L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

10 June 2006 Blog Home : June 2006 : Permalink

Footy (Lacka) Blogging

Posting will be blank until Wednesday because, due to nepotism and the begging of favours, She Who Must Be Obeyed has managed to scam some tickets to the Japan Australia world cup match on Monday. As a result we are driving up there from early tomorrow and then taking our time ot get back on Tuesday and Wednesday. However before I shog off to Kaiserslautern I thought I might put in my thoughts of the matches I've seen so far including the various warm up ones.

To start with the most recent - Argentina vs Côte d'Ivoire - Argentina are apparently winning easily (2-0) as I write this during the start of the second half.but the first half was not as one sided as the score line indicates. Argentina are clearly strong but Côte d'Ivoire are not the roll over you might expect from a team making its first appearance in the world cup. [Update 2:1 and the Ivorians are really piling on the pressure a 2-2 draw is looking entirely possible which would be a major shock] In this respect the game is similar to the Sweden - Trinidad goalless draw, a match which on paper should have easily been Sweden's but which showed excellent defense by Trinidad, especially sicne they played the 2nd half with 10 men because of a red card. Trinidad could be one of the surprises in the competition if they continue like this.

Also today's 1-0 England victory over Paraguay. I was medium impressed with England, in that they managed some pretty good defence in the second half and some very promising offence in the first half. The problem was that they really should have scored more than one goal. I was reminded of a number of their performances 4 years ago in Japan/Korea where they also showed decent defense and midfield but a serious inability to put the ball in the back of the net. Everyone in Enlgand has been praying to all the deities they can possibly claim the slightest allegience in order to ensure that Wayne Rooney heals up and is fit to play and the reason is simple. Without Rooney England striggles to turn good midfield posession in to goals, with him, they score. However, having beaten Paraguay, unless some sort of brainfart occurs against Trinidad I can't see England not progressing beyond the group stage and by then Rooney is expected to be fit so he ought to add a bit of revitalized offence to a team that may otherwise be looking a little tired.

Yesterday's opening match between Germany and Costa Rica was not as good for Germany as the 4-2 score line suggests. Germany did a good job exploiting the weak Costa Rican defense but they had plenty of holes in their own defence. I noticeed the same weakness in defense in their friendly against Japan and I think it bodes ill for them against better opposition. At the last world cup Germany were saved by their goalkeeper - Oliver Kahn - who managed to get to many balls that should not have got past the defenders. This time there is no Kahn and while their new goalie isn't bad, he isn't as good either and hence Germany could well face problems once they move beyond the group stage. As with England I'm confident that they will get to the knockout phase but I'm not expecting great things.

Unfortunately I didn't see the Ecuador Poland game but I was very surprised by the Ecuador win and from the match commentary quite impressed with the team. I would expect Ecuador to beat Germany on this showing and hence probably end up at the top of the group. Since Poland can be expected beat Costa Rica, the key game in the group is going to be the Germany/Poland. If Poland win the Germans could be in serious trouble and be in serious danger of not moving ahead.

Other teams? France did not impress in the warm up matches and the loss of Cisse is going to really hurt. The potential for an upset against Switzerland who are a decent team rather than a team of stars (and the difference is important) is certainly there although I would still expect France to go through the group stages and I expect their experience to get them a decent way beyond.

Korea seem to me to be overhyped at home and underhyped in Europe. I expect them to get to the knockout stage but I'd be very surprised if they make it to the semis as they did 4 years ago. Japan on the other hand seems to me to be stronger than 4 years ago and could well amke it to the quarters like they did then, however all this very much depends on the strength of Croatia since I believe that Japan should be stronger than Australia.

Its going to be a fun summer....

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin