Saturday, June 10, 2006

Day 2 Random Thoughts / Open Thread

Intersting stat last night on Fox Sports World Report: 81% of teams that win their first match get through to the knockout stage. Gotta love that if you are an Eduador supporter.

England 1-0 Paraguay
ABC's coverage of soccer is always more dumbed-down than ESPNs, as they are trying to cater to and educate casual fans. Same thing today, and I could only take it for 6 minutes, as they talked about Beckham like he is the greatest player in the world over and over(they must have read teh GQ guide to the World Cup. That, and let's hype the shit out of a really popular footballer who is on record as saying that one day he would like to end his career in the USA playing MLS). After Balboa called him Michael Beckham, I creid uncle and started watching the match EN VIVO! on Univision. Even though I don't speak Spanish, it's better than ABC. And the fact that they are referring to Beckham as "Spiceman" and Owen as "Wonderboy" is pretty hilarious. Oh, and if you are the guy at the bar during March Madness who has to watch the one feed that is like 4 seconds ahead of the satellite feeds on the other screens, Univision's feed is about 5 seconds ahead of ABCs FWIW. The FCC must have them on delay in case someone flashes a tit for 0.5 seconds or something.

Like Ulysses Everett McGill in Oh Brother Where Art Thou?, this referee is rocking the shit out of Dapper Dan pomade. And that Paraguay fan dressed as a giant bird rules.


"I don't want FOP damn it, I'm a Dapper Dan man!"

It must be the combination of the roof of this stadium and the sunshine, but the field looks like a giant spiderweb or one of those dreamcatcher thingys. Kind of annoying to be honest, but maybe I'm just still a bit groggy from getting up at 5.45 a.m.

Engerland are sleepwalking a bit but it doesn't matter; I like them to win this match 2-0 or 3-1, as Paraguay will press for an equalizer and England will get their 2nd on the break, although if they don't kill the game off and leave it 1-0 late they are just inviting a random equalizer out of nothing. I also like Sweden to beat T&T 3-0, and Argentina to beat Cote D'Ivoire 2-1, which would be a clean sweep for "the narrative".

England sleptwalked but it didn't matter, as Paraguay could not convert either of their 2 good chances but were kind enough to score England's goal for them. England's weakness was on full display: when Crouch and Owen do nothing, there is no one to bring on to change things up, as Rooney is still crocked and Walcott at 17 will not come on unless England have already put the game away. Sven should have brought Defoe and left a sub midfielder at home - if Owen of Crouch get injured then England are officially fucked unless that midfield starts scoring boatloads of goals and/or Rooneh's foot is made of kryptonite.

Sweden 0-0 Trinidad & Tobago
Click on that link above for my thoughts on the match.

Look at that pic below for gratuitous pic of Swedish Hotty with "nasty" painted on her belly.


Far from it, Miss. Far from it.

Argentina 2-1 Ivory Coast
I thought this year would be different. I believed Peckerman about their style of play. But like everyone else I was duped - it's the same old Argentina: massively talented, but cynical rule-benders who forefit their honor to win at any cost, like say, Cobra Kai. After going up 2-0, it wasn't enough to just close up shop, abandon any desire to play offense, and sit back and defend the lead the right way (see: Trinidad & Tobago). Instead they pulled the classic Argentina, wasting time at every opportunity inside the last 30 minutes, repeatedly hacking the shit out of The Elephants, making a meal of any foul committed against them, shirt pulling, elbowing, and bitching at the referee repeatedly. Drogba was fouled in the box twice: once in the first half, when the ref called a foul on Drogba, and once in the 2nd half, when the Argentine defender decided it would be more effective to give him the elbow/forearm shiver to the back of the head then defend properly (this was probably joga bonito karma biting him in the ass for all of his whining & diving in the Prem for Chelsea the last 3 years). Ivory Coast made all the chances in the 2nd half, and finaly got a deserved goal in the 81st minute, but couldn't get the equalizer. They played valiantly and bottom line is a 2-2 draw would have been deserved.

Why Brasil is better than Argentina: up 2-0 in this match, Brasil would have continued to attack and look for a 3rd and a 4th, even if it meant that they might concede 1. They know that this is what their fans demand (and the world wants) and they wouldn't do it any other way. Argentina on the other hand cynically defend, foul, quasi-cheat, and play negative football, which is pretty chickenshit when you consider that they are so talented that Messi nor Tevez even saw the field today, substitutions included. Their display was far from graceful, and it is a propos that the crowd whistled at them for all their time wasting and the final whistle brought hisses and boos from at least half the crowd.

It is appropriate that they are a high profile Adidas team, because Nike's Joga Bonita ad campaign which ridicules divers, elbowers, time wasters, and shirt pullers seems to be aimed directly at them.


Cantona would not be pleased
with Argentina's 2nd half performance

I feel bad for Ivory Coast, they played the beautiful game but have nothing to show for it and have a mountain to climb now to get through to the knockout stage. Since becoming a huge Nigeria fan back in 1996, I always pull hard for all of the African teams, and I hope that The Elephants can bounce back and make it out of this "group of death".

