Posts Tagged ‘Forlan’

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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The Semi-finals are over and we will have an all European Final and a first time winner.  Uruguay held on as long as they could against the Dutch but Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid) couldn’t win the game by himself.  Germany was missing Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich) and couldn’t get over on Spain.  Both very good games and the Finals should be must see.

On to the games:

Uruguay – Netherlands (2-3)

Goals – Van Bronckhorst (NED) 18’, Forlan (URU) 41’, Sneijder (NED) 70’, Robben (NED) 73’, Pereira (URU) 90’+2

I don’t know how many people outside of Uruguay actually thought Uruguay would win this game.  It would have been a nice story but realistically the Netherlands were just too strong.  Even if Luis Suarez (Ajax) wasn’t suspended it would’ve been hard for the South Americans to advance.  The Netherlands are clicking and even though you may only be hearing about Wesley Sneijder (Inter) and Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), this team is stacked and everyone has played fantastically.  Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool) is doing a lot of work that goes unnoticed when you don’t score.  Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) is attracting defender which leaves more space for Sneijder and Robben.  Mark Van Bommel (Bayern Munich) is starting everything from the midfield.  All great stuff but you only get your name in the highlights and the stories if you score.

The main statistics were about even with the Netherlands holding a slight advantage in time of possession.

With Luis Suarez missing, Edinson Cavani (Palermo) was in as the other forward to compliment Forlan.  Cavani is mainly a forward but has been playing more of a midfield role when Suarez has been in the games.  No big deal there except Suarez is slightly better but it probably didn’t make much of a difference.

The Netherlands were without defender Gregory Van Der Wiel (Ajax) and midfielder Nigel De Jong (Manchester City), who were both sitting out due to yellow card suspensions.  Khalid Boulahrouz (VfB Stuttgart) took over in defense while Demy De Zeeuw (Ajax) was in the midfield.  Boulahrouz played well but De Zeeuw, not so much.

Goivanni Van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord) put the Netherlands on the board before the twenty minute mark with what has to be the best goal of the tournament.  He ripped in a shot from at least thirty meters.  Nice!  Not to be outdone, Diego Forlan drew Uruguay level right before the half with a long shot that Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax) got a hand on but couldn’t keep it out of the net.

The second half was all Oranje and the late Uruguay goal from Maximiliano Pereira (Benfica) really didn’t matter.  The Netherlands had the game in hand by then.  This game could’ve very easily been 4-2 or 5-2.

Just a note, how far has Ryan Babel (Liverpool) fallen?  He can’t get on the field at Anfield and somehow he makes this team only to never see the light of day.  He needs a switch.  He should leave Liverpool and go to a team that would give him quality minutes.  He’s only twenty-three and his career is at a stand still.  On the other hand, with Fernando Torres most likely leaving Liverpool will Babel get more playing time?  Just a thought.

Germany – Spain (0-1)

Goal – Puyol (ESP) 73’

Spain had the greater time of possession, more shots and more shots on goal.  How?  Germany was only missing one player, Thomas Mueller, but they looked like a completely different team.  Germany was lost and how does that happen.  Germany was flat.  That should not happen to a German team.  As good as they were throughout the World Cup, this game tarnishes that.  Sure Mueller was a big loss but that doesn’t erase having Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Lukas Podolski (FC Cologne), Mesut Oezil (Werder Bremen) and Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich) on the pitch.  How does a team with that time of midfield creativity and firepower only manage two legitimate shots on goal?  Shocking!

It’s just me but why didn’t Marko Marin (Werder Bremen) play in place of Mueller instead of Piotr Trochowski (Hamburger SV)?

Thanks to Manuel Neuer (Schalke 04) this game wasn’t 4-0.  Spain kept coming and coming but Neuer was always up for it.  Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Arne Friedrich (Hertha Berlin), Per Mertesacker (Werder Bremen) and Jerome Boateng (Hamburger SV) looked ordinary.  They were employing the England and USA technique of giving guys too  much space.  Ouch!

Manuel Neuer was the only German player who did any real work

Pedro (Barcelona) got the start over Fernando Torres (Liverpool) and I’m not convinced it was a bad thing.  Torres has been average in this World Cup.  I wonder who will get the start against The Netherlands in the Final or will Spain go with one, lone forward in David Villa (Barcelona)?  My feeling, Spain would be wrong to think that they can be effective with only one forward against The Netherlands.

