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Saturday, June 17, 2006

More Tottenham, Less Wimbledon

Watching Argentina's midfield passing it around yesterday and making Serbia and Montenegro look embarrassingly poor, I found myself thinking 'why the xxxx don't England do that ?'

It's not like Argentina's midfield players are that much superior in technique and talent to England's first choice of Joe Cole, Beckham, Lampard and Gerrard. That is an impressive line up, plus England have some quality back up in Lennon and Carrick (not Hargreaves, don't be daft).

The problem is that while Argentina keep the ball and pass it between players, England ping it 40 yards upfield in the vague direction of Peter Crouch and rarely play through midfield.

This is a technique that worked well for Wimbledon all those years ago when Fash The Bash was playing upfront and Wimbledon's midfield included such cultured footballers as Vinny Jones. However, England have quality in midfield and can afford to play more like Tottenham - keeping the ball and passing it around to build up an attack.

Hell, they have three-quarters of Spurs first choice midfield sitting on the bench - maybe they could teach the bigger names in the England squad about passing possession football. Who knows - we might even look a half decent team if we tried it.
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posted by mark_s at 2:14 PM 5 comments

Friday, June 16, 2006

Argentina Result - 6 - 0 : I Think I've Just Seen The Winners of the World Cup

Argentina: 6 Serbia and Montenegro: 0

Well, I said that "the Argentine steamroller gathers pace"...but they totally demolished Serbia & Montenegro. Crespo scored, Messi scored, Tevez scored...everyone scored, really.

I know this blog has a lot of readers from Argentina, so I'll leave it to them to gloat. But I do think I've just seen the winners of the 2006 World Cup.
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posted by mark_s at 3:53 PM 0 comments

Today's Matches

Argentina v Serbia & Montenegro:

Serbia aren't a bad side but expect them to get flattened as the Argentine steamroller gathers pace.

Holland vs Ivory Coast:

The Ivory Coast and diving gold medalist Didier Drogba in particular were excellent against Argentina. Holland were inconsistent in their first match. I like a draw for this one.

Mexico v Angola:

Forgive me for not really caring, but I would expect the Mexicans to nick a win here.
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posted by mark_s at 1:27 PM 0 comments

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Germany, Ecuador, England Through To Next Round

Well, the next round of the 2006 World Cup will feature Germany, England and the mighty Ecuador after last gasp wins from Germany (1-0 vs Poland) and England (2-0 vs Trinidad and Tobago).

Neither of the two big nations has looked very impressive, although bringing on Aaron Lennon for Owen was at least a good substitution by Sven for once.

I'm kinda hoping that Trinidad and Tobago beats Paraguay and England defeat Sweden, as I think Trinidad and Tobago have been extremely impressive and deserve it.

Now there's a team that really has proved its critics wrong !
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posted by mark_s at 10:17 PM 4 comments

Football Cliches Deconstructed: Proving The Critics Wrong

If you are English and listen to football commentary, you'll have heard the phrase "he's proving his critics wrong" - literally - thousands of times.

This happens when a player who has been criticised by the press/fans/commentators actually has a good game. For example, many people think that Peter Crouch isn't a player of international quality. However, he scored 3 against Jamaica. This, apparently, proved his critics wrong.

Um...no, sorry, it doesn't prove anything of the kind. His critics think he doesn't score enough goals (he doesn't - the stats back this up), they think that - in games against quality opposition - he looks lost (he does) and they think that there are better English strikers than him (well Darren Bent got 20+ goals this season - Crouch got, um, a few).

One good game doesn't prove anything at all. It certainly doesn't prove that his critics are know nothing idiots - which is always the implication. So, let's stop with glib inanities like 'he's certainly proved his critics wrong today, Andy'.
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posted by mark_s at 3:40 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Will The Real Spain Please Sit Down

Spain demolished a nervy looking Ukraine side 4-0 this afternoon. At least, I think it was Spain. They were wearing Spain's colours, had players with Spanish names, an overabundance of talent on the bench - but they failed to choke in that way Spain are legendary for.

In fact, they were good. Really good. Alonso, Garcia, Ramos, Villa, Torres - all great. Should I risk suggesting that "this could be Spain's year" ?

Nah, so many people have done that in the past and looked foolish. I'm not going to join them just yet. Great game, though.
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posted by mark_s at 5:36 PM 3 comments

Today's Matches

Spain v Ukraine:
Prediction - Ukraine to win

Germany v Poland:
Prediction - Germany to win.

