Posts Tagged ‘Celtic’

The World Cup is over and Spain are your new Champions.  First Euro 2008 and now this?  I guess we have to respect Spain in international competitions now and not wait for them to eventually choke.  The Final was probably one of the best deciding games since I can remember (1982).  Both teams wanted to win and not just play conservatively, hoping they could put the ball in the net while not really going forward.  Both teams gave it a go but one goal was all it took.  Thank God we didn’t go to penalties because this game was just too good to be decided like that.

Spain: Your 2010 World Cup Champions

On to the game:

Netherlands – Spain (0-1 aet)

Goal – Iniesta (ESP) 116’

Red Card – Heitinga (NED) 109’

Before the match, referee Howard Webb’s wife said she was surprised her husband got the call to be the Final’s ref because he can’t even control his kids at home.  Funny, but she was right.  He was not in control of this game.  The players cared very little if they were getting a yellow card or not.  It’s the Final and there’s no tomorrow so if you have to foul, foul hard and don’t worry about jawing at the ref, all he can do is give you a yellow.  Webb was giving out card like they were going out of style, fourteen in all, including a red to John Heitinga (Everton) for his second yellow of the game.  Webb had no control of a game that most referees would’ve had trouble with.  Did he do a good job?  Kind of.  A red earlier in the game would have put an end to the chippy play.  Otherwise, he did about as good as anyone could have in same situation.

The statistics say Spain had 57% of the possession but watching it I thought it was much closer than that.  Spain would go on runs where the Netherlands couldn’t put anything together and then the Netherlands would control the ball and have Spain on it’s heels.  Spain had more shots, 19 to 13, but the actual shots on goal were only 6 to 5 in favor of Spain.  Maybe it was that sixth shot that made the difference.

Both teams looked as if they could’ve played another ninety minutes but as soon as Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) scored at 116’, Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) and the rest of the Dutch players had a look of disbelief and all the energy was sucked out of them.  Robben lay on the ground, shaking his head and looking like a man defeated.  It didn’t matter that four minutes plus injury time were left on the clock.  They just didn’t have the will to fight anymore.  One second more was one second too much.

Iniesta will probably never have to buy another drink in Spain, ever.

I don’t understand what Netherlands coach Bert Van Marwijk was thinking with his substitutions?  Now’s the part of the post where I second guess the coach and tell you how I would’ve done things better.

The first substitution was Eljero Elia (Hamburger SV) in for Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool) at 71’.  So a forward playing as a midfielder was taken out for a forward who likes playing midfield.  Why?  Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) was the only true forward on the pitch for Holland and he managed to get all of one shot on goal and it wasn’t even on target.  Wesley Sneijder (Inter) and Robin were doing all of the work of front and Van Persie was along for the ride.  Why not bring in Klaas Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan).  I know I extolled the virtues of Elia in an earlier post but that was then and this is the Finals.  Huntelaar is a proven goal scorer who actually scored in one of his sub appearances.  Maybe Kuyt was spent but Van Persie needed to go at that point.  Kuyt probably worked as hard as anyone this whole World Cup.

Substitution number two was Rafael Van Der Vaart (Real Madrid) for Nigel De Jong (Manchester City) at 99’.  So a holding midfielder was taken out for an attacking midfielder.  Why?  Again, why was Van Persie allowed to stay on when he obviously wasn’t doing anything except accusing the Spanish players of diving.  In the twenty-eight minutes since Elia came in, Robben and Sneijder were still carrying Van Persie.  I’m not saying De Jong should’ve stayed in but Huntelaar would’ve worked in that situation also.

The third and final substitution was defender Edson Braafheid (Celtic) for defender Giovanni Van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord) at 105’.  Van Bronckhorst was probably out of gas by then but why bring in unused Braafheid when you have proven defenders in Andre Ooijer (PSV Eindhoven) and Khalid Boulahrouz (VfB Stuttgart) on the bench?  Both played well when they were called on to start in earlier games.  Puzzling call.  Not to say that Braafheid caused the Netherlands to lose but I would’ve went with a more experienced player at that time of the game.  Braafheid doesn’t see any action all World Cup and then you expect him to play in the last fifteen minutes of the whole tournament.  Again, why?

Congrats to Spain.  The shook off an opening game defeat to Switzerland to win the whole thing.  No way this team was the best team in the tournament but they played like it.  You’d think a team with this many great names would’ve scored more goals but whatever they did was effective.

