Tag Archives: Argentina

As It Happened: World Cup Final: Germany vs. Argentina

First of all, I want to say that I’m sorry for not doing anything at all for the last 36 years (rough estimate). I really try to do more, but it’s not as easy as it looks, especially for me.

Second of all, I want to apologize for apologizing at the beginning of almost every one of these. It’s annoying, so I’ll give the stock explanation right now, and hope that you remember this for later: I’m not a professional journalist. I’m an amateur writer (not even really a “sports writer,” just a “writer”) and soccer fan, who likes to analyze soccer and put the best of his analysis on his blog. Sometimes I pretend I’m a journalist, intentionally or more likely unintentionally, but I am not a journalist. I’m supplemental. I’m here to give an extra opinion after you’ve already read/watched/heard the opinions of people who get paid to do this.

Also, this is all free of charge to everyone. You aren’t paying any money to see this (you never will have to), and I’m not receiving any money to make this (as of yet). If you’ve came in with expectations of a long article a day, that’s (switch to Jürgen Klinsmann voice) unrealistic. I’m not at that next level. It’s a working progress.

(Switch back to American voice.)

IT’S THE WORLD CUP FINAL!!! So I kind of have to do something. Despite the combination of my laziness and the fact that I have a violent case of writer’s block, the World Cup Final is a special occasion. Not only will I do an “As It Happened” for this, but I’ll do one for the Seattle-Portland game later today (10 eastern, on ESPN2 nationally here in the US). Oh, and shortly I’m going to do a good bit of “World Cup Review” stuff, plus I will begin my weekly MLS article, and my European previews won’t be long as well, plus I will have some special features as well that will be good to see. That’s a lot of stuff.

 

Enough talk. Let’s do this!

The Argentine national anthem may or may not have words. Earlier they made a list of the 4 countries that have national anthems without lyrics, and Argentina wasn’t on the list. The point is, they never sing the words. The Argentine fans just say “oooo” as if about to engage in Mexican profanity, except they’re doing it to the music, and they’re about to engage in a World Cup final. This might just be me, but it just seems like a scenario to slip away into a daydream. I wonder what Messi is daydreaming about.

1’ – The game has begun.

4’ – Free kick for Germany. Half the German population gathers around the free kick. They do their prepared routine, and it doesn’t really work out. Argentina send a shot narrowly wide on the counter-attack.

7’ – Germany seem to clearly be the better team, but that means little in this sport. Especially when the weaker team has Messi.

9’ – Argentina seem to be fine letting Germany pass around, and then pressuring in the final third, and then going on the counter-attack, as they did just then. Messi made Hummels look as slow as me, but Germany defend as a team; Schweinsteiger with the clearance.

16’ – The Argentines have identified that Germany’s left side is their weakness. Their left-midfielder is Mesut Özil, who isn’t quite fond of defending, while their left-back is Benedikt Höwedes, who is out of position; he’s really a center-back.

18’ – Cristoph Kramer, who came on as an injury replacement himself for Sami Khedira, just went down with a head injury. They will obviously disregard things like “player safety” and bring him back on, because FIFA.

21’ – That is a horrific defensive header by Toni Kroos, Higuaín ALL ALONE!!! WHAT A MISS!!!!! He was one-on-one with the goalkeeper! This proves that even the best miss sometimes, people-who-have-overly-criticized-Chris-Wondolowski.

29’ – Yellow card for Bastian Schweinsteiger. He took down Lavezzi. This means that he’ll have to be careful, which is worrying considering that as a defensive midfielder he patrols a well-trafficked area.

30’ – Messi, to Lavezzi out wide in space, TO HIGUAÍN, GOOOAAALLL!!! NO! Gonzalo Higuaín makes the perfect finish, but he’s unnecessarily offside! Still scoreless in Rio.

31’ – Kramer is coming off with that head injury. They should’ve never let him back on.

33’ – Höwedes yellow. That might should’ve been a red!

36’ – Messi with the ball, and he tries to thread it through for Higuaín in space, but Schweinsteiger with the clearance!

37’ – Schürrle with the shot, incredible save from Sergio Romero!

40’ – Messi goes forward and Argentina almost score, but Jerome Boateng clears the ball away. Germany just stuffs the attack.

43’ – Nifty move by Özil to keep the ball and set up Toni Kroos, but Kroos sends the shot right to Romero.

