Tuesday, June 20, 2006

24 passes - 1 GOAL!!!..... and Ghana's 'Czech'mate

Well the title sums up the second phase of group matches in Germany 2006. Ghana's upset and US's subsequent holiding of Italy may have thrown group E wide open but phase II of the group matches was all about Argentina V Serbia-Montenegro. As the 'expert' in ESPN clearly put it - "That goal will send shivers down anybody's spine". It was not Cambiaso's goal. That goal belonged to Argentina. That goal summed up soccer and the great team game that it is. And what was most important is that it did not come against minnows (well in the finals of the world cup, no one is one). It came against a defense which conceded next to nothing in the qualifiers and just one against the dutch boys in their opener (a team having Robben and Nistelrooy). Argentina's performance has already made this world cup a special one irrespective of whatever happens from now on. Most fans will be unanimous in their verdict as to who would win if Argentina were to play Brazil in the final tomorrow. Yes, the stakes have shifted a bit.

Here are some of they other key points from the 2nd phase of group matches

  • France finally scored and Henry proved he can score for France too. But scoring only once, dominating the match and missing umpteen chances did not help as they still haven't won in the world cup since the 1998 final. And worse still, Zizou picked a 2nd yellow card and is out of the do-or-die match against Togo. The end is near - for France and it could well be the end already for the once great Zizou
  • Spain was awesome but its too early to talk about them. They start every world cup like this and then bite the dust in the quarters. We'll pass any judgement on them only after the quarters.
  • Brazil and England both came through with 2-0 wins but were scrappy. Nothing to worry as of now but they need to lift their game by a notch as the knock-out phase starts. Ronaldo needs a break and Rooney needs a break-through.
  • Holland battled off a fighting Ivory Coast - a very exciting team which deserved better but what could you do if you are pooled in with Argentina and Holland. Ghana might have caused the upset but I would still say that the Ivorians are the best from Africa.
  • Italy again failed to finish off even after having a one-man advantage (dunno whether it was the referree or the one extra player in the team).
  • Ukraine redeemed itself and with France hopelessly out of sorts could face an easy opponent in the 2nd round and sneak in to the quarters.

Today is the day when we get to know the first of the 2nd round face-offs and there is (yes there is) a huge possibilty that we'll get England V Germany as early in Round II. I just pray its not (By the time this article is published the result will be well and truly known).


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