“The World Cup is like WW II . France leaves early, the Italians are a nonentity, the Americans arrive late and England has to fight Germany.” ( An entry on Facebook ).
Very astute . ( LOL). Who would have thought that soccer powers like France and Italy would not make it to the second round while Germany and England barely squeaked through.The teams in the round of 16 break down as follows : Europe (6) , South America (5) North America (2) , Asia (2) and Africa (1). By the luck of the draw, all the European teams will be pairing of against one another. It looks as though the trend of European teams never having won the World Cup when it has been played outside of Europe will be true this time around too.
Of the results so far, the most shocking has to be the complete implosion of the French team . Many fans are saying that it is the bad karma forom their World Cup qualifying match against Ireland when Thierry Henry’s hand ball enabled France to slip through but not even they would have imagined that things could go so wrong for the French.While I’m no supporter of the French , it has been painful to watch the shenanigans on and off the field culminating in the refusal of the French coach to shake hands with the South African coach after a loss in their final game. Domecq seems to be a fruitcake but this was an absolute low even for him. His beef was with his own players , not with the host South Africans , and his action was disgraceful. Good riddance to him and to the players ; I can’t imagine that they will ever play for France again.
Some observers have remarked that the decline of the European teams is due to the current structure of professional soccer. Lots of money, many foreign players and fewer opportunities for young players to develop. The enormous amounts of money that players earn playing club soccer , often for countries other than their own , has vitiated national pride. Playing for one’s country is not the honor it once was and is less important than how one performs for one’s club. Just as in cricket, it has resulted in a bunch of spoiled athletes whose primary motivation is money. Good riddance to them.
The USA- Ghana match is this afternoon and I , like an increasing number of Americans, will be glued to the set.I hope the U.S doesn’t dig an early hole for itself as it has done in past matches. In the knockout stage, it is much more difficult to come back from an early deficit as they did against England and Slovakia. It would be nice also if they didn’t wait until stoppage time to score the decisive goal. Landon Donovan’s 91st minute goal was thrilling but it was nerve wracking. Please , Team USA, have pity on us !
Not to look past Ghana, but a win today and the U.S would have a good chance of of making the semis. What a boost it would be for soccer in America. Perhaps then it would shut up the ignorant trolls who infest soccer sites, yapping that soccer is not” real ” football.
The Germany- England game will also be of great interest to many fans , myself included. Germany looked awesome in their first game game ( yes, I know it was only against Australia ) and I hope they regain that form . England have looked lackluster throughout and they will have to show more than have to date if they are to get past Germany. It was fun to read on Yahoo about the ( English born ) octopus in a German aquarium that has correctly ” predicted ” the results so far. For tomorrow’s match , it has picked Germany over England. Let’s see if it comes that comes true.
Of the rest , the Spain- Portugal and the Argentina – Mexico matches will be of most interest to me. I’m glad that yesterday’s matches resulted in Spain going through to meet Portugal rather than Brazil. These two , along with Argentina, are the most artistic teams in the tournament and it would be a shame if they had to meet early in the tournament. May the best team win !!