Archive for June, 2010

YOOOAdrian’s 2010 World Cup Recap- 6/23 Day 13

GROUP C

USA VS ALGERIA (USA- 1-0)

  • 3 minutes! 3 minutes from being chastised to being forever immortalized.  One moment sketched into the minds of every American futbol fan for imphamy.  That moment took 4 years worth of practice, preparation, motivation and hard-work to achieve.  But hey, this team ain’t done yet.  American futbol is seen as a joke by the rest of the world.  No, it may not be this country’s number 1 sport, but for guys like Donovan, Dempsey, Bradley, Altidore, and Howard it’s all they think and dream about.  The United States is one of the largest populated nations in the world.  As futbol becomes more and more popular in the United States, the sport will become the number 1 sport for more and more kids.  As I continue to wonder why the outside world hates American futbol.  I really only have one answer.  The United States is already the landmark country in other sports such as basketball, (football), hockey, golf, baseball and most Olympic Sports.  It seems to me that the world takes pride into the United States not being the best at the number 1 sport.  I could be taking this way out of context, but this is my opinion.
  • The USA dominated and controlled the game from start to finish, but then came the Donovan goal.  It took all of 11 seconds for the play to come to fruition.  It started with a save by Tim Howard.  He then outletted an outstanding Peyton Manning led pass down the right flank.  It led Donovan absolutely perfectly.  Donovan then dished off a through-ball to Jozy Altidore who crossed to Dempsey.  The goalkeeper came out.  Dempsey tried rolling it past him, but it ricocheted sharply off his chest to about 7 yards from goal.  Donovan, with his eyeballs sticking out of his head, drilled home the winner to send the USA forward.
  • It’s been a World Cup of frustration for the US.  The referee once again took away a goal. He called Dempsey offsides in a call that was shaky at best.  Thank god, I didn’t have to dig into that a little bit deeper.  I was pissed!
  • To quit being all mushy, mushy for a second.  I do have some questions.  Hey, I’m a journalist, I have to look at both sides.  I question how good this team really is?  We will find out as knockout play begins.  Looking back, 5 freakin points won the United States this group.  I know the pundits will say, heck, they won the group that’s all that matters.  Yes, that is correct, but in a group that looked so weak on paper, really, how good is this team?  Or is Slovenia and Algeria a bit underrated?  I think it’s Slovenia and Algeria, but like I said we will find out soon enough.  That’s why we play the games, right?  
  • I’ve always been a believer that talent is just half the battle when it comes to the success of a team.  Hey, you can’t fill out a blueberry pie without the blueberries.  Team chemistry, leadership and mental strength are essential and vital as well.  This squad proved they had all three.  You don’t just come back down 2-0 without mental toughness.  You don’t just score in stoppage time in the 3rd game with everything on the line without mental toughness.  And through it all, Donovan, the maestro, was in the middle of it all.  Look at France.  Who was their leader?  Where was their chemistry?  Mental stability?
  • You gotta love this draw now for the US.  I’m going to spoil a little bit (yes, Ghana advanced).  In the top left-half of the bracket it’s the USA, Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea.  Nothing to take away from these teams, they’ve earned these positions, but when you look at the top right-half it’s Germany, Argentina, England and Mexico.  Tell me which side you’d rather be on?
  • Quick Facts-  This is the first time the USA has won their 3rd game in a group.  Algeria did not score a goal in the World Cup.
  • Men of the Match
  • USA– Landon Donovan
  • Algeria– Rais M’Bolhi
  • GAME RATING- 3 1/2*

  (One Shining Moment)

ENGLAND VS SLOVENIA (Eng- 1-0)

  • Honestly, I didn’t watch this one, I had other priorities.  I did catch the game on later on ESPN3.com.
  • Cappelo made some changes in this one, 3 in the starting line-up.  The two that really stood out were Jermain Defoe and James Milner.  They combined on the lone goal of the match.  Milner sent in a nice cross Defoe sent home and England to the knockout stage.
  • With just one more goal, England would have won the group on goal differential.  The best chance came from Wayne Rooney.  Rooney, who’s been quite, clanked one off the post that would have won the group.
  • I noticed, tactically, that England tried to swing in more crosses.  The positioning was better, the passes were better, and the shots were better.
  • In 1990, England drew their 1st two games and then went all the way to the semifinals.  Could they be hitting their stride?  They better be, Germany’s lurking next.
  • Quick Facts- This is the 10th straight World Cup that England has gotten past the group stages.
  • Men of the Match
  • England– James Milner
  • Slovenia– Samir Handanovic
  • GAME RATING- 1 3/4*

(A sigh of relief)

FINAL GROUP C STANDINGS

  1. USA (5 pts)
  2. England (5 pts)
  3. Slovenia (4 pts)
  4. Algeria (1 pt)

GROUP D

GERMANY VS GHANA (Ger- 1-0)

