Monday, July 28, 2014

Nice Quiet Pre-Season Part 2


Pre-Season beers Arrive from Belgium

One day after posting the last pre-season update, Dejan Lovren did what we all assumed he would do and threw his toys out of the pram.  In a Croatian magazine interview which he knew would go out to everyone, he basically spat his dummy out about Saints rejecting a bid from Liverpool which the last time I checked, was perfectly within our rights.  He cited a lack of ambition from Saints as we’ve sold Lambert, Shaw and fellow dummy spitter, Billy Bigtime Lallana.  Lovren also believed in the Cortese empty promise of Champions League Football, therefore proving himself to be a complete idiot. 

As far as I’m concerned he can do one and it’s another nail in the coffin of belief that players care about the club they’re at.  Oddly, Liverpool have of course sold the animal Suarez, so is that a lack of ambition?  That anomaly was pointed out by none other than Matt le Tissier who Dejan immediately unfollowed on Twitter, rather than have a conversation, a bit like the one he’d failed to have with Ronald Koeman at this point, a man who achieved more as a player than Dejan ever will.   The temptation is to say ‘let him rot’ but that won’t happen and he’ll go, for at least double what we paid for him a year ago.  When he goes, like Lallana it’ll be with a resounding ‘fuck you’ ringing in his ears.  He won’t care though, like Pochettino and Lallana before him.

Curiously, Liverpool fans seem to think that we’re reacting negatively to Lovren because he’s foreign and that we’re fine with English Lallana because of the full page advert in The Echo.  Do your research lads – it’s not hard.  You can imagine a scene at Melwood where Lovren, Bigtime and Lambert are talking about Saints. Dejan and Adam will be slagging us off for being small time and Rickie will put them right one hopes.  Liverpool could sign whoever they like and they will still be weaker than last year due to the one man who has left.

Morgan Schneiderlin has revealed that he’s had a conversation with Koeman who wants him to stay so at least there’s a dialogue going on there and Morgan is acting with a touch of class as you’d expect.  The rumours of Arsenal and bloody Spurs won’t go away.  Like I said before, I could deal with his moving to Arsenal but not Spurs.  Surely he’s been in England long enough to know that they are a joke and going nowhere, no matter who they have as manager and who they sign.

The first signing of the Koeman era was confirmed with the arrival of Dusan Tadic from FC Twente in Holland.  A Serbian international left winger who can also play in the 10 role.  He sounds like a ready made replacement for Adam Bigtime for less than half the money, with the added bonus that he hopefully won’t be dreaming of playing for another club this season.  Tadic sounds like the real deal with an impressive record for goals and assists.  He also takes free kicks and penalties so it sounds like we are covering all the important things that we’ve recently lost.  The caveat is of course that he has to get used to playing in the English League which I’m sure will be a bit of a culture shock compared to the Eredivisie.  In Ronald we trust.

Soon after we had the arrival of Graziano Pelle who joined from Koeman’s previous club, Feyenoord.  A quick look at Pelle reveals a player who has scored loads in the Dutch league, 6 foot 4, good in the air, good on the deck, eye for a pass, creates and scores... remind you of anyone?  With his tall dark and handsome, swarthy Italian looks – he seems to already be a big hit with the ladies.  I can’t think why.

Tadic made his debut in the first Dutch friendly and Pelle in the second.  The first game saw a 4-0 win against Hoensbroek with goals from a Sam McQueen deflected effort, a Calum Chambers header, a Billy Sharp penalty, and a Steve Davis long ranger.   The inclusion of Billy Sharp in this tour has been slaughtered by the bedwetters who know best and who fail to consider that Koeman may want to actually look at all the senior pros with his own eyes before deciding who makes the squad this season.  I don’t think he’s up to playing in the Premier league but if Koeman thinks otherwise and puts him in then fair enough.

The second game against Sporting Hasselt, saw Graziano Pelle take all of five minutes to score his first after Isgrove put it on a plate for him and before half time he notched again at the near post from a McCarthy cross.  The second half saw further strikes from a McQueen header from a Chambers cross, an own goal, a Mayuka penalty after Sharp’s chip and chase had been handled and a Gallagher tap-in after a Sharp effort was blocked.

