Monday, June 26, 2006

Cup o' World

In a just world the France-Spain match would be today rather than tomorrow, when I teach. Alas, doomed to the eternal darkness of this tragic, tragic, godless world.

Things are looking sketchier and sketchier, in my view. Portugal vs. Holland was a complete mess. One of the ugliest games I've seen in some time. Both teams were hacking each other, the ref taped a yellow card to his forehead and ran around the field, and the game itself was so butchered into bits and pieces that some lovely attempts on goal were due as much to chaos as anything else.

England vs. Ecuador was a bore. I really thought this could be an upset. But Ecuador seemed content simply to be there. Everybody talks about Beckham. That curling goal is his job. He hasn't lived up to it much recently.

Today there's Australia vs. Italy. Ugh - another slapfest. Every match is a potential upset for Italy. And then the Ukraine vs. Switzerland. Also ugh. Switzerland should put on a bit of a show. They look quite solid.

Spain vs. France tomorrow.... That's the match. Spain looks great, and it's good to see this. France, however, is coming around. Few people - anecdotally speaking - have been talking about France at all except to say that they're old and look inept. This could be the match that shows how dangerous it is to underestimate an opponent. Remember, player by player, there's no other team in the World Cup apart from perhaps Brazil with the world class caliber of the French - Henry, Trezeguet, Zidane, Vieira, Thuram, Sagnol, Makalele, etc. If they can pull it together as a team... ouch.

Brazil vs. Ghana will also be good. Brazil is like Roger Federer - if the opponent plays better, you raise your own game. They've won squeakers, but haven't really been challenged yet. Ghana should provide the challenge if they come out believing they can win. The weakness, as always with African teams, is defense. Brazil will try to exploit Ghana's defense quickly and often. Brazil's defense, however, has looked shaky at times. With Ghana's counterattacking speed up front, we could have the biggest upset of the Cup here.

UPDATE (8:40pm):

"Switzerland should put on a bit of a show." Hahahaha... stupid Helmut. Three missed shots in the shootout. I've never seen that. Shootouts are already lame, but that was a lame shootout (after a lame game).

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