Sunday, June 27, 2010

world cup thoughts of the day

1. Overall the play has improved a lot since the first set of games, and the matches have been much more exciting. A lot of the teams that sat back and played for draws in their opening matches are out, and I suspect, rueing their engative tactics (eg France, Ivory Coast, Serbia, etc.). The second round matches have so far been pretty awesome (despite today's refereeing). We'll see if things continue this way, or revert to 2006 low-scoring, defensive-style games. It's great to see teams attacking, but I still think the format of the tournament could be tweaked, and the rules modified to make the game that much better.

2. As I predicted, Germany were well worth their victory today against England, and I fancy them to knock out Argentina in the quarterfinal. They attack with real confidence and flair; their second goal was the best team goal of the tournament so far. Argentina, meanwhile, were a bit lucky to get by Mexico so easily, but are always threatening in attack. I continue to wonder about Maradona's preferring Higuain over Milito. At this point, there's no turning back, given his four goals in the tournament, but three of those goals were served on a platter for him by Messi, or today, Osorio. The quarterfinal should be a cracking game, but I think the Germans will come out on top.

3. Unfortunately, the three best teams (Argentina, Germany and Spain) are all on the same side of the draw. Brazil are still joint favorites, but for me, look much less inventive in attack than the above three countries. With Kaka playing poorly and Elano questionable for the next game, Robinho is the only real creative threat. Brazil only managed two goals against a weak North Korea, stole the game against Ivory Coast with Fabiano's double handball, and failed to break down the Portuguese defense. I think Chile will give them real trouble, and I'd give them a 40% shot at taking out the favorites.

4. What will happen with Spain? At their best, they're the best team in the world, with all the attacking prowess of Germany or Argentina minus the defensive problems. But will they choke again, or succumb to dodgy finishing as they did against Switzerland and as they have in recent world cups? They looked terrified in the first half against Chile, until the second goal, and after getting really lucky with the first. They were certainly due a bit of luck, but they might find it hard to come by in the knockout phase. Portugal, meanwhile, will try to kill the game against Spain as they did against Brazil. Don't be fooled by the North Korea game. They've turned out to be a real bore, and I expect them to continue where they left off in 2006, scoring just one goal in their three knockout phase games. Let's all hope Spain do better than Brazil did. If they can get past Portugal they should make it to the semis, where we should see another great game against Germany/Argentina.

5. The referees: what the hell were they doing today? Everyone in the stadium saw Lampard's shot go over the line. On the offside at least, I will plead the assistant's case and remind everyone that offsides are impossible to call if your eyes are following the ball, which in this case the assistants' assuredly were. All this is to say that another person is needed to help judge offsides, as I've argued before. And the Lampard non-goal makes the best argument for goal-line cameras to judge whether a goal has in fact been scored. More on that later


  1. Aw, I'm sad that you're not more excited about Spain. They're so likeable!

    While we're on the subject of the future of American soccer (we weren't, but we kind of always are, aren't we?), the bad calls are a BIG problem. It was heartening to see how excited everyone got about the US victory, but now that we have that bitter loss against Ghana, everyone is back to scorn and contempt about the refs. I agree that the offside call is understandable, but all these goals getting called back -- auugh!! Somebody fix this before FIFA wastes all the goodwill this world cup has generated! (Apparently they've decided to address this problem in the most short-sighted possible way: refraining from replaying the goals in the stadiums from now on, so as to avoid inciting fights when the calls are questionable.)

  2. oh I love Spain!! they're my team....I'm just trying not to pin all my hopes and dreams on them, only to be cruelly denied by some idiotic call, or serious choke-age on the part of spain's players. but honestly they should win the world cup. if they don't beat portugal i'll be really sad.

    i agree with you about the calls. i mean the goal-line thing is just ludicrously easy to fix, but a camera replay just won't do the trick for offsides....maybe i'll need to explain really needs another person to judge. and it's so important to the integrity of the game!!!

  3. yeah, that lampard non-goal was truly unbelievable - but you're right, replay won't work for the offside calls, though they should really try to experiment with more referees (one sitting upstairs for offside?)