Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Roll Back The Clock.

There's a saying in soccer that 'form is temporary while class is permanent.' The jist of it is that anyone can have a good game or a couple of good games but the truly great ones never lose their ability to rise to the occasion. This could never have been truer in yesterday's two games. Both Ronaldo and Zidane rolled back the years to treat viewers to some vintage performances. Ronaldo's goal against Ghana was a treat. Ronaldo beat the offside trap and was sent in one on one with the keeper. Ronaldo did a stepover and faked right and the keeper went right then Ronaldo went left and the keeper was flat on his back. He toe poked an easy finish to put Brazil ahead. Ronaldo could have added a second had Adriano not been selfish and gone for goal when Ronaldo was free with acres of space in front of goal for an easy tap in. With his 15th goal Ronaldo is now the all time leading scorer in the history of the World Cup. His place in history is secure, not that it was ever in jeopardy.

In the later game Zidane was all over the field looking like the Zidane of old. Changing the pace of the game at will and getting the ball to his teammates in positions where they could do damage. His stoppage time goal was brilliant even if he was a shade offside when he got the ball. Zidane picked up the ball about 25 yards from goal and took on Spanish defender Carles Puyol. Zidane faked left then went right and turned Puyol inside out. Just when Iker Casillas started moving towards the far post Zidane shot near post to put the French comfortably ahead 3-1.

It's funny because I was calling for both players to be benched after the first game of the tournament. What they proved is that the great ones, as they get older, may not be able to deliver every game but once the chips are down they rarely fold. ........

Brazil did not look impressive against Ghana but they got the result. They won 3-0 so it's a bit nitpicky of me to find fault with their game. They were probably happy to let Ghana have the ball because the Ghanaians couldn't shoot. Why exert yourself when you can sit back and let your opponent eat up possession then squarder their chances by shooting high and wide over the bar? I think the way the tournament is going teams are more concerned about the result than how pretty they look. Sven Goran Eriksson has already gone on record saying that his England team are not here to entertain. I usually expect that type of attitude from small nations woh are just happy to be on the big stage and want to stay as long as they can so they defend and foul the whole game. Big nations like Brazil, England, Argentina, Germany and Italy have an obligation to the game to entertain and to set an example for the way the game should be played. That may be a little idealistic of me but at least Brazil and Germany are sticking to playing open attacking football.

Right now everyone is just grinding out results except for the host nation. This tournament reminds me of Euro 2004 when Greece won the tournament not by playing football but by preventing everyone else from playing. Greece played the majority of the tournament with about eight men behind the ball and frustrated their opponents. They would get a goal and defend it for the rest of the game. England, Italy and France could all be said to be guilty of this type of play. Of the teams that came to the tournament to play open attractive football only Brasil, Argentina and Germany are left. Teams like the Czech Republic, Ghana and Spain are all home now. The quarterfinal games don't offer much promise for an improvement in play. In the England v. Portugal match you should expect England to show up with their five midfielders to slow up the game, hope they are fouled somewhere around the box and put their hopes on a Beckham free kick. France will probably do something similar against Brazil and the Italy v. Ukraine match will be as entertaining as watching paint dry. I'm expecting penalty kicks in this one. Argentina v. Germany should be the connoisseurs choice. Both teams have been attacking all tournament and I don't expect their matchup to be much different. The quarterfinal matches should be a good indication as to where the future of the game is going. If England and France win it will give motivation to teams who just want the result and could care less about entertaining. For the sake of the game I will be pulling for Brazil and Portugal. I hate to be so dramatic but it's that serious.


Blogger RafeBoogs said...

For all the non-fans of soccer who are following this World Cup, can you explain what the deal is with that Kraut Miroslav Klose? Whenever I hear my soccer friends discuss the game, they never bring this guy up. It's like he goes dormant for four years at a time and then shows up to resume his role as World Cup scoring machine. Is he that good? Is he benefiting from a system that makes him look better than he is? What's really good?

2:48 AM  

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