Thursday, June 24, 2010

Group Stage Wrapup & Knockout Predictions

Big Boys Going Home

France - How does a terrible player manager and game tactician keep his job after France's Euro 2008 performance?  (I thought he was terrible in WC 2006 and only got saved by Zidane's brilliance.)  How does the French Federation decide that they're firing him but wait to do it until after the World Cup?  What makes them think that players who already don't like him would respond any better after he becomes a lame duck coach?  And what makes them think that his game tactics would improve on the biggest stage?  Okay, I also blame the players.  The prostitute scandal involving Ribery and other stars didn't help.  The team strike led by Evra was immature and lacked forethought.  The whole thing was a catastrophe.  I can't believe they don't understand that this only happens once every 4 years.  Some players only get 1 or 2 shots at it in their career.  Just stupid.  I'm seriously just mad that they couldn't take Mexico out first round.  France sucks.  Bring back Zidane.

Italy - I knew they were old but they had one of the easier groups out there.  To not beat New Zealand or Slovakia was inexcusable.  Many will blame Lippi for not selecting younger players but I think it could be that Italy's golden generation is over the hill and there hasn't been new players to take their place.  (Or maybe Lippi selected the wrong players - where's Totti?)  Gullit brought up an interesting point - the English and Spanish leagues are starting to dominate on the world stage and even though Inter won the Champions League, they don't play any Italian players.  The soccer landscape has changed, and maybe Italy isn't a major player anymore.

Surprising Group Winners
Uruguay - One of the best teams so far.  They haven't allowed a goal and Forlan is truly in form.  I love that they beat Mexico and dropped them into the Argentina bracket.
Paraguay - The last team standing in a mediocre group.  South American countries all won the group they're in, except Chile who took 2nd behind Brazil.  A SoAm final four is possible.
USA! - They threw offense at us (Rooney), they threw defense (Slovs), then they tried neither (Algeria).  Donovan - MVP of Group C.

Interesting Round of 16 Matchups
USA-Ghana - rematch of 2006 game which decided who would play sacrificial lamb to Brazil.
Argentina-Mexico - rematch of 2006 knockout match.  Last time, Maxi Rodriguez scored the goal of the tourney.  actually, nevermind, nothing with Mexico is great.  Lets just hope that punk Marquez doesn't play dirty.
Germany-England - Gary Lineker said after losing a WC semi to Germany in a shootout: "Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win".
Spain-Portugal - okay, I know Spain hasn't won their group yet but you don't really want to see Spain-Brazil now, do you?


Round of 16
Uruguay beats Korea
USA beats Ghana
Argentina crushes Mexico
England beats Germany - close, but Germany is upset
Netherlands beats Slovakia
Brazil beats Chile
Paraguay beats Japan
Spain beats Portugal

USA beats Uruguay - Donovan > Forlan
Argentina beats England - England goes down on PKs.
Brazil beats Netherlands - Kaka comes through, Robben and Van Persie get hurt.
Spain beats Paraguay

Brazil beats USA
Spain beats Argentina - Heinze, Samuel and company are too slow to stop Torres/Villa.

Brazil beats Spain - I'm starting to think that Spain's loss to Bradley's defensive tactics (as displayed by Switzerland again) will be exploited by Dunga's Brazil.

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