The Currents of History: What does it take to win the World Cup?

July 5, 2010

Giovanni Battista Di Jacopo, Pieta
“‘What does it take to win the World Cup?’ asked Henry D Fetter of The Atlantic a couple of days ago, in a post called ‘What It Takes To Win The World Cup’.” (Pitch Invasion)

Özil the German
“No player has fascinated me more at the World Cup than Mesut Özil. He has the languid self-assurance on the ball that comes only to the greatest footballers. Where others are hurried, he has time. He conjures space with a shrug. His left foot can, with equal ease, caress a pass or unleash a shot.” (NYT)

Tap-in and Taboo
“If this happens, what will people say about Bryan Thomas (on Twitter, in newspapers, on comment threads)? Will anyone say that he has violated the ethics of the game, that he deserves further punishment? Will anyone argue that the rules of the game need to be changed so that teams cannot benefit from committing a penalty? I suspect, rather, that Thomas will be generally credited with a very smart play. How is what Luis Suárez did at the end of yesterday’s match against Ghana any different?” (Run of Play)

when i get older
“Brian at the Run of Play did a very good job crushing the idea floated in The Atlantic that countries with an authoritarian history play more winning football. The idea memed, nonetheless. (Shocked that highbrow soccer dorks — my favourite phrase this World Cup, used by TNR Goalpost to describe their ideal reader base) appear not to check RoP before coffee.) Laughable, snobbish solipsism — it’s not just for FIFA anymore, kids.” (Treasons, Statagems & Spoils)

Time Can Do So Much
“What I want to know is whether we’ll remember any of this in ten years, or if we’ll look back on it as the mass blackout during which we all wrote mystic texts. I can’t remember two more deranged or thrilling days of soccer, or four more shocking games, in any recent tournament, and Euro 2008 made me compare Aphrodite to a Toyota Prius. It was all the more stunning because it came out of nowhere—that’s not to say this World Cup had been boring, but it had rolled along at a pretty regular tempo and, apart from a few moments of madness and bliss, within a fairly livable emotional band.” (Run of Play)

The World Cup’s best starting 11

July 5, 2010

“In theory, has there ever been a World Cup in which picking a Not Quite All-Tournament team (NQATT) should have been easier? The only challenge was to find a formation that would incorporate Messi, Rooney and Torres upfront and Kaka, Ronaldo and Ribery in midfield. But then they actually played the games. Despite all the glossy, megamillion-dollar ad campaigns — when Nike said, ‘Write the future,’ perhaps it meant 2014 — many of the world’s elite players sank to the occasion in South Africa, opening the door for the lesson-known names to show that you don’t have to make $250,000 a week and own a fleet of Lamborghinis to strut your talent on the big stage. So for now — before the semifinals kick off and change everything — we salute the guys behind the guys, because let’s face it, it might be back to normal in four years.” (ESPN)

Argentina Flounder Before German Unity

July 5, 2010

“Out of the chaos of the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup has come some degree of consensus. If today’s newspapers have one theme running through them, that theme is that Germany are currently the best football team in the world and that, to a point, it would be a travesty if they didn’t win the competition. All of this is somewhat odd, since it is effectively an admission that they got their predictions wrong before the start of the tournament (there weren’t many in the mainstream press that didn’t predict Brazil or Spain), but this groundswell of opinion has been building for the last few days.” (twohundredpercent)

Spain 1-0 Paraguay: Spain squeeze out a result again

July 5, 2010

“A familiar story for Spain. Good ball retention, a struggle until Torres departs, and Villa saves the day, scoring in a 1-0 win. That could quite easily be a description of their previous game, against Portugal. Spain lined up with their usual lopsided 4-2-3-1 formation and the expected XI, whilst Paraguay made six – yes, six – changes to the side that scraped through against Japan in the previous round.” (Zonal Marking)

Inventing The New Germany: Youth Development and the Bundesliga

July 5, 2010

“One should be wary of generalising too much from a sample of five games, but Germany’s tremendously successful World Cup so far and the quality of its young players, with its youngest-ever team at the tournament averaging out at 24.7 years-old, has sparked plenty of understandable interest in its youth development system.” (Pitch Invasion)

Following England in South Africa

July 5, 2010

“The 2010 World Cup was my first time following England abroad and a hugely enjoyable experience it was, despite the results. Wandering around Johannesburg airport on Monday night (my flight had been delayed because of the plane taking the England team home, to add insult to injury), I came across a snack bar called Capellos, which promised ‘Food. Passion. People’. I couldn’t help but snort.” (WSC)

World Cup scouting: The 32 – Week Three

July 5, 2010

“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)