And Here We Go: Semis, Finals & More

Can you believe the World Cup is nearly over.

Some bullets heading into tomorrow’s and Wednesday’s games:

World Cup:

Kennedy says Spain...

• First, Chivas’s Dan Kennedy and Orebro’s Alejandro Bedoya check in with how they see the World Cup playing out.

Kennedy sees it as Holland vs. Spain final, with Spain hoisting the Cup.

Bedoya: Spot-on

Bedoya agrees and check this out.

Ale has had that Holland vs. Spain final predicted from the get-go! Stand up all those who are with him. Stand-up. Hello?

Given that information you may want to pay further attention to how Bedoya sees the next few days playing out.

The Oranje are victorious over La Celeste , 2-0, and Spain beats Germany in a thriller, 3-2. Bedoya also has David Villa taking home the Golden Ball and Ghana’s Richard Kingson and Germany’s Manuel Neuer in a photo finish for the Gloves.

Oh and Ale says he can’t wait for the club season to start and he’s getting excited. Frankly, TSG can’t wait to see him in his hometown of New Jersey to take on Brazil, but that’s neither here nor there.

If you haven’t read the pieces on or by these two guys at TSG, please do (BedoyaKennedy). Both of them, class acts. Thanks for the contributions as always guys!

• For our part, TSG proper’s picks have been all over the board. After Brazil lost, apparently Miss TSG found me stumbling around outside murmuring “Cesar…really….Cesar?”

Picking up the pieces after our thoroughbred got knocked out, TSG is going to go with the winner of Uruguay vs. Netherlands taking home the Cup–so the pick for TSG now is the men in Oranje (though I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Uruguay). They’ll come up against Spain who are going to give Germany a different–and stronger–game than seen to date.

Casillas and Villa–our two picks before tourney for the Gloves, Ball stand.

Klose: Producing as expected...

• Every time I hear the name Miroslav Klose, it’s typically followed by those that utter it thinking one of two things:  those who can’t believe that Klose is challenging for and may break Ronaldo’s all-time World Cup’ goal record or those who wonder how Klose couldn’t get any run at Bayern Munich.

But what about the notion that Klose is just “fresh” (21 games started) after not having to weather the 50-plus games started that Wayne Rooney (52) and Lionel Messi (58!) did over the course of their most recent club campaigns. Messi and Rooney of course went goal-less in South Africa.

….and speaking of Wayne Rooney, the player dispossessed the most at World Cup 2010? The Manchester United superstar. Wow.

• Some got upset that I haven’t anointed Thomas Muller one of the top players at the World Cup. Frankly, I think Germany is more than the sum any individual part.

I also think Bastion Schweinsteiger is more than filling the role of Michael Ballack and Mesut Ozil is “the guy that the opponent keys on.”

Both help to create some of Muller’s opportunities. Muller is and will be very good, but he’s surrounded well now and more a product of the end-to-end quality of the German machine.

…and as I mentioned on Twitter, I believe Germany is playing much better without the polarizing Michael Ballack in the line-up.

• Heading into Spain’s Germany showdown Wednesday, I’m continually amazed by the acceptance of possession-oriented and staccato-passing teams, specifically Spain and Argentina, to merely take what the defense gives them despite their offensive talent.

Both, in my opinion, have failed to actually be creative outside their typical interior “1-2-3-shoot” offense in this World Cup. Spain is persevering because of a better showing by its back four and a bailout job by David Villa.

Don’t get me wrong, Spain is excellent, however I’d like to see them vary their attack a bit more in the first half against Germany so they’re not a one-trick pony come the second. And to be specific, by vary, I mean early crosses, wide runs with overlapping and drop-off support, fly patterns on long lead balls.

Torres, clearly well below form...

• Speaking of Spain’s attack, I agree with the faith that Vicente Del Bosque has put in Fernando Torres by starting him up until this point.

If you have the luxury of rounding a world-class striker into form, then your team can only get stronger.

Further, it Spain has gotten the necessary results and the players should take confidence from what they’ve achieved with Torres wobbly wheel up front.

Against Germany, might be the time to sit Torres and get Llorente testing the center of the German defense.

