Archive for Spain

Sagarcia: The Spanish Dream

Since Argentina´78, Spain had been present in all the FIFA World Cups and in all these tournaments, the Spanish people were very optimitistic and they thought that Spain could win the Cup, but, when the competition started, they realized that Spain wasn´t good enough for winning powerful teams as Germany, Italy, Brazil or Argentina.

Nowadays, the history has changed thanks to the brilliant victory in the last Eurocup (Austria – Switzerland 2008). Actually, the most important bet homes like Bwin, Ladbrokes or WilliamsHill, site Spain like the better option, overtaken teams like Brazil, Argentina, England, Netherlands, Germany, Italy or France.

“Spain is favourite to win the World Cup.” This has been the most repeated slogan from Spanish fans, as the beginning of the World Cup approached. The media encouraged supporters that that time it was possible to dream. Great illusions that vanished to wake from dream.

However, “La Roja” has combined great performances with other disappointing appearances. In Argentina’78 be defeated in group stage, was a disappointment, although it was known that there was no guarantee team because it was thought to reach further. Due to the disappointing competition, the World Cup held in Spain in 1982 sparked optimism because we played at home. Nothing further from the truth. Spain went through many hardships and occasional support rom the referees in the first phase (tie against Honduras because of a dubious penalty, 2-1 victory over Yugoslavia and defeat against Northern Ireland 1-0).
In the second phase, Spain was drawn in a group with West Germany and England. Following the 2-1 defeat by West Germany and the tie between German and English, took place the transcendental match (Spain-England), in which both teams needed a 2-0 to advance to the next phase. Fear could with them and signed a disappointing goalless draw that left both out of the World Cup. Millions of Spanish supporters waked from the dream and surrendered to the evidence.

After the disappointment of Naranjito´s World Cup (the only World Cup mascot that has been a vegetable), was Mexico `86. Spain had managed to assemble a powerful team that two years before had been runner-up in Europe in Francia’84. It began with defeat against Brazil by 0-1, but the feeling that left Spain in that game was exceptional and only the annulment of a legal goal of Michel deprived Spain of a better result.
Far from being intimidated, the “La Furia Roja” took out the anger, and retaliated to Northern Ireland 2-1, and certified his move to the next round with an emphatic 3-0 win over Algeria. People believe in the Spanish team again and although Denmark had made an immaculate group stage (winning all three games) “La Furia Roja ” ate the Danes. Denmark was ahead on the scoreboard at 33´ but Butragueño, shortly before the break, managed to tie the game. In the second half Spain endorsed a final 5-1 in one of the best games that is remembered. In addition, Butragueño passed into history to achieve four goals in the same game.

Given the exceptional result and the game unfolded, rivals such as Argentina and Germany refused to see even a painting of Spain, but it was here where in México’86, where began to take shape “the curse of the quarterfinals”. The next opponent was Begium. 90 minutes ended with a tie, and also the overtime. Pebalty kicks were needed. The Belgian goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff, stopped the penalty kick of the Spanish player Eloy Olaya. The dream vanished and began the curse of the quaterfinals.

At Italy `90, the World Cup tournament returned to Europe and Spain had a good team, but not enough to think that was the favourite. But the Spanish public kept their hopes intact after the first stage due to the inaugural tie zero goals against Uruguay, 3-1 victory over South Korea (with hat-trick of Michel), and the sweet revenge for 2 -1 against Belgium, leaving “La Selección” as group winner. In the second round Yugoslavia was the rival, and after a very evenly balanced match, in the final minutes the Balkans were ahead in the 78th minute, but Julito Salinas could draw in 83´. It was the overtime, in the initial instants, when Stojkovic’s masterfully free-throw stuck in Spanish hearts. The illusions of Spain died with the overtime.

In USA `94, and after the disappointment of not being in the Sweden´92 Eurocup, Spain began with a group stage tie against South Korea in February after wasting a comfortably 2-0. The pessimism gripped the fans. The match against the current champion (Germany), was a good game and the final draw was quite good. Spain certified his move to second round with a 3-1 win against Bolivia. In the second round, Switzerland was waiting, and once learned the lesson of Italy´90, “La Roja” jumped convinced to the field, and removed the Swiss watch with three goals. Again the quarterfinals, against Italy, a team which suffer hardship in the first group stage. The match was dominated by Spain, but the Italians went ahead with a D. Baggio great goal in one of the few approaches to the Spanish area. In the second part, Spain managed to tie with a goal by Caminero, and when the Spanish team was the haunting the Italian area, Roberto Baggio beat us on the counterattack. Minutes earlier, Salinas, just in front of the Italian goalkeeper, could have changed history, but the curse of the quarterfinals was present, especially when in the final minutes of the match, the referee did not see a very clear penalty of Tassoti to Luis Enrique, who struck an elbow which left him with a broken nose and bleeding. Spain left the World Cup with an image that left bloody sequels.

