Metamorphosis

Friday, June 30, 2006

Brazil vs France predictions

Brazil have so far dozed through the tournament and have been outplayed in every single game except probably against Japan. Yet they are the only team in the world that can be completely outplayed for 80 minutes and still win 3-0. This approach doesn't work against a top quality team like France though. Should Brazil put a display similar to the one againt Ghana, they will lose and by a wide margin. Thierry Henry will not miss like Gyan. In my opinion Brazil need to start with Ronaldo and Robinho to win this game. Ronaldo is slow (and yes overweight) so he'll be easily contained by Gallas and Thuram that is why he needs the speedy Robinho by him. Robinho is fast, skilled and very hungry and can carve the ageing French backline for his overweight but deadly partner to score. Ronaldinho needs to have a huge game and come to life because this is not the world player of the year. Juninho should start instead of the poor Emerson. He spreads the ball much better than Emerson and is the best free kick taker in the world, period. He won't, because Parreira lacks the balls; he's not Scolari.

France will as usual rely on Zidane to orchestrate the midfield and feed Henry. France will try and take advantage of free kicks and hope that they can repeat what they did in 1998. I'm hoping that Domenech will play Trezeguet along side Henry to put more pressure on a fragile Brazilian backline, particularly with Trezeguet's aerial threat. He won't, because he lacks the balls; he's not Scolari.

This one is too tough for me to call, but I'm going for 2-1 for Brazil. France are too old :-)

England vs Portugal predictions

This game is better known as "Scolari vs Eriksson III". In all previous encounters it was Scolari who managed to pull a rabbit out of his bag of tricks and squeeze a win, tomorrow will be different though. England have been playing quite poorly, but winning, which is all that matters and they feel comfortable that they can repeat that pattern tomorrow against a weakened Portugal. Tactically the Portugese are much better because Scolari is savvier than Eriksson, but with an ageing lineup and injuries I am afriad that will not be enought against a very hungry English team. I'm going for a 1-0 win to England.

Italy vs Ukraine post game analysis

Italy is player better and better as the tournament progresses and they are now my favorites to win it. I was not surprised that they defeated a very poor Ukrainian side, but the efficiency of the win was impressive. Tactically they are superb and their defense is by far the best in the world.

Germany vs Argentina post game analysis

Pekerman blew it with his bizzare changes and Argentina lost a game which they should have won. Removing Riquelme might have been forgiven if he'd been replaced by Aimar or Messi as Argentina needed someone to hold the ball when leading 1-0. Unfortuntely for them they conceded a goal and ran out of ideas after that. They clearly missed a play maker. Germany again proved two things: they never give up and they never miss penalty kicks.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Italy vs Ukraine predictions

Probably the least exciting of all games which is no surprise since Italy is taking a part. The Italians have the best defense and goalkeeper of the tournament. Add to that some special theatrical skills by their offense and you have a winning, albeit cheating, combination. Ukraine are one dimensional and rely on Schevchenko who will be easily dealt with by Cannavaro and co. My prediction: 1-0 Italy (unfortunately).

Germany vs Argentina predictions

The world cup starts tomorrow. Forget all of the other games, the quarter finals is where heros are made and tomorrow's games has all the writings to be a classic. The home team versus the mighty Argentinians. I see no clear cut favorite for this game although I fancy Argentina. Argentina have a better defense and midfield but lack the fire power of the Germans. Klose and Podolski are the best attacking duo of this world cup thus far. Germany's weakest point is its defense which has been untested but will be by Crespo, Saviolla and Messi, should he play. Argentina will try and absort the German onslaught in the opening stages and hope that they do not concede a goal within the first 15 minutes. Should they do so they will be able to set the game's pace and dictate things. I'm going for a 1-0 win for Argentina.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Round of 16; my thoughts

Out of 32 teams that started the tournament, only 8 remain and if you haven't noticed 7 of them are the top seeds. Things might not look better, right? Not quite so, particulary the referees. In my opinion FIFA screwed it big time. Whatever it is they told the referees back fired and I hope that this trigger happy way of awarding cards and penalty for every touch will cease. It's killing the game and is clearly in favor of the bigger teams. I am sure Sepp Blatter is very happy that all the big guns are through to the next round. Anyways here are my thoughts on the teams that progressed.

