Late Run to the WC.

14 06 2010

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O Um I think I googled that wrong.  Anyways PSD would like to introduce you all to our recap/preview/introspective into the World Cup action -aka “Late Run to the WC”.

Opening day marked the only day in the group portion of the tournament where only two games will be played.  From tomorrow till June 22nd there will be three games, after the 22nd there is four days of four games to close out group play.   Here goes for our first edition of “Late Run to the WC”.

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Hey don’t be that shocked, you’ve got HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE throughout this tournament!!

The hosts opened the tournament by battling Mexico in Joburg’s Soccer City Stadium.  Mexico jumped out into attack mode from the opening kick.  Giovanni Dos Santos immediately established how bad ass he is and how important he’ll be to Mexico’s success.  The story got fun though when the Hosts made history.

Siphiwe Tshabalala 55th minute goal is the first goal scored at the first African World Cup.  And WHAT A FREAKING GOAL.  Upper 90!!  It’ll be in the running for goals of the tournament.  The roar heard over the next 15 minutes could easily be heard (I was listening via Espn Radio – THANK ESPN!!).  It took twenty minutes for the Mexican Captain Rafael Marquez to make his presence felt with his 79th minute goal.  So what have we learned from this opening match.  SA will not be a walkover team, in fact they have one hell of a secret weapon (that amazing crowd turnout).  No major injuries and only 2 yellows per side (better then Uruguay fared).

South Africa – they showcased one hell of a talented goalie.  Itumeleng Khune had one hell of a performance, despite his defense failing him throughout the match.  Hands down SA’s player of the game is Khune.

Mexico – A few things confused me with Javier Aguirre’s line-up 1.) Why the heck was Oscar Perez in goal and not (younger and more talented) Guillermo Ochoa in net?  2.) Why hasn’t Javier clued in that Andres Guardado should start over Paul Aguilar.  Those are my two huge ? in my mind.  I understand the wish to have a veteran team, but Ochoa and Guardado are legit big time players.  Guardado was brought in as a sub in the second half – but seriously WTF Javier?  If Mexico fancies themselves as a legit WC contender then you must play the best talent (not the oldest!!).  Oscar Perez barely survived a huge mugging in the 89th minute when Katlego Mphela had a shot smack the right post.  Oscar wasn’t even close to saving it (way out of position and looked sluggish trying to get over).  Mexico dominated offensively with Carlos Vela and Dos Santos, but that defense and GK situation is HORRID.  They might survive the group stages, but a much better opponent’s offense will humiliate this team down the road.

The other game of the day pitted the Defending runner-ups with a fiery Uruguay squad.  The game ended a disappointing 0-0 draw (making things exciting in Group A).

As you can see the game opened the Western most stadium (in Cape Town!!).  Lovely Table Mountain is the back-drop of one of the more beautifully located stadiums.  Both teams did look sharp and had some exciting moments, but overall no real fireworks.  Nothing really learned from both teams other then they aren’t up to full speed.

The big news was the first RED Card was handed out (granted two yellows to get it.).  But a theme would span all weekend – RED cards impacting the WC.  Group A is wide open with not early leaders and Uruguay look the worst with a RED card suspension for there next match (against SA).  The same questions linger with these teams.  France do you actually have your focus on this tournament or crap back at home.  Uruguay how do you get the ball forward more and more.

Day two of competition was the first “full” day of matches.  The morning game (American times run6:30, 9:30, and 1:30 – eastern time zone) witnessed the first “drubbing” of a team.

Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Bay Stadium’s opening game had South Korea vs Greece.

The old Greeks looked sluggish and the Koreans didn’t hold back.  An early goal by defender Lee Jung-Soo would prove the game-winning goal.

South Korea quickly established that they will battle for the next round.  Greece’s chances are now slim with Nigeria and Argentina left on the schedule.  South Korea can go into there next game against Argentina with a free approach since they gained full points.  No matter their result against the mighty South American’s the final game of the group is the important one.  IF Nigeria clear 3 points from Greece that final match-up will decide who moves on.  South Korea loved a late goal by superstar Park Ji-Sung extending there lead in Group B.

Argentina vs Nigeria was an exciting game at times, but lacked that final goal-scoring punch.

The excitement in Diego Maradona’s return (now as coach) was even more interesting for the fact that his final game as a player came against the Super Eagles.  The Blue Sky boys got a wonderful header from defender (former Man U!!) Gabriel Heinze who’s 6th minute netter was the clincher.  Lionel Messi, Higuan, and Tevez all looked sharp in attack, but no dice had against the tough Nigerian backline.  Lars Lagerbeck had to enjoy seeing his club hang with Argentina (a win next week and hopefully a stronger victory by Argentina over South Korea – and Nigeria would look real pretty for moving on).  I was a bit surprised that Nigeria didn’t attack more, but there defensive approach kept them healthy and ready for the weak Greece team next.

By far the game of the day was the late game.  USA vs England had everyone amped up.  Going to see the game in an Irish pub seemed most fitting.  Drinking a Belgium beer, watching Japanese TV, seated in an Irish pub, and enjoying USA vs England in South Africa – YEAH!  Now for some political humor.

