An idea unto itself

June 30, 2010

“Robben Island rises just out of the ocean in the distance. From the shore, it looks like a thin, lifeless wedge, a gray spot on the horizon. The rabbits have taken it over. But tourists dutifully pile into boats, and they make the pilgrimage along with the whales across the water. During the World Cup, the boats have been sold out, piled high with Algerians and Englishmen, Italians and Portuguese. Robben Island, this terrible place once reserved for lepers, lunatics and prisoners, has become a must-see. Its most famous former resident, Nelson Mandela, spent 18 of his 27 years in prison there; his life since has transformed his cell into a kind of shrine, an impossibly cold place turned impossibly warm.” (ESPN), (ESPN – OTL: Robben Island)

World Cup tactics: How the quarter-finalists line up

June 30, 2010

“On the eve of the World Cup, Football Further asked whether the 4-2-3-1 formation would continue to dominate as it did at the last tournament in 2006. The average position diagrams below, taken from all eight last-16 matches, demonstrate that while it remains the most popular shape in the international game, variations in tactics mean that it is being deployed in very different ways.” (Football Further)

Spain 1-0 Portugal: Villa eventually finds a way through, Portugal fail to respond

June 30, 2010

“An intriguing game – Spain were comfortable by full-time, but struggled to find the breakthrough. Substitutions were crucial in the outcome. Vicente del Bosque fielded a side unchanged from the win over Chile – a 4-2-3-1ish shape, with David Villa high on the left, and Andres Iniesta drifting in from the right. Xabi Alonso was fit to start, and Fernando Torres continued upfront.” (Zonal Marking)

World Cup 2010: Spain 1-0 Portugal
“I’m not sure what channel I’m watching but it’s not one of ours. The pundits sound refreshing. There’s a Scotsman who looks a bit like Hansen but uses verbs and sounds interested. In fact, it’s as if it is Hansen but he’s next to proper pundits, so he has to raise his game so as not to sound lazy and under-informed. Alongside him is a nicely understated Dutchman who is always to the point. He admires the Spanish not simply because ‘they’ve got Torres,’ but because ‘there are always two options for the man with the ball… it’s not about the man with the ball if he has no options.’ Simple logic.” (twohundredpercent)

Villa, Vidi, Vici: Spain Moves On
“Is tiki-taka starting to look a bit tired? This phrase, which roughly translates as touch-touch, defines Spain’s technical, ball-playing approach to this sport, a strategy that saw the country crowned European champion in 2008, set a new record for consecutive wins a year later and arrive in South Africa this month as the favorite to win the World Cup. The philosophy is that giving the ball away is inexcusable. It is about perpetual motion, short passing and maintaining possession above all else. And when everything clicks, Spain does it better than anyone.” (WSJ)

Villa scores off own rebound to carry Spain to quarterfinals
“David Villa called it one of his best goals. He was talking about the timing but the effort was pretty nice, too. On a night when Portugal’s defense fought off attack after attack, the Spanish striker finally broke through in the 63rd minute, giving the European champs a 1-0 victory Tuesday and a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals.”>(ESPN)

Spain 1-0 Portugal – Video Highlights, Recap, Match Stats – World Cup – 29 June 2010
“Two European teams who have never won the World Cup met in the round of 16 as Spain faced Portugal. The winner would go on to play Uruguay in the quarterfinals. Spain would be favored in the match as they have improved since their opening loss against Switzerland while Portugal have yet to conceded a goal in the tournament.” (The 90th Minute)

Legacy and Lionel Messi

June 30, 2010

Lionel Messi
“Epistemic frustration is the curse and the genius of soccer, which, compared to, say, basketball, obscures causes, disguises responsibilities, and makes all forms of knowing and categorizing moot. Not in a radically skeptical way, but just in terms of guys kicking stuff, I sometimes wonder whether it’s possible to know anything at all.” (Run of Play)

Facing the Two-Day Football Fast

June 30, 2010

“It’s alarming to even consider, but for the next two days there will be no World Cup matches. After gorging ourselves on football of varying quality for the past weeks, we suddenly have to think of others things to do. Read a book? Take a walk? But to what end and purpose, when all we have known for weeks is the spectacle of the fates of nations unfolding before our eyes?” (Soccer Politics)

The Questions: 6 Questions on England v Germany

June 30, 2010

Fabio Capello
“After England’s hugely disappointing 4-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup 2010 round of 16, asked some of it’s contributors (and a special guest) to analyse the flaws and the future for the England national team in the rebirth of a new feature, The Questions. Is it now time for serious structural change in English football?” (Just Football)

Is it time for England to ditch the 4-4-2 and play like the rest of the world?
“Terry Venables tells a story about Paul Gascoigne at Tottenham. Gazza, with his limited attention span, was forever bemoaning the time spent working on tactics. Then he went to Italy to play for Lazio. When Venables saw him next, Gascoigne had changed his tune, even admitting that, after confronting the deep and well-organised defences of Serie A, he realised how important tactics were.” (Independent)

England’s Loss to Germany
“England’s performance was in a different league of awfulness from the regular awfulness that had been seen in earlier games. Before, the problem had been one of not seeming to care; the players behaving as though they deserved to win by virtue of the size of their wages. This time they definitely cared, they were fired up, ready to go and then when they got there, they were just awful.” (The Paris Review)

An open letter to Sir Dave Richards, re: the England job
“Dear Dave, In the next twelve days, I’m told, you and the Football Association board will decide whether or not to relieve Fabio Capello of his duties as England manager. Matt Dickinson, who normally gets these things right, said on The Times podcast that you guys will most likely base part of your decision on what the media say. Given that I am a small part of the media, I’m offering up my two pence, not just on Capello, but on the England team’s future.” (The Game Blog)

World Cup 2010: Ten things Fabio Capello got wrong
“The England manager exposed his fallibility with a series of bad calls during the World Cup campaign” (Guardian)

FIFA Plays Hard To Get With Technology

June 30, 2010

“The World Cup thus far has been less about the Beautiful Game on the field and more about the inexplicable refusal of Sepp Blatter and his clan to uphold FIFA’s own Fair Play Code of Conduct. In the wake of recent controversial decisions (or indecision – you make the call), the pressure is mounting on FIFA to stop making nonsensical excuses and step into the 21st Century and embrace the use of technology by game officials.” (Nutmeg Radio)