  • Germany: One of the better sides of the second round although they were hardly troubled by a very poor Swedish side. I like the attacking duo of Klose and Podolski they are fast, strong and hardly miss so they will be a handful for any defense. Their midfield is good especially the great Ballack. Their weakest link is their defense, you just feel that they will concede goals against better teams. With the home advantage they can go all the way if they manage to defeat Argentina.
  • Argentina: Solid, balanced and very effective. With no clear weak point, this Argentinian team will be very difficult to defeat. Unfortunately for them they face Germany in the next round. An early final in my opinion and its very difficult to predict who will win.
  • England: Shite comes to mind. Yet another win and they managed to stumble into the next round. This English team reminds me of a tired boxer in the 12th round who is waiting for the knock-out punch. The problem is the punch never comes. Having said that, I wouldn't be surprised if they win it. Remember Italy in 1994 stumbled all the way to the final. Their next test is against Scolari's Portugal and they will get a massive boost if they go through.
  • Portugal: If they concentrate on playing football and not Kung-fu they can be a very entertaining side. Their match against Holland was a scandal by all means. They are lead by a very savvy coach and have quality players everywhere.
  • Italy: Cheats + a rock solid defense = can win it.
  • Ukraine: Spain must be trying to figure out how the team they demolished in their opening game is in the next round and they are not. Well, they won't last too long as Italy will take care of that, although I really hope they kick the cheats out.
  • Brazil: Unconvincing yet efficient and quite lucky. The Brazilian teams of Tele Santana are long gone and it would be naive to expect them to play the way they did in 1982 and 1986. These teams were magnificent to watch yet won nothing. The current Brazilian playing style lead them to 3 consecutive world cup finals and 2 wins, so they won't change it any time soon. Having said that they need to shape up and play like a team if they want to defeat France. Ghana exposed them many times and you know that if this was Henry out there he'd have buried all these chances. Brazil usually move into top gear at this stage so it will be interesting to see how they play.
  • France: I thought it was aurevoir Zizou but he proved me wrong. France are solid and very experienced. They will be extremely difficult to beat especially if they manage to keep on scoring as they've done recently.

FIFA = Fucking Insane Football Association

That's it, I've had it. FIFA is turning football into a contactless game. I just saw the penalty awared to Spain and it is shocking. This is not basketball where every contact is called for, this is football! FIFA will destroy this game with these overzealous calls.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Spain vs France predictions

First of, this game will not be entertaining. It will be a cagey midfield battle with Viera and Makalele on one side and Fabregas and Xavi on the other side. Both teams have a solid defense and excellent goal keepers. Both teams have good attackers so it's quite even and could go either way. I'm going against the odds and history and hoping that Spain win it.

Aurevoir et merci Zizou, you were the greatest!

Brazil vs Ghana predictions

I think Ghana will be easily dealt with by Brazil. I can see Ghana defending very well and holding the midfield, but without Essien it will not be rock solid. Ghana are a good team but they lack the final touch. They missed many chances against the Czech Republic although they ended up winning the game 2-0. They must take any chance they get against Brazil, because they know that Brazil will take theirs. I'm going for 1-0 Brazil.

The men in black need a red card

Apart from a couple of games involving Argentina and Germany the second round games have been a disappointment so far. Some of that has to do with the tension and fear of losing but a lot of it is related to the "new" refeering methods being applied. I can understand that FIFA wants to clamp down on shirt-pulling, diving and whatever cheap tricks (read cheating) that player can occassionaly resort to, but pulling out a card for every foul committed is not the way to solve this. The Portugal-Holland game was a complete farce a fiasco and an insult to the millions of people who turned in to watch it. The problems continued in the Italy game with two horribe calls. The red card was in no way deserved, it was a yellow card at best and the penalty should have been a yellow card for a blatant dive. It's not your regular dive where a player acts like he stepped on a mine without any contact. This one was a smart dive, the player leaves his foot dragging behind him knowing that the defender's body is in the way and the rest is history. I just hope tomorrow's games and the rest of the world cup will see better refs and better games.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Holland vs Portual predictions

A very balanced game with no clear favorite. Portugal have the better midfield lead by Figo and Deco while Holland have a better front line with Robben, Van Nistelroy and Van Persie. Both teams are managed by good coaches although Scolari is far a lot more savvy than Van Basten. I'm going for penalty kicks and Portugal winning it.