Homeward bound to play against Swindon in the first of our ‘local derby’ friendlies which also takes in Bournemouth and Brighton.  Again we had the full squad plus new kids with still no Morgan, Dejan, Gaston or Big Vic.  Also missing was Steve Davis with a slight knock and Dusan Tadic who is still in Holland awaiting work permit formalities.  The game itself was a tight affair with Saints dominating possession and ultimately winning 1-0 as Big Jos got his toe on a corner and knocked it in.  Brendan Rodgers was straight on to his journalist friend to leak a $20 million bid through the papers.  It’s not ‘tapping up’ when Brendan does it.  Koeman’s post match interview was the highlight as he revealed that no bid had been accepted for Lovren but that he wanted to go.  No shock in that it proved that 99% of what I read on the internet is complete shite.

With the shock revelation that 99% of what’s on the internet is shite, we can maybe take some of our incoming transfer rumours with a pinch of salt.  However, just for giggles I’ll run through some of them with my personal guess on how likely they are to happen:-

Fraser Forster from Celtic is the keeper to address the issue of having a good first choice and then nothing in reserve.  For what I’ve seen of Forster, he’s big and a bit slow and cumbersome and his distribution is pretty poor.  If it was down to me I wouldn’t be spending £8 to £10million on a keeper who is not an upgrade on King Artur.  I also can’t imagine that Forster would join to be a 2nd choice for a season or two.  With Celtic being our feeder club though (said with extreme sarcasm) I’d say the chances of this deal eventually happening are 7/10.

Virgil Van Dijk is also at Celtic who is a ball playing centre half who from what I’ve seen, reminds me of Claus Lundekvam in his pomp but without the drugs and alcohol.  Any You Tube compliations of players which have been culled from SPL games needs to be watched with the caveat that the opposition Celtic are playing against is League 1 standard.  Van Dijk does look a very talented player though and guess what, he’s Dutch so it’s another 7/10.

A throwaway Koeman comment regarding Ron Vlaar being a good player and the fact that he was his manager for a year at Feyenoord saw a frenzy of articles being published on this being a possibility.  Paul Lambert then came out and said something unintelligible which sounded like the sort of noise Barry White would make if he was gargling Listerine.  I think he was saying that Vlaar wasn’t for sale, even though he only has a year left on his contract.  Even though Villa have signed a wonderful replacement in Phillippe Senderos – possibly the worst defender I’ve ever seen this side of Calum Davenport – I’d say it was unlikely that Vlaar will come to us so it’s a 5/10 as I can see him ending up at Man United with van Gaal.

Marcos Rojo was Argentina’s left back at the World Cup and is currently at Sporting Lisbon and apparently available.  I’m sure we’re only linked because we’ll be linked with every left back but of course – he’s linked with a raft of big clubs so I’d be amazed if this one happens.  Good player though and we can dream but I’d rate this one as a 3/10.  Another left back linked is Dusko Tosic who was illegally signed by the Skates and then illegally put on the bench for a cup game against us a few years ago when they were in administration.   This potential move was mentioned for a day or so and then went quiet so I give it a 3/10 which is similar to Pablo Armero, a Colombian who was at West Ham on loan at the tail end of last season.  He didn’t pull up any trees and despite having a good World Cup, I can’t rate this one above a 3/10 either.

Norwich have of course just been relegated and they have some decent players so will therefore be pillaged and we’ve been linked with Nathan Redmond and Leroy Fer.  Redmond is all pace and tricks and flatters to deceive.  He scored one goal last season and that was against us but he has the raw potential and the pace and I can’t see him sticking around in the Championship.  We have precious little pace in the squad, especially with J-Rod injured so I’d say that this is an 8/10 especially as Koeman has stated the need to keep an English core and in order to do that, we need to replace the 3 departed English players, with some English players.  Fer is of course not English but he’s the next best thing which is of course Dutch.  I was surprised he got in their World Cup squad seeing as he’d had a pretty uneventful season at Norwich but he must be fairly decent if we trust Louis Van Gaal and I think we can.  I question whether we actually need a central midfield player as to me, it looks like he fills he Steve Davis /JWP role but I’ll give this a 6/10.

We go Dutch again with Jordy Clasie who like Fer, got in the Dutch squad for the World Cup.  He’s a combative midfielder who plays in exactly the same manner as Morgan Schneiderlin which means that I’ll give this a 5/10 if Morgan stays and an 8/10 if he goes.  We will be up against some serious competition for his signature though so we may have to hope that the Koeman factor can sway the issue should we wish to pursue it.  The only striker we’ve been linked with is Teo Gutierrez, who scored for Colombia in the World Cup.  At 29 and never having done anything remarkable and currently playing for River Plate, I can’t see this one happening at all so I’d give it a 3/10.