How To Beat Brazil

June 29, 2010

“You play soccer. You have a team, some decent players. You’re ambitious. Good for you. Now, attempt the following: When the whistle blows and the match begins, jog around the pitch slowly, laconically, grinning the entire time. Your body language should express an indifference to the game itself. In fact, let your opponent control the pace, let them have possession, let them think they’re in charge. When you do get the ball, pass it around a little, just to see how it feels. Isn’t the stadium pretty under the lights? Smile. Mostly, though, wait. Be patient. Don’t run hard unless it’s absolutely necessary. Just for fun, let the other side have a few shots on goal, so they get their blood flowing. Then, after twenty minutes without a single scoring opportunity, manufacture one out of thin air—a broken play in the midfield, a counter-attack, a foul and a quick restart—and once in front of the rival’s net, be merciless.” (TNR)

World Cup 2010: Paraguay 0-0 Japan (Paraguay win 5-3 on penalties)

June 29, 2010

“They say that consistency helps in football. Especially in terms of number of players you use. This seems to be one of Japan’s tactics, as they enter this game with the same XI that began each of the group games with. Paraguay give first starts to Edgar Benitez and Nestor Ortigioza, as they become the sixteenth and seventeenth players to start for the South Americans (with two others having played as substitutes). Ortigoza makes his World Cup debut, leaving Dario Veron and Rodolfo Gamarra as the only two outfield Paraguayans to see any action.” (twohundredpercent)

Cardozo’s clincher sends Paraguay to first Cup quarterfinal
“The last thing Paraguay wanted was to wind up in a shootout with Japan. After all, the South Americans almost never practice penalty kicks — or have any success when they do. Yet Paraguay took the most difficult route to its first World Cup quarterfinals Tuesday. After 120 exhausting minutes without scoring, the Paraguayans found their touch in penalty kicks, making all five to beat Japan.” (ESPN)

Paraguay 0-0 (5-3 on penalty kicks) Japan – Video Highlights, Recap, Match Stats – World Cup – 29 June 2010
“Two sides who weren’t expected to make into the quarterfinals met in the round of 16 as Paraguay faced off against Japan. One would reach their first ever quarterfinal while the other would be knocked out of the tournament.” (The 90th Minute)

From the World Expo to the World Cup: Field Notes From the New Economy

June 29, 2010

“I started the week at the World Expo in Shanghai and ended it at the World Cup in Cape Town. Both events offer a spectrum of perspectives on what is really happening in the world economy today.” (Huffington Post)

How to Train a World Cup Referee

June 29, 2010

“The ball is lighter, the players are faster, the tactics are more complex. And if you’re a referee working the 2010 World Cup and you can’t keep up and be in the right position, you may blow the call, outraging the hundreds of millions of fans watching worldwide.” (Smithsonian)

Midfielder Annan is Ghana’s key

June 29, 2010

“He’s the starting central midfielder for a perennial African powerhouse and a World Cup quarterfinalist. He’s still just 23 but has already amassed 43 caps for his country and drawn rave reviews, not just in South Africa but at the last two Africa Cups of Nations. So the question is: why does Anthony Annan still ply his trade in Norway?” (SI)

There is only one thing tired about England… the excuses

June 29, 2010

“As hard to believe as it may be, England are actually worse off now than when Steve McClaren was sacked almost three years ago. Back then, you see, there was a plan. The Football Association were going to throw money at the problem like never before; they were going to write a cheque that would make Sven Goran Eriksson’s second contract seem like luncheon vouchers.” (Daily Mail)

England’s Loss to Germany

June 29, 2010

“England’s performance was in a different league of awfulness from the regular awfulness that had been seen in earlier games. Before, the problem had been one of not seeming to care; the players behaving as though they deserved to win by virtue of their size of their wages. This time they definitely cared, they were fired up, ready to go and then when they got there, they were just awful.” (The Paris Review)

Brazil 3-0 Chile

June 28, 2010

Green Point Stadium Cape Town
“As Brazil was dismantling Chile, a couple of fans delighted the crowd by parading around the stadium with two giant gold replicas of the World Cup trophy. Another three games like this and Brazil could be hoisting the real thing — yet again. With an impressive mixture of symphony-like teamwork and standout individual plays, Brazil routed South American rival Chile 3-0 on Monday night to advance to the quarterfinals. The five-time champions will face the Netherlands, which earlier Monday defeated Slovakia 2-1, on Friday.” (ESPN)

Brazil 3-0 Chile – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 28 June 2010
“It was an all South American battle in the round of 16 as Brazil faced Chile. Brazil remains one of the favorites to win the title while Chile have surprised with their run into this round. The winner would place the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.” (The 90th Minute)

Corruption, disorganization blamed for Africa’s poor showing at Cup

June 28, 2010

“So much for the boost African sides were supposed to receive from the first African World Cup. Only Ghana made it through to the last 16, and had Serbia been awarded the late penalty it deserved in its defeat to Australia — and converted it — the Black Stars would also have been on the way home. Had that happened, Africa would not have had a representative in the second phase of the World Cup for the first time since 1982.” (SI)

England’s pathetic exit

June 28, 2010

“So, that’s the excuse sorted, then. For England, the only good news was that Jorge Larionda and Mauricio Espinosa diverted attention elsewhere, offering Fabio Capello’s team something to hide behind. Only they didn’t. Not really. England are a hippopotamus quivering behind a lamppost, hoping no one can see them. But we can see them. We did see them. And so did everyone else. Only too well.” (CBC)

Now Can We Have Instant Replay?

