Tag Archives: Paraguay

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.

Advertisements

Five most memorable moments of the round of 16

30 Jun

There are no World Cup games today and that makes me quite sad.  I really don’t know what to do with myself, so I guess I could actually get some work done.  Or blog about the latest round of games.  Yeah, blogging wins that battle quite handily.  Anyways, I’ve compiled a list of my top five most memorable moments from the round of 16 – some things are good, some are bad, but they will all stick with you in one way or another.

1. Frank Lampard’s “no-goal” – Of course you have all seen this a million times by now, but it’s still shocking that a ball clearly two yards over the goal line was not ruled a goal.  I credit Germany goalie Manuel Neuer for that as he played the ball like it had merely bounced off the bar.  If Neuer had responded like he’d been beaten, I bet Jorge Larrionda would have given the goal.  Had the strike counted, it would have drastically changed the game. 

2. Ghana’s extra-time winner – You have no idea how hard it was for me to write that.  However, putting aside the fact that the U.S. was the team punished by Asamoah Gyan, it really was a great moment for African soccer.  Ghana is the lone representative of the continent to make it out of the group stage.  They withstood the pressure magnificently in the round of the 16 and now we will get to see if Ghana can become the first African nation to make it to the semifinals. 

3. Game-winning goal from Luis Suarez – Simply put, this goal is absolutely brilliant.  It also proved to be the game-winning goal to send Uruguay through to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1970.  Check it out for yourself.

4. Carlos Tevez is way offsides – Argentina took an early lead on Mexico, thanks to Carlos Tevez and a bumbling assistant referee.  Tevez was offsides by a mile when he headed the ball in the goal and even a conference between the head honcho and the assistant couldn’t overturn the call.  The entire arena saw the goal replayed and that wasn’t good enough either.  The goal stood and Argentina went on to claim a 3-1 win.  Oh and Tevez scored again in the second half, this time he was onsides.

5. Paraguayan penalties – The South American nation kept cool under pressure, sinking Japan 5-3 on penalties.  The drama didn’t really start until after Yuichi Komano of Japan missed his.  Nelson Valdez and Oscar Cardozo made the final two penalties for Paraguay to send the team to the quarterfinals.

It’s sad that poor officiating made it onto the list twice, but even FIFA has responded to the criticism and Sepp Blatter has said that the organization will reopen the case for goal line technology.

World Cup results – June 29

29 Jun

We got our first penalty shootout of the tournament today as the remainder of the quarterfinal field was set.  Paraguay prevailed 5-3 on penalties after a boring 0-0 draw with Japan.  Yuichi Komano’s spot kick ricocheted off the cross bar and Paraguay’s Oscar Cardozo buried the game-winner to send the South American nation through.  With Paraguay’s win, four South American teams are in the quarterfinals for the first time ever.  There’s potential for the semifinals to be all-South American, but I think that’s rather unlikely.

Spain and Portugal battled it out for Iberian peninsula superiority (lame, I know, quarterfinal spot much more important) in the day’s second game.  Eduardo came up big in goal for Portugal after getting tested by David Villa and Fernando Torres in the first half.  After a scoreless first half, Spain broke through in the 63rd minute with who else but David Villa knocking in the game-winner.  Villa has now scored four of Spain’s five goals in the World Cup, not too shabby.  It was a solid display from Spain, but Portugal looked rather out of sorts on the offensive end of things.  Cristiano Ronaldo was hardly involved and that did not help their cause.

Tuesday, June 29 results
Paraguay 0 (5 pen)
Japan 0 (3 pen)

Spain 1 (Villa 63)
Portugal 0

Complete Quarterfinal field
Netherlands vs. Brazil – July 2 at 10 a.m.
Uruguay vs. Ghana – July 2 at 2:30 p.m.
Germany vs. Argentina – July 3 at 10 a.m.
Spain vs. Paraguay – July 3 at 2:30 p.m.

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 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)