With the Play-offs being played around this weekend, I thought it was time to create a thread for the upcoming World Cup.
Many usual suspects have already qualified, among them Germany, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, England, France, Portugal, Belgium and many others. Yes, Iceland as well. The Vikings keep doing it!
Holland is out and that might come as a surprise to some, but Dutch football is at an all-time low at the moment and I don’t expect any major improvements shortly. We nevertheless should have qualified for the play-offs (we have more talent than, let’s say, Northern Ireland or Greece), but we were in a strong qualification group with teams like France (winners) and Sweden (second). We had as many points as Sweden and were eliminated on goal difference. A pity, but we have to live with it
A bigger surprise would be Italy missing the World Cup and after yesterday night we have to consider this possibility. The first leg of the play off pairing Sweden - Italy was won by Sweden, 1-0
Will the Italians still make it?
I hope they do, a tournament without them is almost unthinkable and with all due respect for the Swedes I think the Italians have more to offer, even if their team is not up to their usual standards. The game in Solna was a close one, with Italy having more ball-possession but with an absolute minimum of chances to score. The only goal came - most typically - from a deflected shot. Sweden did what the Italians usually do to others: they let the opponent dominate the game, and were waiting for the opportunity to hurt them with a quick break. With their physical style they also turned the football match into some kind of wrestling-rugby-boxing game. I’ll guess they will try to do the same thing on monday.
Will the Italians still make it?
I think they will, eventually, but it won’t be easy …
Other play-off results (first leg):
Northern Ireland - Switzerland 0-1
Croatia - Greece 4-1
Ireland - Danmark
(Rest of the World)
New Zealand - Peru 0-0
Honduras - Australia 0-0
If “all-time” does not include any decade before the 7o, that’s maybe true.
But they became stronger towards the end, and gave away important points at the beginning of the qualification. It was the other way round in the qualification for the EC 16, where they spoiled it in the last games.
We were very unlucky with ou qualification group. In the past a group with France and Sweden wouldn’t have been a problem, but now it was. Belgium has a much better team at the moment, I know, but their major opponents were Greece and Bosnia, now that’s a lot easier and I think Germany had no serious opposition either.
Our problem is that we are still playing a system that was successful in the past because we had the ideal players for it. We always played 4-3-3, with fore-checking and covering the entire field. We then played a passing-game with our technically skilled players, waiting for the brilliant play maker (type Cruyff, Sneyder) to give the decisive pass or a brilliant striker (Van Basten, Gullit, Bergkamp) to tear the opponent’s defense apart. But we don’t have a Cruyff or Bergkamp no more, we only had Robben, who still showed sparks of brilliance, but who’s 33 years old and often injured.
We need somebody who cleans up the mess and causes a revolution in Dutch football. A type like Jürgen Klinsmann. I read somewhere he showed some interest …
Yes, it was a comparatively strong group, and generally, in the UEFA part of the qualification, there is always the danger that some strong European teams don’t make it to the WC.
This year it was pretty tight for Argentinia too, but normally Brasil and Argentina don’t have much problems to get qualified, while classic European teams more often have to struggle, and sometimes don’t make it. Like maybe Italy this evening?
Also in North America a team like the USA has to play very bad to miss the WC, and surprisingly this year they did. Normally the USA, Mexico and Costa Rica can sleepwalk through the qualification.
I won’t be home until 10 o’clock, when the game is more than halfway, but I’m looking forward to watch as much as I can from this game. I hope they’ll make it; nothing against Sweden, but I still think the Italian team (not the best in history) has more to offer on a World cup. They seem to have some ‘Dutch problems’: no one to give the decisive pass and no world class goal scorer. They had (have,) Balotelli of course, but that guy seems impossible to work with, in spite of his great talent. A problem could be their defense that is very experienced, but also rather old and slow : they’ll have to push forward and that could give the Swedes the chance for quick breaks.
Yes, a World Cup without Italy, you wonder what will be next. One without Brazil or Germany?
I only saw the second half, but it cannot be denied: Italy was very poor, no ideas, hardly anything created in 45 minutes.
True: they should have had a penalty in the 46th minute, when an Italian player was almost kicked in two seperate halves (and no, I didn’t see a handbal) but after the game a few highlights of the first half were shown and the Swedes were denied a penalty as well. Apart from this it would be ridiculous to blale the referee if you’re not able to create anything in 45 or 90 minutes
That I was not expecting
Danmark takes the last European ticket, in very convincing style, beating Ireland at home 1-5 (after a 0-0 in Copenhagen).
The game in Dublin clearly showed one thing that becomes more and more obvious : most teams need space to devemop their game and they get the space they need in away games, not at home. The Irish were forced to push forward and were really taken apart by the Danish passing game and quick breaks. Eriksson was tremendous, scoring four goals, at least two of them world class
Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan
So that’s England losing to Belgium in the first game, struggling past the other two to scrape into second place in the group, win in the second round and thereby convincing everyone in England we could actually win the whole thing before losing to Germany in the quarters then.
We’re playing Belgium in our last group game. Tunisia on June 18th, Panama on the 24th, Belgique on the 28th. You just know we’re going to need a win by then to progress. I mean on paper we’ve been given a real touch in the draw but then again, this is England. “If there’s a wrong way to do it, a right way to screw it up, nobody does it like weeeeeeee…” (well, maybe the Italians. And the Dutch ).
England youth teams have been doing well lately, so I expect England to be among the hot favorites in four years. For this tournement … I don’t know, they qualified easily, but qualifying is one thing (for us Dutch quite a thing actually) …
England and Belgium were rather lucky at the draw, I suppose. They can sleep on both ears. Like most people I don’t know a damn thing about Panama, but if you’re afraid to play these kind of teams, you’d better stay home. I don’t know much about Tunesia either, but a former collegue, of North-African descent, told me they’re well-organized in defense but lack personality in midfield and attack. it won’t be a easy, he told me, but Morocco or Egypt would’ve been more dangerous opponents
Update the THREAD, plz.
The Italian had a great impact on World Cup tournaments.
Its a strange one. I don’t like domestic football matches, and I don’t know a heck of a lot about the rules of the sport itself. But I love to watch the world cup. I love it when teams and individuals play sports for their country. The atmosphere and the emotions you see in the matches is incredible.
It’ll come alive next week, when the tournament start. But I’ll start with my predictions tomorrow
Here we go
As an Englishman I am, of course, dreading the whole affair