June 28, 2010

“We know what the proper and sporting thing to say here is. Great game, Germany. You really stuck it to England in Sunday’s World Cup match, you clearly had the fitter team, you dominated the pitch and deserved to win. Bravo, Deutschland. Fantastic hair, too. Eh, yawn. This is no fun at all. Sorry, Deutschland. Let’s talk about The Outrageously Blown Goal of the Century.” (WSJ)

France crowned World Cup losers

June 28, 2010

“By now, the FT’s award for worst team of the World Cup is almost as prestigious as the golden trophy pocketed by the winner. The US won our inaugural prize in 1998, followed by Saudi Arabia in 2002 and Serbia in 2006. All were truly terrible teams, but this year’s contenders matched any of them.” (FT – Simon Kuper)

Maradona Makes Me Happy

June 28, 2010

“I’m here in South Africa, and last night went to the see the Argentina-Mexico game at Soccer City. I’ll warn you that a portion of this post will sound a bit like FIFA propaganda, so if you can’t stand that please stop reading now. But the feeling here in electric and ebullient, and I really can’t imagine any other event that could produce the same thing. I felt happily overwhelmed at the scene last night.” (Soccer Politics)

Holland 2-1 Slovakia: long balls towards wingers win it for the Dutch

June 28, 2010

“Another quiet but effective win for Holland, who progress to the quarter-final, where they’ll face a stronger test from either Brazil or Chile. Holland welcomed back Arjen Robben, who made his first start of the competition, having appeared as a substitution in the final group game against Cameroon. He replaced Rafael van der Vaart, who himself had become injured. The rest of the side was as expected.” (Zonal Minute)

Netherlands advance to quarters on goals from Robben, Sneijder
” Impressive as Arjen Robben and his Dutch teammates were in advancing to the World Cup quarterfinals, they seek much more. The Netherlands reached the final eight Monday when standouts Robben and Wesley Sneijder scored in each half of a 2-1 victory over Slovakia.” (ESPN)

When the Games Start to Matter

June 28, 2010

“So far in the World Cup, it’s Donald Rumsfeld 1 Pele 0. The former Defense Secretary’s sneering dismissal of Old Europe seems, in this realm anyway, prophetic, as anciens regimes slink home to the continent in disgrace; while Pele’s famous pronouncement that an African team will win the World Cup by the year 2000 seems unlikely to come true before 2014 at the earliest.” (The Paris Review)

World Cup second round preview (part two)

June 28, 2010

“ZM’s tactical preview of the second half of the World Cup second round ties, being played on Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th of June.” (Zonal Minute)

In a matchup of similar styles, Argentina proves to be far superior

June 28, 2010

“For the fifth time in a row, Mexico has been elimated from the World Cup in the second round — for the second time in a row, by Argentina. And for the second time today a team was left wondering what might have been had an official’s error not left it a goal down. In all probability Mexico, like England before it, would still have reached the ribbon in second, if in rather more respectable fashion.” (SI)

Anatomizing England

June 28, 2010

“Jonathan Wilson says that his fine new book The Anatomy of England: A History in Ten Matches has no thesis, but I believe a thesis is lodged within, though perhaps it can’t be expressed in a single sentence. The book’s implicit argument goes something like this…” (Run of Play)

More thoughts on more losses (Mexico, England and the unfairness of it all)

June 28, 2010

“It was all too much today – one great goal (Lampard) ignored and one totally, unambiguously offside goal allowed (Tevez). We watched some teams exploit their good fortune, and others collapse in the face of their bad luck. It’s become a World Cup scripted by Emile Zola. I am thinking of his utterly depressing novel L’Assommoir (the word means a dive-bar one goes to only to get hammered). At a key juncture in the story, the lovable drunk Copeau is doing his best to get his life together, but takes a bad fall at work and breaks his leg.” (From A Left Wing)

Germany 4-1 England: Brilliant German performance demolishes lifeless England

June 27, 2010

The House Where I Grew Up, Johannesburg
“A monumental thrashing for England, at the hands of a German side who had pace, movement, tactical awareness and ruthlessness in front of goal. At times they appeared to be playing football from a different world. England were simultaneously boxey and positionally woeful – quite a difficult combination to achieve. Germany, on the other hand, played superbly. This performance from a young side in a high-pressure situation demonstrated remarkable quality in both technically and mentally. The analysis of the goals will go on for days, the obituaries of English football will go on for weeks, but Germany’s performance should not be underestimated.” (Zonal Marking)

Argentina dumps Mexico, reaches WCup quarterfinals with Tevez’s 2 goals

June 27, 2010

“Argentina needed a couple of breaks in its second round World Cup match. It got one from the referee and another from Mexico. Carlos Tevez scored twice — once on a disputed goal — and Gonzalo Higuain added another as the Albiceleste beat Mexico 3-1 on Sunday to move into the quarterfinals.” (ESPN)

Argentina 3-1 Mexico – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 27 June 2010
“Argentina faced Mexico for a second straight FIFA World Cup in the knockout stage. Mexico was hoping to avoid the same fate as the USA who were eliminated by the same side in two straight World Cups. Argentina have been one of the top if not the top side in the group stage and looking very dangerous.” (The 90th Minute)

The High Drama of Penalty Kicks

June 27, 2010

“It is accepted soccer religion that no one wants to see a game decided by penalty kicks. Yet it is also soccer law that if certain matches remain tied after 120 minutes of play, that is exactly what will happen. Beginning today with the World Cup’s round of 16, when one match determines who advances and who is knocked out, that law takes effect.” (Vanity Fair)

Ghana 2-1 United States: Ghana’s organisation and direct running results in the narrowest of victories

June 27, 2010

“A tremendous football match won by the side who showed just a little bit more organisation and structure throughout, and made fewer mistakes. Ghana made a change on the right of midfield, bringing in Samuel Inkoom – often deployed at right-back. The US fielded a line-up largely as expected, the one issue being the central midfield partner for Michael Bradley. Ricardo Clark got the nod, although he didn’t last long.” (Zonal Marking)

Putting Tears Aside: Celebrating Ghana’s Victory
“Over the last week, everyone from the New Republic, to Reason Magazine to the various inept corners of the right wing blabbospehere (neocons, libertarians, and wingnuts OH MY!) has taken a whack at my little blog post in the Nation After Donovan’s Goal: Joy or Jingoism? The article seemed innocent enough. I wrote about my drunken joy over seeing the miraculous US win over Algeria, but regretted the ugly openly racist jingoism I heard in the immediate aftermath on DC Sports Radio. My lament seemed innocent enough.” (The Nation)

