You know you have a problem when…

July 10, 2010

you are quite likely to watch the 3rd place match. Mainly because I like underdogs and because I like Uruguay’s strikers.

I would imagine that Luis Suarez’s value on the transfer market has gone up significantly. He has a wonderful strike rate, he’s talented, and he’s still young. Plus he makes smart plays like saving the ball on the goal line with his hand. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ajax get offers in the 20 to 30 million Euro range.

Interestingly, 2010 will be the first year to not feature Brazil, Argentina, Germany, or Italy in the final. Of course, that just means that you now have to add Holland to that list…or Spain, but since this is Holland’s 3rd final and Spain’s first…


Holland v Uruguay preview

July 6, 2010

More thoughts, in numbered form.

1. This isn’t really Uruguay on the field. It’s Uruguay minus injuries and suspensions. Suarez (he of the handball, who by the way plays in Holland for Ajax where he has scored 3 goals in every 4 games) is missing. Center defender and captain Lugano won’t be there, while the other center defender, Godin, missed the last game for injury, so you have to wonder how solid the middle of the defense will be. Defender Fucile won’t be there, nor will playmaker Lodeiro.

2. Holland is missing a van der Zwiel and De Jong. De Jong is pretty key, but de Zeeuw is a suitable replacement. I’m a bit more worried about Khalid Boulahrouz and his capacity for gaining penalties and red cards through his defending. If I recall correctly, van der Zwiel’s suspension is for the yellow he received for touching the ball when it was Kaka’s throw-in. Pretty ticky-tacky card that while I technically agree with, it is unique in this World Cup. A shame.

3. I’d expect Uruguay to come out fairly defensively, much like they did against France. Try and keep the game scoreless in the first half and hope Forlan can poach one in the second half. Suarez’s replacement Cavani isn’t a zero either, playing for Palermo in Italy.

4. Not many teams can be missing this many starters and win. Uruguay has only 3.5 million people. They also played 120 minutes in their last match. They’re a good team — if I recall correctly after their first game I said they are one of the most underrated teams at this World Cup, but I’m not going to search for the post right now — but those are alot of obstacles to overcome. Anything can happen in football, but Uruguay has alot of factors working against them.

5. Please Boulahrouz, please. Don’t do anything dumb. If you don’t, Holland cruises into the finals 3-1.


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.


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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