Tag Archives: Belgium

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.

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USA-Belgium Thoughts

Here is what I think about the loss of the United States to Belgium (I wrote this up shortly after the game, but a combination of me procrastinating and me preferring to listen to other people’s opinions and then form my own, it hasn’t gotten up until now):

-It was a good World Cup for the US. The team just doesn’t yet have the talented players that many other countries have, and those countries more talented than the US include Germany, Portugal, Ghana, and Belgium. Beating one, coming tantalizingly close to beating two others, and narrowly losing to the fourth, especially when all four are better, is a nice achievement. This is the only time in all of history that the US has gotten out of the group in two straight World Cups. Not only was it a group, it was the Group of Death. Klinsmann earned his contract extension, even though they already signed it last year.

-But it wasn’t a great World Cup for the US. They were one of the better teams, team-work wise, while Portugal and Ghana basically imploded. Portugal had a nightmare against Germany (as I’ve said before, they’re captain is Cristiano Ronaldo and one of their best players is Pepe; that explains their team mentality), while Ghana had a nightmare of their own; two players were kicked out of the team for disputes with the Ghanaian FA and with the coach, while they also had a conflict over money. The US caught both Ghana and Portugal on off years, and they only made it through on goal difference. Am I sounding too harsh? My nice paragraph was the last one. This is my harsh paragraph. They have a better squad than 2010 and they got the same final result: out 2-1 in extra time in the Round of 16.

-Obviously there is a middle ground. Klinsmann did well overall (I still take issue with a lot of his decisions) but he could’ve done better. I’ll detail this more in the coming weeks.

-What about Julian Green, the player who I’ve criticized so much yet who scored? Do I apologize for my opinion on him? No. See, logically, it made no sense to bring in a German 4th Division player. He’s a great prospect, but he did terrible in the friendlies. And Klinsmann seemed to agree; he played less minutes in the warm-up games than everyone but Nick Rimando, the third-string goalkeeper. All indications said that Green wouldn’t play a single minute, much less score. And the minutes he did play were at the end of a game that at the time the US looked very unlikely to win. Although he did score, and there was no way to predict that.

-Anyway, good for him, and I hope he has a great career, but is it so wrong for me to still think that Landon Donovan would’ve been better? It isn’t.

-Here is something that I know that Klinsmann got wrong: WHERE WAS KYLE BECKERMAN?!? Howard, Besler, Gonzalez, and Howard (I meant to mention him twice; one of the best goalkeeping performances ever) were great in the back, but they wouldn’t have been tested so much if Kyle Beckerman would’ve been there.

-Now to players who didn’t do quite as well. Did I curse Wondo? I hope not. However you look at it, coming from Division II college soccer to MLS reserve league to league MVP to the World Cup, he’s had a career worthy of a made-for-TV movie (if he would’ve scored on that goal it would’ve been for theatres. But hey, considering that most people have never even played for their national teams, much less played in a World Cup, he’s done very well in his career.)

-We were so close to Wondokota being real. And if you don’t know what that means I suggest you read my USA-Belgium preview.

-So, should we blame Wondolowski? No. We shouldn’t blame any individual player. This is how sports work: you win as a team, and lose as a team. Of course some players play better than others, and we should recognize that, but putting all the blame on a player for the team not making it to the quarterfinals is ridiculous, especially when that player was only on the field for less than a third of the time the team played.

-Overall, I just feel sad for Wondo. He makes that chance 9 out of 10 times (Landon Donovan said that, and I agree) but for some reason this was the 1 time he missed it. It’s not nearly as easy as it looks, especially when Thibaut Courtois, the most terrifying goalkeeper in the world, is right there trying to stop you.

