Tag Archives: Argentina

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.

Ballon d’Or final three revealed

6 Dec

Well, someone from Barcelona is going to win the Ballon d’Or. The three finalists were revealed today and Barca players Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta are the three standing after the initial shortlist was cut down from 23. All three of those players are deserving, but Wesley Sneijder got shafted. He deserved to be on the list too after the stellar season he had for Inter in winning the treble as well as his crucial role in getting the Netherlands to the World Cup final.

All three finalists are clearly excellent players, but my vote would have to go to Xavi. The lynchpin in the midfield, Xavi led Spain to its first-ever World Cup. Without him, Spain does not hoist that trophy. Xavi’s passing skills and ability to control the midfield are second-to-none. I wish I had that kind of vision. He helped lead Barcelona to the La Liga title and Champions League semifinals as well.

Check out his skills:

Things I missed

3 Aug

Wow, ok, I was out of the loop for a while (woohoo vacation) and so much soccer-ness has happened in that time span. Anyways, here’s the rundown and my thoughts on the latest events.

  • Fernando Torres is staying at Liverpool.  Granted this came out today, but still, it makes me ecstatic, like, I want to shout hallejuiah from the rooftops ecstatic.  It would have been totally lame of him to leave after one down season, so clearly this is the right decision.  It’s also a big boost for new manager Roy Hodgson, who now has both his stars returning.  (Now Torres just needs to work on growing his goal-scoring locks back.)
  • Staying on the Liverpool track, there’s also speculation that Chinese businessman Kenny Huang is interested in buying the club from terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.  Supposedly, Huang has offered to buy the club’s debt as part of the deal.  There are also a couple other bids out there too, at least, that’s what Martin Broughton has said.  Regardless of what happens, hopefully it goes down before the season starts on August 15.  Hicks and Gillett need to get out.
  • Rafa Marquez has joined former Barcelona teammate Thierry Henry in New York.  Marquez has the capability to play in the middle as both a midfielder and a defender.  Along with stalwart Juan Pablo Angel, the new duo could make the Red Bulls quite dangerous.
  • The ever-entertaining/batshit crazy Diego Maradona is no longer the coach of Argentina.  This is a good thing for Argentina.  Maradona might have been a wonderful player, but he doesn’t have the coaching mindset required of a top international side.  His petulant attitude came out in full force after it was announced that he would no longer be the team’s coach. While his sideline munchkin antics will be missed, his baffling squad decisions and outlandish remarks will not.
  • Mark Hughes is the new manager at Fulham, replacing Roy Hodgson.  Hughes was at the helm of Manchester City for 18 months before being unceremoniously dumped midseason of last year.  He did a solid job coping with all the changes at Man City and had the team on the verge of the top four.  Being in a more stable environment will probably be good for the man.
  • German midfielder Sami Khedira joined Real Madrid from Stuttgart.  Khedira had a very solid World Cup and was able to turn that performance into a contract from one of the world’s top clubs.  Well played, sir, well played.
  • This whole Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona thing is getting obnoxious.  All you Barcelona players need to stop saying incendiary comments.  I’d be surprised if Fabregas left Arsenal this season, but it really is just a matter of time.  But Mr. Fabregas, please know that it’s rude to keep two teams in limbo, make up your mind.
  • Moves I’ve found interesting for one reason or another: David James to Bristol City from Portsmouth, Freddie Ljundberg to Chicago from Seattle, Raul to Schalke from Real Madrid

Germany, Spain advance to semis

3 Jul

The South American revolution at the World Cup is officially over and it’s now Europe’s show to lose.  Uruguay is the only South American side remaining after wins for Germany and Spain today.

Germany wasted no time getting on the board against Argentina with Thomas Muller heading in a free kick from Bastian Schweinsteiger in the third minute.  The Germans never looked back, putting on a stellar all-around display.  The defense did an excellent job of shutting down the potent attack of Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain.  Germany added three (THREE!) second half goals.  Miroslav Klose scored twice to move into a tie for second on the World Cup all-time scoring list, one behind Fat Ronaldo with two games to play.  Defender Arne Friedrich added one of his own after Schweinsteiger beat three defenders with his dribbling before lying the ball to Friedrich.  

Germany is going to be a tough nut to crack for Spain.  The German passing game has been excellent and the counterattack has been second to none.  However, they will be without Muller in the semifinal after he picked up a crap yellow card for a “handball”.  Even without Muller, the team has the weapons to put on another solid display.  

In the day’s second game, there was more penalty drama as Spain earned its first ever berth in the semifinals.  Paraguay did a great job of shutting down Spain’s vaunted attack, often swarming three players around the ball and giving Spain no time to connect their passes.  Despite Spain’s dominance in possession, Paraguay ended up with the best chance of the first half, but the resulting goal was called back on a questionable offsides call.  Things heated up in the second half after Gerard Pique pulled down Oscar Cardozo in the box, earning Paraguay a penalty.  Goalie Iker Casillas came up with a huge save and a mere minute later, Spain had earned a penalty of their own after David Villa was taken down in the box.  (Some people are saying that foul was a red card, but I agree with the yellow.)  Xabi Alonso buried the spot kick, but no!  It was called back for encroachment and he had to retake it.  This time, Paraguay goalie Justo Villar made the save and then got away with taking out Cesc Fabregas on a rebound shot.  Villa came up big again for Spain in the 83rd minute, putting in a shot that ricocheted off both posts off a rebound from a Pedro shot.  He now leads the tournament with five goals and has scored five of Spain’s six goals.

Spain looked shaky for large stretches of the game, especially in the final third.  They couldn’t connect on any crosses and the partnership between Villa and Fernando Torres was continually on two different pages.  

