Day Ten…Frightfully flaccid….

Jap V Croats

Nakata calls for solidarity from both team and supporters..  japan Manager,Zico looks worried, haggard and drawn as he entered the stadium..Kovac brothers are both cleared to play after injury scares…Croatia go from underdogs, which they were against
Brazil, to favourites for this one..
 
Croat defence of Kovac and Tudor was very sturdy against the Brazilians, not giving a sniff of a chance to either Ronaldo or Adriano for 90 minutes…which is a feat in itself.The central defenders of Japan were weak as babies against
Australia..
1T

Japan starting very positively…more spirit.Weather is mid 20's C 

8-Japan looking much more cohesive and interested in this game… 

It is a shame for
Croatia that they only have Prso as a target man, he is capable of scoring goals, but not a world class striker by any measure…
 

13- Niko Kovac, in midfield for
Croatia, is very energetic and lively..all over the pitch,, starting attacks and defending when needed…versatile player..
 

19- small speedy players in the Jap team but they seem to be expelling their energy in the wrong areas…

21- PENALTY..misjudgement by Miyamoto, who hacks down Prso in the box…YELLOW CRO Pen>>Kawaguchi for the japs….Serna’s penalty is SAVED…brilliant reflexes from Kawaguchi who guesses correctly, dives left and palms the penalty kick away for a throw…. 

28- Krancja turns 25 yards from goal, then has a pop with his right boot..hits the bar. spectacular effort…unlucky…

32- R.Kovac gets YELLOW for halting the fast counter attack of
Japan..runs his man into the ground…he is now banned for the
Australia game..and his presence will be missed in the Croat defence for sure..good news for OZ!

34- (JAP GK)
Kawaguchi misses the ball from a back pass after it hits a divot in thr turf!….Corner…lucky for the groundsman that came to nothing else his balls would surely be on Beckenbayer's chopping board…

36- Nakamura ..great approach play, then ball falls to Nakata who shoots well from all of 30 yards..Corner..
Croatia look the more purposeful when attacking…

40- Prso plays short pass to Krasnic whose shot is well saved by
Kawaguchi..

Another wasted set piece bu Croatia…

42-Kawaguchi BOOKED for time-wasting.

Why would either of these teams wish to waste time???Both need a victory to stand any chance of making it through to the next round.

43- Prso unmarked in the box sends header well over the bar…

HT

Dire game.
Japan are quick, but weak physically and lacking height. The Croatians are solid defensively and sporadically tidy when attacking but they desperately lack a player who can put the ball in the net. In fact I would go as far as to surmise that there are only two players on the pitch who are likely to score from an opportunity of their own making; Nakamura and Nakata, who CAN both shoot.

Croatia look the more likely victors in a match devoid of quality, action and drama which is strange. Because both these teams lost their opening fixture, which means they MUST take three points from this encounter if they are to sustain any realistic ambitions of qualifying for the knock-out phase…
 

2T

JAP SUB Fukinishi off for ex- Arsenal, Inamato… 

Krancja for Croatians is the son of the Coach!

51- What a miss..Yanagisiwa puts the ball wide from 5 yards out with the net gaping…quick, direct approach play, but the shot was truly woeful…..shocking…

54-Krancja reaches out his toe to poke the ball just past the post….. 

The Croatians, like the Serbians and Togans, are suffering from the effects of dressing-room disorder. disharmony in the squad and it’s related counterparts is the last thing anybody needs at the finals when it is team- spirit that is often the difference between victory and success…

.. 

Corner count -Croatia 10- 2 Japs

61- FK for Japs, 30 yards out, central position. Nakamura scoops the ball a few feet over the frame of the goal..

62- SUB Yanagisiwa off for Tamada JAP

62- Chance in the air for Simunic..but his header flies wide of the target..

66- brilliant run through the middle of the field by Babic, but his shot , from 20 yards, was useless.Simic winning his 82nd cap for
Croatia….

68- FK for Japs. Near left corner of 18 yard box….piss-poor… 

Srna Booked for stupid behaviour 

70- striker Olic on for the un-needed Tudor CRO

73 -Alex gets YELLOW for his distateful impersonation of a Jap schoolgirl.

80- Both teams showing signs of desire for victory but neither prepared to commit the required numbers forward…. 

86- Jap SUB Front-man Oguro for Takahara 

87- SUB CRO – Bosnnijak on for Srna 

Neither of these teams will be missed when the group stage draws to a close. Barring a heavy defeat to the Brazilians and the unlikely event of a loss in the final group game, I expect
Australia to take second spot and with it, the ticket into the next round…this was a punishing game for the spectator. The Japs are as good as out, and Croatia lack the spirit to beat
Australia..so they are also on their way out but the door of success is still slightly ajar.
 

