Tag Archives: Germany

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.

European drama

12 Oct

Euro 2012 qualifiers continued today and I finally got to watch some of the action. (Yay for ESPN3 at work!) 

  • Germany absolutely dominated Kazakhstan and had Mesut Ozil been able to find the back of the net, the Germans could have won 7-0 instead of 3-0.   I love watching Germany play. They spread the field so well and move the ball up the field quickly on counterattacks. They currently sit top of their group with four wins out of four games.
  • In the same group, Azerbaijan upset Turkey, 1-0.  Turkey looked lackluster against Germany last week and obviously did not improve much today. Turkey can still qualify, but they have a lot less margin for error now.
  • Seriously, can Liverpool catch a break?  Both Dirk Kuyt and Daniel Agger picked up injuries playing for their respective countries and first reports say that Kuyt could be out until February.  However, I’m skeptical of that as he was able to walk off the field under his own power and did not look like he was in too much pain.  Guess we will just have to wait and see.
  • England was zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh, sorry, I fell asleep there. Yeah, that bad. Way to go Montenegro.
  • Spain was able to hold off a plucky Scotland, thanks to a late goal from Fernando Llorente. I have to give props to Scotland though for not sitting back against the defending champions of everything. They kept their calm after going down 2-0 and were close to pulling off a huge draw.
  • Robbie Keane missed a couple big chances to give Ireland a win over Slovakia.  He had a penalty saved and also skied a clear look at goal. Keane and Ireland had to settle for a 1-1 draw.
  • Of course all the teams I said that needed to win this week did. France, Portugal and the Czech Republic all got their campaigns back on track.
  • The Faroe Islands, yeah that team with a -13 goal difference and not a point to its name, frustrated Northern Ireland in a 1-1 draw. Way to go, little guys.
  • Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the chaos in Italy.  The match between Italy and Serbia had to be called off completely due to “crowd disturbances”. In other words, Serbian hooligans were throwing flares on the field towards their own team (I don’t get it either) and were generally causing massive amounts of trouble.  The game was originally delayed just over half an hour, but had to be abandoned only six minutes after starting. If you want a startling first-hand account, check out http://twitter.com/marcotti.

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.

My World Cup best XI

12 Jul

I’m sure everyone in Spain is drunk with glee, the Dutch are drunk with sorrow, but I’m sober and it’s time for my World Cup best XI.  Let me know what you think.

BEST XI

G – Iker Casillas, Spain – He didn’t win the Golden Glove for nothing.  The Real Madrid keeper posted four straight shutouts in the knockout round and came up huge when it counted, notably on two breakaways from Arjen Robben in the final.  He also saved a key penalty in the quarterfinal win over Paraguay.

D – Carles Puyol, Spain – He was a rock in the back and a leader for Spain throughout the tournament.  His flying header to send the team through to the final.   Puyol was part of a defense that only gave up two goals in seven games.

D – Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, Netherlands – The Dutch captain was crucial to their final run.  Playing in his final World Cup, Van Bronckhorst scored one of the goals of the tournament in the semifinal win over Uruguay, unleashing an absolute cracker from about 30 yards out.  The defender was aggressive, yet controlled throughout the tournament and helped keep David Villa off the score sheet in the final.

D – Sergio Ramos, Spain – Sorry for the multitude of Spanish players, but Ramos deserves to be here.  This guy probably ran more than anyone else in the tournament, thanks to his long runs into the attacking third.  He put on a solid defensive display, particularly in the final, and was also a threat to put the ball in the back of the net.

M – Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany – He had a stellar World Cup.  Playing in the middle of the field, he was the lynchpin for Germany’s offense.  His field vision and calmness on the ball was excellent and he wasn’t afraid to mix it up in there either.  He’s clearly matured a lot since his first go-round in 2006.

M – Xavi, Spain – Spain’s passing game would not be nearly as fluent without Xavi.  He was a catalyst for the champions and plays his non-glamourous role with aplomb.  He also played a major role in shutting down key players like Wesley Sneijder and Schweinsteiger.

M – Thomas Mueller, Germany – The 20-year-old won the Golden Boot and was also named Young Player of the Tournament.  Not too shabby.  He finished with five goals (same as three others), but won the tiebreaker with three assists.  He made his presence known as part of the killer German counterattack and his dynamic play was sorely missed in the semifinal.

M – Wesley Sneijder, Netherlands – What a season for Sneijder.  He won the Champions League with Inter Milan and came oh-so-close to winning the World Cup.  Although his impact was minimal in the final, his five goals in the tournament helped propel the Dutch into the final.

M – Asamoah Gyan, Ghana – Although maybe best known for missing the penalty at the end of extra time against Uruguay, Gyan was a force for Ghana in its quarterfinal run.  He scored three goals, including the extra time winner against the U.S.  He also gained major respect (at least from me) for nailing Ghana’s first penalty in the shootout with Uruguay mere minutes after missing in extra time.

F – Diego Forlan, Uruguay – Forlan won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player and rightly so.  Another five-goal man, Forlan was key to Uruguay’s surprise fourth place finish. (If you called Uruguay as the last remaining South American team, more power to you.)  He came up big when it mattered and was thisclose to sending the third place match into extra time after clanging a last second free kick off the crossbar.

