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Arlequino
(cracked actor)
10/14/05 07:07 PM
Re: The Final Three new [re: EJSunday]  

Spain v. Slovakia
It'd be foolish to bet against Spain. Really, it would. But then it would've been foolish to bet against them winning their group. Despite having said that, though, I expect the Spanish to qualify. It might not be easy, and I can see Slovakia getting at least a draw at home, but the Spaniards' class ought to be enough to see them through. First Leg:2-1, Second Leg:1-1.

Switzerland - Turkey
Well. Turkey were great a few years ago. Now they just barely qualify as good. Their own 'golden generation' has passed, and they're left with a few great talents and a bit of dross. Switzerland, on the other hand, really aren't that good either. I can see the Turks winning out on this one, but I'd bet my own grandmother that they don't do it with style. 0-1, 1-0

Norway - Czech Republic
It still seems to me that the Czechs ought to have had enough about them to go through from their group. Unfortunately for them, the Dutch simply proved too disciplined, too clinical (and isn't that a shock?) and too talented. They have lost some huge talents, but there are still some great players in the mix. And they seem to have the ability to get results when it matters. The Norweigans, despite being a good, tight unit simply aren't exceptional enough. And across two games, that the Czechs will realise they can't afford to lose, I don't see Norway being strong enough. 1-2, 3-1

As to the English debate: well...England qualified. That's all. There was no great style to it, no great flair. No sound victories to resonate through football's hierarchy and no genuine signs that here is a real contendor for 2006. And yet, and yet, the display against Poland was a good one. Rooney - finally remembering how to play football - looked devastating. Owen appeared sharp, Wright-Phillips looked menacing and Lampard began to pick up club form in a national shirt. King proved himself as a genuine option that may, finally and thankfully, remove the prospect of Owen "That Twat" Hargreaves playing for England again. And, lest we forget, this was a good performance against a good side. Moreover, it was one achieved with England lacking four - or arguably five - of their starting lineup.

There's still a massive question mark over whether Gerrard can dovetail with Lampard, and my own view would be to replace Lampard with King, leaving Gerrard to play the same sort of role he does for Liverpool. Yet clearly these are the two most talented English central-midfielders, and Gerrard's performance in the holding role against Austria was cause for some optimism. In case we should forget, Gerrard's greatest showing in and England shirt came in that same holding position, partnering Paul Scholes in a certain match in Munich. Queries could also be directed at England's apparent reliance on Rooney to open up teams, yet he's not failed to shine when it's really mattered. Perhaps more importantly, England shined before Rooney. There is creativity in the national side even without his own sparkling talent. It's just so much more deadly when he's there.

Even Sven's lack of a 'Plan-B' appears to be resolving itself with the emergence of Peter Crouch, combined with the development of lightning-quick wingers who can cross the ball, including Wright-Phillips, Middlesbrough's Stewart Downing, Charlton's Jerome Thomas and even Birmingham's Jermaine Pennant. If even one of these players makes it into the final 23 for next summer, it represents another option from the bench, and a real way of turning a game.

Sure - question England. Recent performances deserve some form of examination. But don't write them off. These players are the match of almost all the teams that are going to Germany next year - if they do go and do well, don't say you weren't warned!

later,
Chris...

Edit - Edited thanks to some Jamie-esque grammar



I could stay if you asked me,
So for God's sake don't ask me to stay



Strawman
(acolyte)
11/14/05 08:06 AM
Argentina 2 England 3 new [re: EJSunday]  

Hey, the silence on the anglophobe front is killin' me!

Albeit a friendly, if there is such a thing betwixt the two countries, that was a cracking game of football and the best international match I've seen for many a year.

England really look like they're struggling to get their act together, don't they EJ?

minge

Dara
(acolyte)
11/14/05 08:25 AM
Re: Argentina 2 England 3 new [re: Strawman]  

The silence was because we assumed you'd be too busy celebrating winning the World Cup.

Slan leat,

Dara

"Ireland is a great country to go to if you think you're drinking too much. Because it turns out you're not even close"

EJ
(byroad singer)
11/14/05 08:32 AM
Re: Argentina 2 England 3 new [re: Strawman]  

As far as I take it from the newspapers England were down unitl just before the end. And apparently Argentina should have got a penalty when instead England started the counter attack and scored the winner in extra time. If it had been the other way round I am sure we'd already be witnessing a new invasion of the Falklands by the British.