Prime Minister David Cameron, Nelson Mandela and Barak Obama.  The only name that mattered to England early was the man wearing the captain’s armband.

STEVEN GERRARD’s goal had us all quiet in our little Irish pub.   Then they tried to kill our goalie!!

Emile Heskey’s slide looked horrible as he went cleat first into Timmy’s chest.  WTF REF!!!!  (all these yellows and our goalie gets racked and NOTHING!!).

O but you can always count on the British laying back and messing up.  Thank you Robert Green – Texas especially loves you!!

This goal made as much sense as Stone Henge.  30 feet out, two hopper bounces off his arms into the net and he immediately becomes the most hated man in all of England.   Clint Dempsey (Texas Boy!!) made things look a bit angelic and the game would end in a draw.   The two goal scorers did the usual swapping of jerseys.

Sunday Bloody Sunday!! Red Cards seemed to hold a strong place in the Ref’s who called Sunday’s games.  The Algerians and Slovenians battled hard as there was numerous fouls and injuries in the early game.  It was ugly and a mean looking match.  Algeria would feel the brunt of a harsh red card and a horrid goal (shades of Robert Green).  The Red Card was given to Abdelkader Ghezzal for this moment during the game.

His hand ball lead to a second yellow and ejection.  The 10 men squad couldn’t hold off Slovenia and there late goal.  Robert Koren squeaked the ball awkwardly off Algeria’s GK Fawzi Chaouchi to win the game.

The early game established Slovenia as surprise contenders in Group C and forces Algeria to the bottom.  A group reeling from two crazy goals that usually are easy saves.  And there was still two more games to end the weekend.

Group D would close out the first “half” of opening games.  The early Ghana vs Serbia game would feel awfully familiar.  A horrid double yellow red card would force Serbia to battle with only 10.  Both teams looked strong and capable of scoring.  It seems like Serbia gets them when they are young.

A young Nemanja Vidic in the making!!  But a man down is hard to get over.

Aleksandar Lukovic send off in the 74th minute would give Ghana PLENTY of time to win.  Zdravko Kuzmanovic needlessly handled a cross in the penalty area and his arguing forced not only a yellow but a PK.  Asamoah Gyan would see his side to the top of the table with a game-winning goal.

Ghana’s lead over Group D would only last a few hours.  Da Germans made there presence known in the late game.

After this weekend I fully expect to read all about DA GERMANS.  They looked amazing.  Its true they manhandled Australia.  And the group is forever changed as a Red Card (this time a solo-RED!!) has taken away Australia’s top target from their next game.  If there was any worry about the Germans, there are none now.

Lovely Durban, South Africa was host to the Group D big dogs.  The cool stadium with the bridge thingy!!

Looks like a space shit or a crudely drawn penis joke?  Anyways cool ass pic.  DA GERMANS though looked incredible in possession.  Mesut Özil didn’t score a goal in the game, but remember his name because boy did he look incredible.  Ozil and Podolski really opened the offense up.  Lukas would also open up the goal scoring.

Lukas and Ozil would also gain assists in the match.  Lukas would come on the next goal.  Miroslav Klose tied Jurgan Klinsman with 11 world cup goals (Jurgan is one of the announcers on ESPN!).

I’m confused Klose are you saying that is the 3rd goal (cuz it was the 2nd) or are you saying its all – OK?  Um what?  Don’t worry that wouldn’t be the only confusing thing that happened.  A slew of rough plays and a dejected Australian club made some harsh tackles.  HOWEVER, the tackle that garnered Australia’s top target Tim Cahill a red card was wrong.

The tackle was from behind, but he pulled up and never looked to actual strike hard.  A yellow would have sufficed.  Instead my hopes of a perfect prediction post was pretty much shot down the drains.  Tim Cahill is an important cog in the Socceroos machine.  It’ll be tough to see them through past Ghana or Serbia.

Another unusual element to the game was a German wearing the number 13 with the last name Muller (ala’ second all-time goal scorer in the WC German Legend Gerd Muller – 14 goals).

Except this Muller is actually spelled Mueller and his first name is Thomas and he’s only like twenty years old (the bastard!!!).  O yeah Germany’s third goal was the first of young Mueller’s WC career and it’ll be great to see his journey for Muller’s record.  Klose the man close to reaching Gerd’s mark and maybe even Brazil’s Ronaldo’s WC high (15).  Klose would be subbed for the final goal-scorer.

The Brazilian born German citizen Cacau netted a wonderful goal (assisted by the kid Ozil).  Mueller, Podolski, Ozil, and Badstuber all show cased a young and talented side to the mighty Germans (granted Podolski has been around).  After the first weekend of the world cup we’ve learned one important thing.  DA GERMAN’S are #1.

Monday’s match-ups:

Dutch vs Danish = early game – expect total drubbing of the danish by the dutch.

Japan vs Cameroon = mid game – expect a hard fought game with Blue Samurai’s surprising the Africans with a 1-1 draw.

Italy vs Paraguay = late game – two big dogs of group F and Paraguay will push the old Italians for much of the game.  The Italians will showcase they are not done with two late goals to take home full points.  Italy 2 – Paraguay 1.

Talk to ya soon.  Gotta run to the loo.  Skipping along the way.  Holla Back.

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