Posts Tagged ‘England’

One Reason to Watch

So before I get started, I have to give a little background. I had been really enjoying the country pride that Korea has and some exciting upsets, so my opinion of this whole soccer thing were beginning to change.  Before this year I wasn’t a soccer fan, but the World Cup obviously has another aspect that makes you watch -similar to speed skating in the Winter Olympics – you wouldn’t watch it any other time, but now when it’s the best in the world you go with it. There have still been so major flaws….

5) Anti-Climatic endings: fans do not seem to amp it up as it gets closer to half or the end of the game. Often the athletes seem inclined to accept the results at the three-minute mark, sometimes when it even means the difference between winning and tie.

4)… Speaking of ties. Why are they so satisfied to let games end this way? At least put on 15 to 20 minutes and see who can endure from there,  sudden death. Each team would probably have a possession or more, so sudden death should work. It works in hockey.

3) Unlike hockey though, there is a huge amount of faking or injuries, falls, etc. Especially, but not limited to, the European teams. This is not the players fault, FIFA has allowed this practice to become an effective method of gaining an advantage, its time for FIFA to pull in the reigns and force players to have some dignity on the field.

2) The lack of the worlds best athletes. If you tell me Kaka is…. you are highly confused. Just imagine how much damage someone like LeBron could do on the soccer field.

1) Explanation of calls on the field or off. I shouldn’t have to write this, really I shouldn’t. In what is the biggest global athletic event, in a globally televised game an official can make a call on the field without having to say who the foul is against is absurd. The official does not even have to write up a report on the game listing his calls. Other sports organization have offered explanations and sometimes even apologies for missed calls. Several at the highest levels use instant replay. I am not demanding instant replay, I am just pointing out the lack of accountability.  I can not speak of an agenda of an official, but it is possible, and without FIFA requiring explanations and justifications of calls, an official could fix the biggest tournament in the world. I want to see a Deadspin article with Donaghy breaking down the calls of the World Cup, instead of him telling me about the missed traveling violations in the final. Weird Tim, the NBA has not consistently called that in years, but I digress.

Anyways, none of these things are ground breaking.   They really would not change the game of soccer as seen on the field, the only one not easily solved is the athlete thing but I guess I can survive that, but it would make it a better game.  What do you think?

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On day seventeen, England was finally put out of its misery.  A team that had so much promise coming in came up so small on the biggest stage in the sport.  Where was Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)?  He was so lethal in England and in the Champions League but was a non-factor in South Africa.  Midfielders Frank Lampard (Chelsea) and Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) did more for the English attack than all of the forwards combined.  Peter Crouch (Tottenham), Jermain DeFoe (Tottenham), Rooney and Emile Heskey (Aston Villa) were terrible in attack.

I have no idea why England coach Fabio Capello is so enamoured with midfielder James Milner (Aston Villa)?  Sure he’s got talent but he wasn’t as impressive as Aaron Lennon (Tottenham).  Why not start Lennon in the game against Germany since his teammate Jermain Defoe is starting in the attack?  Sometimes coaches make the game so much harder than it really is.  Oh, I forgot, why couldn’t Michael Carrick (Manchester United) get any minutes in this World Cup?

Yes, the refs and linesman missed the Frank Lampard’s (Chelsea) goal that would’ve made it a tie game but lets not say that would’ve been a huge difference in the game.  This defense would’ve still been terrible regardless if the game was tied 2-2 at the half or not.

On to the games:

Germany – England (4-1)

Goals – Klose (GER) 20’, Podolski (GER) 32’, Upson (ENG) 37’, Mueller (GER) 67’ & 70’

Germany scored all four goals on breaks.  The England defense looked lost on all of them.  Would Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United) have made a difference in this game or even this tournament?  Maybe but he’s only one player.  Whenever the Germans would make their runs, the England defense looked like they didn’t know who was covering who so they all decided to cover the player with the ball.  Bad move.

Upson and the entire England defense were terrible

Lampard was denied the tying goal because neither the referee or the linesman saw the ball (clearly) hit behind the goal line.  I know everyone will be clamoring for some sort of technology but technology doesn’t solve everything.  The referees cannot do a shitty job only to be bailed out by technology.  This World Cup had been officiated well but the first four games of the second round have not been as consistent.  The linesman have been terrible throughout.

England hit a few posts like they have all tournament but they deserved to be out.  A terrible defense and a non-existent offense won’t get you far, just ask the Americans.

Argentina – Mexico (3-1)

Goals – Tevez (ARG) 26’, Higuain (ARG) 33’, Tevez (ARG), Hernandez (MEX) 71’

Carlos Tevez (Manchester City) was clearly offsides on the first goal but the linesman was too busy watching the buildup to be paying attention to the whole play.  No matter, Argentina would’ve won no matter what.

