Archive for June, 2010

Round of 16 – England versus Germany

Has never scored a World Cup goal. Will today be his first?

PEEEEEEEP PEEEEEP PEEP. Well England are sent home in emphatic style by Germany. England were never in this world cup. Best they go home.

2 minutes of added time

89:00 - Lampard tries a shot from far out that Neuer saves. Going through the motions here as England just want to get on the plane. They played well for about 20 minutes but their patchwork aged defense was finally called out against some beautiful, quality, slick, attacking from Germany.

87:00 – SWP on for Johnson. Well that shows the lack of depth in this England squad. I’m pretty sure after Joe Cole, that Crouch should have been introduced.

81:00 – Gerrard has a nice run and shot but it is very well saved by Neuer and goes out for a corner.

71:00 -Heskey on Dafoe. Not very inspiring that. England’s defense, good in the group games is obviously not up to defending against quality opponents.

70:00 – GOOOOAAAL - Terrible defending by England as their slow defense gets ripped part and Moller sends his second into the back of the net. Germany 4 – England 1

67:00 – GOOOOOAAAL. Muller with a classic counter goal as off a terrible Lampard free kick that hits the wall and its a 3 on 2 that Muller slams home. Germany 3 – England 1

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Round of 16 – USA versus Ghana

REVENGE!

*We’ll be along shortly today or tomorrow with review. As Shaun said, a little spent.

Just download wordpress app for the IPhone! Frequent updates hopefully!

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TSG is going to be watching the game at one of our satellite venues that serves alcohol. We will be at the Phoenix.

Feel free to comment and what not about the match here.

Round of 16 – Uruguay versus South Korea

Ji-Sung Park and his teammates can run all day. Will they score a last minute goal?

PEEEEEEEEP PEEEEEP PEEEP. Game over. Uruguay leave winners but South Korea played admirably. They had their chances but Uruguay’s two real attempts at goal were all they needed to progress to the quarters. Ghana or USA await.

3 minutes of stoppage time.

87:00 – Korea have a great chance through Lee Dong-Gook and his scuffled shot slips through Muslera’s legs and trickles toward goal, but in the end Lugano has all the time to clear.

86:00 - Uruguay resorting back to defensive mindset. Amazing how a team can switch back and forth so effortlessly as a unit.

80:00 – GOOOOOOOOOAAAAL. Suarez with an excellent shot from the edge of the penalty box as he curls it over the defenders and off the post and in. South Korea 1 – Uruguay 2

75:00 – Well to answer my question from a couple of minutes ago…quite easily as Uruguay shift into attacking mode with some slick one time passing and intelligent runs. Unfortunately for the South Americans, their finishing touch is left wanting.

74:00 – Suarez misses an easy header as he is found all by himself at the back post but his header is very poor.

71:00 - South Korea really going for it as they attack down the right and waltz into the penalty area, but shot is softish and straight at the keeper.

70:00 - Question is how quickly can Uruguay switch from their complete defensive mentality to one that requires some real attacking intent.

68:00 – GOOOOOOOAAAAAAL. Lee Chung Yung gets a headed goal. From a free kick, the ball ricochets up in th eair and falls to the Korea striker who nods it in the goal. South Korea 1 – Uruguay 1.

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Orange Wedges: USA vs. Ghana

Orange Wedges is TSG’s “gameday” post that  is updated until kick-off.

Will the States turn Ghana into Glass Joe? It’s knockout time World Cup 2010.

The United States faces Ghana today at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg  in South Africa at 2:30PM Eastern today on ABC and Univision. Victor faces the winner of today’s Uruguay vs. South Korea match-up

• Steve Goff at the Washington Post is reporting that a reliable source says Yanks will stick with their Battle of Algiers backline of Cherundolo, DeMerit, Bocanegra, Bornstein. Given that Grant Wahl is “predicting” this line-up and they’re both in the media caravan this sounds about right.

• All 23 US players are available to play against Ghana. Three substitutes allowed as always.

• 75F and sunny today in Rustenburg with no humidity. Temperature will drop some before kickoff. In short, perfect, non-taxing soccer weather.

Group Stages Report Card – Part 2

A note on these grades. Each teams’ grade is not to be compared with another team, but is based on how they did according to expectations, the manner in which they did it in (playing style, ease/difficulty, adversity etc.)  and how they carried themselves.

