Wednesday, June 14, 2006

And the show begins....

First and foremost what a start!!!! Bang! Bang! Bang! 17 minutes and its three goals in. If you were late in coming home with your packet of Lays and Coke, you would have been too late. Old-timers in the world cup who are so used a 1-0 scoreline in the opening match were in for a German treat as one spectacular goal was followed by another. Breathtaking long-rangers
from Lahm and Frings and brilliant positioning/poaching from Klose gave us a feast, not to forget the hollow defence which allowed Costa Rica to get a couple back. A young attacking German side, a 4-2 scoreline - just the start required. So did a shift in tradition do the trick for FIFA? Traditionally, the defending champions kicked off the tournament but from this year onwards the hosts did so. The opening match proved to be a curse for most champions. Ask Argentina (1990) and France (2002) who bit the dust in the hands of Cameroon and Senegal respectively. Some of the champions scraped through with 1-0 and 2-1 scorelines while others managed a few 1-1s. The Germans had no excess baggage like the "favorites" tag and went for the kill right from the beginning.
Now as we round up the first leg of group matches and having seen all the big guns in action, here are my views:

  • No major upsets which shows that the big guns did not suffer from the any 'first match blues' (I dont care much about the Swedish)
  • England and Portugal were disappointing in their 1-0 wins. It was most ridiculous to hear Sven Goran Erikkson blaming the heat for the disappointing show. Mr Erikkson, this is not Mexico City. Wonder what would the English do if the world cup were to be held in Mexico (Most infamous for 12 noon kick-offs). Portugal made a brilliant start but ended up being booed by their own supporters
  • Most big guns are firing right from the word go and taking a 1-0 lead asap. Some like England and Portugal preferred to sit on it. They could afford to as their opposition were not dangerous. The Dutch tried hard but could not get more. The Czechs demolished the opposition after a 4 min lead.
  • Italy was the major surprise. I was prepared for the same defensive game being satisfied with a 1-0. But it turned out to be cracker. Non-stop back and forth and a very worthy 2-0 scoreline.
  • The Argentina - Ivory Coast match was the most fought. One more Drogba and Ivorians could have well snatched a point. The Argentines did not give an inch, did the simple things right and were home. Most importantly Crespo and Saviola were at the right place at the right time.
  • The 'socceroos' from down under showed their true Aussie spirit and gave the indication that it wont be long that they reach the top in this game too. Watch out Croatia!! (Too early to say watch out Brazil!!!). Has it got to do with the man with the 'midas' touch? Yes, I am talking about coach Guus Hiddink.
  • Brazil were good but the chinks in the defense was obvious. Had the Croat strikers shot the ball a yard or two on either side of Dida, the strory could have well been different. Instead each time they shot straight to Dida's hands.
  • The long-rangers that are being fired time and again - Frings, Lahm, Rosicky, Kaka it would be good idea to send some strikers back home. At least it applies to two of the best - Ronaldo and Henry. Only in the 2nd half did I realize that Ronaldo was playing in the game.
  • The best from Africa: Ivory Coast
  • The best goal: Frings (Germany V Costa Rica)
  • Most entaining of the big-guns: Germany
  • And lastly, the most disappointing big gun award undoubtedly goes to the French. Henry once again realized France was no Arsenal. One of the shots he took at the goal almost looked like a back-pass to his own goalie. Such was the lack of power is the foot of the French. Now France has gone 4 world cup matches without scoring a single goal, ever since Emmanuel Petit scored that 3rd goal in the 1998 final. Looking at the forward line, this goal-less streak is likely to continue.

So after the first set of matches, what I am looking forward to most is Group E, the key to which belongs the Italy-Czech republic showdown on the 22nd. Firstly, because of the great show by both these teams and secondly and most importantly, whoever loses this match or are runners-up in Group E faces Brazil in round 2. I cant wait for that mouth watering encounter.
Something just tells me its going to be Italy. And the memories of '82 come back.

P.S. This article was posted before Spain has kicked off their World Cup campaign.


Arun Kornath said...

Yesterdays first match figure TOGO and South Korea. Ahn once again proved to be the match winner ( remember he scored the winner in 2002 world cup against Italy). But just a thought for the TOGO team ranked lowest among the teams that qualified for the world cup and team without a coach. Hats of to them I am sure u will find many Adeboyour Emmanuel ( who plays for Arsenal)
Well if the first match was a grueling display. The second match was a tale of missed opportunities.
Tierry Henry, Louis Saha,David trezeguet and Wiltord all in one team but o boy the scoreline reads 0 – 0. Add Ribery Frank, zidane mckalele and Gallas to the ranks . Looks unbeatable.
Henry was pathetic to say the least. Well if u cant win against Switzerland with only Frei Alexander and Sendoras to mention about U DON’T DESERVE TO BE HERE. The Silver Lining pace of Ribery and the ageing legs of Zizu.
Last match saw Brazil against Croatia. Brazil scrapped through. Ronaldo dint touch a ball. Ronaldinio wasn’t his usual self. But some how they won. Great players don’t essentially make a great team. Well lets see what will they do if they have to face the Czech or Azzuris in the second round.
Today don’t miss out match bw Ukraine and Spain. Promises to be a great match.

