A few thoughts:
- Is it just the hair or does anyone else get reminded of Ronaldinho when Giovanni do Santos has the ball at his feet?
- Sydney Govou? Really?
- Note to Oscar Perez: when someone such as Shabalala is advancing on your goal, don’t just stand there; move towards him. You’re 5’9″. Unless you are one of the Fantastic 4, you can’t jump far enough.
- Rafa Marquez’s first touch on the pass that led to Mexico’s goal was a thing of beauty.
- Uruguay: you’re going to have to pressure a lot more . Seven shots over all and no corner kicks isn’t anyone’s idea of pressure.
- Finishing IMHO remains the most underappreciated aspect of the game.
- WTF was that Macarenaesque goal celebration by South Africa? This is a goal celebration:
The floor is yours.
I don’t feel too bad about missing the France-Uruguay game. It sounded dreadful.
Uruguay and France both desperately need some sort of creative midfielder. Otherwise, they were just direct and, as we saw, had little chance of scoring. How many great scoring chances were there in that game?
The second-half of the Mexico-South Africa game was end-to-end at times, but neither opening day game was particularly well-played.
Also, Mexico did what they do against the USA all the time; dominate possession, squander a bunch of scoring chances and give up a goal against the run of play. That said, I think Mexico will give France and Uruguay fits, though Uruguay’s defense looks pretty much impenetrable.
Uruguay’s defense has to be impenetrable, because they’re not getting more than one goal a game if they play offense like that. Seven shots and no corners isn’t offense, it’s statistical noise.
It was like watching curiously recalcitrant cement set.
Damn but SA almost won too. Place would have gone nuts if they did. They deserve to advance just on style points like the USA did in 94.
Tomorrow should at least be more amusing.
I can’t wait to see North Korea’s crazy defense.
Just the hair.
I was surprised that Mexico / South Africa was the better played, more interesting game.
France looked absolutely dreadful. Domenech just seems like a “contrarian for the sake of contrarianism,” what an dolt. To play Govou over Malouda (or even Henry) is riduculous, and then to leave him on for the first 2 subs, stupid.
I loved that Finidi George, Oliseh, Okocha and Amokachi Nigeria team, they were great, speed, power, skill, I started rooting for them after 5 minutes of watching them in 1994. Liked their kit too.
@Bnut: I’m thinking their defense will bomb. Possibly in a nuclear fashion.
Loving it so far.
URU – This is how they play, spoilers with very few attacking moves. I think this game was a hard sell for the US sports fan, that the 0-0 tie with FRA was actually a great result for URU.
Nothing was stopping Shabalaladingdongs goal. Nothing. Great for RSA to score the first goal in the first African WC. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0TwckzpA24
France looked a proper shambles.
I’m glad the group is tied, keeping it lively.
Gordon, The Big Express Engine
Did anyone notice how the announcers on ESPN today incorrectly assessed the offside call against Mexico that took the goal away? It was the right call, but they went on about how Mexico was not offside and the goal should have stood.
@Gordon, The Big Express Engine: That was Efan Ekoku, former EPL striker. Announcing would be so much better if the announcers went through referee training and got certified
Here’s one critical difference between the SA v Mexico game and the France v Uruguay. If someone with previously limited exposure, interest, or understanding of soccer decided to tune in to the games today to give the sport a try at enjoying and appreciating soccer:
– The SA v Mexico game conveyed a good sense of why most of the rest of the world finds the sport so powerfully, passionately attractive – a novice soccer-viewer would, after viewing this game, be significantly more likely to want to watch more WC 2010 games and develop an appreciation for the sport. Both teams played throughout to win.
– The France v Uruguay game OTOH epitomized many of the reasons some people find soccer a dull sport to watch, not worth developing sufficient appreciation to enjoy it. We’re hard-core aficionados and even we didn’t like it very much to watch. Uruguay played simply for a draw, very uninspired, and France played very uninspired soccer until Henri got into the game the last 20 minutes. By then, the novice viewer would have long switched the channel to something else, maybe even golf.
