U.S. has destiny in its own hands

June 22, 2010

Landon Donovan
“Another World Cup, another scenario in which the U.S. has its destiny in its own hands. The question is: Will the Americans seize the moment and advance to the knockout stage, or will they suffer an early exit for the second tournament running? The circumstances are simple: Beat Algeria and the U.S. is in the second round. Even a tie, combined with the right result from the England-Slovenia match, could allow the Americans to progress.” (ESPN)

Questions for Judgment Day
“My wife had a kid on Sunday. Day 10 of the World Cup. She thoughtfully waited until Brazil had swatted aside the Ivory Coast before looking over to me, bedraggled on the couch, and declaring “Ke nako” (it’s time, the official World Cup slogan). The birth of our child brought joy into a world that had been distinctly mirthless since Friday’s England-Algeria debacle, a 90-minute spectacle so unfathomably dire that I found myself accidentally cheering for the Desert Foxes at times and was overwhelmed with nostalgia for a return to the good old days of English footy, when Sven-Goran Eriksson was commanding at the helm, the WAGs added depth and seriousness to the news reporting from Germany, and a plethora of insightful autobiographies were released by the team’s leaders the moment they came home.” (ESPN)

Why the U.S. will win
“The task at foot against Algeria tomorrow is simple: win and the Americans are in. Win big, and they’re even likely to finish first in their group. (Plus, given their last match, it can’t hurt to load up on some spare goals in case a referee starts hallucinating in the penalty area.) And while I’m not dumping Gatorade on my Landon Donovan action figure just yet, here are five reasons why I’m keeping some on ice.” (ESPN)

Live From South Africa: How the English Hate Themselves
“Watching the dispirited, sad, frankly pathetic display the English team put on against Algeria, I couldn’t help but wonder what we can learn about this nation that once ruled the world. Over and over again they looked like over-privileged, over-priced, over-pampered aristocrats, with all the skill in the world, and absolutely no heart. It was like they never met each other. How do we explain how a team with some of the greatest players in the world, from a country that actually invented the game, could be so horrible?” (Huffington Post)

World Cup 2010: Stakes are high but we are not afraid, say Slovenians
“Fabio Capello sends his side out at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium tomorrow afternoon with his opposite number warning that, whereas Slovenia pinch themselves at being on the verge of the knockout phase, England’s weighty reputation demands they progress to the second round.” (Guardian)

World Cup 2010: Rooney hampered by fatigue and pressure, says Ferguson
“Sir Alex Ferguson has been so concerned about Wayne Rooney’s state of mind in the World Cup he has broken off from a holiday in France to ring the out-of-form striker and urge him not to succumb to what the Manchester United manager described as the ‘debilitating’ atmosphere in the England camp.” (Guardian)

South Korea holds on for thrilling draw, takes 2nd in Group B

June 22, 2010

“South Korea has been a regular at the World Cup. All but one of its previous seven appearances ended disappointingly in the first round. There was, however, the 2002 tournament it co-hosted with Japan, when the South Koreans went to the semifinals. On Tuesday, they added another memorable chapter to their soccer history by advancing out of Group A with a 2-2 draw against Nigeria.” (ESPN)

Nigeria 2-2 South Korea – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 22 June 2010
“It was a crucial match in Group B as Nigeria faced South Korea with a spot in the knockout stage on the line. A win from Nigeria would likely put them through while South Korea would likely need only a draw. It was a match with neither side an overwhelming favorite and both with a good chance to get a result.” (The 90th Minute)

Argentina rallies in second half to beat Greece, wins Group B
” Look out, world. Even playing mostly backups Argentina looks good. Martin Demichelis and Martin Palermo scored second-half goals Tuesday as Argentina beat Greece 2-0 at the World Cup to win Group B. Coach Diego Maradona replaced seven starters from the Albiceleste lineup that ran up a 4-1 victory over South Korea — the other team to make it out of the group — but it didn’t matter much. Argentina still won its third straight game.” (ESPN)

Greece 0-2 Argentina – Video Highlights, Recap and, Match Stats – World Cup – 22 June 2010
“Argentina looked to clinch the title in Group B as they faced Greece on Tuesday, June 22, 2010. They have won their first two matches and have looked very strong in the tournament. Greece lost their first but won their second and would likely need at least a draw against Argentina to advance.” (The 90th Minute)

Uruguay 1-0 Mexico: the best two sides from Group A progress

June 22, 2010

“A strange match, considering both teams’ prisoner’s dilemma in this final group game. Both sides were going for the win, of course, but the match is difficult to analyse because the mentality of the sides changed at various points in the game. Mexico started playing with their normal mentality, then switched to an urgent attacking strategy just after half-time, when they became aware of the South Africa v France scoreline. Finally, when they heard France had got a goal back, they reverted to a more cautious approach – still trying to score, but acknowledging that conceding a couple of goals on the counter-attack was not a risk worth taking.” (Zonal Marking)