England vs Ecuador predictions

Should be a straight forward game to England and they should have no problems in disposing Ecuador. England will probably go for a 4-5-1 formation with Rooney as a lone striker. This will give a lot of room for Gerrard and Lampard to roam right behind Rooney and attack at will. Ecuador will try and contain England and keep it tight. If they manage to keep the score 0-0 at half time they will feel confident that they can take this game to extra time and penalty kicks or somehow snatch a winner. Ecuador's main chances will come from quick counter attacks of dead ball situations, hoping for England to defend in a manner similar to they way they did against Sweden. I'm going for a 2-0 win for England.

Mexico vs Argentina

I predicted a 2-0 win to Argentina and although the result was not that far off, it was far form easy. Mexico had a better game and should have won it in regular time were it not for a bit of unfortunate luck that lead to the first Argentinian goal. Argentina were quite disappointing throughout the game and won due to a wonder strike. Riquelme looked poor and wasn't involved in many parts of the game. He needs to get involved more if they stand a chance of winning this cup. When this team clicks they are the best in the world. I cannot wait for their 1/4 final against Germany.

Germany vs Sweden

I must admit the game was well below par, particularly from the Swedes. Sweden looked very poor especially their defense which looked like it could be penetrated by a second division team in any European league. Were it not for the heroic saves of their keeper the score would have been at least 5-0 to Germany. On the other hand credit must be given to a very solid German side. They are very fluid all over the field espeically on offense. Klose is to me the man of the tournament so far. His finishing is deadly and he creates so many opportunities to his team mates. Argentina vs Germany should be a cracker!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Predictions for the 6/23 games

The first games of the round of 16 start tomorrow and I think they will be a lot of fun.

Germany vs Sweden
Germany have improved as the tournament has progressed which should be a worry for other teams. They'll have a full squad and with the crowd behind them will be difficult to beat. Sweden are always tough and will make sure that the Germans are not given any space on the ball. Hopefully they can rely on a fit again Ibrahimovic. I think dead ball situations will play a major role in this game. Germany will eventually win it 1-0.

Argentina vs Mexico
If Argentina put in a display similar to the one against Serbia & Montenegro then Mexico might as well stay home. Lavolpe should be worried about his Mexican side, particularly in defense where they have been quite vulnerable. The only way I see Mexico winning this game is if Argentina loses it. Argentina will win it 2-0.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Predictions to stop until the round of 16

I'll just say one thing: GO GHANA!
One more thing: It was terrible to see Pavel Nedved kneel down after playing his last game. Such a great player. He will be missed.

Busy at work lately

Juggling work and the world cup is not that simple particularly in the US. I've missed a couple of games in the last 2 days. I hope this will not happen again because the football has been of the highest quality so far!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My predictions for (some of) the 6/21 games

Mexico vs Portugal
I forgot to blog last night and the game has already started so I'll abstain.

Argentina vs Holland
When these two meet the outcome is always lovely football. This is the first real test for both teams and should be very exciting. Argentina played the best football of the tournament so far. Holland are a good team have two of the most exciting wingers of the tournament and will cause a lot of problems for the Argentian defense. If Argentina play like they did against S&M they will easily defeat the Dutch. I'm going for a 2-1 win to Argentina.

6/20 games

Germany vs Ecuador
I predicted a 1-0 win to Germany so again right outcome, wrong result. Germany looked very sharp and Ecuador played its poorest game of the tournament so far. They were clearly going for the draw but that didn't work out very well. Germany are progressing every game and with the home field advantage it will be very difficult to knock them out particulary if Klose is on fire as he is now. Ecuador will most probably be eliminated by England, depending on which English side shows up to play!

Engand vs Sweded
A tale of two halves. I only watched the first half and it looked like England was in cruise control. Joe Cole was tormenting the Swedes and scored a beauty, then it all seemed to go wrong in the second half. Judging from the highlights I saw Sweden could have easily won the game. Owen's injury will cause a lot of concern to Eriksson who unwisely decided not to include Defoe in his squad. England will proceed to play Ecuador and will beat them. Sweden and Germany should be interested to watch, so I won't predict anything yet!

