John Key being all loved up whilst simultaneously getting down to the trancey delights of something like Cosmic Gate was not an image I really needed today. Thanks for that.
While Giovanni was correct to point out Puyol’s lack of pace, it has to be said that he did a superb job in dealing with the threat of Klose. This flaw in Puyol’s game is nothing new, and while having all the speed of an arthritic sloth with a particularly bad hangover is obviously not a good thing at that level, his reading of the game and sound positional sense more than makes up for it. He remains one of the most consistent defenders in the game (and has been for the best part of a decade).
I note Klose’s decent form at the WC has now virtually ruled him out of a cosy semi retirement move to West Ham. Probably not a bad thing as Klose has been rather hit and miss *at club level* for a while now.
modesty achieved (on an annual basis!).
I could live with that. A repeat of the '74 Final. All we'll need is a Muller winner. Saying that, a repeat of the '78 Final is also a mouth watering prospect.
Thanks Giovanni ... now I recall. btw, it may have happened 2 years before the '82 WC but the news didn't get here until after the WC was over.
@ Peter - England won it in '66? I was raised to believe it was the Irons. I'm shattered.
Fair call Giovanni. How the Italians could have done with a Rossi this time around. Why am I thinking there was some controversy relating to Rossi in the wake of that '82 win? Am I imagining that?
(Though the Dutch rather ruined the feelgood with their first sub being the 21 when it should have been the 12. Damn the coach for not playing the game. Anoraks-r-us.)
I'm in the Ghana camp. Right up until they meet Holland in the semi (Brazil who?) ... I then fancy Holland to go on and win the thing overall. If only for the sense of nostalgia I got when looking at the Dutch starting XI for the 2nd round match. Shirt numbers 1-11 without exception - a rarity in these days of squad numbers. A central striker wearing the 9, wide-men 7 and 11 ... ah, great stuff. Then there's the considerable financial windfall involved if that happens (work sweep, sly bet at TAB at the outset of tourney etc). Go you oranjes .. or something.
Just a couple of random thoughts. The first fortnight of any World Cup is bound to throw up unexpected results. The nature of the tournament format dictates that the Big Guns seldom hit the ground running, firing on all six from the get go etc. That’s where teams like NZ have, albeit temporarily, the chance to defy the odds and cause the upsets. The teams harbouring hopes of actually winning the thing tend to be hitting a peak (of sorts) during the second round and beyond. The role of the minnow is to expose weaknesses and prime the opposition for greater challenges ahead.
In terms of Smeltz and other NZ players getting exposure and picking up more prestigious contracts post-WC, that’ll undoubtedly happen but I think we have to be honest and say that only the quickest and most technically proficient will survive the cut and thrust of top flight club football longer-term. The biggest difference (for me) between the likes of the A-League and the Premiership or Serie A is pace. Not only the pace of individual players but speed of thought. The defenders Smeltz (for example) would come up against in the Premiership are unlikely to be as fazed by his poaching ability as your average A-League defender.
I think there was an example in the Italy match yesterday: Leo Bertos is one of the quickest players in the A-League and that caused no end of problems for teams facing the Phoenix last year, yet we saw the big defender Chiellini not only concede a yard but actually turn and match Bertos for speed in a straight 30 metre sprint for the ball at one point. And he consistently defused situations by reading the game so much quicker as well, whereas our back three is far more reliant on scrambling, blocking, limbs-in-the-way type defending.
The ability to play the game at pace is the biggest difference between being world-class and being a talented honest pro imo.
Bugger, I was enjoying Giovanni's informed comments too.
Just a fantastic day for NZ football and NZ sport - and something I never thought I'd see in my lifetime, a draw with the World Champs when it actually counted for something. Personally though, I thought Andrew Dewhurst missed the commentating gift of a lifetime ...
"We matched the best in the world! We are the best in the world! We have drawn 1-1with Italy in football!! It is completely unbelievable! We have drawn with Italy! Italy, birthplace of giants. Leonardo Di Vinci, Luciano Pavarotti, Benito Mussolini (ahem), Don Corleone, Paolo Rossi, and Fabio Cannavaro - we have beaten them all. We have beaten them all. Silvio Berlusconi can you hear me? Silvio Berlusconi your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!”
@ vangam - given the quality of some of the football thus far, some would argue that 5 mins highlights per match is positively generous. But yeah, point taken. Still, at least Mark Sainsbury isn't commentating!