Sunday, June 25, 2006

Day 17 Random Thoughts / Open Thread

Today is one of the strangest days of the year in SF, with both extreme ends of the social spectrum being represented. On the left, the Gay Pride weekend, largest in the world, with 500,000 loud and proud at today's parade. On the right, NASCAR NECKCAR, just up the road in Sonoma. I chuckle as I imagine some akward moments at baggage claim at the SFO airport this weekend, with 2 dudes waiting for their bags: Johnny Redneck with his #3 hat, Dale Junior shirt, and dungarees, and Swinging Richard with his pink mesh tank top, leather hat, chaps, and whistle. I can see them both standing next to each other waiting for their bags, channelling Ron Burgundy: "Uggh, this is a bit akward". Enjoy the matches.

Which Eduador will show up? The odds-beaters from the first two matches, or the we suck at sea level boys from World Cup qualifying and group match 3?

Hoping for the former.

Can England win despite Sven? I think so -with Gerrard and Rooneh, you have not one but two dudes capable of completely bossing a match, putting the team on their shoulders, and pullig a Jay-Z: "I will NOT lose." I look forward to watching Ashley Cole show again why Arsenal have the best left back in the world, even if it is only for another couple of weeks.

"Eng-er-land, Eng-er-land, Eng-er-land..."

Half Time. 0-0. Not a very pretty match for the neutrals. England are playing 4-5-1 with Rooneh on top, and have largely been ineffective. Ecuador have created equal chances if not a few more and are NKOTB: Hangin' Tough.

Moment of the match thusfar happened when John Terry screwed up a header and put Ecuador's Delgado through on goal all alone. He measured up his shot and took it, and there seemed no way that he wasn't going to score. Only problem was that Ashley Cole came flying literally out of nowhere to slide down and deflect the shot off the crossbar. Very probable that Ash saved England from going 0-1 down.

Ash saves the day; Cheryl Tweedy to write a song about it.

60th min.: 1-0 England. Spiceman does what Spiceman does best. As good of a free kick as you will ever see. 30 yard curler that just beat the keeper even though the keeper was well positoned and reacted quickly. His full stretching dive only allowed him to just barely meet the ball and deflect it off the post and in. Beautiful, beautiful free kick.

Spiceman's amazing free kick barely beats The Ultimate Warrior.

England 1-0 Ecuador.
England were rubbish yet again, but Robinson made a world class save to hold the lead, and they made Spiceman's goal stand up. England are through to the final 8, where they will play the winner of Portugal-Holland.

Congrats to England and also to Myles, the best football writer I read, who predicted exactly what would happen.

Best match on paper in the round of 16, along with Spain-France. Should be a classic.

These two have played as recently as the semifinals of Euro2004, with Portugal beating Holland 2-1.

Horseface VanDivesalot has been dropped; Holland are going with Robben, Kuyt, and RVP up front. Joy.

12.01 p.m. - 1 minute in and this is already better than England-Ecuador. Van Bommel misses the post by about 1 foot with a low rocket shot, then gets booked for a stupid challenge on C Ronaldo.

12.20 - C Ronaldo picked up a hard knock in the 3rd minute and is clearly not 100%. Trying to run it off, but you can tell it has affected him a bit. He has received treatment twice, and it looks like a gash/bruise on his thigh. Interesting to see how much it affects him.

12.22 - Nuno Maniche has the same face as Irish golfer Paddy Harrington. Lots of lookalikes today: Dean Cain (Deco), Patrick McEnroe (Robben), Boris Becker+Cobra Kai Johnny (Kuyt), and even a hint of a pasty Peter Brady (Van Bommel).

12.23 GOLASO! 1-0 to Portugal. Maniche has done it to Holland yet again. Great cross in from Superman Deco to Pauleta, who kills it and drops it for hippy Paddy Harrington Maniche, who buries it. Beautiful. Watch for yourself.

Hippy Padraig Harrington Nuno Maniche sinks Holland again.

12.34. C Ronaldo cannot go on. He is replaced by Simao. I don't wish an injury on anyone and I hope C Ronaldo is OK, but I must admit that the result now makes this matchup my fantasy: two teams I really like minus the one player on each team that I really don't like (VanDiver and C Ronaldo).

