(day 16)ROUND 2…last man standing

And so it begins.

The group games have separated the rough from the smooth, the calm from the angry, the pathetic from the capable…It is the do or die aspect of the knockout phases of the world cup finals that makes the competition so special. This is when one mistake becomes potentially a ticket home for a whole squad of players and their entourage of officials and fans…one moment of divine genius can flood the airports with depressed and bitter supporters, bars are swamped with players looking to drown their sorrows…..This is the occasion when the pressure builds to a magnitude not wanted or seen in any other sport. Not only do we all have to endure the nail-biting tension that accompanies the ‘lose and you are OUT’ theme, but if the teams are locked in a draw, we will see extra time, and if that fails we must find something to grip onto, hold on tight and let the rollercoaster of penalties d ecide destiny… 

Germany v
Sweden
 

The hosts have played very entertaining football in their group game matches, scoring some lovely goals and displaying immense determination to win this tournament outright. Michael Ballack is fast returning to the kind for form that has persuaded Abramavic to sell 1500 of his slaves to fund the deal to bring him to Stamford bridge.. Though the results have been impressive the pedigree of the opponents has been poor and this is the first decent team that Germany have faced…And I feel that the Swedes, especially after their cheeky 2-2 draw with England, will cast a dark cloud over the natives lives…Ibrahimovic is back, and apparently fit enough to dislodge the in-form Allback. Ibra will partner ace marksmen, Larson in attack and the rest of the team will be very similar to what we have seen of the Swedes in the previous games….I feel that Sweden has a stronger defence and attack, so the battle will be won or lost in the midfield…Fortunately for Germany, they have the best ball-player on the pitch in Ballack…Sweden have yet to live up to their billing as real contenders and today I think they will rise from the dead to change that… 

Anthem
Germany—-The Germans have a darkness about them reminiscent of the plagued rabbits in Watership Down…
 

Prediction:The Swedes turn the Krouts sour……..3-1 

Ref is Brazilian. 

My own allegiance in this one is with the Swedes…. 

It is winner takes all…..

30C- fair weather.

1T

2- FK Edmund>>>headed clear…

4- GOAL…Podolski powers the rebound into the goal off a defender's head, after Isasskon's saved from Klose….1-0 to the Krouts… 

7- Podolski is found just outside the box, by Ballack,, he shapes on his left then unleashes a stinging drive which fizzes just over the bar… 

8- Larson in a great position in the German box, but his shot is dragged just short of the post… 

12-GOAL– Podolski gets another….glorious for Germany….on home soil….adoring crowd….Klose and Podolski combine,, Klose plays a perfect pass behind him and his strike partner is there to finish with aplomb past the increasingly depressed Isakson…2-0 

17- Knee in the back of Freidrich, by Edmund leaves the German writhing in pain on the deck… 

18- Schweinsteiger finds Ballack 25 yards out in a central position, the captain takes one touch then shoots towards goal, Isakson makes a good save for the corner…. 

21- Swe CoRNer>Lehman tips it clear… 

Germans looking for more goals…attacking in large numbers..Ballack supporting the attackers through the middle, Schweinsteiger, Schneider and Lahm up the flanks… krouts own the midfield.

27- YELLOW for Fringes, handball. 

28- Lucic BOOKED for chopping Klose’s legs.. 

31- Lahm drives into the box, then sets up Klose who strikes the ball towards goal but Isakson makes a commendable save, sending the ball over the touchline for a corner… 

33- Fringes tries one from long range which Isakson jumps high to tip over the bar for yet another Krout corner… 

33- Schweinsteiger shoots from 30 yards…….an inch wide…… 

There is no Swedish midfield….Germans running the game from the middle… 

35- second YELLOW for Lucic…RED, he is off….for pulling back the shirt of Klose…the infringement of the rules was made just past the halfway line….the ref was within his rights to make that call but surely common sense should prevail : nobody was hurt, the opposing player, Klose, wasn’t even hauled to the floor….very harsh, and in my opinion, officious and vicious refereeing…..bad decision… 

39- Hansson on for Kallstrom.SUB..shore up the defence… 

Replay of sending off shows the ref smiling as he produces the card, eye2 eye with Lucic, and then Podolski was seen patting the ref on the back in congratulations on the decision…time to make friends’ eh Podolski, you treacherous swine…. 

