WC2014 Russia 1 – 1 South Korea


You. There. Now. Naughty Step. Bad Goalkeeper.

You. There. Now. Naughty Step. Bad Goalkeeper.

A Coup Too Far

What is it that former Don turned Kremlin Field Kommander Fabio Capello does to his goalkeepers? There has to be some kind of heinous training regime or hazing ritual he throws on them to ensure they are ready for a World Cup of Total Humiliation! (yes with capital letters and an exclamation mark, that kind of Total Humiliation!). First, poor Rob Green somehow spoons a simple USA shot into his own net in 2010, now, four years on and with an entirely different country lining his pockets, he has formerly solid Russian keeper Igor Akinfeev bloop the ball into his own goal.  It must be something really special as Capello remains the best paid international manager in the world.  You genuinely can’t buy that kind of talent for less than £6mil pa.

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What We Learned From Uruguay vs South Korea (2-1)


Can’t Defend, Won’t Defend

Well we all knew that the South Koreans came with buckets of enthusiasm and gung-ho attitude but hadn’t got a clue how to defend effectively and thus it was today. Like Chile against Spain, they were holding their own for the first 20 minutes or so before they had a defensive brain spasm and simply let Diego Forlorn, who had barely had a touch, cross the ball behind their entire back four all the way across the goal to Sanchez who was waiting on the other side for a tap in. After that it was, effectively, game over. The South Koreans could never beat the hard-nosed Uruguayan defence.

You have to admire the Uruguayans, they have a tight defense, an acceptable midfield and three hot strikers. Well, OK, with Sanchez and Forlorn you’ve got two and they throw in another one for good measure. Terrifyingly they could go all the way.

49 Down 15 To Go, 15 Teams Remaining

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Extra Extra What About Them Second Rounds Then


Group Of Ease

Yeah, so one of Uruguay, South Korea, USA or Ghana is going to a World Cup semi-final. And, let’s face it, that should have been Engerland not USA in that list. Out of these I give the Koreans little or no chance, for while they have a great team with a couple of decent players, they’re up against Uruguay, who have the excellent Diego Forlorn, who seems to be one of the very few players not to have been overwhelmed by the scale of the World Cup and has actually seized control of and dominated games. I see Uruguay going right the way through to the semi. USA have a great team with a never say die attitude, but attitude aside all they really have to offer is Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey and I’m not convinced. Ghana are a great strong passing side, who haven’t managed to score goals other than penalties so far. You can see them riding the wave of African euphoria, but they’re going to have trouble when they come up against a quality side.

Group Of Death

Forget any previous pussy, lame Groups of Death, this is the real thing. Germany, Engerland, Argentina and, well there’s always one, Mexico. For Engerland to get to the semis, we’re going to have to beat both the Germans and the Argies. If we get that far life will be very sweet indeed and we’ll probably only have to beat Spain and Brazil to win the big lump of gold. So no pressure there boys. If we want to win it, we’re going to have to do it the hard way. Heart says we go through and win, rational analysis says it’ll be the bloody Argies (again).

Group Of Football

With both Holland and Brazil, this should be a group of total football. Holland, I suspect have been playing a very cagey game and not really over-exerting themselves. Straight wins throughout their First Round matches means that they haven’t really been tested yet and I don’t see the conquerors of Italy, Slovakia, giving them any trouble at all. I think the Dutch will open with their wingmen and then we’ll see some football. Brazil and Chile should play off a great South American cup tie, but given Chile’s attack only policy and Brazil’s excellent defence I see Brazil wiping the floor with Chile’s poor quality defending. Brazil v Holland will be a cracking quarter final, which will provide Brazil with a really serious test, but this Brazil side is pretty formidable and, like the Dutch, just beginning to find their form. I see this as Brazil’s group.

