"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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