• Uruguay’s defense has been incredibly hard-nosed and tough to crack when they’re already behind the ball. However, the Uruguayan central midfield of captain Diego Perez and Egidio Arevalo has a penchant for turning the ball over (La Celeste is the fourth worst team in the Cup in terms of pass completion) and typically relies on finding Diego Forlan primarily over the top or on the run.

Forlan will get his looks, but without Luis Suarez drifting around the top it’s a good bet that Mark Van Bommel will be fastened to Forlan’s hip most of the time and make it difficult for Forlan to have a pronounced impact on the game over long durations.

Now, the penchant for turning it over by Uruguay is exactly what will hurt the their defense who are challenged against the counter.

Look for Sneijder to connect with Robben, Kuyt and Elia, who should get into this one in the 2nd half. It also doesn’t hurt that the Oranje is expected to replace Nigel “Late Tackle” DeJong–out with cards–with the more offensive Rafael Van Der Vaart.

Americans…

Our money he doesn't lead the Cottagers...

• Before you get all….giddy?…about the possibility of Bob Bradley coaching Fulham, just remember that the source of the report, The Daily Mail also said that Edson Buddle (this year) and Brek Shea (last year) were Cottage-bound.

I’d be supremely surprised if Bradley were to take the reins at Fulham.

First, you’d think that Bradley would be in place already or over in England checking out the gig with the club season around the corner. Sunday night, Bradley, sans sweatpants, was at HDC to watch the Bruce Arenas topple Seattle.

Secondly, the London club has had just a single manager (Jean Tigana) from outside Great Britain–hard to look American now in our opinion with the darling of England having just vacated the spot.

Third, Bob Bradley’s manager cache might resonate with executives abroad–I’m just not sure it does with players and Fulham will want to retain and attract some names this summer.

Fourth, is the risk of hiring an American–with the anti-American sentiment at Liverpool and Manchester United–and the possible impact on ticket sales, worth it?

Bob Bradley may very well be on Fulham’s list–I just think they’re probably hoping there are few candidates that accept before it gets to him.

• Speaking of mangers, I find a hard time believing that Dunga’s mobile might be programmed into Sunil Gulati’s.

Dunga took a talented Brazil team and arguably underperformed and ultimately embarrassed Brazil–complete with some galling sideline histrionics from Dunga himself. The former holding midfielder-turned-coach was not revered by the fans and has never coached outside of Brazil. In fact, the Brazil job was his first head coaching gig.

If Gulati is going to put the kibosh on a second term from Coach Sweats, he’s going to need to do it with a bigger, and better, international name.

Holden's mentor....excellent...

• I missed the news two weeks ago that Martin Petrov moved from Blackburn to Bolton. Should be an excellent influence on Stu Holden. Anyone else supremely jazzed for Holden’s first full campaign in the EPL?

• Just noticed this report as well. Apparently Anton Peterlin and Cody Arnoux are on trial at Plymouth Argyle, the League One side that didn’t make Kenny Cooper famous last year. We knew Arnoux wasn’t going to be extended beyond one year at Everton, but Peterlin had played well in the reserves. TSG is checking in here.

Enjoy the games, back to our regular schedule tomorrow.

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16 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Adam on 2010/07/05 at 8:21 PM

    I believe Plymouth has been relegated to League 1. Hope Arnoux and Peterlin stick though.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/07/05 at 8:24 PM

      Gosh I’m off this weekend — I meant to write that.
      Thank you kindly for the correction.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Kevin on 2010/07/05 at 8:22 PM

    I’m with bedoya I had The dutch vs Spain picked out from the get-go but with Netherlands winning it all

    Reply

    • Posted by Jake on 2010/07/05 at 8:47 PM

      I admittedly didn’t quite have this picked, but it is definitely the match-up I’ve been hoping for from the get-go (beyond a U.S.-anyone final, obviously).

      Reply

    • Posted by Jake on 2010/07/05 at 8:47 PM

      You know, in case anyone was interested…

      Reply

    • I had Spain winning over the Dutch in the final as well. Still probably will happen but I really want to root for Germany. Should be a good next couple of games.

      Reply

  3. Posted by Pathetic on 2010/07/05 at 9:06 PM

    Rooting for Germany, they’ve basically been the most complete yet exhilarating side of two consecutive world cups, and you’re always in suspense about how well that defense is going to hold. Neither Spain nor the Netherlands step out of their comfort zones for a moment.

