Tuesday, June 13, 2006

World Cup - Week One

Sorry I haven't been posting.  I've been out of town, and happen to still be out of town.  So the time and access to internet has been compromised.

Well, where to begin.  First I would like to address my post last week, that got some pretty good criticism, concerning so called "groups of death."  Seems that me and my critics might both be proven wrong.  He seemed to think that Group E, containing the lowly USA, couldn't possibly be a group of death, as the Czechs and Italians would handily beat the US and Ghana, whereas the Serbs and the Ivory Coast were more than a match for "just waiting to be upset" Argentina and Holland.  Ok, here's my prediction for the two groups.  I think that after this week the best that will be said for the two groups is that  neither was a "group of death."   The USA looked HORRIBLE in their game vs. the Czechs, and their opponents looked every bit of the 2nd in the world ranking they have.  Ghana too looked overwhelmed by an experienced and determined Italian squad.

However, I wasn't really impressed with the Ivory Coast.  I watched that game, and thought that the Argentinean team was playing very well, while their opponents had some very obvious flaws.

I think of all these teams you could say that they are dangerous.  The USA is still dangerous, and they have the talent to put it together.  But will they?

OK, down to business.
Saturday:  England 1 Paraguay 0
This was a cover-face-game for the English.  Yes, they won.  However they looked very unfocused and couldn't seem to get the ball under control in the box.  Getting it to the box wasn't all that hard, but they look like they are just waiting for Roony to come and bail them out.  Their one goal comes from a Beckham kick from a set piece.  You can't count on those in every game.  Paraguay was just along for the ride.  Sweden can definitely take them if they improve from their last game.  Which brings me to:

Sweden 0 Trinidad-&-Tobago 0
This was a fun game to watch, but not because the talented Swedes played a pleasing version of the beautiful game.  It was fun because supreme underdogs T&T overcame playing with 10 men for an entire half to hold the Swedes scoreless.  Kudos for them, but this has just as much to do with Sweden playing under their ability.  And they are in danger of not getting out of this group unless they do well in their next two matches.

Argentina 2 Ivory Coast 1
I've said a bit about this one above.  I think that Argentina looks about as good as anyone in this tournament.  They played a group of larger and faster opponents well, defended well, and were very creative and fun to watch when attacking.  If they continue like that this group will come easy for them.  Not at all like the last world cup (when they were in a true group of death).  The Ivory Coast is going to be a dangerous team, but only because they are fast and strong.  They looked lost when they had the ball, and their main play was to get the ball to their fast strikers, notably Drogba, and hope they could do something with it.  Every time they got the ball into the box, the man with the ball tried to dribble around, like he was trying to make his own shot.  Lots of people think they can go far in this tournament, but I think that their lack of imagination is going to catch up to them before the end of the group round.

Holland 1 Serbia 0
I didn't get to watch this game, but I'm not surprised at the result.  Serbia cruised through the qualifying, but they haven't had the experience on the main stage.  Sure they won their group, but they didn't beat Spain, and they had to beat teams like Bosnia, Belgium and San Marino.  Holland seems to have handled them without a problem, now on to the Ivory Coast, and we'll see what the African boys are really made of.

Mexico 3 Iran 1
Who didn't see this coming.  Thank goodness the Tricolores were up to this task, because nobody wanted to see the Iranian President trying to visit Germany to watch the games.

But it also goes once again to show that Mexico is getting a gift here that the USA should have been given.

Portugal 1 Angola 0
The constant underachievers slipped by probably the worst team at the tournament.  They aren't looking good trying to walk the path of redemption.  But they will escape this group, anyway.

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