Sunday it’s Netherlands – Spain and I’m not really that excited.  I was hoping for a Netherlands – Germany matchup and Spain winning took away most of my excitement.  Will I watch the game?  You better believe I wouldn’t miss a World Cup Final for anything.  The only time I would consider not watching is if the USA were in the Finals but we all know that’ll never happen.  Expect to hear a lot of Clockwork Orange references in the buildup to the game.

Oh, I almost forgot, the Netherlands beats Spain 3-1.

The Netherlands have great fans

Day twenty-two saw Brazil’s run come to an end and Asamoah Gyan (Rennes) miss one of the biggest penalty kicks in the history of the World Cup.  It doesn’t top Roberto Baggio’s miss in 1994 but it’s up there.  The Netherlands find a way to fight back against Brazil and Uruguay continues its improbable run to the Finals.  With Brazil gone, it’s anybody’s tournament to win.

One of my darkest moments as a sports fan.

On to the games:

Netherlands – Brazil (2-1)

Goals – Robinho (BRA) 10′, Felipe Melo (BRA) 53′ own goal, Sneijder (NED) 68′

Red Card – Felipe Melo (BRA) 73′

Brazil scored at 10′ and it seemed like this was gonna be another Brazil highlight reel.  The Netherlands could not get anything going in the first half.  Brazil was running them all over the field on offense and were swarming them on defense.  Luckily, the half ended and Brazil was only up 1-0.  Manageable.

The second half started and it was a totally different game.  Brazil slowed its pace, looking content to hold on, and the Netherlands picked it up.  On offense they were stringing passes together and on defense they were coming up big.  An accidental header by Felipe Melo (Juventus) tied the game and Brazil seemed stunned.  Fifteen minutes later Wesley Sneijder (Inter) scores and panic started to set in for Brazil.  Melo then gets red carded for stomping Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) and the Dutch had the man advantage for the last 17+ minutes of the game.

Brazil tried to go forward but the Netherlands defense was up for it.  Andre Ooijer (PSV Eindhoven), a last-minute starter in place of  Joris Mathijsen (Hamburger SV), was brilliant.  He didn’t let anyone get by him and was physical to boot and the Brazilian players hate that.  The final whistle blew and I think most of the world was stunned.

How did Brazil fall apart so quickly to start the second half and how did the Netherlands adjust so quickly?  It was a fantastic game.  Robben, Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) and Sneijder didn’t seem too friendly out there and it seemed like there was some tension between them.  I know the team didn’t take too kindly to Van Persie’s actions after being substituted in the round of sixteen game earlier in the week and that spilled over in to practice.

The referee wasn’t that great and he lost control of the game somewhere late in the first half.  The players didn’t respect him and were jawing all game at him and he didn’t even card anyone for it.  A yellow card early in the game would’ve put an end to that.  Referee Yuichi Nishimura(JPN) always felt the need to explain himself to the players whenever he blew the whistle so there were a lot of conversations between him and the teams.  It’s like he had to validate why he blew the whistle and that’s not a good sign.

Yes i just blew the whitsle now let me tell you why

Brazil did a lot of complaining in this game and obviously the Dutch got under their skin in the second half and threw them off their game.  Usually Brazil does the talking with their play and not their mouths.  Dunga is probably already gone as Brazil’s coach and if he isn’t, he will be soon.  Kaka (Real Madrid) was off but I think the whole Netherlands physicality thing had something to do with it.

Uruguay – Ghana (1-1) (4-2 PSO)

Goals – Muntari (GHA) 45’+2, Forlan (URU) 55′

Red Card – Suarez (URU) 120’+1

What a great game!.  It was back and forth all the way.  Ghana had more time of possession and shots on goal but the difference in the game was some quick thinking from Luis Suarez (Ajax) and a huge miss by Gyan.  Both these teams deserved the result but there had to be one winner.

Sulley Muntari (Inter) was finally deemed good enough to start for the Black Stars and it paid off.  Milovan Rajevic should’ve done more with him in this tournament.  Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid) did a lot of work for Uruguay and was rightfully named Man of the Match.