  • Heading into this game, I had the feeling that Germany wasn’t going to lose this game.  No Way!  The history speaks for itself.  Well,  Ghana played Germany tough in one of the more exciting 1-0 games you’ll see.
  • I love the mix of players Germany has.  They brought along many of the members of the German under-21 team.  With the experience of the veterans and the hunger of the youth, it’s a perfect mixture.
  • One of those guys is Mesut Ozil.  He was fantastic today, and provided Germany’s only goal on a wonderfully played half-volley.  He faded it perfectly in the top left corner of the net.  Besides the goal, he constantly found open gaps and spaces in the defense.  He made things happen for Germany all game long.
  • Both goalies were excellent, especially in 1-1 situations.
  • Ghana played wide open today, but once again struggled in the final 1/3.  I’m still questioning their offense.  Both goals in the World Cup came on penalty kicks.
  • The game featured half-brothers, Kevin Prince-Boateng (Ghana) and Jerome Boateng (Germany).  I still don’t get FIFA’s system.  How can you be born in one country, but be able to play for another?  Can you imagine if Zinedine Zidane decided to suit up for Algeria instead of France.  It doesn’t make sense to me.
  • Quick Facts- Germany has advanced past the group stage for 15 consecutive World Cups.
  • Men of the Match
  • Germany- Mesut Ozil
  • Ghana- Kwadwo Asamoah
  • GAME RATING- 3 1/4*

(Philip Lahm)

SERBIA VS AUSTRALIA (Aus- 2-1)

  • Wow! Pure chaos in this one.  In a matter of 15 minutes, Australia looked like they may advance after scoring 2 goals in 3 minutes.  Then, with 10 minutes to go, Serbia looked like they were going to tie, which would have let them through.  Pandemonium!
  • It was nice to see Tim Cahill back on the pitch after the red card he got against Germany.  Then to add a little bit of jimmie’s on the ice-cream, he scored Australia’s 1st goal with his patented header.
  • Everyone wrote Australia off after their awful performance to start against Germany.  The papers in Australia proclaimed that the team was too old.  Well, the old grizzled vets almost got to shine one more time in the knockout round.
  • How disappointing for Serbia.  This was everyone’s signature dark horse.  Sometimes, it’s better off going unnoticed than having to live up to some tough, unrealistic expectations.  You see this all the time in sports.
  • Is it just me or do the mannerisms of Josh Kennedy remind you of a kangaroo?
  • Quick Facts- Australia snapped a 5 game unbeaten streak in the World Cup with the win.
  • Men of the Match
  • Australia- Tim Cahill
  • Serbia- Nemanja Vidic
  • GAME RATING- 3 1/4*

 Australia's Josh Kennedy, left, competes for the ball with Serbia's Nemanja Vidic, right, during the World Cup group D soccer match between Australia and Serbia at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, Wednesday, June 23, 2010.  (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

(Josh Kennedy)

FINAL GROUP D STANDINGS

  1. Germany (6 pts)
  2. Ghana (4 pts)
  3. Australia (4 pts)
  4. Serbia (3 pts)

Tomorrow’s Schedule

  • (10:00 est) Netherlands vs Cameroon
  • (10:00 est) Japan vs Denmark
  • (2:30 est) Italy vs Slovakia
  • (2:30 est) Paraguay vs New Zealand

YOOOAdrian’s 2010 World Cup Recap- 6/22 Day 12

  • Before I get to the games played today, I wanted to talk about how awesome the last set of group games are.  It feels like the last day of a regular season.  Just like the last leg of a regular season, teams try to qualify for the postseason.  Knockout play is basically the postseason of the World Cup; single elimination games.  Win or go home.
  • During play, there is frantic, constant, scoreboard watching.  You turn into a rubbernecking driver, glancing at the other scores just like you want to see the accident on the other intersection.  You become a fan of another team for a day.  Ok, do we have to win?  How many more goals do we have to score?  Should we defend?  There is so much strategy that goes on.  It’s like halftime adjustments football coaches make during halftime.  Great stuff.
  • The excitement of this year’s World Cup is the parity.  There’s not too many teams that stand out to me.  A lot of these groups are still wide open.  Look at Group B.  Shit, Nigeria had a chance to make the knockout round with a win today.  They headed into today with 0 points, unbelievable!

GROUP A

FRANCE VS SOUTH AFRICA (Sa- 2-1) 

  • England had their spin-off of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.  Now, France is having their spin-off of Desperate Housewives. The only thing missing in this saga is Nicolas Anelka doing sit-ups in his driveway and answering questions from the media. (I will never forgive you TO for what you did to my beloved Eagles)
  • Before group play started, I felt this team could easily get unglued, but I thought their talent would overcome the drama.  The childish actions of this squad has left the country in disgrace.  I find it funny that Patrice Evra has to act like the mother.  Um, coach, we don’t feel like practicing today because you got mad at Anelka.
  • I noticed 6 changes in the starting 11 for France.  Most of their veterans sat on the pine.  It was a way for France to showcase some of their younger talent.  In other words, guys who actually wanted to be on the field.
  • To find some good in this situation, South Africa was hungry and ready to pounce on its prey.  While the Days of Our Lives soap opera went on for France, South Africa thought, hey, we may still have a shot at this thing.  They needed to overcome a -5 goal differential with Mexico, or a -6 goal differential with Uruguay.  They also needed one of the two to win, with a draw they would’ve been screwed.
  • Down 1-0, Yoann Gourcuff of France got sent off with a red card for elbowing a South African player.  For 65 minutes, South Africa had a shot to overcome the goal differential. 
  • At half, it was 2-0, and realistically things got a little dicey for Mexico.  In their game to Uruguay, Mexico found themselves down 1-0 at the break.  The goal difference got whittled down to just 2.  You have to credit France though in the 2nd half, especially Hugo Lloris, who showed pride.  Once Malouda scored in the 70th minute, the hopes of advancement for South Africa dimmed.
  • Finally, Steven Pienaar had a good game for South Africa.  It came a little late though.  Tshabalala had another solid outing.  He made a name for himself in this World Cup.
  • So, for the first time ever, a host nation will not be in the round of 16.  I do pose some questions now.  With South Africa eliminated, and the African nations doing so poorly, will the South African fans keep showing up for knockout play?  I’ve seen some pretty abysmal crowds for some of these group games so far.  Hopefully, it won’t take away from the play on the pitch.
  • Quick Facts- With the win for Africa, the continent improved to 2-7-4.
  • Men of the Match
  • South Africa- Siphiwe Tshabalala
  • France- Hugo Lloris
  • GAME RATING- 2*

    South Africa’s Katlego Mphela, right, gave his team a 2-0 lead in the first half against France.