45+2’ – Corner by Kroos, Höwedes GETS IT, G–NO?!? How does he miss that? It goes off the crossbar. He’ll be thinking about that at half-time.

45+2’ – End of the first half. That was a quality half. Both teams looked fairly close to scoring on multiple occasions. I have less idea of who will win, and I had no idea beforehand. I’m not sure how that’s possible; which is fitting, because this World Cup has been about impossible-type things.

46’ – The second half has begun! Argentina have added Sergio Aguero for Lavezzi. Aguero is great when healthy, although is he healthy? Either way, it’s an attacking sub and if it works it will open up space for Messi, and it will add another player near the goal for rebounds and crosses and such.

47’ – Messi with the ball! Shoots! Just wide!

50’ – Aguero heads it down for Higuaín, but the Napoli man couldn’t make good enough contact on the volley.

51’ – Jerome Boateng has done well. Huh, he’s in the World Cup final, doing great, while his brother Kevin-Prince, who chose to play for Ghana instead of Germany, got exiled by a team that finished last in their group.

56’ – Neuer comes in to punch the ball, and Higuaín, who comes to get the ball as well, gets knocked down in the process. I don’t think it’s a foul by either, but it’s certainly not a foul by Higuaín. They call it a foul by Higuaín. Now, Higuaín looks hurt. Oh, it’s another head injury. And of course they let him play on, because FIFA.

61’ – Someone is about to win the World Cup.

62’ – Ian Darke: “If you’ve been enjoying the World Cup, you’ll like MLS” unless you’re a shameless Eurosnob. MLS on DSE. If you’re American, read it, or I will eliminate your US citizenship.

62’ – Back to the game, a promising attack for Germany becomes nothing due to a somewhat poor choice of pass by Andre Schürrle.

65’ – I think that’s what you call a “forward’s tackle.” Yellow to Aguero.

70’ – Not sure what Höwedes was trying to do with that cross. Benedikt Höwedes: the German Space Program.

72’ – I’m sitting on my sofa, with my laptop literally on my lap. It almost fell down. That means someone is going to score in the next 5 minutes.

75’ – Nifty build-up play by Argentina and Messi. Messi couldn’t get the shot on target.

78’ – Rodrigo Palacio comes on for Higuaín. Apparently I was wrong about the “scoring in the next 5 minutes” thing.

80’ – Benedikt Höwedes can’t get the shot off in the box. He’s read the script; he knows that him scoring the winner wouldn’t be as good of a story. (This will look really stupid if Höwedes ends up scoring the winner…yeah, I think I’m willing to take that risk.)

86’ – Fernando Gago comes on for Perez. This is Argentina’s final sub.

88’ – Here comes Mario Götze for Miroslav Klose. The 36-year-old Klose has scored more goals in the World Cup than anyone else. This most likely marks the end of one of the best World Cup careers ever. Germany has one substitution left. Götze should be able to mix it up a bit as Die Mannschaft goes for the winner.

90’ – The board announces 3 minutes of added time. Either we go to extra time, or someone becomes a legend.

90+3’ – End of full time! 0-0! We go to extra time! 30 more minutes of the World Cup final! Will someone get the winner? Will we go to…penalties?

91’ – Well, that’s amazing how extra time started. Andre Schürrle almost scored! Nice save by Romero. They go on the counter, but Jerome Boateng stops the attack.

97’ – Palacio receives the ball with his chest, and attempts to chip it over Neuer, but it’s off target.

104’ – Javier Mascherano is indeed doing well in this World Cup.

105’ – Intermission. 15 minutes to make history. Or more, if it goes to…penalties.

106’ – Second period of extra time has started.

112’ – Aguero collides with Schweinsteiger, and Schweinsteiger begins to bleed. He’s back on now.

113’ – Schürrle, the cross, chest control by Mario Götze, SHOT, GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLL!!!!!!!!! MARIO GÖTZE, THE 22-YEAR-OLD SUBSTITUTE FROM BAYERN MUNICH, WITH THE BIGGEST GOAL OF HIS LIFE!!!!

116’ – That was a horrific pass by Biglia to Messi. It didn’t even stay in play. You can’t blame Argentina’s failure to win on Messi. He’s by far Argentina’s best midfielder and best forward, and he certainly can’t do both against Germany’s defense. Especially when his teammates are mostly terrible. Messi hasn’t been at Maradona-level this tournament, but his attacking teammates have been mediocre at best the entire tournament.