Group Of Unexpected

Ideally, Spain and Chile should have switched groups, but they didn’t so this group has the Tweedledumb and Tweedledumberer match up of Spain and Portugal, in some ways it hardly matters which one of them comes through. Spain will have a tough game, they seem to have lost their way mentally and don’t know which direction to go in. Now true World Cup Champions always undergo some kind of transformation during the tournament, but the transformation Spain are undergoing is tortuous. Will they sacrifice the beautiful game that got them here for a pragmatic hoof and wingplay game we saw them trying before Chile gifted them the game? Portugal will be a hard test, they have a rock solid defence and are really hard to play against and when they’re in flow as they were against North Korea, they can’t half knock in the goals. I see Portugal going through. Paraguay and Japan will be a fantastic, open game, the Japanese will not give in and Paraguay are a decent team. This match should be a cracker and I see Portugal going out of this group.

The Semis

I see these being

Uruguay vs Engerland

Brazil vs Portugal

Can’t help being optimistic eh?

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What We Learned From Group B Eliminators


Football, That’s Messi – Argentina 2 – 0 Greece

Happy, happy, joy, joy as Ren & Stimpy would say. We couldn’t be happier if, say, the entire French team imploded, went on strike and left South Africa in ignominy. Messi and his band of merry chaps (none merrier than Cheat of the Year 1986 Maradona on the 24th Anniversary of both the Best Goal Ever Scored In A World Cup and the Hand of God), spent the best part of 90 minutes teaching the Greeks an object lesson in footballing technique. Set up to deliberately frustrate and stifle the Argies, the Greeks were the abject personification of the Mourinho Discipline. They man-marked Messi, set up their two banks of four as their most attacking option, two banks of five being their defensive version, and generally showed all the ambition the Swiss and Ukrainians did in their Round of 16 at the last World Cup. Yet all that did was allow Veron to shine. He was outstanding and basically ruled the pitch for the entire first half.

Ultimately, the Greeks had to fold and once the Argies had scored it was game over. Then Maradona introduced his latest talisman, his sixth (yes sixth) striker, the 36 year-old Martin Palermo, whose international career had been over for 10 years before Maradona brought him back to face Peru in the Qualifications, where he scored a vital goal. Here he played in Messi’s second serious attempt on goal and he couldn’t have been happier. “Hey Greeks,” he seemed to be saying, “I haven’t played international football for a decade and I’m still better than you are.” We just enjoyed the suffering of the Greeks. They were super shit and paid the price. Argentina will face Mexico in the next round.

South Korea 2 – 2 Nigeria

South Korea got the luck and Nigeria paid the price for their indiscipline and useless performance against Greece. You have to admire the adventure and spirit of the Koreans, just as you have to expect their early exit in the next round against Uruguay, because for all their adventure, they are woeful at the back, kind of the opposite of the Mourinho Discipline.

So Bye-Bye Greece And Nigeria

You were too useless, too cautious, too miserably defensive or too inept to continue. Your planes await you. Good to know all our Group A and Group B predictions have come true. Here’s to the impending calamity that is the Engerland Slovenia match. God help us all.

36 Down 28 To Go 25 Teams Remaining

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Extra Extra What We Learned At The Halfway Point


The Competition Has Kicked Off

Yes, the Second Round of Group matches were certainly better than the First Round. Most teams understood that they couldn’t simply defend all the time and play for a draw, even the Swiss, whose adoption of an almost ‘Neutral Country’ option has seen them regularly top both the Haven’t Conceded and the Haven’t Scored tables, realised that at some point they’d have to come out and have a shot, although to be fair they did have something that vaguely resembled a shot in the First Round and it paid off handsomely. The games got faster and more meaningful as we saw Matches That Mattered and teams realised that there was a very real danger of their World Cup ending later this week.

The Goals Are Coming

As teams threw off the shackles of defensive cowardice and started attacking we began to see more goals. Few teams were content to sit on a one goal lead and continued to press their opponents. Some goals were even good, although few of them were up to the Tshabalala standard. However, I distinctly remember exclaiming, “What a goal” more than once during Round 2.

