World Cup Analysis

Who Doesn’t Love the Socceroos?

I absolutely love how Tim Cahill appeared to be the most feared aerial striker on the planet. He is 5 foot 10 inches and 34 years of age. Still, each Socceroo cross that came about, I thought for sure he would win the header. Most of the time, he did. Why are Australians so loveable? If you haven’t heard Cahill talk before, he is quite a great human. He seems to be an honest, hard-working, humble guy. I believe he interviewed with the Men In Blazers at one point. Either way, Australia will fight to the end in this group stage… but sadly, they will likely end up going home without a point. Honestly, without Cahill’s goal to change the game, it looked like this match would get out of control. As someone who generally hopes for a good match-up, I was scared after the first 25 minutes. After Cahill’s goal, the Aussies played inspiring football. They had a few chances to tie the game up. However, I was glad to see Beausejour as the man to put the match away for the Chileans. He gave the Chile side a spark late and masterfully struck his goal. Plus, how can you not root for a man who immediately turns around shocked, breaking out into tears basically, after scoring a World Cup goal. That’s what this whole blog is about. Image

 

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World Cup Analysis

Not Your Average CONCACAF Mexico Squad

Remember when this Mexico team was in a crisis? They couldn’t find the back of the net against the dreadful CONCACAF, shuffled three coaches, benched their biggest celebrity (Chicharito), and lost to a Costa Rican team with nothing on the line to probably miss the World Cup for the first time in seven cups. According to one source, World Cup qualification boosts the Mexican economy by around 600 million dollars. Luckily for their economy and obsessive fans, the USA bailed them out. The already qualified USA scored two late, needless goals against a desperate Panama squad to keep Mexico alive. Of course, El Tri went on to beat up a weak New Zealand team to sneak into the World Cup.

One game changes the whole narrative. Where did this confidence come from? Other than a ten minute stretch midway through the first half, it was complete domination. Cameroon looked like a team built around a past-their-prime star. Eto’o is not what he used to be and they didn’t have a back up plan. More disappointing than Eto’o, was the lack of interest or heart this squad displayed. These two teams were on different levels today. I can’t really explain it other than the new Mexican coach, Miguel Herrera. Unfortunately, I suffered through a few Mexico CONCACAF qualifying matches. El Tri hasn’t displayed this much confidence and flair with their football in a long, long time. Everytime I hear Herrera speak, he seems confident to the point of borderline crazy. However, I think it’s exactly what this Mexican team needed.

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World Cup Analysis

Brazil With a Convincing Win?

For much of the game, it appeared as though the Croatians had the perfect game plan. For a team technically gifted as Brazil, it can be frustrating when the opposing team puts 10 men behind the ball. Open space allows the Selecao to express their beautiful brand of football. With a crowd starved 60 years of hosting a World Cup, it was important for the Croats to bunker down and survive the first 15 minutes. They did more than that. Croatia looked incredibly dangerous on the counter attack and perhaps should have been up a goal even before Marcelo knocked the ball into his own net in the 11th minute.

Being down a goal at home with a raucous crowd can be an anxious time. If this 1 – nil lead bled into the second half, the anxiety of the crowd would have multiplied with each passing minute. As a neutral fan, I was pretty excited to see this sort of drama on day one of the Cup. However, the Messiah of the Selecao quelled all fear. You could talk me into Neymar’s first goal being a masterfully aimed strike or a goalie being caught on the wrong foot. It doesn’t matter. The insane pressure on Brazil is lifted. You knew Brazil would get a second goal eventually.

For me, I struggle with Americans who say they hate flopping in “soccer”. When you have 90 minutes that mean so much to your career and your country in this tournament, it makes sense to be very focused on winning. Winning in a football match only takes a goal or two most of the time. A penalty kick provides a goal about 80% of the time. If you are in that penalty box and a player grabs or kicks you, how is it not your natural reaction to go down and draw that foul? Not very different from LeBron or Kobe yelling every single time they drive the lane just to get two free throws on an errant shot attempt.

Because I get to see the replay in slow motion, I would say Fred’s penalty should not have been called. However, that is the risk you take anytime you grab someone in the box as a defender. The call didn’t bother me, but again, I am a neutral fan in this game. The final score line of 3-1 was slightly harsh on the Croatians. Neymar having two goals on his resume is also slightly misleading, as he could have had both shots saved. Again, it does not matter. The headlines will read that Neymar led Brazil to a convincing win with his double. The home favorites are not the best team in the tournament, but they have confidence and a crowd.

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