Watching Ghana Beat the U.S.A., in Johannesburg
“Well, being on a different continent certainly changes things. After the epic flight from the U.S. to South Africa — 16 hours, including the required putzing around on the tarmac in Atlanta — I arrived just in time to catch the U.S.-Ghana game at a restaurant here in Melville, Johannesburg. I watched with Simon Kuper, who is the author of the excellent Soccernomics and reporting for the Financial Times on the World Cup, along with a few other journalists.” (Soccer Politcs)

World Cup 2010: United States 1-2 Ghana (aet)
“When Ghana becamse independent in 1957, the first of the wave of sub-Saharan countries to do so in that period, there’s a nice story about then Vice-President Richard Nixon attending their Independence Day celebrations. The US were broadly supportive of countries seeking to cast of the yoke of the old European colonial powers, and a beaming Nixon was shaking hands with anyone and everyone. “How does it feel to be free?” he asked of one black man he took for a native; ‘I wouldn’t know sir,’ the man replied, ‘I’m from Alabama’.” (twohundredpercent)

US Loses & ESPN Colossal #FAIL
“So, the US lost. I am sad, but happy we did not get played off the park and advanced out of our group. Salutations to Ghana – I do not wish you well, but you deserved to win. Daggumit! Still, despite the unprecedented attention to the World Cup in the US, unfortunately big media continues to churn out amusing errors by the boatloads. You may recall the NYTime’s error about Zizou playing for Italy. Well, ESPN did them one better. Check out this screenshot…” (futfanatico)

Gyan’s extra-time goal propels Ghana over U.S., into World Cup quarters
“The nail-biter comeback wasn’t there this time. The U.S. soccer team relied on it once too often. Life on the World Cup edge came to an exhausting and crushing end against a familiar foe Saturday night, when Ghana — led by Asamoah Gyan’s goal 3 minutes into overtime — posted a 2-1 victory that ended a thrilling yet futile tournament for the United States.” (ESPN)

United States (USA) 1-2 Ghana – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 26 June 2010
“The USA looked to get revenge from the 2006 World Cup as they faced Ghana who knocked them out in that tournament. Both teams have a favorable draw where they would play Uruguay in the quarterfinal round if they would advance in this match.” (The 90th Minute)

Germany 4-1 England

June 27, 2010

“England’s World Cup ended in a mixture of humiliation and controversy as they were thrashed by Germany in Bloemfontein. Germany’s deserved win and convincing victory margin will be overshadowed forever in the minds of Fabio Capello and his squad by a moment they believe robbed them of the hope of reaching the last eight. Matthew Upson had thrown England a lifeline just before half-time after a vastly superior Germany had taken a stranglehold on the game with goals from Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski.” (BBC)

World Cup 2010: Germany 4-1 England
“There have been times over the previous four or five days or so that this afternoon’s match between Germany and England has threatened to collapse under the weight of its own hubris. England, seemingly unable to wait for this afternoon to come around, has become a nation of tea leaf readers, swirling a cup which contains the history of the matches between the two nations in a desperate attempt to try and pre-determine what is going to happen. The coverage in the press has taken a turn for the weird. A Steven Gerrard press conference was the lead story for much of the press this morning, with the England captain being described in various organs as having “roared” at it, which will have come as news to anyone that has seen Gerrard being interviewed in the press before. This afternoon, however, any talk of ‘roaring’ couldn’t be any more misplaced.” (twohundredpercent)

Germany 4-1 England – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 27 June 2010
“One of the rivalries in international competition, England v Germany, was renewed with the teams meeting in the round of 16 of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Germany won Group D while England was second in Group C. It was a match that was about even as far as the oddsmakers.” (The 90th Minute)

Bielsa plots Brazil downfall

June 27, 2010

“Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa came to the World Cup with a point to prove. Eight years ago, in charge of his native Argentina, his side turned up in the Far East as favourites but crashed out in the first round and despite their impressive start in South Africa, there was a moment when it seemed that Chile, too, would not make the knockout stages. When they went two goals down to Spain and had a man sent off, hopes of a place in the last 16 appeared to be slipping away but they pulled a goal back, and with Switzerland held by Honduras, Chile were safe.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)

Uruguay 2-1 South Korea: controlling the tempo and more clinical finishing sees Uruguay through

June 26, 2010

“Uruguay progress, but got away with sitting back for half the game. Korea took too long to get going, although were probably on top for much of the second half. Uruguay maintained their rough shape from their win over Mexico. Diego Godin returned at the expense of Mauricio Victorino. South Korea also made one change – Kim Jae-Sung played ahead of Yeom Ki-Hun, and played an advanced midfield role.” (Zonal Marking)

Uruguay 2 – 1 South Korea
“The game on the line, Luis Suarez sidestepped two defenders in the driving rain and struck a right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area. ‘The truth is, I didn’t realize the ball was going to go in,’ he said. It did. And now Uruguay is headed to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in 40 years after beating South Korea 2-1 on Saturday.” (ESPN)

Uruguay 2-1 South Korea – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 26 June 2010
“The round of 16 in the 2010 FIFA World Cup began with Uruguay facing South Korea. Both sides have surprised in the group stage as Uruguay won Group A and South Korea were second in Group B. The winner would play the winner of USA v Ghana in the quarterfinals.” (The 90th Minute)

World Cup second round preview (part one)

June 26, 2010

Diego Forlan
“The eight World Cup second round matches are spread over the course of four days. Here’s previews for the first half…” (Zonal Marking)

An Injury-Time Strike Upon a Hill

June 26, 2010

“Among the new heroes of this World Cup one must now count Bob Bradley, the grim, predestinarian U.S. coach—on the silent sideline his presence seems more foreboding than forbearing—much maligned by American fans in the qualifying campaign for his tactical inflexibility and cautious squad selections. Like those other steadfast skippers pilloried for poor performance in early games, Bradley has remained loyal, through the group stage, to a cautious 4-4-2, deploying creative flair in the central midfield, when forced to, only behind his quantum destroyer son, Michael Bradley—his head shaved bald like his father in a show of grim emulation.” (The Paris Review)

