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)