long way round

World Cup 2010 Day 2, 3, and 4 Recap

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What a weekend. Went biking with the mrs, played some tennis for the first time since high school, and went to the AT&T Park in the city for some afternoon fun. A little burnt on the nose signals a return of summer.

But you're here for the World Cup. It's been hard to write a review every day, so here goes a lump summary of the past three days. 

The Hand of Clod
Robert Green has done it again. England has done it again. They flew through their qualifications, only to reveal their true selves at the World Cup finals, which is that they're just another good team, not great. There were some flashes of brilliance from Heskey and Gerrard, but overall Rooney was silent and England resorted to their age old tactic of punting the ball forward and hoping one of their forwards (aka, Peter Crouch) will get a head on it. But to USA's credit, Jay Demeritt was fantastic in shutting Wayne Rooney down, and Tim Howard deserved to be the Man of the Match with his sticky fingers and instinctive saves. 

South Korea Rolls
Meanwhile, on the same day, Korea opened up their World Cup run with a 2-0 romping against Greece. They started off shaky, but gathered their composure after the first goal by Lee Jung Soo. After that, Korea displayed some fine football and never lost their cool under pressure. Lee Young Pyo was his old self from back in the days of Tottenham Hotspur, and the captain Park Ji Sung was crucial in providing the second goal. The soon-to-be stars, Ki Seung Yeung and Lee Chung Yong were also very active. Of course, Park Chu Young preferred to pass than shoot and missed an easy gimme in front of goal. The plauge of going dark in crucial games continues for the Monaco man. My hope in Korea is still muted, as Greece was an old squad that looked lumpy (is that a spare tire between their waist?), and lethargic at best. Samaras warmed the bench all year with Celtic and showed no spark at all, while Gekas was only good at showing his bald spot to the camera. Argentina and Nigeria will be much more difficult. 

Argentina played against Nigeria, and old man Heinze showed Fergie and Manchester United what they're missing in shipping him off to the French Ligue. He had a spectacular header to put Argentina up early, but to be fair Nigeria's defense was practically sleeping. Messi had plenty of opportunities at goal, but failed to put any of them at the back of the net. That is the difference between good and great players, and Messi has yet to prove himself at the most esteemed level of football, the World Cup. The tournament is long so there's still ample opportunity for him to shine.

The Other Robert Green
The Algeria v. Slovenia match didn't seem all that interesting, so I opted to stay in bed. Good decision that was. If you read the Guardian live match commentary, the guy was so bored out of his mind he couldn't wait for the game to end. One notable item from the commentary is when the Algeria keeper "robertgreens" the ball into the net. That's funny.  

Ghana pulled an amazing win against defensive stalwarts Serbia. Asamoah Gyan was on an absolute tear and looked dangerous all game long. Serbia committed stupid fouls that they didn't need to, and rightfully received a penalty for a handball in the box. Lukovic was also rightly sent off, despite his plead for ignorance. Gyan should've had another goal to his name, but the third arm of the goalie, aka the post, denied him of the celebration.

Ze Germans
Germany displayed some fine football on Sunday against the hapless Australians. Once known for their efficiency and their defensive toughness, this modern multicultural Germany has transformed into a free-flowing, total football-esque team under the Californian Jurgen Klinsmann in 2006 and now Joachim Low. Mesut Ozil had a bad case of acting early on in the game, but did enough throughout to earn the Man of the Match. Klose is still dangerous, especially in the air, and Philip Lahm still has some gas in the tank to be an excellent wingback. 

Netherlands had a mediocre showing, but thanks to a shoddy defense and an own goal by Denmark, easily passed through with a 2-0 win. Robin Van Persie was instrumental early on, breaking down the defense, and making some clinical passes through the legs of defenders. The other Arsenal man, Niklas Bendtner, had one good chance and after that reverted back to silence. 

It's a Honda
Japan claimed their first ever victory in a World Cup final, and Cameroon claimed their first ever defeat for their World Cup opener. Samuel Eto'o was largely ineffective throughout the game, mostly because Eto'o' strength lies in his movement rather than his dribbling. That means, he's most dangerous on the move when he receives the ball, but unfortunately Cameroon doesn't have a Sneijder to put the ball to his feet while in stride. I picked Cameroon to advance to the second round, but now that has been put into doubt.

Italy was in trouble all throughout the game against a much more faster and aggressive Paraguay, until veteran Camoronesi provided some much needed spark. The last twenty minutes of the game was all Italy, attacking and trying to get those three points but in the end a 1-1 draw was sufficient for both teams. Italy definitely looks like they will struggle in this world cup, and good for them. Their diving ways and their Opera-inspired acting really puts a bad taste in my football mouth. Boo Italy!

The Best Against The Worst
Now, all the attention is on tomorrow's match, where number 1 ranked Brazil will go against number 105 (lowest of all the teams in the finals), North Korea, I mean, DPRK. The Northern brothers had a press conference yesterday and the astute journalists asked such poignant questions such as who picks the teams, the coach or Kim Jong Il, and why is a striker listed as a goalkeeper. The coach and the media director were their usual northern selves with steely reserve and icy stares. On the other hand, the media savvy Jong Tae Se (if you do a Naver search you'll find a treasure trove of stuff) was much more comfortable in front of the capitalist media. By the way, I found a new favorite football blogger, and she is hilarious
 
And since most of you reading this are USA fans, I thought you'd appreciate some more Robert Green-isms.

 

Posted via email from Long Way Round

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Written by shindz

June 15, 2010 at 5:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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