Vast improvement from the Japs and
Croatia prove beyond all doubt that they have a genuine lack of firepower…
 

Australia V
Brazil
 

this is the big one for the Aussies/// 

Cahill is starting as is Popovic and Sterjovski…Kewell, Bresciano, Wiltshire, dropped… 

This is the ultimate test of spirit and a genius coach against the most talented team in the world.Australians possess a unique kind of spirit, grit and determination that originates in the convict origins of the Australian society.. They never give up and never seem over-awed by often more illustrious opponents…In the last year, the small amount of time that Gus Hiddink has been manager has had a profound effect on the current squad and hopefully the future squads to come. His tactical powers are unrivalled in the finals and if there is one manager on who I would bet to beat the Brazilians with a technically poor team(the Australians) then that man would be Gus Hiddink. The great aspect of the Australian squad is their dedication towards their managers aims. The players give their all for their country and have 100% confidence in following every word, no matter how crude or depraved, that escapes the mouth of Genius Gus. 


Brazil, if they play to anywhere near their full potential, will pummel the Australians, but the Croatians showed how it possible to disrupt/suffocate the famous Brazilian flow of flair and divine technique.
This could be Ronaldo’s last game for
Brazil. So much has been said about the top scorer of the 2002 world cup: his weight('he is fat as fuck'), his attitude('doesnt seem interested'), his mental state(that guy is a nutter')…all surrounding his shit-heap showing in the first group game. I didn’t single Ronaldo out for extra-ordinary abuse after that match, because Adriano, Carlos and Cafu were all equally poor. Did you see Roberto Carlo throw the ball 30 yards to set up a dangerous 2 on 2 for his defence to deal with?, and did you see Adriano at all, over the whole match? In fact, on reflection, ROnaldo did more than his strike partner Adriano, because he had a shot…
 

The whole Brazilian team was under the weather against the Croatians. While I have stuck to my guns regarding my tips for the titles, Italy and the Argies(with the Engles close behind), only a fool could discount this Brazilian team which many say is the greatest of it’s kind in history, yes even better than the team containing Socrates, Pele and Tostao…  

Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer is the only player who is technically superior to his Brazilian counter-part. 

Go Aussies!! 

British or German ref!!!couldn’t see if GER or GBR….(he was German- edit)

Ze Roberto was particularly savage against the Croatians..Temperature is 33C, but shade offered for pitch by stand cover…Prediction 1-0
Brazil
 

1T

2- Chipperfield clips ankles of Kaka FK Brazil>>Ronaldinho>>defended..

3- Kaka hits a half volley just wide of the post after a nice touch from Ronaldo set him up 25 yards out..

4- early sighter for Cahill just misses the corner flag…

5- Well hit drive from 30 yards by Viduka..comfortably held by Dida…Two very poor passes already from R.Carlos…he needs to be moved on from this Brazilian team.. 

8- Sterjovski wins corner for AUS!

10– Ronaldo hacked down just outside box, near right corner..Grella’s boot was very high on Ronaldo's ,hopefully well insured, right leg..he lies down for a while before clawing his way back to a standing position..Camera close-up of horror tackle..studs first and the resulting flesh wound on Ronaldo's shin….terrible tackle..should have been Yellow…lucky

11-FK> R.Carlos to hit one> teed up… but his shot is wayward..good power as ever, but no accuracy..
Brazil 4-2-2-2 formation

13- R.Carlos was taken down by Emerton..who protested the referees decision to award
brazil a free kick and got a YELLOW..Dissent.

14- Sterjovski does well down the left then wins a corner 


Australia holding their own against the world champs.
 

When in trouble, the Brazilians pass themselves out of the danger…

21- great challenge by Lucas 'man of steel' Neil stops Ronaldinho on his way into the area….

36- Patient approach play sets up Culina for a shot from 25 yards out..which doesn’t trouble Dida. 

28- Ronaldinho chips the ball over the defensive line and finds Ronaldo whose shot from close range is blocked by
Moore..great challenge..
 

29- YELLOW for Cafu, who shakes the ref’s hand in gratitude. card given for scythe on Cahill..

So much talent in the Brazilian ranks but so little cohesion. There is an obvious problemwith tactics. A manager needs to have a system, without which his team cannot hope to become more than or equal to the sum of it’s parts. A system must be picked, and the players put in the system must be the most appropriate for the job they are employed to do.
Brazil have a loose system which allows as many of their star players to be on the pitch as is possible while maintaining a sound defence.. But the 4-2-2-2 formation is easy to at least compete with by adopting a simple 4-4-2. They have no natural wingers in the starting eleven..2 defensive midfielders, 2 attacking midfielders(who are both most comfortable in the centre), and 2 attackers(again who are most comfortable in central roles)…So, their whole shape is a flat back four with a  line, two men strong, sticking out from the centre backs…A pillar of strength, and a formation which I have tried using on Pro Evolution….Anyway, Brazil usually have wingers, or a system which allows Carlos and Cafu to attack up the flanks, those two players are now too old to double up as wide-men, and it is enough to ask of them to compete as solid defenders for 90 minutes….
 