A dangerous man

Argentine coach Diego Maradona made a slight change in the lineup and sat Walter Samuel (Inter) for Nicolas Burdisso (Roma) and Jonas Gutierrez (Newcastle) was benched for Nicolas Otamendi (Velez Sarsfield).  Mexican coach Javier Aguirre had an odd lineup.  On paper it looked like a 5-2-3 but in reality it was a 4-3-3  The only problem is that there were only two true midfielders and defender Efrain Juarez (Pumas UNAM) was slotted in on the right midfield.  Sure, Giovani Dos Santos (Galatasaray) can help out in the midfield but he was playing too high to do that.

Argentina was just better.  People are wondering when Lionel Messi (Barcelona) is going to score but it really doesn’t matter.  He doesn’t need to score for this team to win.  He’s drawing so much attention on the pitch that someone always seems to be open.  Argentina is good but if Messi starts scoring, forget about it, this team can go all the way.

Up next is Netherlands – Slovakia and Brazil – Chile.  I’d be surprised if Slovakia and Chile put up much of a fight.

Day sixteen saw the start of the knockout stage round of sixteen games.  Both games were exciting and were in doubt until the final whistle.  Uruguay did enough in the first game to hold off South Korea.  In the second game, the USA didn’t do enough to hold off Ghana.  Now American fans can stop pretending to like soccer and go back to forgetting that soccer is even a sport until 2014 in Brazil.  MLS attendance isn’t going to skyrocket because of the USA’s performance in South Africa and soccer isn’t gonna surpass hockey to be the seventh most popular sport in the USA.  If someone tells you that, they’ve probably been saying the same thing since the 1994 World Cup in America.

on to the games:

Uruguay – South Korea (2-1)

Goals – Suarez (URU) 8′ & 80′, Lee Chung Yong (KOR) 68′

Uruguay scored early and didn’t seem interested in doing much except defending until South Korea scored midway through the second half.  South Korea deserved better.  They controlled the play but were unable to get the ball in the net.  A few posts here and there and they were stuck on one goal.

Luis Suarez’ (Ajax) first goal for Uruguay was odd.  Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid) rolled a pass across the mouth of goal and South Korean keeper Jung Sung Ryong (Seongnam Ilwha Chunma) looked like he was going to steer the ball away but when he stretched, he didn’t quite stretch enough and Suarez was there all alone to put the ball in the net.  I think any other goalie in this tournament would’ve at least gotten a glove on the ball.

Suarez: In the right place at the right time

South Korea kept coming but Uruguay kept stopping them.  Diego Perez (Monaco) was everywhere and would’ve been my choice for Man of the Match if Suarez hadn’t scored two goals.  It probably helped that Perez is a teammate of Park Chu Young at Monaco.  Park Chu Young just couldn’t make the last move on the Uruguay defense.

After Lee Chung Yong (Bolton) scored, Uruguay turned it up again.  Edinson Cavani (Palermo) was building the Uruguay offense from midfield and he was playing both sides of the pitch.  Suarez scored with ten minutes to go but South Korea didn’t give up.  Defender Lee Young Pyo (Al Hilal) was making runs up the left side while his defense partner Cha Du Ri  (SC Frieburg) was doing the same on the right.  Somehow Uruguay was able to stop the final move to goal and they were through to the Quarterfinal.  Diego Forlan was quiet but it seemed Uruguay only really had three real chances to score.  Too bad for South Korea they scored on two of them.

USA – Ghana (1-2, aet)

Goals – Prince-Boateng (GHA) 5′, Donovan (USA) 62′ penalty, Gyan (GHA) 93′

USA had a slight edge in time of possession but it seemed like they controlled the game from the moment after Kevin Prince-Boateng (Portsmouth) scored for Ghana at 5′ until Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy) scored at 62′.  Once this game was tied, Ghana seemed more interested in really going forward.  Both teams traded chances until the end of regulation.

Asamoah Gyan (Rennes) scored three minutes into the first extra time and that took a lot out of the Americans.  Ghana held on and they look like a team that can give any team fits.  They’ll be dangerous going forward.  This was the right result.  Ghana is just the better team.  Clint Dempsey (Fulham) was a monster.  He was going forwards and back all through the game.  He was the best player for the USA by far.

Dempsey: The man for the USA

The next set of games are Germany – England and Argentina – Mexico.  Both games should be awesome.  Germany and Argentina should win but who knows.  Maybe England will wake up and maybe Argentina will falter.  Who knows?  Watch, you won’t be disappointed.