As I write we’re about to play Bournemouth in a friendly at Dean Court or whatever it’s called these days.  A majority of fans on both sides, see this for what it is, just a friendly between two local sides gearing up for the season.  There are some knobs who are seeing it as a battle for South Coast Supremacy though.  Yawn.  I expect there will be some booing of our players by the Cherries massive but they’ll get a lesson in how to boo a Saints player if Dejan Lovren makes an appearance.  I really hope he does, just show he can find out just what a dick he’s been.

UPDATE:
The Bournemouth game happened and we won 1-0 with a decent goal from Lloyd Isgrove who got in front of his defender and flicked home a very good header from a wonderful Clyne cross.  A headed winner from a player who is 5 foot 4 at best.  The Cherries didn’t really threaten the goal at all for the rest of the game aside from a disallowed effort late on.  They did however have Kermorgant who spat his dummy right out when he came off worse in a 50/50 with Jose Fonte.

The game was overshadowed though by two bits of news.  First was that Dejan the Dick was having a medical at Liverpool and the discovery of a large penis in the middle of his forehead wasn’t going to put them off signing him.  This was confirmed a couple of days afterwards and off he went – it was his ‘dream’ to sign for Liverpool – heard it all before mate, fuck off.  Well, we knew this one was coming but the next one wasn’t on the agenda at all.  Calum Chambers missed the Bournemouth matches because he was ‘ill’ said the official club spokesman.  Ill my arse as he was finalising a move to Arsenal.  I guess it was only a matter of time before the master Child Catcher Arsene Fucking Wenger got in on the act.  The fee reported is anywhere between £11 million and £18 million.  Frankly, the fee doesn’t matter – it’s a step too far for many.

Rumour has it that he had a continental style release clause in his contract if a club in the Champions League came in for him which is the only thing that could make this sale make sense from a Siants point of view.  If this is true then it makes a mockery of Cortese’s statement that everyone would have stayed if he was still there.  Bullshit. 

Assuming Chambers moves, it is gut-wrenchingly disappointing.  We can’t even finish 8th in the Prem and hold onto a player who has played half a season at 19 years old.  What’s the fucking point?  Three months ago we’re getting praised for being the saviours of English football cos we play the English youth and then what happens.  Fucking pillaged by clubs who have the MO of “don’t bother developing players, we have so much money we can just throw stupid amounts of cash at it”.  The ultimate piss take is that we appear to be being offered Serge Gnabry, a young Arsenal winger in return on loan.  So, they sign our English young player who we’ve developed since he was 8 and then they lend us one of their foreign kids to develop for them because they can’t be bothered.  Fuck you Arsene, fuck you Premier League.  On the back of a disastrous World Cup, the English national team will now see another of it’s potential stars going to Arsenal and disappearing for three years before emerging no better than he was as he’ll have 50 less games under his belt.  Chambers could potentially have been England’s right back by the end of next season but not now.  I laughably saw it reported that Arsenal see him as a centre back or midfielder as well.  As if Arsenal are going to play him at centre back or in midfield where they have approximately 400 players.  You’re not going to play Calum – you’re back up to Debuchy who is a full France international.  Do you care – probably not – you can ponder what to spend all your money on whilst sitting in the stands or on the bench.

And breathe…

We’ve received approximately $90 million for players we spent approximately £9 million on.  The only problem is that they’ve all left at once and of course it might not be over yet with Schneiderlin almost certain to go and even our crippled player, J-Rod, being subject to the usual Brendan Twat Rodgers ‘tapping up by media’ ploy.  We have 3 weeks before the season starts and we need to get some players in now.  Despite the ‘oh so funny’ jokes going round – we have a decent starting XI, even if Morgan leaves but we don’t have a lot behind it.  A team of Boruc / Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Targett/ Corky, Vic, Davis / Gaston, Tadic, Pelle is not bad at all.  Aside from JWP, there’s not a lot else in the squad who you could throw in with any confidence.  We obviously will get players in (we need between 5 and 8) but we need to do it now and even so, I see us loitering around the lower mid table region as things stand.