120+2’ – Messi taken down by Schweinsteiger. Free kick for Argentina. Messi to take it, it seems. He takes it, and misses. Not even Maradona can be expected to make a free kick from that range. Remember my picture earlier that depicted Messi’s teammates as 6-year-olds? That is so accurate.

120+4’ – The Germans want them to blow the whistle…THEY’VE BLOWN THE WHISTLE! GERMANY HAVE WON THE 2014 WORLD CUP!!!

 

More to come in the following days, here on Daniel’s Soccer Emporium.

Who Will Win the World Cup?

Note: click here for my informal USA-Belgium review.

Someone will win the World Cup. It’s a fact. Someone will have to win it. You probably knew that. But in case you didn’t, it’s a fact. Though the soccer-haters criticize the sport for being communist where there is almost never a winner and winning is punished by having to spend time cleaning bird waste off the statue of Karl Marx that sits outside Wembley Stadium, none of that is actually true. Soccer is a sport like any other (only better) and someone will lift the trophy in less than two weeks’ time.

Let’s analyze the eight countries still alive in the competition, and why they will or won’t win the World Cup:

Brazil

Why they will win: they’re at home…they have Neymar…they have some other fairly good players.

Why they won’t win: they’re not as good, talent-wise, as other teams…there’s too much pressure…they’re one-dimensional (it’s Neymar or Fred nothing).

Colombia

Why they will win: James…confidence…local fan support without nearly the pressure of Brazil and the like.

Why they won’t win: they play Brazil next…they lack quality outside of James and a few others…this is as far as the nation as ever gotten in a World Cup; they’re probably getting a nosebleed.

France

Why they will win: they’ve looked great in their games so far…they’ve made the final in every other World Cup for my entire life.

Why they won’t win: it’s in the Americas…they play Germany next…remember 2010?

Germany

Why they will win: they’re probably the best team in the world…they’re due winning something…Lahm was forced to play at full-back last game; move him to left-back and it’s a team with no weaknesses.

Why they won’t win: it’s in the Americas…after France they have Brazil or Colombia…someone will figure out that 4-3-3-0 at some point.

Netherlands

Why they will win: they have good players…Van Gaal is leaving, he wants to do good for them, they want to do good for him (Ray Lewis Effect).

Why they won’t win: they never do.

Costa Rica

Why they will win: they have momentum…they have no pressure whatsoever…CONCACAF goalkeepers have done great in this World Cup; Keylor Navas is the last one standing.

Why they won’t win: not enough talent to compete with the big boys; all of their wins have either came against a team lacking their best player, a team that just played in Manaus, or Greece.

Argentina

Why they will win: Messi…Messi…Messi.

Why they won’t win: very, very one-dimensional…no defense.

Belgium

Why they will win: loads of super-talented players who have never yet lost a World Cup game.

Why they won’t win: it’s in the Americas…very little World Cup experience.

 

I will genuinely be surprised to see anyone win this World Cup. I mean, I know that someone has to, but it seems so unlikely for any of these teams to win.

I mean, if Brazil wins it they’ll totally revise history and say “from start to finish we all knew they would win; they dominated; oh, how boring!” and if Germany wins they’ll say “yeah, we knew that they were the best. Brazil? Ha!” and if Argentina wins they’ll say “of course; the team with the best player wins, especially with that talent around him.” But we’ll know the truth. Don’t you all just love parity? MLS has more parity than any other sports league that I know of. And I’ll talk a lot about MLS here after the World Cup (actually, I might start on it next week).

Predictions for today:

France 0-2 Germany

Brazil 1-2 Colombia

 

Any thoughts? Questions? Requests? Threats? Predictions of your own? Respectfully add them in the comments below. Hopefully I’ll get back with a report tonight.

Group Stage Scenarios + Totally Inaccurate Power Rankings + Brief US-Portugal Review

That was a wonderful, terrifying, fascinating, gut-wrenching, yet kind-of-hopeful draw by the US. That’s all I’ve got. Too numb to go into detail. By the way, what’s wrong with Michael Bradley? For The General to have two bad games in a row is so un-Bradley-like. Something must be wrong. Is he nervous? Over-confident? Injured?

