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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 04:15 am:   

Thought a new thread was in order.

A big day for England and Ecuador. There's a possible weird scenario here, too, depending on the result between Ecuador and Germany.

Presumably England and Sweden would prefer to avoid playing Germany, which might make for a strange game if Germany lose or draw with Equador, given that the winner of England v Sweden would then have to face Germany.

Then again, Ecuador have been one of teams of the tournament so far, so in the end it might be better to avoid them. I guess the fact that Ecuador are playing so well cancels out the expediency of avoiding Germany. And, where England are concerned, it's arguable they'd be better suited for playing Germany in the next round anyway. They've had the better of Germany in recent years.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 06:36 am:   

Thomas Rongen writes in SI Online that England is in trouble. That the team lacks imagination. Then he writes that the US play with great passion and athleticism. I think we can discount Rongen as being free of bias. England hasn't beaten Sweden in forty years? Wow. I think they have a good chance to beat them today.

Argentina-Nederlands tomorrow will be the highlight of the tourmament for me, but Ecuador-Germany looks to be an outstanding game. Lots of attacking play. As for England-Sweden, Sweden needs a result, so England can pack it in and wait to counterattack. Should be a terrific day.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 07:11 am:   

Oops. Sweden needs a win.

Ecuador seems sluggish today.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 07:32 am:   

Do Sweden need a win? I thought they only needed a draw to come second and qualify as runers-up. It's starting to get difficult remembering who needs what to qualify.

I notice Ecuador are down a goal. Pity. Still, they're already through, so it's no great shakes if they lose.

That statistic with England-Sweden is amazing. I always feel that England seem to struggle more against mid-range teams like Sweden or Romania, teams they-re expected to beat, and then play better against bigger opposition like Germany, Argentina. But they really need to perform today, if only to inspire a bit of confidence and please their fans.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 07:41 am:   

SI online suggests as much -- I thought they only needed a draw, too. Yeah, that record flabbergasted me. I think England needs to win for reasons of self-confidence.

Germany looks good, but Ecuador looks laggardly and they're not playing two strikers who figured in their last victory.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 07:48 am:   

Both German goals have come as a result of pretty touch passing, Ecuador is clearly not putting forth full effort.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 08:55 am:   

I just read that Ecuador rested five players for this game, more or less half their team. That's as good as saying they couldn't care less about the result. They're already thinking about the next round. Probably a wise move.

It's all go for a pretty good contest between England and Sweden. They'll each be looking to win the game to avoid Germany now. It's all part of the Ecuadorian master plan, of course, to lull their next opponents into a false sense of security!
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 08:56 am:   

So ENgland and Sweden will be officially competitive now. Ecuador certainly didn't put forth an effort. Wonder who they're trying to avoid? :-)

Makes you wonder if they shouldn't have the top teams meet in the second game of group -- might force a more honest effort.
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trent hergenrader
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 11:33 am:   

I can't imagine either England or Sweden will be particularly enthused about playing Ecuador. Or Germany for that matter! Rongen's got it right--England (and Sweden) lack imagination.

Besides, I think all the teams on this half of the tournament have to be looking at Holland and Argentina and swallowing very hard...
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 04:57 pm:   

What a weird performance by England. They start off pretty flat, then Joe Cole starts to take the game by the scruff of the neck and scores a wonderful goal. Then in the second half England start to disintegrate, looking like they're ready for bed. Either they're pacing themselves for future games or they've got a real problem with stamina.

Sweden were OK and may even have deserved to win in the end, but England are turning into the enigma of the tournament. There's no telling how good or bad they might be against Ecuador.

This game between Holland and Argentina is maybe the most intriguing and certainly the biggest of the tournament so far. A tough one to call.
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JV
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 08:26 pm:   

I really think Ecuador made the right decision in resting some of their players.

England-Sweden. Yeah--weird game!!

JeffV
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - 05:22 am:   

I still think you'd get a more honest effort if you had the top teams play earlier.

I saw the higlights package. Didn't really establish how weird a game it was, but that last goal was brutal.

