Monday, 23 June 2014

WHAT A WORLD CUP BRAZIL 2014

Without a doubt this has been the most exciting World Cup I have ever seen. The sheer number of goals is unbelievable and IN MY VIEW, the defending has been quite good......for the most part. Spain has brought back some semblance of respect to their dynasty with a comprehensive 3 nil victory over Australia. Holland asserted their dominance with a workmanlike performance to defeat Chile 2 nil and finish top of the group. A potential meeting now looms for Chile and Brazil in the round of 16; all things being equal.

This has been a coaches World Cup if you ask me and I use this as my proof. Holland brought on 3 substitutes, and 2 of them scored in their victory over Chile. Although out of contention, Del Bosque started 2 of his strikers previously on the bench, they scored, and he brought on Juan Mata and he also scored. Portugal brought on Varela who scored with 15 seconds to go in the match for a 2 all draw with the USA. Belgium brought on Origi who scored in the 88th minute for the victory over Russia (1 nil); and there are many other examples. We are seeing the importance of strategy and tactics in all the games played so far, and who have employed the correct strategy have come out on top, or did not lose.

The two teams that have really come to play and have not allowed 'name brand teams' to intimidate them have been Costa Rica and Chile. Nothing is clear cut anymore as the teams that have put themselves in a position to go through have all looked good in this first round. My disappointment has been with Bosnia, as I thought this team showed good promise coming in to this tournament, they sit comfortably at the bottom of their group after losses to Argentina and Nigeria.

There is one team that has showed real quality as now the top contender to win this World Cup and that is Holland, and the results have shown that; or maybe they will choke on another bone. Germany, Brazil, and Argentina have kinks to work out and Columbia, Costa Rica and Chile need to be given a look in. The teams that make it to the round of 16 will all be deserving of their place, as the quality of football has been very good.

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Sunday, 15 June 2014

WC 2014 AFTER 8 GAMES

After 8 games, WC 2014 is looking as exciting as ever. There has only been one surprising result IN MY VIEW; Costa Rica beating Uruguay 3 goals to 1. Holland beating Spain was not surprising, the scoreline was surprising.

The games so far have brought the coaches strategies and tactics centre stage. When teams lose you blame the coach, there is a lot of merit to that statement from what I have seen thus far and I have seen no unbeatable team.

BRAZIL v CROATIA
European teams have fairly good results against Brazil. They play a physical game and man to man mark, Croatia didn't do enough of that to nullify the marauding Brazilians, hence the scoreline.

MEXICO v CAMEROON
The Africans play open indisciplined football for the most part, which prevents them reaching far in major international competitions often. Mexico seemed a much more organized and improved team since their qualification campaign. Cameroon need more imagination upfront and not be too dependent on Samuel Eto.

SPAIN v HOLLAND
Spain seems to have forgotten what they did to beat Holland in WC 2010, and Holland did what they should have done WC 2010. Isolate the Spanish backline for numerous one on ones with Van Perse and Robben; Pique and Ramos as was clearly seen could not contain them. This loss for Spain sits squarely with del Bosque; I don't think I have seen this great coach get something so wrong before now.

The CHILE and COLUMBIA games went as scripted, AUSTRALIA and GREECE don't have the manpower to challenge these teams, although GREECE should have done better. I saw where if they got to the by-line and cut the crosses back to the edge of the 18 yard box, they could create many chances. I saw them do it a couple times and it pried open the Columbia defence; they failed to convert.

Did not see the URUGUAY v COSTA RICA game, but being from the CONCACAF region myself, I am happy with the Costa Rican victory.

ITALY v ENGLAND
I expect England to lose their 3 matches, and this expectation was before the WC started. Pirlo is the maestro for Italy and allowing this 35 year old not-so-mobile player to dictate the game is madness on the part of England. Italy deserve to win.

IVORY COAST v JAPAN
This game more than any showed the impact a coach has on the game. Drogba is nowhere near fit, but Lamouchie took a calculated risk to bring on Drogba and it lifted the Ivory Coast to victory. JAPAN when leading 1 nil were giving up possession too often and too easily.

I foresee more surprise results on the horizon, and the issues and problems that dogged the FIFA administration and the country that is Brazil seem to be dissipating rapidly.

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Friday, 13 June 2014

DISECTING THE SPANISH HUMILIATION

The win for Holland over Spain is not surprising, it is humiliating. In previous blogs I have highlighted the chink in the Spanish armour; the diagonal pass behind the centre backs. This was used by Holland in three of the five goals scored. Spain can't seem to handle this pass at all, and Holland did this in the last World Cup 2010 but never converted; no such luck for Spain this time around.

It is now evident why Ikar Casillas is not seeing much playing time at Real Madrid this season. This is sheer lack of confidence by the seasoned custodian. The third goal was scored due to Casillas lack of command in his own six-yard box. Instead of going to collect confidently he went up timidly to swat away, bouncing and falling when the Holland defender went up for the header, Stephan de Vrij made no mistake with the rebound on the far post. The four goal was carelessness on the part of Casillas, no review necessary on this one.

Failure to convert also weighed on the Spanish team. Being one up and with a glorious chance to go two up, instead of driving hard and low to the far post, David Silva opted to lob Cillessen in goal for Holland, who managed to get a finger on it and the ball went wide of target.

Holland looked crisp and sharp, fit and ready, which in turn seemed to put Spain totally off their game. Ramos and Pique don't work well as the centre backs. Pique will always be susceptible to speed and dribbling, del Bosque has to address this quickly.

Robben and Van Perse were ruthless, and if they are to shrug off the 'choker' moniker that has dogged the Netherlands from the 1970's, they need to do more of this.

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All the commentary posted in this publication are my personal view(s) and do not reflect the view(s) of any Association, Federation or Governing Body.