Italy 1 – 1 Paraguay

June 14, 2010

“Italy fell behind, then lost its star goalkeeper for the second half. So a 1-1 World Cup draw with Paraguay should not have been all that disturbing for the defending champions. Yet the Azzurri’s underwhelming, rain-soaked draw hardly was pleasing to coach Marcello Lippi, the same man who guided the Italians to their fourth championship in 2006.” (ESPN)

Holders Italy on the defensive
“If Italy’s World Cup campaign doesn’t get off to a flying start against Paraguay tonight, it won’t be because the world champions have been dragged down by the weight of expectations. The nation is braced for failure after an uninspiring qualifying campaign, dreary performances in warmers and the loss of their main creative force, Andrea Pirlo, at least for the first two games with a calf problem. The core of the team are over-30s from the 2006 squad, several clearly past their best, including Gianluca Zambrotta and captain Fabio Cannavaro, who will play in Dubai for Al-Ahli next season after Juventus let the centre-back go.” (WSC)

Italy 1-1 Paraguay – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 14 June 2010
“The 2006 World Champions began their Group Stage of the 2010 tournament against CONMEBOL side Paraguay. Italy come into this World Cup with almost no one picking them to repeat as champions. Paraguay know that any result in this match would put them in good position to move into the knockout stage.” (The 90th Minute)

A Short History of World Cup Goalkeeping Blunders

June 14, 2010

“Robert Green’s ‘hand of clod’ goal against the United States, painful as it was to watch (here it is again!) … … was not the first howler committed by the England keeper.” (NYT)

World Cup 2010: Brazil coach Dunga insists on substance before style

June 14, 2010

“The sound of booing from his own team’s supporters will not surprise Brazil’s head coach at Ellis Park tomorrow night. Whatever goes on inside the mind of Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri, better known as Dunga, his exterior is armour-plated. And, having heard it all before, he will not allow criticism to deflect him from his mission.” (Guardian)

Germany 4-0 Australia – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 13 June 2010

June 14, 2010

Durban Transport
“One of the most consistent teams in the history of the World Cup, Germany, began the 2010 tournament against AFC side Australia. The Socceroos surprised last year with some great play that moved them into the round of 16 and looking to build on that in 2010. The match was a 20:30 local time start on Sunday, June 13, 2010.” (The 90th Minute)

Germany 4-0 Australia: Germany excellent, but quality exaggerated by poor Australian tactics
“We’ve now seen half of the 32 teams that will be contesting this tournament, and whilst we haven’t yet sampled the three most exciting sides – Holland, Brazil and Spain – it is undeniable that Germany have been by far the most impressive so far.” (Zonal Marking)

World Cup 2010: Germany 4-0 Australia
“It’s a conundrum for English national team fans, who to support out of the football and cricket arch-enemies. But it’s not a problem for long as the game is over as a debating point within the first quarter. In the ITV studio, Edgar Davids is making it clear that it’s “C’mon Aussie, C’mon” for him. He looks perplexed when Adrian Chiles brings up England’s propensity to lose to Oz at rugby and cricket. He’s clearly not sure what rugby and cricket are; but he looks just as puzzled at every question Chiles asks.” (twohundredpercent)

Holland 2-0 Denmark: Dutch struggle to break down a disciplined Danish defence
“A quiet game won by two scrappy goals – not really the performance we were hoping for from Holland. Some credit should go to Morten Olsen – his tactics stifled Holland’s creative players and Denmark did have chances to score. Holland lined up as expected considering the injury to Arjen Robben – Rafael Van der Vaart played on the left, Dirk Kuyt was on the right, and Welsey Sneijder played behind Robin van Persie.” (Zonal Marking)

Lack of depth tempers Dutch expectations
“You would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the media here – or indeed in the country as a whole – who doesn’t think the Dutch will win their opening Group E match against Denmark. This may smack of overconfidence, but it’s probably more accurate to describe it as justifiable optimism. The team’s long unbeaten run and impressive performances in the last three practice matches before leaving for South Africa – banging in 12 goals against Hungary, Ghana and Mexico – has instilled a healthy degree of self-belief.” (WSC)

