Tuesday, July 13, 2010

South Africa World Cup 2010 - Moments To Remember

Our friends at Footyfactor.com captured the best moments from the recently concluded 2010 World Cup in this one-pager which they fondly refer to as a matrix. It's a great summary of the World Cup competition, sort of like a memory map. I do believe though that the standard of refereeing and the extremely talented Oranjemen "ugly" football approach should warrant some inclusion.

South Africa 2010 World Cup - Key Statistics At A Glance

This is a compilation of all the results, top scorers, key tournament statistics and winners cash pot allocation from the 2010 World Cup. It's a great one glance look at how the teams performed, who picked up the coveted awards and who the goalscorers were.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Spain Makes Winners List As Pale Face Scores Cup Winning Goal

Spain is officially the eighth nation to win the World Cup and best of all, they become the first European nation to win the prestigious World Cup in the Southern hemisphere. Andres Iniesta was brilliant throughout the match admidst very tough tackling by the Netherlands. He immediately dedicated his goal and Spain's World Cup triumph to the late Dani Jarque who died from a heart attack in August last year.

The Oranje battled hard and did whatever they could to disrupt the rhythmic passing of La Furia Roja. De Jong's "almost unintentional" kick aimed at the chest of Xabi Alonso was the pinnacle of nasty tackles that littered the whole game. Holland overcame Brazil by employing the same roughhouse tactic and so it did not surprise me that they would try the same again in the final. It worked up until the 116th minute when Iniesta was left unmarked on the right and he duly drilled a shot past Stekelenburg.

Spain started looking threatening as soon as Fabregas and Jesus Navas came on. The two introduced some much-needed attacking thrust and direct running needed to break down a Dutch defence excellently marshalled by Heitinga and Mathijsen. Cesc and Jesus brought a freshness to the final which meant that Spain exerted their superior possession play in extra time and was finally rewarded with a fantastic goal. The Red Fury's patience finally paid off and now they are finally World Cup Champions.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sami Khedira Heads Die Mannschaft To 3rd Place World Cup Finish

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said he was determined to prove Paul the octopus wrong by beating Germany in the third-place play-off on Saturday. Unfortunately Oracle Paul was proven correct once more when Die Mannschaft won the most entertaining match in the World Cup so far. Sami Khedira pounce on some haphazard La Celeste defending to guide a header past Muslera in the 82nd minute.

It was another five goal thriller which Uruguay unfortunately ended up on the losing end. There are no complaints though as Forlan and team were beaten by another great Germany performance. Jogi Loew braved his own flu condition to take his place on the team bench and he witnessed another masterful display from Schweinsteiger. Basti capped a great World Cup outing by captaining Germany in Lahm's absence.

Two mistakes from Muslera gifted Germany goals duly despatched by Mueller and Jansen. Diego Forlan's long range shooting has been a highlight of this World Cup tournament and he did not disappoint with another contender for goal of the tournament. Finally Khedira popped up with the winning header for the fully deserving German side. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Animal Pundits Split Decision On World Cup Winner, Game Sims Plumps For Oranje Victory

It's been quite an eventful World Cup in South Africa. We have had the whole works. Vuvuzelas, fans missing games due to airport congestion, Larissa Riquelme with her strategic mobile phone placement, an oracle octopus with 100% prediction, French mutiny and Bobbi Eden offering oral sex if the Netherlands win the Word Cup. And the football ain't half bad either.

As for Paul the octopus, he has attain worldwide status with his intensely accurate prediction about Germany's match results. He has now stepped out of his comfort zone and predicted that Spain will win the World Cup final. Paul also went back to Germany to triumph over Uruguay for third place.

As far as animal pundit goes, in Singapore Mani the Psychic Parakeet predicts a Dutch victory. So for two top quality teams, the animal pundits are unable to unanimously agree on a victor.

However, Imagine Games Network (IGN) simulated the upcoming Spain v. Netherlands World Cup Final and their prediction is a Dutch win after an extremely tense penalty sudden death shoot-out. Gerard Pique disappoints Spain with an effort that is too close to the keeper.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

La Furia Roja Outsmart Die Mannschaft With Setpiece Goal

It took an immensely powerful header to bring tears to German eyes. At that "twilight zone" period of the game, Carles Puyol rose virtually unchallenged to direct a bullet header past Manuel Neuer. There was no coming back for the Germans from that. Unaccustomed to coming from behind, the Germans will have to be contend with their outstanding performances against England and Argentina.

Perhaps Germany outdid themselves with those stunning four-goal victories in the earlier rounds. They succeeded in putting the spotlight on themselves and unfortunately, made all the would-be contenders take note of their strengths. You could say that Jogi Loew's exciting young side were definitely outsmarted by Del Bosque's tactical intelligence.

Carles Puyol represents the new ethos of La Furia Roja - a combination of intelligence, hard working, humility and dedication in a single flexible package. Spain these days are made of sterner stuff, not easily disheartened when things do not go their way. They have a zen-like patience to persist with their famed tiki-taka approach knowing full well that it will 100% bring goals and victories. The fact they are grinding out 1-0 wins while completely dominating possession is testament of their trust in their style of play.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Oranjemen Hopes Third Time's The Charm In World Cup Final

There was a fear that the first semifinal of the 2010 World Cup between Uruguay and the Netherlands was going to be a tedious, hard fought match which will climax in a penalty shoot-out. I am glad we did not have to sit through that. Instead we witnessed a high-scoring match, two unstoppable long range shots and the best Oranjemen performance so far in this World Cup.

