side of midfield and I’m really hoping Juventus signs him.

The result really opens up the group, with the Ghana/Australia result possibly setting up an exciting last day.

The best game of the tournament was the US v Slovenia. The US failed to close down Birsa and he scored a screened shot from distance. After that the US put Slovenia under pressure, and Dempsey almost set up Donovan for the equalizer. Following that, poor US defending allowed the Slovenians to score their second. Again the US responded but couldn’t find anything before halftime.

Donovan’s stunning goal right after the interval set up a dramatic last 40 minutes. The US continued to press and were rewarded with a fantastic finish from Bradley, set up by Altidore’s flick. A possible US winner was disallowed for some unknown reason. The US will now have to beat Algeria to have a chance at advancing.

A quick word about the ref for this game. He gave Findley a yellow for hand ball when the ball clearly hit his face. Several 50/50 challenges were called against the US, especially Altidore, with the Slovenian players initiating the contact. As for the disallowed goal, the US wasn’t offside and everyone was fouling each other, so it’s a no call. Result should have been a goal by Edu and a 3-2 US victory.

Bradley started Torres, which I think everyone wanted but it exposed the US backline. Then his subs at halftime were curious. Why substitute a forward and a creative player when down 2-0? Ultimately it paid off. I think they should go with Edu and Bradley in the middle with Holden and Donovan on the outside and Altidore and Dempsey up top.

The day ended with a dire game between Algeria and England. Algeria went at the English but lacked the quality. The English were poor again. Rooney, Lennon, and Lampard doing very little. I looked carefully and the white English shorts looked suspiciously brown. This sets up a dramatic last day, with the US slightly ahead of England based on total goals scored. Based on what I know, as long as the US matches the England result, they should be ok.

Slovenia 4 3 3 +1
US 2 3 3 0
England 2 1 1 0
Algeria 1 0 1 -1

I will be at the Great Wolf Lodge this weekend so updates will be hit and miss.

World Cup 2010 Day 7

Argentina played well and South Korea were unfortunate to get something more out of the game. Demichelis’ error let the South Koreans back in the game and until Higuain tapped in to make it 3-1, there was a chance for a draw. After that, it was show time, with Aguero coming and providing a lovely touch for Higuain’s third. For me, Argentina will struggle in the knockout stage, where they will be up against teams that will punish their mistakes and their wastefulness in front of goal.

I didn’t watch Nigeria/Greece. Before the tournament I picked a Greece 1-0 victory, so when I saw online that Nigeria went up 1-0, I thought I was sunk. Greece had never scored a goal at a World Cup Finals match so to expect them to get 2 was a dream. And then Kaita got sent off. The winner was fortunate to put it mildly. How keepers cannot put their bodies behind the ball is beyond me. So now Greece have given themselves a lifeline and will have to figure out a way to beat Argentina. Nigeria met my expectations, which were extremely low.

That brings up to France and Mexico. France are now the worst team at this tournament. They should forfeit the final game and just go home. Here some of my tweets during the game:
Can Laurent Blanc coach the last game for #FRA? #worldcup
Get the fork ready for #FRA. #worldcup
Imagine if Anelka was any good for #FRA. #worldcup

Mexico did enough, with the first goal having a hint of offside, but you take what you can get. Mexico now have a real chance to win the group and avoiding Argentina.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup 2010 Day 6

Loved watching Chile this morning. They really went for it and I hope France and Portugal took notes. The Chileans were wasteful in front of goal though and will need to be sharper if they are going to take something off of Spain. A bright star was #7, Sanchez, who was a joy to watch. As for Honduras, they were poor. Really see them struggle to get anything v Spain and Switzerland.

Spain/Switzerland was like watching Inter/Barcelona from this year’s CL all over again. The Swiss were very organized but Spain should have done more. Iniesta was not sharp and it showed. Alonso’s smash against the crossbar was well struck but needed more of that. Villa was active but wasn’t wearing his scoring boots. Torres didn’t do much when he came in. So we’ll see if Spain can recover. If not they will be out, or face Spain in the round of 16. The Swiss are what they are. I’m sure Mourinho is proud.