In 1998, the World Cup was held in the neighbouring country, France, and had high hopes due to the closeness and a desire to prove to everyone that Spain came out of the last World Cup unfairly. It began with a painful 3-2 defeat against Nigeria, with an own-goal of the goalkeeper Zubizarreta, and in the second game, “The Red” was not able to penetrate the goal of the paraguayan Chilavert. In the day 3, Spain steamrolled Bulgaria 6-1, but Paraguay beat 3-1Nigeria. Spain was eliminated from the World Cup in the first round. This is one of the biggest disappointment in many years.

After the French World Cup debacle, there was a renewal of the coaching staff and the players, and a combative Jose Antonio Camacho gave to the Spanish team their innate claw and “La Roja” became a very combative team. Spain won all three games of the first phase (3-1 against Slovenia, also 3-1 against Paraguay and 3-2 to South Africa). In the next round, Ireland awaited and although Morientes ahead Spain in the early minutes, in the final minutes a penalty allowed the Irish to take the match into overtime. We had to decide the pass with the penalty kicks, where Mendieta took third kick against the only 2 goals of the Irish. Spain again in the quarterfinals.

The surprising rival was South Korea, which took Italy apart with a lot of controversy (thus avoiding the Spain-Italy expected by many people). The referees had clearly favoured the host team and began to prowl the doubts of arbitral justice. Unfortunately, the omens were fulfilled, and the Egyptian referee Al-Ghandour and his linemen deprived of at least two illustrious Spanish goals. The match ended with 0-0, like the overtime and the fate of the penaltys gave back again to Spain. Joaquín missed the final penalty leaving without semifinals to a team that deserved them “The Curse of the quaterfinals” serving again his cruel presence.

The World Cup Alemania’06 started very well for the Spanish team, with an emphatic 4-0 victory against Ukraine, causing euphoria displayed by the great game. Suffering subsequently, Spain won in the last minutes toTunisia (3-1), and defeated Saudi Arabia in the last match of the first phase (1-0), although Spain was already classified. In the second round we faced France (who had been second of group), and even though Spain was ahead in the scoring through a penalty converted by Villa, France equalized just before the breaktime via Ribéry. The second half was very even, but with the passage of minutes the French midfielders were winning to the Spanish, but without specifying the chances. After a free-kick (which did not exist, since Henry was the one who intentionally collided with Puyol), Vieira became 2-1. In extratime, Zidane put the lace off with the final 3-1. Spain returned home even before reaching the quarterfinals.

As we can see, the performances of Spain in the last World Cup, has interspersed great performances (México’86, USA’94, Korea-Japan ’02), with major disappointments (Italia’90, Francia’98, Alemania’06), so logic says that this year “La Roja” will play a great performance especially as Spain has succeeded in breaking the curse of the quarter-finals and penaltys, thanks to the title won last Euro 2008. This new talented generation of Spanish players, no longer afraid of the quarterfinals are born winners and they are today, not only the best selection according to the FIFA ranking, but also the favorite for many.

With a goal more than safe with Casillas (for many football experts the best goalkeeper in the world), a defence of guarantees with Puyol, Piqué, Arbeloa, Capdevila, some midfielders envied by many selections such as Xavi, Silva, Xabi Alonso, Iniesta, Cesc and a devastating forward with Torres and Villa, Spain has, according to experts, the best “Selección” which reminds anyone in many, many years. In addition, players are aware of their possibilities, and have in mind that there need also be lucky at specific moments to be World Cup champion, and that no match will be easy, and must be maintained at 100% concentration. Aptitude and attitude necessary for a champion team.

For the first time in history, “La Roja” is a favourite outside our borders and this is reflected in the world betting, due to the fact that the favourite for winning this World Cup is for many bet homes, Spain, ahead Brazil, Argentina and England.

This time, more than ever, THE SPANISH DREAM IS POSSIBLE!

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Sagarcia: Group H Review

World Cup Group H consists of Spain, Chile, Honduras and Switzerland. Marked Hispanic accent group, which will close the first day of World Cup group stage. When Spain and Switzerland played their first World Cup match (Wednesday, 16 June, 16h CET), we will have seen in action the 32 participants. Who will qualify to next round?