Spain 2-1 Chile: Chile press, foul, then hold on

June 26, 2010

“What a bizarre game. Chile started better, then conceded a silly goal, then went two goals and one man down in the same move, then started the second half brightly, then realised a 2-1 defeat would send them through, and stopped bothering. They made changes from their previous game, chiefly thanks to the suspensions of Mati Fernandez and Carlos Carmona. In came Marco Estrada and Mark Gonzalez, with a slight reorganisation in the front four.” (Zonal Marking)

Chile 1-2 Spain – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 25 June 2010
“Spain faced Chile in the final group stage match for both sides in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Spain needed a win while Chile could advance with any result as long as Switzerland didn’t win. If Spain won they would play Portugal while Chile would face Brazil in the knockout stage.” (The 90th Minute)

Zonal Minute
“It’s fun if you press an imaginary “Explode Torres” button on your keyboard as the Chile player takes his second step” (Zonal Minute)

World Cup scouting: The 32 – Week Two

June 26, 2010

Rene Krhin (Slovenia)
“The following 32 names represent Football Further‘s players to watch at the 2010 World Cup. We’ll be following their performances closely over the course of the tournament, with weekly scouting reports rounding up their progress.” (Football Further), (Football Further – Week One)

Cheers at Europe’s Expense

June 26, 2010

“Italy and France, the last two teams standing at the previous World Cup, did not make it out of the first round in this one. Africa is down to its last hope, Ghana. The Americas are flourishing. And something new is stirring in Asia, where fans of South Korea and Japan took to the streets at 3 a.m., each celebrating their country’s breaking through to the second stage of the tournament for the first time on foreign soil. Watching the first round of matches, and the elimination of Europeans in particular, one gets the feeling there has been a cultural swing in the global game.” (NYT)

The United States Of America And The 2010 World Cup

June 26, 2010

“It was a small point that was rather overlooked in the hysteria that followed England’s 1-0 win against Slovenia in their final group match on Wednesday afternoon but, in the cold light of day and with the complete schedule for the second round of the competition now available for all to see, finishing second in their group has come at a heavy cost for England. Should they somehow scramble through against Germany tomorrow, they are likely to face Argentina in the quarter-finals, and should they manage to win that as well (and we’re stretching the bounds of credibility here), Spain could their be their semi-final opposition.” (twohundredpercent)

Portugal 0-0 Brazil: two solid defences, and little creativity

June 26, 2010

Soweto, Kliptown
“A quiet game with both sides content to take a point – Brazil are the winners of the group, Portugal are the runners-up – but which, if either, will face Spain? Brazil’s side saw three changes, all in the attacking band of three behind Luis Fabiano. Elano (injured), Kaka (suspended) and Robinho (rested) were out, with Dani Alves, Julio Baptista and Nilmar in.” (Zonal Marking)

Portugal 0-0 Brazil – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 25 June 2010
“Portugal could advance with a draw while Brazil had already clinched their spot in the knockout stage. With Portugal’s 7-0 win over North Korea they had a goal difference of +9 over Ivory Coast heading into the last weekend.” (The 90 Minute)

World Cup 2010: Portugal 0-0 Brazil
“Whether or not Group G was this World Cup’s Group of Death, it appears to have taken place in 1966, at Goodison Park, with Eusebio scoring every goal. The game Lineker and co. are expecting is taking place in some fantasy world far from the realities of the group table. No-one is saying Brazil v Portugal is destined to be as bad as it turns out. But there are clues. Brazil are through. Portugal need a point, or at least to lose by not many. Both sides have changed nearly half their teams. Brazil’s strengths are supposedly their two holding midfielders, the best goalkeeper in the world and a boring manager who’s built the team in his own image. And Portugal have kept a thousand clean sheets in their last thousand and three games.” (twohundredpercent)

Big offensive threats go silent, but both teams advance in Group G
“Two of soccer’s most prolific teams couldn’t find the net Friday at the World Cup. Portugal reached the second round of the World Cup on Friday after a listless 0-0 draw with group winner Brazil. Brazil had already secured advancement and won Group G with seven points, two more than Portugal. Ivory Coast, which beat North Korea 3-0, was third with four points. The Koreans ended with zero.” (ESPN)

The economics of the World Cup

June 26, 2010

“The FIFA World Cup attracts over 36 billion viewers in little over 4 weeks and this year the tournament will be held for this first time in South Africa. We have taken a look below at the economics of the World Cup when it comes to stadiums and sponsors.” (knowyourmoney)

Why England’s fans loathe their celebrity team

June 26, 2010

“At least I have an excuse for not supporting England. As a British citizen of mongrel origins who moved to the Netherlands aged six, I support Holland. So I view the relationship between the English and their football team with distance, and it always surprises me how badly the two parties get on. Going into tomorrow’s crunch game against Germany, the relationship consists of its typical blend of love and dislike.” (FT – Simon Kuper)

France’s soccer empire in ruins?

June 25, 2010

“The world watched with awe and derision this past week as the French national soccer team, boasting a roster of star players, imploded on and off the field at the World Cup. In case you missed it, here’s the play-by-play. At half-time during the France-Mexico game, striker Nicolas Anelka insulted French coach Raymond Domenech in the locker room. Such words, of course, are heard frequently in the half-time locker rooms of losing teams the world over — though not so often spoken to a coach’s face.” (CNN)

Feeling Bleu
“Just when you thought France could sink no further, it discovers improbable new depths to plumb thanks to outgoing coach Raymond Domenech, whose gift for combining the imperious, the inept and the insulting has few equals in sporting history. No wonder President Nicolas Sarkozy has called crisis ministerial meetings on the French World Cup debacle. The daily Le Monde went further, drawing parallels between this “strange defeat” and another, on the front lines of 1940.” (NYT)

Bleusballed In Paris: Laughing Along At France’s Implosion With The Happily Unhappy French
“Don’t feel sorry for the French. This is a good general rule to follow — like “don’t eat paste” or “never fight a land war in Asia” — but this guideline applies especially in the aftermath of the French national team’s implosion at the World Cup. Really, don’t take pity.” (WorldCupPage)

World Cup tactics: France start afresh with Blanc page
“The debris from the slow-motion car crash that has been the last two years in the life of the France team is unlikely to settle for some time. The fall-out from their spectacularly ugly World Cup failure will rumble long into the summer, with players promising to reveal the full story behind their ill-tempered campaign and government ministers poised to carry out a searching investigation into the failings of the French Football Federation.” (Football Further)