The Cheating Has Started

Grab and Dive, with or without pirouette, is the order of the day. Compulsive penalty box wrestling at every set piece. Not that much deliberate diving, but plenty of subtle blocking and writhing around. All in an attempt to cheat your way to a free kick or some colour of card for the opposition, or both. Not good. I think if it continues, we will see some kind of tv replay system introduced on the fly, if only because the whole world is watching.

Lots of Empty Seats

Now that it’s getting serious I suspect we won’t be seeing too many empty stadiums, but I’d lay money that there will be empty seats at the Uruguay Mexico match, where both teams need only to draw to go through (0 – 0 anyone?). However, too many venues have been conspicuously less than capacity.

Who Has Been Naughty?

It’s goodbye to South Africa, France (very naughty), Nigeria, Greece (very bad),  Algeria,  Oztralia (awful), Serbia (painful). Cameroon, New Zealand (rubbish), Slovakia (tedious), Ivory Coast (unlucky to get Group of Death for the second World Cup in a row), North Korea, and Honduras. You are all officially too crap for the World Cup. Book your flights now.

Who Has Been Nice?

And it’s hello to Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, South Korea, Ghana, Germany, Holland, Paraguay, Italy, Brazil, Portugal, and Chile. Nicely done South America.

And Who Is Bricking It?

Group C is totally up for grabs with two of Engerland, USA and Slovenia, the permutations are excruciating, but basically all teams have to win to be sure that they will qualify. In Group E Japan and Denmark will duke it out, a draw being enough to take the Japanese through. Group H is so complicated that Spain, Chile and Switzerland could all end up with 6 points and theoretically identical goal differences and goals scored, in which case as Spain will have beaten Chile, who have beaten Switzerland, who have beaten Spain lots would have to be drawn.  Makes penalty shoot outs seem tame by comparison.

And Who Is Really Bricking It Most?

Has to be ever-optimistic no-hopers Engerland, who just seem utterly unable to cope with the pressure of having to play a few matches away from home in front of large television audiences. Basking in unwarrented media acclaim and with performances getting more inadequate by the day, Engerland are a disaster waiting to happen. And while the French are imploding with a farcical degree of hilarity, Engerland can’t even manage an effective internal coup d’etat. One thing is clear, Wednesday could be the most excruciating game of football ever played.

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What We Learned From Argentina vs South Korea (4-1)


Who’s Your Main Man?

No, it’s not little wizard Messi, it’s not even hat-trick hero Higuan, it’s the wee tiger tank Tevez. I love Tevez not simply because he kept West Ham in the Premiership, while at the same time almost bankrupting them; not simply because he massively fucked off Man U by helping them win the Premiership then flounced off to Man City; no, I love Tevez because he has the jawbone of a bull chimp and the attitude of Mike Tyson. In the same way that Tyson in his prime would just flip his switch and walk from one corner of the ring to the other while simultaneously giving his opponent the face pummelling they so obviously richly deserved, so Tevez simply rampages through opponents cleverly using his body strength to maximum effect. You sense that he is one of the few players in the Tournament who will always threaten to be a game changer.

The Argies Are Like Deputy Commissioner Rawls (Not Bunk Moreland)

For when it came time to fuck the lovely Bunk Moreland-like South Korea they were not gentle, they put the boot in, especially after the plucky Bunk Moreland’s delivered a stone banker murder clearance to make the score 2 – 1. No, nasty Rawls threatened to put the Bunk on the boat patrol with naughty boy Jimmy “What The Fuck Did I Do” McNulty.

You’ve Got To Make The Breakaways Count (pt 1)

2 – 1 down, the South Koreans have the best break of the game, a fantastic flowing move down the right side of the pitch, giving Yeom Ki-Hun the perfect opportunity to level the game. He missed and the Rawls juggernaut just kept a-rollin’. Goals change games and at this level you’ve got to score them. Still, hopefully the plucky South Koreans have done enough to get through this Group as you’ve got to bank them to stuff the Nigerians, while the Argies should roundly fuck the Greeks.

18 Down 46 To Go

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