Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Assorted World Cup thoughts (Day 5)

* While World Cup 2006 was seen as overly defensive, this one is even moreso. Most teams are trying not to lose, rather than playing to win. Overall, it's not that pretty.

* Opening game Mexico vs South Africa was a great way to kick off a tournament, principally because both teams wanted to win and attacked relentlessly. A stark contrast to the game that followed, but unfortunately France's 0-0 draw with Uruguay is likely to be more representative of the tournament overall.

* How come no club side has the will to get the best out of Mexico's Giovanni Dos Santos? The half-Brazilian winger's performance against the South Africans was so reminiscent of a young Ronaldinho it was scary. Yet no club seems to want him or to use him - he was last seen stuck on the bench in Turkey, having been loaned out by Tottenham.

* The Netherlands look a good team, even though they started slowly against Denmark. In the absence of Arjen Robben, Hamburg winger Eljero Elia dazzled on the left wing; expect a buzz post-WC as the big clubs tussle for his signature. The Oranje's combination of midfield toughness (Van Bommel, De Jong) and tricky attackers (Sneijder, Van Persie) should see them at least make the semi-finals.

* Cote D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) are the real deal. Unfortunately fate seems to be against them, with a nasty draw and their superstar striker under an injury cloud. But even without Drogba for most of the game, they utterly dominated a listless Portugal team, yet couldnt put it in the back of the net. Striker/winger Gervinho looks like a hell of a player when running at defenders, and the team pass well and are tough in the tackle. They even look to have patched up their previous weakness for conceding soft goals at the back.

* How does France coach Raymond Domenech still have a job? France look uninterested and uninspired - what a waste of talent. The departure of Zidane, Vieira and Makelele (the archetypal midfield 3) has left a massive hole in ability, toughness and leadership; a huge problem when you have a bad coach. Apparently some of the senior players like Domenech because they can bully him into putting them in the starting lineup. The non-selection of Karim Benzema looks like utter foolishness after the laughable display up front by Anelka and Gignac.

* Cameroon's coach sent out the tallest lineup I'd ever seen, with 6'3 guys all over the place. Against a small team like Japan, the logic seemed to be to overpower them with size and strength. Unfortunately, there was a distinct lack of creativity on the field for the Indomitable Lions, and playing their deadliest striker (Samuel Eto'o) as a right winger is just stupid. Only once playmaker Achille Emana came on in the second half did they look like a team of real footballers.

* South Korea looked great - in particular Park Ji-Sung, who in national colours looks twice the player he is for Manchester United. But I suspect the "Taeguk Warriors" looked so impressive mostly due to complete ineptness of the Greeks, whose lack of ambition is an insult to their passionate fans. Like Australia, they are a defensive-minded team who cannot actually defend.

* Germany were very impressive, but Australia were rubbish. At best, they are a limited team of hard workers, but coach Pim Verbeek's negative game plan took away what little chance they had of getting anything from the game. Going down 4-0 to Zie Germans is no disgrace, but the manner in which they went down was. How does a team designed to be ultra-defensive manage to concede 4?

* In that game, Tim Cahill's red card was undoubtedly harsh; it was a bad tackle and worth a yellow, but he was clearly trying to pull out of it and thus was not reckless. But the other issue with Cahill is the degree to which Verbeek mishandled him. He is an average midfielder who does 2 things exceptionally well - head the ball, and arrive late in the box to score. But playing him as a lone striker nullifies the latter skill.

* Despite their draw with New Zealand, Slovakia look like a proper team. They've got some exciting young players who constantly threaten on the counterattack. However, don't confuse them with Slovenia, who are as dull as dishwater and got lucky in beating Algeria. How the Slovenes managed to knock Russia out of qualification is beyond me. And how Slovenia and Algeria can both end up in the same group is a cosmic injustice - particularly in comparison to Group G (Brazil, Ivory Coast, Portugal).

* The best individual performance for me so far has been Nigerian keeper Vincent Enyeama. His acrobatic saves somehow kept a rampaging Lionel Messi off the scoresheet. The Nigerians put in a good fist of it against the Argentines - losing 1-0 is nothing to be ashamed of - but for a team whose best players are mostly strikers, playing only one upfront seems a waste.

1 comment:

  1. "* The best individual performance for me so far has been Nigerian keeper Vincent Enyeama. His acrobatic saves somehow kept a rampaging Lionel Messi off the scoresheet. The Nigerians put in a good fist of it against the Argentines - losing 1-0 is nothing to be ashamed of - but for a team whose best players are mostly strikers, playing only one upfront seems a waste."

    That goalkeeper has some skills!

    I've also written a review of the world cup on my blog!

    ReplyDelete