Monday, June 19, 2006

My predictions for the 6/20 games

I'll only post my predictions for the games that really matter.

Germany vs Ecuador
I'm really looking forward to see Ecuador play against a solid team. Germany were not exactly solid against Costa Rica but they improved a lot against Poland. I think both sides will go for the win and I'm having a hard time coming out with a prediction for the game. I'll go for a 1-0 Germany win.

England vs Sweden
The English will tell you that they do not mind playing Germany, but in reality they do not want to play them. What are the odds of England beating Germany in a world cup, let alone one held in Germany? I think the outcome of the previous game will play a big part in deciding this one. Sweden were disappointing and I doubt they will trouble the solid English defense. Wayne Rooney will provide a big boost for the English who also need to improve a lot if they want to win it. I'm going for a 0-0 draw.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Predictions for the 6/19 games

I won't predicat anything for tomorrow's games as they are all pretty much one sided. Maybe I can predict how many goals Saudi Arabia will concede :-)

6/18 games

This is my off day as I didn't get a single correct result.

Japan vs Croatia
They huffed and puffed but it seemed like both teams were trying to move a moutain that just wouldn't budge. Perhaps it was the heat, but then they are playing in Germany not Kuwait. A poor game.

Brazil vs Australia
The score line is flattering to Brazil who although played better than against the Croats still look unconvincing. They rely on individual brilliance as opposed to team play. I also think their tactics are incorrect. Ronaldo and Adriano are too static and they need to move more to open up spaces. They are both target players and do not like moving a lot to create space thus I do not think they can play together well. I think Robinho should start instead of Ronaldo and that Parreira should adjust his tactics. Brazil will probably defeat their opponent in the next round but Spain will probably await them in the 1/4 final and I do not see them defeating them.

France vs South Korea
Wow France finally scored! They couldn't get the win and I think they played quite well in the first half but we very disappointing in the second half. Such talented players but they cannot play as a team. I always feel bad watching the great Zidane now; a shadow of the master player he was.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Predictions for the 6/18 games

Japan vs Croatia
A must win game for both teams and they will be hoping that Brazil does then a favor and beats Australia. It will be an entertaining game to watch. I thought the Croat's played well against Brazil and should have earned a draw. I fancy them over the Japanese so I am going for a 2-1 win to Croatia.

Brazil vs Australia
On paper this looks like the mismatch of the tournament, but it will not be an easy game. Australia will keep it tight and play an aggressive game hoping to hit Brazil on the counter attack or through a set piece. Brazil need to improve a lot and play a faster game if they are to defeat this solid Aussie side. This game could be the surprise of the tournament so I am going for a 1-0 win to Australia.

South Korea vs France
It's been more than 8 years since France scored in the world cup and it doesn't look like they will score anytime soon. I'm going for a 0-0 draw again!

6/17 games

Portugal vs Iran:
I was too tired to wake up and watch the whole game so I only watched the last 20 minutes. Portugal look unconvincing, but they don't care as they qualified to the next round with this win. Deco's strike was brilliant and Figo showed how clever he is with the play that lead to the penalty. I still think Big Phil should scold Ronaldo for trying to nutmeg the whole field. He needs to be more of a team player.

Ghana vs Czech Republic
Finally an African victory and what a great one it was! Ghana looked very well organized and their solid midfield lead by the indomitable Essien worked very hard to contain the Czechs. I thought they should have scored at least another 2. Their strikers are really poor, but they won and that's all they care about. The Czechs were really disappointing and I doubt they will go far after this performance. They clearly miss Koller upfront.

Italy vs USA
This game will be remembered as the battle of Kaiserslautern. A gritty and determined performance from the US and they got a well deserved point. The Italians were poor particularly after having gone ahead. Daniele De Rossi should be banned for the rest of the tournament as his blatant elbow was horrific.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Predications for the 6/17 games

Portugal vs Iran
Portugal were quite poor on their opening game and need to improve a lot. They are an extremely talented side managed by one of the best in the world. I'm sure Big Phil would have made it clear that they were terrible against Angola. Iran are a good team, but I doubt that they can match the Portugese. I'm going for a 2-0 win for Portugal.