Portugal-Mexico could be interesting, but Argentina-Nederlands...I really hope they don't rest a lot of guys.
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Forrest Aguirre
Posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - 05:56 am:   

I don't think that either Argentina or the Netherlands will have the luxury of resting guys.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - 06:01 am:   

Well, they're both through, aren't they? I don't know how these things are viewed. It's conceivable that one or the other doesn't care who they play as much as resting guys. I just hope that's not the case,
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trent hergenrader
Posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - 06:16 am:   

It's hard to predict, isn't it? Neither have much to play for since Group D isn't decided yet, so they can't actively try to avoid Portugal. Besides, both must be reasonably confident of beating either them or Mexico in the second round. Although there's always the danger of taking your foot off the gas, so maybe it will be a good match.
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neil williamson
Posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - 06:20 am:   

I don't think the priority is so much "resting" players as not fielding players who are carrying a booking from the first two games and run the risk of receiving another which would hand them a suspension for the next match.

Generally if you've got a team playing well and everyone's fit you want to keep on playing the same formation to help them gel as a unit during these early stages, but not at the risk of losing players for the next game due to suspension.

I think Argentina and Holland both have a couple of players in this situation, but to be honest they've both got plenty of talent in reserve - remember Messi and Tevez were substitutes in the game against S&M.

I think it'll be a great game whoever is playing. Been looking forward to it since the draw was made.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - 02:01 pm:   

Well they rested some people and it wasn't that great a game, but it was interesting anyway.
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neil williamson
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 01:34 am:   

It was interesting, Lucius. Even if there weren't any goals there were a few near things, but mainly I think the defences bossed it.

But I must admit I did get an itchy remote finger and found myself checking out Ivory Coast v S&M from time to time.

USA's last chance today. May be Italy will do them a favour this time by handing out a drubbing to the Czechs. All they have to do then is beat Ghana! So, there'll be no "already qualified, playing it safe" in this group!
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 02:41 am:   

Yeah, Arentina and Holland were obviously playing it pretty safe. It was interesting to see the coaches when one of their players committed a bad foul. Normally they'd be gesticulating to the ref as if it say that it wasn't that bad. This time they were gesticulating at their players as if to say what the hell or you doing? Cool it.

Understandable, I suppose. But I think I agree with Lucius that the top seeds should meet maybe in the second game, when everything's to play for.

Today, though, is another matter, a great do or die situation. In a strange twist to events, the Italian football federation have decided that, immediately after the game today, they're going to announce the clubs and individuals who'll be getting charged for their part in the match fixing scandal. Strange timing indeed.

It's just a pity for the Czechs they won't have Koller. He was badly missed in their last game.

And the US being without Eddie Pope is a bit of a blow. He looks a pretty solid player to me. But this is maybe cancelled out by Ghana being without Asamoah.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 06:09 am:   

"But I must admit I did get an itchy remote finger and found myself checking out Ivory Coast v S&M from time to time."

Me, too.

I don't hold out much hope for the US v Ghana. But it will be balls out. But my remote finger will be getting itchy from time to time. I think Austalia-Croatia might be interesting today.

Yeah, that was funny, the coaches in Netherlands-Argentina.

Pretty crummy day tomorrow -- Spain-Saudi Arabia and such. The Saudis may be the most disorganized side I've yet seen.

Too bad about Michael Owen...or are the Scots ambivalent about his injury,
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 06:20 am:   

That last line was meant to be a joke.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 06:33 am:   

I think Owen will be getting a lot of sympathy from Scots too. He's a genial enough character, and nobody likes to see a player lose out like that. A real shame. Made me wonder about these pitches, though. A lot of players seem to be slipping. The pitches seem over-watered or something, or whatever it is they do to them before games. Something like this was bound to happen and I'm surpised there hasn't been more said about it.

Just half an hour for the big kick off. You know, I think the US might well be up for this. They were pretty strong against Italy. Unfortunately, the US game isn't on TV here, so there'll be no itchy fingers on the remote control for me, worse luck.

Enjoy the game!
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 06:39 am:   

You too, Alastair.

I wonder about all the slipping. Seen some goaltenders take some bad spils...that and the new ball have made goaltending dicier than usual.
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neil williamson
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 07:03 am:   

About slipping - the concern seems to be that the pitches have been underwatered, and especially in that baking heat last week the grass was dry. There was a real risk of someone catching their studs and suffering a twisting injury like Owen's.

It's a real shame for him, but his absence now really underlines how stupid Eriksson was in his selection of forwards.