36- Chance for Ronaldo in the area, but he completely misses the ball with his kick…. 

38- Lucas Neil very solid for Aussie, as is his partner Moore…

39- Culina BOOKED for high tackle on Ze Roberta..it was nearer the head than the feet.

40- Popovic down injured..game stopped….Most players taking on some fluid…more Aussies than Brazilians who don’t seem so affected by the heat,,….

41-Vagrant Popovic SUBBED for Bresciano….

42- Ronaldo receives back heel pass from Adriano…his shot whistles a few feet wide of the post…The Brazilians look angry with each other…..shouts of irritation…

47- Bresciano has a shot from 25 yards out after been given time to shape and hit one..a yard or two over…

HT
Australia are the better team…
 

2T

49- GOAL..Ronaldo receives ball on edge of area….can't get through so he plays ball across box to Adriano who takes one touch then burns the ball into the net, past Schwarzer's left hand side.24 goals /34 matches for Adriano..Ronaldo had 3 defenders on him when he played the ball, Adriano had 1.1-0
Brazil

55- Bresciano is set free behind Brazilian defence…but lacks pace and decisiveness allowing Ze Roberto to win back the ball….

55- Sterjovski hits a solid half volley a yard over the bar….

56- SUB Kewell on for Sterjovski.

57..Dida fluffs his catch..ball falls to Kewell whose first time shot at an open goal flies well over…!!!great chance!!

65- Viduka viciously taken down from behind by Lucio, igniting boos from a very unimpressed crowd…I think this is the first time I have ever heard a Brazil team whistled and booed so much, but I assume that even though the aussie commentators are saying ‘strange to see a team booed by their own supporters when they are winning’ there is a fair amount of Australians in the stadium adding their own notes to the resounding boooooooooooooooooooos and whistles…

68- SUB AUS Aloisi on for Moore…defender makes way for an extra attacker…Two subs warmed up and ready for
Brazil…

72- SUBS BRA Emerson for Silva(of Arsenal) and Ronaldo for Robinho..’the prince’The ref has given a couple of bad decisions against Marco Bresciano…

76- Adriano and Robinho combine to force a smart save from Schwarzer…. corner..?>>Robinho shoots from 18 yards,, another solid stop by Schwarzer…

80- Bresciano tries a spectacular volley that was heading into the net till Dida extended a big hand…

‘would you believe the referee has given a corner’ says the Aussie commentator..‘yes I would believe it, because your replay shows conclusively that it came of an Aussie you blind fool’ I reply 

82- Corner>Kaka hits the bar with a bullet header…Cafu recently spared prison for been caught in possession of an illegal passport..

83- BOOKED Robinho for dissent…childish.

84- Bresciano FK 30 yards out almost finds the head of Viduka…

86- Viduka wins battle with keeper, pokes a shot just over, ball landing on the roof of the net…unlucky…. 

88- BRA SUB Fred ,striker, replaces goal-scorer Adriano. 

89- Good work from Fred, sets up Robinho to shoot hard at the post. rebound falls into the path of Fred to score into an open goal….3 goals in 4 matches for Brazil for the not very Brazillians sounding, fred….GOAL
Brazil 2-0
 

.93- Kaka side-foots a golden opportunity for 3-0 wide from 15 yards out….awful miss…

FT
Australia can be proud of their performance and feel justifiably aggrieved at not taking something from a game in which they could and should have scored.
Brazil yet again did not impress me, but ominously they won 2-0. When teams play shit and still win without conceding any goals, the worry is how good they will be when/if they do hit form. The Socceroos gave the Brazilians a decent run for the points but ultimately the difference in technical quality was a telling factor; Adriano’s goal was taken with more skill than any of the Australians could muster when given similar opportunities and Fred’s goal came as a result of Robinho’s third shot of power and accuracy. Roberto Carlos and Cafu showed highly respectable stamina to provide both defensive cover and attacking support on the flanks, but both of those guys are but a shadow of the great players they once were. Ronaldo did brilliantly to make the goal for Adriano; he was surrounded by three defenders, but found the correct, deft pass. Ronaldinho was poor, hardly in the game at all. I thought the same in the Champions league final and in Brazils opening game with Croatia; the 'world player of the year' hasn’t shown anything like the kind of form to merit such a title…Henry has been much more consistent for Arsenal, scoring a phenomenal amount of goals with unmatchable regularity and I would always stick Thierry as number one player in the world, not just because of the number and nature of his goals, but more because he plays in what I consider to be the world’s most competitive league: The Premiership. Stick Henry in Spain and he would score a million goals per season, but put Ronaldinho in
England, and I would bet money on his form plunging to previously unimaginable depths…
 

Frogs V
Korea
 


France were terribly disappointing in their opening fixture and will need to buck up their ideas collectively if they are to make any impact in the tournament..A very energetic Korean team beat a Togan squad who were/are mired in internal dispute and bad feeling.
 

