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.

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Recapping today’s games

June 17, 2010

1. I didn’t see Chile v Honduras. For whatever reason, I want Honduras to advance, so I was disappointed to see them fall to Chile. Chile, under Argentine Marcelo Bielsa, has looked awfully good.

2. Spain v. Switzerland. Looked alot like US v Spain in last year’s Confederations Cup semi-finals, didn’t it? Spain created lots of good chances, but not really many great chances. I know that some will attack me for saying it, but… when you play super-slow possession football, don’t be surprised when your opponent has about 9.5 field players in the box. It’s awfully hard to score like that when you don’t have Leo Messi. I’m not saying you have to play like Italians, but it’s possible to both pass the ball and play with a sense of urgency so that you don’t let the defense organize and the goalminder position himself.

Assuming that the decision wasn’t injury-related, I strongly disagree with keeping Cesc Fabregas off the pitch. [since reading this, I’ve read that it was due to injury.]

Any team with Sergio Ramos is vulnerable to a counter-attack.

Spain manager Vincent Del Bosque was pretty critical of Switzerland’s style of play. Whatever. I would note that Switzerland’s goal wasn’t even a counter-attack. The goal came from a goal kick, meaning that it was just sloppy defending by Spain. Don’t believe me? See below:

Switzerland also had a nice combination to hit the post when it was 1-0.

3. All that said, even though it was a bad loss, Spain should still be able to advance by beating Chile and Honduras. Interestingly, if Chile beats Switzerland, Spain would look fairly likely to finish second in their group and possibly face Brazil, assuming Brazil wins their group. That would be an intense round-of-16 game. Spain vs Brazil, the two countries favored to win the World Cup playing in the first knockout round.

4. I’ve said for a long time that Uruguay is underrated. I think this game showed why. Diego Forlan scores a deflection goal, then nails a penalty, followed by a nail-in-the-coffin third goal from Pareira in extra time. That 3rd goal is way more important than almost anyone realizes.

5. Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira, coaching South Africa, was furious at the referee following the game. To be honest, when I started this post, I thought he was dead wrong. But, in retrospect, having checked, he was right. The red card and penalty which gave Forlan his second goal should have been offsides. Watch for yourself at the 37 second mark:

Uruguay is the better team, but that seriously sucks to lose on a deflection and bad penalty call.

I understand that under current rules of the game the red card is standard (assuming the refs miss the offsides call, as they did), but I still think it is a travesty to give a redcard in that circumstance. A penalty kick is punishment enough for that foul. This highlights a current problem with football’s rules: yellow cards are meaningless; a red card is almost dispositive. Giving a penalty kick and a red card is like giving a 1.8 goal penalty.


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