(Mphela scores for South Africa)

URUGUAY VS MEXICO (Uru- 1-0)

  • This was the, we have to win this game so we don’t get pummelled by Argentina game.  Both teams have a little history with Argentina.  Argentina in the last World Cup, dispatched Mexico in the Round of 16 2-1 in extra time.  It was one of the better matches of the tournament.
  • As the game went along, you could tell Mexico did some scoreboard watching.  In the 1st half, Mexico surged forward trying to create chances.  They were the ones controlling the tempo.  At halftime, they realized their goal differential lead dwindled.  They clamped down on defense in the 2nd half.  They still tried to create, but it was assuredly a more defensive approach then the 1st 45 minutes.
  • How is Uruguay only 16th in the world?!  This team is so vastly underrated defensively.  Everyone focuses on Forlan and Suarez.  Uruguay has yet to allow a goal in the World Cup.
  • When you really look at Uruguay’s tactics on offense, they basically run it through only 3 players.  They are the aforementioned, Forlan and Suarez, along with Edinson Cavani.  Cavani had a nifty little cross to set-up the lone goal today.  Suarez finished with a neat little header of his own.
  • I know Cuauhtemoc Blanco is a legend, but he should not be starting for Mexico.  At his age and weight, he could only go 30 minutes at the most anymore.
  • Quick Facts- Mexico advances to it’s 5th straight round of 16.  Uruguay wins their group for the 1st time since 1990.
  • Men of the Match
  • Uruguay- Luis Suarez
  • Mexico– Andres Guardado
  • GAME RATING- 2*

Uruguay's Diego Forlan applauds after the World Cup group A soccer match between Mexico and Uruguay at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, on Tuesday, June 22, 2010.  Uruguay won1-0. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)(Diego Forlan)

FINAL GROUP A STANDINGS

  1. Uruguay (7 pts)
  2. Mexico (4 pts)
  3. South Africa (4 pts)
  4. France (1 pt)

GROUP B

SOUTH KOREA VS NIGERIA (2-2)

  • You felt that this was the game to decide the runner-up to group B.  You figured that Argentina, even with back-ups would still prevail over Greece.  So these were the circumstances for this one.  With a tie, South Korea would move one.  With a win, Nigeria would move on.
  • For the 3rd straight game, Nigeria opened with a 1-0 advantage.  Kalu Uche put home a cross from Chidi Odiah in the 12th minute.
  • South Korea scored the next two, both on set-pieces.  South Korea tied it in the 38th minute when Lee Jung-Soo netted one in with his shin.  It will be on Sportscenter’s Not Top 10 on Friday.  The go-ahead goal came from the foot of Park Chu-Young.  He swirled and curled it in, just avoiding the right post.  The South Korean commentary went absolutely ballistic, complete ecstasy.  This came in the 49th minute.
  • There was a ton of nail-biting going on in Nigeria.  When it’s all said and done, the gaffe of the tournament will go to Yakubu Aiyegbeni.  Yes, it was worse than Robert Green.  The guy missed a wide-open net from about a foot away.  This can only be accomplished by 2 year old infants, but they shoot on a Play-Skool net, way way smaller than regulation size.  In golf terms, it’s like missing one from 6 inches.
  • I’ll give the man Yakubu a teeny weeny bit of credit for drilling the penalty kick in the 69th minute to equalize
  • Breathtaking, is the word to describe the final 20 minutes.  So much tension,  South Korea desperately tried to cling on, while Nigeria desperately tried to get that one more goal.  In the end, South Korea moved on to the Round of 16 for the 1st time off home soil.  Nigeria could only blame themselves.  They had the chances in all 3 games, but simply could not capitalize.
  • Quick Facts- Nigeria is 0-6-2 in its last 8 World Cup matches.
  • Men of the Match
  • South Korea- Park Ji-Sung
  • Nigeria- Kalu Uche
  • GAME RATING- 3 1/4*

South Korean soccer supporters gather, in Seoul, South Korea, to watch a television broadcast of South Korea's Soccer World Cup Group B match against Nigeria taking place in Durban, Wednesday, June 23, 2010. The game ended in a 2-2 draw and Nigeria is out of the competition. (AP Photo/Yonhap, Hwang Kwang-mo)

(Celebration in Seoul, South Korea)

ARGENTINA VS GREECE (Arg- 2-0)