The first half can be found here.

Group E

Netherlands – A

The Dutch are playing well and no one is shouting at each other...yet

The Dutch became the second team to win all three of their group games and they did it without any internal fighting. Even Robben got a brief run out and in the 20 minutes he was on he had a spectacular shot denied by the woodwork which went straight into the path of a grateful Huntelaar who easily slotted it home.

They were rarely troubled in any of their games though it took a deflected block from the keeper to ensure their three points against Japan. They could have taken it easy in their final match against Cameroon, but they came out hard and were eventual winners.

They’re well organized and deadly going forward — now even more so with a healthy Robben. Their defense is solid and their engine room is humming perfectly along.

Now comes the real test (well, after they meet Slovakia) and the quality of teams once they reach the quarters should greatly improve. For now they aced their group stage games.

Japan – A-
Japan were supposed finish bottom of the group. They were certainly a team to be respected but every game against them was treated like the “easy” game.

Honda has mastered the Jabulani

Their pre-tournament games didn’t fare too well as they went 0-4 (all against teams going to the World Cup finals) and the media and public back home had their doubts about the Blue Samurai.

That all changed when they came to South Africa. They’re incredibly well organized at the back, but it’s from the back where they’re very potent going forward as they send their fullbacks screaming down the wings. Their midfield is wonderfully creative and very good at finding the runs by their strikers and wingbacks.

Their forwards are okay but they make intelligent runs which must be kept in check, and don’t foul them anywhere in free kick range as Denmark painfully found out.

The Jabulani has come under a lot of criticism by players and keepers alike, but today Japan made it their bitch by scoring two exquisite free kicks the likes of which Ronaldo, Lampard, Messi, etc… cannot seem to master with this new ball.

Up next for the Blue Samurai is Paraguay. This should be a very exciting encounter as they both play good football. I pip Japan to sneak on through to the quarters as they are more balanced and I hope they do it from a free kick.

Denmark – C-

Scored his record breaking goal but was otherwise poor.

This marks the first time in their history that the Danes failed to get out of the group stage. Having missed out on the festivities in Germany they came to South Africa with a veteran squad.

It was this I feel that let them down. They were always a half step behind the Dutch and the Japanese. Against Cameroon in one of the most entertaining games of the tournament, they were lucky not too lose or at least draw as Cameroon missed gilt-edge chance after another.

They didn’t play badly or negatively. In fact, every one of their games was exciting. Unfortunately it had to do with some of their own defensive errors.

Going forward though, they were a constant threat especially with Rommedahl rediscovering some of his 10.2 second 100 meter speed. Sadly, old warhorse Tomasson was anemic in front of goal as he tried to equal the Danish scoring record. In the final minutes of their last game against Japan, and already going home, he scored from a penalty and achieved the milestone.

In the end, I think the Danes and especially Morton Olsen underestimated Japan and had no real plan if they were to fall behind. Many of their players will no doubt retire from international duty after this cup and the team will go home disappointed.

Cameroon – D+/C-

Has never captured the form for his country that he does for his club.

Cameroon started the cup amid controversy as legend Roger Milla called out star striker and captain Samuel Eto’o for not recreating his club form for his country. Whereas that might be true, it is a little unfair as his club teammates possess a little more skill and quality then his national teammates.

Eto’o, always a sensitive soul, threatened to quit the team. Then after their first game loss to Japan, Paul Le Guen publicly questioned the team’s attitude when in turn Eto’o question they starting selection.

In their second game, they came out guns a-blazing with the team selection suggested by Eto’o. They created chance after chance but their finishing was poor. The Danes, patient and calm, attacked them on the counter and were 2-1 winners. The Indomitable Lions became the first team eliminated from the competition.

Admirably, they came out hard in the meaningless third game. Unfortunately, so did the Dutch. It was an exciting affair but their defense let them down and they ended their campaign winless.

I didn’t give them a failing grade as they played exciting attacking football. After the first game, they really put their hearts into it. Unfortunately their discipline, finishing abilities and organization were thrown out the window. They were responsible for one of the most entertaining start to finish games and were a pleasure to watch (from an attacking POV; defensively it was painful).

Ultimately they were a major disappointment, but I have soft spot for the Cameroon teams of ’90 and ’94 so I was generous with my marks.

