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Diary
By Metatone (Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 11:01:10 AM EST) emo, whining, technology sucks, footy, argentina full of centi-passes (all tags)
have put the good ship Mindless Optimism into drydock.

Inside, a description of the damage and given that the ship is in drydock, I get the chance to talk properly about football for a change.

(This diary is mostly about footy, so if you're not interested, walk on by.)



Torpedo Number One - My USB backup drive dies last week.

"No worries" think I, "Hash out this report for Tuesday and I get some pay! We'll have that new drive bought sooner than you can say "Orc Boy."

Torpedo Number Two - My laptop dies.

So, no backup, no laptop = a weekend of really hard work reconstructing my report to meet deadline.

Pretty annoying, large amounts of the last six months have been lost forever. I survived the work issue ok I think, so now I'm back writing diaries...

Torpedo Number Three - England continue their mediocre run, whilst Argentina produces one of the top goals of the World Cup.

So, the good ship HMS Mindless Optimism has been put into drydock for some patching. She'll sail again come the knockout stages.

For now, let me step away from "optimism" and let's look at a few things more seriously.

1) England.

We're not playing well. It's fashionable to pronounce the players "overrated" but whilst that is probably true, they are currently performing below their "real rating."

Metatone's How to Beat Sweden in Style:

Drop Crouch back to the bench. He's a nice impact substitute, but his presence on the field encourages the wrong kind of passes for the beginning of the game, as Alice Pulley has already noted. He also is a member of the Didier Drogba School of "will hit a cow's arse with a banjo given 10 attempts with 4 different kinds of banjo."

This puts Owen and Rooney up front together. I'm living by Sven's assertion that Rooney is fit and needs to play 60-70 mins to be ready for the knockout stages. This might be misinformation, but it seems fairly reasonable.

I really hope Owen can come good. He's had plenty of experience of pressure to perform, living on the bench in Madrid and I feel it's as good a gamble as any available. (Anyone who thinks Defoe should be in the squad and starting instead of Owen needs to look again at how many goals Defoe scored in the Premiership this year.)
Owen has also played well with Rooney in spells, which is another straw to grasp at...

Walcott should come on when Rooney goes off, unless there is some obvious tactical emergency. His pace will worry Sweden's defenders and two little un's up front will encourage some more passes along the deck.

Midfield.

Looks like Sven will protect Gerrard on the bench, playing Lampard and a holding midfielder. Mr Pulley has already made the eloquent appeals to give Carrick a go. It's probably worth a try.

Personally I am hoping Lampard either finds his scoring touch, or gets another yellow. It's clear that Lampard + Gerrard in the middle just doesn't make either happy so far. In fact, since Lampard can't hold/tackle/cover with any facility, it means Gerrard is lumped with all the defensive responsibilities. In which case you may as well play someone who wants to be the anchorman... (Note, my choice would be to play Gerrard in the AM role in the knockout rounds, or 45 mins each if you could get them to commit to it.)

Defense. No real complaints here. Ashley needs some longer studs in his boots, but otherwise this is a solid area.

Keeper: Robinson has started flapping a bit. Someone get him a hypnotist...

2) The World Cup

Today I watched Ukraine overrun Saudi Arabia 4-0. It was the dark side of the WC. A blatant mismatch with no drama, tension or any redeeming value at all.

On the bright side, there have been fewer of these games than any tournament I recall. I think the lower ranked confederations are definitely catching up.

I am sort of sad however, as I work from home and for me, the group stage is the most magical part of the Cup. 3 matches a day. Football really wall to wall in a coherent manner. Now the matches get a bit less frequent and I'll get more work done, but I'll be a bit lost without football on tap.

Incidentally, it's this compression that is part of why the World Cup is so special. Some might argue that the Champions League is of more quality (I'll come to that further down) but the fact is that a cup competition over a season just can't match the intensity of one over a few weeks.

Argentina.

So why come to Argentina now? Simply I've never seen a goal that good in the Champions League. It highlights that there remains something special about the qualities of the World Cup.

Others have talked about the goal in depth, so I'll stick with saying that they played very well and it was a fantastic goal.

They are clearly the premier team right now, and I'd like to think about the games we might not see, given the vagaries of the draw, but we'd like to:

(The subtext is, Argentina are likely to cruise to the semi-final, playing Mexico, then Sweden or a spluttering England.)

Argentina vs Portugal

There are two coaches in the tournament who obviously have the savvy to disrupt Argentina's system, Hiddink and Scolari. Of the two, I'd say Scolari has the better players at his disposal so that's the matchup I'd like to see. I think there are some pressure points in the Argentine system, but it'll take a smart coach with good players to give it a go.

