Two Touch: Random World Cup Musings
Four days into the world’s greatest sporting event and I have re-arranged my sleeping schedule to the detriment of my actual responsibilities. All in the attempt to catch at least a glimpse of each of the World Cup matches played thus far (also DVR helps a ton).
So after four days here some quick thoughts and observations about what we have seen:
Four days into the tournament and I still don’t think anyone has hit the target on a set piece in any real dangerous situations. The ball that was supposed to increase goal totals by wreaking havoc on the goalkeepers (so far so good on that front) has also terrorized field players and led to some dreadful soccer. It looks worse than opening game nerves, but we can only hope that players learn to cope as the tournament progresses.
2.) Poke my Eyes Out Now
Speaking of dreadful soccer, if you woke up at 4:30 a.m. to get a look at the two teams the U.S. still has on their schedule, Algeria vs. Slovenia, you too probably had some mixed emotions. I was thrilled because both teams looked absolutely terrible, and one can only hope they continue with that form for their remaining contests. But on the other hand, I probably could have been more entertained watching 2 hours on the Lifetime Network or 5 a.m. infomercials.
3.) Argentina is Not a Serious Contender
Sure, they have the best player on the planet and didn’t look half bad in their opening contest, but I refuse to take any team serious that has more than one ponytail on the field at a time. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is the reason Ronaldinho was left off of Brazil’s roster. They clearly understand the ponytail-to-player quotient.
4.) So Close to Euphoria
You would expect the host nation to be galvanized by 30 million supporters coming out on fire, but for South Africa it was quite the opposite. To their credit, they withstood the ten minute opening barrage from Mexico, to take a 1-0 lead late into the match, but could only manage a draw. I couldn’t help but think that if Mandela had made it to the stadium that day, if not for the truly tragic loss of his nine-year-old great-granddaughter, South Africa would have found a way to scrape out a victory.
5.) When Did East Asia become a Powerhouse
Now I was more than prepared to get behind South Korea, as their recent form proved them worthy of selection to get out of the group, but I honestly did not expect to see the kind of beat-down they laid on Greece. Even more surprising was Japan, who found a way to stop scoring own-goals in time to defeat Cameroon in impressive fashion.
6.) Germany is still Germany
Germany did what Germany does and that is set the tone early and get out of the group stage. While they have yet to complete the latter, after yesterday’s performance you will be hard pressed to find anyone picking against them. A great mix of veterans and newcomers sets them up nicely for a potential deep run. If the U.S. is greedy, they should play for six more points and a group win, to keep away from the Germans in the Round of 16 and instead set up a potential 2006 rematch with Ghana, who also looked impressive yesterday.
7.) Italy is Old
No surprise here after a draw in their opening match with Paraguay. With New Zealand and Slovakia still to play, Italy will still be favored to get through the group. But don’t look for them to make a run similar to 2006, especially if the injury to GiGi Buffon persists.
I love Tim Howard as much as the next person, but if I hear Alexi Lalas use the phrase, “Tim Howard is one of the best goalies in the world, and he just happens to be American,” one more time I’m going to take up drinking, even if it is 7:30 a.m. when the Americans play their next two games. We get it Lalas, he’s good! We saw the game too. You just sound like a petulant child next to some of the worlds greatest footballers, in Jurgen Klinsmann and Ruud Gullit.
Get ready for Friday Ladies and Gents! Keep your eyes out for the U.S. vs. Slovenia preview here on Not In HD, which will be posted Wednesday.