If you’re looking for some insight on the USA – Algeria game, go elsewhere.  This post is gonna be light on the information not only for that game but all the games.  I have no interest in talking about Landon Donovan’s  (LA Galaxy) late goal against Algeria to not only qualify the Americans but put them atop Group C.  If you want to know more about this game, go ask your friends who just jumped on the USA Soccer bandwagon.

On to the games:

USA – Algeria (1-0)

Goal – Donovan (USA) 90’+1

Red Card – Yahia (ALG) 90’+3

The USA moves on to the second round.  Bully for them!

Slovenia – England (0-1)

Goal – DeFoe (ENG) 23′

England looked odd in those all red uniforms.  Jermain DeFoe’s (Tottenham) goal puts England through as second best in this group.  Hopefully they can wake up now.  I don’t know what Capello’s fascination is with James Milner (Aston Villa) but Aaron Lennon (Tottenham) is too good to be on the bench.  Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) continues to dissapoint.

Ghana – Germany (0-1)

Goal – Oezil (GER) 60′

Germany knew a win would put them into the next round but a tie might also do.  They decided winning is better.  Cacau (VfB Stuttgart) started in place of the suspended Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich).  Ghana’s coach, Milovan Rajevac continues to puzzle me by not being able to find a place for Stephen Appiah (Bologna) and Sulley Muntari (Inter).  There was something about two brothers playing against each other.  Kevin Prince-Boateng (Portsmouth) of Ghana played against his half brother Jerome Boateng (Hamburger SV).  Both were born in Germany but Kevin decided the Black Stars were the team for him.

Australia – Serbia (2-1)

Goals – Cahill (AUS) 69′, Holman (AUS) 73′, Pantelic (SRB) 84′

A Radomir Antic team fails to live up to expectations.  I’m not surprised.  Marko Pantelic (Ajax) is not good enough to start, yet again.  Tim Cahill (Everton) came back from his suspension to put the Aussies on the board first.  Australia improved a lot from the drubbing they got from Germany in game one.

Standings

Team (points)

Group A:

Uruguay (7), Mexico (4),  South Africa (4), France (1) – Uruguay and Mexico advance

Group B:

Argentina (9), South Korea (4), Greece (3), Nigeria (1) – Argentina and South Korea advance

Group C:

USA (5), England (5),  Slovenia (4), Algeria (1) – USA and England advance

Group D:

Germany (6), Ghana (4), Australia (4), Serbia (3) – Germany and Ghana advance

Group E:

Netherlands (6), Japan (3), Denmark (3), Cameroon (0) – Netherlands advance, Cameroon eliminated

Group F:

Paraguay (4), Italy (2), New Zealand (2), Slovakia (1)

Group G

Brazil (6), Portugal (4), Ivory Coast (1), North Korea (0) – Brazil advance, North Korea eliminated

Group H

Chile (6), Spain (3), Switzerland (3),  Honduras (0)

So Germany is human after all?  Serbia did just enough to frustrate Germany.  Slovenia let the USA off the hook and with England unable to score against Algeria, everyone in Group C is still alive going into the final games of the group play.

On to the games:

Germany – Serbia (0-1)
Goal – Jovanovic (SRB) 38′
Red Card – Klose (GER) 33′

I was skeptical when I saw that Serbian coach Radomir Antic decided to start midfielder Milos Ninkovic (Dynamo Kyiv) in place of forward Marko Pantelic (Ajax) and basically go 4-5-1.  Terrible idea because that makes Nikola Zigic (Birmingham City) your only forward and I’m not sold on him to be the workhorse up front.  Well, Serbia won so all is forgotten right?  Not exactly.  Zigic did play better this time and stayed in position which helps but he needed help up front and Pantelic played a pretty good game against Ghana.  I really didn’t notice Ninkovic until he was replaced by Gojko Kacar (Hertha Berlin) at 70′.

Germany didn’t look bad in this game but being a man down for over an hour didn’t help.  Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich) was silly to get even one yellow let alone two.  Not very smart by the usually heady Germans.  Germany had a ton of chances, even a man down but just couldn’t finish.  Serbia keeper, Vladimir Stojkovic (Wigan) was everywhere and was rightfully named Man of the Match.  Lukas Podolski (FC Cologne) missed a second half penalty and the writing was on the wall for the Germans.  I can’t really find any problems with this lineup but Germany should’ve handled Serbia without much difficulty.  The Serbian goal came on a cross from the right that goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (Schalke 04) simply overplayed.  He got spun around and was unable to block Jovanovic, who was right in front of him.

