Jumblin: USMNT Opponents & Possible Ones

Off we go on the second day of our roundtable. The participants? Just click here.

We bundle our two next questions together…as we’re focusing on USMNT opponents in the group stage and beyond.

The first:  Who should the USMNT respect more in the group stage Algeria or Slovenia….why?

Yes another picture of Ziani for Algeria; he's the straw that stirs the midfield attack....

Michelot, Ligue1Talk: Algeria. If they get confident with a victory v. Slovenia and play their qualification against the USA, then there is something to fear. They have experience in high pressure matches and the stadium will probably pull for them. But if they start losing their heads, beware of your ankles…

McKee, “Spectator -Capped“: Respect both, No Fear!  Both have pretty good European players at key clubs, as do we.  Algeria will enjoy “home” venue/fans and stealth (Algeria have players we can’t scout/assess easily).    Slovenia won a tougher group, edging Russia/Hiddink (down men, but away).  Algeria split with Egypt (who we beat at strength).  Key – play OUR game!

Arbogast, Notre Dame: I’m going to play the homefield advantage card and go with Algeria. Even though the tournament is in South Africa, I believe all the African teams are going to get a huge boost from a World Cup that represents a continent more than a single country.

GeorgeCross: Algeria beat Egypt, and Slovenia beat Russia to get to the World Cup. A healthy dose of respect goes a long way for both teams.  On ‘paper’ I would probably say that they are fairly evenly matched, but Slovenia just shading it.  Therefore, if I had to pick one, I would say Slovenia; here’s why: I think they will beat Algeria in their opening game, and USA will lose to England.  That will put the USA under immense pressure for Game 2 against Slovenia – and I am not sure that many of the USA team has come close to that sort of pressure.  Slovenia will know that if they win, they are through to the Last 16 (assuming England beat Algeria in the other Group C match up).  Whereas, if the USA win, I fancy them to go and beat Algeria and claim 2nd spot in Group C

Shoaff, Black Sox: Algeria beat Egypt to get in.  Slovenia beat Gus Hiddink’s Russia.  6 of 1, half dozen of the other. First round points come from unexpected places for the U.S.: 3 vs. Columbia in ’94 and Portugal in ’02, and a credible draw vs. Italy in ’06.  4 points from these two games is a must.

Rogers, Hillcrest Road: Both. Each team has talented players playing in some of the best European leagues. Algeria beat Egypt to qualify and Slovenia beat Russia, so these teams have a lot of ability. If the USA overlooks either team, they could easily walk away losers.

——————–

The second one:  Which post-group stage opponent do you fear more?

Shoaff, Black Sox: The 1 and 2 seeds from Groups C and D meet in the second round, so possible opponents (in order I’d least like to see them) are Germany, Ghana, Serbia, Australia.  Germans are the class of the group, Ghana ousted us in 2006, and Serbia pushed France into a playoff to secure qualification.  Bring on Australia!

Yes, it is true that TSG possesses two Black Star Essien jerseys...

Arbogast, Notre Dame:  I’m sticking with the homefield advantage argument, so my pick is Ghana. The Black Stars are arguably the class of African soccer, and I think a real threat to make the semi-finals. Germany is the obvious other pick, but I think they’re a weak side by German standards.

Rogers, Hillcrest Blog: For the 2nd round, Germany and Ghana are the obvious choices. I would almost like to see us play Germany, however, with the hopes of getting them back for our 2002 knockout. Ghana would be fun with all of their athleticism and talent. We could get them back for 2006, hopefully. Both teams are dangerous, but I’ll say Germany is more “scary”. After that, Brazil, Spain and Argentina are all scary.

Michelot, Ligue1Talk: Italy. They always rise up to an incredible level in the WC and their defense is tougher than ever, and they have this uncanny ability to score when you don’t expect it. Their team has been rejuvenated for the best. I like their underdog status right now.

GeorgeCross:

Last 16: Serbia – I believe they are the dark horses of the tournament.  I feel that they have a great spine to their team; Nemanja Vidic at the back, Dejan Stankovic in midfield and, Marko Pantelic and Milan Jovanovic  are more than decent forwards.  I also think that in their coach Radi Antic, he has more than enough technical expertise – which he demonstrated in WCQ.  Expect a very organised and disciplined team unit.

Martin Demichelis for La Albiceleste...

Last 8: Argentina – Even though they had a lot of trouble in qualifying, I feel that the pesky Argentineans are too wily to ignore.  They have so much individual talent at their disposal; I feel that if Maradona can fine tune their team play in the month they have to prepare, it will be too difficult to disregard a team that possesses Messi, Mascherano, Tevez, Higuaine, Heinze, Samuel, Veron and Demichelis.

McKee, “Spectator Capped”: Again, fear none, respect all!  Depends on how two “old friends”/Serbia finish Group D.  I would love to avenge the volleyball exhibition Frings put on in 2002 Quarters.  Similarly I would relish another crack at Ghana (albeit a “home game” for them, though?). Serbia/Australia are darkhorses.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. It should be noted that this looks like the worst German side in a while. Although we always seem to say that about them and they always go out and get results.

    Reply

  2. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/17 at 11:11 PM

    Evan, I agree Germany is weaker than normal.

    I completely agree with GeorgeCross…Serbia’s defense is scary as in Italy-iron-curtain scary good.

    Think about this on Argentina…they we’re completely dysfunctional in qualifying and they possess the world’s top player. They figure out how to play together and get the most out of their main man? Scary good.

    Reply

  3. Posted by B-Mac on 2010/03/17 at 11:58 PM

    Evan, your point proves to me just how ridiculous the people calling Group D the true group of death over Group G is. With Germany producing a lower quality side than regular and Essien suffering setbacks, I would take the top 3 Group G sides over all of the Group D sides. Germany looked thoroughly unconvincing hosting Argentina: they have goaltending problems and scoring problems. Geez, who’s their scariest player right now? Ozil? Schweinsteiger? I’m sure I’ll regret this later, but it seems to me like the USA has a far better chance then they’ve ever had to return to the quarterfinals.

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/18 at 6:04 AM

      The thing about the Germans is that they have this annoying ability to not play too well and progress. Think about the last 2 World Cups. In 2002, they went via the UEFA plays-offs, and largely being over looked to the Final (they did have a ‘lucky’ draw), and in 2006, even though they had home advantage, many Germans would have snapped your arm off if you said they would get to the SFs** pre-tournament. Although I agree that this is not a particularly strong German team (by German standards), I cannot help but think that they’ll progress futher than I think (want!).

      **I believe that it was Low and not Klinsmann who was the tactical brains behind the 2006 management outfit.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/18 at 6:21 AM

        And don’t forget that they got to the final of Euro2008, and only lost 1-0…

        Reply

  4. Posted by KMac on 2010/03/18 at 6:36 AM

    And they have a great volleyball team on the goal line (Frings 2002). Man that still burns me up. I bet my neighbors though a crime happened in my house with the windows open and me screaming hand-ball.

    Thank goodness we didn’t get a red card too for no reason other than we are the Yanks!

    Reply

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