40- first sign of Ibra, who turns sharply in the box before aiming a shot at Lehman’s near post..saved… 

We have already had more red cards in this years world cup than were dished out, in total, 4 years ago in south korea/japan….another indication of over-zealous officiating. 

44- Podolski attacks the box, dispossessed but the ball is picked up by Klose who turns then powers and effort towards goal that Isakson does well to save and push clear for a corner… 

HT

Germany have played with real zeal and determination. They have completely controlled the game, with the midfield of Ballack, Fringes, Schweinsteiger and Schenider..Podolski and Klose, in attack, are playing out of their skins….
Sweden have been non-existent….I couldn’t name one Swedish player who has been prominent in midfield,…..
 

2T

48- Johnson barges Ballack in the back, knocking him face first to the dirt,.,.BOOKED 

the mercurial Wilhelmson is warming up on the touchlines… 


Sweden need to throw caution to the wind and charge…
 

52- great work from Ibra on left, then ball into box, where Larson is fouled….PENALTY…Metzelder thumped him in the backA lifeline for the SwedesLarsson>>>>Pen>>>SUB SWE Wilhelmsson on for Jonson..Pen>>>missed….he sends the ball high and wide….terrible miss. 

55- Ballack fights for opportunity to shoot from 20 yards out, his effort is touched onto the post by the over-worked Isaaskson./.. 

59- Ballack again finds space to shoot from just outside the box,,….but this time his shot flies way over the Swedish bar. 

Oliver Kahn: the only dejected German.

Will we see Allback???he packs a punch. 

Replay of Metzelder losing his boot, then Larson kicking it away…. 

69-Fringes needs the stretcher after a headed pass hit him in the face…. 

70- Fringes is back on…the bloody flow from his nose has been sutured and blocked… 

72- SUB crowd favourite Schweinsteiger makes way for Borowski….

72 SUB Ibra for Allback 

74- SUB Ger Podolski for Neuville.. 

78- YELLOW Allback for running through Freidrich,,, 

Modern ‘enhancements’ I think fuck up the game->

1: too many balls, the players get no natural break between shots and throws; any set pieces. There is always a ball ready and willing…

2. The radio communication between the ref and linesman. When the ref makes a decision based on another man’s word, it looks bad and feels wrong, and again the natural breaks historically afforded to both teams when a decision needs conference between officials are negated.

3. Officious clamping down only on certain rules i.e. this world cup it has been time wasting and shirt pulling, with the refs merciless on both counts…

Surely the fact that we have already surpassed the total amount of red cards given in 2002 shows that either the refs have gone crazy or the game has suddenly stooped into constant violence, which it hasn’t. In fact I would say that the game we see today is far more diluted than the game of yesteryear…the game needs players of real grit, who aren’t afraid to go all out with every challenge, but the contemporary refereeing mandate stifles that kind of player….I guess the cameras like it more fair and square, but football was never about cameras and replays, it is about action. What happens in that split instant….computerised machines to check if the ball crosses the line, walkie talkies sharing fluid communication between officials, lighter balls….are these changes in the best interests of the game itself????whose interests do they serve???The referee should never prove the most prominent figure in a game but all too often that has been the case in this years world cup, and a true shame that is. A football match should be decided by the players with the officials doing everything they can to help the game flow and stay within the laws of the game….there have been few refs brave enough to show discretion, mostly they seem destined to follow their paymasters’ demands to the letter….resulting in too many yellows, reds and stop/start games…. 

84- Schneider shoots from 18 yards out, but his shot is deflected onto the post and out for a corner… 

85- Fringes for Kehl SUB GER 

FT 

The Germans deservedly win this one but the ref’s harsh Red for Lucic and Larson’s penalty miss helped them considerably. 