  • If Greece were to ever beat Argentina, today was the day.  Diego Maradona benched many of his players to rest and avoid injury.  Lionel Messi, though, still played.
  • The problem I had with Greece was their strategy.  They cam out in a 5-4-1.  I know that’s their style, but they needed a win.  It almost seemed liked they played to tie, and hoping for a Nigeria win to move on.
  • Greece did hold Argentina scoreless for 75 minutes, until Demichelis scored.  Greece pushed forward, and Argentina struck again to make it 2-0.
  • How Lionel Messi doesn’t have a goal baffles me.  That guy must have hit the post 234 times this World Cup.  It’s like Tiger Woods;  He keeps knocking it 10 feet from the cup with his irons, but lipping out on his puts.
  • Quick Facts- Argentina controlled possession 67% of the time  There will be a rematch in the round of 16 from 2006 between Mexico and Argentina.  Argentina won the previous encounter 2-1 in ET.
  • Men of the Match
  • Argentina- Lionel Messi
  • Greece- Giorgios Samaras
  • GAME RATING- 3/4*

Argentina head coach Diego Maradona, right, talks to Greece's Giorgos Karagounis during the World Cup group B soccer match between Greece and Argentina at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, Tuesday, June 22, 2010. Argentina won 2-0.  (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

(Maradona- “your face is so soft and cuddly”)

(Giogios- “Diego, you’re making me blush”)

FINAL GROUP B STANDINGS

  1. Argentina (9 pts)
  2. South Korea (4 pts)
  3. Greece (3 pts)
  4. Nigeria (1 pt)

Tomorrow’s Schedule

  • (10:00 est) USA vs Algeria
  • (10:00 est) England vs Slovenia
  • (2:30 est) Germany vs Ghana
  • (2:30 est) Serbia vs Australia

YOOOAdrian’s 2010 World Cup Recap- 6/21 Day 11

GROUP G

PORTUGAL VS NORTH KOREA (Por- 7-0)

  • There’s nothing much to say about this one.  This was a complete drubbing, a massacre.
  • Once Simao scored the 2nd goal in the 53rd minute, the North Korean defense pushed up.  It got exploited, and within the next 37 minutes Portugal netted 5 more goals.
  • With the loss, North Korea is officially out of the World Cup.
  • This is huge for Portugal in the goal differential department.  Ivory Coast needs to make up 9 goals in the final game of group play.  This would be a Dustin Johnson type meltdown in the U.S. Open if Ivory Coast can make up this goal differential and advance to the next round.
  • Christiano Ronaldo scored his 1st goal for Portugal since February, 2009.
  • North Korea broadcasted this game live.  The 1st game had a 18 hour delay.  Not even North Korea television could edit this score out.
  • Quick Facts- The 7-0 win is the 7th largest margin of victory in World Cup history.  This is the largest margin of victory in the World Cup since 2002 when Germany beat Saudi Arabia 8-0.
  • Men of the Match
  • Portugal- Raul Meireles
  • North Korea- Jong Tae-Se
  • GAME RATING- 1/4*

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, left, scores a goal past North Korea's Ri Kwang Chon, right, during the World Cup group G soccer match between Portugal and North Korea in Cape Town, Monday, June 21, 2010.  (AP Photo/Roberto Candia)

(Ronaldo tap-in)

GROUP G STANDINGS

  1. Brazil (6 pts)
  2. Portugal (4 pts)
  3. Ivory Coast (1 pt)
  4. North Korea (0 pts)

GROUP H

CHILE VS SWITZERLAND (Chi- 1-0)

  • This was one of those tasty match-ups I was looking forward too.  There’s nothing like watching a contrast in styles; offense vs defense, quick vs slow etc.  This is the NCAA Basketball version of Loyola Marymount of the 1990’s with Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble squaring off against a Ben Howland led UCLA fierce defensive squad.  Chile plays an attacking unusual 3-3-1-3 while Switzerland plays a counter-attacking, conservative and defensive 4-4-2.
  • In the 31st minute, the complexity of the game changed when the referee gave Switzerland’s Valon Behrami a straight red-card for some rough play.  I felt the card was harsh, but Behrami has no excuses for his actions. 
  • Even being a man down, I came away impressed with the Swiss defense.  Chile attacked relentlessly, and only got one goal in the 75th minute, although they easily could have gotten more.  The goal came when GK Benaglio came out of his net.  With a wide-open goal, Chile sub Mark Gonzalez headed it home.  Switzerland squandered a huge chance in the 89th minute.  Eren Derdiyok got a pass inside the penalty area, but missed the entire goal with the shot and sent it wide left. 
  • The one mistake by Benaglio cost Switzerland the game, but at the same time, he kept them in it.  He’s been arguably one of the better keepers of this tournament. 
  • Switzerland set an impressive mark today; 559 minutes without conceding a goal in World Cup play.  They broke the record of 550 minutes set by Italy between 1986-1990.
  • Humberto Suazo came back for Chile today, but he looked horrible fumbling the ball at his feet as much as Tony Romo fumbles footballs.
  • Just like the 1st game against Honduras, Chile has to come out of this one a bit disappointed.  Once again, they wasted many chances to score.  They have 6 total points, but have a game against Spain looming.  Once again, going back to goal differential, Chile holds a 2 goal advantage over Switzerland, and 1 goal advantage over Spain.  If they beat or tie Spain, they’re fine.  But.  We could very well be looking at a team with 6 points be eliminated in this group, whether it’s Chile, Switzerland or Spain.  Poor Honduras, the pinyatta in this group.
  • Quick Facts- Chile finished with 32 touches inside the penalty area, compared to just 8 for Switzerland.
  • Men of the Match
  • Chile- Alexis Sanchez
  • Switzerland- Diego Benaglio
  • GAME RATING- 2 1/4*

Valon Behrami

(Bahrami’s reaction after given the red card)

SPAIN VS HONDURAS (Spa- 2-0)

  • Like the Portugal vs North Korea game, this was lopsided, not much to say here.  Spain in desperation, dominated from start to finish.
  • David Villa had 2 goals, but missed the goal on a penalty kick.
  • Honduras actually still has a shot to advance.  They have to beat Switzerland, pray Spain loses to Chile, and make up the goal differential.
  • Quick Facts- Honduras had 0 shots on goal.
  • Men of the Match
  • Spain– David Villa
  • Honduras– Georgie Welcome
  • GAME RATING- 1/2*

Spain's David Villa, left, scores his first goal as Honduras' Osman Chavez, right, fails to block him.

