Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Argies are barging, Czechs are bouncing, Italians are loafing... GAME ON!

I would love to have added the words “Brazilians are waxing” to the above title... but after yesterday’s performance against an inspired Croatia (who, if they took their chances well, could have snatched a point), I think they're vulnerable in a few spots. Some in-grown hairs, if you follow the analogy...

In fact, the words “if they took their chances well...” may just turn out to be the most repeated phrase at this World Cup.

But after 5 days and 14 matches (I'm not going to
factor in the chances of the Group H teams – sorry Spain and Ukraine) here is how I see the main players in this tournament:

1. Argentina got their opening match jitters out of the way, and are looking pretty rock-solid. They need to work out how they would use Messi, Tevez and Aimar in the mix of an otherwise unyielding first 11. The thing about having too many good cooks is that they could seriously f*** up the soup. Pekerman needs to find the sweet spot. 8/10

2. The Czech Republic are looking firm all round, and I think displayed the best form of all teams in their opening game. I couldn't find anywhere they could have done better. Nedved seemed to grow as the game wore on, and Rosicky could just go on to wallop in a few more in this tournament. With Peter Cech between the sticks, the opposition will find them difficult to break down.

3. Italy, if they play things well, could go all the way to the last four, at the very least. Nesta and Cannavaro look very miserly in defense, and hardly gave anything away to the Ghanaians. Luca Toni, Pirlo, and even the volatile Totti have a menace about them. However, they are susceptible to attacks from the flanks, and don't really look like they have someone who could boss a midfield (so necessary to win the World Cup with a midfield lynchpin). 7/10

4. Germany would feel they have underperformed if they don't at least reach the last 4. Center-backs Metzelder and Mertesacker notwithstanding, the team look inspired everywhere else, but they must reinforce the center of defense. I think we'd see this problem sorted with Ballack in against Poland... we'll see. Otherwise, a solid bet for the semi-finals at least. 7/10

5. Brazil seriously need to fix the left of defense if they wish to avoid any set-backs. I don't know how you could put cover for a fullback, but Roberto Carlos isn't exactly the most defensive minded, and Juan doesn't look like he could thwart a quick attack. Lucio is also error prone, and Dida too often flaps at crosses.

Their attack looks potent, and I'm sure will grow in fluency (unlike the game against Croatia). No need to say anything more here. 7/10

N.B.: Cafu, however, is not 36! He simply cannot be 36. How can a man who defends so impeccably and links up to the attack so effortlessly – all through the 90 mins – be 36? Somebody tell me this is not true.

5. Mexico look very exciting. I like Marquez and his work for Barcelona and in the Mexican team make him a big asset. The team hustles their opponents no end and close them down quickly when not in possession. Pardon the non-PC-correctness, but they're almost like street urchins who know which pocket to pick, and pick it quick they do. Inconvenient to play against, they could go far. 6.5/10

6. Holland seem to be flying on one wing – the left with Robben. Van Persie will probably be better suited in a more central role, with Kuyt managing the right. MVB needs to ditch van Nistelrooy, or at least bench him and keep him hungry. Midfield sorely needs a fulcrum (same problem with Italians). 6/10

7. Croatia were unlucky not to get anything in their first game. Against a team like Brazil that's saying a lot indeed. But they must put away their chances; at least 4 very clear chances were not taken. They'
re really quick on the break though, which could punish slower defenses. 6/10

8. France don't look like they're interested. Failing that, they don't look like they're up to it. There was no link between defense and attack, and it was almost as if there were two teams out there. I disagree with Shebby Singh – you can play two defensive midfielders like Makalele and Viera (see Ze Roberto and Emerson) and still create a flowing structure, but Les Blues flopped. Early exit, monsieurs... 4/10

9. Portugal's biggest asset is Luis Felipe Scolari, and he can't play for them. Because he's Brazilian. And too old. And he's the manager.

If Deco can't fix the Portuguese' lack of zing in their overall game when he comes on next, it's an early flight back to Lisbon, hombres. I don't see them pipping Mexico to top spot, and I can't see them coping with either Holland or Argentina in the round of 16, if they make it. 3/10

10. England. Sigh.

Owen Hargreaves. Sven Goran Erickson. Michael Owen. Stewart Downing.

'Nuff said. Not even going to bother rating them.


Daniel Franklin Gomez said...

I agree with most of your ratings, especially England!! :-)

Mong said...

chnage this blog to England Bashers United or something, man.

what do real England fans like me have to do before the rest of u dudes realise we got a REAL chance at this?

no offence meant keropok - i respect all your views, except for England la.

we will definitely do better if erickson's makes better decisions. and we didnt appoint him maaaa.....

pity us a bit lorr...........

Keropok said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daniel Franklin Gomez said...

Well, the problem stems in England's cockiness. Yes, they do have a chance to win the world cup, but so do the rest.

