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Thursday, July 08, 2010

It's Nearly Over...Until The Next Time

OK, so my semi-final predictions were, er, 100% wrong. That is the reason why I'm not a professional gambler. At least Uruguay gave it a go, though. What was up with Germany - it was like they didn't realise they were in semi-final and just couldn't motivate themselves. After the first 20 minutes or so, I could see the game only going one way. Although I was surprised it took Spain until 70-odd minutes to score.

Anyway, so we have a Holland v Spain final to look forward to. I'm not going to predict the winner (although it will be Spain) but I'm hoping against hope that both teams will show more attacking dynamism than they have so far. Pragmatic football has got both sides all the way, but it isn't that much fun to watch.

I'd like to see a very early goal from one team, which will force the other to play with more attacking intent, thereby creating a more exciting final than the one, I fear, we're about to see.

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posted by mark_s at 5:22 PM 2 comments

Monday, July 05, 2010

Predictions For The Semi-Finals

So, we're down to the last four: Holland, Spain, Germany and Uruguay.

Frankly, I was expecting at least one other South American side to be here: most likely Brazil, but what do I know.

The thing is, though, that only one of these teams has shown any real consistency so far in the tournament and that is: Germany.

While, admittedly, they did lose their second match, Joachim Loew's side have shown what can be achieved when you build a team, rather than throwing the biggest eleven names in German football together and hoping they can bond.

The fact that Loew has kept faith with Klose and Podolski despite poor seasons is just one indication of this. The introduction of Ozil and Khedira from the Under 21 squad is another.

This, for me, makes them favourite to win the entire competition. Spain and Holland have struggled through. Both the Dutch and Spanish have been better than the teams they've come up against, but - Brazil aside - neither have really been challenged.

Even without Luis Suarez, I think Uruguay have the craft and determination to get past Holland, while Germany should win through against the stuttering Spanish.

Uruguay v Germany in the 2010 World Cup Final.

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posted by mark_s at 7:37 PM 3 comments

Saturday, July 03, 2010

A One Man Battleship

OK, another brief post.

Argentina are currently 2-0 down to Germany in the quarter final. Carlos Tevez is trying to win it on his own for Maradona's side. But, better than all this is the BBC commentator who has just said: "look at Tevez, on his own, like a one man battleship". Er, what?

Also, nice to see Germany back in their historic black shirts. Couldn't resist that one. Sorry.

posted by mark_s at 4:26 PM 0 comments

Things That I've Enjoyed

Very short post today. Almost a micro-blog. It's just a shame that no-one has invented some kind of micro-blogging service ;)

Anyway, right now, I've particularly enjoyed the colour co-ordinated Germany bench. Loew wears blue t-shirt under dark blazer...everyone wears blue t-shirt under dark blazer.

Second, Bastian Schweinsteiger. He's starting to resemble a young Dean Windass.

As a comparison:
Dean Windass
Bastian Schweinsteiger

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posted by mark_s at 3:51 PM 0 comments

Monday, June 28, 2010

So And Thanks For...Not A Whole Lot

So, England crashed out 4-1 to a lean, young, hungry looking Germany side. And with that, the hopes of a nation are dashed. Such a shame.

The problem is, though, not that England got well and truly beaten. The problem is with the whole 'hopes of a nation' thing in the first place.

The simple fact remains that a few players aside, England just don't have that strong a squad. They're just not that great at football. Matthew Upson, Gareth Barry, Peter Crouch, etc - they're not names that will strike fear into the hearts of the world's best.

Consequently, if the big names have poor matches or get injured, then there is no quality to cover for them. England got knocked out in the Round of 16 because that's where they deserved to be knocked out. They are one of the top 16 teams in the world - no more, no less. Face facts.



posted by mark_s at 2:56 PM 1 comments

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Reflections On The Group Stages

The Group stages finished last night with Spain's 2-1 win over a 10 man Chile side, so now would be a good time to look back on the highs and lows of the 2010 World Cup so far.

The Hosts: South Africa got drawn in a very tough group but can hold their heads high after a solid draw with a good Mexico side and, of course, after putting France out of the competition in the final group match. Their performance should inspire the growth of the sport in the country and that's no bad thing.

The Surprise Packages: New Zealand were both a surprise package and a disappointment. They went home having not lost a match, but more attacking adventure against Paraguay in their final match could have seen them through to the knock out stages. What did they have to lose?

The other surprise package - for me, at least - was Japan. They had gone into the Finals on a run of very poor results and manager Takeshi Okada was under pressure due to the formation he had chosen. After all, playing a midfielder as a lone striker is not something most international managers would do.

He stuck with it. It worked very well, especially in Japan's 3-1 victory over Denmark. So Okada gets the 'I'm the boss and I know what I'm doing' award.

The Big Names : Well, in truth, Okada has to share that award with another manager: Fabio Capello. After two insipid England performances, many were calling for Capello to drop 4-4-2 and play a 4-5-1 formation for the final group game. He didn't. England won. Job done.

This is more than can be said for the 2006 World Cup Finalists - France and Italy. Both were pretty appalling and both ended bottom of their groups.

France, managed by walking disaster zone Raymond Domenech, imploded even before a ball was kicked. Rumours of player unrest, rows with the coach, and then Nicolas Anelka's expulsion from the squad made France as entertaining off the pitch as they were dire on it.

Italy weren't much better. To me, it looked like they expected to stroll through the group and didn't put any effort into it. They only really played football for 20 minutes in the whole tournament and that was too late.

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posted by mark_s at 8:15 AM 0 comments