Stéphane Lannoy is a disaster

June 21, 2010

The French are in ruins, having mutinied against their joke of a national team coach today. But perhaps even worse was the performance of French referee Stéphane Lannoy. Despite looking in another direction, the fact that Kaka did nothing, and the fact that it was all an act.

Lannoy handed out the red card. Technically, the second yellow, but the first yellow was almost as undeserved as above.

I’m still going to call taking back the US goal as the Worst Call of the World Cup, but Brazil and Ivory Coast was the worst refereed game of the World Cup so far.

Here’s an abbreviated list of egregious refereeing errors:
1. Luis Fabiano’s goal where he committed a handball foul TWICE. Keep in mind that I almost never in agreement with calling unintentional handballs, which many referees call. Not calling either handball is absolutely unforgiveable.
2. Drogba’s jersey being pulled twice in the box on the same play, extended away from body. Sorry ref, I hate calling penalties because I believe referees should never decide matches, but that was a penalty.
3. The first Kaka yellow card.
4. The second Kaka yellow card.
5. The foul on Elano that went without a yellow card when a red was probably more appropriate.
6. Lots of Ivory Coast reckless challenges that went uncarded.
7. The acting by Brazilians that started before the Kaka red card.
8. Losing complete control of the game in a way I rarely see in any level of football. If this had been a mere league game and not the World Cup, I think a brawl could’ve been a possibility.

I read around the web about what a great victory it was for Brazil. I agree, because Ivory Coast has alot of great talents. I think that just because the score was 3-0 before Drogba scored an amazing late goal, people look at it as a big Brazil victory.

It’s pretty hard to do counterfactuals in football, but I personally feel like that fact exagerates the fact that Brazil’s 2nd goal shouldn’t have counted. So 2-1 Brazil. Given Ivory Coast either the penalty I think the ref should’ve given or the header Drogba missed from the 6 yard line…I think calling it a big Brazil win is overrating it.

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Argentina advances! A fun day of games

June 18, 2010

Argentina advances. Dale! Well, actually, I thought Argentina advanced, but my father-in-law informed me at dinner that technically it is possible for Argentina to not advance. Even so, it’s gotta be like 99%.

1. I am less sanguine about Argentina than most. South Korea really should have scored when the game was 2-1. If they do, this is not a 4-1 game. Argentina beat Nigeria by 1 goal and South Korea by 3, where 2 goals were scored relatively late. Perhaps it is my experience rooting for Holland, but

2. Nigeria. Sigh. I was impressed by Nigeria in the 94 World Cup and have had a soft spot in my heart for them in World Cups since. I have few doubts that they are the second best team in this group. And even though they have 0 points, they still have a chance to advance if they can get it together and beat South Korea. They play well, but a stupid red card put a massive dent in the hopes of advancing for the 8th most populous nation in the world. Still, Argentina should beat Greece, so if Nigeria beats Korea, then Nigeria would advance. All is not lost, but they need to get it together.

3. Have I mentioned I don’t like Angel Di Maria? Of course I have, many times! He’s so overrated. After today, I don’t even think it’s opinion that he is having a terrible disaster of a World Cup (Maradona left Jesus Datolo and Ezequiel Lavezzi off the roster, dumb dumb dumb). My father in law agreed with me at dinner tonight, and liked my off the cuff suggestion to move Tevez into Di Maria’s slot. Aguero or Milito can play forward.

That’s the sick part of being Maradona. He just has so much talent available.

4. Have I mentioned I don’t like Jonas Gutierrez? Indeed I have. That yellow card was just stupid, an unforced error. Still, there is some reason for Gutierrez when Juan Sebastian Veron is playing, to cover Veron’s lack of mobility. However, he was out hurt today, and Maxi Rodriguez (who I would start in many tactical situations) was in his place, so there’s no conceivable excuse for having Gutierrez in the game.

5. Gonzalo Higuain scored 3 right-place, right-time goals. Hey, I’m a Higuain fan even if I don’t like River or Real Madrid: I criticized Maradona for months for keeping him out. Some people have the gift of being in the right spot: Martin Palermo generally does, Higuain does.

6. Maradona introduced Kun Aguero into the game at the perfect moment. My father in law mentioned this tonight. I hadn’t thought of it, but he is right.

7. Messi took for himself a deeper-lying playmaking role. To be honest, I didn’t have a problem with it. In the interview I saw with Messi, he made it sound like it was how he felt like playing at the moment. If it was Maradona’s idea, I give the Diego credit. I don’t really know that it was, but it softened the blow of Riquelme’s absence.

8. Nigeria’s goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama (not gonna look it up now) had a little bit of a Robert Green moment. A shame for him, as he had perhaps been the best player of the World Cup until then.

9. Mexico! Raymond Domenech seems to be a worse manager than Diego Maradona, but vamos Mexico! France had the ball more often, but not by a lot, and never in very compromising positions. Mexico created the chances and today was absolutely the better side. I would like to point out that I yelled for Javier Hernandez to be introduced until he finally was…and quickly scored the first goal of the game. Amazing timing on his run to beat the offsides trap.

10. More importantly, Mexico looked to be a team focused on winning. As the Argentine announcers said after the game, they played directly. This has frequently been Mexico’s problem, but today it wasn’t, and beating France by 2 goals is a huge victory for Mexico and even for CONCACAF.

11. Mexico’s second goal was a penalty. The Argentine announcers (generally quality commentators) both repeated ad nauseum that it shouldn’t have been a PK, which nearly gave me a heart attack. I do not understand how any sensible person could possibly consider this. Que estupidez total!

12. No Henry, Raymond Domenech? Yet lots of Govou? I do not like. No me gusta para nada.

13. It is close to certain that Uruguay and Mexico advance. That means Uruguay v Mexico will determine who is able to avoid playing Argentina. Interestingly, Argentina beat Uruguay to force Uruguay into playing Costa Rica for the final World Cup spot, and Argentina beat Mexico in the round of 16 in the last World Cup.

14. The US needs a win against Slovenia tomorrow. I’m surprisingly nervous. All the games tomorrow (Germany v Serbia, US v Slovenia, England v Algeria) are quite interesting from my perspective, but probably because I’m an American.


France v Uruguay thoughts

June 11, 2010

For a scoreless tie, this was a very entertaining game.

1.  In some ways, a similar story to Mexico and South Africa: France had the ball significantly more in the attacking third, but didn’t really generate that many clear scoring opportunities.  Uruguay, on the other hand, had a few, including one for striker Diego Forlan in the 70th minute or so that he probably buries 75% of the time.

2.  Uruguay’s defense played well and was well organized, as was France’s.

3.  The red card in the 75th minute to Lozeiro looked debatable to me, but I think the refs have been instructed to give red cards if the tackle looks like it is dangerous.  Lots of people wanted Lozeiro, who is 21, to be the starting playmaker in center midfield, but instead he came on as a sub and earned the red card.  Unfortunate, because he was a player I was looking forward to seeing play.

4.  I was surprised to see Anelka substituted.  France defender Bacary Sagna crosses to Anelka’s head looked to me to be the most dangerous option France had.

5.  Uruguay did not do a very good job of getting forward in transition when they gained possession.   Frequently they chose possession of the ball in their defensive third rather than attacking with numbers.  Especially in the first half, Diego Forlan had to drop back in order to get touches.

6.  That should’ve been Ireland playing Uruguay today.

7.  It wasn’t long ago that Franck Ribery was talked about as a candidate for best player in the world.  In the past 6 months, you haven’t heard much of that.


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