Friday, July 14, 2006

to blog or not to blog

I really enjoyed blogging the world cup and loved the last month. Now I am faced with the reality of life without football. Bombs left and right, people dying and the middle east heading towards the middle ages. This lead me to decide that I need to start a new blog. A blog that is soley dedicated to one of my true passions; football. As of today I will try not to post to this dire polictically oriented and for the most part fucked up blog. I'm moving to See you there, it's a lot more exciting and refreshing.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Zizou, what did you do?

It seems unbelievable that the great Zidane did what he did in that game. One of the world's greatest players leaves behind a legacy that spanned 10 years of domination of world football. He did it all, winning everything and in style, but he will forever be remembered for the way he head butted Materazzi in the chest. A momentary lapse of reason and maybe he decided that he could no longer take any abuse, but to do it in is such a game is unforgiven. Aside from that incident the game was a typical final, ebbing and flowing with both teams dominating seperate spells of the game. France were lucky to be awared the penalty for the slightest of touches on Malouda. In my opinion that was a poor decision by the referee and a great dive by Malouda. The Italians regrouped and dominated the next 20 minutes of play. The managed to score and should have been ahead were it not for the bar. From then on it was all Zidane. He took control of the midfield and in the second half it appeared that Italy had run out of gas. I thought that Toni's goal was valid and he was the only Italian player who was not offside, but aside from that Italy did nothing except defend and hoping that they can win it on penalty kicks. Although they won the game, they were not the better team on the night, but were the best team in this tournament so deserve the championship. What will ultimately be remembered from that night though will not be the victory but the head butt. That single moment of madness by a genius of the game.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Italy vs France predictions

We're down to the last game of what was for the most part an average world cup. Hopefully tomorrow's game will be worthy of a world cup final, although I am certain there will not be many goals scored. The game will be very even between two experience sides, although I give Italy a slight edge. They have more depth than France, particularly in midfield and wings. Both teams are excellent in defense and in Thuram and Cannavaro have probably the top defenders in the world. France will as usual depend on Zidane, who should be tightly marked by Gattuso. If Italy can do what the Portugese did to France before conceding the penalty then they will win the game. They will need to keep Zidance off the ball and prevent him from feeding Henry. Italy's hopes will be pinned on Pirlo and Totti to try and carve the French defense. They can also depend on their flying wingers, Zambrotta and Grosso who love to attack. If France end up winning the game it will probably be from a set piece. I'm going for a 1-0 win to Italy.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

For all the Peter Crouch fans out there, some where.

Peter Crouch's finest moment

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ronaldo can't stop Zizou

It looks like whenever Zidane steps on the field and plays against a "Ronaldo" he ends up winning. The French came, they saw and they conquered and that pretty much sums up this boring game. France killed the game after the penalty kick and Ronaldo's heroics and relentless running wasn't able to budge the French defense. The way France played yesterday was dire, boring and effective. Looks like Domenech admires the "Catanecco" perfected by the Italian sides of the past. Portugal had no chance of coming back because they lack a striker. Pauleta can bag goals in the French league and that's pretty much it. Thuram and Ronaldo were amazing. Thuram defended like his life depened on it. Ronaldo kept on running at the French and showed a lot of character in withstanding the endless booing aimed at him. If only he'd stay on his feet more!

Where was the Brazilian defense when Henry scored?

Check out this video to find out what Roberto Carlos was doing while Zidane was about to take the free kick.

Portugal vs France predictions

Portugal are the underdogs and Scolari knows that. He also knows that they stand no chance if they give Zidance time and space to dictate the game. Portugal are a good team with an excellent coach. They have solid players all over the pitch, but I don't think that Pauletta will trouble the French backline. France depend Zidane to dictate the game so I expect Scolari to man mark him, hoping that Henry is left with little supply playing as the lone striker. I'm going for a 1-0 win to France altough I hope I get this wrong. I want to see Big Phil again in a final.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Ciao Deutschland!

Probably the best game of the tournament so far and worthy of a semi-final. I fancied Italy to win it and that is what happened. Italy are a fantastic team lead by two great players; Cannavaro and Pirlo. Cannavaro can play alone in defense and still help his team keep a clean sheet. He is truly a joy to watch. Pirlo is the midfield master mind. He controls the pace of the game and his passing is second to none. I liked Lippi's changes, which were all unlike an Italian coach as they were all offensive. I suppose he knew that Germany never lose penalty kicks while Italy never wins. I labeled the Italians as cheats after their game against Australia but to be honest the game was very clean and there was none of that traditional diving. Germany are a young team, but I am still not convinced that they can be a great team. They will need to prove themselves on foreign soil where they are not lifted by their home crowd.

P.S. Where were Ballack and Totti?

Germany vs Italy predictions

I doubt that these two teams have lots of fans outside of their own countries. They both play a blend of mechanical and ultra defensive football, which can be boring. I like it and admire their style of play. It is extremely efficient and is not necessarily that boring. If you do not belive me, count the number of times these teams reached the world cup final in the last 20+ years. What is interesting about today's game is that both teams are not that boring. Germany has played some very good attacking football and Italy has scored a lot more than it usually does. The Italians have been magnificent in defense and I still find it hard to believe that Klose-Podolski will score against them. Toni has at last found the target so he might feel that he has a chance to crack the "weak" German defense. In my opinion the Italian midfield is more dynamic that the German one. Italy have Pirlo and Totti who can orchestrate things from the middle of the field. Germany rely on Ballack who is a great player but I expect that Gattuso will keep him busy. I'm going for a 1-0 win Italy.

The Rooney,Ronaldo saga

A lot has been said recently about Rooney's sending off and what part Ronaldo played in that. To be fair the sending off was harsh. In my opinion Rooney didn't intentionally try to castrate Carvalho. They were both going for the ball and Rooney accidentally squashed Ricardo's balls. Shit like this happens in football. I also believe that Ronaldo's reaction was normal. It's a tense quarter final and you've just seen your team mate's balls squashed, what do you do? Stand there and watch. I'd have done the same; confronted Rooney and shouted at the referee. Having said that I can understand that the poor referee had no choice but to send Rooney off. It's a lot easier for me to say that it was not intentional because I have the replay, the referee has to make an immediate decision. People tend to forget that the referee's main job is to protect the players. Now, is there an area that needs more protection that a player's balls? He had to protect Carvalho's crown jewels :-)
The unfortunate thing about this mess is the role of the press who tried to vilify Ronaldo and blame him for the sending off. I am not a big fan of Ronaldo, although I do admire his skills, but to do so is unfair and missing the point. Not to mention is it a complete exagerration. I really doubt Ronaldo has the power to send players off. I'm also shocked at a former player like Allan Shearer hoping that Rooney "sticks one on him". Absolutely disgusting.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Brazil and England out.

Although I predicted that both would win, I don't think I really believed that. Both teams are quite similar in the way they were disposed. They struggled throughout the tournament and never delivered on their potential. Brazil in particular never played as a team but as a group of individuals. Ronaldinho looks to have believed that the stunts he pulls on the Joga Bonito video clips can be done in the world cup. He should learn from Zidane. England believed so much in Wayne Rooney and dubbed him the "next Pele", which off course is rubbish. Lastly both teams were lead by coaches who lacked the courage to make the right yet difficult decisions. Beckham was a waste for England and should have been benched, while relying on an overweight Ronaldo upfront was silly at best. Both teams needed someone to pop their halo and they are deservedly out.