This sets up a rematch of the Euro 2008 final between Germany and Spain.  Spain ended up with its first major title after Torres notched a goal late in the second half.  If Germany continues their stellar run and Spain has a slow start like they did today, I could see this round going to Germany.   Spain will have to have players other than Villa step up to score goals as Germany’s defense can shut out dangerous players very well.  With Germany’s ability for a speedy counterattack, Spain’s defense will have to be on full alert at all times.  The midfield battle will get interesting too since Schweinsteiger has been a rock in the midfield throughout the tournament and Xavi and Iniesta are some of the best in the world.

Pick for the final: Germany, they are just playing too well to be stopped.

World Cup results – June 26 & 27

27 Jun

Heartbreak on Saturday, massive controversy on Sunday.  In the opening game on Saturday, Uruguay dispatched South Korea, 2-1.  Luis Suarez gave the South American side an early lead, but Lee Chung-Yong equalized midway through the second half.  Suarez notched the game winner in the 80th minute on a beautiful curling shot into the upper right side of the goal.  It’s Uruguay’s first trip to the quarterfinals since 1970 and it is well-deserved.

And in the day’s second game, an early extra time goal from Ghana was enough to send the U.S. packing, despite several golden chances for the Yanks to equalize.  (I’m still way too depressed about this game to get into much more detail.)

Anyways, Sunday’s games were characterized by controversy and once again raised questions about the place of technology in soccer.  Germany took a shock 2-0 lead over England in the first 30 minutes, thanks to goals from Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski.  The game looked over before it had started, but England got back in the mix after a Matthew Upson header.  Frank Lampard leveled the game moments later…or so everyone thought…except the ref.  Lampard’s shot bounced off the crossbar and over the goal line, but referee Jorge Larrionda waved play on.  (You might recognize his name from the three red card debacle between USA and Italy in 2006.)  Clearly an equalizer from England would’ve changed the game dramatically.  Thomas Muller scored twice in the second half to put the game away and give Germany a 4-1 win.

The Argentina-Mexico game saw its own bit of controversy.  Carlos Tevez gave the Argentines a lead in the 26th minute, but he was clearly offsides.  A conference between the ref and the assistant yielded no change and the goal stood.  (Note to self: write post about technology/refs.)  Gonzalo Higuain  added a second for Argentina in the 33rd and Tevez added a second (totally legit) goal in the second half.  Mexico got a late consolation goal from Javier Hernandez.

Saturday, June 26 results
Uruguay 2 (Suarez 7, 80)
South Korea 1 (Lee Chung-Yong 68)

USA 1 (Donovan 61 – pen)
Ghana 2 (Boateng 4, Gyan 92)

Sunday, June 27 results
Germany 4 (Klose 19, Podolski 31, Muller 67, 69)
England 1 (Upson 36)

Argentina 3 (Tevez 26, 52, Higuain 33)
Mexico 1 (Hernandez 71)

Quarterfinal matchups
Uruguay vs. Ghana
Germany vs. Argentina

World Cup round of 16 set

25 Jun

The group stage is officially over and the round of 16 match-ups are all set. I made some predictions earlier at the beginning of the tournament and it turned out that I picked 13 of the 16 teams correctly, not too shabby. Anyways, there’s some very enticing matches coming up.  Germany and England has potential, as does Spain and Portugal.  Of course, at this stage, all the games should be close and exciting.  Let the drama begin!

Saturday, June 26
Uruguay vs. South Korea
USA vs. Ghana

Sunday, June 27
Germany vs. England
Argentina vs. Mexico

Monday, June 28
Netherlands vs. Slovakia
Brazil vs. Chile

Tuesday, June 29
Paraguay vs. Japan
Spain vs. Portugal

World Cup results – June 22

22 Jun

Congrats go out to Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico and South Korea for making it to the round of 16. 

In the final set of games in group A, host nation South Africa almost pulled off a miracle, taking a 2-0 first half lead over France.  Despite Yoann Gourcuff getting sent off in the first half and half the starting lineup benched, France managed a second half goal from Florent Malouda.  Uruguay could only manage a 1-0 win over Mexico, which kept El Tri ahead of South Africa on goal difference.  It’s the first time ever that the host nation has failed to advance past the group stage, although South Africa went out on a positive note.  Uruguay topped the group with seven points.  However, the biggest story out of group A has to be the completely mind-boggling meltdown of France. (Sorry, Uruguay.) 

In group B, Argentina won all three games in rather dominant fashion to take top spot.  Argentina left it late against the Greeks, but late second half goals from Martin Demichelis and Martin Palermo sealed the deal.  The second game between Nigeria and South had a lot at stake as both teams had a chance to advance to the next round.  Nigeria struck first with a Kala Uche goal, but South Korea hit back with a strike from Lee Jung-Soo just before half.  South Korea took a 2-1 lead at the beginning of the half after a Park Chu-Young goal.  Nigeria leveled on a Yakubu Aiyegbeni penalty, but couldn’t find the winner that would send the African nation through.  It is only the second time ever that South Korea has advanced to the round of 16.

Group A Results
France 1 (Malouda 70)
South Africa 2 (Khumalo 20, Mphela 37)

Mexico 0
Uruguay 1 (Suarez 43)

Group B Results
Greece 0
Argentina 2 (Demichelis 77, Palermo 89)

Nigeria 2 (Uche 12, Aiyegbeni 69 – pen)
South Korea 2 (Lee Jung-Soo 38, Park Chu-Young 49)

Final Group A standings
Uruguay 7 (+4)
Mexico 4 (+1)
South Africa 4 (-2)
France 1 (-3)

Final Group B standings
Argentina 9 (+6)
Mexico 4 (-1)
Greece 3 (-3)
Nigeria 1 (-2)

Round of 16 matchups
Uruguay vs. South Korea
Argentina vs. Mexico