Tag Archives: Algeria

2014 World Cup Draw Set

6 Dec

Yeah, I know, it’s been forever and a day since I actually posted anything, but the World Cup makes a person want to blog again, if only to complain about how rough the US has it.  Anyway, the ridiculously drawn out official draw was today and while yeah, the US has it rough, spare a thought for the Aussies, who have an even tougher go.  And while almost everyone can complain about the groups right now, in the end it’s all about what happens on the field.  Anything can happen on any given day and that’s one of the things that makes the World Cup (and sports in general) so awesome.

Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon

Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia

Group C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan

Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

Group F: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria

Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA

Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea

I’ll admit that my initial thoughts were that the USA was on the receiving end of a brutal draw (In fact I think my exact words were ‘holy shit’).  But after thinking about it a little bit, I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as it could’ve been.  I think it’s great that the US will open against Ghana.  It’s going to be huge for the Yanks to start the tournament well and if they can do so against a team that’s knocked them out of the last two World Cups, so much the better.  There’s no doubt they’ll have the motivation to take down Ghana.  Portugal is tough, even if they only qualified through the strength of one Mr. Ronaldo, but I do think they are beatable if the US can play an entire 90 minutes.  I believe that Germany is the top team in the group and probably one of the favorites for the tournament.  That will be interesting if only for the storyline of Klinsmann taking on his home country.  I’ll chalk that one up for a German victory.

As I’ve said in the past, the key to US success on the big stage is putting together a solid 90 minutes. They can’t afford to have lapses and give up early goals like they did against England, Slovenia, Ghana x2 last time around.  Coming from behind to win/draw is not a sustainable model for success. The US has been playing well in the past year and I think Klinsmann’s system is finally starting to click.  It’s just a matter of whether they can show up when it really counts and play consistent football.

Now for the extremely premature predictions.  Of course a team’s chances could go to hell in a handbasket pretty quick with a couple key injuries and we all know that there is a lot of football to be played before we get to Brazil.  But based on how things stand currently, this is what my gut says:

Advance to second round (1st, 2nd)

Group A: Brazil, Croatia

Group B: Spain, Chile

Group C: Colombia, Japan

Group D: Italy, England

Group E: France, Honduras

Group F: Argentina, Nigeria

Group G: Germany, USA

Group H: Belgium, South Korea

Knockout

A1 vs. B2: Brazil vs. Chile – Brazil

A2 vs. B1: Spain vs. Croatia – Spain

C1 vs. D2: Colombia vs. England – Colombia

C2 vs. D1: Japan vs. Italy – Italy

E1 vs. F2: France vs. Nigeria – France

E2 vs. F1: Honduras vs. Argentina – Argentina

G1 vs. H2: Germany vs. South Korea – Germany

G2 vs. H1: USA vs. Belgium – Belgium

Round of 8

Brazil vs. Colombia – Brazil

France vs. Germany – Germany

Spain vs. Italy – Spain

Argentina vs. Belgium – Argentina

Semifinals

Brazil vs. Germany – Brazil

Spain vs. Argentina – Spain

Final

Brazil vs. Spain – Brazil

Going with the home country in this one.  France was the last team to lift the World Cup in their home country, but I think Brazil has the talent to get it done.  Spain’s got the experience though and Brazil will be under mountains of pressure, so I anticipate this final going down to the last minutes.

Most memorable moments of 2010

31 Dec

Since my top players have now been sent their official Soccer Wall Player of the Year certificates, it’s time to move on to the most memorable moments of the year.  Of course the drama of the World Cup greatly influenced this selection.  In other exciting news, I close 2010 with my 500th blog post (wow!)

6. Barcelona defeats Real, 5-0 – Wow, just wow. This game on Nov. 29 was a master class by Barcelona, they picked Real apart with precision passes and smart movement.  Real did not stand a chance; it was mesmerizing to watch.

5. Qatar gets the 2022 World Cup – What the bleeping hell?  That’s all I have to say about that.

4. Spain wins first World Cup – Thanks to a late extra time goal from Andres Iniesta, Spain won its first-ever World Cup title with a 1-0 win over the Netherlands.  The Spanish side clearly deserved the win as the Netherlands resorted to dirty play early since they knew they couldn’t slow down the Spanish passing attack.

3. Suarez handball – With a spot in the semifinals on the line at the end of extra time, Uruguay’s  Luis Suarez clearly swatted away a certain score for Ghana off the goal line.  Asamoah Gyan stepped up to surely send Ghana to the semifinals and sent his shot off the crossbar.  The game went to penalties, Uruguay emerged victorious and there went the chance for the first African nation to go to the semifinals.