  (Villa’s 1st goal)

GROUP H STANDINGS

  1. Chile (6 pts)
  2. Spain (3 pts)
  3. Switzerland (3 pts)
  4. Honduras (0 pts)

Tomorrow’s Schedule

  • (10:00 est) Mexico vs Uruguay
  • (10:00 est) France vs South Africa
  • (2:30 est) Argentina vs Greece
  • (2:30 est) South Korea vs Nigeria

YOOOAdrian’s 2010 World Cup Recap- 6/20 Day 10

GROUP F

PARAGUAY VS SLOVAKIA (Par- 2-0)

  • As I started watching this game,  I couldn’t help but notice that nearly the entire stadium was empty.  It felt like I was watching a Florida Marlins game, who coincidentally have started using vuvuzelas lately because their fan support can’t generate any crowd noise on their own.
  • Paraguay scored on two fantastic finishes.  The 1st came in the 27th minute after Enrique Vera flicked it past the goal keeper at the top of the penalty area after a nifty through ball from Lucas Barrios.  After showing a little finesse with the 1st tally, Paraguay showed some power with their 2nd goal.  After Slovakia failed to clear Paraguay a free-kick, Cristian Riveros rifled one in at the top of the box to make it 2-0.  The goalkeeper had no shot. 
  • Paraguay dominated this contest from start to finish.  South American teams are starting to make a statement in this year’s World Cup, now 6-0-2, WOW!  Paraguay were simply the much better side today, offensively and defensively.  After opening in a defensive 4-4-2 against Italy, Paraguay went into an attacking 4-3-3 and reaped in the benefits. 
  • Paraguay’s stifling defense held Slovakia to only 1 shot on-goal, and that wasn’t until the 93rd minute.
  • The two stars for Slovakia Hamsek and Weiss were completely shut-down.  Hamsek has been rather disappointing thus far in the 1st two games.
  • Quick Facts- Paraguay has shut-out their opponents in 11 of their last 12 wins. 
  • Men of the Match
  • Paraguay- Enrique Vera
  • Slovakia- Jan Mucha 
  • GAME RATING- 3/4*

Paraguay's Cristian Riveros celebrates after scoring during the World Cup group F soccer match between Slovakia and Paraguay at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, Sunday, June 20, 2010.  (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

(Riveros celebrates after goal)

ITALY VS NEW ZEALAND (1-1)

  • Schmelty Smelt Smeltzer!  New Zealand’s only shot on goal turned into gold and a 1-0 lead.  On a free-kick, Simon Elliot sent in a high arching spinner into the box.  Frank Cannavaro made an error failing to clear.  The ball then landed on the foot of Shane Smeltz who tapped it in for the early lead.  The goal gave the “All Whites” the confidence needed to play stellar defense to stay in it, and get a 2nd point in the group.  With a win against Paraguay, New Zealand would miraculously make an appearance in the Round of 16.  This is a team ranked 78th in the world!
  • Italy’s goal came on some phenomenal theatrical diving from the man with the baggy shorts, Daniele De Rossi.  Rossi felt a little tug of the jersey from Tommy Smith of New Zealand.  He then went down perfectly, not making it look too fake.  Certainly a worthy Oscar performance.
  • Vincenzo Iaquinta buried the penalty kick to tie it at 1.  He then proceeded to point to his nose during the goal celebration.  Perhaps clarifying to the crowd that yes, Italians do have the largest noses in the world, no idea what that was about.  Not the best goal celebration I’ve seen.
  • GK Gianluigi Buffon missed the game for Italy with a herniated disc.  Was he missed? Not really.  New Zealand had just 3 total shots.  The New Zealand netminder arguably had the best performance from a goaltender in this World Cup.
  • Quick Facts- Italy dominated the shot and possession % categories.  72% possession and a 23-3 shot advantage.
  • Men of the Match
  • Italy- Riccardo Montolivo
  • New Zealand- Mark Paston
  • GAME RATING- 2 1/2*

New Zealand's Shane Smeltz, left, celebrates with his teammate Ryan Nelsen  after scoring during the World Cup group F soccer match between Italy and New Zealand at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, Sunday, June 20, 2010.  (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

(A shocking goal early on in this one from Smeltz)

GROUP F STANDINGS

  1. Paraguay (4 pts)
  2. Italy (2 pts)
  3. New Zealand (2 pts)
  4. Slovakia (1 pt)

GROUP G

BRAZIL VS IVORY COAST (Bra- 3-1)