Portugal 0-0 Brazil – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 25 June 2010

June 25, 2010

“Portugal could advance with a draw while Brazil had already clinched their spot in the knockout stage. With Portugal’s 7-0 win over North Korea they had a goal difference of +9 over Ivory Coast heading into the last weekend.” (The 90th Minute)

North Korea 0-3 Ivory Coast – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 25 June 2010
“The Ivory Coast needed a win in their final group stage match against North Korea to have a chance at moving onto the next round. With Portugal having a substantial lead in the goal difference, the Africans would need a win by a large margin combined with Brazil beating Portugal by many goals.” (The 90th Minute)

World Cup 2010: North Korea 0-3 Ivory Coast
“I wonder if I’m the only one in the UK, without a vested interest in either side, who is watching this. To access this on the red button you have to bypass Portugal v Brazil. But this game promises goals. Not just because North Korea capitulated after they made their own substitutions, but because in winning, Ivory Coast need a nine goal swing, as well as a Portugal defeat in the other game. The Ivory Coast have one option, and one tactic. Go for it. 1. Brazil 2. Portugal 3 Ivory Coast 4. North Korea” (twohundredpercent)

Why Italy Flopped

June 25, 2010

“There are a number of theories for why Italy slinked out of the World Cup so shamefully. That the team was old; that coach Marcello Lippi could have picked better attackers; that the Juventus-based central defense with Cannavaro and Chiellini was shaky, and dismally proved it with their club all season long, and so on.” (TNR)

Slovakia 3-2 Italy: Vittek’s hold-up play the key to victory

June 25, 2010

“A crushing defeat for Italy, but a deserved win for Slovakia, who had a more cohesive side and a clearer gameplan.
Marcello Lippi started with three central midfielders (Rino Gattuso was recalled) and one winger, in Simone Pepe. He generally played on the right, although switched to the left later in the first half. Gattuso seemed to occupy whichever side of midfield Pepe was not on. Antonio di Natale played off Vincenzo Iaquinta.” (Zonal Marking)

Japan 3-1 Denmark: two free-kicks settle the game
“A straight play-off for the knockout rounds, with the draw favouring Japan. They didn’t need that safety net, and won the game convincingly. Denmark made two changes. The ineffectual Jesper Gronkjaer was replaced with Thomas Kahlenburg, whilst Simon Kjaer’s suspension meant a rare start for Per Kroldrup. Japan were unchanged.” (Zonal Marking)

Notes from South Africa 2010: Xenophobia and Humanity

June 25, 2010

“Everywhere you turn in South Africa, FIFA has papered walls and billboards with the slogan ‘Ke Nako. Celebrate Africa’s Humanity.’ At first glance it seems banal and harmless. But the more I see it, the more it bothers me. First, there is something discomforting in seeing the large trademark symbol inserted next to every use of the slogan. Can you really trademark ‘Africa’s Humanity?’ Isn’t that exactly the kind of neo-imperialism an African World Cup is supposed to counter?” (Pitch Invasion)

The US takes the World Cup to its heart, but will this dalliance last?

June 25, 2010

“From South Africa to Alaska. U-S-A! From the bars of New York to the suburbs of Wisconsin. U-S-A! From the hallowed halls of the West Wing to the headquarters of ESPN. U-S-A! The results are in – all three of them – and the news is America loves soccer.” (Guardian)

Trying To Make Some Sense Of Germany vs England

June 25, 2010

“Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. Being English during the World Cup finals really does feel like being “stuck in the middle with you”, to labour a pun. On the one hand, there are the newspapers (and not exclusively the tabloid ones), the television commentators, and those that belch in your face and shout, “INGERLAND” at you as if this will somehow help something, somewhere. On the other, there is the rest of the world, which often seems to go out of its way to remember just how much it hates the British, the English, people that wear plastic hats with St Georges crosses painted upon them or whatever. There seems to be no middle ground with England, no way of approximating anything like rationality.” (twohundredpercent)

On Happiness

June 25, 2010

“Five minutes after it happened, Twitter was still in flames, cars were honking, bars were shaking like there’d been an earthquake, ESPN was breaking down in tears. If you spoke Spanish, or were my dad, there was a good chance you’d just heard this. Yahoo! Sports was crashing. My dad, who’s not really a soccer fan, was stuck in the car, couldn’t find the game on English-language radio, and spent 90 minutes trying to follow the Spanish commentary; he called me after the match to find out if what he thought had happened was real. But that was how everyone felt. It’s scary to think how things might have looked if anyone here cared about soccer.” (Run of Play)

32 Nations and 32 Epic Works of Art

June 25, 2010

“ESPN has been setting the bar for football coverage worldwide, not only due to the fact that it has signed up John Motson and Andy Gray to commentate, but also because it has really taken to the culture surrounding the game. It’s a little too much for one post, but I’ll do it anyway. Here are 32 amazing drawings of the 32 nations taking part in the World Cup. What do you guys think? My favourite has to be Switzerland’s with all the players as part of a Swiss Army knife. Brilliant stuff. View them all down below.” (A World Cup Report)

Across the U.S., an Explosion of Joy

June 24, 2010

Bob Bradley
“When Landon Donovan scored in stoppage time to rescue the national soccer team from elimination and sent the Americans to the Round of 16, it was just before noon on the East Coast, just before 9 a.m. on the West Coast, and just plain early in general across the United States. But Americans celebrated the same way, wherever they were.” (NYT)

Desperate Hope, Dramatic Ending for U.S.
“Chance after frantic chance the United States had Wednesday in its 1-0 victory over Algeria at the World Cup, each one more tempting and frustrating than the other. Finally, desperation seemed to tighten like a noose, strangling the Americans’ patience and accuracy.” (NYT)

Goal! The thrill of World Cup victory
“For weeks a multi-front soccer culture war has been raging in the blogosphere. But one goal by the man who just staked a pretty good claim to the title of ” greatest player in the history of U.S. soccer,” Landon Donovan, should permanently change the terms of debate. But first a little context: In the group round of the World Cup, scoring a goal in “stoppage time” — a few minutes of overtime after the end of regulation to make up for time lost to injuries — to break a scoreless tie and move on to the next round is one of the most dramatic things that can possibly happen in soccer.” (Salon)

