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Monday, June 19, 2006

6/19 World Cup of Coffee

I didn't see Japan-Croatia, but did see the highlight that might spell Croatia's doom: the penalty save by Japanese keeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi. On the flipside, I heard that Japan's Atsushi Yanagisawa had the worst miss of the tournament. By the way, I just pulled those names right out of my head. Had no trouble spelling them, either. Moving on...
Brazil-Australia was entertaining. Brazil looks beatable with a vulnerable back, to be honest. Of course, it would take a brilliant match and some great finishing to do it. Australia played really well and had some chances they just couldn't convert. Brazil's plethora of attacking talent finally relented two goals from the Socceroos. I still like Australia's chances to get through to the second round.
What a frustrating match for Les Bleus. Thierry Henry finally broke the French goal drought, but despite dominating possession they never punched in a clincher (other than the one the ref missed in the first half). My frustration remains: why are Viera, Wiltford, Barthez and (gasp) maybe even Zidane out there? This team desperately lacks the speed and energy their younger talent could bring, but politics and memories of 1998 keep past-their-prime veterans on the pitch. What a wasted opportunity. France is going to need to punch in some goals against Togo and sweat out tiebreakers, most likely. But unless they make changes, they won't last long either way. Now on to tomorrow's less than inspiring matches...

Let's assume that Togo actually plays this match. It's no guarantee (see below). They played better than people thought against the Koreans, but I think the Swiss will be eager to take advantage of the opportunity afforded to them by France's stumble. This is a solid if unspectacular side that defend with discipline and pinch goals. Togo: well, they're still arguing about money. Switzerland 2 Togo 0.

Zzzzzz. Zzzzzz. Saudi Arabia acquitted themselves well against Tunisia--Zzzzz, Zzzzzz--Ukraine were disastrous against Spain. Zzzzzz. Still better than the Saudis. Zzzzzz. Shevchenko better than anyone on pitch by a mile. Zzzzz. Probably end up the match of the tournament. Zzzzz. Ukraine 3 Saudi Arabia 1.

This will be my viewing match of the day. Spain put on a clinic against Ukraine and are runner-up to Argentina for most stylish performance of the tournament. Tunisia is still better than people think despite a disappointing draw against the Saudis. I think they give a battling performance but Spain's quality pulls away in the second half. Spain 3 Tunisia 1.


New Boys Light Up the Stage: Wanna know why Argentina and Spain are lighting up the tournament? They trust youth. Time doesn't wait on anybody, even Zinedine Zidane. Paging Raymond Domenech...

Michael Ballack says Germany do not fear England. Ah, one can only hope things work out for these two old rivals to face off in the next round. Meanwhile England defender John Terry says, "We're not playing well, let's be honest." The English public have their own opinion to offer: the ultimate footballer would be: Gerrardinho!

The Togo controversy over promised player bonuses drags on. The latest twist was the Togo players' threat to boycott today's match against Switzerland. FIFA talked the players out of it. Think about this: it would have been the first ever boycotted World Cup match. Can you imagine? What a shame for the people of Togo to be represented by such an inept footballing federation and bickering team.

As we approach the third set of group matches starting Tuesday, here's your guide to group tiebreakers in determining who qualifies for the second round . Again, Raymond Domenech may want to take a look.

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