Italy vs USA
The US put arguably the worst display of the cup so far, although one might argue that the Polish performance against Ecuador was worse. They need to improve big time if they stand a chance against a very impressive Italy. the Italians will play their usual patient and cautious game. If they score first then Bruce Arena can book a plane back to America. The US will have to attack Italy and their defense looked quite leaky against the Czech, so they will be vunerable to the sharp Italian forwards. I'm going for a 1-0 win to Italy.

Czech Republic vs Ghana
I thought that Ghana played a good game against Italy and were unlucky to concede the second goal. They are a solid team but lack a finisher. The Czechs will feel the absence of Koller, but they can always depend on Nedved and Roszicky. The game will be tight particulary from Ghana who will go for at least a point. I do not think they have what it takes to defeat the Czechs though. 2-0 Czech Republic.

6/16 games

Best day of the world cup so far and group C lived up to its expectations, particularly Argentina.

Argentina vs Serbia & Montenegro
What the Argentian team did today will be talked about for a very long time. The second goal is probably one of the best goals ever scored in a world cup. They were simply awesome. Breathtaking and beautiful to watch. The beautiful game at its best and today they showed the world how the game should be played. Serbia & Montenegro were shell shocked and by the second half they had clearly given up. They were savaged by a mighty team. I will never forget this game.

Holland vs Ivory Coast
An unconvincing Dutch victory. I thought the Ivory Coast made Africa proud in the way they played both of their games so far. They played with a lot of heart and are a very talented team. It is quite ironic that Didier Dorgba; their talismatic player, squandered their best opportunity to equalize when he lazily passed the ball to Arouna Kone on a quick counter attack.

Mexico vs Angola
The Mexicans were very poor on the night and should be very disappointed with their display. Make no mistake though, Angola will be mightly proud of their first ever world cup point. They might have been boring and ultra defensive, but they knew that they cannot compete with a talented and dangerous Mexican team. Congratulations to tiny Angola!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Predications for the 6/16 games

Argentina vs Serbia & Montenegro
This will be a very interesting game. I thought S&M were disappointing in their opening game against Holland although they have very talented players. They must win to stay alive so they will have to attack Argentina. Argentina were one of the most impressive teams so far, but they are so dependent on Riquelme. If he has a good game tomorrow they will win. I'm couting that he will, so I'm going for a 1-0 Argentina.

Holland vs Ivory Coast
Both teams looked good on their opening games so again this will be a tough game. Robben will again be they key for Holland and needs to pass the ball more to get V. Nistelroy involved. I'm hoping that the Ivory Coast play Drogba and Dindane on the attack and go for a win. I'll go for 1-0 win for Holland.

Mexico vs Angola
Mexico will be too good and will win it; 2-0.

6/15 games

Well I got all of the correct results but my scores were all inaccurate.

Ecuador vs Costa Rica
I've changed my opinon on the Ecuadorian team. They played really well. Attractive and solid football. I'm looking forward to their game against Germany, should be a cracker.

England vs Trinidad & Tobago
2-0 is a very flaterring score for England. I had no doubt that would eventually score, but thought they were quite poor. T&T defended quite well, but I doubt that they really believed that they could sit back and sustain the constant English bombardment. England will have much harder tests and need to move to the next gear if they want to win it.

Sweden vs Paraguay
I didn't watch the game, so have no comments.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Predictions for the 6/15 games

Ecuador vs Costa Rica
I have not been that impressed with these teams. Ecuador are a good team but defeated Poland because the Poles were terrible. Costa Rica were entertaining to watch against Germany and scored 2 goals because the German defense was not there. Both teams are will play for 3 points so it will be an open game. I'm going for an Ecuador win; 2-1

England vs Trinidad & Tobago
Good teams improve as the tournament progresses and that is exactly what England need to do. They need to win and win in style. T&T will be pumped up for this game and hoping for another super-human display from Shaka Hislop. I see no other outcome for this game aside than an England win; 3-0.

Paraguay vs Sweden
Both teams still stand a chance of progressing so this is a vital game. Paraguay are always tough, but they cannot score. Sweden looked poor against T&T but have the fire power to deliver the good. I'm going for a Sweden win; 2-0

6/14 games

I knew my predictions would be out of whack, I got 1 out of 3 correct.