Let´s take a look to the four teams of the last group of this World Cup:

SPAIN
Spain is the top seed of the group and currently holds first place in the FIFA ranking, and is the favourite team to pass, not only as group winners, but to be at the end of next July 11. For the first time in its history, “La Roja” is favourite to win the World Cup and this is demonstrated by the most important global bets.

FIFA Ranking: 2nd

PLAYERS

Goalkeepers
Casillas
Reina
Valdés

Defenders
Sergio Ramos
Puyol
Piqué
Albiol
Marchena
Arbeloa
Capdevila

Midfielders
Xavi
Xabi Alonso
Iniesta
Cesc Fábregas
Busquets
Silva
Mata
Navas
Javi Martínez

Forwards
Villa
Torres
Pedro
Llorente

Coach: Del Bosque

Usual Team

Casillas – Ramos, Piqué, Puyol, Capdevila – Xabi Alonso, Busquets (Cesc), Xavi, Silva (Iniesta)- Villa, Torres

CHILE
Chile is called to be second in the group with the permission of Switzerland and Honduras. She placed second in the group qualifying round, only behind Brazil. It could be one of the surprises of the tournament.

FIFA Ranking: 15th

PLAYERS

Goalkeepers
Bravo
Marín
Pinto

Defenders
Ponce
Vidal
Jara
Fuentes
Medel
Isla
Contreras

Midfielders
Carmona
Millar
Valdivia
M.Fernández
Beausejour
Estrada
Fierro
Tello
Paredes

Forwards
Alexis Sánchez
Mark González
Orellana
Suazo

Coach: Bielsa

Usual Team
Bravo – Medel, Ponce, Jara – Vidal, Carmona, Beausejour – A.Sánchez, M.Fernández, Mark González – Suazo

SWITZERLAND
Second European team of the group H. After the disappointing performance in the last European Championship, which was co-hosted by Switzerland, the Alpine country would like to make a great role in this World Cup, and certainly, his German coach Hitzfeld, would have arranged the Swiss watch parts to make it work to perfection.

FIFA Ranking: 26th

PLAYERS

Goalkeepers
Benaglio
Wölfli
Leoni

Defenders
Senderos
Magnin
von Bergen
Ziegler
Grichting
Eggiman
Lichsteiner

Midfielders
Inler
Fernandes
Padalino
Barnetta
Shaquiri
Schwegler
Behrami
Huggel
Yakin

Forwards
Frei
N´Kufo
Bunjaku
Derdiyck

Coach: Hitzfeld

Usual Team
Benaglio – Lichsteiner, Grichting, Senderos, Magnin- Behrami, Huggel, Inler, Barnetta – Frei, N´Kufo

HONDURAS
A priori, is the Cinderella of the group, but Honduras is in the final round of this World Cup due to his great qualifying round (third at CONCACAF behind USA and México) All Hondurans are very excited, because since España’82, they are not present at the World Cup finals (South Africa 2010 is the second time in his history). Illusion against nerves!

FIFA Ranking: 38th

PLAYERS

Goalkeepers
Valladares
Escober
Canales

Defenders
Chávez
García
Sabillón
J.Palacios
Izaguirre
Mendoza
Figueroa

Midfielders
Thomas
Guevara
Bernárdez
Turcio
Espinosa
W.Palacios
Álvarez
León
Núñez

Forwards
Welcome
Pavón
Martínez
Suazo

Coach: Rueda

Usual Team
Valladares – Sabillón, Chávez, Izaguirre, Figueroa- Guevara, Palacios, Turcio, Núñez- Pavón, Suazo

Here is the schedule for Group H:

Matches 1st Day (Wed 16 June)
13.30h CET: Honduras – Chile
16.00h CET: Spain- Switzerland

Matches 2nd Day (Mon 21 June)
16.00 CET: Chile – Switzerland
20.30 CET: Spain – Honduras

Matches 3rd Day (Fri 25 June)
20.30 CET: Honduras – Switzerland
20.30 CET: Chile – España

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TezukaKunimitsu: My Dark Horses

Written by TezukaKunimitsu

My 3 most underrated teams and 3 players that should go from “who is that guy?” to “i want him on my team”.