  • This one got ugly in the 2nd half after a futbol version of a bench clearing brawl.  I was waiting for someone to grab a chair WWE style and start bashing someone over the head with it.  Kaka earned a 2nd yellow card after an elbow to Kader Keita.  Keita then completely lost any manliness he had by faking as if he’d been elbowed in the face.  All he got from Kaka was a little nudge in the sternum from his elbow.
  • Luis Fabiano scored 2 goals, although his second should have been disallowed for a hand-ball.  The 2-0 start completely changed the complexion as Ivory Coast was forced to push, leaving holes and space in their defense.  Fabiano’s 1st goal was a beauty after he roofed it in a la Landon Donovan. 
  • Didier Drogba got onto the score sheet after heading one in to cut the lead 3-1.  We’ll see if the goal will matter towards the goal differential difference when it comes to 2nd place in the group between Portugal and Ivory Coast.  It’s ironic to see that Ivory Coast actually helped out Portugal by the suspension of Kaka in Brazil’s next match against Portugal.
  • I just wanted to comment, why didn’t Gervinho start?  I didn’t get that one.
  • All in all, this was a disappointing performance from Ivory Coast.  This was a confortable win for Brazil as they controlled the ball when they had it, and played solid defense when they didn’t have it. 
  • Quick Facts- Brazil has gotten through the group stage of the World Cup 11 straight times. 
  • Men of the Match
  • Brazil- Luis Fabiano
  • Ivory Coast- Didier Drogba
  • GAME RATING- 3/4*

Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba, left, and Ivory Coast's Koffi Romaric N'Dri, second from left, argue with Brazil's Felipe Melo, second from right, and Brazil's Kaka, right, during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Ivory Coast at Soccer City in Johannesburg, Sunday, June 20, 2010.  (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

(Why can’t we be friends?)

GROUP G STANDINGS

  1. Brazil (6 pts)
  2. Portugal (1 pt)
  3. Ivory Coast (1 pt)
  4. North Korea (0 pts)

Tomorrow’s Schedule

  • (7:30 est) Portugal vs North Korea
  • (10:00 est) Chile vs Switzerland
  • (2:30 est) Spain vs Honduras

 

YOOOAdrian’s 2010 World Cup Recap- 6/19 Day 9

GROUP E

NETHERLANDS VS JAPAN (Ned- 1-0)

  • Usually at this point in an international tournament Holland completely obliterates teams with their flashy play.  Thus far in this World Cup, Holland has 6 points, but they haven’t looked sharp by any means.  The criticism for Holland is perhaps they show too much during group play.  I’m curious to see if the play thus far is a mirage?  Are they in fact saving it for the knockout stages?  Are they missing Robben?  We’ll find out once the knockout round begins.  Holland became the 1st team to clinch a berth into the Round of 16.
  • Like I said above, this was ugly.  Neither team showed any offensive cohesiveness or rhythm in the 1st half.  Tactically, Japan defended Holland deep, but rarely tried to push up offensively.
  • Japan played for a tie, and the way their defense played, they probably deserved the point.  Holland’s goal came on a Wesley Sneijder half volley on a loose ball in the left corner of the box.  Sneijder’s shot overpowered the Japan GK Kawashami who failed to knock it away.
  • Japan had a chance to tie late when sub Shinji Ozaki’s shot in the 90th minute skimmed the top of the bar.
  • Tactically, Japan defended Holland deep, but rarely tried to push up offensively.
  • Eljero Elia should start ahead of Rafael Van Der Vart.  Van Der Vart and Sneijder simply can’t play together.  Van Der Vart is not staying wide enough, thus Sneijder is not able to roam around in the middle.
  • Quick Facts- Holland’s 69% possession in the first half was the highest thus far in the World Cup
  • Men of the Match
  • Netherlands- Mark Van Bommel
  • Japan- Marcus Tulio Tanaka
  • GAME RATING- 1*

(Members of the Orange Army)

GROUP D

GHANA VS AUSTRALIA (1-1)

  • You all know the saying, “sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good”.  That phrase suits Ghana perfectly in this World Cup.  2 handballs, 2 total goals on penalty kicks, 4 points total.  You could say that Australia got unlucky in this one after Harry Kewell received the red card for a handball. 
  • I really have to question Ghana’s shot selection.  For 66 minutes, Australia played with a man down.  Instead of being patient with the ball, Ghana constantly kept lashing shots from 35-40 yards out. 
  • Ghana’s defense played terrible.  They kept giving the ball away like it was a hot potato, very undisciplined.
  • For Australia, it was nice to see the grit and fight from the Socceroos.  A very respectful performance playing with 10 men for virtually the entire game.  They easily could have won this game as they had some opportunities in the 2nd half.
  • Quick Facts- Ghana had 24 shots, although only 5 were on goal.
  • Men of the Match
  • Ghana- Kevin Prince-Boateng
  • Australia- Luke Wilkshire
  • GAME RATING- 2 1/4*

(Brett Holman goal)

GROUP E

DENMARK VS CAMEROON (Den- 2-1)

  • Cameroon went for it all.  They pushed, pushed and pushed some more, but fell short in a solid, open frenetic match.  Cameroon took the early advantage in the 10th minute on a Samuel Eto’o goal.  They were unable to hold on as Denmark equalized on a Bedtner goal in the 33rd minute, and took the lead in the 61st minute on a Rommedahl goal.
  • Cameroon’s lopsided 4-3-2-1 formation allowed Denmark’s Dennis Rohmeddal wide open space all game long on the right side.  He was running free like a dog without his leash.  Rommedahl crushed Cameroon’s cup hopes getting involved on both goals; scoring and passing.
  • The contest had some very solid pressuring defense, technical play and sharp passing.
  • You can really see Denmark’s tactical flexibility on both sides.  They played a good defensive game against Holland and a good offensive game against Cameroon, a very fun side to watch.  Olsen is one of the better coaches in the world.
  • My goodness, the final 30 minutes of this one was fantastic!  It had all the drama and tension that TNT covets.
  • Quick Facts- Cameroon becomes the 1st team to be officially eliminated from the World Cup.
  • Men of the Match
  • Cameroon- Samuel Eto’o
  • Denmark- Dennis Rommedahl
  • GAME RATING- 3 1/4*

