Monday, June 19, 2006

Sky-blue, or Oranje?

*DISH* *BISH* hosted some crazy hombres (including brother-in-law Dev, who is an unfortunate England fan... albeit a fair, knowledgeable one) over for dinner and two mega Group C matches last Friday.

Also in attendance was my friend and ever patriotic Dutchman Matt Belanda, who enjoyed the Singapore mee and satay, but didn't look quite so amused with Argentina's 6-0 (read it again: SIX - NIL) mauling of Serbia and Montenegro, and was visibly twitching as almost the entire Ivorian team held siege on the Dutch goal for almost the entire 2nd half of that game.

Somebody should have told these dudes where the TV was

Matt guest-blogs this entry with Keropok, in anticipation of that final game which decides the honours for Group C on 21st June (3am, 22nd June in Malaysia):

Keropok predicts 2-0 for Argentina
17 of the 23 players in the squad are graduates from the youth side, helmed by current manager Jose Pekerman. They've played together for a number of years, and all instruments in the orchestra know their exact cue.

Speak nothing yet of the team oozing talent from every pore. Even goalgetters Crespo and Saviola's place in the starting line-up are under threat.

The defence looks rock-solid, and not once did they ever look like conceding a goal. Even goalkeeper Abbondanzieri, touted as a Barthez-like fumbler, looks confident and decisive between the sticks. With names like Ayala, Heinze, Sorin and Burdisso in front of him, which goalkeeper wouldn't?

There is so, so much talent in attack that the likes of Messi and Tevez – blindingly brilliant footballers in their own right – are being used as 'impact players', behind Saviola and Crespo, who by themselves are tearing lesser defenses apart.

Riquelme's performance was impeccable. So many times against the Serbians, and even the Ivorians in game 1, he was able to evade 3 or 4 opposition players without seeming to move more than a few feet. His passes opened up acres of space for his colleagues on so many occasions.

The Serbians threw a number of players to crowd him out, and all it did what free up space for others like Maxi Rodriguez and Cambiasso to channel supply to the forward line. The no-nonsense Mascherano is growing in stature as he thwarted Serbian attack even before they could trouble the defense behind him. He is the pivot in this fully-functional Argentine team, and seems to know the job of a defensive midfielder extremely well.

The Dutch seemed to have a 'hole' in their team play; their defense, attack and the wings looks to be working well, but there is nobody in the centre of the park to win key battles and co-ordinate key attacking moves. It is here that the battle could be lost to the Argentines.

The French team in '86 was perhaps the last time we saw such great passing at this stage. Platini, Tigana, Fernandez and Giresse were perfect passers of the ball, and a number of the French goals from that tournament came from about a dozen moves being strung together before the ball eventually bulged the net.

Cambiasso's goal (the 2nd one against the Serbians) was a throwback to those days. Their other goals were great too, and they're only going to keep getting better and better.

Matt predicts a 1-1 draw
Ever since the '74 and '78 finals with the likes of Cruijff and Neeskens, the Dutch have always faced the biggest enemy in themselves by quarreling during big tournaments and so far no one manager has been able to win the respect of the players.

When you put together big egos from clubs such as Chelsea, ManUtd, Arsenal, PSV, Feyenoord, Ajax and Barcelona only a legend like Cruijff or Marco van Basten would be able to gain the respect of the players, and that's exactly what we got!

The Oranje haven't been extremely convincing in the first two matches against Serbia and Ivory Coast, but did the job. During their last match the Oranje team actually set a new world record of not conceding a goal for over 950 minutes of FIFA world cup match football. Coincidentally, van Basten is the first coach ever to lead the Dutch through World Cup qualification without a single defeat.

For those who claim that the Dutch are the best team never to have won the World Cup, the above seems like a good recipe for success.

Totaal Voetbal principle lives in all Dutch players, coming from a country with the highest number of registered football players and clubs per capita and four of their coaches leading different nations in this world cup. If you ask me, it's all down to the coach's decisions on who should play and who should stay on the bench.

Dirk Kuyt, Landzaat and Babel are all waiting for action, van Nistelrooij found the net and regained his confidence, Robben and van Persie are on the top of their games and van der Sar has yet to put his stamp on this tournament.