Argentina vs Brazil

Brazil aren't playing well yet, but they seem to be getting better. This could be a classic semi-final. Not only is it a derby but Brazil have played Argentina enough to not be mesmerised, and vice versa. Argentina would be favourites to win, but if Dida has a good day then maybe Kaka could outshine Riquelme. Indeed, if you drop Ronaldo in favour of Gilberto Silva, and possibly bring in a couple of the younger members of the squad, Brazil have the potential to look a lot more balanced.

Argentina vs Italy

The irresistable wave of Argentina against the immovable rock of Italian defensive mindset. The Italians have looked a bit shaky at times, but if any team has the technical defensive skill to give Argentina pause, then Italy are the ones. S&M didn't just fail to close down Argentina, they only attempted one tackle in the sequence of "that goal." Cannavaro would at least give it a go, one feels.

Fans.

England's fans have tried hard and they are some of the best, but the award for sheer insanity of commitment has to go to the Koreans and their drumming cohort.

Referees

There's been a couple of howlers in recent matches, but the overall standard has been high. I'm impressed.

That's about it for now... idiotic optimism will return for the knockout rounds.

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Torpedos... | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
stuff by yicky yacky (4.00 / 2) #1 Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 11:22:15 AM EST

Argentina produces one of the top goals of the World Cup.

Simply I've never seen a goal that good in the Champions League.

I've never seen a goal that good full stop. Period. End of story. Evar. There has not been a better goal. A better goal does not exist.

The Argies do look like a class act. The tug-boat "I told you so" managed to get them at 18/1. Muahahaaaa. I'm holding off from believing completely that this thing is over until I see the Holland gamel; it'll give a better benchmark of where Argentina are. As terrific as they've been (and I've been a massive fanboi since the start), I don't yet believe they're unbeatable.

There's no need to be depressed just yet, there's an intensive period of four games a day coming up (albeit with clashing). They should ditch the zonal competitions and just have the world cup every two years ...


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
I'll save the argument.. by Metatone (4.00 / 2) #2 Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 11:46:04 AM EST
over the best goal for another day, once my computer situation is properly sorted out and there is time to go linking to videos...

However, if I don't seem to be jumping on the Argentine bandwagon just yet, it's because I too am awaiting the Holland game. That and the fact that you pointed out the other day... How often does the best team win the World Cup?

Clashing rather spoils the four games a day, it's basically just two...

[ Parent ]
I should add... by Metatone (4.00 / 2) #3 Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 12:07:05 PM EST
lest I mention it later and people accuse me of shifting the criteria, it is very possible that the Netherlands will not provide the information about Argentina I am seeking.

Reasons:

  1. It is the final group game and both have already qualified. To be honest, there isn't that much value in winning the group vs. preserving important players for the knockout rounds. Both teams could end up playing at half-pace.
  2. The Dutch 4-3-3 seems a bit shaky in the middle, I'm not sure they can put the pressure on Riquelme that seems to be the obvious way to throw a spanner in the Argentine machine.


[ Parent ]
Very true by yicky yacky (4.00 / 1) #4 Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 12:13:40 PM EST

but I think the "egos" of the Dutch are such that they won't want to be seen to be inferior that much (<- rapping ...).

It'll still tell us "enough", I think.


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
I've got my Argentina away strip on order by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #5 Tue Jun 20, 2006 at 01:01:08 AM EST
But Messi, Crespo or Riquelme on my back? Tough one.

They were ace, although let's face it Serbia's defence was shit. I'm glad I've got some Argentinian mates to watch future matches with. Looking forward to it, and actually stopped giving a shit about England for a minute when I saw *that* goal.

Also pleased I've got the whole thing on tape.

England - Looks like Sven will broadly follow your advice :-) Feeling much more positive, my hope now is that he'll play Gerrard and a holding player in the knock-out stages. It's sad for Lampard, but Gerrard's just the better player. I still think that given the opportunity, Gerrard can save this tournament for England.

No mention of poor, poor France? Daylight robbery. Worst thing is, they're so demoralised they don't seem to care.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

France wuz robbed.. by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #6 Tue Jun 20, 2006 at 04:26:01 AM EST
But as you say, they are so passionless it's hard to get angry about it.

At the same time, if they tonk Togo by 2 or more they will still go through.

A word to the wise, the knowledgeable will have Tevez on their shirt...

[ Parent ]
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