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Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

Blame Culture Damages Football

In Football on July 21, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Referees are stuck in the middle and shown no respect

Distance has hopefully lent some much-needed perspective to the World Cup and its showpiece between Holland and Spain. It’s been over a week now since the furious fallout from that disappointing climax to what was, in many ways, a strange and somewhat underwhelming tournament.

In the aftermath, much of the media attention has focussed not on Spain’s often over-cautious tactics or the Oranje’s cynical approach, but on one of the few men on the pitch who I felt could justifiably hold his head high – Howard Webb.

I must admit, I have been no fan of the former policeman in times past. Sometimes, he has let himself down and left himself open to criticism in his handling of the big occasion. But in the sport’s biggest event, I feel he was given an impossible job. Nevertheless he acquitted himself admirably. Read the rest of this entry »

Semi Final Preview: Spain vs Germany

In Football on July 7, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Spain

How they got here

The loss to Switzerland brought back all the old Spanish doubts

With a lot more difficulty than expected. Nobody expected them to lose their first game to Switzerland. That 1-0 loss was the only time the Swiss managed to get themselves on the scoresheet, as their desperately negative tactics yielded just one more point against Honduras and Chile.

The pre-tournament favourites recovered well from that defeat, with a comfortable 2-0 win over Honduras and a 2-1 victory over the dangerous Chileans, but their reward was another meeting with a well-drilled, defensive outfit, Portugal.

Despite some hairy moments in that one which raised more doubts over the form of legendary goalkeeper Iker Casillas, David Villa’s fourth goal of the World Cup was enough to see them through. His fifth was all they could muster in an unexpectedly tense 1-0 win over Paraguay. They won’t care how they got to this stage though, the point is that they are here.

Final prospects

They go into this one as underdogs, which would have been unthinkable three weeks ago. The fickle nature of football coverage dictates that the Germans are now the form team, and will be expected to continue their free-scoring ways.

It won’t be that simple.

First of all, in a bizarre way, the shackles are now off Vicente del Bosque’s men. Always the nearly men of World football, they had come into many World Cups before this one as the heavily fancied dark horses, and had always come a cropper early. For a nation with such a rich footballing tradition and so many star players over the years, they had always flattered to deceive. Read the rest of this entry »

World Cup Semi Final Preview: Uruguay vs The Netherlands

In Football on July 5, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Uruguay

Sebastian Abreu keeps his cool to send his side through


How They Got Here…

Do we really need to go back over this? Probably not, but I will anyway, because there are some very pertinent points concerning their quarter final win over Ghana which nobody seems to be mentioning. We’ll get to that though.

To remind you of their progress from Group A, they started the tournament on a bit of a bum note, labouring to a 0-0 draw with France. That game also featured a red card for Nicolas Lodeiro. Despite the disappointing showing, that match gave us our first look at their disciplined defensive lines which frustrated the French.

The Uruguayans then improved massively in their second match, spanking the hosts 3-0, before easing past Mexico 1-0 to top the group.

That set them up for a last 16 match against South Korea. Luis Suarez (more on him later) put them in front early on with his 2nd goal of the tournament and they looked on course for a straightforward win. That was when they showed the first signs of mental frailty, sitting deeper and deeper and ceding control of the match until they inevitably conceded their 1st goal of the tournament.

Their reaction was highly encouraging, as they upped the tempo, took over the midfield and carved chance after chance until Suarez scored again with a peach of a curler that snuck in off the post.

They held on there to set up their date with Ghana, and World Cup infamy. Read the rest of this entry »