2. New owners for Liverpool – After many terrible months with the douchebag duo of Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Liverpool FC finally got some new owners in October.  NESV, the owners of the Boston Red Sox, took over the club and while things have not necessarily gone swimmingly for the team, there’s at least hope that things can improve in the near future.

1. Donovan’s goal vs. Algeria – The U.S. went from eliminated to top of group C with Landon Donovan’s stoppage time goal against Algeria in the final game of group play (take that England!).  It was an incredibly emotional moment that actually ended up bringing me to tears.  Here’s the clip of the goal and the video of the reaction from around the country (which also made me cry).

What are your top moments?

Final thoughts on the 2010 World Cup

13 Jul

I am still slightly saddened by the fact that the most glorious month of football is over for another four years.  It all went by so fast.  I’m resigned to watching MLS and waiting on transfer rumours until the Premier League starts August 14.  Lame.  Anyways, I got the idea for this post from Sports Illustrated’s 50 observations story and figured it was a good way to do things since I have too many jumbled up thoughts in my head to actually write a coherent post.

My 27 thoughts on South Africa 2010 (in no particular order and which I’m sure to add to)

1. There was no better way to start the tournament than Siphiwe Tshabalala’s rocket shot.  An awesome start for the host nation.

2. I still can’t believe what a disaster the French team was.  Those players are going to be embarassed when they look back on this.

3. I lost track of the number of times I wished that Charlie Davies was healthy and able to play for the U.S. Robbie Findley’s inability to get a decent shot off was so damn frustrating.

4. The more replays I see of Nigel De Jong’s karate kick to Xabi Alonso’s chest, the more I’m amazed that he only ended up with a yellow card.

5. The emotion in this sport is phenomenal.  You can go from tears to cheers to outrage, all over the course of 90 minutes.  What a fantastic sport.

6. How awesome would it have been to be in Spain for the final on Sunday? 

7. Spain’s win emphasized the team over individual.  That team is full of all-stars, but they put their egos aside for their country.  Take note of that, England.

8. While entertaining, Diego Maradona is not fit for coaching.  Like I’ve said before, being a great player does not make you a good coach.

9. Germany was the most fun to watch (well, except against Spain).  The way they could move the ball up the pitch so quickly and finish so well was awesome. 

10. I still think refs needs to be held accountable for their decisions during a game.  There’s no real punishment if they screw up.

11. Landon Donovan’s stoppage time goal against Algeria was one of the highlights of my U.S. soccer watching career.  Absolutely amazing.  It made me cry.

12. Who would have thought Uruguay would make it to the semifinals?  Diego Forlan was a complete stud throughout the tournament and rightly won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.

13. Italy’s failure to advance out of the group stage was all about cockiness. They thought they could cakewalk through the group and that wasn’t the case.

14. I think the vuvuzela will stay a South African tradition.  I’m sure a few will pop up in other places, but there’s no way it’s going to replace a good old-fashioned yell.

15. Tim Howard was disappointing for team USA.  Yeah, he had a couple of good saves against England, but he was otherwise pedestrian.  I expected more from a top-class keeper.

16. Fernando Torres was clearly not 100% fit.  His touch was off and he couldn’t find the back of the net to save his life.  An apparent hamstring? groin? injury was just the crappy end he needed.  Well, at least he ended up with a winner’s medal as consolation.

17. I think there should be retroactive punishments for horrible diving.  Example: Ivory Coast’s Kader Keita’s dramatic “facial injury” after running into Kaka, which earned the Brazilian his second yellow of the game.  The game does not need that shizz.

18. How did Lionel Messi not score a goal?  He had some pretty wicked shots on goal and had some goalies make some terrific saves.

19. I have absolutely no problem with what Luis Suarez did in the Uruguay-Ghana game.  Was it illegal? Yes.  Did he get punished appropriately? Yes. It was such a big deal because Ghana was the last African team left, but I’m glad FIFA wasn’t jaded by that fact.  If things had gone the other way around, I’m sure the Ghana fans would’ve said it was worth it.

20. I would not want to be a national team manager, especially for a team like England.  Too many egos involved.  Props to those managers that put up with that crap on a regular basis.

21. My call for biggest upset: tie between Slovakia 3, Italy 2 and New Zealand 1, Italy 1.  I hate the Italian national team so these results were amazing.

22. The World Cup brought out some really good journalism.  It also brought out some total crap.  After Rick Reilly’s horrible WC column, I refuse to read anything he writes.

23. For the love of all that is holy, Bob Bradley, what the hell were you thinking with the lineup against Ghana?

24. The whole Paul the Octopus phenomenon really amused me.  It was crazy to see how seriously people were taking his predictions.  It’s an octopus, people!

25. Game of the tournament: Uruguay-Ghana, hands down.

26. I don’t think Robert Green will ever live down his howler against the United States.  He’s just lucky that draw didn’t cost England a spot in the knockout round or it could’ve gotten a lot uglier.

