Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Day 12 Random Thoughts / Open Thread

Welcome to round 3. Make sure you get debriefed on what to watch for this week, as well as what you should be reading instead of wasting your time here. And be sure to read the latest installment of Swindle On Soccer, where he encapsullates beautifully how shitty ESPN's coverage is and once again states why you should join La Revolucion. Most importantly, this round will offer the last chance to submit entries for The Golden Mullet if said mullet belongs to a player on a team that does not advance. Enjoy.

Group A

7 a.m. ESPN2. Costa Rica-Poland
7 a.m. ESPN. Ecuador-Germany

What has happened thusfar
Group A preview
Day 1 random thoughts
Day 6 random thoughts
Day 7 random thoughts

Where things stand

Team

Pts

W

L

D

GD

Ecuador

6

2

0

0

5

Germany

6

2

0

0

3

Poland

0

0

2

0

-3

Costa Rica

0

0

2

0

-5


Ifs & buts, candy & nuts
: Poland and Costa Rica are playing for pride. If Germany beat Ecuador, then they go through as group winners with Ecuador 2nd. If Ecudor win or the match is a draw, then Ecuador win the group and Germany are 2nd. The winner of this group plays the runner-up of group B, and the runner up plays the group B winner. Got it?

Costa Rica-Poland
Yawn. Not much to see here, and since the matches are simultaneous there's no real reason to divert much attention to the group decider unless you are a supporter of either team.

1-0 CRC. Not that you care, but Costa Rica have scored and lead Poland 1-0. I know exactly nothing else about the goal or the game.

1-1. Nice equaliser by Polonia.

Costa Rica 1-2 Poland.
Didn't see it, so there is no point in trying to give any analysis, because I would be talking out of my ass. I wanted the Ticos to win, but I am actually happy for Poland that they got a win after suffereing that heartbreaking kick to the nuts against Germany.

Ecuador-Germany
Can the altitude boys play great at sea level again, get a result against the hosts, and win the group? With their superior goal difference all they need is a draw. They have been one of the exciting suprises of thr tournament, and this match has the potential to be a cracker. Enjoy.

5th min. 1-0 Deutschland. Klose header - nice goal, and well deserved.

34th min. One way traffic. Germany thouroughly controlling things, except when that German guy kicked ECU's #10 in the face. Ouch. Germany look much more likely to score next.

39th min. Ecuador are alive and kicking; just created 3 half-chances.

44th min. Klose scores another goal, this one largely on hustle & effort. Dude has just picked up where he left off in 2002, while scoring buckets of goals for Werder Bremen in between. Hard to see Ecuador coming back from this.

Ecuador 0-3 Germany.
Germany win group A and will face the group B runner up; Ecuador finish 2nd and will play the group B winner.


Germany win group A. Girls kiss. Man makes funny-ass face.

I'll pass on the easy war references and just say that Germany flat-out dominated. As Bobbeh often says, "If this was a boxing match, the referee would have stopped the fight." We finally got to see the "we are pretty inept at sea-level" Ecuador after two matches where they played great. Which Ecuador team will show up in the round of 16?

Oh, and aother clean sheet for my man Mats. That's 2 in a row, and the only goals he has conceded thusfar were the 2 to Wanchope in the opener where Wanchope had a 1-on-1 with him and Mats really had no chance. Those goals were the fault of the German defense rather than Mats. So yo can stuff it Oliver Kahn. Mats hasn't really been tested yet, but I am confident that he will rise up to the occasion when he is. I predict that Mats will save a penalty in this tournament and/or play an absolute blinder and be the Germany's MOTM at some point.


The home team will be a tough out in the knockout stage.

------------------------------------------------------------

Group B
12 p.m. ESPN2. Paraguay-Trinidad & Tobago
12 p.m. ESPN. Sweden-England

What has happened thusfar
Group B preview
Day 2 random thoughts
Day 7 random thoughts

Where things stand

Team

Pts

W

L

D

GD

England

6

2

0

0

3

Sweden

4

1

0

1

1

T&T

1

0

1

1

-2

Paraguay

0

0

2

0

-2


Ifs & buts, candy & nuts: Paraguay are out. T&T need a win as well as an England win over Sweden, then it would come down to goal differential between T&T and Sweden for 2nd place. Sweden need a win to top the group, a draw to finish 2nd, and can even go through with a loss as long as T&T do not win outright(if they do win and Sweden lose then it comes down to GD). England are through no matter what: Any kind of a result will see them win the group, while a loss to Sweden will have them go through in 2nd place. Got it?

