Tag Archives: Maradona

World Cup 2010: Pre-Cup prediction on who will win

No time to really sort this out.  There are less than 8 hours to go to kickoff.  And the crystal ball is looking murky.  So, lets do the whys and why nots for the favorites IMO.  I will update this after the first round, but let me not shy away from it right now.

Brazil:  They win because they are solid in the defensive half of the field and have depth.  Julio Cesar, 2 great right backs (they should play Dani Alves at left back just to get him on the field as he will be behind Maicon at right back),  Lucio, Juan and Luisao to play the middle, Melo at holding and Kaka, Robinho and Fabiano up front.  Also, they are the only ones who have won outside of their continent (apart from Argentina in Mexico which sort of doesn’t count as a really different continent) – in fact, they have won in North America (1994), Europe (1958) and Asia (2002).  Seems to make sense that they should win in Africa.  They won’t win because there is magic missing up front.  Efficiency is great, but you need some magic.  Kaka has not been fit all season.  Hard to get there at the World Cup.  Plus, its a hard road through Portugal, Ivory Coast and North Korea to start the tournament.  They should win the group but that’s a work out unlike for Spain and England.

Spain:  They win because they have the most talented passers and total football team.  Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc, Xabi – what a foursome of passers in midfield.  Then you have Silva, Pedro and Jesus Navas (the biggest key for Spain after Torres IMO because the Achilles heel for Spain is a lack of real speed) on the wings (though Iniesta could play down the left as well).  Finally, Iker in goal and Torres and Villa up front.  That’s a squad.  Why they don’t win – I don’t think their defense is good enough.  I know I identified it as an issue in the Euros and they made me eat my words (though I did pick them to win pre tournament), but I just don’t get comfort in Capdevilla at left back and Ramos goes AWOL every so often at right back.  Also, Cesc, Iniesta and Torres are coming off injuries that caused them to miss the end of the season and Xavi is carrying a calf injury according to Pep Guardiola.  Also, the USA showed how you beat Spain.  Send them to the wings and overpower the strikers when they are forced to cross the ball – press Xavi at the same time.  Navas’ speed on the wing helps and Torres seems to be coming along.  They also have a relatively easy group to work Cesc, Torres and Iniesta back into playing shape before the knockout round.  However, I am still uneasy.  A big miss is going to be Marcos Senna at holding mid.  So, I want to say Spain but I just hesitate.

Argentina:  They win because they probably have one of the best forward pools in the history of the World Cup.  Messi and Higuain led La Liga in scoring, Tevez was near the top in the EPL as was Milito.  And then there is Aguero and Di Maria.  Did I mention Messi?!  Decent first round group to warm up with.  Mascherano at holding is solid.  And I’ve always liked Veron’s touch though he is a bit slow.  Wish Diego had brought Zanetti and Cambiasso.  That’s a big mistake.  They don’t win because their defense is too slow and old.  Heinze, DiMichelis and Samuel are just not up to snuff.  And Brazil and Inter showed you how to stop Messi.  And then you have the craziness of Maradona.

Holland: The win because Robben and Sneijder are two of the five most in form players in the world (I’d put Messi, Ronaldo and Milito in that bracket as well) at the end of the club season.  Then there’s Robin van Persie who is fresh after missing most of the season.  Rafael vdv is in decent form as well.  Kuyt provides work rate and balance up front.  They don’t win because their defense and keeping is not up to snuff.  And they tend to run out of steam as tournaments progress.

England: They win because they are the second best team from top to bottom in terms of depth (after Brazil).  They have Rooney and great veterans in the spine of the team – James, Terry (too bad Rio’s out, but King and Upson are good), Gerrard, Lampard.  They have speed on the wings (Fabio should have included Walcott instead of SWP).  Great coach.  They haven’t lost a World Cup game in a while if you exclude penalty kick knockouts.  They don’t win because too much depends on Rooney, Glen Johnson is a terrible defensive right back and the holding midfielder position isn’t settled.  Also, the weight of expectations will become very heavy the further we get in the tournament.