Argies V
Mexico
 


Argentina have been in form since the first kick of a ball in this years finals. They have played the most assured, inventive, and delightful to watch, football out of all the teams. In defence Ayala has been a General, with Lieutenant Burdisso offering solidity on the right of the rearguard. Sorin and Heinz are experienced and reliable back-line hacks… Today is the birthday of Riquelme(and also Messi, but he starts from the bench) and it is the central midfielder who orchestrates ALL of Argentina’s best attacking moves. His passing skills are supreme with a world cup stat to date of 88/91 passes hitting the desired target. That isn’t just impressive it is world class. If he is allowed the time to play the ball, Argentina will win. Behind him, Mascherano acts as a taller, less conspicuous Gattuso, cutting through opposition attacks before they reach the final third. Saviola has been in scintillating form, as has Tevez and Messi when seen. Crespo is always a major threat and Rodriguez has shown himself to be more than dependable when given the chance to shoot from range…The Argies are blessed with a most diverse and talented attacking squadron, which I feel is too much for any team to deal with other than Italy. I am taking into account their form, and anybody who has seen the Argies will know what I mean when I say that the south American’s have had a real zip about them….more zip than any other team in fact…Argentina are playing like a team who believe they can win the world cup.
 


Mexico did okay to get out of a mediocre group. They are lively and love to attack but physically  and technically inferior to their illustrious opponents.
 

Borgetti back in the Mexican line-up.

Cambiasso starting for Argies

Prediction:Argentina have been my joint favourites with Italy, since 2004 and I have no intention of changing that long term prediction now…..Argies 6-1 Mexico get mashed… 

6 defenders in the starting 11 for
Mexico…Volpe is scared…
 

Someone will be hassling Riquelme…. 

Tevez and Messi only good enough for the argentine bench… 

1T

2- Scaloni slices his clearance and gives away a corner..>>Borgetti goes close…another corner>> 

I guess this is like Scotland V England… 

Scaloni playing at right back for the Argies instead of Burdisso who must be suspended.. 

Crazy start to the game…Both teams going for early goal…

5- FK for foul on drug fiend Castro of Mexico FK wide right…>>>Pardo takes it…flicked on to the far post where Marquez finishes with great shot on the volley past Abonndarzi…..GOAL….1-0 to the Mexicans…. 

What a start… 

I don’t think anybody saw that coming except Marquez and Pardo..well worked routine… 

Bring on Messi!!!! 


Mexico have started far brighter than the Argies…
 

8- FK>>>30 yards out…central…for Argies>>

9- FK>Riquelme shoots but it comes off the wall for a corner>>Riquelme takes>headed away for another corner>Riquelme.>Its In GOAL….Crespo beats his man and looks to have poked the ball past Sanchez, but the replay shows Borgetti scored an own goal…..not Crespo…1-1 Best to chalk that one down as a Riquelme assist…and leave it there. 

13- great through ball by Fonseca sets up Borgetti whose shot it put out for a corner>Pardo>too much on it….

17- Cambiasso threads a ball into the box which Crespo collects, turns , shoots, wins a corner….>Riquelme.>away this time… 

23- Cambiasso plays a delightful chip over the defence which Crespo reaches and pokes his boot onto, putting his shot just wide of the post… 

24- Fonseca tees up Borgetti to shoot well from 20 yards,, tipped over by Abondanzaerri….Corner> taken short….keepers plucks from the air. 

Swiss Ref 

Salcido is the most rugged of the Mexicans. 

38- Sub Torrado on for Pardo…..MEX.. Pardo must be injured as he is an important player…. 

The Kaiser sits with Sepp Blatter FIFA head honcho,,,Maradona looks concerned, rocking to and fro on his worn bare knuckles… 

46- Heinz brought down Fonseca just outside the area after his poor first touch gave an opening to the Mexican…he was the last defender and it was a blatant foul, it could and maybe should have been a straight red because Fonseca would have had a free run on goal……lucky Argies…

HT 

Mexico have made a brilliant game of this, battling for every ball, putting their physical safety on the line with every challenge and showing more enthusiasm and team spirit than the Argies…Saviola and Riquelme haven’t had the chance to play as they would like, because the Mexican midfield has been mobile and relentless in their pursuit of the ball. The goal Mexico scored was beautiful straight off the training pitch, the one they conceded was sheer misfortune, but I suppose if Borgetti hadn’t made the challenge that put the ball over the line, then Crespo would have done it for him…Heinz is very lucky to be on the pitch, but I will not slander the ref as the rest of his performance has been impeccable…The winner of this one is by no means as certain as many of us expected…. 

2T 

frenetic energy still flowing through all 22 pairs of boots.. 

