So we were in Chicago over the weekend, long weekend (did you know that it’s Friday? Does that make you happy? It makes us happy) and well, we just have random thoughts on everything and the kitchen sink. So let’s just do it. Nike style. Better yet, Simmons style. Yes, even the Sports Guy likes soccer… of course what is not to like about soccer? And if one more person says “nothing ever happens” watch a friggin NFL game with shitty announcers and get back to me. Seriously. Watch an NFL game with Joe Buck and your next door neighbor in the booth and tell me what it’s like. Seriously. That’s right, our love for football, especially the NFL, has to be one of the weirdest things ever.
Brazil finally lost, I’m not sure why I’m leading off with this btw, but they lost and I can’t say that they didn’t deserve it. They never looked that good in the tournament, and they were completely outplayed by a French squad that looks like it…
… Has a date with Destiny. Seriously, were did this come from? They look great right now and while they still have to beat Portugal today, it looks like they’ll be facing Italy in the Final. Zenadine Zidane is playing out of his mind right now. He completely controlled the game against Brazil and looks like someone who is 24, not 34, right now. Then again, Zidane had said that he’s retiring after this World Cup, and I think that a sense of desperation his gripped him, and this French team. You can see it in the way this French team is playing, they’re playing like there is no tomorrow… something that you don’t see teams do all that often when you think about it. But can they keep this up? We say… Why not? Their blackline has been fantastic (seriously, Brazil got nothing going until like the 85th minute). They’ve taken control of the past few games with brilliant midfield play from Zidane, Vieria, Makelele, and the wonderful Franck Ribery has dominated the past few games. And then there is Henry who seems poised to go off one of these games. That goal he scored against Brazil was just awesome (yes we know he was completely unmarked for reasons on Eddie Pope could tell us).
The match up with Portugal is interesting. The Portuguese beat the English on penalties in a game that they, frankly, didn’t deserve to win. But now Portugal gets Deco back, who has had a nice tournament so far. I like the French in this one, but don’t discount the Portuguese, they’re not a team where people are trying to figure out how they got this far… they are a very good team. But the French are playing with such urgency, passion, determination, and skill that I can’t see them losing. 2-1 France in extra time.
As you may or may not know, VFLOAB picked Spain to win it all way back in June… and you know what. We were right. This was the World Cup that Spain was suppose to win, but the freakin’ South Koreans had to score that goal to tie the French and forced the French to finish second in their group. If the South Koreans don’t score, the French top the table, play Ukraine in the round of 16 while Spain gets Switzerland. Both teams move on; France plays Italy in the quarters and Spain gets Brazil. Spain beats that lackluster Brazilian side and plays Portugal today in the semis… there a date with either the French or Italians in the Final waits… but of course, the South Koreans scored and France finished second and the rest is history.
But this was Argentina’s World Cup to win. It’s safe to say that they were the best squad in Germany (though Italy is a close second). Of course, Argentina is back in well, Argentina, and that’s sort of a shame. We would have loved to have seen an Italy/Argentina fixture yesterday. But the Germans won after a few very questionable calls by the ref and Argentina’s manager. The fine folks in Buenos Aires can only be left wondering… what if?
Okay, England… what is there to say? They were dreadful in their first four games lucky to win three of the four (and tie that fourth game) so in that respect, they were lucky to even make the quarterfinals. Then they seemed to be taking control of the game against Portugal when Rooney decided to be a complete moron and attempted to make sure Ricardo Carvalho wouldn’t be making any children any time soon. The game changed right there… England was forced to play even more defensive… Portugal seemed happy with the idea of going to penalties… and there we were, watching England crash out on penalties again.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but the English should have won this World Cup. Okay, maybe not win, but they should be in the Final with Italy/Argentina. On paper, that’s where they should be. But of course the games aren’t played on paper and the English were pretty dreadful this World Cup. They had six goals in five games, they were lucky to be in what was probably the second easiest group (if they’re in Groups C, E, or even F and G, they don’t make the round of 16), and they were lucky not to play anyone as good as the Argentina, Germans, Italians, French, Spanish, etc., because all those teams would have exposed the English for what they were… not very good. Sure in the end losing Michael Owen was a bigger loss than anyone probably will admit. Beckham just doesn’t have ‘it’ any more, but to blame him is silly since he played better than both Gerrard and Lampard. I can’t stress enough how bad Lampard was in the World Cup… the man couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. And when he missed the net, let alone didn’t score, when he was WIDE OPEN on Gerrard’s corner early in the second half, that was it for England. How Lampard missed, I’ll never know.
In fact, much like the US when Convey missed the net from ten yards out against Italy, England’s World Cup came down to that ‘one’ miss. Interesting enough, both Henry and Lampard found themselves totally unmarked in the quarterfinals... of course one man drilled the ball into the net while the other fell on his arse. For all the blame that the flopping Portuguese and Rooney get, why does Lampard's brutal miss overlooked? If he nails that, England wins. But he didn’t, and that’s why Henry and France are playing Portugal and not England.