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Friday, June 09, 2006

Ecuador 2 Poland: 0 And Some Of Yer Actual Defending

Well, it's been a great opening day for the 2006 World Cup with Ecuador having defeated Poland 2-0. Ecuador, it seems, are a team with a very strong defence - especially Espinoza - and their victory really opens up Group A.

Personally, I'm not particularly surprised at Poland's performance or lack of creative edge, but I wouldn't like to predict which two teams from this Group will go through to the next round. One thing is for sure...neither England nor Sweden in Group B will be particularly concerned about who they might meet if they qualify.

It was a tactically solid performance from Ecuador of the type that you expect to see in a World Cup Finals. The football itself wasn't amazing quality but it all bodes extremely well for the competition as a whole if the standard set by these two games is maintained.

posted by mark_s at 9:56 PM 2 comments

Germany 4 - Costa Rica: 2 And No Defence On Either Side

Well, as opening World Cup matches go, that was a gem. 6 goals, lots of attacking football and, well, no defending at all. What more could you want ?

Going forward, the combination of Borowski (in place of the injured-or not- Ballack), Schweinsteiger, Klose and Podolski was impressive - quick, accurate passing and a complete lack of fear.

At the back...well, admittedly Paulo Wanchope is a class act and pretty much the only top level striker in the group. But if Germany play like that against any quality team, they will lose. They were woeful defensively.

It was funny to see Oliver Kahn sitting on the bench looking smugly amused after Wanchope's second goal went in, though.

posted by mark_s at 7:16 PM 2 comments

Ecuador vs Poland Preview

Well, what can one say about Ecuador and Poland. Um, well, not a lot. All I really know about Ecuador is that they had that striker, Delgado, who theoretically played for Southampton but who pretended he was injured all the time and couldn't be bothered to either play or stay in the same country.

Poland, well...they qualified fairly comfortably and then decided to leave one of their few famous players - Jerzy Dudek of Liverpool - out of the final squad. Dudek may be out of favour at Liverpool, but the guy was largely responsible for Liverpool winning the Champions League. Do Poland really have such a depth of goalkeeping talent that they can afford to leave him out ? Time will tell.

Frankly, I have no idea how this game is going to go. Luckily, there's people who know more than me who can help you out.

TV Schedule: USA: ESPN2 3pm (EST)
UK: ITV1 8pm (GMT)

posted by mark_s at 9:17 AM 0 comments

World Cup Starts Today

The 2006 World Cup Finals start today with Germany v Costa Rica and Ecuador vs Poland.

Germany vs Costa Rica - It's looking like German midfielder
Michael Ballack isn't going to be fit for this one, which will delight the Costa Ricans no doubt.

On paper, the Germans are too strong for the Costa Ricans and should win, but I wouldn't rule out a surprise. Paulo Wanchope - the Costa Rican forward - is still an impressive, skillful striker when he wants to be and Germany's defence are, well, not great, let's just say.

I say this will be a draw and there will be lots of moaning coming from everyone who has ever pulled on a German shirt about how poor this German team is.

TV Schedule: Germany v Costa Rica: BBC 1 (UK): 4pm GMT
ESPN2 (USA): 12pm EST

posted by mark_s at 9:04 AM 0 comments

Final Friendly Results

Shevchenko returned to the Ukraine side yesterday to lead the Ukraine to a healthy 3-0 victory against Luxembourg. He scored, of course and I was relieve. That Sheva to be top goalscorer bet was starting to look a little dodgy.

On Wednesday, 'lucky' Djibril Cisse broke his damn leg again, meaning he's out of the World Cup Finals. France did manage to beat China 3-1, but it wasn't a particularly convincing display; judging by the repeat I saw on EuroSport last night.

One of the Guardian's team of bloggers agrees with me and
predicts French disaster at the Finals. He might just have a point.

Lichenstein 1 Australia 3 : Well, the Aussies won, but it wasn't pretty.

Spain: 2 Croatia: 1 - I was expecting Spain to lose this, but a late Torres goal was enough. The Spanish, will, of course, self-destruct in the Finals proper though. It's the law, or an old charter, or something.

posted by mark_s at 8:53 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Win A Ball Signed By The Whole Brazilian Squad

Think you know soccer/football ? Call it what you will but if you think you know the game, then enter the SoccerOD World Cup Prediction League and prove it.

It's FREE to join and all you have to do is predict the results of World Cup matches. They're offering some great prizes including a football signed by the entire Brazil squad, or jerseys signed by Steven Gerrard, Cristiano Ronaldo or Eddie Pope.