One question for Vincente Del Bosque, how many times were you going to let Pedro (Barcelona) do nothing on the pitch before you decided that maybe Fernando Torres (Liverpool, for now) should’ve started instead.  Pedro is a good player but not in this tournament.  Plus, the first sub for Spain was forward Jesus Navas (Sevilla) for Pedro.  Jesus Navas?  You have Torres, Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao) and Juan Manuel Mata (Valencia) and you choose Navas?  Really?  Torres finally came in at 106’ for a nearly dead David Villa (Barcelona).  A bit late don’t you think?  Luckily Iniesta bailed him out or he would’ve had to explain why he made or didn’t make those moves.

In the Third Place game, Germany beat Uruguay 3-2.  I won’t talk about it much because the Third Place Game really doesn’t mean much unless your from Uruguay or Germany or whoever is involved in this game.  Germany fought back from 2-1 down to win the game.  Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid) scored one for Uruguay and Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich) got one back for Germany.  With that, Forlan wins the Goldon Ball for tournament’s MVP and Mueller wins the Golden Boot for the World Cup’s leading scorer (five goals, three assists).  Mueller also picks up the Best Young Player award.  Teams are lining up to sign Mueller, who’s only twenty years old.

We're gonna be hearing alot from Mueller for years to come

All in all it was a great World Cup.  South Africa should be proud.  There were no glaring problems and the tournament went off without a hitch.  Hopefully the vuvzela can be banned before the next World Cup.  Interesting note:  New Zealand is the only team not to lose a game in this tournament.  Good for you All Whites.  I picked you to be one of the worst teams coming in.

See you in four years time.  Look for my preview somewhere around June 1, 2014.  Thanks and I hope you enjoyed following this tournament with me.  I saw all sixty-four games and they weren’t all great but it was fun writing about them.  Thanks to Aidan and Joe S. for all the feedback.

I can't believe I have to wait four years!

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Day seven was very entertaining.  Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid) put on a show in the Argentina – South Korea game, Greece came back from the dead to beat a now dead Nigeria team and Mexico might have done enough against France to punch it’s ticket to the next round.  Day seven also showed that sometimes coaches can’t even get out of their own way.  Huh Jung Moo (South Korea) and Raymond Domenech (France) were too smart for themselves and decided to replace key players from game one with players who probably should’ve stayed on the bench.  Mind you, South Korea played well and won and France played well but drew.  More on that later.

On to the games:

Argentina – South Korea (4-1)

Goals – Park Chu Young (KOR) 17’ og, Higuain (ARG) 33’ 76’ 80’, Lee Chung Yong (KOR) 45’+1

Argentina thrashed South Korea but it could’ve been worse and at the same time, it wasn’t that bad.  Argentina was running South Korea ragged in the first half and the time of possession was lopsided in Argentina’s favor.  A quick Lee Chung Yong (Bolton) strike just before the stroke of halftime brought life to this game that was quickly getting out of hand.

South Korea took the momentum of that first half goal into the second half and had Argentina scrambling to recoup.  A second South Korean goal looked like it was imminent.  South Korea was getting close and getting close.  Park Chu Young (AS Monaco) and Lee Chung Yong were giving the Argentinian defense fits.  Then, Gonzalo Higuain spoiled the party and ended all hope for South Korea to get back in this game, let alone win.  2-1 is manageable but 3-1 is impossible.  South Korea knew they were defeated and Argentina kept their foot on the gas and Higuain scored the hat-trick to close the books on this game.

Higuain got it done against South Korea

You see the score and when a team scores four goals you think that the opposing goalkeeper had a bad game.  Not in this case.  The first Argentina goal came when a cross went off Park Chu Young’s leg and into his own goal.  Jung Sung Ryong (Suwon Bluewings) had no chance to keep the ball out of the net.  Jung made some fantastic saves and kept this game from being 6-1 or 7-1.

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) showed why he’s the best in the game right now.  He can do whatever he wants when he gets the ball.  It must be frustrating for defenders to know that whatever they do, this guy is still gonna get over on you.  He does so much work in such small space and needs minimal separation to get off a shot.

The thing that frustrated me as the game went on is that Cha Du Ri (SC Freiburg) didn’t start the game or even make an appearance.  I wrote after South Korea’s first game that Cha Du Ri was a monster and that he was all over the field causing trouble, not to mention how he was frustrating Greece with his defense.  So coach Huh Jung Moo decides that Oh Beom Seok (Ulsan Hyundai) is gonna do a better job stopping Carlos Tevez (Manchester City, for now) and Messi.  Wrong!  Most of the first half pressure came form the left side of the field (South Korea’s right) and Oh couldn’t handle it.  Why did Huh feel the need to make this change?