And, Lucius, the new ball doesn't help things either.

Anyway - the games have just kicked off!
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 07:53 am:   

Off an absolutely boneheaded play by Carlos Reyna and a dubiously awarded penalty kick, following another mistake, Ghana 2-1.
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Dave G.
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 07:56 am:   

It's just not in the cards for the US to advance.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 07:59 am:   

It's not fate that's our enemy, it's our skill or lack thereof...
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neil williamson
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 08:01 am:   

It's not like Reyna to lose the ball in dangerous positions. That's a shock - but there's still a whole 45 minutes left to play...
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 08:05 am:   

Well, Reyna's not in there, he can't hurt the cause anyniore. Maybe we can win, but....
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 08:07 am:   

Reyna, of all people, the most acomplished player in the US team. Could be more goals in that game though.

Which is more than can be said for Italy-Czech Rep. Czechs down to ten men. Italy up one nil. Looks all set for the classic scenario of Italy shutting up shop. Hope not.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 08:12 am:   

Bad news for the US--Bruce Arena is 2-16-1 when trailing at the half....
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neil williamson
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 08:14 am:   

That's how it sounds to me Alistair (I'm listening to radio commentary at work). Italy are reverting to type and putting the shutters up, though it sounds as if Nedved at least is doing is utmost to break through them. What's happened to Rosicky?

Lucius - faith!
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neil williamson
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 08:16 am:   

The stats never lie - so the odds are on a draw then?
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 08:19 am:   

Right! :-)
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trent hergenrader
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 11:51 am:   

It's not fate that's our enemy, it's our skill or lack thereof...

Absolutely. The US has had some truly awful refereeing decisions go against them and they've been real back-breakers, but c'mon. This team is average at best. Look at their first touches all tournament. Dreadful.

I blame Arena first. The team looked flat and moved the ball so slowly. You're not going to beat teams of this quality when you can't pass the ball quickly into open spaces.

Disappointed but not entirely surprised in this finish. Will Arena move on? He's a good coach but I think it would be best if he and US Soccer parted ways. He's been a tremendous asset to the team but I just don't see the team moving to the next level with him at the helm.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 11:58 am:   

Pity about the US, but it's nice to see an African team make it through.

Italy were pretty unspectacular. I think the ssending off of the Czech player pretty much decided the game. I was expecting more from Italy in this world cup, but they seem to have reverted back to the usual thing.

So, US fans, who will you be supporting now that the US are out? Are you going for the underdogs (Ecuador, Ghana) or glory (Argentina, Brazil) or both (why not!)?
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 12:00 pm:   

Trent, I get the impression that the US need the fresh impetus a new coach would bring. So Arena, in spite of his respectable efforts, should go for me.
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trent hergenrader
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 12:06 pm:   

I have an ongoing, torrid love affair with Spanish football--both La Liga and the national team, so I'd like to see them go as far as possible. Which probably means meeting Brazil in the quarterfinals.

Mostly I just want to see good games. I used to hate Argentina because they whined and dove more than they played (that crown has now been assumed by Italy) but they're a pleasure to watch this time around, aren't they?

And I would like to see someone other than Brazil lift the trophy. But this has been a tournament of favorites so far with only the Czech Republic (and perhaps France) being the early casualties, so I still expect Brazil to be in the final.
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trent hergenrader
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 12:17 pm:   

The best thing Arena did for the national team was cast out the has-beens and ushered in the next generation of players. I think the big mistake this time was his not relying on the spark new talent brings, especially in the form of Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson. Those guys are the only stand-outs from the MLS group for me.

My theory is that European teams only scout the US players who play in Europe and focus on stopping them because they don't respect the MLS player. These two guys were x-factors that could have made a difference had they been starting. It's a shame Johnson was only deployed in the most dire circumstances.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 12:29 pm:   

I just want some good football, some exciting matches. I like Spain, Germany, Argentina, Brazil. As for Arena, yeah. Let him go. He didn't have 'em ready to play, and that was his job. Ultimately, though, the players aren't good enough. 26 shots, 1 goal. They don't have any finsishers, any players with special skills like Beckham. They've got to have that or they'll go nowhere. Trying real hard is good, but when you're up against Crespo or Ronaldinho et al, trying real hard is not going to cut it.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 12:34 pm:   

Wow. Japan leads Brazil.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 01:12 pm:   

Ronaldo is playing his ass off today....
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 02:21 pm:   

And Ronaldo's equaled the record, so thatt's something. But he looked like he's getting back to his old self tonight.