As I said, the game was back and forth but the result hinged on a late game scramble in front of the Uruguay net.  The game was about to be headed to penalty kicks.  After the second extra time period but just before the whistle could come, Ghana made a late rush and two shots were saved on the goal before a third was saved by a handball from Suarez.  Luis Suarez was on the line and punched the ball out of the air that was destined for the back of the net.  I don’t know who shot it but it was going in if not for the quick thinking of Suarez.  The referee pointed to the spot and Suarez was shown the door.  The penalty kick was going to be the last play of the game.  Make it and the game is over, miss it and we go to penalties.  Asamoah Gyan places the ball down, takes a few steps, takes a shot, the goalie is beaten, CLANK!!!  The referee blew the whistle for time and we have penalties.  How did he miss it?  That has to go down as one of the worst, clutch misses ever but not the worst.  Suarez stayed around near the tunnel to see the outcome.  Once the ball hit off the crossbar he jumped for joy and went to the locker room.  Sure, Luis Suarez is suspended for the Semi-final but he had no other choice.

Ghana was devastated going into the penalty shoot out and after two Ghana misses, Sebastian Abreu (Botafogo) makes Uruguay’s fifth shot and the South Americans move on.  Gyan was inconsolable after the match.  He was crying like a baby.  What a game!  It’s sad that Gyan will be remembered by the miss because he did have a great tournament.

I had a good tournament, really!

Tonight we have Argentina – Germany and Paraguay – Spain.  The winner of the Argentina – Germany game should automatically become the favorite to win the whole thing.  Don’t miss it!  Remember this name: Mesut Oezil (Werder Bremen, for now).

The first round of group games are done and now things start to get interesting.  All the games on tap promised to be good and they delivered.  Spain showed that even though they won Euro 2008, they still know how to fade in big games.  The refereeing continues to be better than expected.  This World Cup has really entertained me and we’re not even a week in.

On to the games:

Honduras – Chile (0-1)

Goals – Beausejour (CHI) 34′

Chile’s Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa continues the odd of coaches sitting one of their best, talented players for someone talented but lesser know players.  Can someone tell me why Mark Gonzalez (CSKA Moscow) was sitting on the bench and only came in at 87′.  He was only in for about six minutes but he was all over the place.  I noticed he was a bit of a ball hog but this is the World Cup, everyone is.  Honduras’ Columbian coach didn’t want to be outdone so he left David Suazo (Genoa) on the bench for the whole game.  Ridiculous!

Good enough to play in Italy but not good enough to play for Honduras

Chile deserved to win this game.  The had the edge in posession, shots and shots on goal.  Honduras played well but they just aren’t as talented as Chile.  I didn’t realize that Chile hasn’t won a World Cup game in about a century.  I thought the Marcelo Salas and Ivan Zamorano teams had some success in World Cups past.

Spain – Switzerland (0-1)

Goal – Fernandes (SUI) 52′

Spain OWNED this game in every way but found a way to lose.  I get that this team wasn’t gonna go 4-3-3 but couldn’t Spanish coach Vincente Del Bosque find a spot for one of Pedro (Barcelona) or Fernando Torres (Liverpool)?  Along with David Villa (Barcelona) one of those two would make the Spanish front line as feared as any in this tournament.  Instead, Spain comes out in a 4-5-1.  Smart!  One goal would have probably gotten Spain at least three in this game against a not so hot Switzerland.  Now Spain are looking up at Chile and Switzerland and wondering why they didn’t win this game.

Good enough to play anywhere in the world, except for Spain

Switzerland didn’t play well but a lucky bounce to Gelson Fernandes (Saint-Etienne) and Switzerland got the only goal they would need.  A shots by Spain, a post by Spain, and Switzerland almost making it two and the game was over and Spain is left pondering what should’ve been.

South Africa – Uruguay (0-3)

Goals – Forlan (URU) 24′ and 80′ penalty, Pereira (URU) 90’+5

Red Card – Khune (RSA) 76′

Uruguay was on fire in this game.  Time of posession was the same, shots were close but Uruguay was just better.  They looked smoother.  Diego Forlan’s (Atletico Madrid) long range shot was off a deflection but it was awesome.

I know I said the refereeing was good but the linesman have not been so good this World Cup and they made another mistake in this game.  At 76′ Luis Suarez (Ajax) was taken down by keeper Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs) and Uruguay were awarded a penalty which they converted.  The referee had no choice but to show Khune the red.  The only problem was that Suarez was offsides when the ball was passed  to him.  He got the ball all alone in front of goal and Khune had to do what he had to do.  Play should’ve never happened if the linesman did his job.  He was in position but he flat missed it.  Uruguay would’ve probably won anyway but instead on 2-0 Uruguay at 80′, it’s still 1-0 and everything to play for.