Park Ji Sung (Manchester United) was very disappointing.  He wasn’t involved much in the game and when he was, he wasn’t very effective.  I wouldn’t have minded if Hu had switched Park Ji Sung in the second half.

Greece – Nigeria (2-1)

Goals – Uche (NGA) 16’, Salpingidis (GRE) 44’, Torosidis (GRE) 71’

Red Card – Kaita (NGA) 33’

Before I get into this game, is Danny Shittu (Bolton) the fattest player in this World Cup?  Yes, he looks solidly built but fat is still fat.  Nigeria should’ve won this game because they are the better team.  In the early going it looked like Nigeria wasn’t going to have too much trouble with Greece.  Then, Sani Kaita (Alania Vladikavkaz) decided to show Vasileios Torosidis’ (Olympiakos) leg the bottom of his shoe.  The Referee had to show him the red and Kaiti was in disbelief.

Nice move Kaita

Greece then turned it up and Nigeria couldn’t keep up.  Greece ended the game with more than double the amount of Nigeria’s shots and shots on goal.  Greece could’ve had a third but two was enough.

I have to praise Greece’s coach Otto Rehhagel with his roster moves in this game.  Some coaches get it.  In game one I questioned why Sotirios Kyrgiakos (Liverpool) didn’t start, let alone play.  This game, Kyrgiakos starts.  Also in game one, I mentioned on how Georgios Samaras (Celtic) was a complete waste.  Samaras doesn’t start this game but Rehhagel brought him in as soon as Kaita was shown the red to bring in more attacking power.  Not starting Samaras was a good idea and so was bringing him in to strengthen the attack against a short-handed Nigeria.  Samaras did play better this game.  Maybe the benching got him to think about his play.  Who knows?

France – Mexico (0-2)

Goals – Hernandez (MEX) 64’, Blanco (MEX) 79’ penalty

Has a coach even been fired before during the World Cup?  I mean, have they been fired while their team was still in it?  If not, Raymond Domenech should be the first one.  If it’s already been done then he should join the list.  How does Youann Gourcuff (Bordeaux) not start this game, let alone play?  Next to Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Gourcuff has got to be one of the top, most important players on this team.  Florent Malouda (Chelsea) is very good but not good enough to play in the first game, a game France looked pretty good in.  Domenech decides France doesn’t need Gourcuff and so he wastes away on the bench while France sees it’s World Cup aspirations go down the drain.

As for the game, blah blah blah, France couldn’t finish but Mexico could.  Subs Javier Hernandez (Chivas) and Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Veracruz) score the goals for Mexico and their ticket is close to being punched for the second round.  Mexico – Uruguay should be very good.

Blanco's still got it

Standings

Team (points)

Group A:

Uruguay (4), Mexico (4),  France (1), South Africa (1)

Group B:

Argentina (6), South Korea (3), Greece (3), Nigeria (0)

Group C:

Slovenia (3), USA (1), England (1), Algeria (0)

Group D:

Germany (3), Ghana (3), Serbia (0), Australia (0)

Group E:

Netherlands (3), Japan (3), Cameroon (0), Denmark (0)

Group F:

Paraguay (1), Italy (1), New Zealand (1), Slovakia (1)

Group G

Brazil (3), Ivory Coast (1), Portugal (1), North Korea (0)

Group H

Chile (3), Switzerland (3), Spain (0), Honduras (0)

Day two was better than day one but the last game of the night, England – USA, had me regretting my decision to get up at 3:30 am to watch it.  Those horns are still annoying and I’m not sure how I’m gonna get through the tournament with that sound.  I could still hear them after the games were over.  Now the sound is in my head.  Damn you Vuvuzela!

I was supposed to watch the South Korea game on the big screen at the stadium here in Yeoncheon but it rained all day and I am too much of a pussy to sit out in the rain to watch a game.  Many brave souls who really love their team did end up making the trip to the stadium.  I was watching them out my window.  Rain or no rain, they had a good time and I would turn down my television whenever something big happened and I could hear them cheering.  Hopefully it doesn’t rain on Thursday because they’ll be showing the game at the stadium again.  That should be one hell of a game, Argentina- South Korea.

On to the games:

South Korea – Greece (2-0)

Goals – Lee Jung Soo (KOR) 7′, Park Ji Sung (KOR) 52′

Greece, the former European champions, must have forgotten when the game started because they didn’t really start playing until the 68th minute and by that time it was too late.  They were outplayed and outclassed by Korea throughout the game.  Korea just seemed to be faster, quicker and have more energy than Greece.  Greece’s body language looked as if they were defeated half way through the game while Korea had the intensity and will to win this game.