Saudi Arabia v Tunisia:
Prediction - Tunisia to win.

View World Cup Results, Stats and Fixtures
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posted by mark_s at 10:38 AM 1 comments

Wake Me When It's Over

France: 0 Switzerland: 0

Uh ? What's that ? It's finished. Oh good. Never in the course of human conflict were so many bored so much by so few.

This was a terrible game - France (with a combined age of about 3,000 or something) looked every inch the fading old pros while Switzerland just didn't have enough to really cause Barthez any problems.

Before the tournament a few commentators were predicting a resurgent France. On this showing, they won't make it past the first round again.

A word to Mr Domenech and the French team ... please don't make me sit through another match like that. My time is too precious. I could have been watching paint dry or something else more stimulating.
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posted by mark_s at 10:23 AM 1 comments

Brazil Walk It (Well Ronaldo Does)

Brazil: 1 Croatia: 0 - not exactly a scoreline to strike fear into the hearts of Brazil's future World Cup opponents.

However, Brazil did walk it. Well, Ronaldo walked it until his substitution. Fearing the possible consequences of breaking into a light jog, Big Ron walked around a bit, had one shot (off target), walked around a bit more and then was replaced by Robinho.

In sympathy, Adriano tried the same approach but was forced to run - even sprint ! - on a couple of occasions so he managed to stay on the pitch a little longer.

Still, it was better than the France v Switzerland game. Not saying much, I know.
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posted by mark_s at 12:10 AM 4 comments

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Togo Or Not Togo

The saga of the unfortunately named Otto Pfister and the Togo national team got even more complex today.

Having
quit over a pay and bonuses dispute, it appeared this morning that Mr Pfister had been reinstated just in time for their opening match with South Korea.

Togo's press officer Messan Attalou
told local reporters: "He will be in charge for the opening match and for the duration of the tournament."

This has come as quite a shock to the
Togo sports minister who seems to know nothing about it and to assistant coach Kodjovi Mawuena who believes that he is in charge of the team !

Great fun ! I love the Africans - they seem to manage to complicate even the simplest thing. Not so good for them, but extremely funny for the rest of us.

I also have a sneaking feeling that Togo won't win their match. Wonder why ?

Visit 2006 World Cup Stats Centre - Scores, Fixtures and Results
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posted by mark_s at 11:31 AM 0 comments

Monday, June 12, 2006

Some Random World Cup Thoughts

Firstly, damn...Koller's just been injured. Looks bad - probably his hamstring. That's my 80/1 outsider for the golden boot shot to pieces.

Secondly, isn't it about time that managers gave Shaka Hislop the respect he deserves. He always seems to start out as second choice to someone else. He re-joined West Ham as understudy to the mercurial Roy Carroll, he was second choice to Kelvin Jack in the T&T team, he even ended up second choice at Portsmouth. Luckily for West Ham and Trinidad and Tobago, the first choice goalkeepers got injured and Hislop stepped up to the plate once again to show what a class keeper he is and always has been.

Give the guy some respect.

Thirdly, the rumours coming out of the England camp that Rooney will play in the Trinidad and Tobago match....don't be so bloody stupid. England shouldn't risk Rooney until absolutely necessary. A match against T&T isn't necessary. Manchester United are already threatening to sue Sven and the F.A if Rooney so much as gets heatstroke. Why take the risk ? Idiots.

Visit 2006 World Cup Stats Centre - Scores, Fixtures and Results
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posted by mark_s at 6:16 PM 2 comments

Y' See Sven...If You Use Tactics, You Get Results

In complete contrast to England's turgid 1-0 victory over Paraguay, Australia's 3-1 win over Japan today showed just how much of a positive difference good tactical changes can make to a game.

Sven - in England's match - took Owen off because, he said, "we weren't keeping the ball well enough", put on Downing and Hargreaves (neither of whom could keep the ball) and turned a fairly good England performance into a travesty.

By contrast, Gus Hiddinck - seeing his Australia side 1-0 down and outplayed by the skillful Japanese - put on Tim Cahill to add another attacking dimension to the side, changed things around a little and introduced two new strikers, including ex-Coventry man John Aloisi. The result: Australia won 3 -1. The scorers ? Cahill and Aloisi.

That's what top class management is. Having something in reserve and knowing when and how to use it. I hope Mr Eriksson was paying attention.
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posted by mark_s at 6:10 PM 0 comments