Sunday, June 18, 2006

World Cup Recap

Saturday 17 June

Portugal 2 Iran 0

Portugal got the luckiest win of the tourney. By my count, no less than seven superstars of soccer bored the hell out of the entire crowd and lulled the Iranian team to sleep, so that the only goal of consequence, Deco's goal in the 63rd minute, was practically a fluke. Portugal added another on a PK by Cristiano Ronaldo in 80th minute. Ronaldo. an insecure young Manchester United player, played perhaps the single most selfish game I've ever seen in soccer. Coupled with Angola's surprising draw with Mexico, this Group D is now up for grabs. All four teams remain alive.

Ghana 2 Czech Republic 0

Easily the biggest upset of the tournament, even more so than Ecuador over Poland. Ghana played the best team game of the tournament. Goals by Asamoah Gyan in the second minute and Sulley Muntari in the 82nd minute meant that no one would be officially eliminated or officially advance to the next round today. The man of the match in my opinion was Czech goal keeper Petr Cech, as this game could easily have been 4- or even 5-0 but for the amazing ability of the Chelsea keeper.

USA 1 Italy 1

The first half saw Italians score two goals, Alberto Golardino in the 22nd minute for Italy, and Cristian Zaccardo putting in an own goal on a USA free kick in the 27th minute. Red cards for both sides, as Daniele De Rossi elbowed Brian McBride of the US in the face in the 28th minute, and Pablo Mastroeni receiving a questionable make-up red card in the 45th minute for a marginally illegal tackle. In the 46th minute, the referee decided the game by sending Eddie Pope off for a fairly clean tackle with his second yellow card of the game, reducing the USA squad to nine men. It's very sad when a referee feels he is more important than the game he's working. While mathematically the US remains alive in the standings, you may as well bet Bush will be impeached by this Congress ahead of the US making it to the elimination round. My statement of the other day stands: the US is dead in the water, and shouldn't even bother showing up for the game against Ghana.
Sunday 18 June

Japan 0 Croatia 0

Both teams were desperate for a result in this game, although this draw hurts neither. Japan needed a win more as they go on to face Brazil in the last game of the preliminary round. Croatia had the only real scoring chance, when in the 22nd minute, Darijo Srna shanked a penalty kick allowing Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi to bat it aside. The game featured no flow, no rhythm, and no passion.

Brazil 2 Australia 0

Australia allowed both Japan and Croatia's hopes to advance to remain alive despite a charging counterattack to the dominant Brazil offense, which advanced to the elimination round. Adriano scored at the 49th minute on a beautiful crossing feed from Ronaldo, universally acclaimed as the best player in the world (except by me). Fred (yes, you heard that name correctly) scored off a rebound from Robinho's shot off the Sockeroos keeper, Scott Chipperfield.

France 1 Korea 1

It looked as thought world's best player Thierry Henry's first goal of the tourney, and France's first in eight years at the World Cup, at the nine minute mark would stand up as the difference, and allow France's first win since they won the Cup in 1998, but Korea sent wave after wave of attackers into the French end, and equalized at the 81st minute on a goal by Park Ji-Sung, poked over the head of defender William Gallas on a scramble in front. The game may have marked the end of French hero Zinedo Zidane, who received his second yellow card of the tourney, and will sit out the Togo game, which France must win to guarantee advancement. Korea, too, need to win against Switzerland to secure a place in the next round.