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Saturday, June 17, 2006

6/17 World Cup of Coffee

Dignan, I hope I can say this on your blog, but does anybody know the Spanish word for "whupass"? Argentina certainly pulled a can of it out on Serbia & Montenegro yesterday in a startling 6-0 win. One of the all-time great goals of the World Cup was scored and it wasn't just because of the sweet backheel pass and finish. It was the 24 PASSES leading up to it. What a clinic in not giving away the ball cheaply, keeping possession, being unselfish, and utilizing teamwork to score a brilliant goal. Ladies and gentlemen, with all due respect to Ronaldinho and the lads from Brazil, we have an official frontrunner.
Meanwhile the Ivory Coast loses another heartbreaker and are eliminated from second round eligibility. They pass and play with "verve" (as Expat noted), but defensive lapses cost them in a 2-1 loss to the Dutch. Put them in almost any other group and they probably get through.
Mexico and Angola finished in a scoreless draw. I watched the last part of the match and Mexico looks like a pretender, unfortunately. Solid but no indication they could make a deep run. Angola never looked like they might score while Mexico couldn't break through despite more possession. They will now sweat out the second round with Portugal next on the slate.
Now on to Saturday's matches...

PORTUGAL vs. IRAN
The happiest team not playing today might have been Iran, who seemed history after their 3-1 loss to Mexico but must fancy their chances against Angola after Mexico's draw today. But they must get a result out of this match. Even a draw would keep (slim) chances alive. An upset win would put Mexico in jeopardy. But I think Portugal, dissatisfied after their narrow win over Angola, is going to play better today. Big Phil Scolari will have his team ready to show what they can do. I look for several Portugal goals and solid defense. Portugal 2 Iran 0

CZECH REPUBLIC vs. GHANA
Wouldn't it be something if the US and Ghana surprised Italy and the Czech Republic, leading to a tense set of final matches in Group E? Dream on. I think, similar to Argentina and the Netherlands, the big boys will take care of business. Ghana is similar to the Ivory Coast in that if they were in another group, it might have been different. The Czechs have an injury crisis up front with Jan Koller--a cross between Rocky IV's Ivan Drago and Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil--and Milan Baros nursing injuries. Still, I'll go with Czech Republic 2 Ghana 1.

ITALY vs. UNITED STATES
I've tried in my head to figure out a hypothetical situation where we could win this match. Make no mistake, the US needs to win this match. A draw might technically keep us alive, but goal difference after the Czech debacle is not in our favor. There will be lineup changes--probably Eddie Johnson and John O'Brien in and Landon Donovan moved to midfield, but Arena could do anything--and yet I don't see a magic formula to beat an Italy team that ruthlessly defends like traditional Italian teams and yet attacks more than in the recent past. I think the US puts up a better fight than last time but are still no match for the title-contending Italians. Italy 2 United States 0.

DAILY DIGEST
Bruce Arena does damage control in regard to Eddie Johnson's war talk. I think we need to break out the John Lennon in pregame warmups just to lull the Italians back to complacency.

Overrated, overhyped, and over here: A European perspective on American expectations and performance at this World Cup. A more balanced article than the title may lead you to believe. I largely agree. Thoughts?

An American Jew wrestles with the World Cup-induced outpouring of German nationalism in Bonn.

Jamie Trecker writes up America's "other team." It's an interesting discussion about Mexico's place in American soccer culture. One interesting tidbit here: Univision's ratings are 11% higher than ESPN2. My take: it's not just Latinos. It's also us poor souls who don't have cable. Or perhaps those not happy with ESPN's coverage. I just love that Univision refers to Peter Crouch as "Mr. Roboto." I remember watching World Cup 2002 on Univision when they would say "Captain America" whenever Claudio Reyna came on screen.

Finally, David Beckham is a good role model for modern fathers. According to whom? Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Hey I'm all for the Archbishop engaging Becks in conversation. There is this: Beckham, for his part, was once quoted as saying: "I definitely want Brooklyn to be christened, but I don't know into what religion yet." Um...

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