(Both teams fought hard in this one)

GROUP D STANDINGS

  1. Ghana (4 pts)
  2. Germany (3 pts)
  3. Serbia (3 pts)
  4. Australia (1 pt)

GROUP E STANDINGS

  1. Netherlands (6 pts)
  2. Japan (3 pts)
  3. Denmark (3 pts)
  4. Cameroon (0 pts)

Tomorrow’s Schedule

  • (7:30 est) Paraguay vs Slovakia
  • (10:00 est) Italy vs New Zealand
  • (2:30 est) Brazil vs Ivory Coast

YOOOAdrian’s 2010 World Cup Recap- 6/18 Day 8

GROUP D

GERMANY VS SERBIA (Ser- 1-0)

  • It’s simple, when there’s no criticism of the officials, you know they’re doing a good job.  When you see more analysis of the officiating rather than the game itself, well; that’s when Bob Knight gets pissed and decides to throw a chair across the basketball court.  That’s when you see pitchers lose perfect games.  That’s when you see football teams get 5 downs instead of 4.  That’s when you see this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kf9E1zhnFec) and this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrkR7ih6f3M&feature=related).  OH, AND I HAVEN’T GOTTEN TO THE UNITED STATES GAME YET.
  • You hate to see officiating decide outcomes of games, but that’s what happened in this encounter.  Spanish referee Alberto Undiano got card happy, handing out a total of 9 cards, the 6th most ever in World Cup history.  One of Germany’s key players, Miroslav Klose was sent off in the 36th minute after 2 questionable yellow cards.  Just two minutes later Serbia got the one goal they needed.  Milan Jovanovic volleyed in a ball from 5 yards away.
  • Even with 10 men, Germany kept plucking away at the Serbian defense.  They still outshot Serbia 16-10, and held onto the ball 58% of the time.
  • In the 60th minute, Germany got the break they needed.  Serbian defender Nemanja Vidic decided to have a Serbian handball sequel.  In case you didn’t know, Serbia lost their 1st game to Ghana because of a handball inside the penalty area.  The drama mounted as Lukas Podolski stepped up to take the kick.  No way was he going to miss, I mean, Germany had missed just one single PK before in World Cup history.  That tally is now at 2.  After a poor PK taken by Podolski, Vidic was safe to go back to Serbia.
  • Quick Facts- Germany had not lost a group game since 1986 when they fell to Denmark, 2-0.
  • Men of the Match
  • Germany- Sami Khedira
  • Serbia- Milos Krasic   
  • GAME RATING- 3*     

Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic walks off the pitch after the World Cup group D soccer match between Germany and Serbia at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, Friday, June 18, 2010. Serbia won 1-0. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

(Serbia GK Vladimir Stojkovic literally eats up Podolski’s PK)

GROUP D STANDINGS

  1. Germany (3 pts)
  2. Ghana (3 pts)
  3. Serbia (3 pts)
  4. Australia (0 pts)

GROUP C

USA VS SLOVENIA (2-2)

  • Referee Koman Coulibaly is rumored to be a graduate of ex-NBA referee Tim Donaghy’s school of Game Fixing.  His officiating today was disgraceful, and it wasn’t just on the Maurice Edu decision.  All game long, one blown call after another.  The way the game was officiated it felt like either 1. Nobody wants the bloody yanks in the World Cup or 2. Coulibaly needed a little extra cash in his pocket.
  • As a completely biased US fan, I’ve never felt so mad, excited and confused about a futbol match ever.
  • To be fair, the United States played abysmally in the 1st half.  They came out as anxious as a bunch of chain-smokers having to take a cross trip across the United States.  The back four came out a house of stinkage.
  • After being down 2-0 at half, Landon Donovan showed his leadership.  He put the US on his back in the 2nd-half.  First, he put in a bullet in the 48th minute to get the comeback started.  The GK Handanovic cleverly hid behind the post because he surely would have had facial fractures.  Donovan has come a long way over the years since his Backstreet Boys days seen below.
  • Michael Bradley equalized in the 82nd minute when he put in a bouncing ball approximately 8 yards away from goal.  Who’s calling him Daddy’s Boy now!
  • Alexi Lalas is the man!  His expressions and analysis after the game for ESPN was the epitome of awesomeness.  He came on beet red, gripping the microphone as tightly as he would have Coulibaly’s neck.  Yelling into the microphone, he said the officiating was a disgrace and thanked Jozy Altidore for finally using his size and posting up.
  • Why does Slovenia think it’s cool to install lightbulbs during their goal celebrations?
  • Quick Facts- The USA is the largest populated country in the tournament at 300 million, while Slovenia’s total population is just a measly 2 million.
  • Men of the Match   
  • USA- Landon Donovan
  • Slovenia- Valter Birsa
  • GAME RATING- 3 1/4*

(Thank God for United States Soccer, the Backstreet Boys wanted just 5 members in their band, not 6)

ENGLAND VS ALGERIA (0-0)

