Archive for June, 2010

SanteriK: Psychological affect

We saw two matches which included many goals and also two major referee mistakes. The results were clear after all, but how would these games have ended without these mistakes?

England-Germany

1-4. Germany won. The first half looked like Germany would overwhelm England with their entertaining and aggressive attacking. Then England made a goal, with Upsons controlled effort. After that England got the mentality, and began to believe that they are able to win. Then they scored again- Not! The goal wasn’t approved, thanks to the blind referees. After that England lost their touch. The game was 2-2, but not for real. Their efforts were for nothing, all lost. The break came to the worst possible place. The players had too much time to think about the injustice that happened in the field. They were upset, angry and desperate. England was only one goal behind.

Second half. The goal is still on players minds. They are mad to referees. Everything that fails will increase the desperate state of mind. After an slide tackle, which gives an freekick for Germany they will start to frustrate. The control of the game is lost, and England is forced to make risks. Defenders are playing a bit further than normally. Because of that Germany had their chances to do counter attacks. It worked for them, and Germany won 4-1. Without the goal that was never made England would have been able to challenge Germany. All in all I think that Germany would still had won the game with ease..

Argentina-Mexico

3-1. A bit different game than the other, though. Mexico never had the pressure (before the end of the game), and Argentina was controlling the whole game. Offside goal which Tevez made had an effect on Mexicans mentality. Injustice happened. Even after complainments the result remained. Nothing was done, justice didn’t win. It’s hard to accept. And after that Argentina was able to keep the ball and try to increase their lead. After all, Mexico couldn’t have win the game even if Argentina’s goal would have been forsaken. Argentina was just too good.

In the end of the game situation would have been different. Argentina would have lead only with one goal, and the pressure would have been on their shoulders. Mexicans would have had a ray of hope. Finally the game ended the way it was supposed to end, but pub talking is not going to end soon. The guestion remains about both games; what if..

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Sir_John_Minor: Thank Goodness for the Jabulani

Everyone is pointing at the World Cup’s Official Match Ball as the culprit behind the teams lacklustre showing but it actually be Adi Dassler’s gift to the World.

Except for Germany’s 4-nil thrashing of Australia, almost every other match during the first round of games in this year’s World Cup seems rather tepid, dull for some, an atrocity for others. Elsewhere, keepers were making blunders that would make a schoolboy cringe, crosses never seemed to go where they intended to be, shots were almost always wide. At a rate of almost a goal each game, World Cup 2010 is shaping to become one of the most boring of the quadrennial tournament in recent memory.

And as with always, fingers are finding someone (or something) to blame. it’s the altitude, the gruelling run-in of domestic matches (in England’s case that is), Sepp Blatter (or Domenech for the French), or the beehive atmosphere created by the vuvuzela (I can’t sleep at night says Evra). But from all the daily football editorials created each day, one culprit always stands out, the Jabulani.

Unless if you’ve been living under a rock for the past months, you will be the only one to not point that the disaster which is the Jabulani is the reason behind the lacklustre performance of the teams in South Africa. The Jabulani according to Adi Dassler is the most perfectly round ball ever made and while everyone is expecting that it will be the easiest to control, to the surprise of everyone (except for the Germans) it actually operates as if “it has a mind of its own”. What happened next is history. Robert Green giving the Americans a gift, Spain beaten by the Swiss, France almost officially out and just a few minutes ago, Serbia beating Germany.

While the Jabulani may infact be the reason why we can’t help ourselves from yawning while watching the supposedly biggest spectacle in sports television, the ball cannot be blamed for how the World Cup is turning out to be.

FootBALL is not only about the ball, FOOTball more importantly is about the foot who controls it and sends it billowing to the opposing team’s net. The Jabulani can be made an excuse if we are talking about amateurs playing in Sunday leagues but for someone to be at the World Cup, blaming the ball and not oneself verges on the edge of insanity.

To be world-class athletes is to survive in adversity. No matter what the conditions, no matter how porous the pitch may be, no matter how stupid is your coach, and no matter how perfectly round a ball is, your nation expects you to negate all this variables and capitalize on the constancy of your skill.

Did the great football heroes of old blame the conditions they were playing in? Certainly not! Did have super light-weight shoes (I could only imagine the weight of their boots)? Did they play in Desso Master pitches? Did they have synthetic balls? And yet they played footie as if it is the only thing that gives life to their bodies (which actually is for many of them).

I haven’t tried one but seeing the games and seeing the ball’s performance convinced me that it really is psychotic but a true “world-class” football player copes with the things out of his control and adjusts. It’s not as if you are the only one to do it, all the others are struggling as well (except for the Germans).

Blaming an inanimate object for a team’s performance is a mentality of losers. Winners go to the field knowing that the elements may not always be on your favour. But that is what defines true champions, the ability to evolve with the need of the times.

The Jabulani could in fact be a disaster but it could become Adi Dassler’s gift to the world. It could pin point those who chicken out, the mediocre, those who will not survive. But it could also showcase the brave, and the winner who goes out there knowing what this ball represents, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE.

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Number21: Why do all good things come to an end?

It’s pretty much simple for my fellow Slovenians, it wasn’t meant to be and in the end it didn’t happen. But we should keep our heads up and our confidence should be high as we managed to win 4 points in the group, where we were projected to finish 4th or maybe 3rd. In 12 days, the foreign media has spoken about our country probably more than in past 20 years.

