I can’t believe there haven’t been any updates in the World Cup threads after today’s first two games in the Round of 16, kicking off the single-elimination stage. Your thoughts on today’s games? On the winners, and how far they’ll go in this tournament? How do your bracket picks shape up?
Myself, I haven’t seen enough of the games to pick champions, but Argentina’s players must have been living well to survive IMO an inferior effort where they were outplayed by Mexico for most of the game. I was a little surprised by the 3-4-3 formation, and it seemed to get Mexico a lot of great chances at the beginning especially. Hey Bruce, are you watching? Look at this–they have strikers! Yow! What a concept.
Anyway, I thought Mexico’s defense was stellar, and its midfield was dominant at the end of regulation particularly. It seemed like the Argentine defense would steal a ball, then put it to the midfielders who would promptly lose it; wash, rinse, repeat. Regardless, the scoreboard said Argentina 2, Mexico 1 at the end, and that’s what mattered. I honestly was not fantastically impressed by Argentina, although their young subs were incredible.
Sweden was doubly unimpressive, seeming not to care about winning the game until a bit into the second half. Their defense was disappointing throughout, but if they (the defense) had played the whole game like they did during the two goals the game could’ve ended with a score of 18-0. But Germany showed a great hand, too; I think (I hope!) that Klose has trouble drawing an entire defense to himself to set up open scoring chances for the rest of the tournament, but it’s still a great team that can attack from the start and establish momentum early, and when you have homefield advantage that can be huge.
I’ve been trying to find out if any team has ever made it to the second round after leading for LESS time than Australia. We led for the last 2 minutes of the Japan game only. Other than that it has been nerve wracking watching with our guys either behind or level.
I wonder what’s the worst overall results which has seen a team get through? It’s certainly possible to end up second with a 2-1 defeat and two 0-0 draws, provided the other two teams go down 1-0 to the group winner.
Well, there were those world cups 1986 and 1990 that 16 out of 24 teams qualified for the second round. 1986 Bulgaria made it to the second round by drawing 2 games and losing another.
In 1990 Rep of Ireland drew all three games and qualified. In two games they drew 1-1. Never led in all three matches.In fact they made in to 1/4 final in penalty shoot-out after drawing with Romania 0-0. So technically they made the 1/4 finals without leading in all 4 matches.
Boulahrouz started it all after 15 minutes with a dreadful lunge to the thigh bone of Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo, who now looks as if he may play no further part in the tournament. The referee Voronin from Russia had a fine game, but this was in hindsight a red card offence. Figo’s “head butt” on Boulahrouz, which caused the defender to hurl himself backwards onto the sward, just in case the linesman or the referee hadn’t seen the tap to his head, was the Portuguese captain’s stupid way of exacting revenge, provoked no doubt by words from Boulahrouz, as they milled around at a free kick. Since the ref took action (a yellow card), my understanding is that FIFA may not be empowered to take action (and ban Figo for four games, as they did to another player done on video evidence), but we shall see. Already without Deco and Costinha for the England match (and judging from his tears, very possibly Ronaldo), they can scarce afford to lose their captain. And talking about Deco, he was effectively sent off (for two bookable offences in a few minutes) for showing what he thought of the Dutch not returning the ball to the Portuguese keeper at a drop-ball, but going for goal, while the Portuguese players stood and waited for the ball to be returned to them in the customary manner.
So, van Basten, the best forward I’ve seen in the last 25 years, I salute your conduct. A lot of your players (Van der Saar excepted) have a lot of growing up to do, if they are to emulate your class of '88.
You are being sarcastic aren’t you? I mean that ref sucked donkeys. I don’t get to watch too much soccer, but even I could see that the ref didn’t have a handle on the game, at all. And the ref was Valentin Ivanov, btw.
Was that his fault, though? He was carding people left and right and they were still throwing dirty tackles and elbowing one another. Sometimes games get out of hand despite the best efforts of the referees.
Sometimes OTT refereeing is the last thing a match needs. Anyone who’s seen a bad-tempered Old Firm match will agree. A ref that doesn’t have a grip on the game will end up giving out silly cards, but also the fact that he isn’t in control encourages more of the same.
Seeing as nobody has commenred on the England v Ecuador game here’s my few comments about it…
England played their usual unimpressive game and yet managed to win again. I was hopeful that the new format they played would come off but with Lampard and Gerrard both out of touch it just didn’t work having Rooney on his own as a striker.
It seems harsh to criticise Beckham after scoring but he wasted free kick and corners all afternoon, and that is supposed to be his strength.
Personally I thought only Ashley Cole, Owen Hargreaves and possibly Michael Carrick deserved any credit. England were lucky that Ecuador seemed overawed by the occasion and were even worse than England.