Khune should have never seen red

Uruguay look the goods and their next game with Mexico should be very interesting.  That game, in my opinion, will be for top spot in the group.  Nice to see that South Africa’s Coach Parreira came to his senses and started Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa) over Lucas Thwala (Orlando Pirates) in defense.

Standings

Team (points)

Group A:

Uruguay (4), Mexico (1),  France (1), South Africa (1) – Mexico/France still to play second game.

Group B:

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

The World Cup kicked off last night (in Korea) and there were two pretty good games.  The Uruguay – France game came on at 3:30 am so it was a bit rough trying to get through it.  Both games were exciting but I’m already hating those horns.  I can’t imagine sitting next to person who has the Vuvuzela horn.  In 1994 I went to see Brazil – Sweden and sat with the Brazilian supporters and it was two straight hours of some dudes banging drums to a samba beat so the scantily clad women could strut their stuff.  I was enjoying the chicks shaking their asses but by the end of the first half I had a headache.  In the middle of the second half I was so annoyed that I was cursing the whole country of Brazil.  Don’t worry Brazil, we’re good now.

Samba girls, yes. Guys beating drums, no.

On to the games:

South Africa – Mexico (1-1)

Goals – Tshabalala (RSA) 55′ , Marquez (MEX) 79′

Mexico controlled this game in the first half.  Well…most of the first half.  At the 40th minute South Africa turned it up and had Mexico on their heels for the rest of the first half and that momentum continued into the second half.  The left side of the South African defense had lots of difficulty with Juarez.  Kuhne (RSA) was lucky that Dos Santos didn’t score at 2′ because the rebound went right to his feet.  Dos Santos (MEX) owned the center of the midfield.

Mexico had three clear chances on goal in the first half but the referees did South Africa a favor at 37′.  Somehow the linesman decided that Vela (MEX) was offside even though he was even with the defender and the goalie while a South African defender was standing on the goal line.  Maybe I’m wrong but it looked like he made a mistake.  The referee otherwise had a pretty good, even game.  I thought he was a bit quick to give Juarez (MEX) a yellow at 18′.

You were robbed

In the first half, the South African coach looked a bit drowsy but he was awake enough to make a key adjustment to start the second half.  Parreira brought on Masilela in place of Thwala at left back.  Huge difference.  I would be surprised if Masilela didn’t start the next game because Thwala looked lost while Masilela was solid.

Mexico looked lost in the second half.  A nice pass put Tshabalala (RSA) took a nice though pass and put a little space between himself and the defender and rifled a hard diagonal shot in the corner of the net.  Mexico was lucky because South Africa had about five clear scoring chances.  Mphela (RSA) hit the post at 90′.  So close to taking the three points.

I wonder why Aguirre (MEX) didn’t start Guardado over Juarez in the first place?  Juarez was good in the first half but Guardado was better after he came in at 55′.  His cross to Marquez resulted in Mexico’s tying goal.  Blanco (MEX) came on at 69′ and even though he’s old, for a soccer player, he still has some spark.

I had higher hopes for Mexico in this game.  I had predicted they’d win 2-0 and the way things were going in the first half it looked likely.  I still like Mexico to go through.

Uruguay – France (0-0)

Red Card – Lodeiro (URU) 81′, two yellows

This game ended the way I thought it would.  I was thinking both teams would have scored a goal but 0-0 ties are common in the World Cup.  I hope it doesn’t continue that way.  Both teams tried but just couldn’t put the ball in the net.  Diego Forlan (URU) was the best player on the field.  He was everywhere up front for Uruguay.  Ribery (FRA) looked a bit rushed all game.  He is one of my favorite players and has such a high energy level but he would have done better to tone it down in this game.  He looked angry the whole time.  When he’s on for Bayern Munich it looks like he’s having a good time but he didn’t look that way here.

Mr. Everything for Uruguay

Bakari Sagna (FRA) was solid on defense and did a lot of work.  Toulalan (FRA) was all over and Anelka (FRA) didn’t impress me that much.  And no, it has nothing to do with the fact he plays for Chelsea.

Very good player, terrible hair

I didn’t think Uruguay would be this good and now their game with Mexico should be interesting.  Expect that game to be played at a high pace.  Actually, expect that for all the games in this group because these teams showed that they aren’t content to grind things out.  They want to go forward and put pressure on the defenses.

Standings – Group A

Team (points)

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

One day down and so far so good.  See you tomorrow