Gushfest for Johno
Yernited teds + interweb. Euugghhhhhh.
Result Just In: Old World 8, New World 0
After nearly three weeks of action, a pause for breath. We have seen 56 games over 19 days eliminate 24 of the sides who came to Germany full of hope that they would still be here. And it's time to return, conclusively, to a subject mentioned earlier on in the competition: Europe's continuing right to nearly half the places in the World Cup. Some major European names are out. Holland and Spain both gone in the last 16, the Czech Republic not even getting that far, undone by Ghana. But, none the less, the overwhelming message of this World Cup has been the strength of the game's traditional powerhouses. Of the teams who have been world champions, only Uruguay were missing from the original 32. And, with the defeat of Spain in Hanover on Tuesday night, the last of those sides made it through: Italy, (West) Germany, Brazil, England, Argentina and France are all in the last eight. The other two places have gone to European sides. Though perhaps the presence of Ukraine is a surprise, they had the good fortune to pass the Group H booby prize, a meeting with France, to the side that whacked them 4-0 in the tournament opener. This level of success for Portugal, semi-finalists and finalists in the past two European Championships, is overdue. All of which is bad news for the aspiring nations. The old world order in football remains the world order. Asia had a semi-finalist and a team in the last 16 in 2002. Now they have to rely on new friends Australia to claim anything from the knock-out stages. Last time, Mexico lost to the United States in the last 16. Now, their extra-time defeat to Argentina sees CONCACAF slip back badly, too, as the USA, Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago were already out. Paraguay went out in the first round, Ecuador in the second: no South American team outside the big two has reached the last eight since Peru in 1978 (and they had the huge advantage of playing Ally McLeod's Scotland). Africa's hopes of a third quarter-finalist, to follow Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal four years ago, were slim after an unfavourable draw saw the best teams (Ghana, Ivory Coast) pitched against stronger opposition than the weaker sides (Angola, Togo, Tunisia). Ivory Coast succumbed, Ghana succeeded brilliantly against the Czech Republic and were brave against Brazil after a disastrous start, but were powerless in the end. The others, Angola especially, were not disgraced, but failed none the less. So, for the third tournament in a row, since the total teams reached 32 and Africa's allocation became five, just one of that quintet made it out of the group stage. Why does all this matter? Well, as I've written before, the allocation of places in the finals is a matter of constant debate. For this tournament, Oceania were initially granted an automatic spot, only for South American lobbying to see that decision reversed. Justice was done when Australia beat Uruguay, at least, but there's plenty more polticking to come over what happens now. For instance, with Australia now in Asia, what happens to Oceania? Will New Zealand, barring upset, inherit the play-off with the fifth team in South America? Or will Asia try to lay claim to it, to add to the existing play-off with a CONCACAF side? After all, with so many countries competing for just four automatic spots, the presence of the Aussies makes life harder. And the next World Cup is in South Africa, the first in the continent. One place will go to the hosts. Should the rest of Africa have just four places to compete for? It was such pressures that saw a 16-team event increased to 24 in 1982 then 32 in 1998. How do you square the obligation to give reasonable representation to each continent with the need to have the best teams? The easy target is always the largest allocation. Shave a team off Europe and they will still have the most teams by some distance. But the strong results of the UEFA sides demonstrates that such a move would weaken the competition. Africa had four first-round failures from five teams; Europe had four first-round failures from 14 teams. In fact, if any continent has earned an increase for 2010 it is Europe. That won't happen, even if Germany and France beat Argentina and Brazil to give the UEFA countries a clean sweep of the semi-finalists. But to cut Europe's allocation would be to damage the competition's credibility. The rest of the world had a decent chance and there should be no reward for failure.
Frank's goals helped us qualify. I'm told he's had the most shots in the world cup. Frank Lampard needs to be dropped.
Last game he was woeful. Infact all the WC he's been woeful - but against Ecuador he was *very* woeful. How many bad shots and easy through balls did he mess up? It always broke down when it went through him.
4-5-1 is always stylistically challenging. We have five players trying to play one in. Fairly easy to mark when you have the lack of invention and movement England displayed.
England Action Plan:
All teams here can still qualify and i fancy Ghana and probably Italy who dare not lose to the Czechs or they are done. Argentina are who everyone now favours after they demolished Serbia and scored some great goals - Serbia barely touched the ball all game and were atrocious. Argentina likely will eliminate Mexico in the next round and should have Germany or Sweden in the Quarter.
Brazil so far disappointing and have a fat tub of Ronaldo to carry and that will hurt them as everyone knows he isnt good enough at this level - if he plays on, Brazil wont retain, if they play a runner like Robinho they will go much further.
Germany are good and fun to watch which is unusual - at home they could go as far as the final in this form and Spain too are off to a great start. All in all its a great tournament with all the minnows getting knocked out early , the later rounds will produce some mouth watering matchups.
Who will be the semi finalists at this year's World Cup? Who will the final be between and who will win it? You can have a point for each semi finalist - A further point for the runner up and 2 points for the winner - 7 points in all.
....Well the domination of Concacrap continues with a 6-0 murder over one of Concacrap's representatives at the 1998 World Cup (a tournament in which another Concacrap representative finished dead last). This opposition was weak for sure but I looked at their qualification history and found that they drew twice with the best team in Concacrap. 1-1 both times. England however dont do draws with these teams and finished them off 6-0 with ease and a horror penalty miss that had me laughing. Last year our C team pasted a Concacrap team on their own patch - in a couple of weeks we face another one of their teams as we put an end to the argument about how easy it would be for us to qualify out of this region.