    Reply

  4. Posted by s44 on 2010/07/05 at 9:42 PM

    Taking a peek at the Twitter, I’m more curious about the average ages *for field players only* than raw average.

    Reply

  5. Posted by T-Muck on 2010/07/06 at 7:01 AM

    I’m with Pathetic on this one. Germany is just so enjoyable to watch, not that Spain isn’t, but they just refuse to live life on the edge and just go for it. They’re almost like robots.

    Reply

    • It’s very interesting that you characterize the Spanish as robotic and the Germans as enjoyable to watch. That’s a complete turnaround from the usual descriptions of those sides.

      BTW, I happen to agree w/ you completely.

      Reply

      • Posted by T-Muck on 2010/07/06 at 8:32 AM

        Now the question is what is the reason behind the turnaround? Is it the coaching? The youth of German team who weren’t supposed to get this far? Or the massive expectations of the Spanish team to where they’re playing very carefully almost a don’t screw up mindset?

        Reply

        • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/07/06 at 8:56 AM

          I would say its a combination of the first two. Youthful exuberance with with good coaching. In past years, Germany have always gotten the efficient, robotic “boring” style of play tag, but i think that’s a little unfair.

          They’ve had plenty of exciting flair players but they have always played in a manner that beats the opponents. They were actually quite versatile in this way. In the 86 world cup final, down 2-0 they came back (only to lose it) and they did it in a quick slick “beautiful game” like way. 4 years later they efficiently and boringly beat Argentina in the final.

          These days with more teams “parking the bus”, they’ve figured out that in order to win, you can’t just score a goal and defend, as so many teams are looking for that counter goal. Instead (like Spain), they need to score more goals than their opponent (such a simple concept that so many teams fail to grasp).

          The difference between them and Spain though is that they’re not as predictable (hence the robotic image equated with Spain that you suggested). Spain just do the same thing over and over again. They’re just very good at it and eventually will break you down. All their goals have been fairly similar (exception being Villa’s long range shot of the Chilean keepers mistake).

          Germany on the other hand, have had goals from several different players, long range shots, headers, cut backs from the by line and straight down the middle.

          I don’t think however, that Spain are playing “carefully” based on expectations. I think they’re doing what they need to get by. I certainly hope they “wake up” in this semi as they will need to score multiple goals with Casillas looking as shaky as he as so far.

          Reply

        • I think it’s a combination of the youth of the German team – they seem not to know that they’re expected to be afraid of making mistakes – and the caution of the Spanish team caused by unbelievably high expectations. I think the opening loss to SUI did major damage to their psyches. Torres seems to be playing very tight. Sure, fitness plays a part, but I think there’s more to it than that.

          I can’t say I’ve ever cheered for a German team, but I love how this one is playing, and I’d like to see that kind of team chemistry rewarded.

          Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/07/06 at 10:14 AM

          Everybody has mentioned youth but nobody has mentioned the work the DFB has done with their U17s, U19s and U21s over the last 8 years- I know for sure the U21s won the Euros last year (beat England 4-0 in the final) but I am pretty sure the 17s and the 19s did well in their age group too. The fact that Germany has so much quality in their youth teams to graduate to the senior team is remarkable. I know that some of the change was necessitated by injury, but you have to tip your hat at how they have taken their chance.

          Klinsmann and Low deserve a lot of credit for changing German football.

          Reply

  6. Add me to the list of those excited to see Holden get in on a full Premiership campaign (and a little disappointed my #11 USA jersey didn’t get more field time).

    And I’d like to note that I also picked a Holland v Spain final for the ESPN Bracket Predictor. I’m unfortunately getting killed due to my first round picks, but you need something to hang your hat on.

    That being said, I’d like to see a Holland v Germany final and think Ze Germans will take La Furia Roja in the semi.

    Reply

  7. Posted by MicahAC on 2010/07/07 at 9:06 AM

    I’ve nailed the Holland side of the bracket and I picked Spain to play in the final with Holland winning, but I completely dismissed the Germans ( to my regret ). They have been a great team to watch and seems like they can come through winners. Either way it’ll be a couple good games to watch.

    Reply

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