F – David Villa, Spain – He continued to excel on the international stage, scoring five goals, including three game-winners.  He has shown that he can be a threat from anywhere on the field, including 50 yards out (goal against Chile).

BENCH

M – Landon Donovan, USA – Finally shed the big game choker label and scored the goal that sent the U.S. through to the knockout round.  Showed the ability to carry the team on his back.

D – Gerard Pique, Spain – Had a great tournament anchoring Spain’s defense, probably bled more than any other player.

D – Maicon, Brazil – So dangerous down the right flank.  Strong defender with an excellent touch on the ball (See: goal vs. North Korea)

F – Luis Suarez, Uruguay – Made up a fearsome  partnership with Forlan, not afraid to shoot from anywhere.

Germany-Uruguay prediction

9 Jul

Of course all the talk is about the final on Sunday, but there’s one other game yet to be played: the third place game on Saturday.  It has got to be tough to play in that game after coming oh-so-close to the final.

Anyways, I think that the game between Germany and Uruguay has the potential to be more exciting than the final (I know, blasphemy).  Both teams like to run and counterattack and should feel like they have something to prove.

For Germany, it’s most likely the last hurrah for Miroslav Klose, who has one final chance to break the all-time World Cup scoring record.  He currently sits at 14 goals, while fat Ronaldo holds the record with 15.  They will also have Thomas Muller back from suspension, which will provide a huge boost to the offense.   It’s going to be a mental thing for Germany as they have the potential to put on a dynamic performance, but will their hearts really be in it?

As for Uruguay, they will also get a dynamic player back in Luis Suarez, which has got to make Diego Forlan happy.  Suarez and Forlan form quite the partnership and I’m sure Suarez will be aching for some goals after not being able to play in the semifinal.   Their defense is a little shaky and will have a tough time containing Germany.

I’m hoping for an exciting, end-to-end, dramatic goal-a-palooza in this one.  Hopefully both teams will show up and look to end the tournament on a positive note.

Prediction: Germany 3, Uruguay 2

(Paul the psychic octopus – definitely typed psychotic the first time – picked Germany too, so I’m know I’m on solid ground with this one.)

Three reasons Spain will win

9 Jul

Spain and the Netherlands play Sunday in the World Cup final.  One of the two will be lucky enough to become the eighth country ever to hoist the trophy.  Here’s three reasons Spain will win.  (Netherlands post coming later.)

1. Possession.  No team in the tournament can play the possession game like Spain.  They’ve won the possession battle in all six games they’ve played so far, averaging 58.5%, which is rather awesome.  Because of the fact that they pass so well (81% pass completion rate in the tournament), they force teams to play Spain’s way.  That’s what happened with Germany; Spain played such a controlled passing game that Germany never had a chance to launch counterattacks.  If they can do the same thing to the Dutch and make them play Spain’s brand of football, it bodes well for the European champions.

2. Xavi. This man has been spectacular for Spain and a huge reason why they are in the final at all.  He is one of Spain’s three nominees for the Golden Ball.  Xavi is the lynchpin of the Spanish midfield and much of the organized, calm play runs through him.  He has completed the most passes of any player in South Africa and how he plays on Sunday will be a huge factor in the outcome.  The team’s midfield as a whole has been excellent and Xavi, along with Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets lead the passing charts (Spain holds six of the top ten spots. Check it out for yourself.).  Coincidence?  I think not.

3. Defense. Spain has only given up two goals in the tournament thus far.  One in the opening loss to Switzerland and one in a 2-1 win over Chile in the final group game.  Goalie Iker Casillas and the defense have posted four shutouts, including three straight.  Casillas has come up big several times, including a penalty save against Paraguay and a breakaway save against Germany.  As a whole, the defense plays smart and doesn’t commit a lot of stupid fouls.  Of course, it also helps that Spain’s defenders are also talented at going forward too.  After all, it was a defender that got them into the final.

Oh, and let’s not forget that Paul the Psychic Octopus picked them to win the final.  Paul was six for six on picking Germany’s results, so clearly he’s right.

Spain defeats Germany to make first ever final

7 Jul

Well, Paul the Octopus was right once again, correctly predicting a Spain win over Germany.  Carlos Puyol scored the lone goal of the game on a header off a corner kick in the 73rd minute.

Five thoughts on Spain’s win:

  • Spain controlled the game and played their way.  They never allowed Germany to get comfortable and kept them from executing their dangerous counterattacks.  Spain is not playing pretty soccer, but they are playing effective soccer.
  • Spain’s win guarantees that we will get a new World Cup champion, which is an exciting thought.  Now one can just hope that we actually get an exciting final.
  • Germany missed Thomas Muller.  He was out on suspension and Germany did not have a dangerous replacement.  Piotr Trochowski started in his place and never really made an impression.
  • The Spanish midfielders had an excellent game.  Not only did they shut down Bastian Schweinsteiger, who had been having a stellar tournament, but they also kept Germany from utilizing the space in the midfield like they had so effectively earlier in the tournament.
  • Spain dominated from early in the game and you could tell it was only a matter of time before they found the back of the net.  In fact, they probably could have scored a couple more times.  Once again, patience was key for the European champions.