World Cup 2010: Netherlands 2-0 Denmark
“Half way through the opening set of fixtures then, and we’ve already seen two of the semi-finalists in action. Only Germany have really looked good enough to be worthy of it so far, but the lower half of the draw contains more big guns, with favourites Spain and Brazil, not to mention holders Italy, all to come shortly.” (twohundredpercent)

The Difficulty of Being a Goalie

June 14, 2010

“Two goalies emerged scarred out of the drama of yesterday’s USA-England game. One injured but with pride intact, another perhaps irreparably damaged professionally. I remember well how, as a kid playing YMCA soccer in suburban Maryland, I learned the universal lesson we were reminded of yesterday: being a goalie is hell. Perhaps the only goalie to have won the Nobel Prize for literature, Albert Camus (in the front row in the snazzy clothes below) wrote that what he know most surely ‘about morality and the duty of man,’ he learned from playing football at the Racing Universitaire d’Alger in Algeria as a young man.” (Soccer Politics)

The Question: Why is the modern offside law a work of genius?

June 14, 2010

“Nothing in football is so traduced as the offside law. Most seem to regard it as a piece of killjoy legislation, designed almost to prevent football producing too many goals and being too much fun, while for the punditocracy it has become the universal scapegoat, the thing that ‘nobody understands’. Just because Garth Crooks doesn’t get something, though, doesn’t make it a bad thing. The modern offside law may be the best thing that’s ever happened to football, and it is almost certainly the reason Barcelona have been so successful with a fleet of players whose obvious asset is their technique rather than their physique.” (Guardian)

Beyond the Line

June 14, 2010

“In early April, silly flags were already flapping all around Beirut. A non-resident would think that dignitaries from the entire United Nations were about to make an appearance, adding a touch of color to our city. According to numerous sources, the flags had sprouted much earlier. As early as January, my sister made sure to tell me. I don’t think any earlier than that, my mother said. People were too busy with Christmas and New Years, and in 2009, Ashura, the Shiite holiday fell at the same time—far too much going on for anyone to concentrate. It was still not 2010, in any case.” (TNR), (Must Read Soccer)

Fans on TV

June 14, 2010

“I made certain vows and promises in the days before this started respecting things I wouldn’t touch, and I can’t break them now. So if it feels like something’s missing from this argument, it’s only that I’m trying to save my soul. You can fill in those blanks better than I could, anyway.” (Run of Play)

World Cup 2010 – 8 Young Players to Watch

June 14, 2010

“Every four years, a young player emerges and blossoms into a star at the World Cup. Often the young player comes off the bench in the first game, and then during the rest of the tournaments, he’s the main man.It is hard to predict exactly which players will be prominent at this kind of tournament, as lots of coaches pick young players with energy and fresh legs to do the damage at the latter stages of a tense game. With club officials and coaches from world class teams scouting young players at the World Cup, more and more younger players become stars after the World Cup.” (Just Football)

World Cup Stereotype and Myth Update, Part I: The German Machine; African Chaos

June 14, 2010

“We all know that with the thrill of the World Cup comes an astonishing array of national, racial, and cultural stereotypes. While we are not yet through the opening round of matches, we are taking a look for posterity’s sake at some of these, seeing how they’ve held up (or not) so far and what might become of them.” (Soccer Politics)

Should This Horn Be Banned?

June 14, 2010

“Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh! We’re writing this column under proper World Cup conditions—with vuvuzelas blasting in both of our ears. Is everyone already exasperated with the Infamous Plastic Horn of Distraction? WE SAID, IS EVERYONE ALREADY EXASPERATED WITH THE INFAMOUS PLASTIC HORN OF DISTRACTION?” (WSJ)

World Cup winners pace their tournaments

June 14, 2010

“A World Cup is like time speeded up, a kaleidoscope of emotions crammed into a month. But the tournament is rarely won by the team that gets out of the blocks fastest. For those sides that start well, dealing with euphoria can often present problems – as the Germans might find after their superb 4-0 win over Australia. Pacing tournaments is normally a traditional German strength, but the 2010 team are young and it will be interesting to see how they cope with the expectations they have now aroused.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)