Wednesday, 30 June 2010

World Cup Observations - Part 4: The last 16

Uruguay's diminutive striker Luis Suarez was the match winner against South Korea and all of a sudden all and sundry are (rightly) lauding him for his frighteningly prolific goal-scoring record for both club and country. So much so, if he is still banging them in for Ajax next season having failed to secure a money-spinning move from Amsterdam to one of Europe's bigger leagues then I, amongst others, will be very surprised.

Ok, so a great record goal scoring record in the Dutch league isn't necessarily a precursor for an illustrious career. If Suarez ends up in the Premier League, he (and the club that sign him of course) would be hoping he is closer to a Ruud van Nistelrooy than a Mateja Kezman/Alfonso Alves.


With all the diving, cheating and play-acting we've been unfortunate to witness from our gravitationally challenged heroes throughout this competition, it was refreshing to see Ghana's Asamoah Gyan demonstrate the importance of not going down under the slightest bit of physical contact as he powered his way to scoring his side's winning goal.

It's sad to think that the vast majority of players in this tournament would have thrown themselves to the ground, rolled around, and gestured for a card following Carlos Bocanegra's challenge. Not Gyan though. And he got his reward.

As a result, the Black Stars edged out Uncle Sam's good ol' US of A, bringing misery to their biggest fan, one Bill Clinton.

Hasn't felt this down since he last heard the name 'Lewinsky'?


USA's Landon Donovan performed well enough against Ghana and throughout the tournament to suggest that his cameo for Everton last season (ignoring his horrific miss against Spurs of course) may not be the last time we see him in European football. He can put his unhappy spell in Germany behind him now, I reckon.


Speaking of Germany, you'd think that having the iconic name 'Müller' and being thrust into the heart of the national team would be far too much pressure for a relatively inexperienced 20-year old to handle.

Well, you'd think so anyway. You certainly wouldn't expect said youngster to show up in a World Cup last 16 game against England and be the best player on the pitch!

This game was supposedly billed as men against boys but it was Germany's 'boys', Müller, Ozil, Schweinsteiger, and Podolski who taught our 'men' a lesson.


They'll have their work cut out against a rampant Argentina though. Who said Maradona didn't have a clue about management? Although with all that talent up front, my mum could probably achieve what he has so far and she's an awful football manager (one would imagine).


But of course, World War 3 (sponsored by The Sun) may have turned out differently. How about that video technology then?

In light of recent high profile controversies it looks like Blatter the Hut has U-turned faster than a Liberal Democrat and suggested that FIFA will now look at the possibility of bringing video technology into football. While this would be a good thing if he actually pushes it through, I have to say I was less than impressed with his public apologies almost implying that the Mexico and England injustices were special cases. Surely he should be apologising for every wrong decision made by officials over the last couple of weeks? Don't the Ivory Coast, Chile and the USA (twice!) deserve apologies too?


On the evidence of his brief but impressive appearances in South Africa and his form in the second half of the season to propel Bayern to Bundesliga glory and the Champions League final, where does Arjen Robben currently rank on the list of the best players in the world and perhaps more importantly, how good would he be if he wasn't so unfortunate with injuries?

Another functional but effective performance from Bert van Marwijk's side saw Robin van Persie throw a hissy fit when substituted. It wouldn't be an international football tournament without some bickering in the Dutch camp. They'll be hoping to get over any spats and pray that Robben is fit for their impending quarter final against eventual winners Brazil.


Having slated Ronaldo and Rooney's performances in this tournament and their failure to justify the praise they get as being the 'best in the world', I don't think Fernando Torres can get away without criticism. One of the Premier League's most lethal strikers has looked about potent as a agoraphobic widowed 78 year old who has lost his viagra prescription and doesn't know how to work the internet.

Long-winded and tedious metaphors aside, 'Nando' has no goals, no assists and not even shown any encouraging signs with his performances so far. Spain's Euro 2008 final match winner has been playing like he's never even seen a football before and with some of the awful touches he's displayed thus far, you'd be forgiven for thinking he had hexagon shaped feet... made of clay!

With the tournament entering it's final stages, if the Spaniards are to repeat the success of two years ago then they will surely need Torres to find himself some kind of return to form.


And finally, as someone who smashed a decisive penalty against the crossbar in a shootout for my Saturday team last season (we lost), I have nothing but sympathy for Japan's Yuichi Komano.

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