Did anyone see any of the Australia-Croatia game? Dramatic stuff. The ref had a torrid time of it and got a bit mixed up with his bookings and sendings off. He should have sent off one of the Croatians but forgot he'd already booked him. It was comical really, but an easy mistake to make in a game like that. Still, he won't be refereeing the final, that 's for sure.

As for the US, I think your dead right about the European teams and their attitude towards MLS players. Silly really, because the standard is probably as good as any of the European leagues barring the big four or five. But things might change when Freddy Adu comes of age. To tell the truth, I was disappointed that Arena didn't take him over for the world cup. He would have been worth a gamble. Next time, though. He'll certainly bring the special skills to the US team.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 02:26 pm:   

And that's amazing Australia have qualified. I'm looking forward to them playing Italy. It'll be a bruising encounter. I reckon at least 4 sendings off.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 02:51 pm:   

Austraila-Croatia WAS great stuff. I was pulling for Australia and I hope they trounce the Azzurri, but their tendency to fall behind in games will, I fear, doom them to defeat, because Italy shuts it down when they get a lead.

Adu trained with the US team. I just saw him on a sports show being interviewed, and he says he's going to Europe this upcoming season and doesn't know whether he'll compete for Ghana or the US in the next world cup.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 03:38 pm:   

You mean Adu still has to choose who to play for? Yikes, I thought he'd already opted for the US. And if Ghana continue to do well in this world cup, that could sway him. I look forward to seeing him play, though.

Yes, Australia-Croatia was what it's all about, a great game. I was glad to see Australia go through as well. And I want one of those inflatable kangaroos that all their fans have!
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 04:06 pm:   

That's what he said. I have a feeling he'll play for Ghana.

Go 'roos. I wouldn't mind an inflatable kangaroo, either. Wait...what am I saying? :-)
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ben peek
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 02:47 am:   

you two are heading down a dangerous inflatable fetish. i can get you some of them kangeroos, if you want ;)

australia just needs a good keeper. how many times have i got to watch bad keeping putting australia in a bad position? well, possibly only once more...

the game was good, though. shame they didn't count that final goal.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 05:54 am:   

You can supply inflatable kangaroos? What...like the first one's free? Tempting.

It was a great game. I admit I was switching back and forth, watching Ronaldo's record-tying performance. But Aus-Croatia was very dramatic. The Brazilians really started to click against Japan, whose goalie was heroic but overmatched. Ronaldinho's play was stellar. I fear they may win again...
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ben peek
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 06:09 am:   

well, you know, i start with the kangeroo, and then you're like, 'what about that inflatable koala...' and suddenly i have a drug styled penthouse.

the japanese keeper was in good form, i thought. in each match he performed well--that penalty save vs croatia was just great. but there's only so much you can do in the end when the rest of your team is being outclassed. and yeah, i have to agree, brazil was clicking. i reckon ronaldo will be starting in the next game, too.
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Peadar
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 06:18 am:   

"What...like the first one's free?"

Yes, but they burst real easy with heavy use ;)
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 06:46 am:   

How about the Koala? :-)

Yeah, I think off that performance, Ronaldo's penciled in as a starter. You get the feeling that Brazil's just getting serious.

Spain-Togo coming up, but tomorrow the second round begins...
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 06:46 am:   

Spain-Saudi, I mean...
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 06:52 am:   

So, if there are inflatable kangaroos, that means there must be an inflatable kangaroo factory, which means there are people out there employed as inflatable kangaroo makers. The world sure is an amazing place when you think about it deeply, too deeply, as I clearly am now. But not as deeply as you guys. I'm...I'm not sure I want an inflatable kangaroo anymore. I... I think I want to go home.

Of course, you do realise that, come the Australia-Italy game, we're going to be spending more time looking at the crowd in search of kangaroos than we will be watching the game. But that's OK, because it's Italy :-)

Ben, that final goal not being counted in the Aus-Croatia game was very confusing, was it? You can understand the ref getting mixed up with his bookings. That happens now and again in turbulent games. But what the hell was he doing in those final moments? That goal should have stood, but the ref seemed to cop out of it because, by that time, his whole world had come crashing in. All added to the excitement, I suppose, but Australia could've had a win. And wins are nice.