Spain vs Ukraine
Spain set the bar today with a sublime display. I've never seen a more rampant Spanish side. If they can continue performing like they did today they will win it. They were fast, hungry, attacked from all over the field, defended very well and scored for fun. Total football. My only complaint, if it is a complaint, is that I feel they peaked too early. Teams like to take it bit by bit during the world cup and peak towards the end. Peak earlier and you risk injuring players and showing your opponents what you are capable. You then lose your element of surprise. Ukraine were really poor and they were out of it when Spain were 2-0 up. I still think both of these teams will progress from the group.

Saudi Arabia vs Tunisia
I didn't watch the game so I have no comments.

Germany vs Poland
An entertaining high tempo game and a much better showing by the Polish team. Germany were there usual self, efficient and running at the opposition all the time. I thought Klinsmann was very smart with this changes and that they fully deserved the win. Poland are a good side, but have no teeth. Their strikers are impotent. They will not be missed from the world cup.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Predications for the 6/14 games

Ukraine vs Spain:
I'm going for a 0-0 draw.

Tunisia vs Saudi Arabia:
I wish Tunisia would rout the Saudi's 5-0, but that won't happen. I'm going for a 1-0 win for Tunisia

Germany vs Poland:
Derbys are always very difficult to predict, but given the terrible way the Poles played on their opening games I am going for a German win. 2-0 Germany.

Something tells me I will get nothing correct :-)

6/13 games

Again I got two out of three predictions correct, although none of my scores were right.

Togo vs Korea:
I didn't watch the game so have no comments.

France vs Switzerland:
The last time that France scored in the world cup was in the 1998 final against Brazil. It seems that they want to preserve the memory of that goal and never score again. They were terrible. The Swiss team played well enough to contain them and should have won the game had they taken their chances. France need to improve a lot, but they need to score first! It's such a terrible feeling to watch the great Zidane look so out of sorts.

Brazil vs Croatia:
I expected the game to be a tight afair even though I predicted Brazil to win it by 2-0. Brazil were not that impressive except for Kaka. Their forwards had a night off especially Ronaldo who looks like he had a dozen German sausages before the game started. Brazil are notorious for their slow starts and will get better once the tournament progress. The only worry Parreira should have is if they put a performance like this against the Czechs or Italians whom they will meet in the second round. Croatia were impressive especially in defense as they didn't give Brazil any room to run at them. They just let Kaka off the hook once and paid dearly for it. They stand a good chance of progressing from this group if they can beat Australia and Japan. I still believe that Brazil will not win it this time around.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Predications for the 6/13 games

Togo vs South Korea
I've not seem these teams recently play. Togo was poor during the African cup of nations. I'll go for a Korea win.

France vs Switzerland
These teams met in the qualifying round and both games ended in a draw (1-1 and 0-0). The French are going to be under a tremendous amount of pressure to avoid any opening game embarassments. I'm going for a very slim win to France; 1-0.

Brazil vs Croatia
The world cup officially starts with Brazil's first game. Croatia will keep it tight and depend on the counter attack or set pieces. Brazil have so much depth and are awesome in attack, it will just be very difficult to contain them for 90 minutes. I'm going for a Brazil win; 2-0.

6/12 games

Well I managed to guess the outcome of two games out of three, but didn't get any result right. Not bad though.

Australia vs Japan
Talk about being tough as nails, Australia are going to be very difficult to play against. Strong, aggressive and fast. They major weak point is that they are not very technical and at times naive. Japan are a good team, but were no match to the stronger and taller Aussies. You got to love the snafu by the Egyptian referee too.

USA vs Czech Republic
I guess the surprise of the day was the ease with which the Czech team disposed of the US. I overestimated the US team and underestimated the Czechs. To be honest, this was the poorest US team I've seen in a while, if not the poorest team of the world cup so far. They didn't do anything. Probably the first team to pack their bags and head back home. Watch out for this Czech team, although the loss of Koller will be a huge blow to them.

Italy vs Ghana
I predicted a 1-0 win for Italy and nearly had it were it not for Kuffor's gift. The game was a classical Italian affair. Keep it tight, steal and goal and sit on it. Ghana had some good chances but they clearly need a good striker. This world cup will be poorest showing for African teams.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Predications for the 6/12 games

1- Italy v Ghana: Opening games are alway tough so this is a difficult one to call. On paper Italy is the better side, but Ghana is a tough team to play against. I think Italy will win this game but by a slim margin. Prediction Italy 1 Ghana 0.