Paraguay-Trinidad & Tobago
Although I really like Sweden and want them to go through, how can you not root for the Soca Warriors to get a win here? Especailly with their cool-ass coach, Leo Beenhakker, who not only looks just like Eddie Temple from Layer Cake, but after watching his pressers the last few weeks he is clearly the one World Cup coach that I would most want to have a beer with. The entire Carribean awaits with anticipation. Paraguay have shown me nothing but negativity, so along with the rest of the Windies, I am pulling hard for T&T.

Sweden-England
Unlike everyone else, I like Sweden to win this game outright. They have played well in both matches and created about 2 million chances, but for some reason have not been able to finish the vast majority of their chances. At some point they are either going to start putting the ball in the net, or they are going to stop creating chances; I think the former is much more likely.

England on the other hand have definitely looked like the worst team in the tournament with 2 wins and 6 points. They are kind of a mess, and as usual I mostly blame Sven. They are playing Crouch and just pounding longballs to him, which is OK I guess but negates the talents of Gerrard, Lampard, Cole, etc. It has made Beckham the other most important person, as he is the best crosser & long ball player they have. I could really get into this, but others have done a much better job already, so I'll just say that England have looked out of sorts, and since I think Sven is s horrible horrible manager I don't have too much faith that they will sort things out any time soon. So much of England's faith is placed in Rooneh and his foot.


Engerland: so much better
when the blockhead genius plays

Based on what I have seen thusfar, I would think a draw or even a win is most likely, but I am going to be bold and say that Sweden win outright. And for everyone who just assumes that England will win because they are higher in the international soccer hierarchy, I remind you that they have not beaten Sweden in a competitive match since 1968, a string of 11 matches. Tomorrow will be 12. Sweden's "big 3" do their thing, and it's about time for Zlatan to do something special. I'll take Sweden 3-2 Engerland.

2nd minute: Owen is injured badly enough that he is subbed. Crouch is in, so it's basically Crouch and Rooneh for the whole match, and England only have 2 subs. Dumbass Sven wishes he brought 5 strikers right about now, since the only one left on the entire squad is 17 year old Theo Walcott, uber-talented but never even played in a match for Arsenal yet. I wonder how Jermaine Defoe feels right now...

25th min: still feeling each other out, but both going forward, and if this game gets a goal it could really turn into a cracker quickly.

26th min: the stakes are just huge: who would you rather play inthe round of 16? Ecuador, or Germany on their home soil?

34th min.: GOL! Inglaterra! Que Ridiculo Golaso de Joe Cole. A seemingly speculative shot from 35 yards curls in a perfect parabola towards the far corner. The keeper reached out to touch it but can only slap it off the post and into the goal. A an absurd goalaso.

43rd min.: Paraguay have scored and are 1-0 up on T&T. Engerland controlling things since the goal. I am stuck with ESPN, and I have to believe at this point that Marcelo Balboa is actually trying to be such a fucking moron. I literally cannot believe that they have not pulled him yet. England are running more because it is night? It's the weather? Even Ashley Cole is going forward? And the key to it all is the 9 p.m. kickoff instead of the midday sun? You fucking moron. Maybe England look way better because Sven is actually playing a holding midfielder rather than Gerrard & Lampard int the middle, that and the prescence of Rooneh. And Ashely Cole ALWAYS runs his socks off you fucking idiot. He is a bomber who overlapps 50 times a game. And if the cooler weather is going to make a difference, then it will manifest itself in the last 30 minutes of the match not the first 30 you douchebag. This isn't 5th grade Field Day, it the freaking World Cup. Oh, and how, Marcelo, pray tell, is the cooler weather such a benefit to England only, while the Swedes are somehow not at all affected and are still feeling like it is 85 degrees in the middle of the day? It's painful. It really is.

HT. Sweden 0-1 Engerland. I'm off to the pub to watch the 2nd half of both matches.

Sweden 2-2 England.
England top the group and will face Eduador in the round of 16. Sweden finish 2nd and will have to play Germany in a true "road" game.

Great match. Sweden's (first) equalizer was a beautiful bullet header off a corner kick. After that Sweden really controlled things for about 15 minutes, hitting the crossbar twice and having another cleared off the line by Stevie G. Then in the last 10 minutes Stevie G did what he does: score massive goals at the most important times. 2-1 England, and it looked like they were going to beat Sweden for the first time since 1968. Until...