-Also, we shouldn’t be getting so upset about the US getting knocked out in the Round of 16. Talent-wise, do you think that the US is even top 10 in the World? No, I don’t. When you consider the fact that the team plays well together (as opposed to Portugal, England, and most African teams) it gives the US a boost, but I still think that top-10 is unrealistic. Not to say that Quarterfinals shouldn’t be an expectation. Or am I? I’m not sure. My point is that it isn’t a crime for the team to be knocked out in the Round of 16, and thus the team shouldn’t be punished as if it was a crime.

-And I’ll reiterate it: don’t pile all the blame on just a few players. That’s just silly. Be happy about the things the team did right, and learn from the things the team did wrong.

 

I will have a lot more about the World Cup and the USMNT in the coming weeks. Yes, even after the World Cup is over. Stay tuned.

Belgium vs. USA Preview

(Note: click on “World Cup 2014” above to find more great fairly good articles by yours truly.)

The US has advanced out of the Group of Certain Death, but that doesn’t mean that the job is done. Actually, by definition, it means that the job isn’t done. This is my preview.

Contents:

Background – basic facts to know.

How will Belgium play? – tactics and lineup questions.

How will the US play? – tactics and lineup questions.

Prediction – totally unbiased prediction by me. GO USA!!!

Background

These teams have played on 5 occasions, with Belgium winning 4. They won the last 2 games; a 1-0 win in Brussels (Nicolas Lombaerts was the goalscorer) and a 4-2 win in Cleveland (Kevin Mirallas, Marouane Fellaini, and a Christian Benteke brace powered the team past goals by Clint Dempsey and Geoff Cameron). The US’s lone win against Belgium came in 1930 (3-0, goals scored by Bart McGhee, Bert Patenuade, and Tom Florie).

How will Belgium play?

A little like this:

Belgium vs. USA Probable

There are a few lineup questions. Namely: is Vincent Kompany healthy? Kompany is the team’s captain, and the captain of the Manchester City team that just won the English Premier League, and he’s their best defender. Lombaerts, his probable replacement, is okay, I guess, but I’m not sure that he can match Kompany.

Another position battle is striker. With Christian Benteke injured, Romelu Lukaku is the obvious replacement, and he’s been the one playing. But see, Lukaku is inconsistent. I may be the only one to notice this, but he is. He’s a great player, and he’s really young (I will start rioting if Mourinho sells him) but as of now he’s inconsistent as a starter. Divock Origi, who is even younger than Lukaku (man, this Belgium team will be really good in future tournaments) has performed better than Lukaku in less time playing, although you could definitely make the argument that Origi has been doing good off the bench because Lukaku has tired out the defenders.

One of the biggest talking points about Belgium is their fullbacks: they have none. Similar to Germany, they play center-backs as full-backs. Toby Alderweireld is the incumbent at right-back, while at left-back it’s more of a question between Jan Vertonghen (center-back for Tottenham) and Thomas Vermaelen (center-back for Arsenal). I guessed that it would be Vermaelen, because I’ve heard that Vertonghen has injury issues. I think Vermaelen might have some injury concerns as well, but I’m not sure. If both are healthy and Kompany is injured I’d advise playing one at left-back and the other at center-back. But coaches rarely follow my advice.

I would say that both Vertonghen and Vermaelen are solid defenders, but neither are close to perfect. Error-prone more than the average defender.

In midfield they have Marouane Fellaini, formally of Everton, currently of Manchester United, and notable for the fact that his hair is large enough to make a sizable home for the entire Spain attacking midfield. He can play a destroyer role or play the role of withdrawn forward. Belgium would like him to maintain control in midfield while being an aerial threat on attacks.

They also have Axel Witsel, a defensive midfielder with similar hair to Fellaini’s, Kevin De Bruyne, a creative attacking midfielder who always looks like he’s about to cry (in a way that makes me genuinely feel sad for the poor boy), and Dries Mertens, the skilled Napoli winger.

Oh, and at goalkeeper they have Thibaut Courtois. He’s really good. And young. And, like Lukaku, spent the last season on loan from Chelsea. And he can yell in slow motion really well.