The team has survived the first two matches and has gotten used to each other and there’s plenty of talent on the bench ready for action. My prediction is that they will draw against the Argentines as they're two good teams and are not really playing for survival.

I do however predict this: Holland will beat Argentina in the semis 2-1, as they did in the q-finals in '98!

P/S: STOP PRESS! Upon proper scrutiny and callout from fellow blogger Spiller (thanks dude) it appears that if both Argentina and Holland win their respective elimination games, they would meet in the finals, and not in the semis, as said here.


Anonymous said...

Well done, Argentina.

But don't hangat-hangat tahi ayam, Keropok........ still another 5 wins away from gold.

K. M. Phang said...

Sounds like one helluva evening. Those were 3 very good matches on Friday / Saturday. Even Mexico v Angloa were ok la.

tonight is rest night. Catch up on sleep, bcos probably little at stake for Switzerland V Togo, and Ukraine V Saudi.

Maybe I will get up at 3 (if I can't sleep) for the Spain V Tunisia game to see if the Spanish are the real thing indeed.

Daniel Franklin Gomez said...

The world cup has been entertaining so far! There are definitely a few teams worth the shout. :-) Would love to see the Germans taking on the English in the next round....

kickciggys said...

never really fancied da dutch till the two dutch girls stayin wit my aunt pulled me over to the orange side....much can be said about their defending..but attacking wise they seem pretty good with those two young lads flying on the wings.however i dont see them coming up to par with the argies..i reckon a 3-1 win for pekerman's team with messi lighting the way

Daniel Franklin Gomez said...

Well, the ball is round...:-) The best team may not necessarily win the world cup....cue GREECE!! :-)

Keropok said...

Agreed daniel. Hol, Arg, Ger and a number of the favourites ought to reach the last 4 at least (yes, I know only 4 teams can make it here!).

Typically, some smaller / lesser teams have always made the last 4 cut in the World Cup as well (Belgium '86, Sweden / Bulgaria '94, Croatia '98, Turkey / South Korea '02...)

Capacity for upsets beyond this point hasn't happened in the last few decades, at lteast. Still, as you say a right or wrong kick of the ball could just do it (or un-do it).

Here's hoping the upsets are sane and uplifting, rather than being anti-climatic (cue: Greece).

visithra said...

keropok : huh!! how could u call me an england fan! gaspp dont the colours of my blog tell you otherwise - am brazil all the way ;) only BRAZIL

Arg - holland - i predict a 3-1 win for argentina - if they play like their 2nd game n not the first

Keropok said...

!visithra: Thousand apologies, sisterrr *palms together*

How I could confuse your green and yellow blog for England is beyond me. Must be that other 'mama' on your blogs confusing me with his 'thanglish'

!kickciggys: Some really manic displays of affection for the Oranje army dude...

!daniel: whenever I need good pics (and of course a good pundit for the game) I know to stop by your blog mate.

Mong said...

I am inclined to agree with Matt Belanda this time........... I think we are looking at a draw for this match, but if they meet in the semis i think holland will win it. maybe by penalties........

both teams would have prepared well to meet each other by then, and it will be down to the goalkeepers since both teams also have good strikers......

then van der sar will be better then the argie keeper, who is a bit clumsy.

it could be the shock of the world cup.

A Shabby Singh said...

Ger 2-1 Ecu
Cos 0-1 Pol
Eng 1-3 Swe
Tri 3-0 Par
Arg 3-1 Hol
Ser 1-4 Ivc
Mex 0-1 Por
Ang 1-1 Iran

Pay me later.

mong said...

sorry, wanted to say earlier...... pity your b-i-l, la brudder...... did he go back alive?

bisutulibuta said...


Keropok said...

!mong: We'll see, dude. The only time we'll know how it went is after the game.

After the semis, anything goes la boss.

Yes, my b-i-l went home alive and well. He's a good geezer, and a real fan... unlike the wannabe troops I encountered at Ronnie Qs during the Paraguay match.

!A Shabby Singh: Your "SKaurs" are quite amusing. Sorry dude, after the fiasco of 2002 I ain't paying nothing to nobody.

!bisutulibuta: Adda cheyyy... England, it seems... :)

JekyllHyde said...