The fact that decided the fates today was belief. Algeria wanted to win and Slovenia wanted to win. The difference was in the other two teams. England and USA were sure they will win and guess what happened in the end. What players and fans believe decides the outcome of the game. I won’t be blaming anyone but let us look at some interesting things that were happening.

I think there was about 1000-1500 Slovenian fans that came to support our team. USA is the most supported team on this world cup. England tops the list as well. That means that if Slovenia came out of the group, the stadiums that average around 50000 seats would be half empty, if not even more. That’s why FIFA did some movement and made sure that everything goes in the best financial scenario. That’s why refs didn’t have the same criteria for both teams. Again I’m not accusing anybody, I’m just trying to share my thoughts.

Let’s review the game. Slovenian defense was average and not concentrated enough. Midfield players were unable to contain the ball possession and thus unable to create anything which left our two strikers with few useful balls. Goalkeeper was the brightest spot of our 11 man team. I think his transfer price just went up by a few million and Juventus, Bayern and Man. City are seriously looking into acquiring him. On the other side of the pitch it was just question of time when the sleeping lions are going to wake up. Sadly for our hopes they woke up in the last game which they bloody needed to get out of the group. They played like they were supposed to every game. And in the game you could see the difference of the experience again. You could see that Slovenian boys are not playing in top teams or neither in top leagues. And for all of them this was the first world cup experience. The upside of this is they can improve a lot now, because a lot of the guys were seen by bigger clubs and might get spots on better rosters in top leagues.

The second very interesting thing to look into is how nations react on the performance of their squads. I never would have imagined that such a simple game could unite all the people under one banner and make them breathe as one unit. I’m only 22 so I find this very fascinating. I wish there was more occasions like this where the whole nation would go in the same direction. Life would be much easier and enjoyable. But that is probably not possible because people would start taking advantage of this and abuse the power of the unity.

While everybody in our country speaks about how unlucky we are I am telling them that we are young and we have time, our country will be having 19th birthday tomorrow . The same thing goes for our young guns. Don’t you worry there will be another chance to show your greatness. In my eyes they achieved big things! And I think a lot of people who are open minded would agree with this statement.

And to finish my World cup coverage of Slovenian team as we start marching home and marching on I would like to thank everybody that was reading my thoughts and I hope you enjoyed what I wrote. I won’t post any more entries, but if you actually really liked my stuff please let me know and I might change my decision.

“With eleven brave hearts to the end”

My favorite team Oranje is still in so I still have something to cheer about!

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_-Ares-_ : South American teams don’t lose

Having played 12 matches, all of the South American teams have gone straight ahead without loosing neither of their games

Only a month ago the nerves of the entire world were wondering what would happen during this football World Cup. Even the most blindfolded fans couldn’t suppose that the South American teams would accomplish their goals as they did during these weeks.

After 12 played games the countries from the South West don’t know what losing is:

- Uruguay:

Tied with France: 1 – 1
Won South Africa: 3 – 0
Won Mexico: 1 – 0

- Argentina:

Won Nigeria: 1 – 0
Won South Korea: 4 – 1
Won Greece: 2 – 0

- Paraguay

Tied Italy: 1 – 1
Won New Zealand: 2 – 0

- Brazil

Won North Korea: 2 – 1
Won Côte d’Ivoire: 3 – 1

- Chile

Won Honduras: 1 – 0
Won Switzerland: 1 – 0

Clearly the most powerfull contries such as Spain, Netherland, Italy, Germany, England… and the awful presentation of France still appear to dissapoint. In many magazines all around the world people could share their oppinion, and the result was that the level that the World Cup so far was very poor and less impressive than thought. On the other hand the old continent conutries are showing that although they haven’t been favourites, they have a lot to show. Which will be the roof these teams to achieve? I certanly can’t assure it, but one thing is shown:

We have got 32 out of 36 points. That says everything. It seems that European clubs show a lot of talented players who produce magic every game, but where do those players come from? Just guess…

We hope them to improve, otherwise this World Cup won’t have anything near special, and 4 years for the next to come seems yet too far away.

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OrangeStar: South Africa’s sweet sixteen

Written by OrangeStar.

As the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa enters the knockout stages, there is a great feeling of anticipation. Over the next four days, spectators worldwide are going to be in for a feast of football, as the sixteen teams remaining in the World Cup gets cut down to just eight. At this stage of the tournament, absolutely anything is possible. Who will go on to win the most coveted prize in international football?

The kick-off for the opening game in the knockout rounds is tonight, and you will notice that some of the biggest names in international football aren’t represented. South Africa, the host nation, missed out on the knockout rounds on goal difference; the first World Cup host to fail to progress past the group stage. Also failing to progress from Group A was France; their implosion left them with just one point from their three group games.

Greece and Nigeria failed to make the cut from Group B, the Nigerians managing to take only a point from their three matches. Greece, in their second World Cup, managed to score their first ever World Cup Finals goal, their first win couldn’t get them into the knockout rounds either. Slovenia and Algeria missed out from a tense, tight Group C, which wasn’t decided until deep in injury time in the final Group Stage match. Landon Donovan managed to score the winner for the USA, and were able to leapfrog Slovenia, and send them home.