Also - there's been no statement from Uncle Les as yet.  The last one was that no one would be sold.  no wonder he's keeping quiet....

KARMA UPDATE:
Adam Lallana injured for 6 weeks. No comment.  Luke Shaw in 'twat on Twitter' shocker.

FURTHER UPDATE:
Chambers moved to Arsenal.  Well - it was never going to fall through was it?


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

World Cup 2014 Part 12 - Supporting Germany is not Natural!


Outside the Box but Still a Red Card (but not against Brazil)

12/7/14

3rd/4th Place Playoff

Brazil 0 Netherlands 3

This is usually the game where no one gives a shite about the result and both teams play all the reserves and just want to get it out of the way and go home.  Brazil are already home which is why this game actually mattered to them and I guess it mattered to The Dutch as it was van Gaal’s last game in charge before taking charge of Manchester’s second club.  The question was if Brazil would be a train wreck after the 7-1 drubbing they got off the Germans and within 90 seconds we had our answer as Robben broke through and Thiago Silva grabbed him and wrestled him to the ground as he burst into the box.  It’s got to be a red card but the only question is whether it’s inside or outside the box.  Refeenho gives the penalty and books him and in doing so, manages to get both decisions wrong.  Anyway, up steps RVP and 1-0.  A repeat of the German dicking was on the cards after 10 minutes when a terrible clearing header from Luiz went straight to Daley Blind who was stood on the penalty spot on his own and he lashed it into the roof of the net.  Brazil showed no real signs of getting back into it, even without Hulk and Fred who had been dropped for being abysmal footballers.  Oscar was still playing though and he managed to get booked for a dive.  It’s an odd one as Daley Blind clearly fouled him but Oscar had dragged his feet and was already going down before contact.  If he’d kept running, it's a clear foul but I’m glad the ref booked him as he was looking to cheat.  The game chuntered on uneventfully until the last minute when Wijnaldum fired into the net for 3-0 to prove what we all expected – that Brazil are piss poor.


Five minutes later, an Argentinian clattered him


13/7/14

World Cup Final

Germany 1 Argentina 0 (aet)

For the biggest game in the World, you have your tactics and you know what you team is going to be and then someone gets injured in the warm up. So Khedira was out and Krammer was in.  The new guy was involved in the first major incident of the game as Garay came across to clear and nearly took Krammer’s head off with his shoulder as he ran past.  It didn’t look deliberate to be fair but Jesus, did he hit him hard.  You really want that to happen to someone like Pepe or Cristiano Ronaldo.  The game itself is exactly as predicted with the Germans dominating possession and Argentina sitting back, trying to get the ball to Messi and hoping that he does something.  They are creating the better chances when they do get the ball and an appalling back header by Kroos puts Higuain through on goal.  As he reached the edge of the box and took aim, time stood still and I wondered if he was going to prove me wrong as everytime I’ve seen him play he’s looked like a slow donkey who doesn’t deserve his massive reputation.  1-0 to me but not 1-0 to Argentina as he shanked it horribly wide.  Allegedly a world class striker with a 1v1 with the keeper from 18 yards?  Sorry – that was shit.

Ten minutes later and Argentina broke down the right through Lavezzi and his excellent cross was met by Higuain and this time he buried it, only this time he was a couple of yards offside.  Messi wasn't doing much but when he did, he burned past Hummels before seeing Schweinsteiger clear his cross.

Maybe this Argentina pressure is due to the fact that Germany are playing with 10 as Krammer still doesn’t know what day it is and he comes off and is replaced with Schurrle which on the face of it, is an attacking substitution.  The final two chances of the half fall to Germany with Schurrle blasting a shot striaight at Romero who parried it away and then right on half time, a corner was swung in and Howedes go up superbly and from 5 yards, smacked his header against the post.You have to score from there…. But 0-0.

The second half starts well for Argentina and Messi is through on left but he screws his shot past Neuer and past the far post.  The best German chance fell to Kroos but his sidefooted effort from an Ozil pull back was shocking in the extreme and just dribbled wide.  Palacio and his rat tail hair statement is on for Higuain who in addition to missing a sitter has got Neuer’s knee in the face as he came out and punched a ball.  With the 90 minute mark approaching, the clearly knackered Miroslav Klose is replace with Mario Gotze.