However painful the last goal conceded was, the US have got 4 points out of 6 in the Group of Certain Death, with our most important player being pedestrian at best, and that’s terrific. If Bradley can find his form again (I would say “when,” but I said that before this game as well) this team will be a strong test for Germany. I will agree that that last goal was painful, however.

(Note: I apparently didn’t mean “that’s all I’ve got” in a literal sense. Or a figurative sense, really. Not in any sense, come to think of it.)

Now it’s time for Total Inaccurateness! With a picture this time, too!

Totally Inaccurate Power Rankings

Previous editions can be found under the “World Cup” tab. You should go there, as I’ve written some kind-of-good stuff. It has humor, my opinion on things, and some tactical insight. It even has philosophical insight! Oh, and Mario Balotelli. Because everything has Mario Balotelli.

DISCLAIMER: these power rankings are totally inaccurate. If there is anything that you disagree with, it’s probably because it’s wrong because I’m terrible at Ranking stuff, Power-wise.

1(1) – Germany

Yeah, they drew against Ghana, but that’s a good team. Germany still has the ability to crush teams. They are an efficient machine that destroys stuff in a business-like manner.

What’s that you say? By praising Germany so much am I actively trying to jinx them, so that they don’t beat the US? If I answered that, I think it would disable the jinx.

2(2) – Brazil

They and Mexico are the only teams not to have played since my last rankings. They’ll both play tomorrow. Brazil have been shaky, but they’ll need a crazy amount of things to happen in order to not qualify, including them losing to Cameroon. Cameroon! Not going to happen. This is still the same group of players and the same coach that steamrolled everyone in the Confederations Cup, and they’re still the home team. It will take more than just “shaky” to stop them.

3(3) – Argentina

Do you know how much I want to drop this team in the rankings? A lot. But I won’t. Why do I want to drop them? Because they’re terrible outside of Messi. Why do I not want to drop them? Because 1) it’s against my kind-of-soft-yet-still-existent rules, 2) they’ve technically won their last two games and 3) who else do I put ahead of them?

Oh, and this is their tactical lineup:

Argentina WC 2014

That isn’t really far off.

4(8) – Colombia

Whoa! Just like that, into the top 4? Yep, just like that. But they don’t have Falcao? True, but they have James “Don’t Call Me James” Rodriguez. Wait, that doesn’t work in print. Oh well. Another knock on them is that they’re in a fairly easy group, but European teams tend to struggle in the Americas, and as I displayed previously in my CONCACAF-centric report, this Americas-based World Cup is no exception.

5(6) – Netherlands

This team got over-confident against a formidable Australia side, but they still won. They were also more than formidable against a perhaps over-confident Spain side, and they thoroughly crushed them. But how far can they go in this World Cup? If they don’t beat Chile tomorrow, playing Brazil could be in their very near future.

6(4) – Italy

They lost against Costa Rica, yes, but they still have Pirlo and Balotelli. They still may not make it out of the group, and even then Colombia are their likely opposition, but this is a team that could go very, very deep.

7(7) – Belgium

How deep can Belgium go? I’m not sure. I’m really not sure at all. They have a fairly easy group, although if they win that they’ll have to face second-place in the Group of Certain Death (Group G), with Argentina most likely if they win that. As I said before, success doesn’t come easy. This experience will help them going forward. Belgium will not win the 2014 World Cup. Take it to the bank.

8(9) – Chile

Arturo Vidal? Those home-like crowds? ELECTRIC SANCHEZ!!?!!?!! This team can go a long way, but they have some serious obstacles in their path. Including the Dutch tomorrow, where they need a win to find victory in the group.

9(11) – France

I won’t completely buy France as a contender until they play really good teams. They won’t until the quarterfinals. However, they’ve done very, very well against who they have played.

10(12) – Uruguay

They beat England, but, I mean, anyone can do that, right? They do have Luis Suarez, though, who can tear apart defenses AND coach Honduras at the same time!

11(15) – United States

Take your pick. Results? Ghana. Performance? Portugal. Oh, and all of it was without the team’s most important player doing well, and most of it was without the team’s target forward. One of the games was against Cristiano Ronaldo, while the other was against a team that drew Germany, the #1 team in these Power Rankings.