Australia, set an almost impossible task after their 4-0 humiliation against Germany in their first Group D fixture, missed out on qualifying for their second consecutive knockout stage, despite putting in a valiant effort against both Ghana and Serbia. Serbia too, missed out on the knockout rounds, even though they managed to pull out an upset win against a ten-man German outfit.

Japan’s amazing 3-1 win over Denmark in the final match from Group E saw the Blue Samurai progress to the knockout round at the Danes expense, while the Netherlands kept their perfect winning record in tact, and sent Cameroon home.

Group F contained possibly the most surprising result of the tournament, with Italy finishing at the bottom of their group; with only two points from their three games. Despite fighting right to the end, it was Slovakia who managed to hold on and win 3-2 in the final match of the Group Stage to send the Italians home. New Zealand was the other team to miss out from the Group. The Kiwi’s, in just their second World Cup, came home with three points, and an ‘undefeated’ status; including holding the World Champions to a 1-1 draw in their second group match.

North Korea got absolutely slaughtered in Group G, losing 7-0 to Portugal in their second match, and 3-0 to the Ivory Coast in the final match of the Group Stage. Unfortunately for the Ivory Coast, they also missed out on the knockout stage; their four points not enough to get past the undefeated Brazilians and Portuguese.

Finally, in Group H, Honduras and Switzerland bowed out of the competition after both gave up numerous chances on goal in their final group stage match, allowing Chile and Spain to progress to the Round of 16. Unfortunately for the Swiss, they couldn’t maintain the form that allowed them to upset the Spanish in their opening match; in fact, they didn’t find the back of the net again in the tournament!

With half the field left by the wayside, it’s now time to have a look at the matches for the Round of 16; to see who might have the potential to make it to the Quarter Finals, and beyond!

URUGUAY vs SOUTH KOREA

Port Elizabeth – June 26
The Uruguayans found some amazing form after their opening Group Stage match, which they drew 0-0 with France; before defeating hosts South Africa 3-0, and sealed top spot in their group with a 1-0 win over Mexico. South Korea turned on the style in their opening match, defeating Greece 2-0, but faltered to a 4-1 loss against Argentina in their second game. However, the Koreans bounced back to secure a 2-2 draw with Nigeria, and won a spot in the Round of 16. However, with their poor result against Argentina, it looks as though South Korea will bow out in their first match against Uruguay.
Result:
Uruguay 2, South Korea 0.

USA vs GHANA
Rustenburg – June 26
A goalkeeping error by England’s Robert Green gifted the USA a point in their first match, and a spectacular second-half comeback from a two-goal deficit against Slovenia secured another point for Bob Bradley’s men. However, it was a Landon Donovan winner in the last seconds of injury time against Algeria put the USA through to the Round of 16. Ghana won their opening match against Serbia thanks to a penalty for a handball, and managed a goal by the same means in their second match against Australia, which finished 1-1. In their final game, Ghana lost 1-0 to a German team who seemed content with the result. With the Ghanaians struggling against a ten-man Australia, it seems the USA ma be able to get the better of them.
Result:
USA 2, Ghana 1.

GERMANY vs ENGLAND
Bloemfontein – June 27
The German’s played some brilliant football in their opening Group Stage match against Australia, dominating the match to win 4-0. However, after a shock 1-0 loss to Serbia, the Germans seemed surprisingly content with their 1-0 win over Ghana in the final match. England were let down by their last line of defence in their 1-1 draw with the USA first up, with a disappointing draw against Algeria in their second match leaving them in a difficult position heading into the final Group Stage match. Fabio Capello’s changes played off in the last match of the Group Stage, with the Three Lions taking a 1-0 win against Slovenia to book themselves in to the Round of 16. This match looks like it will come right down to the wire; with England struggling for form, though, and the glimmer of Germany’s scintillating outing against Australia posing a threat in the background, it’s possible the Germans may run away with the win.
Result:
Germany 0, England 0 (Penalty Shootout).

ARGENTINA vs MEXICO
Johannesburg, Soccer City – June 27
Argentina have shone throughout the group stage, qualifying for the Round of 16 with three wins under their belt. After defeating Nigeria 1-0 in their opening fixture, the Argentineans dominated South Korea in their second match, winning 4-1, before blasting home two goals in the second half to take down Greece. Mexico started slowly, though, with a 1-1 draw with South Africa on the first day of the tournament, before fighting to a shock 2-0 win against France in their second match. However, a 0-1 loss to Uruguay left them in second in the group, and a tough ask to progress to the Quarter Finals. If Lionel Messi shine’s for Argentina, this one could be all over before it’s even begun.
Result:
Argentina 3, Mexico 1.

NETHERLANDS vs SLOVAKIA
Durban – June 28
The Dutch made it three from three in their group, conceding only one goal on their path to the Round of 16. After opening their campaign with a 2-0 win against Denmark, the Dutch scored a second-half winner to beat the Japanese 1-0, and defeated Cameroon 2-1 in their final Group Stage match. Slovakia missed out on a first-up win against New Zealand after Winston Reid scored with just seconds remaining in the match, before faltering to a 2-0 loss to Paraguay in their second match. Needing nothing short of a miracle in their final match against Italy, the Slovaks pulled out a brilliant performance, winning 3-2, to secure their progress to the Round of 16. However, it looks as though their dream World Cup run may be over, with the Netherlands running on a very hot streak.
Result:
Netherlands 2, Slovakia 1.