  • After England got their Group C draw, the English papers came out with this headline.  The group was supposed to be a cakewalk.
  • England
  • Algeria
  • Slovenia
  • Yanks
  • I have to see what their headline will be tomorrow?
  • There is no team chemistry whatsoever for England.
  • Quick Facts- 1990 was the last time England got 2 draws in their first 2 games.  They went all the way to the semifinals that year.
  • Men of the Match
  • England- Ashley Cole
  • Algeria- Madjid Bougherra
  • GAME RATING- 0*

England's Frank Lampard, bottom, and England's Wayne Rooney walk off the pitch at the end of the World Cup group C soccer match between England and Algeria in Cape Town, Friday, June 18, 2010. The game ended 0-0.  (AP Photo/Roberto Candia)

(They don’t look happy)

GROUP C STANDINGS

  1. Slovenia (4 pts)
  2. USA (2 pts)
  3. England (2 pts)
  4. Algeria (1 pt)

Tomorrow’s Schedule

  • (7:30 est) Netherlands vs Japan
  • (10:00 est) Ghana vs Australia
  • (2:30) Cameroon vs Denmark

YOOOAdrian’s 2010 World Cup Recap- 6/17 Day 7

GROUP B

ARGENTINA VS SOUTH KOREA (Arg- 4-1)

  • Germany sent a message in the World Cup’s 1st set of games.  Argentina answered with this scintillating performance in the 2nd set of games.  Ladies and gentlemen, this World Cup is starting to heat up!
  • Lionel Messi showed that he doesn’t need to score in order for Argentina to win.  His long runs set up everything for Argentina.  He’s the road runner, while the entire South Korean team chasing him was coyote.    How do you think Higuan was able to cherry-pick his way for 3 goals today. 
  • To me, the defense is still a bit of a concern for Argentina.  None of the back four really did anything today.  South Korea’s only goal today came on a defensive lapse; Lee Chung-Yong reaped in the benefits.
  • Argentina, with 6 points and a +4 goal differential have pretty much assured themselves a spot in the knockout round.
  • Diego Maradona is officially my favorite coach of all-time.  His reactions are priceless.  Check out this photo below.  He has the jump hug down to a tee.  Notice the arms, securely wrapped around the neck.  The legs are spread out evenly, just like a jump skier.  Picture Perfect! 
  • Quick Facts- Gonzalo Higuain became the 1st player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup since 2002.  Pauletta netted 3 for Portugal against Poland
  • Men of the Match
  • Argentina– Lionel Messi
  • South Korea-  Lee Chung-Yong
  • GAME RATING- 1 3/4*

Argentina head coach Diego Maradona, left, hugs an unidentified coach after his team scored during the World Cup group B soccer match between Argentina and South Korea at Soccer City in Johannesburg, Thursday, June 17, 2010.  (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

(More to come from Maradona)

GREECE VS NIGERIA (Gre- 2-1)

  • In the 1st African World Cup, African nations continue to hugely dissapoint.  They are now 1-5-2 in this tournament. 1 WIN!  Nigeria scored the 1st goal of the match on Kalu Uche’s curler from 35 yards out.  The game turned in the 33rd minute when Nigerian midfielder Sani Kaita had a Ron Artest moment, kicking Vasilis Torisidis.  Torisidis, along with some Rivaldo type acting, drew the red card from the official. 
  • Salpingidis tied it in the 44th minute, and Torsidis scored the game winner in the 71st minute off of another GK mistake.  Enyeama, who shined against Argentina, misplayed the ball and Torsidis poked it home.
  • Greece not only picks up their 1st World Cup win ever, they scored their 1st goal in World Cup competition.
  • I don’t get Nigeria.  They always seem to produce some of the best youth teams, but when it comes to World Cup play, they flat-out stink.  They don’t play cohesively, kind of like another team I’ll get into below.
  • All in all, people are complaining about goal-scoring.  I’ll trade in a 1-0 game if I don’t have to watch this one again.  At least the game was close.  Congrats to Greece, but neither of these squads deserve to advance.
  • Quick Facts- This was the 1st comeback victory of the tournament. 
  • Men of the Match
  • Greece- Dimitrios Salpingidis
  • Nigeria- Kalu Uche
  • GAME RATING- 1 1/2*

Nigeria's Danny Shittu, foreground, reacts as Greek players celebrate their 2-1 win after the World Cup group B soccer match between Greece and Nigeria at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, Thursday, June 17, 2010.  (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

(Fitting Nigeria has a player named Shittu)

GROUP B STANDINGS

  1. Argentina (6 pts)
  2. South Korea (3 pts)
  3. Greece (3 pts)
  4. Nigeria (0 pts)

GROUP A

FRANCE VS MEXICO (Mex- 2-0)

  • FRANCE- GO HOME!!!!!  GET OFF MY TELEVISION! You obviously don’t want to be in the World Cup.  No more comments for this one.
  • Quick Facts- Mexico’s Cuauhtemac Blanco becomes the 3rd oldest player to score in World Cup history.
  • Men of the Match
  • Mexico- Javier Hernandez
  • France- NONE
  • GAME RATING- 3/4*

Mexico's Javier Hernandez celebrates after the World Cup group A soccer match between France and Mexico at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, Thursday, June 17, 2010. Mexico won 2-0. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

(Javier Hernandez)

GROUP A STANDINGS

  1. Uruguay (4 pts)
  2. Mexico (4 pts)
  3. France (1 pt)
  4. South Africa (1 pt)

Tomorrow’s Schedule

  • (7:30 est) Germany vs Serbia
  • (10:00 est) USA vs Slovenia
  • (2:30 est) England vs Algeria