June 2010

Group A: The Saga Continues

One point all around for the teams in Group A, and Wednesday kicks off a second set of compelling matches for the host country and guests. This group is still wide open obviously, and something tells me we’re going to see more than two total goals scored in this set of fixtures. So before we dig in for Uruguay v. South Africa and Mexico v. France, let’s look back at matchday one.

Looking Back

  • The South African goal was probably the most exhilarating non-rooting-interest moment of the tournament thus far, and everything from the quality of the strike to the celebration dance was much appreciated. Good work Bafana Bafana!
  • Mexico needs a cutting edge/killer instinct, whatever you like. They thoroughly dominated the run of play in the first half especially and should have been good for more than that Marquez goal while the South African defense was asleep.
  • Apparently there was a real goalkeeper competition in the Mexican camp, and 37 year old Oscar “The Rabbit” Perez won. Who knew, obviously not the advertisers that purchased all the Ochoa TV spot face-time during the match. Perez was not responsible for the South African goal, but it’ll be interesting to see if he gets the start again on Wednesday.
  • This French team is pretty much a bunch of losers right now. They justified absolutely everything the pundits were saying about them prior to the Cup and wasted both talent and possession continuously in their nil-nil draw. It was a rehash of their lousy Euro 08 and World Cup qualifying form.
  • Thierry Henry may be old and breaking down, but he can’t be any worse that Anelka, who did his usual choke-job when asked to perform under the bright lights. Somebody tell that guy he’s taking on Stoke or Sunderland, otherwise get him off the field and give Henry or even Cisse a shot at starting up front.
  • Uruguay answered the questions about their young goalkeeper and their untested defense. They defended like their lives depended on it, and Muslera made one of the saves of the day while keeping a clean sheet against France.

Looking Forward

  • Uruguay and South Africa were both patient and deliberate in attack in their first games, look for a tightly played match to open up as the game goes on and South Africa start implementing their potent counter-attack.
  • This Uruguay team scores, and if not for a few fine saves, Forlán would have done so against France. They’ll find a way to get on the scoresheet in this match, and their first striker off the bench will likely be Cavani this time. Abreu looked more elderly than effective when his savage hair made a less-than-memorable cameo last match.
  • Mexico/France will quite possibly be the most exciting game of the World Cup so far. The speedy Mexicans will try to get out and run on Les Bleus; this should work. The technical (but dormant) French will try to use superior skill to produce goals against Mexico; this should work.
  • Amidst the frustrations caused by defensive lapses and individual battles in the Mexico/France match, we should be privy to some pushing and shoving and a bevy of cards! Who doesn’t want to see Evra and Salcido get in each other’s faces!?
    Tales of the Uninvited: French striker Karim Benzema was devastated by his exclusion from manager Raymond Domonech’s World Cup squad, but he’s taking solace in the fact that he won’t have to spend the summer taking marching orders from a manager who’s absolutely insane. In an attempt to get more club team starts, Benzema will be hanging out in Spain during the tournament helping his new Real Madrid gaffer José Mourinho affix gold plated likenesses of himself above the urinals in the Bernabéu and creating a seat-back mural of “The Special One” in the west stand.

    Jon Levy is a senior writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at jon@yanksarecoming.com.

Jon Levy

  • ZTolson

    i’d agree with everything said in this post, and add a point of my own;

    Everyone seems to be lacking a killer instinct/final ball right now. And I think that’s down to the Jabberwocky or whatever the new ball is called.

    I finally came to this conclusion today after watching Spain play Switzerland, and watching, for the umpteenth time this cup, a world-class player known for his touch on the ball (Fernando Torres) play the ball too long for himself multiple times. Here’s my take;

    These players have been playing with a ball that’s 10 to 15 oz heavier their entire lives. Now, in the space of a month or two, Adidas is asking them to undo years of training and muscle memory to adjust to a much, much lighter ball. I’ve seen more sailed crosses and longballs, more GK to GK punts, and more far-too-long first touches, and more “how did he manage to kick it THAT HIGH over the bar?” in this World Cup already than I can ever remember seeing in such a short span before.

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence. As a result, big, physical teams that like to head the ball are, and will continue, winning out against the technical, “beautiful” sides like Spain, Brazil, and Argentina. When skill players have their game altered, they’re ineffective.

    Of course, the fact that this is favoring the U.S. is just fine by me. 🙂

  • Neil W. Blackmon

    That’s crazy…I think I should spend time out of bed, affixing gold plated likenesses of MYSELF above the urinals. Everywhere.

  • Neil W. Blackmon

    Also, Anelka makes me even more sick to my stomach than I am. End of discussion.

  • Jon, Great post – love the site. Agree totally with you on the French. On paper they should be among the favorites but their coach is really handcuffing them. Decisions like Govou over Malouda and Anelka over anyone isn’t helping Gourcuff who is shooting on sight instead of distributing.

    Mexico was also fun to watch and dos Santos is really looking like a future star for them. Any reason Blanco still gets on the field? He barely runs and does that stupid scoop pass more than anyone I can remember.

    Lastly to ZTolson about the ball. Everyone keeps talking about the weight but FIFA guidelines state the ball must be between about 14-16oz so there must be another reason. Maybe the altitude? Germany scored 4 goals at sea level while other teams haven’t fared as well in the mountains. I think the lack of goals as to do with more teams playing a 4-2-3-1 and waiting to counterattack rather than a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3.

    Keep up the good work guys.

  • Thanks everyone! Hope you enjoyed my boy Diego Forlan’s brace yesterday! Bout to watch France/Mexico, this should rule