If you are tired of Kanu pimping Arsenal, this one's for you.

To this point I could argue that no club team's players have performed better then those of Arsenal. Well on this play Sol Campbell and Ash Cole teamed up to give all Arsenal-haters something to laugh about. A 90th minute throw in comes in from the corner and bounces into the box. First up is Sol, who hesitates then makes a too late decision to try to kick out at the ball, but he whiffs. His hesitation has drawn out the keeper, who also misses the ball on the way by. It is going right as Ashley Cole, but instead of simply taking a step towards the ball and clearing it, he amazingly decides to retreat back onto the goal line to try to defend it, which of course failed miserably. A bumbling concession of a goal, similar to the clusterfuck duo of Barthez and Gallas giving South Korea their equalizer. Tottenham fans laugh and snicker for a moment, before coming back to the reality that their club is shit.

But all in all you would have to say that a draw was the fairest result. Sweden hit the bar twice so they will feel like they could have won, and England will feel like they should have won since they were ahead twice and made such a mess of Sweden's last minute equalizer.

Oh, and early word is that Owen is crocked (ACL), and Sven is down to only 3 strikers: Rooneh, Crouch, and Walcott.


Sven: "Yah, 4 strikers (2 battling injury and 1 with no facial hair
or experience) should be plenty. Defoe? We won't really need him."

7 comments:

nico said...

I wish there were some way for England to lose out. They've been a complete snooze. I felt so bad for T&T after Engerland's second goal.

I think only the nations of Costa Rica and Poland will be tuning into that one.

One of the things that's been disappointing about the '06 WC is how seven teams are completely eliminated before their third games and eight are through to the next round already.

I know there's pride at stake for the bottom dwellers and playing to win or be second in the group for those on top, but with 15 of 32 teams having their fate decided already, it's a bit of downer. That may be about the same as usual but it seems like more is decided already than it typically is. Even with 17 teams still "in the hunt" for the second round, it seems as if the only real drama left is in Groups E & G.

I imagine the 1st & 2nd teams in B, D & H are going through, with only their order to be determined. I suppose there's still some drama in Group F, but Croatia hasn't scored yet and I doubt they'll muster enough to send the Aussies home and there's no way Japan's going to sort out Brazil with enough of a goal differential to give them hope.

Bring on the second round.

Solon said...

Just FYI, Poland's goal to make it 1-1 was not legit. Off a corner, one of their defenders tripped the Costa Rican keeper when he came out to claim it, then while he sat on the ground another Polish player put it in the net.

Keep in mind that I am pulling for the Ticos, so it's possible someone else might have seen it differently.

nico said...

I just realized that if Sweden beats England then we get a Germany v. England matchup in the 2nd round. That's insane.

Kanu said...

Yeah, that won't be intense.

No, not at all.

moin said...

From a form standpoint, the hypothetical Germany-England match would be a walkover for Germany at this point. But since that won't happen, it's all moot.

What is fun to mull over until Friday-ish is who faces Spain in round 2. Depending on the last match, it could be either Switzerland (most likely), South Korea (not much animosity from WC2002 I'm sure), or... FRANCE! Meat and spirits for all my men!

Not only has Theo not played for Arsenal, he has never played "top flight" football anywhere! Remember, he only has a handful of first team starts for Southampton in the Championship.

Oh, and one last thing I need to rant on and I can't on deadspin because I don't want to go through the application process to be a "poster" (btw, how exactly do I do that?).

There are some posters on there, who I shall not name, who are CLEARLY clueless and maintains that Brazil has still been impressive to them in terms of performances because "Brazil ALWAYS starts slow in these tournaments". What is he on?

Let's take a look at the group stage performances of Brazil in the WC tourneys shall we? (I'm not gonna count the Gold Cup, the Confederation Cup, the Olympics, or Copa America, because the Brazilians really don't take those seriously.)