BRAZIL vs CHILE
Johannesburg, Ellis Park – June 28
Brazil came to South Africa with big promises, but their campaign stagnated after Maicon’s brilliant goal from an insane angle in his side’s 2-1 win against North Korea. While Dunga’s men managed a 3-1 win against the Ivory Coast in their second match, their final Group Stage fixture against Portugal was a disappointing performance, to say the least. Chile opened their World Cup with a 1-0 win over Honduras, and backed up their strong first performance with a 1-0 win over Switzerland. However, they faltered in their third match, a goalkeeping error costing them their first goal, before they eventually were defeated 2-1. Brazil should have the skill to go the distance; but it could be a close match.
Result:
Brazil 2, Chile 0.

PARAGUAY vs JAPAN

Pretoria – June 29
Paraguay started their World Cup against the reigning Champions, and managed to secure a 1-1 draw first up, before storming to a 2-0 win over Slovakia in their second match. A 0-0 draw with New Zealand was enough for the Slovaks to make it to the Round of 16. Japan defeated Cameroon 1-0 in their opening game, but suffered a 1-0 defeat to the Netherlands in their second match. However, a 3-1 win against Denmark gave the Japanese a berth in the Round of 16. The Japanese look to have the Jubilani ball figured out, with one of the finest set-piece goals this tournament flying into the net off the boot of Keisuke Honda to open the scoring in their last game against Denmark. However, Paraguay may just have what it takes to knock off the Blue Samurai.
Result:
Paraguay 2, Japan 1.

SPAIN vs PORTUGAL

Cape Town – June 29
The Spanish, who were hot favourites coming into the tournament, suffered a shock loss to Switzerland in their opening match, which finished 1-0. However, the Spanish bounced back, beating Honduras 2-0 in their second match, before knocking off Chile in their final group match; largely thanks to some individual brilliance from David Villa. Portugal also looked good in the lead up to the tournament, but a 0-0 draw with the Ivory Coast in their first match had the doubters talking. However, a 7-0 demolition of North Korea, which included Cristiano Ronaldo’s first international goal in two years, served to answer the cries of the critics. Unfortunately, the Portuguese played it safe in their final Group Stage match against Brazil, which earned them this fixture. This game should come right down to the wire; definitely one to watch.
Result:
Spain 1, Portugal 1 (Penalty Shootout).

Unfortunately, eight of these fantastic teams have to go home, as only eight can move on to the Quarter Finals. One thing is for certain; anything can happen!

Next time: Quarter Finals! Stay tuned!

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FCB-Ier: Down to 16: A prognosis

Written by FCB-Ier.

The group stages are over. 16 nations remain in the running to lift the World Cup… For now, the World Cup remains a bit disappointing in level of football and spectacle shown.

However I am fairly sure that is about to change. With a couple of very interesting clashes this round will tell us which of the european teams can be named favourites. South-american powerhouses Brasil and Argentina should be able to continue without to big a problem…

Uruguay – South Korea: Both teams deserved to qualify from their group, and both teams are certainly not without a chance of progressing even further. South Korea looks the most probable to be the winning team, as they have shown more attacking composure. However they also showed a bit insecure in their defense and Uruguay just might take advantage of this.

USA – Ghana: promises to be another close game. Injury-time group-winners USA are in a winning mood and won’t be slaughtered easily. They’ll keep going for it till the fat lady sings. The Black Stars are the last African team still contending and will have the support of the african crowd. This game could go to penaltys…

Germany – England: Based upon the performance delivered so far, Germany should win this easily. BUT the English could very well step up to the challenge and crank their gameplay up a few knotches. It ‘s not as they don’t have the talent… Germany will be very hard to beat though and is imho slight favourite.

Argentina – Mexico: Argentina is clear favourite and shouldn’t have too much problems in setting aside Mexico. Biggest question is how much will they score, and does Messi finally get his goal?

The Netherlands – Slovakia: The Netherlands are clear favourites for this game. Robben is fit again and allready showed his influence in the last game, coming on as a sub. I really expect and hope Holland shows the football they brought just before the World Cup. Slovakia is THE Surprise of the tournament, and who knows, they might surprise and stunt again. After all, they did beat Italy…

Brasil – Chile: 2 south-american countries go head to head. Brasil should be the favourite, especially if they speed up their game a little bit more. Underdog Chile can surprise though.

Paraguay – Japan: This one is going to be another very close game in my opinion. Is Japan able to tear down the excellent Paraguayan defense? And how will the Japanese defense perform? They have shown vulnerable in the rear…

Spain – Portugal: Is the match I ‘m looking forward to the most. Even more then Germany – England, this clash of the Iberic peninsula will have to show how good both teams are. Whatever team wins here could be the team to beat to lift the World Cup. For me Spain should go trough.

All in all, I really expect to see a couple of very big matches and certain teams will have to improve their performance or face elimination. In 4 days, we will know more…

Kind regards… and enjoy the football you all :D

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Baz1057: The Round of 16 part 1.

Written by Baz1057.

