Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Round of 16 Wrapup

Uruguay 2 - Korea 1
Korea got the first goal vs Uruguay this WC but Uruguay's bending winner off the post was most memorable.

USA 1- Ghana 2

Germany 4 - England 1
I had thought that there was a chance that a different England would show up for this match.  For all the starpower they had, all the odds were against them.  They were playing Germany.  They were mediocre in the group stage.  Rooney hadn't scored.  So if we expect the unexpected, then England could very well silence all their critics with a dominating performance over a young and inexperienced German squad.  After all, Serbia had shut them out already.
Then they played the game.  As Lalas and McManaman said, England just isn't as good as everyone likes to think.  Their central defense was slow.  Their midfield showed no creativity.  And Rooney, one of the best in the world, was uninvolved.  Capello, whom I thought would be the difference-maker this time, found out what his predecessor had: the EPL stars were not effective as a team and there weren't talented youngsters rising up either. Perhaps the success of the EPL teams in Champions League has more to do with the influx of foreign players due to the EPL's ridiculous wealth, more than the homegrown English stars.
The disallowed Lampard goal was utterly ridiculous.  Technology in tennis matches can tell whether its in or out, why can't it be used for goals?  I agree that replays should not interrupt the flow of a match but it should definitely stop for goals.  Either have a challenge system where a coach can communicate exactly what he is challenging (and that is the only reviewable action), have an additional ref behind each goal (which might not be enough as human error is especially prevalent in soccer), or use technology that automatically signal goals.  This is not that difficult.  I was hoping that the game would end 2-1 so that England, maybe the most powerful soccer nation in the world, would perhaps be able to finally force Fifa's hand.

Argentina 3 - Mexico 1
Love it.  Love that they got spanked.  Can't believe that punk Marquez hacked his own teammate Messi.  what a jerk.
Argentina's crazy coach, awesome team routine seems to be working.  Messi & Co haven't had issues scoring as they did in qualifying and seem to be a dangerous contender.  However, their defense hasn't really been tested yet.  The match vs Germany will be one to watch.

Netherlands 2 - Slovenia 1
Sneijder is a breakout star this year.  His incisive passes are one of my favorite things to watch in soccer.  It will be interesting to see their offense vs Dunga's D.  What I don't get is why most of Netherlands' elite players are all primadonnas - Sneijder, Van Persie, Robben - perhaps the Dutch youth system machine makes them great players but ignores helping them become good people.

Brazil 3 - Chile 0
Though most critics hate Dunga's style of play, I honestly don't see anything ugly about it at all.  3 goals in a knockout round is nothing to sniff at.  Plus, their 2nd and 3rd goal were beautiful - Kaka's touch to Fabiano, Robinho's bending goal from Ramires' run - just what are Brazil fans complaining about?

Paraguay 0 - Japan 0
PKs.  Not sure why Japan sent a non-scoring defender up in their first 5 PKs.  Also not sure why S Nakamura didn't play this WC.  Paraguay seem difficult to score on so it will be interesting to see how Spain dices them up.

Spain 1 - Portugal 0
Espana's goal was representative of their tiki-taka play.  Just outside the box, there were about 4 passes, including a clever backheel by Xavi, which finally allowed a wide open Villa to finish it off.  If I was Spain, I'd just be worried about Torres, who hasn't been in form this season and is still recovering from recent surgery.

Forget the predictions, this is what I want to see.

Brazil over Netherlands - I hope its a great game but I like Kaka more than Sneijder.
Ghana over Uruguay - Go Africa!
Argentina over Germany - Only, and I mean only because I want to see Messi vs Spain.
Spain over Paraguay - paraguay, go away.

Brazil over Ghana - Ghana is gone-a.  (sorry)
Spain over Argentina - Is Messi better than the Barcelona contingent?

Brazil over Spain - I'd like to see the best country to have never won finally prevail over the only 5 time WC champions.  I'd like to see the team with the most beautiful style win it all.  I'd like to see Casillas, Ramos and all those representing Real lift the trophy.   But, I like Kaka more than Xavi, or Iniesta, or Villa, or Fabregas or Torres, or any other ridiculously talented Spaniard.  Either way, this is the true heavyweight matchup of #1 vs #2 that everyone wants to see.

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