Friday, 18 June 2010

It's Alive!

After the first 5 days of the 2010 World Cup largely disappointed, I think it's safe to say it is now well and truly up and running...

We had a fantastic day of football on Wednesday, as a very impressive Chile side defeated Honduras 1-0; it could and should've been 3 or 4. Then, the shock I think the tournament needed, as Spain were beaten 1-0 by a well organised Swiss side. Spain dominated the possession throughout but aside from the goal the best chance fell to Derdiyok, who hit the post and then couldn't turn in the rebound. Spain now face a tricky task to top the group, and a last 16 match vs Brazil is now a real possibility!

In the first game of the 2nd round of group matches, Forlan inspired Uruguay to a deserved 3-0 win over the hosts, who simply weren't good enough. The fans left in their droves at 2-0 and you wonder if the magic is already wearing off for a lot of the locals, as the vuvuzelas have been far less prominent in the fixtures since.

Yesterday was great again, as we saw 10 goals in 3 games. Argentina signalled their intent with a 4-1 steamrollering of a decent South Korean side, Higuin hitting the first hat-trick of this World Cup, and I see they've now been instilled as the new favourites with bookmakers. Greece then came from behind to beat Nigeria 2-1, but only after some pure stupidity from Sani Kaita led to him being sent off after 30 minutes, with Nigeria 1-0 up.

Then, we get to the French, with last night a new low for a nation with great football history. Take nothing away from Mexico, who were very good, but France were nothing short of a disgrace. There was no passion from the players (with the exception of Evra during the anthems), I have literally no idea what formation the team was meant to be playing, Ribery was anonymous, ridiculous substitutions once again, and substitutes not even bothering to warm up. There is something rotten at the core of that squad and while the players must take a proportion of the blame, Domenech is at the root at it all. They are as good as out of the tournament now, and to be honest they've probably been the worst side in it...despite being littered with top quality players.

So much drama in just 48 hours! I really feel this World Cup is now alive - teams are in must-win situations and the players have woken up to the situations they find themselves in. We're seeing more open football, more goals, more shocks, and it's only going to improve from here. I'm really looking forward to England v Algeria tonight, although I'm obviously very nervous. Before that we have Germany v Serbia, which should be a cracker, followed by a massive game between the USA & Slovenia, and I'm sure we have another day of huge excitement ahead of us.

In terms for Fantasy Football, I'm struggling outside the Top 200, but only Messi has played for me this round and he scored 14 as my captain. As I mentioned the other day, I'm at Glastonbury next week so I won't be able to make any substitutions for 6's impossible to do well if you can't make your subs so I can't imagine I'll be finishing much higher than my current position.

Anyway, let me know what you think so far. Who's your favourite to lift the World Cup based on what you've seen so far? How are you getting on in the World Cup Blog League?



Alex (Darlo) said...

Aside from all that, am loading up on Chelsea players after seeing there opening five fixtures ;-)

Who are you mainly going to see at Glasto or just for the experience?

Oh...are you also supporting Greece in the tournament or 100% England?

Assistant Manager said...

Hi Alex, long time no speak mate!

This is my 4th Glasto, I go for the experience mainly although this year really looking forward to Gorillaz, Muse & Faithless, plus I'll spend a lot of time in the Dance Village as I'm a clubber at heart ;)

I keep an eye on Greece's results but I'm England 100%. Predictions for the Algeria game? I'm hoping for a comfortable 2-0 win, but this is England...

DeviLxDeviL said...

What a day for Serbia !

Sitting on 241 places in AM blog group. Bad day as Ozil and Lahm gave me 8 points. Hope Lampard and Glen Johnson save my day.

AM i am so jealous with u !!! (Glastonbury)

SK said...

I still think the Dutch have a good chance of winning it all.

Why does everyone think Brazil is guaranteed to qualify first? Group G is the group of death for a reason. I wouldn't count out Ivory Coast or Portugal to make an upset.

England's tie against USA may be a blessing. Germany may end up being 2nd in their group.

- SK

Alex said...

Am gutted I never got tickets, would have gone purely for Muse but the rumour was they wouldn't be headlining due to the Old Trafford/Wembley gigs but hey ho, will see them again at both those venues.

But to matters footy, first of all saw a few snippets on the brazil player your lot have signed, he looks the real deal, exciting signing, though not so exciting opening game.

Things have taken a twist, Spain, France, Germany all suffering shock defeats, the USA a goal down (though think they will win) but as for tonight, hmmm, I reckon 3-0 to England but I wish Hart was starting and then continued througout, I also think this is a game for the five man midfield with Rooney up front which we should progress with.

Who will go through with us? am going to say USA but am hoping Slovenia win to make the match with us not be so crucial and simply to top the group, but after todays earlier result, and we want to avoid Germany, will finishing top be the best thing for us if Germany also stutter against Ghana and run in second.

Alex said...