Thuram winning 116th cap…equals record of Desailly….what a defender he was!Zidane looking to leave his mark on the world stage…Mexican referee…Hugs and kisses between the french… 

Prediction:the french wake up and go mental.France 5-0
Korea!!! that is hope more than a serious prediction..
Malouda starts this one in place of Ribery

1T

6- Wiltord bursts into box but his shot is well smothered by brave Korean defending…
France looking dominant in early stages…stronger and better on the ball than their Asian opponents..

8- GOAL…Henry picks up rebound from Wiltord’s deflected shot, then makes no mistake from 8 yards, steering the ball past the Korean keeper's flailing arms…Frogs lead 1-0Lee Chun Soo and Park Ji Sung are the dynamos for
Korea…

11- (KOR)Ho politely accepts a YELLOW after hacking down Malouda from behind…Henry looks much more interested in this game….his movement is fearsome for any opposition…so much pace and power… 

23- Malouda gallops forward, straight down the middle, and fins himself on the edge of the box, crowded out by a posse of Koreans, the Frenchman strikes the ball towards goal,, but unfortunately his effort is filth.

26- FK from 3 yards out in central position…..looks like they are going to take a pop…

27->>fk????>>>Henry hits it straight into the wall…a shameful waste.

28- Malouda wins the ball from three Koreans, in the air of course, then pings it over the remaining defenders, into space for Henry who charges towards goal, and as he is about to shoot, Kim Dong Jin makes a world class recovery tackle or callously swiped at Henry’s ankles to bring the Frenchman to the floor and the ball to safety…I couldn’t decide whether there was a legitimate call for a penalty…two replays later:>No, definitely not a penalty…

33- Zidane corner is met by the head of Viera..but his shot not allowed to cross the line due to the reactions of the well positioned keeper….The Koreans are battling admirably but losing out on many of the 50/50 balls due to the difference in size and shape of the French.

37- Lee Chun Soo hits in a curling free kick from 35 yards..the ball beats everyone, including Bartez, flashing just past the post….

46- Abidal, FRA injures himself by falling to the turf after a run-in with muscleman Park Ji Sung… 

HT

Domenech and his tame team need to increase the tempo of this pedestrian visit to the park. The frogs have done enough to deserve the lead, but hardly caught the hearts ,or even managed to sustain the interest, of the average spectator..
France should bring on another man to play in attack with Thierry. Potentially, it could be entertaining to see Trezeguet. His height would be useful against the midgets.
Malouda has shown promise. Zidane is looking old.
Korea has shown enthusiasm but not much threat of anything more…
 

2T 

55- Viera throws Jingo Hum to the floor then shapes for a free header on goal, only to be thwarted by the refs whistle piercing his eardrums…

57- The defender that Viera nailed may need treatment for his shoulder that hit the ground after Vieira’s attempt to make space.. 

Wiltord is a wanker.Malouda lacks shooting accuracy, I think Ribery is more useful because he seemed to have the ability to dribble past players, whereas Malouda needs to use his acceleration to burst past players…different technique towards same end. 

60- Koreans still in with a shout

60- Domenech must have heard my thoughts because Ribery is warming up on the sidelines

SUB Ribery for Wiltord..Wise substitution.

81-Abidal gets a YELLOW for an amusing but illegal high tackle…

81- GOAL.Park Ji Sung scores a dramatic late equalizer for the Koreans….It was a good delivery played into the box by Lee Young-Pyo, which was headed back across the face of goal by Cho Jae-Jin right into the path of livewire attacking midfielder, Park Ji Sung who stuck a leg out to deflect the ball over Bartez and into the French net,.,…. 

86- Zizou YELLOW….…. Zidane deserved this  booking, for a blatant kick on an unguarded Korean knee. he will now miss the third group match, as he picked up another yellow against the Swiss. 

92- FT 

Feeble match with the French failing to beat an spirited but technically lacking Korean outfit.

France have no chance at winning this year's world cup, not with this coach or this set of players. I am undecided about who is most cuplable for the frightfully flaccid, gallic performances to date; Domenech has no pedigree but his team of players do.

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