27. The supposed “stars” of this World Cup didn’t shine, but I’m ok with that.  It allowed players that are equally as awesome like Diego Forlan, Xavi, Asamoah Gyan and more to get their deserved chance in the spotlight.

World Cup results – June 23

23 Jun

Clearly the big story of the day was the USA’s spectacularly dramatic 1-0 win over Algeria. However, I posted about that earlier so I won’t get into much detail here. Bottom line: Landon Donovan has erased that big game choker label after his 91st minute winner. I swear, this team is going to give me a heart attack. With the win, the U.S. topped the group for only the second time ever (previous being in 1930 so that hardly counts).

England took second in group C after a 1-0 win over Slovenia (U.S. was first on goals scored tiebreaker). It was England’s best performance of the tournament and they probably could have added another couple goals. Jermaine Defoe scored the winning goal, making Fabio Capello’s move to start him over Emile Heskey look brilliant. It’s unfortunate for Slovenia, who actually topped the group coming into today’s final game.

In group D, Australia made things interesting, jumping out to a 2-0 lead over Serbia at the same time that Germany had taken a 1-0 lead over Ghana. The 4-0 drubbing by Germany came back to haunt the Socceroos as they got a 2-1 win, but couldn’t make up the goal difference on Ghana. Germany’s Mesut Ozil scored the winning goal to send the team into the round of 16 for the 15th (!) straight World Cup.

Now the U.S. will take on Ghana Saturday and Germany will play England Saturday. The U.S. and Ghana met in the group stage of the 2006 World Cup with the African nation claiming a 2-1 victory. And of course, there’s very little animosity between Germany and England, so I’m sure that game is going to be very civil.

Group C results
USA 1 (Donovan 90+1)
Algeria 0

Slovenia 0
England 1 (Defoe 23)

Group D results
Ghana 0
Germany 1 (Ozil 60)

Australia 2 (Cahill 69, Holman 73)
Serbia 1 (Pantelic 84)

Group C final standings
USA – 5 (+1)
England – 5 (+1)
Slovenia – 4 (0)
Algeria – 1 (-2)

Group D final standings
Germany – 6 (+4)
Ghana – 4 (0)
Australia – 4 (-3)
Serbia – 3 (-1)

Round of 16 matchups
USA vs. Ghana
Germany vs. England

USA wins group C

23 Jun

Holy crap, that was amazing.  The U.S. left it incredibly late, but Landon Donovan finally scored the winner in the 91st minute (can’t believe Landon Donovan of all people made me cry).  The goal gave the U.S. a 1-0 win over Algeria and clinched top spot in group C.  Crazy to think that the U.S. went from a tie, which would’ve sent them home, to top of the group with one strike.  England took second with a 1-0 win over Slovenia. 

My heart is still pounding. That was one of the most dramatic endings I’ve ever seen. I know that technically New Zealand left it later against Slovakia, but with what was on the line, this one topped it.

The U.S. survived an early scare after Algeria put one off the post in the 7th minute, but from that point on, the U.S. appeared to control the game.  Clint Dempsey had a goal (wrongly) called back for offsides later in the half, which had me thinking that it’s just not fair that the U.S. could get hosed again on a goal.  Dempsey also was unlucky in the second half with a shot ricocheting off the post. 

Bob Bradley gambled a little bit going into this game, making three changes from the side that drew against Slovenia, including taking a clearly not 100% Oguchi Onyewu out of the lineup and inserting much-maligned Jonathan Bornstein (I think my reaction was, oh crap).  Carlos Bocanegra moved into the middle and Bornstein played on the left.  To his credit, Bornstein played a solid game.  He looked a little shaky early on, but calmed his nerves pretty quickly.  Maurice Edu started in place of Jose Torres in the midfield and Herculez Gomez got his first start in place of suspended Robbie Findley.  Overall, the changes were positive for the Yanks and Bob Bradley is looking like a pretty smart guy.

The U.S. definitely deserved the win.  They played a smart tactical game and put in their most complete effort of the tournament.  I started to feel ill around the 80th minute when the U.S. was still searching for a game-winner.  I also started to get a little tense with Slovenia, hoping they would equalize.  This was a gutsy performance and the team played with heart the whole way through.  Clint Dempsey and Jay DeMerit both needed stitches after the game, but they sucked it up and finished the game strong (take note, Italy). The team was able to stay relatively calm despite the urgency of needing a goal.  There were a few times they tried too hard, but as a whole, the team stayed composed trying to create chances.

The positive result has to give the U.S. confidence going into the round of 16, although it will be hard to let the emotion of today go. The next round opponent is still up in the air.  Heck, group D is still up in the air.  Both Ghana/Germany and Serbia/Australia are underway now, so the U.S. will find out soon who the opponent will be.