Valdimir Stojkovic or Antonio Banderas

Now, Serbia, Germany and Ghana are all on three points going into the final games of round one.  Germany is lucky that they scored four against Australia but Ghana could go top of the group by beating the Aussies.  They should have no problem doing that.

What was up with the referee?  He was giving out yellow cards like they were going out of style.  The game was a bit physical but not nine yellow cards worth.

Slovenia – USA (2-2)
Goals – Birsal (SVN) 13′, Ljubijankic (SVN) 42′, Donovan (USA) 48′, Bradley (USA) 82′

This was a game of two halves.  The USA played well in both halves but Slovenia was more dangerous in the first and looked like they were ready to book their place in the second round.  Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy) got a a goal back for the Americans just after half-time and the game was now in the balance.  USA did a great job fighting back to tie this game and the result was right, maybe.

USA played very well but I still don't care

You know I’m not a fan but the USA got robbed on that free-kick.  There was no offsides or fouls and that should’ve been a goal.  That being said, can the USA fans please shut the hell up!  This team isn’t going anywhere and they’ll never win the World Cup.  They’re here to make up the numbers but no one who knows anything about soccer thinks they have a legitimate shot at even making a semi-final.  I can’t wait until they’re eliminated so fans can go back to not caring about soccer and leave the rest of the world alone.

England – Algeria (0-0)

How does England not win this game?  Why can’t Michael Carrick (Manchester United) find a place on this struggling team?  How does Algeria end the game with the edge in time of possession?  As I ask these questions, England has two points and scored one goal in two games.  A spot in round two is not certain for this team that everyone, including me, had high hopes for.  Algeria has just as much of a chance to make the second round as England.  Terrible!!!  England had the better of the chances but just couldn’t get the ball in the net.

The good, Aaron Lennon (Tottenham) is having a hell of a tournament and he’s only twenty-three years old.  Ashley Cole (Chelsea) is doing a great job and is probably England’s best player through two games.  Fabio Capello came to his senses and replaced keeper Robert Green (West Ham) with veteran David James (Portsmouth).  I don’t think we’ll be seeing Mr. Green playing for England anytime soon, if ever.

With players like Aaron Lennon, the future looks brighter for England

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) looks frustrated by defenses in the first two games.  How can that be?  He dominated the EPL and Champion’s League all season and now he’s having trouble with the defenses of the USA and Algeria?

Yes, a couple of lucky bounces and England is in better shape but that can be said of most teams in this tournament.  Every team has his posts throughout this tournament.  England needs to score early next game to get some confidence because the longer the games goes without goals, the more frustrated England get.

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 (4), USA (2), England (2), Algeria (1)

Group D:

Germany (3), Serbia (3), Ghana (3), Australia (0) – Ghana/Australia still to play

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

Chelsea plays at Arsenal this Sunday (16:00 GMT).  I hate both teams but I am very interested in what happens.  Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-0 at The Emirates in November so you know the Gunners want revenge.  Plus, a win would put Arsenal back in the title hunt.  They’re currently six points behind the Blues and a loss would surely put an end to any title dreams. 

Sorry Blasian and the rest of the Gunners fans but I don’t see Arsenal winning this one.  Chelsea just doesn’t lose at home.  They’ve won eleven and tied one in their games at Stamford Bridge.  Arsenal have only won twice in the last fifteen against Chelsea.  Also, look for Drogba to score in this one since he has ten goals in his last nine games against Arsenal in all competitions. 

There's a good chance this man will be celebrating on Sunday

I know Arsenal has scored the most goals in the league (60) but that doesn’t mean much against this stout Chelsea defense.  They have eleven shutouts this year, the most of anyone in the Premiership.  Don’t think Chelsea doesn’t need this game also.  They’re only two points ahead of Manchester United and Man U should have their way with Portsmouth at Old Trafford Saturday night (15:00 GMT).  

Personally, I’d like to see a tie here so Man U would be tied with Chelsea and six points clear of Arsenal.  

In other news, John Terry was stripped of the England captaincy.  I think everyone is making a big deal out of this decision.  What does being the captain really mean on the field?  Have England’s chance of winning the World Cup changed now that Rio Ferdinand is the captain?  No.  These guys are professionals and they will come to play in South Africa.  Frankly, I don’t know why he had to lose his spot as captain.  That other stuff is personal and, as much as I hate Chelski, John Terry has always given his heart and soul every time he put on the England shirt.  

I heard a story that Wayne Bridge commented that he wouldn’t play for England if John Terry was still on the team.  Is he serious?  There’s no way Capello outright drops Terry.  If that’s true, have fun watching the World Cup on television Wayne.  I’ll take John Terry over Wayne Bridge any day of the week. 

Wayne who?