12(13) – Mexico

Mexico are one of the few teams that haven’t yet conceded a goal. Memo Ochoa hasn’t let in a single goal, and they’ve played both Brazil and Samuel Eto’o. Croatia will need to work hard to score against Mexico, which they will have to do given El Tri’s superior points total.

13(14) – Croatia

The team with the MAGISTERIAL!!!! checkered uniforms beat Cameroon 4-0. They will need to get another win vs. Mexico in order to make it out of the group.

14(21) – Costa Rica

This team went out and beat Uruguay AND Italy? Applause! They turned a group full of inferior players into a superior team.

15(5) – Spain

Yeah, Spain played poorly, but they were up against very good teams. I think they would’ve made it out of most other groups, especially as the seeded team (Group C, anyone?).

16(10) – Bosnia and Herzegovina

DZEKO’S GOAL WAS SO CLEARLY ONSIDE!!!!

Also: on the goal that was called a goal, Emineke’s foul/not foul against Spahic: if that was a defender doing that to forward, it would’ve been called a foul, right?

So, um, how much did the Nigerians give the refs? And in what denomination? Asking for a friend…

17(17) – Portugal

They played poorly for a lot of the game against the US, and the first goal was gifted to them (WHY, CAMERON, WHY!?!?!), but their second goal was created by CR7. Ronaldo is Ronaldo and he does Ronaldo things. They’ll need a lot of things to go their way to make it out at this point, but in another group with a healthy CR7 they could’ve easily made it out of the group.

18(22) – Ghana

Similar to Portugal, the Black Stars are a good enough team to be able to make it out of an easier group. But in Group G, they’ll need lots of result to go their way. It’s the Group of Certain Death, people.

19(23) – Nigeria

Based on the scoreline Bosnia should’ve won, but Nigeria actually did play well, and they now have a good chance to make it out of the group, which surprises me.

20(16) – England

They didn’t do that poorly, actually. Now, they didn’t do all that good either, and they’re being dumped from the Group Stage for the first time since 1958, when Roy Hodgson was 11. If half of their young players become what they can be, this could be a good team in the future.

21(18) – Switzerland

They got crushed by France, people. I’m not sure why I’m not giving them a poorer ranking. I guess it’s my reaction to people writing off them as terrible, which was a reaction to them surprisingly getting seeded, which was the result of the mathematical formulae saying that they were top 8, which was the result of them steamrolling through an easy qualifying group.

22(25) – Ecuador

This is when it starts to go off the rails. What am I doing? I don’t know!

23(19) – Russia

Not good enough. 1 point in their first two? It’s a must-win against Algeria. Wait, must win against Algeria? Who’s the closest thing Russia has to Landon Donovan?

24(20) – Ivory Coast

Why am I ranking them this low? I’m not sure. Gervinho, Gervinho, Gervinho. Yes, I was meaning for that to be musical.

25(32) – Algeria

Last place? Algeria laughed at my rankings, and set them ablaze.

26(31) – Iran

Yeah, they totally lost against Argentina, and they haven’t scored a goal, but they defend well. I could see them sneaking through. And then getting pummeled by France.

27(30) – Australia

This team got a terrible draw, and they’ve done very well, despite not getting any points so far. They won’t make the Knockout Stage, but they’ve set up a foundation for the future.

28(24) – South Korea

They conceded 4 against the team that I randomly ranked last. For shame.

29(26) – Greece

Man, 29 is too low.

30(27) – Japan

#FreeShinji

31(29) – Honduras

They’ll do better next time.

32(28) – Camerooooooon

Their loss against Croatia was pure self-destruction at its finest. How does CAF get 1.5 more spots than CONCACAF?

Qualification Scenarios

This is where it gets serious. Who will advance? Who will…not advance?

This section is meant as a reference. Don’t try to read it all like you would read my normal writing. You might not make it.

Group A

Cameroon vs. Brazil, Croatia vs. Mexico, Monday.

Already in: none.

Eliminated: Cameroon.

-Brazil, 4 points, +2 goal difference:

Win/draw OR

Mexico win OR

Croatia win AND goal difference

-Mexico, 4 points, +1 goal difference:

Win/draw

-Croatia, 3 points, +2 goal difference:

Win OR

Draw AND Cameroon win AND goal difference

Group B

Australia vs. Spain, Netherlands vs. Chile, Monday.