Wow, those were exactly the same 7 points I was going to make. It’s a little humbling to recognize the difference between what a casual and diehard fan sees. I can get my sports geek on in a few minutes when I turn F1 practice on the TiVo.
I watched as much of today’s games as work would permit. SA/Mexico got more attention from me because I have some staff who are Mexican and I couldn’t deny them the opportunity to watch. I thought the fans were rather subdued considering home field. Uruguay/France I only caught the last 20 minutes of because I spaced out that the schedule was EST and I’m PST. Didn’t look like I missed much – the last 10 minutes were decent (if unproductive) though.
We’re going to stick to a full game per day schedule at the office. USA and Mexico will always get watched – if neither are playing one day, we’ll pick one by consensus. ESPN3 + gigabit + 24″ Cinema Display = happy staff. Sometimes it’s good to be the boss.
@Gordon, The Big Express Engine:
It’s weird because Martin Tyler is actually a really good soccer announcer. It was pretty obvious after the replay that it was the correct call (and a tough one for the linesman to make), so I was wondering why Tyler and Efan Ekoku didn’t see it.
The halftime analysts got it right, though.
@Bnut: Chollima. Try and find the good “The Game of Their Lives” about the 1966 PRK squad in England
some of it is here
It is a really good documentary
@Zandar: That style was their coach’s decision. Playing hardcore D and counterattacking against an offensively superior side is the best M.O. available to the underdog, although that flaming moron Domenech played right into their hands. Not starting Malouda will be remembered in every list of “top 5 shit-poor decisions of the 2010 World Cup,” and his substitutions in the second half were almost as bad. IMHO he ought to have yanked a midfielder when he brought in Henri, instead of taking out Anelka, especially when it was obvious that Uruguay was playing for a 0-0 draw.
That said, I’m going to start drinking at 10 A.M. CT tomorrow to get ready for those Limey c***s. WE BEAT THEM IN 1783, WE BEAT THEM IN 1950 AND WE’LL BEAT ‘EM TOMORROW!
I wonder what kind of pictures Domenech has on the French Football Association top brass to have held the manager’s jib for so long with so many poor performances
If Uruguay’s entire offense consists of “give the ball to Forlan and wait for him to be a genius,” they won’t be around long.
I was thinking France needed somebody who isn’t wired normally, like a Cantona, to break down the Uruguayan defense.
It’s time for Calamity James to live down to his nickname.
@Bill Murray:He was fired by the French before the tourney. They are replacing him, they just decided to do so about a year too late.
Oh who am I kidding, it’s more like Americanadian +7 or so. If Iran got their hands on these screwdrivers, that last round of sanctions might have had some bite, ’cause these are some genuine WMDs right here.
Man I hope the US beats the UK. I will turn to my wife and say “That’s what you limeys get for messing with America!”
Dude, I hope you have a comfortable couch, because you may be sleeping on it for a while after that.
This. One problem with American sports is that there’s virtually no concept of playing to a draw as a strategic goal. If you can manage a perfect defense, you’re guaranteed a certain number of points. Offhand, I can’t think of an American sport where that’s the case. Uruguay played the numbers quite well, I suspect.
Lets do to England what they’ve done to the Gulf of Mexico!
@Americanadian: probably well more than a year. Is Malouda a Scorpio? Raymond is big into astrology and hates scorpios.
There must be something about the opening goals in World Cups.
Last night’s was as spectacular as Lahm’s goal for Germany against Costa Rica four years ago
Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle
@burnspbesq: How I miss Cantona. I remember him scoring the winning goal in an FA Cup Final one time. It was the darndest thing. And guys like Rooney are pikers comparatively speaking.
Govou was fracking awful. Then again, the rest of his teammates weren’t much better.