A Foreign Game Looks Very American
“Tim Howard was playing hurry-up, booting the ball in desperation, watching the backs of his teammates, American athletes, as they raced downfield trying to save four years of effort. ‘It wasn’t a soccer match,” Howard said. “It was an athletics match, track and field.’ Sprinting has been, in its way, an American sport, whereas soccer has always been a foreign sport that frightens people — well, except for the millions of Americans lined up in pubs and dens and offices all over their country on a weekday morning, going crazy after the best, or the most dramatic, or the most important soccer match in American history.” (NYT)

Bliss, and a Belgian Spared
“It has been a beautiful day. It was a perfect match, offering up everything that draws us to football. The devastation of the goal-that-was-not, the relief as the team, rather than fumbling into frustration, kept carefully building up excellent plays, defending beautifully, and pushing, pushing, pushing. Raïs M’Bohli, the Paris-born Congolese/Algerian goalkeeper — who, I imagine and hope, will be moving on rapidly from his professional team in Bulgaria after this showing — stopping the goals relentlessly, seemingly on his way to becoming Algeria’s new national hero. In perfect if sadistic form, the team kept us all in suspense until the very end, when in a beautiful, invincible run, scrappy, a little enraged, bringing together Donovan, Altidore and Demsey in a gorgeous one-two-three, and here in Durham and throughout the country and the world there was that explosion of joy that can only come when it has been long-deferred, seemingly unattainable, and perfectly plucked from out of nowhere.” (Soccer Politics)

The American Ascendancy
“And then it happened. Sunil cried, too. And he woke up this morning to escort Bill Clinton and shake the trees for votes from FIFA’s 24-member Politburo for that 2002 World Cup bid. (Clinton is the bid’s honorary chairman; he got a big cheer when his face appeared on the video board last night.) ESPN was assured another weekend of USA-fired ratings. And given that we’ve landed for the first two knockout rounds in the best group since the Beatles, the possibility for advancing further than any modern US men’s national team are real. Project 2010, anyone?” (TNR)

The Two Escobars

June 24, 2010

“While rival drug cartels warred in the streets and the country’s murder rate climbed to highest in the world, the Colombian national soccer team set out to blaze a new image for their country. What followed was a mysteriously rapid rise to glory, as the team catapulted out of decades of obscurity to become one of the best teams in the world. Central to this success were two men named Escobar: Andrés, the captain and poster child of the National Team, and Pablo, the infamous drug baron who pioneered the phenomenon known in the underworld as ‘Narco-soccer.’ But just when Colombia was expected to win the 1994 World Cup and transform its international image, the shocking murder of Andres Escobar dashed the hopes of a nation.” (30 for 30)

Germany 1-0 Ghana: Ghana pay the price for not picking up Özil, but both progress

June 24, 2010

“Like yesterday’s Uruguay v Mexico game – a strange contest, because both teams were happy with the scoreline as it stood for most of the second half.
As such, mentality and strategy are difficult to assess, but these are certainly the best two sides in the group, and they put on a great show in Durban that resulted in a narrow victory for Germany, the group winners.” I(Zonal Marking)

World Cup 2010: Ghana 0-1 Germany
“If England supporters had reason to be concerned that their run of not having been knocked out at the opening stages of the World Cup finals since 1958 mind come to an end, then the question of what might be running through the minds of German supporters this evening probably also merits our consideration. Germany last failed to get through the opening round of the World Cup finals in 1938 and, unlike England, they have qualified for every tournament since then. Yet the precariousness of their position has gone curiously unmentioned in the British press. If Germany fail to beat Ghana this evening and Serbia beat Australia, Germany, who had everyone singing their praises after the opening match hiding that they dished out to Australia, will be out in the first round of the World Cup finals.” (twohundredpercent)

Ghana 0-1 Germany – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 23 June 2010
“Germany and Ghana played their final group stage match with a chance at the knockout stage still alive. The winner would win Group D and likely play England in the next round. Germany would be favored but Ghana came into the match with the lead with four points.” (The 90th Minute)

Australia 2-1 Serbia – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 23 June 2010
“Australia needed a win and some help while Serbia could advance with a draw as the two teams played in Group D. Serbia would favored but Australia will be wanting to show their run into the round of 16 in 2006 was not a fluke. Australia was unlikely to have a chance to win the group while Serbia could with a win and better goal difference then Germany (if they won).” (The 90th Minute)

2010 FIFA World Cup Group D Final Standings: Germany & Ghana advance
“The matches in Group D are finished in the 2010 FIFA World Cup as Germany & Ghana have advanced. Ghana topped Australia on goal difference while Germany led the final standings with six points. Australia just missed out on goal difference as they beat Serbia 2-1 in their final match. It was a close group in the end and all three teams still had a chance going into their final match. Germany will now place England in the next round while Ghana faces the USA.” (The 90th Minute)

Slovakia 3-2 Italy – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 24 June 2010

June 24, 2010

“The defending World Cup Champions, Italy, needed to get at least a draw against Slovakia on Thursday, June 24, 2010 to advance out of the group stage. For Slovakia, they could advance with a win as long as the other match ended favorably for them.” (The 90th Minute)

2010 FIFA World Cup Group F Final Standings: Paraguay & Slovakia advance
“Group F in the 2010 FIFA World Cup has wrapped up with Paraguay placing first and Slovakia getting second place. Those two teams will advance to the next round of the tournament while Italy and Slovakia are eliminated. It’s a surprise result to see the defending champions eliminated but they just couldn’t get the result. The final group standings are below.” (The 90th Minute)

Paraguay 0-0 New Zealand – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 24 June 2010
“New Zealand has surprised with two draws but now needed a win to advance to the knockout stage as they face Paraguay. The All Whites came into the World Cup has one of the lowest ranked sides but has showed an ability to compete in this tournament. Paraguay could clinch the group title with a win or a draw and an Italy loss.” (The 90th Minute)

