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World Cup Volume 8

Mon Jun 23 - Thu Jun 26

An Irregular Series
NED v CHI for first and ESP v AUS for not-last.

CHI seems to have the best of it thus far, pushing forward with consistency.  Not fully into the attack, but consistently past the half.

Not sure which of these teams is going to go ore all-out in order to win... or if either will.  The permutations of the finishes are too much to consider for a mind like mine.  Who they'll play and all of that.  I'm more interested in that they play and how they play than who they play.

Now NED get a cross into the box... into 5 CHI defenders.

AUS is tackling hard.  ESP seems to have most of the control of it however.  I definitely dislike the black&neon ESP jerseys.  Not only the color, but that lonely star seems  little too big.

NED seems to be packing it in a bit... not sure that their counter will be strong enough without RVP to make use of the space, but it will be interesting to see how it all works out.

That CHI corner was the first on-the-ground not-short corner I've seen thus far.  They did a great job of pulling all the defenders almost into the mouth of the goal before pulling the trigger.

And ESP probably should have finished that shot in the goal from about 8-9yds out!  This could be two games of frustration.

What a well developed attack with a very stylish back-foot finish for ESP.  David Villa will always have a sense of style.

And NED seems to be generating some chances going forward with their counter... but they have not converted yet on either Robben's ability to put the ball back across (AFTER GOING LEFT) or the longer shots that others getting forward have decided to take.
Did ESP just try to counterattack?  What the hell is this world coming to?

CHI's weird non-V-neck on their jerseys is killing me.  It gets more aggravating the more I see it.

Now ESP gets a second with a brilliant assist to a run and finish from Torres.  While it is all over for both of these sides, at least this generation of ESP did not go wholly quietly.  They have certainly left their mark on the future.

Nice corner play design there from NED to get the goal on the cross to a full-on header that the GK had no shot at whatsoever.  Changing the angle like that off of the corner is effective if you can pull it off quickly.  In this case, they did and the CHI defense seemed to be channeling USA in the last 3 seconds of the game yesterday.  They simply were watching the ball rather than marking their players.

That corner hit the NED defender in the arm while he was bear hugging the CHI near-post threat.  Odd.  That seems like it should be a PK.

These fans in the NED v CHI game know that the POR v USA goal happened yesterday, right?  Also, they're at the World Cup.  Where is it that they are trying to get to exactly?

Sometimes Robben plays with time as well as space so well.  He held and faked the hold and knew his teammate was coming, following hard... and #21 finished off the pass from Robben with a difficult one-timer to the back of the net.  What a Cup Robben's having so far.  And yes, he did, of course, go left on this one too.
Looks like I'll be watching just one game this time around.  MEX v CRO.  While I'd love to watch BRA v CMR as well, the place I'm at at the moment has only one TV and that game doesn't really matter.  While it could be entertaining, this bar has Stone Enjoy By IPA 7.4.14.

The CRO side is of an attacking mindset , as is MEX.  NO matter what the potential results are, both teams seem to prefer moving forward, even though CRO has started off a little defensively, they are the team with the first corner.

MEX, however, has created the best yet opportunity off of a free kick near midfield on a very creative and well-scripted run.  While it did not come to fruition, it was worthy.

CRO has looked stronger on attack in general, but MEX is pressing effectively and with pace.  Now a wicked shot bounces off of the top corner of the goal 15 min in.  Best shot yet.  Incredible that it didn't meet the back of the net.

Apparently, CMR has tied BRA, and the Mexican bartender has decided to switch over to that game... which makes no sense at all to me.  Neither from a pure soccer sense nor from a Mexican-roots sense.  Now he's walked away.

This is the worst.

I mean, I love the soccer, but this is not good TV game management.  Maybe he's really an American football fan masquerading as a soccer fan. Like... the whole beauty and glory of soccer is watching the whole damn game.

Back to MEX v CRO.

Now CRO gets away with a handball on a corner... into a counter... and now a coldblooded takedown on the break from a trailing MEX defender gives CRO a free kick about 25 yads out.  To no result.

AAAAAAAnd that's the second blatant handball by CRO near the goal.  Yeah, there's some extra-curriculars going on now btw the two teams b/c that's just cheating, bruh.

I really enjoy how the refs in soccer write down the names of the carded on the yellow and red cards.  Like a permanent strangely colored record.  one day these cards will be unearthed by a human society with no notion of soccer... hilarity ensues.

MEX has been controlling this second half, for the most part.  Possessing and attacking while CRO seems unable to do either.