What the U.S. has to do to beat Algeria

22 Jun

By all accounts, group C is still open for the taking. Going into the final group games tomorrow, Slovenia is first with 4 points, U.S. second with 2, England third with 2 and Algeria fourth with one.  It’s also a well-known fact that all the U.S. has to do tomorrow is win to advance to the round of 16.  However, a draw could throw things into chaos and a loss would send the team home.  The U.S. should beat Algeria, at least on paper, but they also should have beaten Slovenia too and look how that turned out.  Let’s just go with a win would be the best scenario.  There’s several keys to getting that crucial victory.

First and foremost, the U.S. has to start strong.  They’ve conceded inside 15 minutes in both games this World Cup and they can’t afford to do that again. Although the team thrives on and embraces the underdog role, they won’t/shouldn’t be in that position against Algeria.  The U.S. is the clear favorite to win and they need to put that beyond doubt early.    The U.S. attack is more than capable of making a menace of itself immediately and putting Algeria on the back foot early would do wonders for team confidence.  Can the U.S. actually score first for once?  Interesting concept.

The team also needs better defensive play.  Oguchi Onyewu was culpable for both Slovenia goals last time around and he will be looking to make amends against Algeria.  The U.S. can’t give the Algerians loads of space to work with.  Along with defenders playing smarter, the midfielders also have to do a better job of tracking back to help close down space.  I also expect better from Timmy Howard.  It was clear he had his rib injury in mind on Slovenia’s second goal, going in feet first as opposed to make himself big.  He’ll need to put that completely behind him and go all out against Algeria.

In addition to starting strong, the U.S. needs to play the full 90.  I know I’ve written about this before, but they have yet to do it.  In a crucial game like this, a small lapse could spell the end of the road.  The squad has the ability to play well for 90 minutes, now we just have to see if they can do it for the biggest game of the year.   Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan will be vital to these efforts.  Bradley has been a workhouse through the first two games and I expect more of the same from him.  Donovan will need to influence the game from the get-go.

A few observations/questions too…

  • Who will play up front with Jozy?  Robbie Findley is suspended after yellow card accumulation.  Either Edson Buddle or Herculez Gomez will have a chance to earn their first World Cup start.  Clint Dempsey could also play up top, but he probably won’t, at least not at first.
  • Apparently, the U.S. is 0-6 all-time in game three of the group stages.  Yikes.  Here’s hoping they can turn that stat around.
  • Can the team handle the pressure?  The Yanks beat Egypt 3-0 in the Confederations Cup to advance so they’ve shown they can do it, but the world’s biggest stage is a different story.
  • Defenders Steve Cherundolo and Jay DeMerit are both sitting on yellow cards going into tomorrow’s game.
  • The best result for the U.S. in the England/Slovenia game would be a 0-0 draw.

World Cup results – June 18

18 Jun

The referees stole the show in today’s games.  Well, at least the first two (and to think I just posted about how the refs were doing a good job).  In the opening game between Germany and Serbia, the ref dished out eight yellow cards and one red.  Germany’s Miroslav Klose was the unfortunate recipient of the red card after an innocuous foul.  Klose will now miss the final group game against Ghana.  Things got worse for Germany though as Milan Jovanovic found the back of the net for the game-winner moments after the ejection.  Germany had multiple chances to tie it up in the second half with the best chance coming on a Lukas Podolski penalty miss.

The U.S. then played Slovenia in the day’s second game.  Just like the England game, the U.S. conceded an early goal from Valtar Birsa.  Late in the first half, Slovenia grabbed a 2-0 lead through Zlatan Ljubijankic.  Things were looking grim for the Yanks before a rocket shot from Landon Donovan gave the U.S. a glimmer of hope.  Michael Bradley tied the game in the 82nd minute.  Referee Koman Coulibaly made his mark on the game in the 86th minute.  Donovan sent a free kick into the box and Maurice Edu slammed it home capping an amazing comeback.  But nope, the goal didn’t stand.  Coulibaly called a foul, now presumed to be on Carlos Bocanegra, but refused to say who on or why to the players.  Thus, the game ended 2-2.  In the day’s finale, England played Algeria to a 0-0 draw.  England did not look good at all, while Algeria maintained strong defense to earn the draw.  The draw keeps things interesting going into the final group C games as all four teams still have a shot at the round of 16.

Group C Results
Slovenia 2 (Birsa 13, Ljubijankic 42)
USA 2 (Donovan 48, Bradley 82)

England 0
Algeria 0

Group D Results
Germany 0
Serbia 1 (Jovanovic 38)

Group C standings
Slovenia 4 (+1)
USA 2 (0)
England 2 (0)
Algeria 1 (-1)