I cant wait to see Klose and Podolski take upon Poland

Satyadip Basu said...

Now that each and every team have kicked the Teamgeist ball lets do a quick retrospection of Big gunners and the Minnows.

Brazil have to recompile things very quickly if they want to do something better in this World Cup. It was difficult to make out what were bothering Ronaldo and Adriano...was it their personal life problems or was it their over-weight?? Why would the two lethal srikers move in snail's pace in the pitch?

England have been too disappointing to say the least, while France I guess have taken an oath of not scoring any goals when they come to the World Cup.

Argentina, Holland, Italy and Portugal gave a pretty decent showdown, though for the Maradona countrymen it could have been curtains had Drogba been a little fortunate. Robben was a bit selfish after having scored his first goal, but he has shown the world that Holland will never miss Marc Overmars and Zenden in the left flank.
We have to wait to see more of the Italians as they have a pretty long injury list. Nevertheless they managed to win their opener pretty decently.
Portugal also needs to be watched carefully because of their coach Philip Skolari and their old war horse Lui Figo. The Eusbian men always had the talent but could never finish.

But Germany, Czech Rep and Spain have really lived up to the expectations of Big-gunners in world Cup. Klinsman himself a deadly striker in his times have actually brought on a lot of pace in this team. Its pretty unusal to find a German side playing such kind of a pressing football. But they need to tighten up their defence more when they play against stronger teams.
The two teams which have played football soothing to the eyes have been the Czechs and the Spaniards.
With Nedved, Rosicky,Proboski and Galasek the Czechs always had a purpose in their attack. Nedved has done a world of good in coming back from his retirement as his ball distribution all ovet the pitch is a delight to watch. Thomas Rosicky would prove to be a spearhead in midfiled this summer in EPL for Chelsea.
As for the Spaniards, they quite dismissed the Ukrainians from their presence in the match. Schevchenko's team was zapped at the relentless attack from Xavi, Alonso, Villa and later on by Raul and Fabregas. But let's hope the Spanish team does not choke in the end which they have done in almost all past World cups. Its a team full of talent but inevitably fails in the knock-out stages.

This world cup has seen many teams for the first time like Togo, Ivory Coast, Trinidad and Tobago.
Ivory Coast could have created a major upset but luck was not on their side. However T&T did it against Sweden and Yorke must be eyeing on his old Man Utd teammates Becks and Gary Neiville when they take on England next.
One of the most exciting matches so far has definitely been Saudi Arabia vs Tunisia. It was an open game and Jaziri's goal was brilliant. But the Petroleum giants lost in height and stature to the Africans. Jaidi was just too tall for the KSA defenders when he scored the equalizer in the injury time. Still hats off to Sami Al Jabber, not many have the record of scoring in 3 different world cups.
The Socceroos and Ecuador could also create further upsets later in the show.

But still it's a game, the Greatest Show on Earth. Anything can happen anytime; the tables might turn in the remaining 31 matches in Group League. The world waits with baited breath.........

Rinaldo said...

anyone else here thinks that the brazillians are overrated? the most impressive teams after the first round have been the czechs, argentina, the dutch, italy, and spain. Germany played well last night, their defence were finally looking solid.

forza azzurri. Campioni del mondo, 2006?

Arun Kornath said...

Yesterdays match between Spain and Ukraine was probably one of the most one sided matches. Ukraine on one side and Spain, Luck and the referee on the other side. But dint David Villa play the match of his life. He was chosen over Raul and he showed what he was worth. The perennial underachievers are of to a flier. Can they go all the way. Well semis doesn’t look far. Puyol executed the offside trap pretty well and Schevchnko was almost reduced to a Ronaldo.

Germany Poland was really the match to watch. So much of excitement so much of action Couldn’t get better. Klose and Podolski couldn’t score against their home country. So many chances gone A begging.

But look who made the difference David Odonkor. Boy O boy dint he set the ground on fire. A live wire a sprinting footballer. Lamm was also at his best. Neuville made the amends for not scoring in the last World cup finals against Brazil ( remember the ball hitting the post).

My man of the match Boruc Artur the Polish goal keeper. If not for him the scoreline would have looked quite different.

Germany does look promising. But would it go all the way. I am not still putting my money.