Old Futbol Buffet–On to the HEX

Due to work, I could only watch the second half of two games from Europe.

Croatia 2  Wales 0

I tuned in to the match as they showed highlights of the first half.  Comical goal for Croatia as a poor back from a Welsh defender put the GK under pressure.  His clearance hit off Mandzukic and he rolled it in for the opener.  Memories of Paul Robinson from years ago.

In the second half Croatia was all over Wales.  Lewis Price did all he could but eventually Eduardo knocked in the second after the visitors couldn’t clear the ball.  The Welsh tried to get back into the match, with Bale going on several “lung bursting” runs, but no dice.

Spain 1  France 1

The second half started with Spain knocking the ball around, looking dangerous and searching for the killer second goal.  A missed PK by Fabregas in the first half allowed the French to stay close and eventually they turned everything around, with Benzema and Ribery leading the attack the rest of the team completely shutting down the Spanish.  Torres looked awful.

As they tried to close out the game, Cazorla lost it in the corner.  A loose pass from Les Bleus in transition gave the Spanish the ball, but Juanfran (on for the injured Arbeloa) got a little too fancy, lost the ball, and Ribery drove at the goal and crossed in for Giroud who directed the ball into the back of the net.

Graham Hunter still thinks La Furia Roja will win the group but the match revealed some of the weakness of the team’s personnel and tactics.  Everything to play for in March.

Couple of other notes from Europe . . .

As I was trying to stay on top of everything, twitter was buzzing as Sweden came back from 4-0 to tie Germany. Ze Germans were cruising after an hour and then the fireworks.  Christoph at An Old International enjoyed the first two thirds of the match as Germany’s dynamic produced startling results.  But what happened after that?  He points to the defensive frailties that have plagued the team for the last couple of years, using matches against Ukraine, Switzerland and France as reference points.  Plus there was the Italy game last summer, where the Azzurri were organized in defense and clinical in attack.  Germany are still one of the top teams for 2014 but can this generation win before the window closes?

Nathan Motz’s summary of the Portugal v Northern Ireland game (1-1) for Portugoal.net generated a voluminous comment thread with fans throwing out excuses and optimism and player suggestions.  A common theme is to add Danny to the mix as a means of unlocking opposing defenses.  Have to say they need something.  Right now the Portuguese are just not scoring enough and I worry that another slip up may let Israel in to the playoff position.

Moving on to South America . . .

Tim Vickery summed up where things stand in South America qualifying for ESPN FC.  Basically Messi is coming into his own; Uruguay is slipping while Ecuador is rising; Venezuela have a chance at making their first World Cup; and all nations are still in with a shout. Have to disagree on that last one.

——

USMNT 3  Guatemala 1

I wasn’t expecting much for this match as both teams only needed a draw to advance.  But then Ruiz scored five minutes in for Guatemala and the blue match paper was well and truly lit.  The US took hold of the game and battered the visitors into submission with three goals before half time.  Johnson and Zusi switched flanks, Bradley was all over the place and the team had an edge to it.  Only have a couple of concerns.  Feel that Williams is just a touch too slow in his decision making.  Could cost them against better opposition.  Bocanegra was restored to the middle and while he did a decent job throughout the match, his lack of pace was exposed on the opener.

The second half was more of what I expected, as the tempo really came to a crawl.  Once I determined that there wasn’t going to be much action, I chatted it up with some of my fellow soccer Mid Michigan United supporters that came out.

Introducing a new blog segment, What We Learned.

  • Shawna has interesting views on our Caribbean neighbors.
  • She really wants everyone to try hot yoga.
  • She doesn’t think Chelsea is the same without Drogba.

 

  • As for Josanna, she is Bohemian.
  • She can work while watching soccer.  Something I fail to do no matter how hard I try.
  • She is playing real soccer this session at Soccer Zone as opposed to the fake soccer she played last session when I was on her team.

Paolo Bandini recapped the game for the Guardian from a deafening Livestrong Park.  He commented on Klinsmann’s first 14 months in charge, noting there is much to be done but having Bradley back in the squad is a big boost.

Grant Wahl focused on Eddie Johnson’s return the National Team for SI.com.  A surprising choice at the outset, the current Seattle Sounder played every minute and had two goals, none more important than the last minute winner in Antigua on Friday night.  Played more of a left mid, he gives depth to the team and will also push the projected starters—Donovan and Shea.

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  1. Keep the “What We Learned” segments coming. Pretty soon you and TK will corner the market on “Information for life.”

    • will do. i kinda wanted to do Springer’s final thoughts but couldn’t quite pull it off.

    • and thanks for the instant read and reply. as jim rome would say, react to me!!

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