The absence of Nigel de Jong allowed for the introduction of Demy de Zeeuw. The Ajax defensive midfielder did not last long and had to be replaced at halftime. That turned out to be a pivotal moment in the game as Rafael van der Vaart came on and gave the Oranjemen the boost to emerge victors. Martin Caceres must be distraught as it was his overhead kick in the 27th minute that floored the Ajax man, resulting in the enforced substitution. A substitution which handed Holland the game winning initiative.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

La Furia Roja Unhealthy Reliance On "The Kid" Villa

Spain's second 1-0 victory allowed them to squeeze past Paraguay in the World Cup quarterfinal. Once again, El Guaje pulled La Furia Roja through the finishing line. Also for the second match running, Spain dominated possession (60%) over the opposition. They must be excited at the prospect of an open semifinal encounter against the counter-attacking Germans. Well, Del Bosque will have to think otherwise as the Germans also defend in numbers, just ask England and Argentina.

Like in the Portugal match, the Barcelona connection again proved effective as Iniesta-Pedro-Villa put paid to La Albirroja's dream of being first time semifinalist. Paraguay's exit is due to them not scoring enough goals. The loss of Salvador Cabanas was a total blow to Gerardo Martino and that firepower could not complement the excellent defensive solidity.

Due to the lack of goals from Santa Cruz and Barrios, Martino took a gamble and rang in the new striking cavalry - Oscar Cardozo, Nelson Valdez and Jonathan Santana. The trio worked well with each other, having Paraguay's best spell in the first half, with a Valdez goal disallowed.

Germany Braces For Spain By Humbling Maradona's Men

What can I say? I had thought that Argentina would be a real test for the young Germans. Argentina who had the most potent attack in the World Cup this year and also had only let in two goals all tournament, were as the English before them, outclassed by the young Germans!

Bastian Schweinsteiger was simply superb at the centre of the pitch, directing play, spraying the ball left, right or down the middle as he deemed suitable. Thomas Mueller, who will miss the semi final, once again played in a manner that belied his 20-year old age. His runs, passes and movement were a joy to watch. Schweinsteiger showed his new-found leadership when he consoled Mueller when he was clearly upset over his yellow card. Schweini's second World Cup campaign at 25 makes him an elder statesman compared to Oezil, Khedira and Mueller.

Germany's fourth goal against Argentina typifies the new Die Mannschaft footballing philosophy. An attack broken up by the German defence, a quick ball forwards to Podolski. Seeing the run of Oezil, Podolski laid it on to him who supplied a pinpoint cross for Klose to volley home. Shades of Manchester United at their counterattacking best, no wonder Jogi Loew attributes his team's success to a mixture of English energy, Spanish flair and Italian catenaccio.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Black Stars Denied Historic Semi Final Place

It was not a quality match. Surely not. What it was, it was a competitive match. Ghana played without fear and got the opening goal. Uruguay then stepped up their game and through the excellent Diego Forlan, they got their coveted goal. Once both teams were tied at 1-1, it was a tense match all the way. One goal, one opportunity would have sealed it.

A late late injury time Ghana attack caused panic in the Uruguayan defence, one unavoidable Luis Suarez handball later, Asamoah Gyan stepped up with the chance to be Africa's hero in extra time. And he struck the crossbar!! Penalties were needed to decide this extremely tough match.

Rampaging Robben Stars In Dutch Delight!

Brazil has not lost a match in which Robinho scores and he made the Dutch net bulge twice in the first half hour. The first one denied as Alves was offside but on the half hour mark, Robinho latched on to a through ball from Felipe Melo to bend one past Stekelenburg. Brazil one nil up and looking menacing as they repeatedly danced round the Dutch midfield and defence. The Selecao were in full stride in the first half and Brazil were on course for the semifinals as the Dutch looked shell shocked.

But football is played in two halves and the Oranjemen took over in the second half. It was now Brazil who looked uncertain and nervy. Arjen Robben's pace and dribbling trickery troubled the left side of Brazil and neither Bastos, Juan nor Melo could cope with the flying Dutchman's directness and constant provocation.

It did take an own goal and a straight red card for the frustrated Felipe Melo to completely swing the match towards the Dutch. By the time Melo received his marching orders, Clockwork Orange were already two up thanks to an Arjen Robben assist. Wesley "the Smurf" collected his third goal of a personally satisfying tournament.

El Guaje Steps Up To Lead Spain's Attack

The new Barcelona triumvirate took charge during the Spain-Portugal match. Xavi-Iniesta-Villa put to rest Portugal's interest in the World Cup earlier this week. With Fernando Torres misfiring, Villa is carrying the bulk of the Spanish attack on his shoulders and has not shirked that responsibility.

Against Portugal, Spain put on their most impressive performance. Their dominance was underlined by an unthinkable 61% possession. Portugal for all their talent, hardly did themselves any justice but credit should be give to Spain for their excellence in keeping Ronaldo starved of the ball. That clearly frustrated the Portuguese playboy, his spit and curt response to a journalist reflected that dissatisfaction.

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