Having seen tonight’s referee on numerous Champion’s league games I was expecting the worse, and I wasn’t disappointed. Oh for Pierluigi Collina.
Yes, Ecuador were pretty awful, especially at the end when they needed to attack and seemed completely uninterested in doing so. They played like it was a regular season match, not a World Cup match where the loser has to go home.
For the rest of my England-Ecuador analysis, i’ll cut and paste what i said in the other World Cup thread:
Well, now that the second game has finished, we know that England face Portugal in the next match. There were certainly some challenges that deserved yellow cards in that game, but quite a lot of the worst challenges came after the referee had lost control of the mtach, and the players were getting frustrated. Bad game by the referee, IMO, and the second yello0w card to Deco was ridiculous. He’ll be missed–by Portugal and by soccer fans in general–in the next game.
While the second half was marred by all the stoppages and other silly incidents, i thought there was some fantastic, end-to-end football in that game. It was certainly much more exciting than the England-Ecuador game.
I thought the Portuguese looked really good in attack, and they created plenty of chances. They were also, for the most part, pretty solid in defence, doing well to keep Holland out even when they were a man down. Of course, they were helped by some pretty poor finishing by the Dutch.
Which brings me to my next point: why the hell was Van Nistleroy brought into the game? His experience and striking ability could have really made a difference for Holland.
I hope, for Portugal’s sake, that Christiano Ronaldo recovers for the next game. It’s bad enough that Deco and Costinha will be missing, and Portugal will really be hurting if Ronaldo can’t play. If Portugal can play like they did in the first half today, i think they could win their next game. But if England hold out them out early, i think the English team’s better organization will win the day. And if some of England’s big name players start to play up to their reputations, then things will look grim for Portugal.
I wonder what common language they share. Most likely English or French, I guess.
I thought it was interesting, BTW, that the Swiss referee in the Argentina-Mexico game spoke fluent Spanish–they made a point of it on the show, and it looked like there were no communication problems–to the contrary, rather–when the players and referee felt the need to chat about a decision. Are referees who speak the language(s) of the participating teams get preference? Or is everyone (players, coaches, refs) maybe expected to have a basic grasp of the soccer terms of English and/or French (the latter because FIFA is based in Switzerland)?
I wonder–instead of tossing around yellow cards like confetti, could he have “gotten control” by threatening reds and then giving reds, rather than giving two yellows at a time? Of course it all adds up to the same thing technically, but I think “You have a yellow” and “Cool it or I’m giving you a red card” may have different psychological effects.
I didn’t see the game, though, just heard it on XM.
I thought that was a silly formation to start the game with. Why not a 4-4-2 with Rooney and Crouch up front? Or start Rooney and whoever the other forward they brought along is, and then sub Crouch in for that forward later (it could have been that they benched Crouch so that they could sub him in when everyone was hot and tired, and you could still do the same thing that way).
I concur, and I feel like Paul Robinson would’ve saved his shot. Either Beckham needs to figure out how to bend it like he does, or England needs a new set-piece specialist, IMO.
I, like Vetch, think he was also a non-factor in set pieces, other than an admittedly well-turned shot that I do think could have been turned away by a better goalie. (Although I was generally impressed by the Ecuador keeper.) And then he was retching out on the field; yes it was hot, yes it was sweaty and humid and nasty, but nobody else was retching. Beckham is the only one who still hasn’t learned how to hydrate properly.
It seems to me like 2006 England is kind of like 2002 USA–getting all the lucky bounces, and being just good enough to make them work. Although 2006 England is more talented than 2002 USA, the quarterfinals are coming up, and I would expect them to finally get tested and maybe buckle under the pressure, except that they’ll be facing a thoroughly pillaged Portugal team. One more lucky bounce.
That really baffled me, too. Very, very weird. Smells a little funky, don’t it? Something must be going on with RVN, or something.
Weird coaching decisions seem to be a theme here. Like I’ve said before, I wasn’t able to follow qualifiers, but I’ve been hearing on XM’s World Cup channel that a striker by the name of Taylor Twillman has been tearing up both MLS and CONCACAF, and a lot of people think it’s really weird that Arena didn’t bring him. La Volpe didn’t bring Cuauhtemoc (sp?) Blanco and made some strange subbing decisions–although that might be able to be chalked up to his superstitious Eastern mysticism (he’s brought special compasses out onto the field to find high chi spots, and divined coaching decisions with various other devices and such, the red dragon he sews onto his tie for important games, etc).
BTW, I think you misspelled RVN’s name, although I’m not sure how it’s spelled. Van Nistelrooy, I think.