World Cup 2010: Mexico 0-1 Uruguay
“My first memories of Uruguay as football team – and quite possibly of their existence as a country at all – came from the World Cup in 1986. They were in Scotland’s group then, and were portrayed as thugs, a bunch of big cheating, spoiling, fouling, cynical bruisers who would – if the ref let them – hack Scotland’s magnificent collection of creative wizards out of the tournament. In the event, of course, Scotland did get some help from the ref; Uruguay played the last 89 minutes with ten men, but a Scotland side who had in any case already lost to Denmark and Germany weren’t good enough to break them down.” (twohundredpercent)

2010 FIFA World Cup Group A Final Standings: Uruguay & Mexico advance
“Group A has finished play in the 2010 FIFA World Cup with Uruguay winning the group and Mexico advancing by placing second. South Africa made a run to challenge for the second spot but lost on goal difference. France failed to win a match and was a disappointing last with only one point.” (The 90th Minute)

Mexico 0-1 Uruguay – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 22 June 2010
“The two teams leading Group heading into the final set of matches met as Mexico faced Uruguay. A draw or a close loss would likely see both teams go to the next round as they had the advantage of goal difference on South Africa and France.” (The 90th Minute)

France 1-2 South Africa – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 22 June 2010
“South Africa faced France as both teams looked to sneak into the knockout stage. Each side needed a win, the other match to not end in a draw, and to make up a significant margin in goal difference. While France would normally be the favorite in the match their off the pitch problems would give South Africa a decent chance.” (The 90th Minute)

World Cup 2010: Spain 2-0 Honduras

June 22, 2010

“The part-timers from Honduras took on the mighty European champions Spain with it all at stake: a loss for the Spanish side would see the tournament favourites eliminated at the first hurdle. What could possibly happen? Well, naturally enough, Spain won at a canter. However comfortable the performance, though, the margin of victory could yet cause some furrowed brows and frenzied abacus work come this Friday evening’s Group H deciders.” (twohundredpercent)

Spain 2-0 Honduras – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 21 June 2010
“The favorites heading into the 2010 World Cup, Spain, looked to rebound from a loss in their opening match as they faced Honduras. A loss for either side would be disastrous and likely end their chances of making it out of the knockout stage.”(The 90th Minute)

Argentina’s National Sport In Crisis

June 22, 2010

“Argentina’s officially designated national sport is not soccer, despite all cultural and economic appearances to the contrary: it’s pato, Spanish for duck, a game that’s something of a hybrid between basketball and polo and is nowhere near as popular as soccer. It’s called pato because a live duck was once used instead of a ball, as Argentina Travel Planet helpfully explains…” (Pitch Invasion)

Being Dunga

June 22, 2010

“Anyone nicknamed Dopey– or as the moniker quite nicely translates into Portuguese, Dunga–will be an easy mark for ridicule. Even Carlos Dunga’s most tender gestures, like wearing attire designed by his daughter to big matches, result in the commentariat doubling over in cruel laughter at his expense. But in this World Cup, he has cut an image that is more villainous than comic. He is cast as the heartless assassin of joga bonito, the mercenary who took a pillow and snuffed the élan out of the Brazilian game. Where Maradona is portrayed as lovably unable to control his appetites and Domench as a hapless buffoon, the biopic of Dunga’s life will star Gary Oldman.” (TNR)

France vs. South Africa, Then and Now

June 22, 2010

“In 1998, as the French team prepared to play their first World Cup match, they heard singing from the opposing team’s locker room. The Bafana Bafana — in their first World Cup appearance after the end of apartheid, fielding an integrated team — were gearing up to play with song, and as the two team’s marched down the tunnel out onto the pitch, they continued singing, sending echoes through the halls. For Lilian Thuram, born in Guadeloupe, and Marcel Desailly, born in Ghana, it was a deeply moving moment.” (Soccer Politics)

French Racism and Les Bleus
“Yesterday I participated in two discussions about French football. The first, on the English-language TV station France 24, had a perfect line-up: one person defending the classic “football is alienation” thesis, a sports journalist seeing politics as mainly being projected onto sport, and me, the cultural historian imagining everything as politics.” (Soccer Politics)

Whatever: A French Perspective on French National Team’s Implosion
“I’ve translated an article by Simone Capelli-Welter, a regular contributor to So Foot. It’s a fantastic piece, and in it you can hear an all too familiar frustration with the drama, the hysteria, and the contradictory flows of media discourse on such implosions. This an unauthorized translation – but I am so sick of ESPN/CNN’s stupid reporting on this story that I couldn’t help myself…” (From A Left Wing)

The Anatomy of England

June 22, 2010

“Jonathan Wilson is a very smart man and a very knowledgeable football writer. He has already written two glorious football books (Behind the Curtain: Travels in Eastern European Football and Inverting the Pyramid: A History of Football Tactics) which will put him very high on the all-time greats list. His knowledge of tactics is prodigious and he is by some distance the leading.” (Pitch Invasion)

World Cup 2010: Fans, robbers and a marketing stunt face justice, Fifa style

June 22, 2010

“The Johannesburg magistrates’ court is the sort of unloved municipal building whose corridors smell of damp and bureaucracy, and whose chilly courtrooms recall Bismarck’s observation that those who love sausages and believe in justice should never see either being made.” (Guardian)