Pretty damn cool for a FREE competition, I think. So
click here and enter now. I don't want to hear excuses - just enter and prove your soccer expertise !

posted by mark_s at 5:10 PM 1 comments

World Cup 2006 Schedule

OK, it's only a couple of days to go until Germany play Costa Rica in the opening match of the 2006 World Cup. Personally, I reckon that should be a cracking game of football, despite Costa Rica's terrible warm-up campaign. Lots of attacking, not much defending...that's what we want from our World Cup soccer.

Anyway, here's the schedule for the games from June 9 to June 11th.

June 9: Germany v Costa Rica

Poland vs Ecuador

June 10: England vs Paraguay
Trinidad & Tobago vs Sweden
Argentina vs Ivory Coast

June 11: Serbia & Montenegro vs Holland
Angola vs Portugal
Mexico vs Iran

If you really want to keep up with things,
Download Your Own World Cup Chart Here

posted by mark_s at 4:53 PM 2 comments

Random Injuries Ahead of Opening World Cup Group Games

Lots of players seem to be coming down with injuries ahead of the first match of the 2006 World Cup Final on Friday. Here's a selection of the best to worry fans of most major nations:

Milan Baros (Czech Republic) : Euro 2004's top goalscorer has a foot problem that isn't clearing up quickly. Good news though is that
Rosicky and Galasek are back in training. Smicer, as you probably know, is out of the World Cup altogether.

Baros would be a big miss for the Czechs - he is class, despite the insistence of his managers in the English Premier League to play him as a strong, hold-the-ball-up centre forward. That's Koller's job.

Zambrotta, Gattuso and Nesta (Italy) : Mixed reports coming from the Italy camp about these three players, but losing any of them in any game may cause difficulties for Italy, considering the competitiveness of their group.

Anyway, it looks like
Gattuso might be out of the first two matches and Nesta and Zambrotta are likely to miss the opening game against Ghana .

Michael Ballack (Germany) : A calf injury is keeping him out of training and under normal circumstances he probably wouldn't play in the opener against Costa Rica. These aren't normal circumstances. He'll play, I think.

Cardozo and Roque Santa Cruz (Paraguay) : Santa Cruz is claiming to be fit, but striker partner Jose Cardozo is out of the World Cup completely. Despite this, he will
remain with the squad in Germany. Don't ask me why.

Wayne Rooney (England) : Never heard of him.

Good news, however, for fans of Team USA - Reyna is likely to be fit, as is fat Ron of Brazil and a whole bunch of Dutch players including van Bronckhorst and Cocu.

posted by mark_s at 4:15 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Quick Prediction For Rooney's Scan

Wayne Rooney's final scan is tomorrow. Allow me to make this quick, and, I'm certain, 100% accurate prediction about the result of said scan. It will reveal that Rooney has a broken toe. OK ? Can we all shut up about it now, please ?

posted by mark_s at 12:49 PM 0 comments

Germany Will Play Fast, Attacking Football...Wonder Why ?

Jurgen Klinsmann - the guy that originally turned diving into the artform it is today - is promising quick, attacking football from his Germany side. And, for sure, the combination of Klose, Ballack, Podolski and Schweinsteiger is very impressive.

However, defensively, they are somewhat lacking as proved by the two goals they let in against Japan. Basically, Germany have little choice but to play swift, attacking football. They just don't have the breadth of talent to play any other way.

posted by mark_s at 12:28 PM 0 comments

Please Make It Stop

World Cup songs. They are, undeniably, the work of Satan. Particularly the Christine and Neil Hamilton one and the Stan Boardman one and the Tony Christie one and that one by that bunch of Eurodisco chancers whose name thankfully escapes me.

Luckily, despite
denials in the press, it looks like the BBC have banned such monstrosities from their playlists.

The Daily Mirror are up in arms about it claiming that the decision is because of some ludicrous fear of offending listeners from other parts of the UK. Personally, I don't care what the reasons are. It's just good news.

posted by mark_s at 12:08 PM 0 comments

Monday, June 05, 2006

Trinidad Don't Czech Out

OK, England's victory over Jamaica was enjoyable, but let's face it, ultimately meaningless in terms of what it will mean for England's success in the World Cup Finals.

However, the Czech Republic's 3-0 mauling of Trinidad and Tobago is more meaningful for England. The Czechs own 6' 7" striker Jan Koller scored two and created absolute havoc amongst the T&T back line. Crouch could, conceivably, do the same. Admittedly, though, Koller is built like a brick shithouse [technical term] and Crouch is a stringbean.

posted by mark_s at 9:35 PM 2 comments