As for Argentina, I am disappointed and pissed at them for their approach, and I am disappointed and pissed at myself for picking them to go all the way to the final based on their ridiculous talent. I look forward to them going out, and I only hope that it is not against a defensive team like Germany, Italy or another team like Euro2004 Greece, but a team that plays the beautiful game of free flowing, creative, offensive, positive soccer.

9 comments:

anon.4 said...

The color commentary on Univision is great if you speak Spanish and English. Also there is a lot of important information that the American broadcasters do not deliver such as the impact that the heat and humidity was having on the players and there is never any downtown time as they fill up the sir time explaining Spanish regional or sports colloquialisms. The broadcast teams, in my opinion, are also much more knowledgeable. I grew up listening to Norberto Longo and Andres Cantor as the broadcast team for Univision. If I remember correctly it was Andres Cantor who made famous the cry of Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool! The original is still the best. What a broadcast duo! Being a fan of Chilavert back when he was player I also felt that his work was pretty much without bias as he watched his country's national side not being able to take the game over to the English side. It was nice to hear Chilavert also comment on the ball it self since quite a few net tenders have compared it to the ball used in volleyball.

Even though I lost my welfare check and government cheese on the loss by Paraguay they will have to improve and not just rely on Roque Santa Cruz to come up with a play. England looks good, but they were not pressured enough so I will have to wait till they play Sweden to find out who is better. I really look forward to Mexico - Iran since Iran is such an enigma to me.

I guess this will be the last Mundial for another one my favorites, Roberto Carlos. What a great player and one of the few Brazilians players who is known by two names.

anon.4 said...

The ref who was sporting the Dapper Dan look was refered to as "Chicidracula" and he used to be child star on an Mexican variety show that was geared toward children. Gosh I feel old just typing that.

phil said...

It's not just a matter of Owen or Crouch getting injured. That silly yellow card that Crouch got puts him half way to a potentially disasterous suspension. Overall that ref seemed overly tough on Crouch the whole game and he called offsides aganinst both teams that I would have let go.

Brian said...

I second the Argentinian disgust. Somehow I didn't pick it up in '02, but now I have unbridled hatred for them second to none.

moin said...

Classic example of how people see games differently. I was struck by the diving and flopping of some Ivory Coast players more than the Argentinians. Also, in my opinion, Argentina didn't really start closing up shop until the last 15 minutes or so. Up until then, Ivory Coast, for some inexplicable reason, chose not to pressure the ball, the result of which was some fairly nice passing amongst the Argentians. Sure some of the passing wasn't intended to go upfield, but since they scored 3 goals and put 4 balls into the net, I really don't think it's very fair to accuse them of playing defensive and cynical.

Kanu said...

Moin-

(I only saw them score 2 and put it in the net 3 times???)

Yes, very good point: as Ron Burgundy famously said, "Agree to disagree". Take Heinze for example - watching him at United as an Arsenal fan, I think he is a hacking, rough-tackling, thuggish defender with negativity and disdain, while a ManUtd supporter would thnk of him as a physical, rugged defender with positivity and price.

I didn't articulate this properly in my post, but my disgust is not in how they played the entire match, only in how they reacted in the 2nd half once they went up 2-0, for which defensive and cynical are completely fair in my opinion. In the 1st half they played well, went forward, took both goals well, and played the game as it was meant to be played. Then, up 2-0 in the 2nd they went to this chickenshit approach that might normally be used by a team that is a massive underdog and must do whatever is neccessary to somehow hold out. What pisses me off is that they are the exact opposite; a team with all the talent in the world who at that point in the match should keep going forward and beat their opponents 4-0 or 5-1 (or defend cleanly and not waste time and make a meal of everything, like T&T did for 40+ minutes down a man). I did write my post comments immediately after the match when I was pretty fired up about it and disappointed that the IC didn't get the draw that I felt they deserved . The result is that I didn't convey that the first half was great from Argentina - instead it sounds like a hate fest.

I am just super frustrated that they are that good but still played so negatively once they got ahead. Contrast this with everyone's worst team in the competition, T&T, trying to hold on, then down a man, and what do they do? They bring on an attacking player, defend the best they can , and take their chances going forward, even smashing one off the crossbar, when they were in the perfect situation to make an excuse to act like the Argentines did (massive underdog all of a sudden with a chance to hold on and get a result).

I am not being Bill O'Reilly and saying that you are wrong. I appreciate your point of view and am also interested in how different people react to the same thing differently, so keep you opinions coming dude.

moin said...

Well, I'm being tongue in cheek when I said that they had 3 goals. I was referring to the one very early in the game where Ayala headed the ball into the Ivory Coast keeper and he juggled it across the goal line (shocker, an unreliable African keeper!?).