Scrap that, the USA aren't good enough, I was naive to believe any team starting with Altidore could qualify, at least we won't be subjected to the only song of 'U.S.A.' and the highlight of the game was when the camera zoomed to a USA fan who screamed 'whats going on you guys' well, thats Soccer ;-)

Anonymous said...

Slovenia 2-0! Oh my, this is crazy!


bean said...

@Alex - typical British arrogance: "who will go through with us"? England is already through? All in good fun, I know, but the lads still have some hard work to do..

that was a U.S. win, I can't believe the officials in that match. they also forgot about injury time somehow...

I'm loving all the shock losses for the big teams.

by the way, just started reading Soccernomics, really interesting so far, especially the part about why England never win the world cup.

bean said...

oh, and USA aren't good enough? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Regarding France's implosion, from NYT:

Shortly after taking over as coach in 2004, Domenech ended the international career of winger Robert Pirès, saying he distrusted Scorpios.

“All parameters have to be considered and I have added one by saying there is astrology involved,” he later said. “When I have got a Leo in defense, I’ve always got my gun ready, as I know he’s going to want to show off at one moment or another and cost us.”


Given that Gallas has caused problems in the locker room at Arsenal (according to Nasri) and most likely the French squad why is he still there? And it is telling why Nasri isn't on the squad even though he would've helped against Mexico imo.


Kellz said...

@Alex: take a look at your own team before you start in on someone elses. England looked horrendous, Rooney's first touch was 4 feet in front of him. No english player went hard for 50-50 balls. They looked scared to do anything.

You want to compare games? USA gave up a very good strike from not closing down the player and a very silly goal by not marking. But guess what? The US came out in the 2nd half with determination, heart, and passion to score 3 goals (one totally and wrongfully disallowed). England couldn't even score.

All in all I would like to see both teams still qualify. But lets face it, in the words of Alexi Lawlas "Maybe England just aren't that good"

bean said...

i hate to say it, but i'm liking Alexi Lalas more and more each day.. loved how he was so fired up after the match.

Ian Sanderson said...

...and there's a distinct lack of English in the AM Blog League Top 10....i'm lonely.

Anonymous said...

This World cup is my first to watch as just recently started playing football (Friday night old boys league) and I have to say the shocks just keep coming.
I'm loving it, getting far to little sleep (Aus) and hope that England start playing better soon, very soon.
Argentina look the goods, OK and Brazil, the Dutchies & Spain better hope there big names lift soon as well.
Good luck to everyone.
The Minister

greginho said...

the US is through with a win.
the US is through with a tie, if england loses.
the US is through with a tie if england ties and the US scores more goals.

so all this means, is that the US needs to concentrate on the first 20 minutes of the game. don't concede another goal, dammit. the US has got to win. one lucky draw and one unlucky draw, better have left a bad taste in their mouths.

AdmiraLord Nelson said...

is that Gene Wilder in the picture AM????

Anonymous said...

@Ian Sanderson.... dont worry buddy whilst the flag say Australia (as I live in Sydney now) but Im most definitely English!! Although Im distinctly annoyed at getting up at 4am for the most boring game of the tournament so far...(and one which should by all rights see Rooney dropped for being a donkey)

Off to the rugby now, hopefully we can score one more penalty try than the Aussie score proper ones....


Anonymous said...

Should i remove captain band from Messi who gave me 7 points and put it on sneijder??


Maxer said...

luckily i didn't change my captain from Messi to either Lahm or vidic yesterday (because i'm very sick).. otherwise i've lost few points from that..

anyway, same question with Anon @8.38 for today.. its either Sneijder or persie or maybe nakamura as captain.. anyone?..


Alex said...

@ kellz, I never said England were good? were awful, and will still qualify in this a poor group.

@ bean, arrogance? I had £10 on USA to beat England 2-1, I am not talking up England at all as I don't agree with the tactics or team selections.

bean said...

@Alex - arrogance was probably the wrong word. i was just going by this, "Who will go through with us? am going to say USA but am hoping Slovenia win to make the match with us not be so crucial and simply to top the group, but after todays earlier result, and we want to avoid Germany, will finishing top be the best thing for us if Germany also stutter against Ghana and run in second."

who would be the preferred England lineup? I would start Crouchy up front with Rooney, or switch to a formation with two attacking midfield spots for Gerrard and Lampard, which maybe means Rooney as loan striker, but still two wingers.. fake an injury somewhere to allow Adam Johnson back and finally start F'in Hart already.

the looks on England players faces was telling.

for USA, i was finally impressed with Bradley Sr.'s tactics in the Slovenia match going to a 4-3-3. Great match, even though we were robbed. Should hopefully give us confidence to tear into Algeria, just hope we don't underestimate them.. Need to get our backline in order.. Great writeup at Jeremy & Neals blog about US tactics.

Don't get me wrong, i'm still having fun with the FIFA WC fantasy game, but according to FFScout the rules have changed yet again midstream.. the transfer window is like 5 minutes long since the last game of a round was the same day as the first game of the next round.

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