Teams

Serbia
The Eastern European side was last seen in the 2006 World Cup accompanied by Montenegro. The team that will delight soccer aficionados in South Africa is probably more competitive this time around, even though, ironically enough, they have a shallower talent pool to take advantage of.
Coach Radomir Antic manages a national side that’s both technically gifted and tactically aware.
Antic was widely regarded as one of the best coaches in Europe in the 90′s, being the only coach ever to manage the three best teams in Spain. Probably for that reason, some people will not be surprised to see a Serbian squad that’s always trying to move the ball in the middle, even if the best players “Rado” has at his disposal are probably defenders. Without Sevilla stopper Dragutinovic, the central defense will probably be filled with premier league quality players. Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic will have the perfect opportunity to prove that he can lead an underdog, and therefore, prove that he really belongs in the “best central defender in the world” conversation.
The middle will be key for Serbia if they want to be first in group d, and avoid a possible match-up with England in the following round. With a good mix of experienced players like Jovanovic or the eternal Dejan Stankovic and newcomers, like incredibly talented wing player Milos Krasic and solid midfielder Zdravko Kuzmanovic, the central line will be the most reliable way to measure their real World Cup potential.
The front line is where this team can shine as a versatile roster. With lots of possible styles at his disposal, Antic can choose to give the bulk of minutes to giant (2.02 meters) Nikola Zigic, which would force opposing defenses to crowd the big man, creating space for the talented Serbian wingers to attack on goal or, if the game goes south, Pantelic and Lazovic guarantee the Serbians a couple of strong goal-scorers that won’t hesitate to press the opponent’s defensive line till the final whistle.

With Germany in its current state regarding injuries, i think Serbia will be at the top of group d when it’s all said and done, and for that reason, barring any unforeseen British meltdown during group qualification, they’ll face a second seed of group c that won’t be exactly unbeatable.

Uruguay
Uruguay is probably the only team with world cup trophies on their shelves that’s always favored to be out in the group stages. You can’t really blame people for picking on this underachieving team that hasn’t really shown doubters the error of their ways. After all, they did miss 3 of the past 4 editions of the tournament and they even had to win a playoff against Costa Rica, to qualify for this one. For that reason, i can’t think of a better place than southern-hemisphere friendly South Africa, to change some opinions in the football world regarding the “Celestes”.
Their hopes and those of the fans who believe in them, lay on something nobody else in their group possesses: Elite scorers in their prime. They have not one, but two of the best in Europe coming off of amazing seasons.
This tournament is full of great strikers, and some national teams like Brazil or Spain do have multiple first-class players up front. What separates them from other great striker duos in this tournament like Torres-Villa, or Nilmar-Fabiano, is that both Uruguayan forwards play better together than they do on their own.
Two-time European golden-boot winner Diego Forlan can create space from anywhere up front, can shoot with either leg and can finish against any goalkeeper in the world. The fact that he already took an underachieving team to an improbable international trophy scoring all the crucial goals this season, is not exactly hurting my argument either.
On the other hand you have Luis Suarez, a guy that would be this years golden boot if not because he plays on a b-level league in Europe and his goals have less value than Messi’s. The Argentinean scored less goals for Barcelona as the main player than Suarez did as a backup for Ajax.
I believe great players win games in the world cup, they probably can’t win the trophy by themselves, but they can get you to the knockout stages more often than not
It’s true that the Uruguayans weren’t the most impressive defensive squad during qualifying, but with fast-growing central defenders Caceres and Godin playing in top squads in some of the best leagues in Europe, you can be sure they won’t be frightened by facing world-class attackers.
Where Oscar Tabarez real troubles lie is in midfield. After all, there is no need for great strikers if you can´t feed them the ball, and no matter how many promising defenders you have, if you can’t protect them, they will start to lose confidence.
The inventive Cristian Lodeiro will try to provide the magic in that midfield, while Villarreal starter Eguren will provide the defensive balance and space that the young Lodeiro needs to create chances on offense, without having to chase people around on defense.

France has been struggling for the past 2 years, getting into the final stage with no shortage of controversy.
Mexico is a young team with a capable coach that can struggle to play their best against the host on the opening game, and South Africa is a team that could have surprised Uruguay a couple of years ago, but everyone knows what they’re capable of in this tournament, and unless there is a refereeing scandal to favour the African host, they shouldn’t be able to advance due to a lack of general talent.
It could be the perfect storm for the “Charruas” if they were to get away with a surprising group A lead. That, would make people in the football world notice them once again. There is no doubt they can be in a enviable position to do so, but for that to happen, they will need a win against the, historically slow-starting, french squad on opening day.