12.37 - Van Persie schools two Portugese defenders then shoots just wide form a tight angle. This match is really "coming to a boil" as the Brits say.

12.40 - Costinha, already on a yellow, fouls Cocu hard again, kicking his ankle. He has been warned for the last time, and must beware - his next hard foul and he will be off.

12.42 - Collision in the box between Robben and a Portugese defender. No foul given, although replay shows that Robben was kicked in the chest.

12.44 - Van Der Saar makes an amazing save from a point blank Pauleta rocket shot.

12.45 - I told you. Costinha sent off for Portugal after handling the ball. File that move under "not smart". One of the few times this has happened this tournament where you can't really argue against the referee's decisions.

12.48 - Half Time. Great half, and the 2nd should be even better. Portugal must defend their 1 goal lead for 45 minutes playing a man down, and without one of their most talented players in Ronaldo who is off injured. Should be exciting.

1.10 - Cocu smashes one off the crossbar; Holland so close to getting an equalizer.

1.13 - Holland creating chance after chance after chance. Horseface is warming up; when he comes on it should be for Kuyt, who has been the least effective Dutch forward. It would be a mistake to take Van Persie off, as he can create a goal out of nothing and is their best free kick taker.

1.17 Free kick awarded, pushing & shoving, Figo lightly headbuts Van Bommel, Van Bommel does his best Rivaldo, grabbing his face and falling to the ground like a sack of potatoes. More pushing & shoving. Figo booked.

1.22 Figo elbowed in the face by the Dutch right back, who is already on a yellow. He receives another yellow and is sent off. Can't really argue with the call after seeing the replay. 10 v 10 for the last 26 minutes, and the match is already open and intense. It will only be moreso from here on out. This game has extra time classic written all over it, but Holland will need to manufacture a goal to get us there.

1.32 - Deco makes a hard foul and is rightly carded. Another scuffle breaks out, lots of pushing & shoving. Sneidjer pushes Petit to the ground and he is also booked. Van Der Vaart is also booked. Portugese keeper Ricardo is also booked - I think every single player is now on a yellow card. Saying that emotions are high is like saying there's a small party in the Castro today.

1.36 - Nuno Valente is booked for a bad challenge on Van Persie. 15 minutes to go; we may not finish with 20 men on the field.

1.37 - No sooner do I say that then Deco is given a 2nd yellow and is sent off, I guess either for picking the ball up or for being tackled by Cocu. Why was Cocu not carded? First one that I think the referee got wrong. This match is straight-up crazy. Anyhow, Holland now have a 10 v 9 advantage for the last 12 minutes.

1.39 - Ricardo saves a Kuyt shot when Kuyt is played through all alone 1 on 1 with the keeper. Kuyt slides into Ricardo and kicks the shit out of the Portugese keeper (not intentionally), who is hurt. 10 minutes to go.

1.40 - It just hit me like a bolt of lightning: Big Phil Scolari is Gene Hackman. I cannot believe I never noticed this before.

1.41 - Big Phil shows his brass balls by taking legend/icon Figo off just as he did in the Euro2004 quarterfinal. Tiago on for him.

1.42 - Best name in the tournament is on for Holland: Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. Ruud looks absolutely shocked that he has not been used (and now cannot be).

1.49 Kuyt just misses 2 chances as regular time expires. No less than 6 minutes of extra time...

1.53 - Van Bronkhorst given 2nd yellow for a bad challenge and sent off. It's now 9 on 9 for the last two minutes.

1.54 - Barcelona teammates Deco & Van Bronkhorst are sitting together watching the end and chatting, having both been sent off. Funny.

1.56 - Full Time.

Survive and advance, mami. Survive and advance.

Portugal 1-0 Holland.
Wow what a match - literally a battle. I actually thought the referee did a good job with all his decisions except one - the 2nd yellow for Deco was a joke - he was grabbed and thrown to the ground. I can only guess the the ref decided that he was wasting time by picking the ball up. My point is this: some of the other refs in this cup would have sent 6 dudes off and we would have seen a forefit. Anyhow, Deco and Costinha miss the quarterfinal with England. Costinha is replacable, but as I have said all along, Deco is their most important player and will be sorely missed. I still think Portugal can beat England.