On the other hand, I thought it was funny as hell watching Thierry “Hand of a Cheater” Henry whine about somebody else’s handball. It was the only highlight of the match, IMO.
Finishing is the skill that separates great players from good ones. It’s that simple. And so few consistently can and you can’t pay the ones who do enough.
In defense of Perez during the Shabalala goal, that was a perfect strike in the top corner. 9 times out of 10, he doesn’t hit it that crisply, and Perez might have had a shot at it. The shot that was actually struck? Gianluigi Buffon or Tim Howard couldn’t have stopped it from that position.
I noticed you didn’t mention the thoroughly laughable defense by the Bafana Bafana on the Marquez goal, or the stupid decision not to park the bus in front of goal after taking the 1-0 lead.
@Gordon, The Big Express Engine:
I’m not sure if you’re talking about the ESPN TV (Martin Tyler and somebody whose name escapes me) or Radio guys (JP Dellacamera and Derek Rae). The radio guys got it right (I listened to it at work, watched the replay on ESPN3 this evening).
It was, as you say, the correct call.
Despite the call, I have to say I’m loving having Martin Tyler calling these games. What a joy it is to have him doing US World Cup games after all those years of listening him do the A List games in the EPL.
I agree. Finishing is the most important aspect of the game. Very important to finish. Otherwise, no one will know when to go home.
All I can say is, Mexico is going home if their defense continues to be that frigging porous. That said, it would be funny if SA actually advances out of this group just because Mexico and Uruguay can’t find a net with GPS.
Win. But I think RSA could actually do it. Mexico was sloppy, and Uruguay was all “Shut down so nothing bad can possibly happen.” I could see RSA capitalizing on that. And France didn’t look that great either.
@NobodySpecial: @Steeplejack: I doubt that Uruguay will be as defensive against the RSA as they were against the Fifth Republic. And as a fan of the USA, my second favorite team is whoever is playing our beloved neighbors to the south. France is boned, however, Domenech will need at least 4 more points to advance, and I doubt they’ll get that with 20000 vuvuzuelas blasting in their eardrums, along with a team that’s used to high altitudes.
Shifting back to Group C, USA! USA! USA!
Americanadian +college, ladies and gentlemen, join me in screaming your lungs out tomorrow!
Not sure I see that as a problem. It seems like a feature not a bug to me. I’m not a big fan of any sport, but football/soccer is just too defensive in nature for me. I would agree though, as a rather committed non-fan, the Mexico vs South Africa game was about as close to watchable as I can imagine.
I realize tastes differ and obviously if watching football makes one happy, then… well fuckin’ A, whatever works. But for me there is nothing more frustrating than watching a highly skilled football team go ahead by one or God forbid two goals and shift into that ultra-defense mode. Well, maybe more frustrating is a 90 minute game ending in that weird shootout. I don’t understand how football fans can accept that. But obviously they do. It is a much loved game and it really seemed like the South Africans in the stadium last night were having an absolute blast. So good for them.
I’m sure I’ll watch a few more matches just because it’s on the tube and it’s something different, but it really won’t ever light my fire. But what do I know, I like baseball.
Although RSA – Mexico was more fun to watch, both of these teams had extremely poor defenses. The Mexican goalie was a complete joke and not because of the goal. He was just all around bad.
France did not show any of the inspiration that made them successfull in past years. I remember 2002 when they were eliminated in the group stage without scoring a single goal – as defending champions! This time around, even at yesterdays level they should be able to put some in though against RSA and Mexico, if those two don’t get their defenses together.
For Uruguay, it made perfect sense to play for a draw against France, which is presumably the strongest team (in a rather weak group). Their next two games they can just wait for Forlan to do his stuff.
Actually, in 2006 France looked horrible in the group stage and barely made it out. Then they got hot and kicked a bunch of ass until they ran into Italy in the final. I don’t see them repeating that feat because they’re missing a certain bald guy.
I don’t know if I’m bad luck but every time I watch Henry it seems like he’s having the worst game of his career.