Uruguay/South Africa was ok. Pienaar was disappointing. Forlan’s first goal had a hint of luck but the match needed something to open it up. It didn’t really, with lots of loose passes and chippy fouls. The PK was the correct call and killed the game. The third goal was as much as Uruguay deserved. The hosts will struggle to progress now.

Hopefully France and Mexico will go for it now, with Uruguay laying down a marker as possible group winner. Mexico might but who knows about France?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

World Cup 2010 Day 5

Skipped Slovakia/New Zealand game. Looks like the Kiwis grabbed a late point, which I think will hurt Slovakia’s chances of sneaking past Paraguay or Italy for second.

Portugal/Ivory Coast was painful. Between the diving and poor touches, there just wasn’t much to it. C.Ronaldo’s bomb smashed against the outside of the post; other than that he was crying baby. Portugal looked the same as qualifying--lots of passing side to side with no edge in the attack. Ivory Coast were compact and tough in the challenge. Gervinho was decent up top. I would have liked to seen Zokora in midfield instead of the back. Drogba came on the end but didn’t do much.

I was working the front desk so I couldn’t watch the Brazil/North Korea match, which had the twitterverse abuzz. Sounds like Brazil were less than impressive, while North Korea made a brave showing, even scoring a late one. I think this is a blessing for Brazil and will cause them to focus and rip Portugal and Ivory Coast apart.

Tomorrow Spain finally plays. The opening games in this group should be interesting. Chile will press and could get an early goal. Hopefully both teams go for it. I think Switzerland will keep it close with Spain, which will still allow the Swiss to progress should they find the points.

World Cup 2010 Day 4

Day 4’s opener was Holland and Denmark, with each team starting brightly. Denmark actually created some chances, which surprised me. The first half ended scoreless, with neither team opening the scoring. Denmark got off to a horrible start in the second half with a cross being headed off Agger and beyond Sorensen. After that Holland took control and added a second, a result which I predicted.

The following game was Japan/Cameroon. Cameroon were very poor in the first half and gave up a cheap goal. They were a little better in the second half but couldn’t find an equalizer. Japan were organized but nothing special. I had Cameroon winning the game and finishing second. This result hurts those chances.

The final game of the day was Italy/Paraguay. I scheduled a meeting at that time just so I wouldn’t have to watch it. Italy have to earn my viewership. De Rossi saved the day with goal to cancel out Paraguay’s opener. Heard that Buffon went off at halftime; possibly a back injury. Hopefully the injury isn’t that bad. Picked a draw and I think sets Paraguay on their way.

So far my results have been mixed. Hitting about 50% with 2 scores spot on. Hopefully the last two groups will boost my scores.

Monday, June 14, 2010

World Cup 2010 Day 3

I only watched highlights of Slovenia/Algeria and Ghana/Serbia. What a nightmare from Algeria. I feel this puts a lot of pressure on the US to win against Slovenia and we’ll see how the US responds.

In the second game of Group D, Germany broke out the whoopin stick against Australia. Once the Socceroos missed an early chance, the Germans took over and could have had even more goals if Klose had scored the easy ones. But his headed goal was brave and emphatic. Their movement and passing was outstanding and we’ll see in their next two matches whether their opening match showed how good they were or how poor Australia was.

Oezil was outstanding; Schweinsteiger was solid; the backline was decent. Going into the tournament, I was down on the Germans due to the loss of Ballack and their forwards not firing on all cylinders, but for 90 minutes they showed themselves to be contenders.

Australia were poor. The back line was unorganized and embarrassed. Thought Emerton has a good game; took people on and created space for himself. Cahill’s red was harsh. He was pulling out of the challenge and his dismissal signaled the end of Australia’s participation in the game and the tournament.

Results on Sunday probably busted my bracket. I had Serbia beating Ghana and winning the group. Not looking so good now.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Cup Day 2

South Korea/Greece was a little better than France/Uruguay but not by much. Greece were helpless going forward in the first half, with Charisteas being slow and ineffective and Samaras taking far too many touches with no end product. A recent strength of the Greeks, set pieces, were weak and rarely threatened. Acutally these moments set up South Korean counter attacks but they only opened them up once, with Ji Sung Park's ball ripping open the Greek reargurad. Only a fantastic foot save by Tzorvas kept the score at 1-0 to the South Koreans.