The Argies look good enough to go all the way this time (toes crossed!)

Metria said...

(begin bimbotism) I look forward to watching the Poland goalkeeper in action again tonight (end bimbotism). Had to get it out of my system.

Keropok, come let's bet, I say England beats Sweden. We bet one nescafe/teh tarik at Kanna's. If I win, you must also never make fun of my favourite blouse ever again.

Keropok said...

!jekyllhyde: Toes, fingers, and if I could, I'd even cross my eyes mate.

When people say they hope the best team wins, on paper and on grass, it looks like Argentina this time round.

!metria: Didn't you enjoy your Iranian pretty boys too? If England wins, I'll but you as many Nescafe tarik you can consume in one sitting.

At Kanna's Curry House. And only when I'm up for banana leaf myself...

Keropok said...

Anyone see the England v Sweden game yesterday?

The commentators mentioned mid-way through the 2nd half that on this performance England must surely be in contention. Err... for what cup?

It’s hilarious how a bunch of well paid stars could - for prolonged periods of the match – be made to look very third rate.

Sweden should have won it, and if not for Gerrard’s off-the-line clearance and that goal, probably would have.

Defense was woeful. Beckham was a waste of space and has been for the longest time (where’s Lennon?), and Rooney was dismal, and to be fair looked very short of match fitness at this stage. I have criticized Hargreaves in the past, but he didn’t do too badly relative to the other rubbish performances.

In any other team, players like Lampard, Crouch (a joke, a really bad joke), Ashley Cole, Owen and Beckham wouldn’t even be in contention as a sub, but not England.

Sven Goran “1st half good, 2nd half not so good” Eriksson’s shortcomings as a coach will be painfully clear in the 2nd round. England will be found out.

On paper, they should beat Ecuador, but if they do, it will only serve to paint over the cracks and inadequacies of this team.

Joe Cole, John Terry and Steven Gerrard are the only English players even worth mentioning. A q-finals against either Argentina or Holland (depending on who finish 2nd in GC) or Portugal or Mexico (depending on who finish 1st in GD).

They ought to put us out of our misery.

Karembeu said...

mr shabby singh, your predictions are very shabby indeed.

hargreaves is probably one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. and that is a fact. people want carrick but carrick is just a deep lying midfielder, not a d.m. hargreaves is claude makalele at his prime.

i think england will grow even though they will come in for some abuse and criticism. ecuador will be easy meat based on that performance against germany.

Karembeu said...

and i agree with matt belanda that 0-0 will be the score for holland v argentina

Keropok said...

!karembeu: matt belanda will be happy u agree. We'll see how the game goes la...

Owen Hargreaves, by his kai-bangku standards, had a decent game. Which really isnt to say much.

Javier Mascherano: now this guy is a complete defensive midfielder. He knows his job well. Tune in tomorrow morning and observe this dude.

But you're right about Shabby Singh... ;)

Daniel Franklin Gomez said...

Though Ecuador were humbled by Germany, they rested a couple of key players, still England should win that match, but it ain't gonna be pretty...*ZZZZ*

I see that keropok has won a drink thanks to Sweden. LOL!

Holland will go down to the Argies 2-1 I think. Van Basten is apparently resting up to 5 players (yellow card thingy).

spiller said...

Matt: Holland won't meet Argentina in semis. They will only meet again in the FINAL!

Then again, I don't think Holland will go that far. Sorry dude but their central midfield is weak, and defence looks disjointed.

Keropok: The only way Argentina will loose, is via penalty kicks. So keep the finger crossed. :)

Keropok said...

!Daniel: The only reasons I didn't ZzZzZz off during the England match was that you had a feeling Sweden could score 1 or 3 goals anytime.

Ecuador aren't easy meat. Sven says on paper England should beat them; someone should tell him they will be playing on grass!

!spiller: Holy cow, dude... you're right! They will meet in the FINALS if both continue to win their 2nd round matches.


Thanks for the flag up!

Anonymous said...

Here are some links that I believe will be interested

Anonymous said...

Here are some links that I believe will be interested

Anonymous said...

Your site is on top of my favourites - Great work I like it.

Anonymous said...

Very pretty site! Keep working. thnx!