Tag Archives: Ivory Coast

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.

Advertisements

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 25

25 Jun

The final day of group games lacked any real drama.  In group G, Brazil and Portugal played a lackluster 0-0 draw to both advance to the round of 16.  Ivory Coast went out on a positive note, beating North Korea 3-0.  The Ivorians needed to make up a nine goal difference to surpass Portugal, a tall task by any stretch of the imagination.

In group H, every team was alive for a spot in the round of 16 going into today’s games.  Honduras and Switzerland each needed to win to have a chance at advancing, but it just wasn’t happening for either team as the game between the two ended in a 0-0 draw.  Spain clinched top spot in the group with a 2-1 win over Chile.  David Villa scored Spain’s first goal in rather spectacular fashion.  After Chile goalie Claudio Bravo cleared the ball way out of his area, Villa was in the right place to belt the ball into the empty net from about 50 yards out.   Andres Iniesta added the second only 13 minutes later.

Group G results
North Korea 0
Ivory Coast (Toure 14, Romaric 20, Kalou 82)

Portugal 0
Brazil 0

Group H results
Chile 1
Spain 2 (Villa 24, Iniesta 37)

Switzerland 0
Honduras 0

Final Group G standings
Brazil – 7 (+3)
Portugal – 5 (+7)
Ivory Coast – 4 (+1)
North Korea – 0 (-11)

Final Group H standings
Spain – 6 (+2)
Chile – 6 (+1)
Switzerland – 4 (0)
Honduras – 1 (-3)

Round of 16 matchups
Brazil vs. Chile
Spain vs. Portugal

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 15

15 Jun

New Zealand, of all teams, provided the most drama of the day. Slovakia had a 1-0 lead, thanks to a 50th minute Robert Vittek goal. In the waning seconds of stoppage time, Winston Reid headed in the tying goal for New Zealand. The day’s second game was billed as the battle between Ronaldo and Drogba. The end result? A drab 0-0 tie and a late substitute appearance from Drogba. Not exactly the stuff of legend. In the group G finale, Brazil notched a 2-1 win over North Korea. It took Brazil a while to break down the tough North Korean defense. Brazil’s breakthrough came on a stellar Maicon shot from the end line. Elano added a second less than 15 minutes later. North Korea then became the first losing team to notch a goal with a Ji Yun-Nam strike in the 89th minute.

Group F Results
New Zealand 1 (Reid 90+3)
Slovakia 1 (Vittek 50)

Group G Results
Ivory Coast 0
Portugal 0

Brazil 2 (Maicon 55, Elano 72)
North Korea 1 (Ji 89)

Group F Standings
New Zealand – 1
Slovakia – 1
Italy – 1
Paraguay – 1

Group G Standings
Brazil – 3
Ivory Coast – 1
Portugal – 1
North Korea – 0

Group G preview

10 Jun

Group G
Brazil
Ivory Coast
North Korea
Portugal

Brazil is one of the favorites to lift the trophy July 11. Under head coach Dunga, the team’s style has changed from jaw-dropping attack to more defensive-minded. Not that it’s been a problem as Brazil topped South American qualification. Clearly the entire team is extremely talented, thus why they are one of the favorites. A lot of Brazil’s midfield play runs through Kaka, who has been battling injuries for what feels like forever. If he’s healthy enough to play, he’ll make Brazil even more dangerous. Three members of the defense play together at Inter (GK Julio Cesar, D Maicon and D Lucio) and that chemistry will only serve to make the defense harder to crack.

The fortunes of Ivory Coast lie heavily on Didier Drogba and his busted arm.  It’s still up in the air whether he will be able to compete after breaking his arm in a friendly against Japan.  Even if Drogba doesn’t play, Ivory Coast is still a talented squad, although the task gets much tougher in an already challenging group.  Salomon Kalou is a teammate of Drogba’s at Chelsea  and the burden of scoring could fall on his shoulders.  Kolo and Yaya Toure will bring speed to the lineup.  This tournament is Ivory Coast’s chance to prove it is one of the top teams in Africa, but will they be able to get out of the group?

North Korea is quite the enigma.  No one really seems to know a lot about the team or the coaches.  However, we do know that this will be the team’s first World Cup since 1966.  We also know that Jong Tae-Se is referred to as the “Asian Wayne Rooney” and promised a victory over Brazil.  (He doesn’t have the nickname for nothing though as he has scored 46 goals in 111 games for club team Kawasaki Frontale.)  North Korea also made headlines after trying to sneak in an extra striker by putting him on the roster as the third goalie, but FIFA’s no fool (well, occasionally) and said that Kim Myong-Won can only play as a keeper (Hopefully they won’t have to resort to that because that could get ugly against the likes of Brazil).

Portugal is led by the perma-tan Cristiano Ronaldo.  The team struggled through qualifying, but seems to have pulled things together.  At least until midfielder Nani was ruled out with a bruised collar bone.  Even without Nani, Ronaldo is still the lynch pin for Portugal.  He’s one of those players that has failed to lift Portugal on his shoulders despite excelling on the club level.  He’ll be looking to put those ideas to rest by leading the team out of a tough group.  Players like Pepe and Deco have also suffered their fair share of injuries and Portugal will need them healthy in order to advance.

The Soccer Wall’s picks to advance: Brazil, Portugal

Latest World Cup casualty: Nani

8 Jun

Portugal winger Nani is the latest player to be ruled out of the World Cup after suffering a bruised collar bone.  He will most likely be replaced by Rubin Amorim.  (I think I’d be petrified to play a friendly at this point if I was a coach.  I would insist on bubble wrapping all my players.)

A couple other injury updates:

Despite reports initially ruling him out, Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba has joined the team in South Africa.  He had surgery on his broken arm and it is currently casted, but coaches are hoping that he will be able to contribute at some point during the group stage. 

Dutch striker Arjen Robben’s hamstring injury is not as serious as first thought and he will remain on the Dutch squad.  It’s not yet clear how much he will be able to contribute come June 14.

As a quick note, teams are allowed to replace injured players up until 24 hours before their first game.