Posts Tagged ‘Mueller’

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-three saw a clinic put on by Germany and Spain edging past a very game Paraguay squad.  Argentina exits the World Cup and in the ninety minutes it took for them to lose, they went from a red-hot team with as good a chance as anyone to hoist the Jules Rimet Trophy to a team that wasn’t very good in the first place and lucky even to get this far.  How fortunes change so quickly.

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) went from a soccer God to a mere mortal in those same ninety minutes.  Before the game it didn’t matter that he hadn’t scored because he was creating chances and Argentina were winning.  After the game, his World Cup was a disappointment because he hadn’t scored and was put in the same bust category with Ronaldo, Kaka, Rooney and Drogba.  Sure Messi has won almost everything in the last thirteen months but what have you done for us lately?

He was having a great tournament on Friday. Sunday morning; not so much

On to the games:

Argentina – Germany (0-4)

Goals – Mueller (GER) 3′, Klose (GER) 68′ & 89′, Friedrich (GER) 74′

Germany scored early and it looked like the game the night before between the Netherlands and Brazil.  I kept waiting for Argentina to finally break through but it never happened.  Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich) and the rest of the German defense were up to the test.  Carlos Tevez (Manchester City, for now) was frustrated and he did more yelling and complaining than creating chances.

No Ballack, no problem

Argentina was a strike away from being back in this game but the wheels came off at 68′ with the goal from Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich).  Diego Maradona’s team started to panic and had to score but that just left them open for more German runs and two more goals.

The only damage done to Germany was that Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich) received a yellow card and won’t be able to play in the Semi-final against Spain.  Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich) was named Man of the Match as rightfully so.  He was everywhere.  Germany has scores four goals three times this tournament and Spain better watch out.  This isn’t the old Germany or West Germany where they muscled their way through tournaments, happy to score a single goal and tighten things up on defense.  This is a young German team, the youngest team in the tournament, and each player has more freedom to create chances and make runs.  No more systems, just good open, creative play.

Paraguay – Spain (0-1)

Goal – Villa (ESP) 83′

Spain controlled time of possession but shots on goal were nearly similar.  David Villa (Barcelona) was Johnny-on-the-spot again and was able to put in a ball that had bounced off the post and onto his foot.  That’s goal number five for Villa and he’s now the top scorer in this World Cup.

He has a nose for goal

Paraguay had an early chance but Spain had more offense in the first half.  The teams took turns missing penalties in the second half.  First, Oscar Cardozo (Benfica) missed from the spot and then two minutes later Xavi Alonso (Real Madrid) missed his second chance penalty and the teams were still tied.  Alonso made his first attempt but referee Carlos Batres from Guatemala decided to call the rarely enforced encroachment on the Spaniards and Alonso had to try again.  Ooops!

Villa scores late and Paraguay were scrambling to get to the net.  It’s tough for a team like Paraguay to get goals quickly because they aren’t known for being big scorers in the World Cup.  Spain survives but this team doesn’t really scare me.  I think they’re the weakest team left in the tournament.  I’d rate Uruguay a tad higher but with Luis Suarez (Ajax) out for their Semi-final against the Netherlands, it’s real close.  Is Spain more talented?  Yes!  They just aren’t playing as well as the Uruguayans.

Speaking of Luis Suarez, he’s received a one match ban for his deliberate handball that saved Uruguay’s game against Ghana.  There’s been an uproar that something needs to be changed to stop it from happening again.  FIFA thought about banning him for two games but they really can’t.  His handball isn’t deemed worse than any other.  Rightfully so, Suarez just reacted to the situation.  It happened so fast that he really didn’t have time to think of the consequences.  I have no problem with what FIFA did.  We can’t change the rules every time something big happens.  Reader Aidan from South Korea via South Africa thinks that Suarez should be banished from this world for his actions but that might be a bit harsh.

In the Semi-finals on Tuesday it’s Uruguay – Netherlands and Germany – Spain.  Can’t wait.  Honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing a Germany – Netherlands final but that’s just me.

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.

After a great day of soccer on Saturday, the first two games on Sunday tried their hardest to set the game of soccer back.  Luckily, Germany were their usual, machine self and brought a nice end to the day’s matches.  Algeria – Slovenia and Serbia – Ghana weren’t gonna bring any new fans to the sport and most likely strengthened the argument against soccer.  This argument only takes place in the USA because the rest of the world is already on board.

The horns are still annoying but not just because of the constant buzzing sound throughout the game.  Those damn Vuvuzelas completely drown out the crowd noise so you can’t hear the supporters in the stands when something big happens.  The crowd reaction and atmosphere are a big part of my enjoyment and I’m getting none of it.  Luckily, the Korean announcers on SBS are very energetic and exciteable or else I might as well watch the game with the sound off.  There’s word that the World Cup organizing committee would consider banning the vuvuzela from inside the stadiums but only if necessary.  It’s so necessary.