So the group stage is over and half the teams are on their way home, the holders and hosts amongst them. Who’s left? Who should we be looking out for? Who will win? Some of the question I shall offer my opinions on in this article. This is a long one guy’s so if you get to the end I thank you and please leave a comment.

With all group matches completed we have now said goodbye to half the teams that began this year’s world cup, including the hosts; South Africa, and the holders; Italy. So who are we left with and who is best equipped to take home the FIFA World Cup trophy?

Argentina:
Topping Group B with 9 point out of 9 and only conceding 1 goal the Argentine side have made what is virtually the perfect start to their campaign. Boasting a strike force that includes Messi, Milito, Higuain, Aguero and Tevez. Approximate value around the £200M mark in today’s transfer market, makes this Argentina side capable of outscoring any opponent. One would fancy them to progress through their second round match against Mexico.
Players to watch:
The obvious ones; Lionel Messi, Diego Milito, Sergio Aguero, all capable of that game changing moment.
Additionally; Juan Sebastian Veron, old but not finished yet, still does a job in the middle of the park for his team.
Prediction: Finalist’s

Brazil:
The group G Winner’s are touted as potential winners every time the World Cup comes around, and rightly so because of the talent pool they have to choose from and their previous record. Always play quality football, but usually leave something to be desired in defence. This time round they are better defensively than they have been for a while in my eyes, but I fear not good enough to take the title. Don’t get me wrong they could go close, Semi’s maybe even the Final.
Players to watch:
Dani Alves, if he can get in ahead of Maicon he is still a top class attacking wing back.
Gilberto Silva, old, but still a quality holding midfielder, and with Brazil playing two holding midfielders it gives the team some room to express themselves as we all know they can.
Felipe Melo, working in tandem with Gilberto Silva these two are giving the full backs great freedom (which they have always had for Brazil anyway) while offering a better defensive cover than usually presented by a Brazilian team.s
Luis Fabiano, plays a far better striker role than Robinho, may not have as much flair (probably has plenty, he’s Brazilian) but plays the line better than the afore mentioned who prefers to drift.
Prediction: Quarter Final

Chile:
Finished second in Group H behind pretournament favourites Spain. Their reward, a Second Round tie against Brazil. Valiant fighting spirit, and a clever formation that adapts depending on attack or defence from a 3-3-1-3 to a 4-2-3-1, clever, but requires a lot of discipline and great communication, one man not doing his job can present an exploitable opportunity for the opposition. Chile may also live to regret their overly aggressive approach which sees them missing a few players for the next match. Greatly impressive this far and could pose Brazil a problem, but you have to think Brazil can put them away. Don’t put all your money on it though!
Players to watch:
No real gem’s from what little I have seen so far, but a well drilled, strong and determined group that won’t be a walk over in Round 2.
Prediction: Round of 16.

England:
Having made a complete horlicks of Group C, dubbed ‘EASY’ by the English media, the England team progress as Runner’s Up in Group C and will face a familiar foe in Germany. Fabio Capello, although no one can argue with his managerial record, just doesn’t seem to be able to get the best from his players as he has done throughout qualification. Lampard has been invisible in an England shirt and Rooney looks a shadow of the player that turns up for Manchester United in the Premier League every weekend. Having finished as Runner’s Up in Group C route to the final looks a near impossible task and I fear we shall see the England team on a plane home before too long.
Players to watch:
David James, has come in to replace Rob Green after his opening match howler against the USA and has done a solid job as a World Cup debutant. However you can’t take your eyes off him as ‘Calamity James’ could just do a Rob Green (or Scott Carson if you prefer) himself!
Gareth Barry performed admirably against Slovenia and could be the key to keeping a clean sheet against Germany.
James Milner, Joe Cole, as John Terry himself said, Joe Cole has that ability to unlock a defence, even though Capello doesn’t seem to agree. James Milner demonstrated his ability to do a similar job with some stunning crosses against Slovenia
Wayne Rooney, you have to watch him, whether he scores a blinding winner, creates the opening, or, more likely, gets sent of against Germany, you just cant take your eyes off this guy!
Prediction: Round of 16

Germany:
Winner’s of Group D, no one is quite sure what to make of the German side this time round. A good performance in their opening match against an Australian side, followed up with a loss to Serbia and an edgy 1-0 win against Ghana. You can’t help but feel a sense of inevitability for the up coming match against England, 0-0 or 1-1 followed by Extra Time and then a ruthless dispatching of penalties by the German efficiency machine. How far will they go? My guess not much further, Quarter Final exit i think.
Players to watch:
Mesut Ozil, an exciting young prospect who has already put himself in the shop window this summer, also scored the winning goal against Ghana in the final Group match. Brace yourselves Werder Bremen for some big money bids once the tournament is over!
Miroslav Klosse, probably his last horar for the nation team. However his goal scoring record at World Cup’s has now reached 11 after his opening match goal in the 4-0 victory over Australia. He will have eyes on Ronaldo’s record of 15 but to break that you would think Germany need to progress to at least the Semi-Final. Still one to watch!
Prediction: Quarter Final