The first half of extra time is quite cagey and Argentina have definitely settled for penalties.  They have a decent chance though as Palicio and his rat get through but when presented with Neuer flying out, he shites himself and lobs wide.  I’ve given Bastian Schweinsteiger some stick before, mainly for being the archetypal German with the most German name you could possibly have but fair’s fair – he’s some player.  His latest challenge is to not react as the Argentinians line up to kick the shit out of him.  The worst incident is Aguero going up for a header and just smashing him in the face.  The referee predictably doesn’t send Aguero off and the commentators predictably blather on about him “not being that type of player”.  The blood pouring out of Schweinsteiger’s cheek suggests otherwise.

On 113 minutes it happens as Schurrle gets away down the left and his cross curls to Gotze who controls and swivels and volleys into the net past Romero in one movement.  When he emerges from the pile of bodies, the look on his face is one of “what the fuck just happened” and is similar to the look on Krammer’s face when he got smashed in the head.  Argentina have got nothing but they do get a free kick in the 120th minute.  After a long wait, Messi launches the free kick miles over the bar.  It was the first time I’d noticed him for about an hour.

After the final whistle we had the interminable wait for the presentation.  First up was Manuel Neuer to collect the award for best keeper, then it was player of the tournament time and up went Muller, no Schweinsteiger, no Lahm, no Robben, no James Rodriguez…. MESSI – fuck off.  OK, he was decent in the group stages when they had an easy group but nothing since.  Is that award sponsored by his mum or something?  Ridiculous.

Anyway, up went the German team and then the party started.  With an average age of about 24, it’s quite scary for the future.

And so it came to pass that 32 teams turned up to play in the World Cup and the best team won and they totally deserved it.  They had an injury in the warm-up, an injury to his replacement, a change of tactics, some more substitutions and they still won.  The first European team to win the World Cup in South America – and beating  Brazil and Argentina on the way.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  The big sides who they beat on their way to lifting the World Cup were the South American giants and Portugal, three sides who are more or less, through Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo, one man teams.  The Germans are an 11 man team, 23 man squad.  That’s why they won it and deservedly so.  It felt odd supporting Gremany in a game but there’s so much to admire about them that you can’t help but be impressed…. And Beckham had his kids there in Argentina kits.  Probably some sort of symbolic gesture… a man of your profile should have some awareness ... you complete knob.

Usually I’d use that Beckham link to lead into writing about England here and how we can hope to compete but we’re not worthy of being on the same page as the Germans.  We are light years behind.  In 2000 when both teams got knocked out of the Euros in the group stages, both teams were shit but only one did anything about it – they reviewed, came up with a plan, the Bundesliga bought into it and 14 years later they win the World Cup.  We got Sven and basically did nothing whilst allowing the Premier League and Sky to dictate everything.  The truth hurts but at the end of the day, it’s the truth.  The Germans are travelling home with the World Cup and we are still shit.

Next up is the Euros in 2016 in FranceSpain & Italy will come again, Netherlands will be there or there abouts, Belgium will be a dark horses and England will be nowhere.  Germany will take some stopping.


Mario Gotze had a good day.



Friday, July 11, 2014

World Cup 2014 Part 11 - If Carlsberg did Opposition Centre Backs...


Scolari had 7 in the Sweepstake

8/7/14

Semi Finals

Brazil 1 Germany 7 (SEVEN)
All anyone was focussing on was how Brazil would replace Neymar and they all wore ‘Forca Neymar’ caps which made them look stupid.  A ‘Forca Thiago’ cap would have been a much better investment as the main man in the defence was always going to be more missed against the Germans.  David Luiz even held up Neymar’s shirt for the national anthem.  Knob.  I rarely listen to the TV pundits but Alan Hansen said before the game that Luiz “doesn’t have an ounce of communication in him”, clearly implying that he defence would be a shambles without their leader.  How right he was.  You also wondered where Brazil were going to find a goal from without Neymar and relying on Hulk and Fred or “Can’t Shoot” and “Won’t Move” as they should be known.

After 10 fairly even minutes, Germany won a corner and swung it into the box.  Germany’s best player Thomas Muller was totally unmarked about 8 yards out, right in the middle of the goal and just cushioned a volley into the net.  David Luiz was supposed to be marking him but was nowhere to be seen.  I went to the pub at this point and was at the bar, just as Klose had a free shot from 10 yards which Cesar parried out and then another free shot which he rolled into the net. 2-0 and the camera pans to aghast looking Brazilian people in the crowd.