54- Morales finds Borgetti in the box, he shoots but Abbondazerri makes a brilliant one handed save to deny him… 

Torrado is stuck to Riquelme like shit on a stick… 

57- Riquelme FK finds Rodriguez who volleys tamely towards goal…Sanchez tips it over when he could of caught it.. 

59- Riquelme plays a lovely pass through two defenders which finds Saviola, who shoots first time wit his right boot..great save by Sanchez.Corner..Riquelme.> it just nips past the far post..was he shooting?? 

The Argies are piling on the pressure….building up steam.. 

Way too much of the stretcher seen in these games…. 

64- Guardado down on the floor…taken off by physios and stretcher.. 

66- Miraculous Lazarus type recovery by Guardado who returns to the fray… 

67-Guardado is injured…off for Pineda…. 

2 bad passes within a minute by Riquelme…

7- YELLOW for Marquez after booting Crespo in the back of the legs…nasty tackle..no love lost there… 

71- Borgetti down on the floor, Swiss ref tells him to get up not believing any wrongdoing has occurred. replay shows Heinz arm swatting the Mexican in the face… 

74- Sub MEX Morales for Zinha (Brazilian- ‘super sub’) 

Torrado has been superb as a hustler in midfield for Mexico… 

76 -Crespo off for TeveZ SUB ARG 

78- Tevez shoots from an acute angle 12 yards out but Sanchez sticks out a big hand to knock the ball away for a corner… 

82– Castro BOOKED for Torrado's foul…bad mistake ref… 

Scaloni commits worse challenge than Torrado’s(which got Castro booked) and the ref decides there is no need for a card..inconsistency. 

84–here he is..Saviola of for Messi SUB ARG…perhaps the most talented player in the tournament on par with Rooney in terms of potential… 

86– Pineda nutmegs Scaloni on the left side of the Argentinean box, he chips the ball in and Fonseca gets up well to hit a header but the ball flies a yard wide of the goal… 

Zinha has injected new vigour into the Mexican ranks… 

88 FK for MEX>>37 yards out>>shoots into the wall…. 

Neither team, deserves to win or lose…but alas, a draw isn’t an option… 

90- Osorio tracks back to disposes Tevez in the area…great defending… 

93- Aimar is called OFFSIDE but replay suggests otherwise…Aimar had proceeded to swing the ball back for Tevez to finish past Sanchez……unlucky…tight decision.. 

FT 

Wonderful game of football. Not many goals but constant action with both sets of players doing everything they can to grab a goal…Great skill and spirit on show and I hope to hell that someone can finish it in extra time because penalties will be a terribly cruel end to competitive, entertaining and joyful-even from a spectators POV- experience for all connected….. 

651AM>>>> 

‘When a situation gets so bad that no solution seems possible there is left only murder or suicide. Or both.’ – Henry Miller… 

ET 1

No more golden goal. That has been scrapped…

Messi, Aimar, Tevez…. 

Argies playing all attack and defence, with virtually no midfield….gaps are appearing.. 

98—-Rodriguez is found 22 yards out, near the right corner of the 18 yard box…he takes the long pass on his chest then hits a divine left foot volley which flies into the top  corner of the net….GOAL….2-1 Argies…there was no chance for Sanchez..only dhalsim(streetfighter 2) could have saved that…Stunning strike…good enough to win any game…3 goals in 4 games for Maxi Rodriguez. 

Ricardo Le Volpe looks on, slowly accepting defeat… 

1t -end… 

Wonder strike was like a bomb, exploding around the world on every screen that is broadcasting the game, every radio every seat in the stadium. The Argies are shutting up shop, but don’t have enough defenders on the pitch to do that securely, so they continue to attack, but their attacks now are aimed at getting the ball into the flanks and helping the clock tick down…Messi and Tevez, however are both still intoxicated by the goal hunt…. 

108- Zinha hits a shot from 15 yards that drifts agonisingly wide of the post..

FT 

A great game to watch , produced by two teams who gave their all for victory. The Rodrigues strike was magical enough to have graced the final itself .Argentina looked  vulnerable defensively but their attacking players remain second to none and capable of unlocking any defence but that of Italy..

MOM- Torrado.from the moment he arrived on the pitch to the moment when the whistle was finally blown for the end, the mexican stayed within 10 cm of Riquelme, and when the argentine was on the floor, Torrado drove forward to support the attackers..ALl aCTION quality display…

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