Sunday, July 02, 2006

World Cup Quarter-finals

The quarter-final matches that didn't make me want to stab anyone, that is...

Germany 1-1 Argentina (Germany wins 4-2 on penalties)
Let's say you're managing Argentina in the World Cup, and you've currently got a slim 1-0 lead over Germany in the quarter-finals. You've got Messi, Aimar and Saviola -- among others -- on the bench. What do you do?

Most of us would probably think, "This German team has been pretty good offensively so far. I don't think a one-goal lead is going to be enough. Their defence, on the other hand, is kind of shaky -- seeing as it mostly involves being tall and blond -- so let's see if we can score another one."

If you're Jose Pekerman, on the other hand, you take a page from Sven Goran Erikson's Big Book of Management Fuck-ups and pull off your main playmaker in favour of a defensive midfielder.

Which worked brilliantly, because Germany promptly went out and equalized.

So Pekerman fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go up against Germany on penalties when the World Cup is on the line.

(Did you see the pictures of Oliver Kahn hugging Jens Lehmann after the penalty shoot-out? Please tell me I'm not the only one who found that more than a little terrifying.)

Brazil 0-1 France
Somebody should've reminded Brazil that you have to do more than just show up to win the World Cup, no matter how bonito your joga is supposed to be. They never got out of second gear, whereas France has finally shaken off their first-round apathy and totally outclassed the Brazilians in this match.

I still think Thierry Henry needs to spend a little less time complaining about diving and a little more time studying the offside rule, but nevertheless I hope that France knocks those cheating Portuguese wankers out in the next round.

Italy 3-0 Ukraine
Italy, also, are stepping up their performance at just the right time. Admittedly, they had the easiest of all the quarter-final draws, but the Italians looked pretty solid. Their semi-final match with Germany should be fantastic. (Either that, or a deadly nil-nil draw.) As for Ukraine: thanks for playing, we have some lovely parting gifts for you.

1 comment:

Crew Fan said...

Love the Princess Bride reference.