This team has a lot of really good players. It’s crazy.

And I haven’t mentioned their best player, the man featured in the title picture. Chelsea’s Eden Hazard.

He’s really good. Not always consistently good, but if one player has the ability to change games for Belgium, it’s Hazard. He plays on the left wing, and normally cuts inside to his preferred right foot. He’s great at dribbling, he likes to engage in tricky build-up play, and he can score goals himself as well. He’s been called one of the best players in the world by many. This is basically how he plays on attack:

Hazardous Space

He cuts in from the left and wreaks havoc. Whether it’s a pass to a teammate or a direct shot, when he gets the ball it’s very…dangerous. You thought I was going to say “hazardous” again, right?

Anyway, that zone (shaded in light gray) is where he does his damage. He slips in and creates chances.

As I said, he’s not consistent. He’s only 23, so he hasn’t developed into the player he probably will develop into. But even if he’s ineffective for 89 minutes he has the quality to win a game almost single-handedly in the other minute. The US need to watch Hazard for the entire game and not let him wreak havoc in that space that I highlighted.

It’s not just him, it’s the entire Belgium team. They’re very, very talented, and while they haven’t been all that convincing (while winning Group H they had 3 narrow wins in one of the easiest groups) they’re the favorites to advance to the quarterfinals.

How will the US play?

Probably kind of like this:

USA vs. Belgium Probable

That was the same formation they played against Germany, with Bradley and Jones together in the 4-1-4-1. They could revert back to the 4-2-3-1 (doubtful) or some type of 4-4-2, be it diamond or flat (slightly less doubtful, but still doubtful nonetheless).

Let’s analyze this team once more, shall we? We shall.

Jozy’s back! Well, he won’t start, but he’s “available” according to US Soccer. Jozy Altidore is one of the most useful players on the team: he can score goals, but what he’s most useful for is hold-up play. Give him the ball, and he can hold off the defenders and lay the ball off to a teammate, probably Dempsey. He’s the only player on the roster who can do that, as Terrence Boyd and Eddie Johnson were both left off the team. Again, he won’t start. He may not even play, and if he does, it will be limited. But he’s “available.”

Clint Dempsey will probably get the start at striker, and if they play a 4-4-2 of some kind he will be paired with either Chris Wondolowski (simply a lethal goal-scorer) or Aron Jóhannsson (shifty, and natural goal-scorer, but a bit raw). Dempsey, the captain, works better playing just behind the main striker, where he can move around and make runs into the box, although with Altidore out he’s the lone player up top.

On the wings we probably won’t see Davis start again, and as I’ve said multiple times before we won’t see Julian Green. We’re likely to see Alejandro Bedoya and Graham Zusi, although perhaps, if Klinsmann really wants to surprise, we could see the fast, young DeAndre Yedlin get the nod from the beginning. I doubt it, although Klinsmann has surprised me many times before.

In the middle we have Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones as the engine of this team. Bradley, as I detailed in the USA-Germany preview, isn’t playing at his best. He’s not doing as bad as some people make him out to be (people like to make the facts fit simple narratives) but he’s done much better. I’m not sure if he’s hurt (in the group stage he ran more than any World Cup player, so probably not that) or if he’s low on confidence, or if he’s too high on confidence, but something is wrong with him. However, he played much better against Germany. He’s improving, and hopefully he can continue doing so.

Jermaine Jones has been the best player of the US team, hence me placing him in the title picture. He’s ran around crushing opposing attacks, and that goal against Portugal was immense.

And it’s all made possible because of Kyle Beckerman. He stays in that #6 position, allowing Jones and Bradley to roam free in front of him. He does the dirty work that people don’t notice so that Jones and Bradley don’t have to. It’s funny how someone with hair so unstable is the stabilizing force in the midfield.

