Monday, June 28, 2010

World Cup Round 1 review part 2

Group E
The Dutch have a tendency to self destruct. So no saying when they will undo all the good work . They have been looking good so far. Add Robben to the mix, and you have genuine title contenders. Though Van Persie at times reminds on of the forwards in Chak De India. He just refuses to pass!
Japan were very impressive with their organized play. Danes disappointed. They were not able to put their pace and height to good use in the key matches.

Group F
I think it was Gatusso who said, "With all respect to the other teams, if you can't qualify from a group that contains New Zealand, Slovakia & Paraguay, you need to have tomatoes thrown at you." Or something to that effect. What more can I say?

Group G
Argentina packed their team with so many forwards, that they had to play some of them in the midfield. Brazil played some defenders in their midfield. And at the end of every match, Dunga would complain that they didn't score enough goals because the opposing team wouldn't let them! With the likes of Kaka, Maicon & Robinho they could have put on quite a show if they wanted to. If.
Not to be outdone, Portugal played even more defensively. They split the playing ground into - Ronaldo covers the opponent's half, and the other 10 will cover their own. They were more open in the game against North Korea, where virtually every shot they took went into goal.
North Korea were impressive on 2 counts, despite the thrashing they took in a couple of matches. They held Brazil quite well to a very large extent. And they played a relatively clean and positive game. Cote d'Ivoire were unlucky to be in this group. They'd probably have topped if they were in C or E.

Group H
In the biggest shock of the round, the methodical Swiss beat the flamboyant Spaniards in the 1st round. Thus avenging all the losses a flamboyant Federer has had to take against the methodical Nadal. After that they failed to score at all, and got knocked out.
Spain recovered, and went on to play some of the most pleasing, but not effective, football and top the group. Torres joined the likes of Messi, Kaka & Rooney to have note scored at all so far. Chile were the only ones to take the game into the Spanish half, though they were not able to sustain it beyond the 1st 25 minutes.

Round up.
On the looks of it, the best 4 teams seem to be Argentina, Brazil, Netherlands & Spain, in  ascending order. Since Brazil could meet the Dutch in the quarterfinals, (and hopefully lose:) the 4th semifinal spot is most likely to be filled by Uruguay. The other contenders Germany & Portugal.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

World Cup Round 1 review part 1

A brief look at the teams at the end of the 1st round.

Group A
The big story here was France. Am surprised people expected more of them. Raymond Domenech has achieved nothing of significance since taking over in 2004, bar the 2006 qualification and World Cup 2nd place. That too was largely courtesy Zidane and his troop of retirees. Don't know why the French persisted with him for so long. Once qualified, he doesn't include the likes of Karim Benzema & Samir Nasri in his squad. And then leaves Henry & Malouda on the bench. What can Ribery do on his own? It's a bonus they got a point out of Uruguay.
Uruguay looked solid in defence, and Forlan was the 1st player to show that the Jabulani can be controlled for long range shots. Deserved toppers.
Mexico should regret not having tried harder against Uruguay. Topping the group would have given them a pretty good shot at reaching the Semifinals. Would like to have seen a bit more of Javier Hernandez.
South Africa performed better than expected against both Mexico & France.

Group B
Probably the most photo mileage in the group was achieved by a certain Diego Armando. Messi mesmerized all including the goal posts, which he struck at regular intervals. Argentina playing with 3 out-and-out strikers was breathtaking. Made even their match against the sleep inducing Greeks worth watching. 
Korea were impressive with their pace and lack of fear. Park Ji Sung especially impressed. Nigeria disappointed, as all other African teams this time. Enyeama though was outstanding under the bar. The Greeks, with every game, make 2004 look like a miracle.

Group C
Beckenbauer is right. England are idiots to not have topped the group, and pass out on a golden opportunity to stroll into the Semis. In the 1st couple of games they couldn't even get simple passes right. Even Algeria out-possessed them! The only players to earn their place were Gerard, Ashley Cole, Barry & Johnson. Rooney couldn't hold on to a single pass. Whatever Heskey apologists say, forwards score goals. And unlike Rooney, he is not even out of form. This is the norm. If you must play him, play him as a midfielder. And then get a decent forward into the team. Lampard was anonymous. No idea why Capello didn't substitute him at all. Fellow Chelski players might call JT the greatest thing since sliced bread, but he was pretty average. Was totally out of depth in the 1st 2 matches. Too many unnecessary passes back to the goalkeeper.
USA impressed, especially Donovan and Bradley. However as a team overall they seem to lack tactical acumen. Thanks to England's magnetic repulsion of the ball, they now have a good shot at repeating their achievement of 1930.

Group D
The German youngsters showed a lot of promise to start. However they now face a tough run with England next, possibly Argentina after that, and if they make it past that, Spain or Portugal for place in the finals.
Ghana salvaged some African pride. Serbian players seem to suffer from flaying arms. The Aussies are a team a lot of people love to hate. Especially other cricket & rugby playing nations. Not many were sorry to see them lose.

Saturday, June 05, 2010