Tuesday, June 27, 2006

World Cup Fever - 3

Nostradamus was wrong!!!

"In the sixth month of 2006 the King of Spain will cross the Pyreness with his troops. The legions of Beelzebub will battle him in central Europe but the evil ones will suffer doom and destruction. The Holy Grail will then come, like the King, to Spain."
This is what Nostradamus say in one of his prophecies which was referred in all of the major Spanish newspapers with respect to the chances of the Spanish team.

Obviously that hasn't been fulfilled and Spain lost to France in the 2nd round continuing their legacy of under-achievement. France did very well and with no pressure on them to win they pulled out a rabbit from the hat and beat Spain with their experience.
Brazil and England did enough to win without playing to the level that can win a world cup.
Argentina left it pretty late relying on an extra-time wonder-goal from Maxi Rodriguez to win it against Mexico.
Germany did it in the first 12 minutes and Sweden were left picking up the pieces for the rest of the game.
Switzerland and Ukraine played out one of the worst games of the world cup with neither of the team wanting to take any chances and Ukraine winning in a scrappy penalty-shootout.

Portugal and Holland played out one of the most amazing games I have ever seen and it's not the quality of the game that I am talking about but rather the lack of it. There was no sportsmanship from any of the players and the referee just made it worse by flashing cards like crazy. No wonder it equalled the record for the highest number of yellow cards in a match (16) and broke the record for the most number of red cards (4).

This is the line-up for the quarter-finals:

Germany V/s Argentina
Italy V/s Ukraine
England V/s Portugal
Brazil V/s France

I personally would like to see a Argentina v/s Brazil final with Argentina winning.
But with Germany playing at home and peaking at the right time, they will be tough to beat.
Italy should have it relatively easy against Ukraine.
England have been outsmarted by Scolari, the Portugal coach, twice before and are my favourites to do it again.
Brazil v/s France should be an interesting match and will come down to whoever controls the midfield well. The world's best midfielders would be in that match with Ronaldinho, Kaka, Zidane and Viera playing for their respective teams.

Best of :

Goals : Maxi Rodriguez (Argentina)
Match : France V/s Spain
Team : France
Player : Lukas Podolski (Germany)
Coach : Luiz Felipe Scolari (Portugal)

I am off to San Francisco this weekend and am not sure if I will be able to watch the games, but I am sure gonna try.



Thursday, June 15, 2006

World Cup Fever - 2

All the teams in the world cup have finished playing their first group games. So which team is hot and which is not?
Spain seems to be the hottest team not only because of the number of goals they scored again Ukraine but in the way they scored it. They looked really impressive, their touches on the ball, passing and finishing. Brilliant. And which team totally sucked. Surprise it was not one of the African nations who made their debuts but France, the winner of the 1998 World Cup. It wasn't hard to believe by the way they played that they hadn't scored a goal since the 1998 Final when Emmanuel Petit scored a goal in the final minutes. Zidane, Barthez, Makelele all came out of retirements to help France qualify for the World Cup and I think that's the best they can do. They are going to struggle to reach the second-round and it will take a minor miracle for them
to go any further than that. They had class players like Henry, Viera, Zizou etc but they couldn't string together a single pass.
And Franc Ribery, boy o boy, is he really overrated, i think so, he was being talked about being the next Zidane and of possibly replacing Zidane in some of the games and bring Zidane as a sub. His skills seemed to be OK but his vision and finishing was pedestrian to say the least.

Brazil won their game against Croatia. It wasn't a great effort but they got it done. They will have to improve a lot though against Australia who are on a high after scoring 3 goals(their first ever in the WC) in the dying minutes of that thrilling game against Japan.

The second set of group games have started and I just watched England labouring to a hard fought win against Trinidad & Tobago(2-0). And they did only because the Trinidadians were tired. If things happen as they are happening now and Ecuador(who incidentally qualified to the second round for the first time) manage to get a draw against Germany, England will face Germany in the second round. What a match that's going to be?

My "Best Of" series continues :

Goal: Kaka (Brazil)
Team: Spain
Player: David Villa(Spain)
Coach: Luis Aragones(Spain)
Match: Australia V/S Japan

One of my colleague send me this interesting article about the difference between the soccer balls used in this tournament and why goalkeepers don't like it.

So don't blame the goalie.



Sunday, June 11, 2006

World Cup Fever -1

Finally, I get a chance to post about something which really excites me. Before you start getting any ideas, let me say it's regarding the World Cup Soccer going on in Germany. It has taken me some time to say "Soccer" since people have a funny look on their face when I talk about the "football" game in Germany.
So who seems to be the favourite this time around.
Looking at some of the group games as of Sunday June,11, Netherlands seemed to be the most impressive team with Argentina a close behind. Although I really like England and would like them to do well, they have a real problem with the strikers that they have now. They have 4 strikers now but in reality its about one and a half, with Wayne Rooney injured and Theo Walcott with his inexperience. That leaves Peter Crouch as the only fully fit striker and a half-fit Michael Owen(who was substituted at the 55th min). An interesting statistic about Wayne Rooney is that he didn't score a single goal in any of the qualifying matches.
And about Argentina, my favourite team to win the World Cup, they have a couple of missing players Javier Zanetti and Walter Samuels who did really well in the last world cup and are really impressive in their respective leagues. Argentina didn't have any offense on the right flank, all the attack seemed to be coming from the middle and the left with Riquelme doing a really impressive job. But my main worry is what if Riquelme gets injured, booked or has a rough day who is going to command the midfield. Lionel Messi seems to be the answer but he is coming off a bad injury and would be a shadow of himself before he was injured.
This is my observation from the last few games about what was the most impressive in the following categories:
Best Team : Netherlands
Best Player: Arjen Robben
Best Match: Sweden V/S Trinidad
Best Coach: Leo Beenhakker(Trinidad & Tobago) For the offensive substitutions that he made when they were playing with 10 men.
I am going to post my thoughts and update the list very often till the world cup is over.
Till then, enjoy.