And don't forget: You have to win those games when it matters. The English so happily recall their 5:1 over Germany in Munich in the qualifying for the WC 2002 on a permanent basis - and always forget how little it mattered in the end: When Germany met Brazil in the final in Asia a few months later England had long gone home.

I am actually more impressed by Italy's win in Holland against the Dutch. Van Basten's boys had a convincing run of unbeaten games until then and though Italy ruled their qualification group I wasn't quite sure about where they really stand. But now it seems as if they are indeed Europe's leading force at the moment.

Assuming that the Czechs, Spain and Switzerland will go through I would rank Europe's teams going to WC 2006 like this:

1 Italy
2 Netherlands
3 Portugal
4 England
5 Spain
6 France
7 Serbia & Montenegro
8 Czech Republic
9 Germany
10 Sweden
11 Croatia
12 Ukraine
13 Poland
14 Switzerland

And I want to believe that a light's shining through somehow


Arlequino
(cracked actor)
11/14/05 10:09 AM
Re: Argentina 2 England 3 new [re: EJ]  

Hmm...

It's not something to get ridiculously excited about - it was only a friendly, after all - but it was a hell of a victory. And, far from being "down until just before the end", England and Argentina were matching one another almost blow-for-blow until the very end. Of course, Riquelme was ridiculously good - there goes my "King - a genuine option!" idea - but then, so was Rooney. Indeed, that was probably his best match in an England shirt, and as much as Riquelme pulled apart the England structure and tormented the backline, Rooney was his absolute match. It's not often that the Argentine defence looks scared of anybody running at them, but that's exactly how they seemed when young Wayne had the ball at his feet.

On balance of play, it probably ought to have been a draw. But balance of play doesn't often decide football matches.

My own ranking of the European sides, assuming the playoff results go as EJ states:

1. Netherlands - they may have lost to Italy, but if there's a single team on the continent capable of blowing hot and cold, it's those Italians.
2. Italy - for the reasons above
3. England - they've got the special player in Rooney, the experience in Ferdinand, Cambell, Beckham et al., the defensive leader in Terry and a top 'keeper in Robinson. There is a chance.
4. Spain - Okay, so if there's another team capable of blowing hot and cold, it'd be the Spanish. Torres, Reyes, Morientes, Joaquin and others, though, suggest a seriously terrifying team if they fancy turning up.
5. France - It doesn't seem quite right to rate them these days, but the French really ought to be right up there. A newly returned Zidane with players such as Vieira, Giuly, Trezeguet, Anelka, Cisse and Henry? Why shouldn't they do well?
6. Portugal - Just don't see it.
7. Sweden
8. Serbia & Montenegro
9. Germany
10. Czech Republic
11. Ukraine
12. Poland
13. Croatia
14. Switzerland

later,
Chris...

I could stay if you asked me,
So for God's sake don't ask me to stay



JamieSim
(electric tomato)
11/14/05 12:02 PM
Re: Argentina 2 England 3 new [re: EJ]  

Germany had an easy route to the world cup finals you know it and I know it.

don't u wish you're post was hot like mine don't ya don't ya (from that crappy pop song)

eraserhead
(stardust savant)
11/14/05 01:48 PM
Predictions new [re: EJ]  

In reply to:

Assuming that the Czechs, Spain and Switzerland will go through I would rank Europe's teams going to WC 2006 like this:

1 Italy
2 Netherlands
3 Portugal
4 England
5 Spain
6 France
7 Serbia & Montenegro
8 Czech Republic
9 Germany
10 Sweden
11 Croatia
12 Ukraine
13 Poland
14 Switzerland


I definitely agree with you about Switzerland. Still can't believe they actually beat Turkey 2-0. Of course, Turkey is probably the strongest home-side in Europe (and one of the weakest away-sides), but Switzerland have a great advantage in knowing they don't have to win in Istanbul. Unfortunately, I think they'll qualify.

I think I'd put Ukraine higher up the list. This will be their first ever World Cup, but they can beat any team, and they're both physically strong and technically talented. Plus, they have the world's second best attacker in Shevchenko.

I think Serbia & Montenegro will dissapoint, and Germany, to be honest, don't have too many quality stars. My impression of Ballack is that he's not as great today as he was three or four years ago. There's still time for him to find his form, of course, but even if he does, he's only one man, and the pressure on him is enormous.