DeMarcus Beasley is likely to again play at left-back. Beasley is playing in his 4th World Cup (only American to play in that many) and while his work at his new position isn’t too flashy, he’s been quite solid.

And at right-back we have Fabian Johnson. He’s a little bit shaky in defense, yet he’s quite good in attack and in both categories he’s the best the US has at that position. Belgium will need to be wary of his attacks. He’s very good with both feet, and he uses them to great effect going forward.

Center-back is a trickier one. Matt Besler, the steady SKC captain, is a lock to start at left-center-back, but who he’s paired with is a mystery. Will it be Geoff Cameron, who has gotten most of the playing time in the last 6 games? Or will it be Omar Gonzalez, who was playing poorly for a while but then shined when inserted into the lineup last game? Only Jürgen Klinsmann knows the answer to that question.

Prediction

Warning: I’m a US fan.

Belgium 1-2 USA

Dempsey scores early (off a nifty Bradley through-ball) and then the US guards the lead until the 77th minute, not all too long after Belgium wakes up. Eden Hazard slides into space, and then plays a nice pass for Lukaku, who beats his teammate Tim Howard (10+ saves in total) to tie it up. In the fifth minute of added time, with Belgium getting tired, substitute Chris Wondolowski scores the winner. All of the Wondo-Doubters shut up. The day is celebrated as Wondo Day. They even re-name a Dakota after him.

Wondokota

Good night everyone, and Merry Christmas. May your team win, unless you’re Belgian.

 

 

 

Wednesday Thoughts + the 4 Stages of Belgium

I’ll try to write up something about Spain’s elimination, and I’ll also do something about CONCACAF in this World Cup, but for now I’ll just give a little sampler of what’s on my mind (and then something about Belgium after):

-This blogging experience, which is one of many attempts I’ve made at being a blogger (I’ll probably share some of my old posts on a slow day), could be going much worse. Considering the fact that I’m terribly lazy and experience something that makes writer’s block  like eating a cookie, this has been somewhat successful.

-Apparently I’ve had views from Canada, Ireland, Germany, plus 27 from the US. While 20 of that 27 is probably me, it’s still nice to see that this blog is getting some views, even by accident. I want to add that I wholeheartedly appreciate all of you for wasting spending time reading me talk about adults kicking stuff.

-Alex Song? What is wrong with you? You shouldn’t hit people, but especially when they don’t have the ball. Not only do you do that, but you’re doing it in what is basically an elimination game at the World Cup!

-Luka Modrić, I think, might have made a mistake by cutting his hair. He isn’t playing poorly, but if I was about to play in a World Cup and I’ve been playing well at club level, I wouldn’t change a thing.

-Do you know who refereed the Spain-Chile game? MLS’s Mark Geiger! I’ve seen this guy referee a game in person, and now he’s at the biggest stage. In this case, he was proceeding over the former king’s execution like Maximillian Robespierre.

-Oh, and I’m not saying that Mark Geiger is an insane revolutionary. He’s a pretty good referee. Maybe it was a bad analogy, but any opportunity to make a French history reference is one that I can’t help but capitalizing on.

-Tim Cahill, one of Australia’s greatest players, scored his second goal this World Cup in as many games. As he also picked up his second yellow card he will be suspended for the game vs. Spain, Australia’s last due to their mathematical elimination. The 34-year-old has thus most likely ended his World Cup career, where he’s scored 5 goals in 8 games. That record is made even more astonishing considering the fact that in his three World Cups Australia has only made it out of the group stage once, when Guus Hiddink was coach back in 2006.

-Oh, and do you know where Tim Cahill plays? For the New York Red Bulls, in MLS!

-I’ll say one thing about Spain’s elimination: watching Xavi on the sidelines being sad makes me sad. I’m glad that they didn’t also show Juan Mata being sad. That would’ve been too much to bear.

-I’ve been thinking a good bit about my preview article for US-Portugal. I’ll lock myself in the closet making it on Friday, and I’ll finish it off Saturday night Eastern US time. Hopefully. It will be like my epic USA-Ghana preview, only better and with more CR7.