Tonight should be a tense affair with Togo v France. I've just checked and saw that France need a win, a draw no use. The winner between Switzerland and South Korea will go through, unless France draw or lose, where they'd both go through. Wow, this group's delicately poised, more so even than the US's group. I'm rooting for South Korea for no other reason than having a team from the far east in the next round.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 06:54 am:   

Yes, Ronaldo seems to be motoring at last, and Brazil are starting to look like something beyond human. It looks like all the big teams are slowly but surely priming themselves for some mighty encounters.
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neil williamson
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 07:05 am:   

Talking of resting your players, it looks like Spain are resting most of their team.

Looking forward to the second round now, but to seeing what happens in France's group tonight first of all. Can they weasel out of their tricky predicament... I'm thinking they might just do it.

I'm not touching the inflatable marsupial conversation with the proverbial bargepole.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 07:14 am:   

I hear there's a company called realmarsupial that can conjure up an anatomically correct platypus complete wit blond wig and negligee for 2 K.... :-)

Back to soccer.
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trent hergenrader
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 07:28 am:   

Imagine the luxury of resting most of your first team and still starting Raul, Fabregas, Joaquin, Reyes, Salgado, et al. Only a few nations could field two full squads and still be competitive and Spain's certainly one of them.

A little number crunching shows that Spain will finish the group stage in first place of all teams with a 1-0 win or greater, edging out Brazil and Germany. Not that this matters...

I would like to the Koreans advance too. This has been a tournament favoring the favorites so it would be good to see a shakeup. It's also been Europe's tournament. Before this morning's games, the confederations W-D-L records were:
* CONCACAF - 1-3-8
* AFRICA - 3-3-7 (with Togo and Tunisia yet to play)
* ASIA - 2-5-6 (Saudis and Koreans yet to play)
* S. AMERICA - 8-1-3
* EUROPE - 19-10-9 (with Spain, Ukraine, France, and Swiss yet to play)

{I lumped the Aussies in Asia, as that's where they'll be qualifying next time 'round}
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 07:36 am:   

I take it CONCACAF is where the US resides.
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trent hergenrader
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 07:41 am:   

Yep, the full name is Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 08:01 am:   

Seem they, the US, might want to upgrade their competition, you know. That would be a start. Playing Brazil on a regular basis might inspire a few kids.
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trent hergenrader
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 08:46 am:   

This is a major problem for US Soccer. They used to do this thing called the US Cup where they'd invite three teams and play a tournament that mirrored the first round of the World Cup, and they got big teams: England, Brazil, Portugal, Italy, Nigeria. The problem is that the US needed those games more than the teams they were playing. The cup fizzled out and the US has struggled to get decent friendly matches ever since.

The US also competed in the South American championships twice in '93 and '95. In '95 they beat Argentina 3-0 and lost to Brazil in the semifinals in a close 1-0 game. Unfortunately, they no longer take part because the tournament takes place in the middle of the MLS season and the league doesn't want their stars departing to play for the nat'l team in a tournament most Americans don't follow.

Both of these events exposed the US to better competition and the team got better as a result, but it's hard to see how the situation is going to change in the near future.

I worked for US Soccer from 1996 to 1999 and I remember being in a meeting where the higher-ups were trying to arrange friendlies before the '98 World Cup. England had declined a friendly and so had Italy. The bosses were starting to get nervous because no one was returning their calls. Who did the US end up playing as tune-ups? Austria, Macedonia, Kuwait, and Scotland. Not exactly top tier competition. This year's run up saw us play Jamaica, Morocco, Venezuela, and Latvia--none of which qualified the the cup.

That's part of the reason I find the whole "Europe respects us" bit so humorous. We're like the nerdy kid asking the cheerleaders out to prom.
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neil williamson
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 09:07 am:   

>Austria, Macedonia, Kuwait, and Scotland.

Well at least you got one top team - that Kuwait were famous for it back in the 90s.

