Tag Archives: Italy

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.

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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.

World Cup results – June 24

24 Jun

Of course the biggest news of the day is Slovakia’s win over Italy which knocked the defending champs out of the World Cup.  I blogged about that game earlier, so I won’t repeat myself.  Viva Slovakia.

Paraguay won the group with five points after a 0-0 draw with New Zealand.  Paraguay was kind of a surprise group winner, but a deserved one.  New Zealand also had a successful campaign despite going out of the tournament  Going unbeaten in a group that included the defending champs has to be considered a success by Kiwi standards.

In group E, the Netherlands left no doubt as to who was top, winning all three games.  Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored the winner in a 2-1 win over Cameroon to close out group play.  Japan took second in the group with a 3-1 win over Denmark.  Japan scored two first half goals off some rather gorgeous free kicks.  Keisuke Honda had the first and Yasuhito Endo had the second.  Denmark pulled within one on a Jon Dahl Tomasson goal, but Japan put the game out of reach in the 87th minute.

Group E results
Denmark 1 (Tomasson 81)
Japan 3 (Honda 17, Endo 30, Okazaki 87)

Cameroon 1 (Eto’o 65 – pen)
Netherlands 2 (Van Persie 36, Huntelaar 83)

Group F results
Slovakia 3 (Vittek 25, 73, Kopenek 89)
Italy 2 (Di Natale 81, Quagliarella 90)

Paraguay 0
New Zealand 0

Group E final standings
Netherlands 9 (+4)
Japan 6 (+2)
Denmark 3 (-3)
Cameroon 0 (-3)

Group F final standings
Paraguay 5 (+2)
Slovakia 4 (-1)
New Zealand 3 (0)
Italy 2 (-1) – HAHA

Round of 16 matchups
Paraguay vs. Japan
Netherlands vs. Slovakia

Defending champs out

24 Jun

For the first time ever, both the defending champion and the runner-up have been dumped out of the World Cup in the group stage.  Slovakia’s stunning 3-2 win over Italy ensured that the Azzurri finished bottom of the group and out of the tournament.  Slovakia jumped out to a 2-0 lead behind goals from Robert Vittek, but Italy struck back in the 81st minute.  A third goal from Slovakia seemed to put the game out of reach with mere minutes to play, but Italy wasn’t done yet.  A goal from Fabio Quagliarella ensured a frantic final minutes as Italy searched for an equalizer that would send them through.  No such luck (thankfully).  Paraguay advanced with a 0-0 draw against plucky New Zealand and Slovakia took second in group F.

Italy fully deserved to bow out in the group stage.  They never showed the urgency needed to put teams away, especially in the first two games.  With 10 minutes left in the final group game is the wrong time to start playing with urgency.  The team lacked the chemistry of the 2006 squad with the old and new players struggling to get on the same page.  I’m trying to be objective here, but I really can’t hide how happy I am that Italy is out of the tournament.  A World Cup without such theatrical divers and cheaters is a much better World Cup in my opinion.

World Cup results – June 20

20 Jun

New Zealand notched the biggest “upset” of the tournament so far, earning a 1-1 draw with defending chanpion Italy.  The All-Whites struck early after Shane Smeltz poked home a free kick.  Later in the half, Daniele De Rossi further etched his name in my hate book.  He got his shirt tugged in the box before falling forward like he’d be shot and earning Italy a penalty. Sigh. Vincenzo Iaquinta converted the spot kick, but the Kiwis defense held fast to claim a famous 1-1 draw.  

Paraguay put itself in a good position to advance to the next round with a 2-0 win over Slovakia.  Enrique Vera notched a first half goal, while Cristian Riveros put the game away late in the second half.

In the day’s finale, Brazil put a 3-1 whooping on Ivory Coast.  Luis Fabiano struck twice and Elano scored once to give the favorites a 3-0 lead.  Didier Drogba pulled one back for Ivory Coast, but it was too little too late.  The game was not without controversy though as the chippiness escalated.  Kaka of all people ended up getting sent off after “elbowing Keita in the face” and by elbowing in the face, I mean Keita’s chest ran into Kaka’s elbow.  Horrid call to yellow card Kaka on the play, which ended up being his second of the day.  He’ll miss the final group game against Portugal, but it’s not a huge deal as Brazil has already advanced to the second round.

Group F results
Slovakia 0
Paraguay 2 (Vera 27, Riveros 86)

Italy 1 (Iaquinta 29 – pen)
New Zealand 1 (Smeltz 7)

Group G results
Brazil 3 (Fabiano 25, 50, Elano 62)
Ivory Coast 1 (Drogba 79)

Group F standings
Paraguay 4 (+2)
Italy 2 (0)
New Zealand 2 (0)
Slovakia 1 (-2)

World Cup results – June 14

14 Jun

Today’s games were definitely less than impressive. The Netherlands defeated Denmark in the group E opener, 2-0, thanks to an own goal from the Danes and a late strike from Dirk Kuyt. In the group’s second game, Japan’s Keisuke Honda’s first half goal stood up as the game-winner against a lackluster Cameroon. Defending champ Italy took on Paraguay in the day’s finale. The Italians put Paraguay on its heels early, but the South American side struck first with a header from Antolin Alcaraz. Italian midfielder Daniele De Rossi notched the equalizer in the 63rd minute.

Group E Results
Netherlands 2 (Agger 46 – O.G., Kuyt 85)
Denmark 0

Japan 1 (Honda 39)
Cameroon 0

Group F Results
Italy 1 (De Rossi 63)
Paraguay 1 (Alcaraz 39)

Group E Standings
Netherlands – 3
Japan – 3
Cameroon – 0
Denmark – 0