Late Italian rally falls short; Slovakia advances to round of 16
“Defending champion Italy was eliminated Thursday from the World Cup with a humbling 3-2 loss to Slovakia, which advanced. Slovakia finished second in Group F to Paraguay. The Italians were last, the first time they’ve ever finished at the bottom of an opening-round group.” (ESPN)

England 1-0 Slovenia: England more balanced and better in possession

June 24, 2010

“A much improved performance from England that sees them narrowly progress into the knockout stages of the competition. Slovenia looked to be through at full-time, but a late goal from Landon Donovan against Algeria sends them out. England made three changes from their 0-0 defeat with Algeria. Matthew Upson replaced the suspended Jamie Carragher, with John Terry shifting across to play as the right-sided centre-back. James Milner came in for Aaron Lennon, and Jermain Defoe was ahead of Emile Heskey.” (Zonal Marking)

Slovenia 0 England 1: match report
“It’s the Germans again. It’s history and hysteria again, hopes and fears rolled into one heaving, epic confrontation again. At 3pm on Sunday, the nation will stop, tune in and watch nervously the pictures of the drama unfolding in Bloemfoentein. The streets will be empty, the front rooms full because it’s England versus Germany, the fixture that fixates.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter)

James Lawton: Dare we believe the hype again? A little fighting spirit can go a long way
“England are not much nearer to winning the World Cup, not with rampant Argentina as potential quarter-final opponents, and finishing second in the Group of Extremely Unlikely Death will never rate as one of the great battle ribbons. It’s also true that the old nemesis Germany lurks in Bloomfontein on Sunday. No, the path to World Cup glory has not exactly opened up. Germany, Argentina, Spain, and then Brazil, maybe, are a series of hurdles that stretch out to a Himalayan degree.” (Independent)

Altitude may be dragging Wayne Rooney down
“No footballer has ever seemed less enigmatic than the Wayne Rooney who erupted on to the scene as a pugnacious teenager, still 16 when his spectacular last-minute goal at Goodison Park ended Arsenal’s 30-match unbeaten run in the league. At 17 he was given his first start in a senior international match, and those who were at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light to see him inspire the defeat of Turkey in a Euro 2004 qualifying match will never forget the impact of a player to whom fear and self-doubt were strangers.” (Guardian)

Listening to the World Cup: Waka Waka, Zangaléwa and Vuvuzelas

June 24, 2010

“From the first 2010 World Cup broadcasts on ESPN, my fellow tweeters cracked jokes about The Lion King. We imagined Rafiki calling the matches, or James Earl Jones (who provided the voice for Mufasa), and half expected the referees to raise the Jabulani aloft to announce the arrival of the New Ball. Most folks simply observed, ‘I feel like I am watching The Lion King.'” (From A Left Wing)

Donovan rescues U.S. World Cup dream with goal in 91st minute

June 23, 2010

“Landon Donovan scored a stunning goal in the first minute of injury time, advancing the United States to the second round at the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Algeria. With the U.S. perhaps three minutes from elimination Wednesday, Donovan brought the ball upfield on a counterattack and Jozy Altidore’s shot on the breakaway was tipped by Clint Dempsey into goalkeeper Rais Bolihi. The rebound went to Donovan, who kicked it in from about 8 yards for one of the biggest goals in U.S. soccer history.” (ESPN)

USA vs. Algeria World Cup instant analysis
“The teams are heading out, and the BBC cuts away from the tennis just in time. Phew! I almost had to tell you what someone on the radio was telling me was going on. Bob Bradley can hardly keep the grin off his face during the anthem, players’ attempt at the hands-on-shoulders move has *not* been well choreographed today. You can see how much this means to them, though. Algerian anthem sounds like the music British broadcasters use in the background of clips from horse racing. Not unpleasant, is what I’m saying.” (SI)

United States 1, Algeria 0: U.S. Wins Group C
“Three thoughts after the U.S.’s 1-0 victory against Algeria, sending the U.S. into the second round of the World Cup for the first time since 2002…” (SI)

U.S. puts up brave fight to advance
“As they have throughout this tournament, the Americans put up a brave fight. This time they delivered a victory, with their 1-0 win putting them through to the knockout stage. Here’s how each individual U.S. player performed.” (ESPN)

Could We Be Any More Likeable?
“Every couple of months, Bob Bradley produces a crisis of faith. His team slips and the mind wonders, what if Jurgen Klinsmann were the man in charge? Would we look so shaky in the back? Would our attack have a bit more flair?” (TNR)

United States (USA) 1-0 Algeria – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 23 June 2010
“The USA faced Algeria knowing they would need at least a draw and likely a win to advance out of the group stage. Algeria still had a chance but would need a win and some help in the other match.” (The 90th Minute)

Landon Donovan GOAL VIDEO: USA Scores To Win In Stoppage Time
“The United States advanced in the World Cup on Wednesday with a critical goal in stoppage time. With just minutes remaining in the game, Landon Donovan knocked in a goal to put the United States up for good. Scroll down to watch. The victory ended Slovenia’s World Cup trip, and the United States will learn the identity of their next opponent Wednesday afternoon, when Group D is finally sorted out.” (Huffington Post)

Deconstructing The Jabulani

June 23, 2010

“After seeing some of the comments on the site, and after hearing the rampant discussion concerning the lack of goals during the first round of group play, I understand that there’s a lot of confusion about the effects of new Jabulani ball. For those of you that have been living in a cave, essentially the argument is that the new ball is very different, and because of this, there haven’t been a lot of goals scored because players aren’t used to how the ball flies through the air. The argument goes on that the players are using ‘old’ techniques to kick the new ball and these ‘old’ techniques are causing the ball to fly above the cross bar an inordinate number of times.” (Yanks Are Coming)

The Puzzle

June 23, 2010

“Nothing is funnier than this article, but nothing is faster than this tournament, even if it seems to roll at a regal pace. If you stop to rest, or write a post about John Terry’s failed career as the seditious leader of a crushed splinter sect, two more matches blow past, the tortoise wins the championship, and the only rock with your name on it is covered with vines forever. We have to move with the times. If John Terry’s failed career as the seditious leader of a crushed splinter sect tells us anything, it’s that.” (Run of Play)