Already in: Netherlands, Chile.

Eliminated: Australia, Spain.

Group C

Japan vs. Colombia, Greece vs. Ivory Coast, Tuesday.

Already in: Colombia.

Eliminated: none.

-Ivory Coast, 3 points, 0 goal difference:

Win OR

Draw AND goal difference

-Japan, 1 point, -1 goal difference:

Win AND Greece win/draw AND goal difference

-Greece, 1 point, -3 goal difference:

Win AND Colombia win/draw OR

Win AND goal difference

Group D

Italy vs. Uruguay, Costa Rica vs. England, Tuesday.

Already in: Costa Rica.

Eliminated: England.

-Italy, 3 points, 0 goal difference:

Win/draw

-Uruguay, 3 points, -1 goal difference:

Win

Group E

Honduras vs. Switzerland, Ecuador vs. France, Wednesday.

Already in: none.

Eliminated: none.

-France, 6 points, +6 goal difference:

Win/draw OR

Honduras win/draw OR

Goal difference

-Ecuador, 3 points, 0 goal difference:

Win/draw AND Honduras win/draw OR

Win AND goal difference OR

Honduras win AND goal difference

-Switzerland, 3 points, -2 goal difference:

Win AND France win/draw OR

Win AND goal difference OR

Draw AND France win OR

France win AND goal difference

-Honduras, 0 points, -4 goal difference:

Win AND France win AND goal difference

Group F

Nigeria vs. Argentina, Bosnia vs. Iran, Wednesday.

Already in: Argentina.

Eliminated: Bosnia.

-Nigeria, 4 points, +1 goal difference:

Win/draw OR

Bosnia win/draw OR

Goal difference

-Iran, 1 point, -1 goal difference:

Win AND Argentina win AND goal difference

Group G

United States vs. Germany, Portugal vs. Ghana, Thursday.

Already in: none.

Eliminated: none.

-Germany, 4 points, +4 goal difference:

Win/draw OR

Ghana draw OR

Goal difference

-United States, 4 points, +1 goal difference:

Win/draw OR

Ghana draw OR

Goal difference

-Ghana, 1 point, -1 goal difference:

Win AND United States win AND goal difference OR

Win AND Germany win AND goal difference

-Portugal, 1 point, -1 goal difference:

Win AND United States win AND goal difference OR

Win AND Germany win AND goal difference

Group H

South Korea vs. Belgium, Algeria vs. Russia, Thursday.

Already in: Belgium

Eliminated: none.

-Algeria, 3 points, +1 goal difference:

Win OR

Draw AND Belgium win/draw OR

Draw AND goal difference

-Russia, 1 point, -1 goal difference:

Win AND Belgium win/draw OR

Win AND goal difference

-South Korea, 1 point, -2 goal difference:

Win AND Russia win/draw AND goal difference

 

For the rest of the group stage, I’ll only do daily thoughts, and a US-Germany preview, because I’ll be working on an epic group stage review article (my take on Spain’s elimination will be included), along with Round of 16 previews. That’s it for now, from Daniel’s Soccer Emporium, your home for adults kicking stuff.

Friday Thoughts (Brief)

This will be super-short because I’m working on the USA-Portugal preview. Go:

-France just completely thrashed Switzerland for 80 minutes. I guess they kind of turned off, and that was how the Swiss got back their two goals. Can France win the World Cup? That’s a real question. We won’t know until they play better teams. Bosnia’s good enough right? And if they beat Bosnia and you still aren’t amazed, the likely quarterfinal opponent is Germany. You can’t win the World Cup without playing some good teams, so an easy draw can only get you so far. We will learn how good France and the Netherlands really are long before they’re in view of the trophy.

-Honduras now has a very small chance to advance, since they lost to Ecuador. However, Ecuador have a pretty good chance now, and they’re basically up against Switzerland, although they don’t play each other. Might I add that these three countries would have much less chance to advance in any other group, while in any other group I doubt that France would be so dominant. However, speculating on non-existent scenarios is stupid, so I’ll stop. We won’t know how good they really are until they play opposition that we also know is good. Did I mention that Argentina is the likely opponent for the Group E runners-up?

