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June 11, 2006

Comments

Frank McGahon

This is definitely the group of death/entertainment. Last night's match between Argentina and Cote d'Ivoire was the best so far. Whoever gets out of this group will have a good chance of progressing. Ivory Coast are no slouches and though Argentina deserved to win, "The Elephants" played very well, particularly Drogba, both Tourés and Zakora and can count themselves unlucky to have been drawn in this group - they look well capable of beating England or Germany.

The problem Holland will have is that they have no way of avoiding getting drawn against their most deadly opponent - themselves!

Abiola

Well, at least the Dutch will be exciting to watch right up until their moment of self-destruction, which is more than can be said for a certain team already at work blaming the heat, the refereeing and everything other than themselves for their uninspired performance - I see a rerun of the 10-man Brazilian "fluke" victory of 2002 in England's near future ...

Frank McGahon

Oh I agree. And you can add to that that the Rooney saga is going to end in tears. It's a certainty that - with Owen's poor form, Crouch's general all round rubbishness, the absence of the likes of Defoe or Bent and the presence of an inequipped 17 year old - the clamour for his return will be deafening. A clamour, incidentally, that SGE has done everything to stoke. He'll be rushed back for the Sweden game, defying all medical opinion, and if he doesn't break down again, he will as soon as he meets, in the knockout stages, a "professional" defender with something at stake who will simply stamp on the scouse striker's foot until he hears "crack".

Danny

Isn't this the whitest dutch team since the 70s? What's up with that?

MSC

So far, England-Paraguay excepted, I've been very impressed with the quality of football we've seen, especially relative to the last few major international tournaments. Long may it continue!

As to England, if they offer up another match of similarly low entertainment value they should be banned from the tournament for crimes against football.

That a team as talented, albeit overrated, as England should be so unbelievably boring speaks volumes as to the incompetence of Mr Erickson.

How the fellow managed to become the highest paid international manager in the world is almost beyond comprehension (though perhaps, given the nitwits employed at the FA, unfortunately not all that surprising).

To me, Argentina have been the most impressive side thus far. I do, however, wonder how they'll fare against a team that does a better job of closing down Riquelme.

Ross

Playing poorly but coming away with a win is perfectly acceptable. No team plays well in every game, but even after that performance England are more or less already in the 2nd round thanks to Trinidad and Tobago. All things considered England look likely to progess further than the Netherlands.

Frank McGahon

"Playing poorly but coming away with a win is perfectly acceptable"

In the context of one game, sure, it's better to play poorly and come away with a win than play better and lose or draw. But, the point is that England's poor performance against a mediocre team, particularly considered in the light of SGE's bizarre striker-deficient squad selection, augurs ill for their prospects in the competition as a whole.

Plus, the question here is who a neutral might root for and playing poorly is relevant. Why would anyone but an Ingerland partisan root for such an insipid team.

Ross

I certainly wouldn't expext any neutrals to be enthused by that performance, I was responding more to the idea that they're no hopers. Althogh as you say Sven's idea of a strike force consisting of two cripples, a lamp post and a child is bizarre.

Abiola

"I was responding more to the idea that they're no hopers."

No-hopers are precisely what they are, in terms of being serious contenders for the Cup, at least. Objectively speaking, a team like England is at best quarterfinal fodder, lacking both the inspired Brazilian/Dutch play and the German-style discipline required to grind out a win when the pressure mounts. The English way under Eriksson is to complacently sit on a one-goal lead for most of a game, only to watch it disappear towards the end, at which point it's time to panic and starting shooting long-balls halfway across the pitch in the desperate hope something good will come of it.

Frank McGahon

"..lacking both the inspired Brazilian/Dutch play and the German-style discipline required to grind out a win when the pressure mounts.."

I don't know if there was too much discipline evident in Germany's opener - they have a pretty dodgy defence, but the Dutch do provide an example for England, as do Argentina, Italy and the Czechs. We'll see about Brazil. I was very impressed with Italy tonight - best team in the tournament so far.

Abiola

"I don't know if there was too much discipline evident in Germany's opener"

They hardly needed to be, seeing as they knew they weren't going to be facing formidable opposition. You can be sure that defense will tighten up considerably when the Germans start meeting real challenges.

Steve Edwards

I don't suppose anyone here watched the Australia-Japan match? The outcome was beyond all Australians' wildest dreams, and I think if we can squeeze a draw out of either Croatia or Brazil, we might be in for a decent chance at qualifying.

Delmore Macnamara

I hope I am not being too much of a chauvinist in making a new nomination for "dullest match of the tournament". I have just finished watching Brazil 1 - 0 Croatia....