Chile
One of the most surprising sides in the past year, this Chilean roster has an incredible array of skilled players, that can be the talk of the tournament, if they can get enough momentum to beat the Brazilian squad.
To understand this squad you have to start with the guy on the sidelines. Marcelo Bielsa is one of the best Argentinean coaches to appear in the international scene in the past couple of decades. Widely regarded for his knowledge of the game and its particular approach towards his players (for example, he won’t allow interviews and will limit social networks during the tournament), Bielsa seems to have found the perfect team to practice his offensive-minded brand of football. Both main goalkeepers, Bravo and Tosselli have gained confidence to match their innate skills in the past 3 years and now can be counted on to, not only solidify an otherwise weak Chilean defense, but also shine for their own merits.
Chile’s back line is primarily composed by technically valuable players that fail to perform as top level defenders. Players like Medel or Waldo Ponce will face trouble to take the ball to their midfielders when pressured, but if left open they can join the attacking lines and it shouldn’t surprise anyone, if they score a decent amount of goals on set pieces.
The midfield will probably be centered around Matias “matigol” Fernández. After a couple of below average seasons in Spain, he has found its place in Portugal. Playing for a fast-paced Sporting Lisbon, where he has the freedom to create for the strikers, while using it’s goal scoring abilities to keep defenses honest, he has silenced some of the voices that thought he couldn’t play at the European level.
Up front this team will, more often than not, surprise unprepared opponents. The speed of Mark Gonzalez and the natural scoring ability of Humberto “chupete” Suazo (whose injuries make him doubtful to start the tournament), will prove to be lethal against any team that doesn’t pay enough attention to defensive assignments.

The good news is that, if Spain wins the first two games, they will probably use their B-team against Chile. The bad news is that both Spain and Switzerland are capable of exploiting their weak defensive line, and have enough first-level defenders to keep Suazo on check.
What’s worse, even if they get the second place in group h, (which would be a huge success for a country that didn’t play more than one world cup since 1982), they are doomed to face a potent Brazilian squad on the round of sixteen.

Players

Marek Hamsik
Unknown to the average World Cup fan, Hamsik is waiting for this tournament to prove himself as a top quality midfielder in the football universe.
The Napoli player has been creating goals for himself and his teammates for the better part of the last two years, but not many people seemed to have taken notice, at least, not till now.
His long body and pacy sprint reminds many people of a young Kaká, while others, like to compare its powerful mid-range shot and wide-area of play in the left side of the field to the likes of Pavel Nedved.
It doesn’t matter who you prefer, the reality of its game speaks for itself, and he seems ready at age 23, to carry Slovakia to the second place of its group.
Sometimes seen as fragile, he doesn’t shy away from contact and boasts enviable stamina, which allows him to cover great amounts of space both on offense and defense. On the downside, it’s fiery attitude and active approach to the game can make him a liability in big games, where it’s not impossible for him to be thrown out because of his temper.

David Silva
He has the skill to be incisive on either wing to gain the baseline and lash out dangerous crosses, and the vision to make the last pass playing behind a sole striker.
He is probably overshadowed by the likes of Xavi and Iniesta, but he plays at their level on a worse team and he can’t really count on other talented midfielders, like the previous two can.
It’s speed and passing ability is second to none, and it will prove to be indispensable for Vicente del Bosque’s side, if they are to make a run to the final.
It will be difficult for him to shine on that talented squad by himself, but of the incredible array of midfielders that Spain boasts, he is the one with more chances to score a lot of goals if the coach opts to play 4-1-4-1 with the likes of Iniesta, Xavi and Cesc feeding him the ball, and forwards Fernando Torres and David Villa creating space up front.

Jose Torres
Probably the player with more chances to start on the bench of the three, but also the one that can change its team the most from a style standpoint.
Coach Bob Bradley will do himself a huge favor if he deploys the young Mexican-native in the USA’s midfield. Torres is the only player on its squad that can break opposing lines without running; he can control the tempo of the game, and destroy lines with accurate short passing. Probably not a great defender (like its main competition: Ricardo Clark), and obviously lacking the European experience of Clint Dempsey, he seems like the kind of player, that could take the counterattacking American side to an advantageous position, where they can protect their shaky defensive line by keeping the ball for long stretches.
Torres will be an especially important piece, to change the game-style against defensive oriented teams like Slovenia and Algeria, teams that will not hesitate a moment to crowd the likes of Landon Donovan and Jozy Altidore with two 4-man lines, making the pace of the game much more suited for Torres’ quick passing style.
With three of four of the fastest attackers in the tournament, the Americans lack a first class passer that feeds them the ball. Torres can get there, but he will need all the time and confidence its coach can give him.

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