On to the games:

Algeria – Slovenia (0-1)

Goal – Koren (SVN) 79’

Red Card – Ghezzal (ALG) 73’, two yellows

This game was pretty much bad from start to finish.  The game was loose and sloppy from the first minute.  I thought both these teams would be better but I was wrong.  This game had tie written all over it but some shoddy defending and goalkeeping by the Algerians gave Slovenia the win and now Slovenia sits atop Group C.  Go figure.  I did like the green Charlie Brown jerseys worn by Slovenia.

Like Slovenia's jerseys, except green

Algeria started the game in a 4-5-1 which hardly ever works since your forward is all alone in the middle of the field waiting for service.  Neither team was in a rush to score and passes were being missed all over the place.  Algeria did a lot of complaining throughout the match.  Both teams were physical and I wrote in my notebook at 36’ that there would be a red card in this game.  At minute 73, Abdelkadar Ghezzal (Siena) decides that since the pass is over his head maybe he should stick his arm out and try to stop it.  Maybe nobody will notice.  The referee did and it was a yellow for Ghezzal.  Too bad it was his second yellow since coming on for Rafik Djebbour (AEK Athens) at 59’.  Ghezzal came into the game and immediately got a yellow for a rough tackle.  Nice!

At 79’ Robert Koren (West Bromwich Albion) gets the ball outside the box, to the left and since the defenders decided not to make a move on him, he dribbled to the top of the box before anyone closed in on him and took an average shot that bounced and went into the net.  The goalie looked real bad.  Maybe he was screened or maybe the Jubulani World Cup ball really does suck.  The Jabulani has been flying and taking some odd bounces this entire tournament.  Maybe the players are right, this ball does suck.

Bad ball or bad goalkeeping. How about both?

Serbia – Ghana (0-1)

Goal – Gyan (GHA) 85′ penalty

Red Card – Lukovic (SRB) 74′, two yellows

I was surprised at the Ghana lineup when I noticed both Sulley Muntari (Inter) and Stephen Appiah (Bologna) were being left out.  Appiah came on at 73′ but Muntari was never used.  Luckily, Ghana did just fine without them in the starting lineup.  Not that Ghana played that well but neither did Serbia and a late penalty was all Ghana needed to win this game.

What was wrong with Serbia?  The lineup looked good on paper but that’s it.  With Marko Pantelic (Ajax) and the 6 foot 7 Nikola Zigic (Birmingham City) up front I thought Serbia could cause problems and score a few goals.  I was way off.  I don’t know exactly where Zigic was playing.  He spent a lot of time around the midfield circle and even got a yellow for a challenge near Serbia’s defense.  Why would a tall, gifted forward be anywhere but in or around the Ghana third of the field.  Since Zigic was strolling around the pitch, Pantelic was left all alone up on the right front trying to catch up to bad Serbian passes and crosses.  Milos Krasic (CSKA Moscow) did his best in the midfield but he too was on the right.  The first half was all played on the right side.  Mix it up a little, there were other players on the left.

Zigic, tall forwards shouldn't be anywhere near the midfield

In the second half, Zigic decided that he was a forward and played more in the attacking zone but the passes still were off.  Both teams played some pretty bad soccer.  Aleksandar Lukovic (Udinese) was shown red  at 74′ after getting his second yellow and Serbia were down to ten men.  Ghana started to put pressure from this point on and it paid off at 82′ when they were awarded a penalty after Zdravko Kuzmanovic (VfB Stuttgart) decided to reach out and touch a cross from Ghana’s Andre Ayew (Arles).  Silly play.  Asamoah Gyan (Rennes) converted and that was it.  Gyan was by far the best player on the field.  Hopefully both teams can tighten things up and play better in the next game.

Germany – Australia (4-0)

Goals – Podolski (GER) 8′, Klose (GER) 26′, Mueller (GER) 68′, Cacau (GER) 70′

Red Card – Cahill (AUS) 56′

Not much to say here except that Germany OWNED Australia.  They put on a clinic.  Australia had an early chance at 3′ but Richard Garcia (Hull City) had his shot cleared by Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich).  It was all Germany after that.  Australia could not keep up with the constant German pressure.  Then, Tim Cahill (Everton) gets himself sent off after a rough challenge on Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich).  Cahill actually looked surprised when he was shown the red.  Tim, if you come in on a player from the side with your knees, you’re gonna see red.  Plus Schweinsteiger didn’t even have the ball at that point.  Nice play Tim.

Different game, same outcome for Cahill

If Germany can keep up this attacking pace, not scoring pace, they will be hard to beat.  In my preview I told you not to expect too much from Australia.  I still stand by that.  No Cahill against Ghana, no chance.  Germany is by far the best team to have played so far.  Solid in every part of the game.

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:

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

Group D:

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