Poland and Croatia won't make anybody happy, except their opponents. I don't think either team will go through from the group stage.

Sweden will go far. How far is hard to say, as these things are often decided by luck and coincidence. Last World Cup, we reached the last 16, then in Portugal two years ago, we reached the last 8, so logic says we'll make it to the semifinals this time. After all, we have Zlatan, the world's number one player, at least in terms of skill and talent. Last season he scored 16 for Juventus, but this season the goals haven't come as easily. He's been unlucky. He's very good for the team though (Juve and the Swedish national team), even when he doesn't score, because there are always two or three defenders following his every footstep, which means lots of room for his forward partner.

The Czech Republic will crush the Norwegians on Wednesday, and probably crush some other countries too next Summer. They're not among my favourites though. I don't like any of their players, not even Nedved, so I hope they don't go too far.

France is hard to figure out at the moment. They didn't look too impressive in the qualification group. They didn't score too many goals on their home turf, which was surprising seeing as they have one of the deadliest attacking duos on paper. I think they'll make an okay impression in Germany. They won't embarrass themselves like they did in 2002, but they won't win the whole thing either, like they did in 1998.

Spain will fail miserably as always.

England will do better than most other countries expect of them, which means they'll qualify from the group stage, and possibly knock out one or two more opponents, but they won't go farther than to the semifinals.

Portugal have no team to speak of anymore.

The Netherlands will do pretty great, I think. They could reach the final, seeing as they have excellent players in all departments. They're solid, and they haven't won anything in a long time.

And, finally, you're spot on about Italy. Not only will they be the best European team. They'll win the the whole thing, if only Lippi plays Luca Toni upfront (13 goals in 11 games so far this season). I know, I say this everytime, and I've always been wrong about Italy so far, but if I keep on repeating myself, I gotta be right sooner or later, and I hope sooner rather than later. Seriously, they've developed their style, and they're way more attacking these days, with Lippi in charge. They play 4-3-3 more often than not, and they have Gattuso.







GFried: What aspect of your personallity do you think makes you post at a David Bowie message board?
Dara: For me it's pretty much an interest in David Bowie.


EJ
(byroad singer)
11/15/05 08:35 AM
Brazil 2 Kahn 0 new [re: JamieSim]  

In reply to:

Germany had an easy route to the world cup finals you know it and I know it.


Non of the big guns shot well in Asia, apart from Brazil and Germany - so I wouldn't call it easy to get past teams which finished ahead of your assumed tougher teams.

The only half point I give you is that England were unlucky (well, if they had won their group they would have avoided that) to meet Brazil in the quarter final. But then again England were unable to at least slightly threaten a Brazil side which was a man down for quite some time whereas Germany at least in the first half of the final dominated the game. And they could even have been a goal up if Neuville hadn't just hit the post.

Anyway, surprisingly reaching the final and delivering a decent match there in 2002 was defintely worth receiving 5 from England beforehand. And that many fans in England still cling tightly to that one meaningless successs only goes to show how low England has ranked in the last decades of World and European Cups.

And I want to believe that a light's shining through somehow


EJ
(byroad singer)
06/08/06 01:44 PM
World Cup 2006 - Future Is Now [re: NoGame]  

Okay folks, the whole thing is going to start tomorrow. I am deadly excited and can't wait for the ref to start the game in Munich in about 24 hours.

It's interesting to go through the predictions we have made in this classic thread so far and I hope we will have some more fiery footie talk over the coming weeks. Shall we start a new thread for it?

And if anyone sees NoGame tell him to come back. Every expert is needed.

And by the way, Germany - Costa Rica, 3:0, goals by Klose (2) and Borowski.

And I want to believe that a light's shining through somehow


Arlequino
(cracked actor)
06/08/06 02:04 PM
Re: World Cup 2006 - Future Is Now [re: EJ]  

Heh, now, see, this is the thread I couldn't find.

Damn.

Though I don't profess to be any expert on the current state of German football, and really know nothing about the Costa Ricans - I believe I called them Ghanians in the other thread - I can't see Germany having any real problems. And, as tournament openers tend to be boring or shocking, I reckon it'll be a nice efficient 2-0 to the Germans. Klose and Podolski with the goals.

later,
Chris...

I could stay if you asked me,
So for God's sake don't ask me to stay




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