Abiola

Dull? Hardly. Brazil were essentially playing with 10 men given Ronaldo's virtual absence from the game, but there was still enough of a show of initiative from both sides to make the game well worth watching; the Croatians genuinely played well, and even what is a mediocre effort by Brazilian standards is still more entertaining than the usual punishment Ingerland dishes out to its supporters.

At any rate, I expect Brazil to prove a *lot* more impressive in their next game, just as long as their coach doesn't allow Ronaldo's fame to blind him to his glaring lack of match fitness; all those patting themselves on the back with the consoling thought that Brazil "aren't all that" are likely to get a sharp reality adjustment.

Chuckles

"Poor Kasey Keller" is what I see in glowing shimmering lights before me.

[...I don't suppose anyone here watched the Australia-Japan match...]

Yes, yes - Japan seems completely outclassed this time around - wheres that home advantage now, heh? Kinda unexpected though, Zico doesnt have a bad record. Pity they couldnt have stuck with the white witch doctor. Lets see; at best a draw against Croatia is what I'm thinking and a definite loss to Brazil...

I see this thing will have to hit quarter finals before some real blood is drawn.

Frank McGahon

[nd even what is a mediocre effort by Brazilian standards is still more entertaining than the usual punishment Ingerland dishes out to its supporters.]

Indeed, but this, (albeit entertaining - not dull at all) was a disappointing performance by Brazil's high standards and it's not only Ronaldo - Adriano was abysmal. My impression that this year's Brazil are overrated wasn't exactly negated. They are still streets ahead of most teams but too many of the first team are ageing and complacent. Ronaldinho and Kaka are fantastic players, but the same can't be said for Ronaldo, Adriano, Emerson and Lucio and it's only a matter of time before Cafu and Roberto Carlos run out of steam - when they bomb up the pitch, they leave loads of space behind and Croatia had loads of chances yesterday - chances they wouldn't have had against Argentina or Italy - which, with some better finishing, they could easily have scored a couple of times.

Brazil will give plenty of chances and concede goals to better teams than Croatia. Of course, if some individual brilliance from Ronaldinho or Kaka puts them a few goals in front early on this might be moot but (admittedly based on the small sample of the first round of matches), Italy look the best team to me and it doesn't hurt that they have completely abandoned the dread catenaccio!

Steve Edwards

Brazil and Croatia was hardly "dull". "Dull" was the match between France and Switzerland. Good grief! Was that a damp squib or what?

Frank McGahon

Going to revise my assessment of the best team: If Argentina can play like they did today for the rest of the tournament and there's no reason why they can't, I can't see any of the other teams matching them, never mind beating them, including Brazil.

Abiola

I haven't seen the Argentina v. Serbia & Montenegro match yet, but that scoreline is so lopsided that I have to presume S&M just gave up trying after a certain point.

Frank McGahon

Argentina were awesome and 3-0 up by half time. Kezman got sent off in the second half which made the contest a little more lopsided but Argentina were a joy to watch, talented individuals who play so well as a team, knowing instinctively where the other guy is so the flick-on, disguised pass or backheel arrives just so. There was one goal by Cambiasso which will be be replayed again and again over the next few years, decades - some say it's better than Carlos Alberto's goal for Brazil in the 1970 final. 9 Argentina players were involved in the build up - 24 passes back and forth, up the pitch, sideways, toying with S&M - as Liam Brady said here in the summary on RTE, lulling S&M into thinking they're ok, there's no danger - until, bang, bang, bang and the goal is in the back of the net. Superb stuff.

Abiola

By the sound of it, I *really* have to track down this game, but for some reason I can't find any decent-quality encodes on the usual torrent sites! Could this be an English conspiracy to hide a game which plays up their incompetence? Is the Serbian Black Hand at work erasing the evidence of their humiliation? Inquiring minds want to know!

Scott Wickstein

Keep trying, Abiola- at the very least, the second goal, and the last fifteen minutes are must see viewing. And Ghana vs Czech Republic is one for the archives as well.

Abiola

As far as I can tell no one's been generous enough to put torrents up for the last two days' matches yet, so I'm just going to have to wait for as many hours* as it takes to get them via eMule ...

*Which might not sound so bad to those hardy souls still on dialup, but is an eternity when you've gotten used to 14Mbps ADSL2.

David

Abiola, you can find the torrents at http://tracker.denness.net:6969/index.html.

Most of them are posted from this excellent football videos forum:
http://www.fbtz.com/forum (registration required) that got popular during Euro 2004.

Regards,
David

Abiola

David,

Thanks for the info! You've saved me a lot of waiting.

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