While the South Koreans worked hard and took the game to the Greeks, they lacked consistent quality in the midfield, with their passing not sharp enough to really keep Greece under pressure.

Sidenote: Greece subbed their captain at halftime. Haven't heard if he had an injury or not.

The second half was a little better, with the second goal coming from a catastrophic error in the Greek defense, which Ji-Sung Park punished. With 20 minutes to go, Greece picked up the white courtesy phone and at least created a few chances.

South Korea were good value and could have had more. I really liked the force and directness of #22 Duri from South Korea.

To be honest, I fast forwarded through the Argentina/Nigeria game after Heinze's goal. Messi and Higuain could have had several goals, but the Nigerian GK did very well.

I had Nigeria as the worst team in this group, but may have to change that pick to Greece.

That brings us to England/US. Poor tracking from Clark allowed Gerrard to walk in for the opener. The US mangaged to equalize with one of the greatest goalkeeping howlers ever.

I was impressed with the US's composure. They kept possession for the most part and tried to break down England. Donovan didn't really impact the game, but the team did well as a unit.

I was very disappointed with England. Lampard was terrible. Carragher was a poor sub choice, and was lucky to not get punished when Altidore hit the post. I would have gone with Dawson. SWP didn't do much. Rooney came to the fore towards the end but was dropping far too deep.

This is exactly the result the US needed, and was a fair result. (I predicted a 2-1 England win and would have gotten the result right if not for Green.) As long as they don't lose to Slovenia, they should go through. As for England, they should dispose of Algeria, and be able to draw/win with Slovenia to progress.

Tomorrow is my Group of Death: Group D. Serbia/Ghana and Germany/Australia. Really interested to see how those game turn out.

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup 2010 Day 1

The opening game of World Cup 2010 saw Mexico nearly punished for not finishing their chances in the first half. El Tri definitely started faster, while South Africa took a while to get into the match. Their goalkeeper made a decent save in the opening 45 minutes to keep the hosts in the match, and after the interval, the Bafana Bafana opened up the Mexicans and Tshabalala hit a stunning shot to open the scoring for the game and the tournament.

Giovanni nearly replied but the keeper was again up to the challenge. Mexico continued to press and were rewarded when Marquez was left open at the back post. Draw was probably a fair result.

Pienaar and Mphela played well for South Africa. I thought Giovanni had a very good game for Mexico, with Torrado, the captain, doing a decent job of pulling the strings.

I predicted this result (even the score) and both teams will struggle to get through.

The following match featured the train wreck that is Les Bleus vs possible dark horses Uruguay. Very drab first half with lots of chippy fouls. Gourcuff had a sneaky free kick saved, and Gouvou really should have opening the scoring. Forlan created one decent chance but easily save by Lloris.

The second half was more of the same. Even the red card to Lodeiro didn’t really change things. Overall Uruguay held on, and France was very disappointing. As Raphael Honigstein (@honigstein) tweeted: it takes an absolute genius to make so many talented players play this badly together.

I predicted this result, but I really don’t see how France is going to win the group.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

World Cup 2010 blog

Amazing how I’ve been counting down for over 150 days, and yet the World Cup has still snuck up on me. It starts tomorrow and I’m scrambling to do my predictions, figure out where and when I’m going to watch and catch up on all of the news.

My goal is to write something everyday of the World Cup. I plan on watching a lot of games, not every, but most. (Games involving New Zealand and North Korea are definitely not high on my priority list.) I’ll be watching most of the games at work, but also plan to hit Claddagh’s and a couple of other places. So watch some games, try to keep up with the news and jot down some thoughts as we progress through the tournament. I promise it will not be live, local and late breaking, but maybe interesting and funny.

Already injuries are the big story of the competition. Big players for big teams out or not at 100%. Essien for me is the big one. I was really hoping he would propel Ghana out of a tough group, but now I don’t see that happening. If Drogba is out of the tournament, then the Ivory Coast has no chance of picking off Portugal and moving on. Only after the tournament will we really be able to measure the impact of key players being out of action.

I’ve already posted my predictions, which will probably be blown up after the first day. Enjoy the next 30 days.