-And before I do that, I’ll drop a CONCACAF-based view at the World Cup, and I’ll also drop something on Spain’s elimination, if I can find the time. But I’m not making any promises on the latter.

-In lieu of a real England-Uruguay preview, I’ll say this: Wayne Rooney is England’s best player. He hasn’t showed it in the World Cup, but that doesn’t change the facts. He did poorly vs. Italy mainly because he was on the wing, which isn’t his best position. Oh, and he did have a good club season, despite the fact that his team was poor, so don’t come at me with any of that.

-I’d like to say something about Germany: in the last game they had Bastian Schweinsteiger on the bench, Phillip Lahm at central midfield, and both of the full-backs were converted center-backs. Couldn’t they move Lahm to left-back, and then put Schweini in the team? I know that Lahm is a good D-mid, and that’s where he’s been playing at club level, but he’s also a good full-back, and Schweinsteiger is too good to leave off the team, I think. Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy?

[EDIT: I have since learned that Schweinsteiger had injury concerns. But I still insist that when the entire team is healthy it’s better to put Lahm at full-back. They’re a great team either way, though.]

-I’ll get to the Belgium thing, but first I want to reveal the USMNT’s secret to making it out of the group: we have a Boateng brother, too: Zack-King Boateng. He’ll make his debut vs. Portugal. Game. Set. Match. Boateng.

(Note: is there a name more American than “Zack?”)

The 4 Stages of Belgium

You know, I could write all day and all night about Belgium. About their fascinating country, their fascinating national team, Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, “Big Rom” Lukaku, Vincent Kompany, Fellaini’s Hair, Witsel’s Hair, and all that stuff, but for now I’ll just write about the thought process that has gone around about the public opinion of this team:

1. Discovery: “Wait, he’s from Belgium, too? Man, there are a lot of good Belgians.”

You notice that several prominent players are from Belgium. Not anything special yet; I mean, the Ivory Coast have lots of good players and they’ve been poor despite those players.

2. Realization: “This Belgium team is a dark horse to win it all!”

Everyone noticed that they had a lot of quality players, and that they theoretically make a good team. Everyone makes the discovery that, hey, this team can make some noise in Brazil! And they feel so good about it.

3. Hipsterism: “Belgium are as good as that underground band you’ve never heard of.”

Are Brazil, Spain, Germany, and Argentina too mainstream for you? Then pick Belgium. They’re cool. I mean, they’ve got Kompany, Hazard, and Courtois; plus, if you pick them over those four then you’re standing apart from the crowd. Is anything cooler than that combination? Belgium became trendy.

4. Annoyingness: “If you call them dark horses one more time I’m not responsible for what I do!”

Belgium have become so trendy that they’re now mainstream. Many people have scoffed at people calling Belgium “dark horses,” mainly because they’re 5th favorites to win the World Cup. By the way, if you’re telling me that Belgium have a better chance at winning the World Cup than Italy, I’m very sorry. See, World Cup success doesn’t come that easy.

Seriously, though, this is someone’s Belgium preview:

“DON’T CALL THEM DARK HORSES!!!!”

“But, I wasn’t going to ca–”

“JUST DON’T, OKAY!?!?”

“I wasn’t thinking of–”

“They are NOT dark horses!!!”

“Okay, but can’t we–”

“Because lots of people have said ‘Belgium are dark horses’ AND IT ISN’T TRUE!!!”

“Yes, but let’s talk about Hazard or–”

“Do you think they’re dark horses?!?”

“No, but–”

“NOBODY CALL THEM DARK HORSES!!!”

“We have a preview to do.”

“Nope, we’re out of time.”

 

That’s it. Remember, stay tuned to Daniel’s Soccer Emporium (I’m Daniel, by the way), your home for adults kicking stuff.

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.