I have to also disagree with you with regards to the overall play of the Ivory Coast squad. They did not deserve a draw. Drogba was excellent, Kalou did well. But nobody else showed up much. Endlessly punting balls over the midfield and into the box, trying to hit Drogba or hope for an Argentine mistake isn't exactly what I call attacking intent either. They were doing the counter-attacking thing, hoping to catch Argentina on the break, even after going down 2-0. Well, how do you best combat that? You stop pushing forward as much as you use to and wait for your spots. Even so, Argentina was caught out on a handful of occasions in the 2nd half. NOT because of any great play by the Ivory Coast, but because, despite the case you made, Argentina WAS pushing forward, especially their wingers.

One thing that annoys me is how Argentina, Italy, and Germany gets a bad rap from shit that teams like Brazil, England, and the Netherlands do just as much. When Argentina play keep-away with 2 defenders and a defensive mid, it's negative football, it's a disgrace, it's time wasting. When Brazil do the same thing (and boy do they ever do that once they go up), it's suddenly a CELEBRATION OF TECHNICAL SKILLS, OF THE JOYS OF FOOTBALL! Look at how they just one touch pass to each other and make the pressing opponent look foolish! They are BRAZIL! They are Gods! Another example, Germany scores 4 goals, 2 spectacular ones, and generally play some great attacking football all without the service of their best player, their leader, their creative force, their best attacker. And they are still labeled as defensive in this very post. (And don't get me started on England, how they can see themselves as stylistically better than any of their European counterparts is staggering to me. Helloooo long ball!)

But I also understand your point. I did not like the substitutions that was employed by Peckerman, eschewing Tevez and Messi (though, truth be told, his fitness was in doubt) for 2 defenders in the 2nd half before putting on Aimar at the very end to waste more time. Argentina has earned quite a bit of its cynical reputation. Funny thing, Brazil sat on its 2-0 lead against Germany in the WC2002 final. No criticism there either. In fact, Germany was better in attack until Ronaldo scored on Kahn's gaffe and Brazil's 2nd goal was from a quick counter-attack after Germany pushed forward in numbers. But no, it's Brazil! It's Joga Bonito no matter what they do! But I digress. Yes, it is a shame that after so much free-flowing, great attacking football, Argentina decided to really reel it in (especially their coach, basically doing so by taking off both forwards). I definitely agree with you on that. But to criticize them for "winning at all cost" is off base. I have yet to find a Brazilian who is willing to give back their 5th World Cup win because the Germans played better than they did. In fact, I've yet to find a Brazilian with enough balls to admit that Germany actually did play better than they did. Willful ignorance I suppose.

Oh yeah, about T&T. Yes they did sub on attackers when down 10 men. But they subbed them on and made them play defense. Their play so far has been inspirational, but to compare their play to Argentina's and say that T&T played the way you are supposed to is also off. T&T was playing an tied match. Would they have sat back even MORE so? Yes. T&T made subbed in attackers, made them play defense, sat back, played for the draw, tried to hit Sweden on the break. And is praised for playing football the right way. Argentina, played for the win, subbed in defenders to play defense, was winning 2-0 (should have been up 3-0), tried to hit IC (by all accounts a better and more dangerous team) on the break, and put a ball into goal, and is criticized for playing the most negative and dirty of football tactics?

Sorry for all this long ass meandering rant, but I'm just tired of people seeing what they want to see and getting caught up in the narrative of: "there goes Argentina/Germany/Italy again, this why Brazil is better" instead of critiquing them for what they actually do.

BTW, fun excercise to do, check out the Argentine squad in 2002. Specifically: Batistuta, Crespo, Sorin, Zanetti, Aimar, Ayala, Placente, Kily Gonzalez, and Ariel Ortega. And I mean if you can find pictures of those guys around that time, you'll see they all have something in common. Making watching that squad VERY unsettling.

Kanu said...

Moin-

EXCELLENT points man. You rocked my world liek a relentless boxer that instead of knocking my ass out on the 4th would rather go the full 12 rounds and beat me on the judges cards with a unanimous decidion because you take pride in dissecting your opponent(plus you get to beat his ass for 12 rounds instead of 4). Keep that shit coming man - my humble little blog with my random thoughts is a much better space with your consistently intelligent commentary & analysis.

That's just how I felt watching the match, but tip of the cap to you for trapping me in the narrative trap a mere day after I referenced the narrative itself. Brilliant.

And you are right in showing evidence of Ben Kingsley's great line from the movie Sneakers: Perception IS reality (in modern society).

This is what I like - beats the shit out of some of the "we disagree so I automatically have to reduce the dialogue to YOU SUCK! I RULE!" juvenile vitriol that seems to have infiltrated blogs, politics, and society at large.

Now go get a job with mad downtime and start your own footy blog. Seriously.

moin said...

Thanks man. Rest assured that the rant wasn't directed particularly at you, it's just something that has built up for myself over the years from reading various sources whose opinion I don't agree with. :D Guess you were the unlucky recipient that made replies possible. ALWAYS a mistake dude. :D

Thanks for suggesting a footy blog, but, I'm too lazy to put in the effort. I'm much better at bouncing off of other people's ideas than starting my own. Right now, I'm getting wrapped up in Robben's effort to single-handedly bring back the balding look. Watching him is wonderful, makes me wonder even more why Advocaat took him off against Portugal in 2004 (he was basically fired for that).