Ghana:
Runner’s Up to the German’s in Group D, will face the USA in the next round. The only African nation to make it into Round 2, I’m sure the entire nation will be behind the team and that could just make the difference and see them past America and into the Quarter Final’s, I for one hope so, but have to admit it’s a tough match to call and either team could progress.
Player to watch:
Kevin-Prince Boateng, having changed allegiance from Germany to Ghana as recently as June, just in time for the competition, he has since shown himself to be Ghana’s stand out player with decent performance’s against Australia and Germany.
Prediction: Round of 16

Japan:
Wins against Cameroon and Denmark see the Japanese progress into Round 2 as Group E Runner’s Up behind the Netherlands. Well drilled and disciplined, difficult to break down, but unfortunately lacking in attack. A 3-0 score line against Denmark may suggest otherwise and will give the side great confidence for their second round clash with Paraguay. Japan could progress as far as the Quarter Final’s, the Paraguay game should be close.
Player to watch:
Having not seen many of the Japan matches this has been a toughie. Sorry.
Keisuke Honda: Struck a sweet free kick against Denmark and was unselfish to provide his teams 3rd goal.
Prediction: Quarter Final

Mexico:
Runner’s Up in Group A, would not have been a sure bet at the start of the competition with the host nation, South Africa (host’s never having failed to progress from the group stage before now), 2006 Finalist’s France and Uruguay sharing the Group, but thanks to French self destruction and some quality passing football Mexico have already done themselves proud. Having their efforts rewarded with a second round tie against a free flowing, talent filled side like Argentina will feel like a kick in the stomach, but as they say ‘you have to beat the best at some stage to win’ why not in round 2? Sadly it’s likely that the Mexico team will be headed home pretty soon.
Players to watch:
Giovanni dos Santos & Carlos Vela, both players for the future more than this tournament, but with the innocence of youth and no fear of anyone they both have the potential to be a match winner. However, lacking in experience also say’s they will spurn their fair share of good opportunities.
Prediction: Round of 16

Netherlands:
Group E Winner’s with 9 points from 3 games, a Dutch side playing a new brand of ‘total football’. Wins against Japan, Denmark and Cameroon, not the toughest of opponents, but you can only beat what is put in front of you. The team can now look forward to an encounter with giant killer’s Slovakia. Should be an easy dispatch job for the Dutch and i see them going far in the competition.
Players to watch:
Arjen Robben, top quality player and now back from injury ready for the Second Round. Awesome for his club this season, at the heart of all their success, if he can emulate this form for his country he will definitely be worth a watch.
Wesley Sneijder, Pulling the strings in the middle of the park and putting a shift in defensively at times. Hasn’t really clicked yet in the tournament but its only a matter of time.
Prediction: Winner’s

Paraguay:
Winning Group F gives a deceptive portrayal of this side’s capabilities; with Italy failing to turn up the Group looks poor at best. A second round draw against Japan offers them one of their best chances for progression; however with the Japanese organisation and determination the match could prove to be too much. A moment of genius from one of Paraguay’s better players could see them through as far as the Quarter Finals.
Player to watch:
Roque Santa Cruz, Lack of game time for Manchester City but still a stand out player for the Paraguay national team.
Prediction: Round of 16

Portugal:
Through the ‘Group of Death’, Group G as Runner’s Up thanks to racking up a 7-0 victory against Korea DPR, taking 5 points with 0-0 draws against Côte d’Ivoire and Brazil, must be feeling pretty confident defensively having not conceded a goal in the competition against quality opposition. Just lacking the goals to match, but if you don’t concede the worst you can hope for is penalties and I fancy them to dispatch Spain if it comes to that. Let’s hope for the Brazil (v) Portugal referee to get the Spain (v) Portugal match so the diving doesn’t decide the match.
Player to watch:
Cristiano Ronaldo always a threat with his tricks and free kicks as well as headers, just need to cut out the diving to earn some respect.
Prediction:toughie, I’m going to go with Semi Finalist’s although could be Round of 16

Slovakia:
One of the best games to date in this year’s World Cup saw the Slovakian team defeat the holders, Italy, 3-2 in the final Group F game to send the holders home with their wig’s slightly askew, wishing they had maybe decided to try and win the match against Slovakia a little earlier than the 75th minute. Unfortunately the Slovakia side are rewarded with a second round match up against Holland. Although the victory over Italy will breed confidence, this is another step up in class for Slovakia and probably one too far. Brilliant performance to make it through the group.
Players to watch:
Marek Hamsik, Solid and creative in the middle.
Robert Vittek, Tall target man with the ability to finish against the best, calm in front of goal, will need to perform against Holland if his team are to have any chance.
Prediction: Round of 16

Continued in Part 2.

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Baz1057: The Round of 16 part 2

Written by Baz1057.