The numbers mean: W-D-L-P-GD-Where they finished in their group-Where they ended up in the tourneys
2002: 3-0-0-9-+8-1st-Champions (11 goals in 3 matches)
1998: 2-0-1-6-+6-1st-Runner Up (I believe that this Brazilian squad was seriously overrated and should have lost to Denmark and the Netherlands.)
1994: 2-1-0-7-+5-1st-Champions (Won first 2 games 2-0 and 3-0 before drawing 1 all against a Swedish side that finished 3rd.)
1990: 3-0-0-6-+3-1st-Round of 16 (Hit the post twice before losing to Argentina 1-0.)
1986: 3-0-0-6-+5-1st-Quarters (Allowed only 1 goal the entire tourney, to Platini before losing to France in the first PK shootout in WC history.)
1982: 3-0-0-6-+8-1st-2nd Group (10 goals in the first group stage, lost to Rossi's hattrick in the 2nd group stage.)
1978: 1-2-0-4-+1-2nd-Finished 3rd (That's right, you have to go to go back to 1978 to find the last time Brazil not impress in the Group Stages.)

From the pattern, seems to me that Brazil ALWAYS comes out great and keeps being great until they run into some bad luck or another great team. Where did he get the "they always start out slow" part from? SPAIN always starts out slow and sometimes it fucks them over royally, Brazil always starts out great and keep getting it done.

Actually, while on the subject of the 1978 World Cup, here's a little fun nugget of info. Back then only 16 nations qualifies for the WC and are divided into 4 groups of 4's with the top 2 teams in each group advancing to the 2nd Group Stage with 2 First Stage Group Winners in each group. The group winners of the 2nd Group Stages then play in the Final while the group runners up play for 3rd place. Brazil and Argentina were drawn into the same group with Poland and Peru.

In the first round of matches, Brazil defeated Peru 3-0 and Argentina beat Poland 2-0. The 2 sides then drew 0-0 against each other while Poland defeated Peru 1-0 (eliminating Peru), meaning Brazil and Argentina go into the final match day even on points but with Brazil ahead on GD.

Now, this was before they made teams play the final group matches at the same time. So Brazil v. Poland started around 4:45pm and ended with a 3-1 Brazil victory (eliminating Poland). This means that the only way Argentina could win is if they somehow defeat Peru by at least 4 goals to finish ahead of Brazil. This is a very very unlikely scenario because Argentina, up until that part of the tournament, has only scored 6 goals in 5 matches while the Peruvian defense has only allowed 6 goals in 5 matches and had, in fact, won its 1st Stage Group (over the Dutch).

Want to take a wild guess at the final scoreline? 6-0. Argentina went on to beat the Dutch 3-1 in one of the most exciting Finals in World Cup history to win its first World Cup. Brazil defeated Italy 2-1 in the Third Place match.

Oh, I suppose I should mention 2 more facts. 1) The 1978 World Cup took place in Argentina. 2) The Peruvian goalkeeper, Ramón Quiroga, was born Argentinian. When he returned home after the World Cup, he published a full page in the newspapers pleading his innocence and explaining the tactical reasons why Argentina had won by such a wide margin.

After that, FIFA passed the rule stipulating that the final group stage match have to be played at the same time.

Solon said...

Damn, Moin, I'm going to do my best to stay on your good side.

I had completely forgotten that 1978 story--in fact, all I knew was the scoreline, and I'd heard suggestions that, historically, Peru had always had more acrimonious relations with Brazil than with Argentina. Thanks for fleshing it out, it's good stuff.

That said, FIFA did not change the rules until after the 1982 World Cup, where something similar happened, albeit in the First Stage.

From Wikipedia:

"Group B saw one of the great World Cup upsets on the first day with the 2-1 victory of Algeria over reigning European Champion West Germany. This memorable game resulted in the controversial match between West Germany and Austria on the third and final day. As Algeria had already played its third match the day before, West Germany and Austria knew that a West Germany win by 1 or 2 goals would qualify them both, while a larger German victory would qualify Algeria over Austria, and an Austrian win would eliminate the Germans. (The fourth team in the group, Chile, was eliminated regardless of the outcome.) After West Germany scored after 11 minutes of furious attack, the two German-speaking teams went into an unspoken agreement and just kicked the ball around aimlessly for the rest of the game to the chants of "Fuera, fuera" ("Out, out") from the disgusted Spanish crowd, while angry Algerian supporters waved banknotes at the players. This sham performance was widely deplored, even by the German and Austrian fans who had hoped for a hot rematch of the 1978 World Cup match in Cordoba, Argentina in which Austria had beaten West Germany, and led to the introduction of a revised system at the 1986 World Cup and future World Cups, in which the final two games in each group were played simultaneously."

moin said...

Cool dude, thanks for the correction. You'd think that one instance of such controversy would make FIFA change its rules, but I guess not.