By the time I’d finished getting served and sat down, it was 4-0.  At 2-0, what you should do is say “we’re going to get to half time at 2-0 down, chat from the manager and come out firing, get an early goal back and who knows”.  You’re still in the game at 2-0 but you’re not if you do what Brazil did next.  Marcelo went wandering off up the wing and no defensive cover was forthcoming from the pathetic Bernard.  Lahm’s cross was missed by Fernandinho and Kroos steamed in and smashed it past Cesar for 3-0.  Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse / funnier / humiliating / shocking – Brazil kicked off, passed it back through Luiz to Dante who fed it into Fernandinho who lost the ball to Khedira, Khedira to Kroos, Kroos to Khedira and back again, sidefoot, 4-0.  I can’t remember ever seeing something more ridiculous on a football pitch anywhere, let alone from the home team in a World Cup Semi Final.  What you need now if for your main central defender and captain to turn his back on a 50/50 challenge like a complete fucking pussy and allow Khedira to win it, play a 1-2 with Ozil and pass another on into the net for 5-0.  Half time... what the fuck.  Luiz is great with the snidey elbow in the face on the blindside of the ref but when it comes to actually doing his job and making a tackle in plain sight – forget it.

All Scolari could do was damage limitation and maybe take some of his shit players off so that meant the end of Hulk and Fernandinho for Ramires and Paulinho respectively.  Go and score 6 lads...  The second half was a bit half paced as Germany just passed it around.  No one was going to risk getting booked or copping a bad tackle so it was all a bit stand-offish until Germany brought on Schurrle for Klose.  Schurrle obviously wants to play in the final and with 10 minutes of coming on he got himself on the end of another right wing move around Marcelo and put it past Cesar for 6-0.  7 up wasn’t long in coming and this was possibly the best goal of the lot in terms of the finish as Schurrle crashed it first time, off the underside of the bar from the near post

It should have been 8-0 as Ozil was clean through with just Cesar to beat but he rolled it wide and he was made to pay, sort of, as Brazil went straight up the other end and Oscar got to blast one past Neuer from point blank range to make it 7-1. 

Make no mistake, Germany were excellent and back to their ruthlessly efficient best but Brazil were fucking terrible.  It was like watching the worst school kids team when their manager is just yelling at them for being shit.  There was no plan and no discipline and it was basically just a fucking shambles which has to go down to Scolari.  David Luiz proved Alan Hansen correct with quite possibly the worst captains’ performance ever.  I guess as a captain you can lead by word or deed or preferably both but leading by ‘none of the above’ really isn’t going to cut it in a World Cup Semi Final when your team is struggling.  Lots of tears all round from all the players but to be honest, 7-1 flattered BrazilGermany eased off in the second half and regardless of this, Ozil missing a sitter was all that stopped it being 8-0 anyway.  The biggest shame was the way that Brazil played in the tournament as a whole.  Too many piss-poor players – how does Bernard and Hulk get picked ahead of Coutinho -  and their strong arm tactics combined with Refereenho mean that not many tears will have been shed outside of Brazil itself.  They’ve managed to go from the team everybody love to the opposite.

Netherlands 0 Argentina 0 (Argentina win 4-2 on penalties)
It was always gong to be a case of after the Lord Mayor’s show and within 5 minutes you could see that this was going to be a tactical battle between two teams who were reluctant to open out and go for it.  Argentina rely solely on Messi doing something whereas the Dutch just want to use Robben’s pace.  I think I fell asleep in the first half.  There were that few incidents of note and one shot from free kick which Messi put straight at Cillessen.  The second half was different in that it was even worse.  Extra time was a little bit better with Robben actually having a shot and Cillessen made a coupe of routine saves but it was always going to go to penalties.  Van Gaal, praised for the keeper substitution in the last round, had made all 3 subs including taking off van Persie who took the first penalty for them in the last round penalty win against Costa Rica

The first penalty is so important and really needs your best penalty taker.  The Dutch sent up Ron Vlaar and the Argies sent up Messi.  Vlaar’s kick was crap and straight down the middle and an easy save for Romero and by the time Romero had pulled off a decent save from Sneijder’s kick and then Aguero scored, it was 3-1 to the Argies and the game was nearly up.  Kuyt scored, Rodriguez scored and game over.  The Netherlands best penalty taker, Huntelaar, never even got to take one.  Maybe van Gaal isn’t so much of a genius after all.  More evidence is in that the Dutch haven’t scored for 240 minutes in open play.   You could see why he put Krul in goal for the penalties in the last round – it turns out that Cillesen has never saved one ever and you could see why as he kind of collapsed in on himself with every penalty.  It turned out later that two Dutch players bottled taking the first kick which is why Vlaar ended up taking one so he can be excused but they should have got Huntelaar on the first one and worried about the 5th if they were still in it.

