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England Sweat Through Another One

It is not working Sven. England has managed to get to the quarterfinals with a complete lack of any offensive spark whatsoever. They eked past the weakest team still in the tournamant with a Beckham trick shot. Beating Ecuador 1-0 off a set play is nothing to be proud of.

In fact, if Carlos Tenorio’s shot in the first half doesn’t barely graze off a desperately scrapping Ashley Cole thigh, the match is turned on its head and England probably wilt in the sun. Actually, they did wilt. They just happened to win anyway. It’s better to be lucky than good. The only problem with that is that luck eventually runs out.

England won’t get through another match with the pathetic offense they’ve been displaying. One up front isn’t getting the job done. I don’t care if it’s Rooney or Crouch. Lampard and Gerrard just aren’t getting involved enough for it to be effective at all. As usual. They never have in this system. It looks good in theory, but in practice it just hasn’t worked.

Yes, it was hot. I’m sure the English players are whinging to the press about that fact right now. That’s no excuse. It’s going to be warm. When you play a minnow, put three past them early and coast the rest of the game. Blatently wasting time, puking on the pitch, and generally looking cooked–England are very lucky Ecuador didn’t equalize late. There’s going to be a good team up next. One set piece won’t be enough.

Let’s give Lennon a decent go. He’s looked great in his limited playing time so far. Maybe that’s just down to the lethargy of the team surrounding him, though. Hard to tell. Joe Cole has been fine. The entire rest of the team has been a big nothing.

That’s alright lads. Just 90 more minutes and you lot can go sit on the beach in Mallorca with an umbrella drink. It’s too hard to win a World Cup when it’s so hot out anyway.

Gracias: Mexico and Argentina

The knock-out stage is off to a flying start now, after Argentina nipped a very game Mexico, 2-1 in extra time.

When Mexico scored first just six minutes in, you had a feeling this was going to be a good one. When Argentina answered just four minutes later, it was game on. Despite several chances on both sides, the defenses held and it took an amazing strike by Maxi Rodriguez in extra time to decide it.

That’s the thing about Argentina. They have dangerous players all over the pitch. So many, they can’t get them all on it at the same time.

Mexico surprised me. It was the best I’ve seen them play. Argentina wasn’t caught looking past them, they played well themselves. It was just a great match all-around. A fine demonstration why this is the greatest sporting event on the planet.

I’m sure Germany would have preferred Mexico to pull it out, but they have to be pleased Argentina was taken to the limit. It’ll be easier to slow that offense down if they’re still dragging a bit from this match. Argentina has a deep squad, though. I expect they’ll be ready to go in the quarters.

Germany Roll On

I have no idea what it’s going to take. Germany keep winning, as practically everyone expects, but I’m still not sold. Another clean sheet, but I’m still not buying it. Sweden looked more inept offensively (and defensively), particularly Henrik Larsson, than I expected, but is it them or Germany? I still don’t believe Germany has anything in the back. Maybe I just don’t want to see.

It turned out to be an easy 2-0 win for the Fatherland after the two goals in about 10 minutes by Lukas Podolski.

An inexplicable red card, putting Sweden a man down didn’t help. Larsson missing a penalty didn’t help. Sweden not bothering to mark anyone didn’t help. It might have helped a bit if Ibrahimovic, Ljungberg, Mellberg–or anyone but the keeper would have bothered to get off the bus today.

Germany was the better team all day and deserved the win. There’s no doubting what they can do offensively. Can they stop Argentina? I haven’t thought they’d be able to stop a single team yet, but they keep managing.

Bring on Round 2

There are still a couple matches to be played today, but I’m ready for the real games to begin. The first two matches today were snoozefests. I can barely remember who played. France is yet to go, with a fair chance of being eliminated. That always brightens the day.

But, bring on Round 2. The weekend is shaping up to be a good one.

We finally get to see if Germany has really found the answer in defense or it’s all been smoke and mirrors. Sweden has enough firepower to properly test them. That could be a shoot-out.

I’m personally always pleased when Mexico gets knocked-out, and Argentina will do that for me tomorrow. I’m not sure why I hate the Mexican football team so much. I like the country well enough. The food, the migrant workers, I think I even like the tequila if I remember right–but the memory is hazy on that. But, I do not like the football team. Adios muchachos.

On Sunday, the Owen-less England are given another match to get their offense going. I’m not sure where they’re going to find it, but they need to find a goal against Ecuador. Might be time for Rooney to get going. Hopefully, Ecuador’s witchdoctor has gone home by now. England has seen more than enough doctors lately.

Then Portugal/Holland. The news there is one of these underachievers is actually going to advance. Both are playing well enough, and this could be a cracker. Both also tend to do more fighting/bickering/finger-pointing among thesmselves than is necessary. I like both teams here, so I’m happy either way. Just entertain me.

Brazil only Need a Half, Oz Needed a Miracle

Was there ever any doubt? After sleepwalking for a half, Brazil managed to rouse itself to bury a vastly overmatched Japan side 4-1. Even Big Ron himself managed to get two while he continues to play himself into shape.

But, the match of the day–the match of the tournament, so far–was Australia with their miracle last minute goal against Croatia. Harry Kewell is one of my least favorite players on the planet, so I wasn’t thrilled. But, they go through with that 2-2 draw.

There were several lessons to be learned by the likes of the US and even England in these matches. Brazil shot 21 times. If you don’t shoot, you don’t score. Granted, not everybody gets to play Japan. But you have to create shots and take them when they’re there. Otherwise, you end up waiting on some last gasp header with 5 minutes to play.

Australia needed the tie. They played as if their very lives depended on it. They threw everything they had at Croatia, playing with 4 forwards late. The US finished their match as if they were already packing.

Well Done Oz.