Have a look at my entry; "England - Land of the Wanks" for a better understanding on why there's a huge following on the England Bashers Utd as you claim we are... :-)

Mong said...


i agree and i also understand. majority of eng fans giving felows like ma a bad name.

who knows who will win. at this stage any of the 10 teams named by keropok are capable. we support our favourtie sometimes in spite of their dismal chances of victory.

and then we have the 'sheep clan' coming to make the legion of real fans look like idoits. this inlcude the gloaters u speak of.

so fans like me who have a true support for eng eventho we know they are lousy how?

Keropok said...

! Daniel: We've been through that ground so, so many times bro... and yet the scummy lobsters keep coming at us for more validation of their "champions in waiting".

It's so damn tiring...

! Mong: Be cool, bro... you have to admit, for all the noise England and their fans are making, you'd think they only need to show up to win all their matches and head home with the chunk of gold.

Sad for true-blue, un-gloating fans like yourself, sure...

But tough la bro... you pick a crap team, you deal with it! :)

*sound of mocking laughter*

Hang in there man, another two matches and this will soon be over. No one will even bother about England then...

K M Phang said...

CAFU IS THE MAN!!!!!! Hahaha, maybe its the Brazilian wax that makes him so smooth, even despite his age!

kickciggys said...

you have to hand it to the czechs...and they didnt even have milan baros on who has a very impressive goal scoring ratio for his country...beautiful football..a joy to watch.the italians aint that bad as well...if only gattuso did not get injured they would have a pretty good midfield is a mystery to see how a 36 year old brazillian can put in such an impressive performance when that gary fallow who's way younger seems so lifeless and slow...hidup cafu!!

Daniel Franklin Gomez said...

Mong The politically correct term would be Glory Hunters, but then again, they all support Brazil (which I don't mind because they play a beautiful game). Wonder what England (they play a boo-ti-fool game too) fans are called? Hmmm..LOL!

Keropok Spot on! You had me at "scummy lobsters". Hahahaha!

Keropok said...

! kickciggys: The czechs are bouncing indeed. Hidup Cafu... but don't slam Gary la... he's probably one of the more sensible fellas on the team, the man with a voice of caution.

! Daniel: Indeed, my friend. Indeed!

Keropok said...

On to Germany... it looked like their performance against Poland was almost the exact opposite of the one against Costa Rica.

Mertesacker and Metzelder were quite solid in defence, but the attacked looked a bit insipid, till the subs came on. It wasn't bad... its just that it didnt have the same sizzle as the opening match.

To take nothing away from Poland of course, who I thought defended very well.


Mong said...

Daniel, I have been supporting England from days whe they were not even popular, i.e. 1982.

I thnk these glory hunters u spk of only become interested in Eng after the EPL becme popular. Wld they know fellas like Terry Butcher, Des Walker, Peter Beardsley, Shilton, and the others.... i dont think so.

All these "lobsters" as u and keropok call them know is Beckham, Beckham, Beckham. and once in a while owen.

true fans like me think they are the two weakelst links int the team.

aiyah.... sure got some trinidad sympathisers coming out of the woodwork by this time tomorrow right? :)

k m phang said...

Mr Mong, my condolences.

My prediction for finals is Czech Rep v either Italy or Holland.

Germany was quite OK but I think they are going to dry up in the the goals dept soon.

Keropok said...

! Mong: Like Phang said... my true sympathies for fans like you. Better luck next time, bro.

! K M Phang:I share your sentiment re: Germany and goals. We shall see soon. I think home advantage is going to count for a lot. France won in '98 without a recognised goal-scorer (Thuram and Blanc were popping in the goods!)... so who knows.

podgykat said...

Hi keropok, droppin' in to say hi! Your "mindless football spewing" as you put it, makes for a good read any day. Lots of footie addicts in mi casa!

Daniel Franklin Gomez said...

Yes, Germany's attack was wasteful. Schweinsteiger was poor, but not as bad as Vieira. It didn't help with Poland being extremely negative either. I guess fortune favours the brave. I woke my neighborhood up during that goal! Hahaha!

Daniel Franklin Gomez said...

mong I expect England to comfortably win by 2-0, with tomorrow's newspapers saying that they will go all the way! LOL!

Agreed, Beckham's passed it. Owen's passed it. Crouch, WTF? I think Rooney aka Shrek will play a cameo role, because what does Eriksson's have to lose anyway now that he's leaving?

keropok Hopefully England drops dead in the quarterfinals. It would be good for mankind. LOL!

Keropok said...

!podgykat: Hi there, thanks fopr stopping by. Come back soon and get more fodder for conversation @ su casa. Cheers!

!Daniel: Oh what would we give for an upset T&T victory. Imagine if England score early, and cruise the whole match, only for T&T to bang two quick ones past them in the closing stages of the game.

We all can dream, can't we.

Yes, you're right -- quarter-finals at the very best! Then we can really enjoy ourselves.

visithra said...

Its been a weird worldcup - one minute the czech bashes the US - the next theyre losing to ghana - one minute italys bashing ghana the next theyre drawing with the US!!!

Keropok said...

!visithra: You could say that again. Which makes it all the more an authentic World Cup. Ironic, isnt it?