Actually - with Scotland you at least had a World Cup qualifier in 98. Admittedly we didn't cover ourselves in glory during the actual competition, but you at least we trounced you 0-0 in invitation match you mentioned. :D
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 10:53 am:   

Trent, that explains a lot.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 02:25 pm:   

There's no doubt about it, the US need regular experience of a better standard of football if they're to improve (notwithstanding the odd friendly against the mighty Scotland :-)). It makes me wonder, though. Are Mexico in the same predicament? Do they play in the South American championship or are they compelled to follow a similar footballing route as the US?

I'm saying this in a kind of Devil's advocate kind of way because Mexico, though by no means world beaters, are damned good. Or are they? It may well be that Mexico are one of the biggest under-achievers in world football, precisely because they, like the US, don't get enough regular top-class competition.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 02:46 pm:   

I think we should both teams to Scotland, merge them with the Scots team, send them to Berlitz where Glaswegian has been added to the agenda -- then we'd have us a team! :-)

Second round tomorrow. Good games.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 03:04 pm:   

UScotland!

You know Lucius, you might be on to something there. It's a long shot but.... it might just work.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 04:05 pm:   

Worth a try, huh?
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 04:09 pm:   

Oh, by the way Neil W., that point you were making about Eriksson's selections for strikers for England above. How right you are. Before the WC I never thought much of it because I wasn't really paying attenton. But I did think it strange that he didn't take Defoe. Plus I thought, yes, take Walcott, why the hell not? But, now, it's clear that Eriksson has no intention of playing him in any way whatsoever at all. And that, basically, means that England have a depleted squad, with one man less that the permitted quota. There's obviously something behind all this, in the sense that it has become clear that Walcott (God bless him) is just not ready or good enough or something to be selected for a world cup game. So, instead they're relying on Crouch. Which is, and will stand for all time as, a disaster.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 04:21 pm:   

Definitely, Lucius. You do of course realise that kilts would have to be worn. By everybody. By everyone in the US too. Which might actually change the course of human history.

Unless, of course, the inflatable kangaroos got there first....

My God. Yes. I knew it. This is war.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 05:02 pm:   

The kilts would just make it easier for the kangaroos.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 05:13 pm:   

Ah, yes. I see your point. We've lost the advantage. Damn. But if we cut off their legs...?
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 05:18 pm:   

I think that's a yellow card....possibly a blue card.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 05:34 pm:   

A blue card? But...but... But they're inflatable! They don't have legs!
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 05:43 pm:   

It's the thought that counts...
;)
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 05:55 pm:   

And that, indeed, was my mistake. The damn inflatable fiends that they are!
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ben peek
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 08:32 pm:   

So, if there are inflatable kangaroos, that means there must be an inflatable kangaroo factory, which means there are people out there employed as inflatable kangaroo makers.

i think they're mostly sold in tourist stores out here. all those australians at the world cup probably bought them at the airport, leaving the country ;)

but, back to soccer:

the end of the aus vs croatia game was strange, yeah. like the ref just threw up his hands and said, fuck it, i'm going home. there's a goal? fuck it. i'm going home. no one seems to be making a big deal of it here, cause we got through anyway, but still, i thought the goal was in and home.

but whatever. it's time for the second round and defeat by italy :-)
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trent hergenrader
Posted on Friday, June 23, 2006 - 08:59 pm:   

Mexico, though by no means world beaters, are damned good. Or are they?

The US and Mexico have been even for about the last decade or so--neither team can win on the other's soil, and since 1991 the US has held the advantage against Mexico with a 10-6-6 record. Yet there's this misconception that Mexico is superior to the US squad, probably because they've been respectable longer.

But yes, I think Mexico suffers from the same problem as not being able to improve. Their players have largely failed in Europe and South America and the Mexican league is only a shade better than MLS. So the US has come up to even terms with Mexico in a span of only 15 years or so.

Mexico's inflatable kangaroos are cheaper and better made than American brands, though.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Saturday, June 24, 2006 - 04:03 am:   

I'm definitely guilty of that misconception, Trent. You're right. When you think of it, the US probably has a much better record than Mexico in recent world cups. Maybe the fact that Mexico has hosted the world cup twice in recent decades also gives the impression that Mexico are more of a force than they actually are. Still a good team though, so if the US are matching or bettering them, that's pretty good. But there's no doubt both suffer for lack of compettition. Would it be feasible for the US to compete in the European Championship? I'm not sure that would be allowed, but it would be great for them to compete in qualifying groups and maybe even the finals itself.

Hey, look what I found!
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