Sunday, July 11, 2010

Spain finally live up to expectations but it wasn’t pretty

Spain has been ranked in the top three spots for what seems like the last decade only to come away with one piece of hardware (08’ European Championship) but now they have the grand prize with their first ever World Cup Championship in an ugly 1-0 game. With all due respect to the Spaniards, it seemed like the Dutch came into the match thinking they might be a little out-manned talent wise top-to-bottom and wanted to physically take control of the match, resulting in a ten yellow cards, and an very slow game. Final game aside, Spain only had eight goals in seven matches, the lowest total on any side ever to win a World Cup. So another WC Final ends 1-0 in anti-climatic fashion which doesn’t do the tournament justice. For a side that was unbeaten in the tournament going into the Final the Dutch certainly looked intimidated from the outset while Spain controlled possession throughout which has their MO, and took the game with another late deciding goal past the 73rd minute for the third time in the tournament. It’s not like Holland didn’t have their chances on offense as Robin simply couldn’t convert on two golden opportunities, and the missed 1-on-1 chance with just him and the goalie will surely haunt him for some time to come. Four years seems like an eternity but if I could be so bold as to make a request (aside from improved officiating) it would be to finally have a final that was the best match of the last four as both semi-final games and the third place game were much more entertaining. What do you think of the 2010 Cup? What was the most impressive/disappointing? In the end how would you rate the US performance, and France and Italy’s lack thereof?

Monday, July 5, 2010

World Cup’s Final Four are deserving, while others have spent too much time in US

You know, if you were on vacation on another planet for the last three weeks and just got back in time to catch the semi-finals of the World Cup you would see Spain (FIFA #1), Netherlands (FIFA #4), Germany (FIFA #6), and Uruguay (FIFA #16) and think that it has pretty much played true to form as on any given day (and depending on who was at home) the top 8 sides could beat each other on any given day and Uruguay pulled off a major upset as there is always at least one per cup. However those that have watched every match would tell you that the real skinny is that the perennial behemoths are not the formidable sides they’ve been in previous years and have some major restructuring to do. Italy, England, France, and Brazil are all stacked with talent and a roster that reads like dream team but it seems the rest of the world is now starting to catch USA disease. For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s an ailment that sets in when you start to believe that individual talent can still win at the “World Competition Level” and that you can just show up and win because the other sides will be so enamored with your names and reputation. The second stage of the disease comes when you assemble individual stars rather than “teams” only to be astonished when sides of lesser collective talent not only beat you but rather easily. This disease can be fatal to many who bleed certain sports like soccer(football), hockey, and baseball. There are several in the US who have still not come to grips with the fact that the US lost the World Baseball Classic and are NOT considered World Champions in the sport, and that the US ‘Dream Team’ got the bronze medal in the 04’ Olympic Basketball including a 20-point loss in competition. Grant it the US Hoops team was cured of the disease and with dedication and rehabilitation recovered to live productive lives that included the gold medal in 08’. However what it took was a commitment to cause prior to the year of given competition, the selection of a team that was composed of players each for a specific task rather than the best 11 strikers on the best 11 clubs in the country, all of which whom want the ball at the same time. After this week all but two countries in the world will be searching for answers on how four years of preparation could yield such marginal results and France, Italy, England, among others had better make their appointment with the Doctor to begin rehab as 2014 will come around faster than they think and like most potentially fatal illnesses, this one doesn’t leave the system in a day. Who do you think was the biggest disappointment in the 2010 World Cup? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.