So – we have Europe against South America in the final and I’ll be hoping Europe win through Germany.  I remember sitting down to watch the final in 1986 when it was these two teams and as it was post-Hand of Bastard, it was an easy decision to make as to who to support…. Not the mention the Falklands thing.  In the 1990 final, Germany had just knocked England out and Klinsmann was at his diving bastard worst and the Argies were a piss-boring team of thugs with a fading Maradona who was public enemy number 1.  In 1990 I wanted both to lose.

What we really need in the 2014 final is an early German goal or else I can see it being another bore-fest as the Germans mark Messi out of the game and Argentina play 9 at the back.  Before that though there is the 3rd place playoff or the ‘Not Give a Shit’ match which will see all the squad players from the Netherlands play against the strongest team Brazil can possibly put out.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

World Cup 2014 Part 10 - Brazilian Hacking Enquiry


David Luiz points out who Brazil kicked the shit out of

4/7/14

Quarter Finals

France 0 Germany 1

 Before this game, my humble opinion was that France were a really good bet to win the World Cup as they don’t have any obvious weaknesses but first they have to get past Ze Germans and with Ze Germans it is psychological as they always reach the semi final.   France have the first half chance as Benzema sidefooted wastefully wide and on 12 minutes he was made to pay as Kroos curled in a free kick and Hummels got up and flicked it in giving Lloris no chance.  You sensed that France would ned a quick response and Neuer had to save well from Valbuena and then comfortably from Benzema who looked like he was having one of those games which makes you wonder why the hell he’s so highly rated.  The second half saw half chances come and go for France without ever really testing Neuer and Germany should have wrapped it up on the break as Ozil got down the let and put in on a plate for Schurrle who passed it straight to the keeper in really piss-poor fashion.   With time running but, Benzema got through again but was too wide and his shot was easily beaten away by Neuer.  The four players screming for a pass in the middle were not impressed.  A poor game, a poor performance from France and a professional job done by ze Germans.  “Professional” means much rolling around and timewasting, by the way.

Brazil 2 Colombia 1
Thin Brazil and you think of the beautiful game.  There has always been a harder edge to their game but now it’s almost tat he exclusion of anything beautiful.  The tactics they emplyed in this game was to basically target James Rodriguez and kick the hell out of him.  Of course, this should be allowed to work because the referee will stamp it out but there’s a new concept in this tournament – it’s called Refereenho who basically allows Brazil to get away with murder.  Paulinho should have been booked after five minutes and Fernandinho after 10.  Off the ball blocks were ignored and Rodriguez in particular spent the first half sitting on the ground wondering what had just hit him.  Brazil went 1-0 up on 8 minutes as Sanchez completely dozed off at the back post and a flick on was easily converted by Thiago Silva.  The kicking continued, not only on Rodriguez but on Cuadrado and still the cards stayed in the pocket, except for when Silva got booked for stopping the keeper rolling it out quickly.  He should have drop kicked him in the chest as that would be allowed.  Colombia offered little up front as it had been kicked out of them. 

The second half started better for Colombia and the old man of the side, Yepes, had the ball in the net only for it to be ruled out for an earlier offside.  Up the park went Brazil and disbelief all around as Rodriguez clipped Paulinho and the yellow card came out.  David Luiz sidefooted an incredible free kick over the wall and in from 35 yards and it was party time.  With nothing now to lose, Colombia piled forward and Bacca was put through only to be hammered by Cesar – penalty and a red card surely.  No, just a yellow – fuck off!!!!  Up steps Rodriguez to score his 6th of the tournament as the lucky Cesar went the wrong way.  The one notable incident before the end was Zuniga steaming into Neymar from behind and with a knee n the back, put Brazil’s only flair player out of the tournament with a fractured vertebra.  Nasty.  Phil Scolari may want to reflect on the fact that you quite often reap what you sow.  He had the balls to complain that Neymar had been hunted down in all their matches and he still decided to appeal Silva’s yellow card on the basis of nothing whatsoever but you know, I’d have done the same if I was him.  Brazil are getting away with murder at this tournament.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but I hope the Germans beat them.