The final part of this article

South Korea:
Taking second place in Group B behind a formidable Argentina side, South Korea are to face Group A winner’s Uruguay in Round 2. Not exactly shy of goals having scored 5 in the group stage, hard working and well organised like many of the teams that have made it to the second round, not sure this will be enough to see them past Uruguay, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make it in to the Quarter Final’s.
Players to watch:
Ji-Sung Park, having not seen much of the South Korea matches, I have to go for the obvious in the committed and determined Park, viewed by Alex Ferguson as good enough to play regularly for the Manchester United team, that is good enough for me.
Prediction: Round of 16

Spain:
Got off to a bad start against Switzerland in Group H, but in truth they controlled the match from start o finish. Recovered nicely to finish at the top of the Group. With the wealth of talent at their disposal and recent results they rightly enter this World Cup as favourites, but with the Spanish reputation for bottling their chances to win trophies you can’t help but feel there is a possibility of this happening again. With the quality of sides now remaining any mistake could mean a flight home as we reach the knock out stage. Personally I think the Spanish side play a little too narrow and against one of the better defensive sides in the competition like Germany they may struggle to create the required opening. I’m predicting the Portugal clash to be a toughie and one that is too close to call really, but I have gone for the Portuguese, in truth it could go either way.
Players to watch:
Sergio Ramos, the attacking full back has already shown what he can do when allowed to get forward. Unlikely to have such free reign in any of the remaining games, but he will still get forward when possible.
Xavi, Andreas Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, a dream midfield, although there aren’t enough positions on the pitch to play them all at once, it’s nice to have the extra cover in case of injury, suspension or purely just to throw something that little bit different at your opponent.
David Villa & Fernando Torres two of the best forwards in world football, both can change a game on their own, but with the service provided from midfield, they’re bound to get a couple of golden opportunities in a game.
Prediction: Round of 16, again a toughie due to the Portugal clash, could make the Semi’s.

Uruguay:
Winner’s of Group A, face an organised South Korea side in the second round. A draw in their first game against France doesn’t look like such a good result since the French self destruction and revelations of the apparent problems within the camp, but that doesn’t detract from the performance or the two wins Uruguay clocked up in their group. Breaking down the South Korean team won’t be easy and they are going to need some creativity from Forlan to ensure they progress, but I fancy them to progress.
Player to watch:
Diego Forlan has shown why Manchester United bought him, even if he could not perform in the Premiership, his time in Spain at both Villarreal and Athletico Madrid has seen him finish as top goal scorer in La Liga twice, this season he finished with 18 La Liga goals to his name. One to watch for Uruguay.
Prediction: Quarter Final’s

USA:
Finished top of Group C on goal difference, deserved better after having a winning goal against Slovenia disallowed and having fought until the end against Algeria to ensure their progression. The American team as with every sport they partake are well drilled, fit and mentally strong. Sadly this is unlikely to be enough for them to cause any real upsets in this World Cup, as I mentioned for Ghana the match between these two sides could go either way, which ever one progresses will likely fall at the Quarter Final stage. Pele once said that an African nation would win the World Cup by 2010, that looks unlikely even in 2010, I will now stick my neck out and say that the USA will win a football (soccer) World Cup by 20 26 (4 World Cup’s) so don’t let me down America. (For those of you that are wondering, no I am not American, nor do I wish I was)
Players to watch:
Clint Dempsey, Premiership quality can have an effect on any match.
Landon Donovan, American soccer’s golden boy. Showed what it means to play in the World Cup with his performance against Algeria, always give his all for his country.
Prediction: Semi-Finalist’s

Believe it or not, I really tried to keep this short! I guess it just got away from me a little bit. I appreciate my views will likely not match yours but this is how I see it at the moment, although I also realise I will get far more of my predictions wrong than right.
Apologies to fans of the teams I haven’t been able to see much of and know little about, I have done what I can.
If you have made it this far, thank you and I would love to know your thoughts, please leave a comment.

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OrangeStar: Win not enough for valiant Socceroos

Written by OrangeStar.

On Thursday morning, Australian time, the Australian Socceroos lined up for their final Group Stage match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, against the surprise packet from Serbia, who defeated a ten-man German outfit in their last match. With tens of thousands of Australian fans crowding the Nelspruit Stadium, Pim Verbeek’s men knew what was required of them to make it to the Round of 16; a win, and a big one.

The fans did themselves proud again, producing a rousing rendition of “Advance Australia Fair” as the national anthems were sung. With Germany playing Ghana simultaneously, the result of both matches needed to sway Australia’s way if they were to have a chance of progressing to the Round of 16. The opening minutes were a tense period for Australia, with the defence giving away the ball very easily, opening up countless possibilities for a Serbian counter attack, however, fortunately, they were unable to convert their opportunities.

After the frenetic opening stanza, the game settled down, with both sides building attacks slowly, but neither able to make the most of their attacks. Australian defensive pairing Lucas Neill and newcomer Michael Beauchamp both performed admirably on the 202cm Serbian striker Nicola Zigic, cutting off many of the Serbs crosses to him. Mark Schwarzer produced some brilliant reflex saves early in the match to keep Australia in the tie.

The Serbians dominated the possession for most of the opening half, and despite a few good chances on goal for the Socceroos in the first half, the Serbian back four remained strong. Serbia, on the other hand, ripped the Australian defence apart with their long, diagonal balls out of defence, opening up the runners on the far side of the pitch. Thankfully, Schwarzer was able to provide cover. The best chance of the half came for the Australians late in the half, where Kennedy and Cahill both had shots on target, but the Serbian defenders managed to clear the ball for a corner. The Uruguayan referee, Jorge Larrionda, became a little pedantic towards the end of the half, calling a lot of soft fouls against the Australians. The score at the break was 0-0; the same score as the match between Germany and Ghana.