2- USA vs Czech: Again a very difficult game. One thing I am sure of is that the Czech team will not be the same team we saw in Euro 2004. They are older and the engine room lead by Nedved is no longer that efficient. The US are always a difficult team to play against. They are very physical and have matured a lot. Prediction: USA 1 Czech 1.

3- Australia v Japan: I am no fan of both of these teams. They are both very mechanical and play the game with no flair. Australia are always tough to play against and are a very aggressive team. Japan are very fast and have a good counter attacking game. Both teams have talened coaches, but I think Australia will settle this one. Prediction: Australia 1 Japan 0

It's quite ironic but 3 of the teams I dislike the most play tomorrow. Can you guess which teams these are?

World cup report 6/11

Here's my analysis on the day's games.

1- Holland v Serbia and Montenegro: This was "The Robben" show. Arjen Robben single handedly tore the Serbian defense apart. I liked this Dutch team a lot. They looked solid and like all Dutch teams are very comfortable passing the ball around and have great vision. I do think that Robben needs to pass the ball more and the team as a whole needs to provide more balls to Van Nistelroy. He was starved in this game which is a waste for such a clinical finisher. Robin van Persie needs to get more involved in the game and add an extra wing to the Dutch game. This is a team that will get much better as the tournament progress and will go far. I was quite disappointed at the Serbian and Montenegrian team as I thought they would be the team that will surprise the most during this world cup. They had a very solid defense and good attack during the qualifications. They didn't play well at all and disappointed me. I think they are the worst team of this group thus far and will need to improve a lot in order to progress.

2- Mexico v Iran: I've been a fan of this Mexican team for quite some time now but felt that they didn't deliver the goods today. The score line is not representative of the game as it was a very tight affair. Mexico need to play their game and pass the ball around trying to carve through the opposition or cross the ball to Borgetti who is one of the best headers in the game. They might do well in this world cup, but they c cannot play their game against more aggressive teams. Iran didn't impress me at all.

3- Portual v Angola: I expected Portual to rout Angola and thought that the game was heading this way when Pauletta scored in the 4th minute, but that didn't happen. Credit to Angola who regrouped and held Portual to a slim lead. I felt that Portugal didn't play well today. Ronaldo needs to be more of a team player and stop tying to nutmeg the whole field. Portugal are also one dimensional in that they rely on Pauletta to score their goals. Ronaldo had several chances which he should have buried, but Pauletta looks like the only player that they can rely on to deliver the goods. They need to improve a lot, but will progress along with Mexico from this group.

Update

As you can see my recent posts have all been related to the world cup. I will abstain from posting anything related to politics, religion, social affairs and what have you. For the next month football is my church and Ronaldinho is my god. The rest can go to hell. Hey, tt's all fucked up anyways so I am not missing out.

World cup reports

As I expected this world cup is shaping up to be a high scoring one. The first 2 days had some good games and some terrible ones. Here's my take on the games thus far.

Germany v Costa Rica: Opening games are always tough and even tougher for the home team. Germany didn't play that well and should be worried about their defence. They will need to tighten it up otherwise it will be an early exit for them. It was suprising to me that they insisted on playing a flat back four and deploying the offside trap even though it was obvious that Costa Rica beat it several times. They do have a solid midfield and a very potent attack.

Poland v Ecuador: The Polish team was terrible, but all credit to Ecuador who played a very smart game. Took the opportunites that they had and defended very well. Poland need to play much better in order to stand a chance of qualifying to the next round.

England v Paraguay: Terrible game, but England will be happy with the 3 points. They will improve as the tournament progresses.

Sweden v Trinidad and Tobago: This was probably the poorest Swedish side I've seen in a while. They have lots of talented players, but the team didn't click. T&T frustrated them and they should be proud of their accomplishment. They don't stand a chance against England though. Sweden will have a tough game against Paraguay.

