Spain v Germany thoughts

July 8, 2010

1. You would think it is trite to mention that Spain v Germany = Barcelona v Bayern Munich. Both sides are pretty heavily centered around those domestic club teams. Spain started the game with 7 starters from Barcelona (including David Villa, who hasn’t played a game for them yet), while Germany started Lahm, Schweinsteiger and Klose…although they finished the game with 5 Bayern Munich players on the field. This of course doesn’t count Lukas Podolski, who played at Bayern Munich for the last 4 years.

2. I obviously thought Spain was more likely to win, so the result wasn’t too surprising to me. Even so, after creating numerous decent scoring chances (and not scoring any of them), Germany very clearly deserved a penalty in the 43rd minute. Ozil was one on one with the Spain goalie Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos clipped his back heel to send him tumbling. If Germany goes up 1-0, that is a very different game. I’d guess that 80% of refs give at least a penalty (and maybe a red card) in that situation.

3. While Pedro clearly should have passed the ball in the 83rd minute or so, when Fernando Torres was standing wide open in front of the goal, I call a penalty there 100% of the time.

4. Spain created chances, Germany maybe created two: both of them involved Sergio Ramos. I can’t understand why Spain manager Vincent Del Bosque continues to start Sergio Ramos. He’s a black hole defensively, and is always caught upfield when the other team is counter-attacking. Given that Spain plays with the not super-fast team of Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol at centerbacks, this baffles me.

Spain is playing a tactical system that leads to low scoring games. In a way, it is almost more of a defensive strategy than an offensive one. But they are definitely vulnerable because of the strange insistence to play Sergio Ramos…will Arjen Robben play on the left against Spain to take advantage of Sergio Ramos’ wanderlust?

5. Spain might be the worst team at scoring off of opponent mistakes. A few times Germany turned the ball over and Spain could have attacked with a numbers advantage, but instead decided to play for possession.

6. Leo Messi’s implication that Barcelona is better than Argentina looks a little bit stronger after Spain advances to the finals and Argentina is out in the quarters. Barcelona is essentially Spain, plus Messi, the best player in the world. There’s almost no better indictment of Diego Maradona in the world as that.


Leo Messi thinks Barcelona is better than Argentina?

July 4, 2010

Leo Messi talking about his surprise that Fabio Capello left Theo Walcott off the England squad:

If [Theo Walcott] could do that against Barcelona, think what he could have done against Germany and Algeria. Even if he didn’t start, he would still have been very important for England.

Maybe there was something lost in the translation, but Messi seems to imply that he thinks Barcelona is superior to Germany. And after the 4-0 Germany victory, one might conclude he thinks Barcelona is better than Argentina.

A leap perhaps. But perhaps also a message from Messi about what he really thinks about Maradona (or so thinks my Argentine wife).

Germany 4 Argentina 0

July 3, 2010

1. Football is a high variance game, there is lots of luck in any particular result. In particular, this was not really a 4-0 game, more like 2-0. The result is misleading as a result of late counterattack goals. And obviously the first game changed everything.

2. Without checking, I imagine that Mueller (first goal, set up second goal) or Klose (two goals) was man of the match, but in my opinion Bastian Schweinsteiger was the man of the match. He really did everything that could have been done, from defending Leo Messi to playmaking to leaving the 3rd goal on the doorstep for the goalscorer.

3. Germany is without doubt a challenging matchup for Argentina. They defend and counterattack. They use their height to score on set pieces. They play tactically and adjust to their opponents. Joachim Low is a solid tactician. Maradona does not adjust, in fact, he probably does not even believe in adjusting to opponents.

4. Argentina really created very few scoring opportunities. Ton of luck in football, first goal is huge, blah blah blah. Whose fault is that? Maradona, Diego. How can you have the best players in the world and yet create so little offensively? It has to be the fault of the offensive scheme. After every game, I had pretty much been saying that Argentina did not impress. What happened today against Germany could have happened against Mexico.

5. Angel Di Maria. In my team, he only enters the game as a supersub when we are behind for playing balls over the top or if there is a specific tactical reason. He was pretty much a disaster in every game for Argentina, yet he kept starting. Absolutely inexplicable, except when you consider who the manager is. In that tactical system, he was a disaster, exactly like I predicted. Real Madrid just bought him for 30 million euros. He is still young, but I would be pretty surprised if he makes a name for himself

6. Argentina never changed anything tactically in that game. They played exactly like Germany expected and desired.

Argentina gets the same draw in consecutive World Cups

June 27, 2010

In 2006, Argentina beat Mexico in the round of 16 and then lost to Germany on penalty kicks.

In 2010, Argentina will face Mexico in the round of 16. If it wins, it will face Germany.


Jorge Larrionda strikes again!

June 27, 2010

Do we have a new worst call of the World Cup? Yes, Virginia, perhaps we do. England gets victimized by error-prone ref Jorge Larrionda.

In case that link dies, here’s another:

I really don’t understand why Jorge Larrionda continues to get games from FIFA. And yes, certainly his linesman share quite a bit of the blame. But before the replay, I was screaming, “goooooal, wait…what? No way that wasn’t a goal.” How the refs could miss that is beyond me. As the guy just said on Argentine TV “To not call that a goal, it’s not that the refs don’t know anything about reffing. It’s that they don’t know anything about football.”

It goes without saying that that call massively changed the course of the game. With a correct call, it’s 2-2 and Germany is going to find it significantly more difficult to score 2 counter-attack goals to end the game 4-1. One of the least deserving 4-1 results I’ve seen in awhile.

Worst Call of the World Cup

June 18, 2010

Last night I complimented the World Cup refs on an excellent performance so far, especially the linesman….Well. That was before Koman Coulibaly. That was before the referees decided the outcome of BOTH games so far today.

The Mali refs disallowed the 3rd American goal, and there is no reason why. Did he call offsides on Bradley? On Edu? Did he call a foul on Bradley for trying to free himself from the two armed bearhug that the Slovenian defender gave him? No one knows, and so far they are not saying why. US Coach Bob Bradley claims that he heard it was the latter. If so, that is probably a story chosen after the fact by the refs because it is a judgment call, and thus less likely for FIFA to have sanctionable grounds.

Even if the linesman screws up the offsides call, then you give the penalty kick. Easy game. Horrible horrible call, and pretty apparent. The linesman sometimes have difficult calls to make, but this was not one of them.

Really, it was not a strong performance by the ref before the wrongly disallowed goal. Jozy Altidore gets taken down outside of the box by the last defender? That is why the rule was originally created so that a red card can be given. Was the red card given? No.

There were quite a number of dangerous Slovenian challenges in the second half. Or the yellow card against Robbie Findley for the ball that hit him in the face. And do not even get me started about the (only!) 3 minutes of injury time that were all used on the Slovenian injury. Erroneous.

On top of that, was this questionable red card against Miroslav Klose of Germany in the first game of the day.

While this is at least arguably correct under the FIFA rules of the game, I doubt that is given a red card very frequently. It was his second yellow, but even so, I doubt this is given very frequently. Either way, when a ref goes card happy in the first half (the ref gave out 6 cards in the first 35 minutes), results like this happen quite frequently.

Beckenbauer disses American soccer

June 15, 2010

Franz Beckenbauer:

What I saw of the English against the USA had very little to do with football. It looked to me as if the English have gone backwards into the bad old days of kick and rush.

I am not sure if the England coach Fabio Capello can still change much there. The English are being punished for the fact that there are very few English players in the Premier League as clubs use better foreign players from all over the world.

I don’t think much of Germany’s national team this year, Franz.

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