The second half started as tentatively as the first half finished, however, it was obvious the Socceroos were trying to take the initiative. With the ball becoming bogged down in midfield, and referee Larrionda calling some very soft fouls against Australia, they struggled to find any attacking opportunities. In the other Group D match, Germany found the break they were looking for, when Mesut Ozil scored the 1-0 goal against Ghana. Unfortunately for Australia, the Germans decided not to put on a clinical demolition of the Ghanaians, but instead pulled back to conserve their lead, and their spot in the last sixteen.

Serbia made their first substitution just minutes later, with attacking winger Milos Krasic substituted for Zoran Tosic. Pim Verbeek countered with a double substitution of his own in the 66th minute, bringing Scott Chipperfield and Brett Holman in to replace Mark Bresciano and Carl Valeri, before the Serbs brought on Marko Pantelic for their striker, Zigic. Pim Verbeek’s substitutions proved to be a touch of brilliance, when Scott Chipperfield sent in an early cross to the top of the penalty area. Tim Cahill, out to redeem himself after his red card against Germany, rose to meet the ball, and put away the opening goal for Australia, before popping over to the corner flag for a bout of shadow boxing; the talismanic midfielders trademark celebration.

Barely four minutes later, Australia managed to take the ball from the Serbians in the middle of the park, and Brett Holman ran onto the through pass. Taking the ball into attack, Holman was given way too much time on the ball by the Serbian defenders, and, with the wicked Jabulani ball at his disposal, launched a venomous right-footed strike from at least thirty metres out that just edged past the Serbian keeper, Stojkovic, making it 2-0 for Australia. With the fans going crazy, the Socceroos pressed hard for another goal, but were unable to find it, despite having some good opportunities.

The Serbian attack had been quiet since the substitution of Krasic, who proved problematic for David Carney throughout the opening forty-five. However, in the final ten minutes of the match, Tosic and Pantelic proved a handful for the Socceroos defence, as Serbia pressed hard to get back in the game. Pantelic was thwarted by the offside trap once, before a wicked long range shot was fumbled by Schwarzer in the 84th minute, and Pantelic was the first one to the rebound, placing the ball past the Australian’s flailing legs, and into the back of the net for 1-2. Barely minutes later, Tosic flung an early cross into the box, which Pantelic rose to meet, and headed the ball past Schwarzer, and into the back of the net. However, his celebration was cut short by the linesman’s flag, replays showed he was a good half-metre offside when the ball was played.

With Germany defending their lead, and the Serbs charging hard, it was all the Socceroos could do to hold their slender lead through the remaining minutes, but they managed to secure a 2-1 win. Unfortunately, tied on points with Ghana, Australia’s goal difference was too poor to secure progression to the Round of 16. Serbia, with three points, finished at the bottom of the group, while the Germans and Ghanaians will progress to the next round. The group standings set up some scintillating matches in the Round of 16; with Germany meeting England (who finished second in Group C), and Ghana meeting the USA (who scrambled to top after a last gasp 1-0 win against Algeria).

The Good:
Tim Cahill’s shadow boxing with the corner flag; who doesn’t love it? Also, Brett Holman’s second goal in two games was a sight to behold.

The Bad:
Australia have failed to qualify for the last sixteen, despite doing everything in their power, the results just didn’t fall their way.

The Ugly:
Unfortunately, the way some of the Serbian players reacted towards the referee after the match has finished was not in the spirit of fair play. Although *SERB PLAYER* didn’t agree with his second goal being cancelled out, replay’s showed he was in an offside position.

The Last Gasp:
Australia, a team who, before the match with Serbia had played more football with ten men than eleven, fought valiantly to try and secure their progress to the Round of 16. With their hearts on their sleeves, Pim Verbeek’s green and gold warriors fought to the very last, but, in the end, it was their crushing defeat to the German’s that was to be their end. There’s no point asking “what-ifs”; Australia repeated their performance from the 2006 World Cup in Germany (1 win, 1 draw, 1 loss), but this time it just wasn’t enough. They may have been eliminated, but they were by no means disgraced. The Socceroos, and Australian soccer fans should be proud of the results the side has achieved against Ghana and Serbia; and not overly disappointed with our exit from the World Cup. Bring on Brazil, 2014!

Next Time:The Round of 16: Part 1! Stay tuned!

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SanteriK: Great football

Kamerun and Denmark played yesterday a great match, which was entertaining and included some goals too. The game was exactly what we have been waiting for, right?

Kamerun vs Denmark. Denmark won 2-1, after an entertaining game. Both teams made counter attacks, the game went from side to side, goalies made great saves, and players showed some individual skill. Although it wasn’t the best game tactically, it entertained us. Players made mistakes, and that’s why both teams had chances to attack and play fast.

After their first games we did expected that the game would be boring (like nearly all the games so far). But this was the best game on this WC. After Denmarks first game most people thought that they will have only 1-2 shots, and they would had concentrated on defending. Bulls*it, I say. Their attacks were good, they had an idea, and they were worth watching, too. Kamerun wasn’t that bad either, and especially Eto’o was good.

It’s quite a pity that Kamerun lost their chance already. It would have been great to see them playing in the future. I don’t believe in Denmarks chances either. It would be lucky if they would clear through from the group, but after that they don’t stand a chance. Every game will be extra. And this WC is not going to be a place for these active attacking teams. It will be a triumph for the best defending and tactically playing teams. I hope we will see as entertaining matches as this was, but I think that there won’t be many. At least not before the final.

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