Argentina v Ivory Coast: Best game of the tournament so far. I thought Argentin were very good and they are the team that impressed me the most. Ivory Coast played very well and made Africa proud. If Argentina have any weak points it's Riquelme and their defence. Riquelme is extremly talented and can alter a game with one pass but he can occassionaly drift out of a game. If he is not involved Argentina do not play well. This was evident during the first and last 10 minutes of the game when Ivory Coast had the better possesion. Their defence didn't impress me that much, it didn't look very well organised.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Watching the world cup in America

This is my second time I watch the world cup in America, but somehow its even more irritating than the first time. I guess since the games are aired in the morning I am more alert to the American idiotic commentators. A lousy commentator can literally ruin the joy of watching a game. How about 2 lousy commentators then! Here are the top most annoying comments that these guys make:

1- Stop the analogies. They love showing how much football has in common with their sports. "This game is tense, it feels like the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded".

2- Please stop the analogies. I must have heard the Riquelme-Shaq analogy 10 times while watching the Ivory Coast vs Argentina game. "You see what the Ivory Coast is doing to Riquelme? They are double up on him. This guys is so skilled, its basically like in basketball when other teams double up against Shaq".

3- Mercy! Stop the analogies. "The Ivory Coast is the about 1/3 the size of Texas".

4- Please please stop the analogies: "David Beckham is like a quarterback."

4- You gotta love the stastics. Did you know that Argentina never lost a game in the world cup after leading by 2 goals or more during half time? I guess you didn't, but if you watched the game on ESPN2 you'd have heard it at least 20 times. Watch the world cup on ESPN2/ESPN/ABC and you will be bombarded with statistics both verbally and on the screen.

5- How about some acronyms every now and then? "PK" is penalty kick. As if penalty was such a long word to begin with. And yes, there were no penalties in that game, but one commentator shouted PK every time a player fell in the box.

6- Lastly please stop cracking jokes, they all suck.

I miss Euro Sport :-(

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

2 days till the world cup!

I was asked by some American friends why all the hype surrounding the world cup? They just don't get the beauty of football and the emotions involved in watching a game. I started to explain to them what a rush it is to be in a stadium rooting for your team and how much more exciting it is that all American sports combined. To prove my point I sent them these 2 videos.

Dennis Bergkamp scoring the winning goal against Argentian in the 1998 1/4 finals. Scored in the 89th minute. It's the second part of the clip. Listen to the Dutch commentator go absolutely wild.

Maradona's goal against England in 1986. Argentinian commentator starts to cry. You'll need to know some Spanish to understand what he is saying. At one point he says "I want to cry, dear God, long live football". Later on he says "I am crying, excuse me"


Enjoy and I hope we watch amazing games and forget about politics and all the shit in the world for a month.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Dutch model

In July 1572, the Protestant leader of the northern Netherlands, William I of Orange - still celebrated today as the father of the Dutch nation - publicly proclaimed the right of all individuals to freedom of thought and worship at a political assembly at Dordrecht.

Shit! These people are 5 centuries ahead of us.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

I wish....

That one day the front page of Ahram and Akhbar do not include any news about our president (while he is alive!). It seems that government newspapers are his blog and an open invitation in ass-kissing. I wonder if the editors of these papers feel good about themselves. Are they not ashamed of all the hypocrisy? Have they no self esteem?

Friday, June 02, 2006

The da Vinci code

I watched the movie a couple of days ago. It's an interesting plot and I'd recommend others to watch it. What struck me most about the movie was what didn't happen. I mean this movie targets the heart of the Christian faith as it questions the divinity of Jesus Christ. So half way through the movie it struck me that Tom Hanks hadn't received any death threats and there were no riots anywhere demanding for the author's head. Yes the Vatican and various churches expressed their disapproval of the movie and launched counter web sites to express their point of view, but it was all in a civilized manner. Compare that to the cartoons.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

More bad press for our regime

This article was published in today's issue of The Guardian. Sadly I do not see the West applying any pressure on Mubarak's regime for two reasons. First, Mubarak sold them the idea that if he falls an Islamic regime will take over and that is something that the West most definetly do not want. Frankly neither do I. Secondly, the same savegery that is applied on Egyptian dissidents is also applied to detainees from the "war on terror". The US and Britan outsource the interrogation of some detainees to regimes that specialize in that, Egypt being one of them.

Details of torturing an Egyptian activist by the police

Mohamed el Sharkawy testimony of the torture he faced from our fucked up police can be found here. I am truely ashamed to be an Egyptian because of these animals.

Back from Mexico

Spent 10 lovely days in Cozumel and the Yucatan penisula. Now its back to reality...