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.