Saturday, June 17, 2006

Copa Mundial

A few thoughts, shotgun style...

1) Yesterday's Argentina-Serbia match... well, put it this way, if they played like that during my formative years (and didn't resemble a 4 year old tumbling class), I'd probably be a huge fan of theirs. The best performance of the tournament, and one that I don't think can be topped by anyone. I mean, with Messi and Tevez making plays like that, why not go with a 4-2-4? The second goal might've topped the fourth Spain goal against Ukraine (my favorite series of the cup so far). And as for a 1-on-1, nobody has done better than Tevez did with his goal.

2) Seems like the bitching about the ball by keepers before the cup might've had some merit. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like there are a lot more goals this time around that are 20-25 yard strikes bending one way or another. Off the top of my head... Kaka's against Croatia, Cahill's second against Japan, Frings and Lahm's against Costa Rica, Rosicky's against the US, Gerrard against T&T, one of the Dutch goals yesterday, and I know there were a couple others. It also might have something to do with bigger/stronger/faster defenders, or a tactical decision by several teams to pull the back line in a little more, leaving some room to move just outside the box.

3) Don't feel good about the USA's chances today. I think the Czech match went about as bad as it could've, and I don't think the Americans are going to give up completely. But I'm getting a feeling about this Italian team, like they are circling the wagons and playing "us against the world" style. In fact, I have a feeling like Italy might make a run to the finals, and even win it all.

4) The Ukraine result might be the worst possible result for Spain. Overconfidence is not their friend.

5) England need to get Crouch off the field. Not because he's played poorly, and he really hasn't played all that badly, but because the rest of the team doesn't know what to do with him. Beckham, Lampard, Owen and J. Cole... they don't play on their respective clubs with a player like Crouch, and having a weapon like him out there in a way forces them to play a different way from how they normally would. There's no focus on through balls or even runs off the offside trap. So there's just long balls and crosses, which gives you a few good chances, but it's not what England are capable of. Rooney and Owen need to find the field at the same time. At the same time, though, I don't think England have played their best game, but mostly because of the opposition. Paraguay and T&T were both unable to do anything to get the ball forward, and it seemed like much of both games were spent with 11 of England's opponents in the box, against 7 or 8 English players trying to do something - and the numbers seem to make for plenty of chances, but not too many good chances. I expect England to play a much better match against Sweden, mainly because Sweden is a better opponent and capable of actually getting the ball forward, which should allow for a little more room for England to set up and organize plays.

6) Best players I've seen so far: Robben, Van Persie, Riquelme, Puyol, David Villa, Kaka, Abbondanzieri, Hislop, Messi/Tevez (incomplete, but awesome), Rosicky.

7) Worst team likely to advance: South Korea. The Swiss control their own destiny (same as France), but those 3 points at the top might be hard to overcome, especially since I expect Togo to play a bit better than in the opener, considering all the controversy.

8) Best team not likely to advance: Cote d'Ivoire played really well against the Dutch and the Argentines. Tough group.

9) Teams that have no points but I wouldn't be surprised if they still advanced: Ukraine are my dogs, and I haven't given up on them yet. They ran into a buzzsaw against Spain. I think they'll get full points in both their next two matches. Also, Croatia played pretty damn well against Brazil. I wouldn't be surprised if they topped Japan and Australia.

Go USA! Go Ghana! Let's make Group E screwed up as hell.