And MEX scores on a corner! Marquez scores on a contested corner through the GK's hands!  If you watch the replay, note his arm-motion leading to the jump.  Both arms together in front of chest, then swing back low behind hips, then both arms swing up above your head.  Textbook jumping technique.  Hat tip to my high school volleyball coach!

MEX 1, CRO 0.

And now a second MEX goal!!!  El Tri! what a top-shelf finish from distance!  The middle of the box to the back of the net after a nicely developed run from Chicharito!  He, like Robben earlier today, mastered time as well as space in that run.  Feint, hold, read the field, change the angle... pass... GOAL!

MEX 2, CRO 0. 75min gone.

And now Chicharito scores again on a double header!

MEX 3, CRO 0!!  82min gone!

CRO is still fighting and scoring a goal here from a very difficult angle off of some nice development near the penalty box.

MEX 3, CRO 1.  87min gone.


Boy this ITA v URU game is wild.  I do not enjoy the ITA centerback.  I want him to just go away.  Don't go away mad, just go away.

Then this red card!  After Balotelli's yellow!

Now a header of a goal for URU!  ITA is, as always, prepared to play w/ 10, but still... stop being so ready to play with 10!

Did Suarez bite that dude???
Thus far, JPN has had the best of COL in the early going, but their penalty area play has been sorely lacking.  Now, JPN makes a  bad tackle in the box on a COL break and they surrender a corner!!

COL finishes, of course, and now JPN must press for the remainder of the game.  I wonder what sort of interest COL will show in attacking bersus hust sitting back and countering when JPN over-commits.

GRE v CIV is still knotted at 0-0.

These JPN jerseys might be the best of the tourney.    I like the GRE jerseys too ... but I'm a sucker for collars.  However, they're a pretty basic and classic design.  The thing with the JPN jerseys is that there is something wholly different an innovative about them even though they are almost just a basic old-school adidas set... but with the perfect pitch of blue matched to an ideal hue of hot pink.  Somehow they are dignified and exciting all at once.

And GRE misses on a breakaway distance look by hitting the top corner of the goal while JPN misses on a 24-5 yds free kick juuuust wide and low.  Ah!  SO MUCH SOCCER.

Now GRE kicks it straight at the keeper with some heat.  JPN still seems largely in control of the game even though COL is showing no lack of confidence.

Not sure that the decision to start Drogba was the right move... he's the sort of fella that at this point in his career may be better against he tired opponent rather than the fresh.  He is older,r, but still as big and strong and dangerous.  It is the constant press of 90 minutes that wears his legs down a bit.  That was a solid bicycle try from JPN.

uh-oh a turnover in the rear for JPN... but no danger.  And now Drogba is yellow-carded for an aggressive challenge.  Not necessarily bad, but... gotta let everyone know where the line is.

I do, however also like the front of the COL jerseys.  The diagonal lines are something that seem new to me.  If I've sen it before, I don't remember it.

And GRE SCORES!!!!  A turnover in the CIV backfield leads to a killshot from the striker!  There was a way to miss that shot, but he would have had to work harder to find it.

Yep, these JPN jerseys are better every time I get a good look at them.

This JPN fan with his head painted red and poking through a JPN flag on which is written "Never give up" is crazy creative and rather intimidating.

JPN GOAL!   Just like that damn POR goal, this was the last strike of the period.  Incredible finish with the head on that cross.  The ability to finish while running the other way is so so hard to come by.

COL scores just outta half to go up 2-1!! On a nice shot that was helped a bit by glancing off of the bottom of a sliding JPN player's leg!  WOAH!!! I got that WCup Fever and I got it baaaaad.

One of my favorite subplots of this WCup is listening to clueless American "fans" (who I do not begrudge their burgeoning fandom) have the arguments I had with my soccer teammates in like 6th grade.  Sneaky-hilarious to hear folks who are rabidly intelligent about other sports be so unerringly dumb about this one.

Which is why I don't say shit about shit when I watch hockey.

But then again... we Americans are a confident bunch if nothing else.  I also love how the WCup brings out the whole of national character for each country writ large (er... small?) on the great green field.

That JPN Okazaki (he of the header) got his face fucked up by that COL defender.   He's gonna be suffering from Dempsey-nose in a few days, methinks.

And now a card for the COL defender who took out a player for JPN on a pseudo-break.

Another GRE shot off the crossbar!

(The number of folks I've seen in bars over the last few weeks who are not drinking has been bizarre.  Like... Why are you sitting at the bar? There is a restaurant area here too.

Also, "Are you still working on that?" is one of my least favorite things for a server/waitress/waiter/barkeep to say... and they all fucking say it.)