-COSTA RICA!!!!! How in the world did that happen? Well, I can actually tell you: they defend as a team, and they attack as a team. Obviously they got help because they played Uruguay without Suarez, and they played Italy after their Manaus game, but still, Costa Rica have played very, very well. Italy’s two best players, at least going forward, are Pirlo and Balotelli. If you can shut them down, you’ve basically kept yourselves from losing. If you can also be dangerous going forward, then you’re probably going to win. That’s what Costa Rica did. And that’s why, in the first ever group with 3 different World Cup champions, the first team out is one that’s never made the quarterfinals. What a World Cup from Costa Rica.

-Is anyone excited to see what Messi and Argentina can do against a bad team? Iran are not to be under-estimated defensively, but I doubt that they can slow down Argentina like Bosnia did. Speaking of which, is anyone excited to see the Edin Dzeko led Bosnian attack in all their glory? As I said, Iran have a fairly good defense, but that’s not Nigeria’s strong-suit. While goalkeeper Vincent Enyema might be good, he’ll be forced into making tons of saves if the Super Eagles are to contain Bosnia.

-Boateng vs. Boateng. With Hummels out, how will Germany line up against the Black Stars? Will Ghana salvage their World Cup hopes after going down to the mighty, well, passable US?

-Oh, and a note: the reason that the US didn’t dispatch Ghana so easily was because Michael Bradley, our best outfielder, decided to get all of his bad play out of the way in one game. Ballon d’Or stuff from here on out, everyone.

That’s it.

I said it was super-short. If you really want more of me, check out the “World Cup” page. I’ve got some good stuff in there that you may have missed.

Any special requests for the USA-Portugal game? Or any articles that I do for the rest of the group stage? That’s what I’m here for.

Power Rankings + USA-Ghana Poetry

If you’re only going to read one thing, make it the poetic review at the end. But my next section should not be ignored either:

Totally Inaccurate Power Rankings

Last ranking in brackets.

1(2)-Germany

This team is a soccer machine. They tore apart Portugal with efficiency. Only Germans can be that efficient. They have so many talented players that even with Marco Reus out injured, they were able to leave Klose, Podolski, Schürrle, and even Schweinsteiger (Schweini!) on the bench and still have a world class starting XI. You can make a team out of Germany’s bench and win the World Cup. But can they pull it off in Brazil? I’m not sure.

2(1)-Brazil

It didn’t take long for the host nation to drop their first points, and some will argue that they also didn’t deserve a win in the first game. They have 4 points, and they should still qualify out of their group with ease (Cameroon are the only team they have left to play–easy win…right?) but they haven’t looked dominant at all.

3(3)-Argentina

Against Bosnia (I’ll get to them) this team looked completely disjointed in attack. But Messi is a player who can change the game. Everyone talks about Neymar, and Cristiano Ronaldo has been the crème de la crème for the past year and a half, but Messi could very well prove why he’s the best at this World Cup. They have an easy draw to start, but Messi needs better help to win the World Cup.

They only started attacking well when Messi moved further back into the midfield in the second half allowing him to get on the ball. However, he then had further to go to get to the goal, which created enough time for Bosnia to close down on him, forcing him to pass to one of his teammates. It normally didn’t go well. Argentina need to get that star-studded attack working well.

4(4)-Italy

5(5)-Spain

6(6)-Netherlands

7(7)-Belgium

Nothing will come easy. At some point I will probably write an article talking more about Belgium (I would’ve wrote one for yesterday but I got a headache after the US game, and then the headache was made worse because I was upset because I had a headache), but for now, I want to leave it at this: you can’t become title-contenders in one cycle. Nothing comes easy.

8(8)-Colombia

9(9)-Chile

10(11)-Bosnia-H

Throughout the build-up and now during the actual tournament, I’ve heaped praise on the World Cup debutants. If Messi wasn’t playing, they probably would’ve won, or at least got a draw. Also, you must consider that their own goal was fluky. It counted, of course, but if that same game would’ve been played 20 times, it’s something that wouldn’t have happened more than once or twice. If Messi was Bosnian, it would’ve been 4-0. That’s how good Messi and all of Bosnia were compared to the rest of Argentina. They defended very well, and I have little doubt that they’ll handle Nigeria and Iran.

11(15)-France

Likely Round of 16 opponents for Bosnia, the French are in a great year. How do I know that? In 1994, France didn’t make the World Cup. In 1998, France won it. In 2002, they went out in the group stage. In 2006, they came excruciatingly close to winning it again. In 2010, they imploded. Based on the pattern of being horrific one tournament and excellent the next, this should be a good year for Les Blues.