".... and then the complete c**t took me off"

5/7/14

Argentina 1 Belgium 0
Having looked better in the USA game, it was a case of which Belgium turned up today.  On paper they look a better all round side than Argentina but Argentina have the magic man in Messi who is streets ahead of Hazard who is Belgium’s most talented player.  The Argies took the lead on 8 minutes as Messi picked out di Maria and his pass infield was deflected up in the air but in front of Higuain who without breaking stride, lashed it first time past Courtois and into the corner of the net for 1-0.  The sides traded chances without ever looking like adding to the scoreline with Messi putting a free kick over the bar and Mirallas heading a decent chance wide from a Vertonghen cross.  Fellaini was doing his usual in midfield in that he finds it impossible to go near an opposition player without fouling them.  If football had a basketball style disciplinary code whereby you have 5 fouls and then you’re off, then Fellaini woudn’t get past half tie in any game he plays.  Into the second half and Higuain set off on a run from halfway and goes straight for goal, megging Kompany on the way who has bottled it and when presented with just Courtois to beat, Higuain loses composure and hits the bar.  There was little urgency from Belgoim and they only created a couple of chances.  Vertonghen again put in a cross which Fellaini headed over and and when it did eventually get a bit frantic in the last 5 minutes, Lukaku’s pull back was half cleared and Witsel smashed it over the bar from the edge of the penalty area.  In between those two chances, Messi had been put clean through against Courtois but had surprising made a balls of it.  So, 1-0 to Argentina it finished and you can’t help but feel that Belgium flattered to deceive.  Didn’t Januzaj do a lot as well – no, he did sod all.  Overrated perchance. 

Netherlands 0 Costa Rica 0 (Netherlands win 4-2 on pens)
I expect the Dutch were expecting to play Uruguay, Italy, or maybe dear old useless England when the draw was made.  Actually, they were expecting to be knocked out by Spain but here they are playing Costa Rica.  The Costa Rica boys have been superb so far and desperately deserve to be where they are but I had a feeling gong into this that this was one game too far.  The first half though was pretty boring with the best chances falling to the Dutch with Navas pulling off a decent save from van Persie and then being ready to save the rebound from Sneijder.  Sneijder pinged a free kick off the post and with Costa Rica offering so little up front, Van Persie had two great chances in the 2nd half to score what would surely be the winning goal when first he saw navas again block is near post drive and then the contrived to completely miss a superb cross from Sneijder when it looked easier to score than play the airshot that he did.  It certainly wasn’t RVP’s day as Blind gets down the left, crosses low and RVP at back post, shoots and sees it hit Tejeda who is back on the line and deflect up onto the bar and out.  Extra time is more cagey but Costa Rica have a decent shout for a penalty as Vlaar clumsily fouls Bolanos and though he went down like a sack of shit, there was contact there.  Something has happened to Costa Rica at half time and they have their best chance to score as Umana goes on a mazy and ends up with a clear shot at Cilessen which the keeper superbly keeps out.  There is just enough time for the Dutch to have their head int heir hands again as Sneijder curls in a shot from the left of the penalty area which beats Navas and comes back off the bar.  There are 120 minutes up and Van Gaal brings on Tim Krul in place of Cilessen and he hasn’t touched the ball before it goes to penalties. 

As we all saw, Krul went the right way on every penalty and saved the 2nd and 4th and was allowed by the ref to get away with so much gamesmanship that it was all anyone spoke about afterwards.  I wonder if there are any rules as to what happens if the referee red cards a keeper in the shootout?  Unlikely I guess but the Dutch are through to play Argentina.  Many a time I've seen a striker put on in the last minute because he's taken a penalty so why is the substitution such a big deal.  I guess it's a bigger deal for keepers as you live for these moments.  I can't believe Cillesen didn't know it was happening before the game and he'll be back in goal in the semi final.


So, Brazil v Germany and Argentina v Holland.  An all South American Final and you have 2 teams that don’t like each other much – an all European Final and you have 2 teams who don’t like each other much – Voller v Rijkaard 2 perhaps and Dutch banners about Germans nicking their bike.  I’ll stick my neck out and predict an all European final.