Sunday, June 25, 2006

Report Time Part III

With the World Cup moving so quickly and the last lot of pool matches taking part on Shabbat, didn't have time to give out grades before the Round of 16 matches began. Given how the victories of Germany and Argentina were par for the course, won't affect the report too much.

Thumbs Up:

Ivory Coast - In a tough group they played well and did great in rebounding from 2-0 down to win their final match 3-2. Placed in a better group they probably would have advanced.

Ronaldo - He is playing pretty poorly and might do better if was told that the ball was a doughnut but he now shares the all-time scoring record and nobody can take that away from him. At least not until someone surpasses him.

Switzerland - Only team to get through the group stage without conceding a goal.

France - Scratchy start but will fancy their chances against Spain and from there anything can happen.

Australia/Ghana - For a big team to miss out on the Final 16 is a massive underachievement but for a minnow to make it through it is a big overachievement. Double thumbs up especially to Ghana who not only came from the toughest group of them all but advance after losing their first game which is very hard to do.

Ukraine – Had the benefit of being in the softest group and could throw a spanner in the works.

Past Winners
– Six of the seven qualified for the finals and all six are still alive. The way its heading all six will make it to the quarter finals and if that happens, only (going out on a limb here) Holland and Ukraine will be the only non members of the club left.

Big Quarter Finals – On the back of the last point, the last eight promises to be massive. You could have Argentina meeting Germany and England taking on Holland and the last time either of those match-ups took place in the World Cup was 1990. Then there is Brazil seeking revenge against France for their loss in the 1998 decider. The last one could be Italy against Ukraine and could Shevchenko be the nemesis for all of his old colleagues?

If I had to predict now I would say one semi-final is Italy-Argentina and the other is Holland – France and from there anything could happen.

Thumbs Down:
Refereeing – While it is easy to take pot shots at the referees because they will always make mistakes some of the ones made this time round have been inexcusable. The referees are more professional than ever, fitter than ever and paid more than ever before. The last thing you want is for a match to be decided by a referee’s error and/or for people to be speaking about the performance of the man in the middle after the match. Forget Graham Poll, Markus Merk has been appalling in two matches now and shouldn’t get another game. Last World Cup the players were putting a lot of pressure on the whistleblowers in terms of diving and bad tackles. For the most part this is gone which makes the refs' woeful performances even more lamentable.

Korea/Czech Republic – When you win your first match and don’t advance you have to do something of a choke job not to. Korea had a chance to prove that their efforts four years ago were no fluke but sadly for them, couldn’t disprove the skeptics.

Scheduling - Japan’s coach, Zico, had a more than valid point when he complained about Japan having to play two of their group matches during the heat of the day. Do Brazil and the other big guns need any more favors than playing all their games at night? Some are still more equal than others in the FIFA family.

Asia – Think the AFC would be thanking their lucky stars they now boast Australia as one of their members. Without them, three of their four teams finished last in their respective groups plus Korea who were third.

Concacaf – May have had a great tournament last time round but three of their four teams finished last as well including the only one not to score a goal (Trinidad and Tobago). Mexico did ok and were gallant going down against a superb Argentina side.


Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

World Cup: Thumbs Down.

Pizza and Bagels: Thumbs up!

2:23 PM  

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