Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thoughts....

So Brazil wins a game only 1-0 and suddenly it’s a cause for a world crisis. Forgive me, but I didn’t know the other 31 teams were supposed to show up simply to provide Brazil with a scrimmage on its way to its coronation. Brazil gets everyone’s best game because everyone wants to say they beat Brazil. The fact that they won, sustaining a strong challenge from the Croats is enough for me. “Three points is three points” seems to be the mantra of this World Cup. That being said, the Brazilians did not look as out of sorts as many people have reported. Sure, Ronaldo and Adriano looked like they were sleepwalking through the game, but the other nine players played an excellent game. Kaka showed up provided Brazil with a classy goal and Ronaldinho, though below his level of excellence did manage to have a decent impact on the game. Once the forwards start getting more involved in the game it may be trouble for the rest of the teams in the tournament. I picked Brazil before the tournament started and I still believe they have the best team in the tournament. Despite other teams looking much better than them in their first game, Czech Republic and Spain to name a few, we all know that this year’s World Cup will not be won in June. It is the team that looks the best in July that will lift the Jules Rimet trophy. Brazil showed up to win 7 games and take the trophy home. They have one of those victories out the way and there are six more to go. They’ve been in the finals of the last three World Cups and there is little to suggest to me that they will not be there this time around. The only potential pitfall is if Ronaldo truly is washed up and Adriano is as overweight and lazy as he seemed on Monday. These two players are key for Brazil because they are in charge of scoring the goals. They are the ones who are charged with the duty of finishing the hard work done by the midfield. Without an end product, the pretty football that Brazil plays is useless. Time will tell if Monday’s game was a harbinger of things to come, but I believe the Brazilians will get it right as they go forward…..

Ivory Coast v. Netherlands.
The Ivory Coast desperately need a victory here. They need a win if for no other reason than to validate my claim that they would be this tournament’s surprise team. Unfortunately they are playing one of the tournament favorites. The Dutch looked excellent in their opening match but there have been some problems in the Dutch camp with some players feeling like Arjen Robben was hogging the ball. Arjen Robben is not Diego Maradona. He can’t win the Cup by himself. If the Dutch are to progress they will need him healthy and fresh in July when it really matters. Now is not the time to be expending extra energy if you don’t need to. Allow the rest of your teammates to do some of the running and stay fresh so you can call on some reserves when you face teams like England and Portugal as the Cup progresses. As for the Ivory Coast, it’s pretty straightforward stuff: don’t give away the ball too easily and pass it to Drogba as much as you can and see what he can do with it. It’s that simple. If they don’t do this if they will lose. If they get Drogba the ball consistently then they have a shot at winning. . . . The crowd may play a factor in this game. The Dutch fans will be out in full force since they are so close to Germany. What should be a nice thing though is that since both teams’ primary color is Orange we should be able to see the stadium covered in Orange all around. Maybe the Ivory Coast will mistake some of the Dutch fans for their own. Something tells me though that the race difference will make it clear who is supporting who, despite the similar color of the jerseys. I’m going out on a limb and sticking with my pre-tournament pick that the Ivory Coast will beat the Dutch. Come on Elephants, make me look like a genius. Sidenote: this is the beauty of picking an underdog. If you are right you are a genius if you are wrong then what the heck the Dutch were clearly better what did you expect?

France v. South Korea:
France needs to score and then work from there. It's now 360 minutes since they've scored a world cup goal. They need to shake up the lineup a bit. That's it and that's all. Allez les Bleus!

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