Two Touch: Random World Cup Musings
Brief observations thus far through the first 11 days of the tournament:
1.) Home continent advantage has been all but non-existent.
Africa has five teams in the tournament and through two games played by everyone, only Ghana looks likely to advance to the knockout round. Too many last-minute coaching changes combined with the most talented team, Ivory Coast, having been placed in the toughest group has led to major disappointment.
Italy’s age is well chronicled and they look to be in trouble. I don’t know if England’s coach, Fabio Capello, has introduced his players to one another. Germany and Spain dropped opening games through their first two after failing multiple times in front of goal. Portugal got outplayed by Ivory Coast but salvaged a draw. But it could be worse for all these teams. They could be France.
3.) There seems to be a Southern Hemisphere advantage.
Of all the groupings, South America clearly looks to be the strongest and most consistent. Maybe the trip from northern hemisphere to southern has taken its toll on the aforementioned northern teams, but the trip across the Atlantic has not slowed each team as they all look to be in good position to go through.
4.) We will be in for a fun four days of soccer.
Because of the losses and ties from some of the typical powers- only Argentina, Brazil, and the Netherlands have already qualified for the next round, and only Nigeria, Cameroon, North Korea and Honduras have been mathematically eliminated. So with 25 of the 32 teams still having something to play for, we should be in for some entertaining games!
5.) Don’t sleep on the Dutch.
They may be to only team that has the midfield skill to compete in the ball-control and pressure game of Spain and Brazil. If their defense and goalkeeping remain stout, they could be hoisting the cup in three weeks for the first time and erase the “best team never to win” tag that has been firmly placed on their back and hand that title over to the Spanish.
6.) In Landon we trust.
He has played really well through two games and his matchup against Algerian winger, Nadir Belhajd of Portsmouth, who had a fantastic game against England, could be the difference maker in seeing the United States through to the next round. He could also position himself for a move to one of the bigger clubs in Europe in the off-season, as he had been linked with the likes of Chelsea in previous months.
7.) Will someone eliminate Argentina early so we don’t have to look at the ponytails all tournament?