Georgios Samaras (Celtic) was barely a factor in the game.  There were long stretches where I had forgotten he was in the game.  Actually, Otto Rehhagel’s Greece lineup was a bit puzzling.  Why didn’t defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos start the game or even enter the game as a substitute?  With Korea controlling the midfield and Greece down 1-0, Rehhagel subs in a defender, not Kyrgiakos, for another defender.  What he needed to do was add a true midfielder and get rid of one of the forwards who were playing midfield.  Samaras should’ve been sacrificed at 46′ instead of at 59′.  Finally at 68′ they decided they could play this game but Korea was still able to keep them from finishing.  They didn’t put enough pressure on the Korean midfielders until late in the game.  The South Korean players used this space to create havoc all over the field.

Samaras, this isn't St. Mirren, try a little more effort next time

Korea was running from the first minute until the game was over.  Park Chu Young (Monaco) didn’t score but he created lots of problems for the Greek defense.  Defender Cha Du Ri (SC Freiburg) was a monster all over the field and drove the Greeks crazy in the defense, midfield and up front.  Korea’s European based midfielders, Park Ji Sung (Manchester United), Lee Chung Yong (Bolton) and Ki Sung Yueng (Celtic) owned this game.  They couldn’t be stopped and should create problems for Argentina in the next game.  Korea might be better than I expected.

Argentina – Nigeria (1-0)

Goal – Heinze (ARG) 6′

Probably the best game of the World Cup so far.  I know it’s early but this game was played at a high pace and both teams could’ve had three goals a piece if not for some good goalkeeping.  Actually, Lionel Messi (Barcelona) could’ve had five goals himself.  He didn’t need much space to get off a shot and it looked like the Nigerian defense were doing too much watching and not enough defending.  If South Korea has any chance of winning against Argentina they have to get physical with Messi and not give him any room.  I don’t mean knock him down but make sure they are right in his face when he gets the ball or he’ll use the space to make them pay.

High marks for all players on both teams.  The game was back and forth until the final whistle.  Only change I would’ve made for Nigeria was having Obafemi Martins (Wolfsburg) start the game instead of Victor Obinna (Malaga).  Nigeria went for a 4-3-3 formation which I thought was odd but it worked and they should be able to better against Greece in the next game.

Neither of these sides need to do much different in their next games.  Did you notice Diego Maradona’s suit on the sidelines for Argentina.  The suit looked terrible and he looked like a used car salesman/drug lord.

The Rock says, "nice suit, 25 cents!".

England – USA (1-1)

Goals – Gerrard (ENG) 4′, Dempsey (USA) 40′

Where to begin.  Yes American “fans”, the USA tied England for the first time ever but don’t get too excited because your defense is awful and if it wasn’t for your keeper, Tim Howard (Everton), this game would’ve ended 3-1 or 4-1.  Howard was the man of the match and rightfully so.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) didn’t have a great game.  I actually didn’t hear his name for long stretches.  I though Emile Heskey (Aston Villa) outplayed Rooney.  This lineup was good but I would’ve found room for Joe Cole (Chelsea) and/or Michael Carrick (Manchester United).  James Milner (Aston Villa) probably shouldn’t have started because he had a slight injury and it must have flared up because he was replaced by Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City) at 31′.  Joe Cole would have been a better replacement.  Fabio Capello has a tough job because he has so many talented players to choose from.  It’s not always a good thing.

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) showed how bad the USA defense was with his early goal and it looked as if there would be more to come.  That didn’t happen because they looked frustrated by not be able to score more.  The USA equalised at 40′ when a Clint Dempsey (Fulham) shot bounced into the goal off of Robert Green’s gloves.  Green (West Ham) looked terrible on the play.  Maybe he should stop wearing those hamburger helper gloves.  His body was turned in such a way that the ball had only one way to go if he didn’t stop it.  Terrible!!!  I said in my preview that England would only go as far as their goalkeeping would take them.  If this continues, it won’t be far.  I can only imagine how much Capello yelled after the game.

This isn't the best choice of goalkeeper gloves.

Standings

Team (points)

Group A:

South Africa (1), Mexico (1), Uruguay (1), France (1)

Group B:

South Korea (3), Argentina(3), Nigeria (0), Greece (0)

Group C:

USA (1), England (1), Slovenia and Algeria have not played