And CIV score to tie with GRE at 1!!!

And a brilliant goal from a well-weighted through pass by COL.  The receiver had enough space to use a nice first-touch change of direction to get a shot off to the far post.  JPN is pretty much done now.  (As I type this JPN produces a just-wide chance.)

COL adds another in the 89th minute.  Just as CRE is prepping a free kick from about 25 yds out... which amounts to a CIV counter which is snuffed out.   Does GRE have enough Off to create a chance in stoppage time??

Well, YES!  A PK!!! in Stoppage time!!

Have there been any missed PKs yet?

This CIV GK believes... but it is not to be!!!   The GRE Pirate Ship has set sail for the elimination rounds!!!!!!!


I did NOT see that coming!!!

3 min gone and Messi has already scored on a rebounded shot off of the post...

And now NGA counters with a great individual goal following a smooth pass to put him in space.  He made it all the way to the far post!

4 min gone!  Reset to a tie!

NGA's crosses and longer passes always stand out to me as more direct than others.  Lower trajectory in general.

And now BIH scores against IRN.  Nice shot from a bit of distance which bounces off of the post and in.  Low, hard.  A skipping, skidding shot that gets there in a hurry and is hard to predict.  A loss would put IRN out.

But IRN nearly equalizes with a shot off of the bottom of the crossbar!

And now a nice long strike from NGA flies over the crossbar.

Now NGA a free kick just outside of the box b/c the ARG defender arm-tackled him by the thigh.  Sub coming on for ARG has a LOT of weirdly spaced tattoos.

If you keep giving Messi these free kicks, he is going to bury... oh.  He buried that one.  Second goal for Messi today.

ARG 2 NGA 1.
Ended up away from those games and staring at the back of my eyelids.  There was a lot of biking yesterday.

Now that i'm watching this ECU v FRA game, both teams are attacking, with FRA looking slightly more coordinated.  And I missed the SUI goal because Watch ESPN kinda sucks.  But I did catch the second SUI goal, which was a situations where one defender got stuck attempting to defend two in space... that's an impossible task.

Never been able to watch watch ESPN without seriously glitchy streaming video.

Looks like it'll be SUI and FRA going on, eh?

HON just doesn't seem up to the task of the World Cup this year.

I'm pretty sure this ECU dude with a mesh condom on his bloodied head is not actually prevented from getting blood all over everyone.  I don't really understand what is happening here.

Caught the second SUI goal, but the first was obscured due to watchespn.  Now that I've seen the replays, the first goal was quite impressive.  Opposite post, upper 90.  Boom.
Now the first goal-scoring opportunity coming out of half is not finished by the FRA player with the fake-ass Zach Morris haircut.

Now a red card for the ECU captain for an unlucky play.  Definitely cardable by the rules, but the actual experience of it was definitely not malicious.  No way things work well for ECU now, right?  10 v 11 for 40+ minutes?  That's an ITA special, not an ECU special.

And just as HON generates a quality opportunity (Which gets saved by a defender filling in for the GK-- the SUI defense is strong) ECU gets a solid look at a 3 v 3 break and fails to get a truly solid shot as the pass forced the ECU player to come back to the ball rather than keep his momentum forward.

I love when players in both football and futbol "shrug off tackles".  Just like when in ultimate a player shrugs off a marking foul or an unwarranted bid.  Absolutely love it.

Often, when I look at the HON jerseys I imagine it is some bizarre alternate Harvard jersey in Yale colors.

That SUI dude on the free kick was calling for something specific from his teammates which he responded to not getting by passing the ball directly to HON.

HON is showing fight.  I like that.

The ECU jerseys are the only ones I like with the fake v-neck.  It is more subdues than the others.  Also a nice use of two-color vertical flank striping.  A lot of the teams out here don't realize that the socks truly make the jerseys.  ECU is not one of them.

The guy with the mesh condom on his head just headed the ball.  That can't be right.

And now a HON player carded for... something.  Mouthing off?

Now SUI scores their third and Shaqira his third.  Off of an very nice assist from Drmic.

Just caught a shot of a muffin-topped sub on the SUI sideline... those jerseys are not made for you, sir.

ECU has proven particularly proficient in the art of slide-tackling FRA shots.

SUI and FRA advance.

The knockout rounds are looking incredibly compelling.  Good teams, different styles of play in the matchups (styles make the fights!) and everything I could've hoped for.

Now we just need USA USA USA to advance... but that's tomorrow.
Well, now it is today. But still, no more on that.

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