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Group F

Paraguay – B
The Paraguayan team came into the World Cup as the surprise of the South American qualifications. They were the second team to qualify and did it by beating all the traditional powerhouses.

Solid all over, they sadly, like many other teams, started off the tournament on a cautious note. They scored the opening goal against Italy but gave the defending champions too much respect, and they eventually gave up a poor goal.

Against Slovakia they resorted back to their free-flowing qualification style of play and totally dominated the Europeans, scoring two well-taken goals to boot.

Oddly though, in their third game they reverted back to their cautious style knowing a draw would see them through. They didn’t really try too hard and just made sure they maintained a clean sheet.

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Tactical Keys: USA vs. Ghana

This is a guest post by TSG’s Mr. Tuesday.

Keys to breaking down Ghana

Annan, a ball carrier and 5th defender for Ghana

Since Ghana play with a holding midfielder, in a flexible system that at times resembles both 4-2-3-1 (against Australia) and 4-1-4-1 (against Germany) they’re intent on locking down the spaces directly in front of their back four. However, when the ball is in their wide areas in the defensive third, Annan quickly drops in to become the second defender in support of his fullback, forming a five-man back line. This means it’ll be important to suck Annan out to the flanks to open spaces in front of the back four. Slip passes will be cut out all day so midfielders must either play it back out wide or shoot whenever they have space within 25 yards. Lahm drawing out Annan to help on the flank combined with Ozil’s willingness to shoot was exactly how Germany found their goal vs Ghana.

Ghana play a pressing style with a very high line. They compress the vertical space limiting space in the midfield. The USA will no longer enjoy the 2v1 situations along the flanks they found against Algeria and instead Donovan and Dempsey will encounter the sort of 2v3 situations Germany faced in the middle third. Boateng or Asamoah will quickly get out to the flank to pressure with their wide players. Still, it’ll be important to use the entire width of the pitch in possession since immediate pressure will limit their time to pick a pass to break the offsides trap.

Against Algeria, the US often employed almost a 4-2-4 shape, defending with four players across the front just outside their own half when their opponent was in possession in their own defensive third. (More on this later.) Interestingly Ghana employed a similar tactic against Germany, trying to limit the time and space available to the German fullbacks in possession by pushing their wide midfielders high up the pitch. This tactic robbed Germany of much of their fluency in possession.

Bradley--a big effort needed again...

I expect Edu and Bradley to continue in central midfield together. Support from Clint Dempsey coming central from wide areas may be key to holding our own in midfield despite losing the number battle. The US midfielders must have the composure to find the free man centrally. If we come out on top, expect Michael Bradley to have played a key role in the attack.

Bob Bradley, USA’s hustler of a manager, is well aware that speed kills in international football and knows it’ll be important to stretch Ghana’s defense by getting in behind. This is why I fully expect Findley to return to the US lineup. Findley and Altidore must use their speed to try to get behind the Ghanaian full backs and force Annan to cover in wide areas, exposing the high-IQ center back pairing.

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Group H – Round 3 games – Spain versus Chile, Switzerland versus Honduras

"...and currently can’t hit a cow’s ass with a banjo.". Thanks Kickette!

Well Chile will meet Brazil and Spain will meet Portugal. What a mouth watering round of 16!

2 minutes of added time in the Spain/Chile game

90:00 – Fabregas with a swing and miss, though if asked later I bet he says he was leaving it for someone else.

4 minutes of additional time in the Swiss game.

86:00 - Derdiyok gets another easy opportunity but his ball control fails him. That should have been 1-0. If the young striker had converted all his easy chances (3 so far), Switzerland would have won the group!

76:00 – Crunch time for Switzerland as they need to win by 2 goals if they want to advance to the next round.

69:00 – Spectacular save by Benaglio to keep Switzerland’s hopes alive as he saves on a one on one situation by diving and punching clear.

65:00 – Sanchez who has been largely anonymous in this game is off and Orellana is on.

55:00 – Torres off, Fabregas on. His first touch is sublime and almost sets up Villa for his fourth goal of the tournament but it’s nicely cut out by a Chilean defender.

50:00 – Honduras counter well and just miss an opportunity to go ahead but their striker could not connect on the cross.

47:00 – GOOOOOOOAAAAALLL. MILLAR with a peach of a goal. Actually on replay it took a big deflection that confused Casillas but a goal is a goal and Chile are back in it. Chile 1Spain 2

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