Day 10 thoughts

Posted: June 20, 2010 in World Cup
Tags: , , , , , , ,

ITALY V NEW ZEALAND

Italy look pretty similar to England in that it’s very easy to negate them as, like England, they have precious-few players who are technically-gifted enough to unlock sides intent on defending in the way that Robinho, Elano and Fabiano cut holes in Sven’s defensive-as-hell Ivory Coast team. However while the All Whites were committed to getting men behind the ball and protecting their early lead (understandable given their relative FIFA rankings), they never shut up shop and even late on they were trying to win it, with a neat bit of skill from Chris Wood making a mug of Cannavaro before his shot was fired wide.

I watched the first half in an Italian cafe round the corner, just to see an Italian perspective. It turns out that the only other customers were English but the couple of staff in were definitely not; when Iaquinta scored his penalty one woman went barmy, running the full length of the cafe in celebration. It was a little odd; I think if England had equalised against New Zealand we’d probably be a bit more like “the fact that we were behind at all is dreadful, so I won’t take much joy in this equaliser” because we can be appalling twats like that.

Anyway I was once again pleasantly surprised by New Zealand. They are quietly becoming one of the stories of the tournament – they could even qualify for the second round, assuming the heroic boys in red and white slack off in the final game. They are genuine underdogs of the highest order and are probably the best exponents of the modern-day notion that tactical discipline and organisation can avoid embarrassment against the big boys, no matter how small a minnow they are. It would be interesting to get a New Zealand perspective on their performance so far but I would imagine that two draws is probably beyond all expectation.

Italy have drawn with two teams they’d expect to beat (familiar?) but really should do for Slovakia in that final game. I wonder if any Italians out there look at England and think the same of their last game.

YOU UGLY

Today was the first time I’ve noticed any concerted “ugly” play during games. Spain made themselves look like twats with the amount of referee-surrounding they did in defeat to Switzerland (I thought Howard Webb had a good game to be honest, could have given a penalty for a foul on Silva but it wasn’t that obvious) but other than that everyone has been quite well-behaved, a reflection of the high standard of officiating to date.

But Italy really did look stupid with the amount of times they hurled themselves to the floor clutching faces. Granted it got them a penalty in the end; Tommy Smith had just let go of the defender’s shirt when he chucked himself to the ground.

Then of course, Ivory Coast’s Keita took the cake this evening by running into Kaka’s shoulder and going down holding his face as though the Brazilian had caught him with a Tyson haymaker. Ivory Coast were presumably pissed off at the dicking they were getting by Brazil so made as much of a meal of the incident as possible, and the referee was moved to send Kaka off. Unless I’m mistaken he’ll only miss the final group game, and Brazil are through anyway, but it was all a bit stupid.

Seeing as both Italy, Brazil and Spain are likely to be with us for some time yet, a bit less twattishness would go down a treat, boys. Cheers.

BRAZIL

Lookin’ good.

They’ve conceded two late, academic goals which will probably drive Dunga nuts, but I look at Brazil and wonder how anyone will ever score against them. Not on the counter, that’s for damn sure. Melo and Gilberto are two of the most disciplined midfield destroyers in the game on this evidence, although yet again they weren’t exactly given an enormous workout. But in having these two lads sat deep in front of Lucio and Juan, Bastos and Maicon are able to bomb forward in the knowledge that cover is always on hand, which gives Brazil a myriad of options in attack.

They look decent; not Germany v Australia brilliant but you can see that there’s a very good, very dangerous side here. Kaka is running at about 50% power at the moment (the amount of time he spent on his ass in the first half was embarrassing) but Robinho looks more of a £30m player than he ever did at Man City, same sentiment for Elano, and I got a first look at what Luis Fabiano was all about tonight. Sure there was handball involved in his second, but both goals were excellent; the first a Pierre Webo smash that went straight up into the goal instead of orbit, the second a lovely bit of juggling and a powerful finish.

I picked them as the eventual winners and although they’re not amazingly exciting to watch, and they toiled a bit against North Korea, I haven’t seen much to change my mind.

DENMARK – SECOND THOUGHTS

Or rather, another plug for ZonalMarking.net. I said yesterday that Denmark looked like a really exciting team to watch, and then proceeded to watch my opinions crash down around me upon reading ZM’s piece on Denmark’s win. As you know, Dennis Rommedahl scored one and created the other, all from the right wing (cutting in for his goal). Usually analysis of the causes of goals from a defensive point of view extends to “well Gary if he’d not missed this header, and been stood in the right place, the man wouldn’t have scored”, but ZM point out that Emana’s positioning left Assou-Ekotto, the left-back, hopelessly exposed and sans cover. On the other side of the pitch, the Cameroon midfielder stayed wide and so was always in a position to track the Danish runner, but not on the Cameroon left flank.

Here’s the ZM diagram that illustrates this perfectly, FIFA’s “average positions” for the Cameroon team during the game. I didn’t know this sort of shit was available, this is a whole new world of awesome:

Compare right and left flanks. 19 was always covered by 8, but up top there wearing number 2 is the worryingly-effeminate-looking Assou-Ekotto, lonely as a motherfucker except for Dennis Rommedahl burning past him time after time.

So basically Denmark looked good but are unlikely to find another team willing to give them this much room. It’s on the internet for god’s sake.

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Comments
  1. chotey says:

    I can advise that everyone in NZ is amazed and proud of the “All Whites” performances and results. Well beyond expectations and its great to see them full of belief, attitude and committment.

    Fantastic!

    • ohibeans says:

      Excellent. I saw most of the Slovakia game and all of Italy and they really have played well, Nelsen has been outstanding and they’ve not exactly ridden their luck during the two games. Long may it continue.

  2. Matt says:

    Don’t know if you have seen this already, but there is a Leicester fan who does a good line in spoof football songs. This is his vulvuzela effort:

    And if you haven’t heard them already, his classic Leicester City tracks. Brilliant.

    Glad to see you are enjoying Zonal Marking. Its one of my favorite websites. You’ll be reading Inverting the Pyramid before you know it.

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