Sunday, June 22, 2014

World Cup Game 2

Picking up where we left off I guess - lots of goals; not as many comebacks, though still a couple - and lots of late drama; 4 draws, instead of 2, though that includes what was just about the game of the game of the tournament, and a last second equalizer; plus upsets, near upsets, and so on. Plenty of football being played, and though there have been some grinders, even they have been tight and dramatic. It's been good stuff.

The story, I suppose, is Spain being out. It isn't surprising, watching them play - they were static and dull against Holland; they were run off the field by Chile. You can see the reasons, retrospectively - lack of defensive steel; not really getting Costa integrated with the team; maybe some of the central players getting old. And sometimes, good teams lay an egg - look at Holland in 2012 - and look where they are now. Meanwhile, England is out too - and gnashing their teeth about it. It looked a close thing in the first one - not the second one though. Strange coaching decisions in there - in the Italy game, it as obvious quickly that Rooney wasn't playing any defense on his side of the field. They had an answer - move Sterling out there - but didn't take it. Then, against Uruguay - they switched their places. It makes no sense - why make the change you needed against Italy against Uruguay? Who are exposed by a fast central player in their first game - I don't know. A few other good teams have underachieved - Portugal is alive buy the skin of their teeth; Italy and Uruguay have to play to get through, and neither has been exactly dominant. Bosnia is out, despite looking like a pretty good side - and so on.

On the other side, the good side - it is very cool to see Costa Rica in the second round already - well deserved, as well. Chile, Columbia are going on, maybe not surprisingly, but both looking very dangerous. France seem to be establishing an on/off/on/off pattern at these cups - after being horrible in South Africa, they have looked great - scoring all over the place, looking good doing it. Some of the big teams have been a bit less convincing - Brazil got shut out by Mexico (who are looking for real) after looking average against Croatia; Holland let the Aussies make a very tight game of it; then Argentina and Belgium both had to wait almost to the end to take their 3 points - the latter two showing the value of the superstar, Messi making a spectacular goal; Hazard creating a pretty nice one for Origi. It's been a neat tournament for the small fry - Costa Rica; Algeria winning big; Iran almost getting a point off Argentina. And, in the second round, we've seen Africa's resurrection - Nigeria and Algeria winning, and Ghana playing one of the games of the tourney.

That game - what a game. Germany is Germany; Ghana looked better in the US game than the result showed - and kept it up against Germany. Meanwhile, the US reverted to their early and late goal allowing ways, and let what looked like a very nice win turn into a point - but that's better than I would have expected. They are still in a good place for the last game. The tournament has, indeed, confirmed this as the group of death - a couple other groups tried to claim it, but this one has delivered. Portugal was awful in the first game, and looked vulnerable in the US game - but they got their point; they are still dangerous. The other three teams have all looked like the real deal - Germany has done very little to dispel its place as one of the favorites - Ghana looked great coming in, looked strong against the US, and ever better against Portugal; the US has looked solid - showing a good deal more steel than you might expect, and more than a little creativity going forward. If Altidore were healthy - they might be looking even better. Though there isn't much to complain about as it is.

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