Sunday, June 11, 2006

World Cup update

It's day three of the World Cup and I've managed to watch every game so far. I don't know how long I'll be able to keep this up, seeing as I have, you know, an actual job, but for the moment it's great.

Things we have learned in the past two days:

  • Currently leading the pack in the World Cup Bad Hair competition is Sweden's Christian Wilhelmsson with his lopsided rattail (reminiscent of New Kids on the Block circa 1989; unfortunately I haven't been able to find a good picture), followed by fauxhawked Bastian Schweinsteiger of Germany and the entire Argentine team.

  • The vampire who refereed the England-Paraguay game really had it in for Peter Crouch, who constantly got fouls called against him for, as far as I could tell, simply being tall and gangly. Maybe the ref just doesn't like the robot dance.

  • Half the Trinidad and Tobago players seem to have their first and last names backward. Poland has the best names so far, though, with players called "Bonk" and "Yop" (I'm probably not spelling those right, but I'm too lazy to look them up).

In my attempt at more serious analysis (ha!):
  • Germany 4-2 Costa Rica: I know Jurgen Klinsmann has been trying to make Germany a more attacking team, but I didn't realize that meant giving them a complete personality transplant. Scoring four goals is great and all, but their back line was so shaky it'd make Newcastle look good by comparison.

  • Poland 0-2 Ecuador: Actually, I fell asleep watching this one. I think it's probably better that way.

  • England 1-0 Paraguay: England, on the other hand, haven't had a personality transplant at all, no matter how much Sven tried to fool us with his squad selection. You know the pattern: Eke out a lead and then hold on like grim death (two words: Owen Hargreaves. Which is not so much "grim death" as "mild case of stomach flu," but anyway). At least they did manage to win withough actually scoring a goal, so that's...good? I guess?

  • Sweden 0-0 Trinidad & Tobago: The upset of the tournament so far (I realize it's only day three, and it was actually a tie, but humour me here). Looking at it as an England fan, this is a great result, but on the other hand, if England play worse when they come up against mediocre opponents (see: England v. Paraguay, among others), then their game against Sweden next week is going to be awful.

  • Argentina 2-1 Cote d'Ivoire: The first game from the group of death (yes, America, it's Group C, not Group E, no matter how much you whine) so I figured it had to be good. The Ivory Coast have a fair bit of talent -- not to mention tons of pace -- but Argentina have even more talent and looked very disciplined. If they keep playing like this, they're going to go far in the tournament. And that'll bug me, because it turns out my dislike for Diego Maradona is even greater than my annoyance with Didier Drogba.

Also, I have to give props (can I even say that, or am I just too white?) to Sportsnet and TSN for their coverage so far. Just look at the TV schedule: that is a thing of beauty. They're airing everything live, and rerunning every game at least once. (And plus there's all the games on the foreign language channels. Yay for Canadian broadcasters.) I haven't been paying a lot of attention to their pre- and post-game coverage, but at least it hasn't made me want to throw things at the TV -- until this morning, when they referred to Arjen Robben as "classy." Perhaps most importantly, they're using the British international feed, rather than ESPN, for their play-by-play commentary, for which I am profoundly grateful. And you should be too, because it means I don't have to rant about it for the next month.

(Speaking of throwing things at my TV, though: those Rogers wireless commercials where they go to Germany and find a "really cool oom-pah-pah band," etc., are on constantly and every time I hate them more. Unlike the Adidas +10 ads, which I could happily watch over and over, and yes I know that makes me a patsy to advertising but I don't care. They make Jermain Defoe play goal!)


brookster said...

I loved the ref for England, he had so much wax on it was unbelievable.

sarah said...

I was supposed to be rooting for Poland but ended up rooting for Ecuador, it was a lot of fun. Well, for those of us who stopped rooting for Poland.

And by falling asleep, you missed the best keeper with face paint to ever play the game.

skribe said...

I do think the yanks have a reason to whine about Group E. They'll be going home early unless they're extremely lucky.

footie girl said...

I agree that the USA is in a tough group -- I just don't think it's quite as tough as Group C.

Jones said...

Wilhelmsson's rat tail is horrible (he and Rafa Marquez should both be reprimanded for ruining their looks with skeezy hair), but did you see the Portugal-Angola game today? One of the Angolan players has the "worst hair" competition nailed down. Head completely shaved except for a fringe of braided bangs. It was a terrible thing to behold.

'when they referred to Arjen Robben as "classy."' I think they meant that he is a high class, ie. top level, player. Which he is. Anyway that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Completely agree on the commercials. I love it when the chunky kid says "Beckenbauer?!" The Rogers one bugs me because apparently these people are too stupid to realize that tickets to the biggest sporting event on the planet might be sold out before the day of.

skribe said...

I think we'll find that the US is thoroughly outclassed by the Italians and the Czechs. In fact I suspect even the Ghanaians will trouble them.

In group C only the Argentinians are the same league as the Italians and Czechs. The Dutch are somewhat overrated, especially if their performances against Australia and SCG are anything to go by. SCG are a second-rate team despite their unbeaten run through the prelims. If they score against anyone but IC it will be miraculous. Ivory Coast are spirited but mostly ineffective - they scored through luck and by slack defending by the Argies.

I would say that E is stronger than C. I certainly expect to see the Italians and Czechs fighting for a place in the final 4 - presuming the unlucky sod gets past Oz that is =). Whereas I expect that only the Argies will be there at the end from C. The Dutch definitely need to show much more than they have in the last few games I've seen of them if they are to have any chance of getting beyond the quarters.

There's also the fact that even if the US get through to the round of 16 they're going to come up against either Oz, Brazil, Japan or Croatia. All four would trouble the US. Whereas Group C is up against either Mexico, Iran, Angola or Portugal. Only Portugal is a sure bet there and I certainly wouldn't put all my money on them.

I'd certainly rather be in C than E. In fact I'd rather be in C than F simply because of the next round draw.

ynba said...

Every time a commentator says the US are in the Group of Death, another kid starts playing American football.

footie girl said...

Scribe - The way I look at Groups C vs. E is like this:

Argentina > Italy
Netherlands = Czech Republic - they're both overrated; thank you, FIFA rankings
Serbia =< USA
Ivory Coast > Ghana

So Group C is tougher than Group E. But it's a close call. I don't think who you have to face in the next round should have anything do to with picking the Group of Death, though.

Jones - I did see that Angolan player! It's like he looked at Ronaldo's hair from 2002 and said, "What can I do to make that even more ridiculous?"

skribe said...

Having seen all the teams play now here's my take:
Argentina = Italy
Netherlands < Czechs
Ivory Coast < Ghana

After last night's pitiful performance the US can start packing their bags now.

Aleksandra said...

Agreed - I could watch those two Adidas kids over and over...especially when the big kid laughs at the Beckenbauer call.

Anyway, after reading it for months, I just wanted to openly admire your blog. A great mix of formation analysis, fan comments, and bad hair observations. Keep it up!!

p.s. They're spelled Bak and Jop but, yes, they do sound quite funny. Well, I'm glad you enjoyed them while you could (oh, my poor Polska...)