Posts Tagged ‘Slovenia’

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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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)

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)