The pro-VanNistelrooy camp will rake Van Basten over the coals for not bringing him on and then losing. His ManUtd career is in peril/chaos/turmoil; now it seems you can add his international career as well. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy bigger dick.


Solon said...

This tournament is becoming a fucking joke.

The craziest thing about all the cards is not even all the sendings off--it is that through yellow card accumulation, it is likely that the semifinals and final are going to be attritional battles between players who have avoided yellows rather than matchups between the four (or two) best teams in the World.

If Portugal get through (it's on 90 minutes right now), that shitty-ass England team could beat them, since they'll have to play without Costinha and Deco. This England team, a semifinalist? That is some sad shit.

moin said...

Slightly physical and emtional match eh? I can't fault the official much on this match though, seems like both teams started the game deciding that the other could be intimidated by physical play, which led to some emtional outbursts, which led to some even more rash challenges and cards and it just built up. I kind of feel bad for the official to try and keep a semblance of order in that train wreck.

On the brightside, I think this is a nice jumping off point for another European rivalry. :)

One of the funniest images to me in this match was the shot of Van Bronkhorst and Deco chatting on teh side lines after both were sent off.

moin said...

Another thing that struck me as I watched this game was how the Dutch players would take very long odd shots rather than laying it off to a teammate in a better position, especially in the portions of the 2nd half when they had the 1 man advantages. There were numerous times the likes of Sneijder and Van Persie were in good position for a pass out wide to that would relax and open up the Portugese backline but the man on the ball would instead decide to take a pot shot at goal (often times shooting it over the bar). Van Bommel was particularly guilty of this, at least, he was most noticeable.

Also, Miguel was the best player on the pitch the several times I saw Portugal. I need to look into acquiring him in my Champ Manager. :p

Doug said...

I've been watching soccer almost all weekend (yes, me! the guy who doesn't even like soccer that much) and amazingly, I'm actually getting into it. Caught almost all of the England-Ecuador match today, which was exciting. Though I have to say one of the best parts of it is still Univision's coverage, and maybe the best part of that is (as we have discussed) "Republica Deportiva" and those two girls who are always there in knee-high boots and hot pants. If you think about it, "Deportiva" is kinda like "College Gameday" with strippers.

DC Trojan said...

I hated Figo before today's game; I am about to head off to the Portguese embassy with a brick that has his picture on it. In a game full of diving cheating pricks, he was the Rat King Diving Cheating Prick.

On a more positive note, I couldn't believe Ashley Cole's defense against whatsisname from Ecuador. Further proof of what a waste of space is Rio Ferdinand by comparison.

phil said...

Ashley Cole has returned to form just in time for England. I thought he was really off against Paraguay, but he's gotten better in each game. Ferdinand has played well but, other than the one goof today, John Terry has been the most consistant defender for England and the unit as a whole is looking strong enough to make them a contender to keep going.

The other thing England needs is for Lampard to knock in a goal. It looks like he's taken so many futile shots that he's psyched himself out at this point. Several times in the second half against Ecuador he had a reasonable shot and passed it off to Rooney or Gerard.
I don't think the 4-5-1 is the answer for England and whichever formation they use they need Lampard and Gerrard to be scoring threats in order to be successful.

I don't understand why Sven would use Crouch and Owen as forwards but not Crouch and Rooney.

And I think the criticism for the Ducth not using RVN is warrented. He's exactly the kind of finisher they needed in that game. And where did Robbens' game go? He wasn't bad but he didn't look like the threat he was earlier in the tournament.

nico said...

Every World Cup final in the last 2-3 Cups has missed key players due to card accumulation, but this one is the worst.

There have been so many ejections and yellow cards that I'm beginning to not even enjoy this. I've been skipping games left and right and I can't say I'm terribly disappointed I missed a 4 red card /16 yellow card affair yesterday.

At this rate, they should just skip the games and do a best of 11 PK shootout.