12(12)-Uruguay

13(16)-Mexico

This Mexico team has proven that they are much better than the 2013 team. They will still probably need a result against Croatia to make it through, but a draw would cut it due to their impressive 0-0 draw vs. the mighty Brazil. Oh, and they should’ve beat Cameroon 3-0 instead of 1-0. This team has been very good so far.

14(13)-Croatia

15(18)-USA

There are still some issues, and Jozy Altidore’s injury is worrying, but this team does have quality, and most importantly an ability to get results.

16(14)-England

Yeah, I intentionally put the US right above England.

17(10)-Portugal

Man, they looked terrible. Half of their backline is gone (Pepe suspended for the next game, Coentrao out for the tournament with injury), their striker is gone (Hugo Almeida injured for the next game), and their star player (Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been struggling recently) was a non-factor against Germany. But then again, it was against Germany.

18(20)-Switzerland

The Swiss, I think, have a good chance to make it out of the Group of Life. Unless they mess up against Honduras, they should be able to afford a poor result in the next game against France, as long as the other teams also do so.

19(19)-Russia

They needed to pick up 3 points to have a sizable chance to win the group. They failed, but if they can hold on they can make it to the Round of 16.

20(21)-Ivory Coast

21(22)-Costa Rica

22(17)-Ghana

The Ghanaians are very one-dimensional in attack. They prefer to play on the counter. The US defended deep, not pressing too much in order to protect space in behind, so they forced Ghana to break them down. They couldn’t do it. Their next task is the team that just beat Portugal 4-0.

23(23)-Nigeria

They should’ve gotten more than a point against Iran, but I’ve already written them off anyway. Bosnia is a good team, and you’re either ignorant or Nigerian if you thought they weren’t favorites to join Argentina out of the group.

24(25)-Korea

The Koreans just got a point against the best team they’ll face in the group stage that doesn’t have Eden Hazard. They absolutely have a fairly good chance to make it out of the group stage.

25(24)-Ecuador

They got close, but they couldn’t last the whole game. They have a shot if they can get an upset against France, but it’s looking unlikely.

(26)-Greece

(27)-Japan

(28)-Cameroon

(29)-Honduras

As I said, France are good this year. Everyone will drop points against France. Honduras need to get points against Switzerland and Ecuador. Possible, but not at all easy.

(30)-Australia

(31)-Iran

(32)-Algeria

Maybe 32nd was harsh, but they couldn’t hold their lead. Again, I have no idea what I’m doing.

 

Remember, I said it was “Totally Inaccurate.” That wasn’t a joke at all.

USA-Ghana: Poetic Review

(Forgive me for it sounding bad. I don’t make poetry that often.)

The Black Stars were sloppy as the game was beginning.

But Dempsey was ready, and focused on winning.

In half a minute, the US were in control,

A third World Cup for Deuce with scoring a goal.

Ghana looked nervous, and frantic as well.

Their World Cup’s start wasn’t too swell.

While the US wasn’t good in possession,

Ghana couldn’t rule the game with oppression.

They tried and tried, but failed to break them down.

Every Black Star attack ended with frowns.

Altidore hurt, and then Besler, too.

Is it over-training that Klinsmann should rue?

Fiftieth, sixtieth, seventieth minute.

America looked quite like they would win it.

But with a moment of brilliance, the lead was gone.

Andre Ayew the goal, assisted by Gyan.

It was tied up, and it looked without hope.

“We’re still in in the game!” says the US coach.

Fabian Johnson won a nice corner kick.

The US with a chance, but the clock moving quick.

Here comes the sub, Graham Zusi to take it.

Brooks with the header, trying to make it.

And then in a moment not to forget,

The ball went into the back of the net!

“GOAL!” they all shouted, jumping up and down.

Brooks, stunned, just fell to the ground.

Relief, excitement, and much jubilation,

To everyone all across the nation.

Next up is Manaus, with many piranhas.

But for now, it’s the joy of beating Ghana.

 

That’s it! Stay tuned for more later on. I’ll be here for the whole World Cup and beyond. Annoy everyone you kind-of know with emails about my blog. The more people reading this the more motivated I am to do better.