These are the only real favorites in my opinion.  A dark horse is Portugal, but with Nani out, their chances dropped significantly.  Never count out Germany (but Ballack is a big miss and they seem a big young) or Italy (this is one of the worst teams they have fielded though) or one of the African countries.  I would have put Ivory Coast as the top African team, but even if Drogba plays (as it seems to indicate in the latest news), its hard to have a brand new coach and expect to win the World Cup.

Two big factors and then I’ll make my pre Cup prediction.

The ball: with the movement in the ball, free kicks and corners are going to be very important.  That makes Ronaldo, Dani Alves, Sneijder, Lampard and Xavi very dangerous.  It could be the difference between winning and losing the Cup.

History: No European team has won the World Cup outside of Europe.  Argentina and Brazil have won outside of their  continent.  Yes, it is winter in South Africa so the heat is not going to be as big a factor as it has been for tournaments outside of Europe in the past.

My pick: Brazil if they win their group.  Holland if Brazil doesn’t win their group.

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Filed under Predictions, Predictions on winner, SOCCER, Who Will win World Cup 2010, World Cup

Croatia v Turkey – post game

I give up.  CH12 is retired… till later this evening 🙂  This is the most amazing set of comebacks I have ever seen.  It’s not even like there is some superstar dribbling through tons of defenders and bringing them back.  Turkey has no Maradona or Zidane or Pele.  What they have tons of if “been there, seen that, know what to do”… all gathered over the last week.

Croatia started the game on the backfoot, but had the best chance to score when Olic put a gilt edged cross by Modric onto the crossbar before Kranjcar headed the rebound wide.  That should have been 1-0.  Of course, Turkey would probably have scored two goals at the end of regulation to beat Croatia in regular time!  As it was, Croatia outplayed Turkey in the second half and would have gone ahead but for some excellent keeping by Rustu Recber who recovered from a shaky start.  He palmed over a goal bound Srna free kick before blocking a few more Olic opportunities.  Olic worked hard, got in position, but was wasteful.  Kranjcar was the invisible man before being substituted in the second half and Modric had flashes of creativity while floating in and out of the game.

To extra time, and Turkey suddenly seemed to pick it up again.  Maybe Sanli and Turan realized they were not going to have to save anything for the semi finals since they are going to be suspended.  Good chances were created, but no goals.  So, of course, everything happens in the last three minutes.  In the 119th minute, Rustu suddenly went Nikopolidis-walkabout along the goal line and Modric picked up the ball and crossed it for Klasnic to put it into the net behind a scrambling Rustu.  Surely this meant the game was over.  Key play – it’s 1minute into injury time and Rakitic has the ball.  He dribbles past two Turks, looks up, sees two of his teammates breaking in the center circle and launches a through ball.  Offside.  If only he had continued his dribble, or dropped off a simple lateral pass or even kicked it to the corner.  But, no.  Rustu grabbed the ball before it rolled to far, set it down and launched a blast that got nodded in some confusion at the top of the Croatian box and dropped for Semih Senturk to turn an unstoppable finish into the top left hand corner.  Bilic went crazy asking why there were two minutes of injury time.  Whatever. 

Whatever the Turks teach their goalies, saving penalties must be one.  Of course, Volkan’s deputy was the hero – Rustu saved the final penalty and Croatia put another two wide of the goal.  Game over.  Croatia is crushed.  If only …

For a positive rant.  Whatever one may say of the modern pro loving his club more than his country, all you had to do was see Srna sobbing – and he had a great game, and scored his penalty – after the game to know how much international tournaments mean to players.  It is so nice to see and reminds us that’s it not about the money when you flash back to why you started playing the game as a kid and the fantasies you had about winning the World Cup for your country. 

Big topic over the next few days – will Turkey be able to field even 15 players for the semi final given the suspensions and injuries?

Pre-game prediction: Croatia 2 Turkey 0

Result: Croatia 1 Turkey 1 (Turkey wins on penalties)

Scorers: Ivan Klasnic (Croatia) Semih Senturk (Turkey)

To what I believe will be the best football played in the tournament – Russia v Holland…

 

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Filed under euro 2008, post match comments, SOCCER