South Korea looking pretty strong (relative to Greece obvi) early on…
…and they’ve gotten hosed on two calls in the box. Probably should be 3-0.
Brilliant goal by Shabalala, reminded me of the opening goal of WC 2006 by Philip Lahm in the Germany – Costa Rica game.
Edit: Sorry, DaveInOz already made that point.
I’m no big fan of Ochoa, but why is Perez starting over him in the Mexican goal? If the final defender(the goalpost) hadn’t come through, we’d be talking about the shockingly bad performance by the Mexican keeper.
Greece look very poor. Flopping all over the place, while getting the benefit of the doubt on some questionable non-calls in the box.
I wish a Kiwi was reffing the US-England game though. That would at least keep the inevitable red card away. I’m calling it for Michael Bradley in the 63rd minute.
That Other Mike
As an Englishman married to an American, I was all set to be conflicted about the game today, until I remembered that I really don’t give a crap about football.
Cricket, on the other hand, is srs bizniss.
Mexico’s goal was either an offside trap gone horribly wrong or a defensive screw up of monumental proportions. It’s their Achilles heel. Apart from the first 20 minutes they looked good and I think that was just nerves. With all the talk about being the first host to bla bla bla and a nation gone completely bonkers it was quite a burden.
Didn’t watch the whole France game but noticed that for all his energy Ribery seemed to get caught in possession every time he had the ball. Hope Mexico beats the crap out of them so they are a beaten team by the time Bafana gets to them. BTW, Bloemfontein, the venue for that game has the most fanatical fans in SA.
Honesty alert: I am not a big fan of futbol, I have been trying since my kids were small & played.
I watched about 20 minutes of Fra/Ura and could not take it any longer. I thought it was just me but after reading comments here maybe that particular game did suck. If you guys could suggest one game you see coming up that would convince me to try again I’d appreciate it.
Good grief Greece are horrible.
Frankdawg – it was awful. Try Nigeria – Argentina or the US – England today. Ghana – Serbia tomorrow should be good as well (two contrasting styles)
I hear there’s going to be a little game this afternoon between the US and England. You might want to check that one out. I don’t know how open it will be, but the US honestly isn’t good enough defensively to play as boring as Italy or Germany.
frankdawg, I lost two hours of my life watching that pile of shite last night, so I know what you mean.
Alas, there are some teams who are just horrible every time you watch them, so I should have known, really. Greece, Urugay, for example.
As well as the ones IL mentioned, try anything with Spain, Holland or Brazil (even if Dunga’s New Model Brazil have nowhere near the flair of their predicessors)
The African teams can be entertaining and erratic at the same time
It would be nice if his club manager ‘arry Redknapp saw that.
Of course, part of the problem is Luka Modric is the same type of player and is better at it. But surely Gio could be worked in somewhere.
The Greek team stinks. That is all. Well, wait, very cute goalie.
@Thlayli: dos Santos was behind Krankjar in the pecking order too. That’s why he was loaned to Galatasaray
Thanks to Conejo Perez, the froggies’ practices will be nothing but cross balls. He has the capability of making everybody nervous the second the ball goes 10in above ground, or 5ft from the goal line.
@Mark S.: If you’re referring to Barthez, I would prefer Hugo Lloris any day. I saw Barthez make plenty of bonehead mistakes.
OK so just finished Argentina & Nigeria. 2 things – I spent more than half the time with the game on mute – the people selling those horns should be set on fire with the flaming remains of the people blowing them.
And, no, I still don’t see it. As a frame of reference I love good hockey (not the NHL) and hate basketball. I understand and can see the strategy in either of those two games despite feeling different about them. I just do not see anything that indicates any actual organized attempt to do anything useful in this game. The failing is mine but even US-Eng this afternoon is not exciting me. Sorry guys.
@Randy Paul: I think he was refering to another (v. talented) bald guy who played with the french last WC