Suffering from serious withdrawal symptoms and a big case of procrastination, I hereby bring forth to you guys, my round up on the FIFA World Cup 2006. I haven't wrote much about the world cup proper because I wanted to fully examine the outcome and all the players' performances before giving my take about it. Now would be a good time for me to share my take.
I'll start by talking about the winners.
To be very honest, Italy arrived to the finals in a very dubious manner. It took a fiasco of a match between them and the USA to achieve a point, a very important point though. Then it took a controversial last minute penalty for them to arrive in the quarter finals. The quarter final match against Ukraine was not a very challenging one for them to arrive at the semi finals. The two last minute screamers against Germany were, well, screamers, as I've just said. Even the win against France was not display of their true flair, unless you consider massive diving and shoving and taunting to be of their true flair.
Granted, and to give them credit, their game play worked. They managed to stifle their opponents' creativity and stopped at all costs any goals from entering the post.
Some notable mentions:
He carried away the Lev Yashin award as the best goalkeeper of the tournament and I'd say he deserved it. In all, he only let in two goals not counting the penalty shoot out of the final match, and one was an own goal while the other was an unstoppable penalty. But to deflect credit from him, he's lucky to have a good defence built around him and on the whole a superb team.
He's the flop of the Italian team. When I saw him playing his first match I was actually quite pleasantly surprised. He ditched his long mangle of locks for a short crop which looked very good on him, but that was about all I saw of him. he hardly touched the ball and was hardly even on the field making a contribution. Although he did make one notable contribution of converting the penalty against Australia, but after that he disappeared in the remaining matches again.
I've never heard of him before. Maybe because I'm not very familar with the Serie A and it so happens that all of the Italian players play in the Serie A, a rather unique feat that only Saudi Arabia matched. He was great in the group stages but somehow managed to disappear along with Totti somewhere after that. Or maybe this is just the Italian way of playing, putting more emphasis on the defenders of the team. wahaha~ Anyway, I thought Luca Toni is a very nice sounding name. hehehe~
Runner Up: France
France started out bad, or perhaps bad would be an understatement. They started with two draws, about very bad as they can get. Considering France having their first team made mostly of the 1998 World Cup Champion team, and the same people being the fiasco of 2002, it's quite difficult to exactly say whether France is a strong team. Yes, they were on top of the world in 1998, but the same players became flop of the tournament in 2002 with much criticisms on them saying that they are old and tired and drained of creativity. Enter 2004, when all of them announced their retirement plans after the Euros. I guess they know they are old. But enter 2005 when the coach, after a series of lacksture performances and need a result had to persuade every one of those retired players to come out from retirement. We enter 2006 with 5 retired players all in the first team, and another couple of nearing 30s players.
Against all odds and against all criticisms, the French managed to squeeze their way to the final match. The only so called great matched played by France was against Spain, but I didn't watch that match because I was on a train at that time. I was pretty shocked because Spain is good, and the margin France won was considerably large, but other than that I cannot make any comments because I didn't watch the match.
There are a lot of notable mentions in the French team.
I never really scrutinised him before even though I've watched him play back in those days. But he looked really short in this world cup, I don't know why. He hasn't really had any notable saves even though he didn't conceed a lot of goals.
I'll only mention him because he's a Chelsea player. So far he has had a great tournament, but I don't like his attitude towards Chelsea. He has been saying that he wants to leave but Chelsea doesn't want him to leave, and after a great tournament, Chelsea will want all the good players we can get so that we can finally get that elusive European Champions Cup. Another thing of note, he's currently hogging the number 13 shirt in Chelsea which another player is coveting. I don't know how things will work out, so we'll have to wait and see.
Another great tournament for our Chelsea lad.
He's the only French who's not from the 1998 Champion team who managed to get on the scoresheet. Well, actually the thing about him that caught my attention was not his ball playing skills, but that birthmark on his face. I always thought that was sweat stains or worse bloodstains until I noticed that it was there even before he started playing. It's a bit irritating when I watch him play because my eyes would be drawn to those marks.
Before the tournament people were guessing would it be Ronaldo's year or Henry's year, but it turned out to be neither. A grand total of 3 goals in 7 matches is not a good record for a striker, lest a striker with the tag "one of the best strikers in the world". Anyway, one good thing that he didn't win the adidas Golden Shoe award is that he's endorsed by Nike, if I'm not wrong. As far as I know, he definitely doesn't wear adidas.
Notice I didn't mention a notable player? I'll talk about him later...
Third place: Germany
Germany is a real winner of the world cup. Germany as in the country not the national football team. But for this heading, I'll restrict myself to talk about the football team. They had a really really great tournament despite lots of talk before that they will flop. With every match they played, they gained load of confidence so useful to them. The opening match showed the world a new Germany, one with attacking powress. The match against Poland, against Argentina showed the world the traditional Germany once again, that they can grind results out of nothing and stifle the opponent until the final whistle. This is the new Germany, one which is able to mix modernity and tradition.
Losing to Italy was disappointing, but their bounce back match was amazing. It was also as if it were a tesimonial match being held. Klinsmann fielded non-regular players, giving them the opportunity to gain invaluable experience, but more amazingly, he gave the last honour to King Kahn. This is the depth of the German team no one noticed before the tournament.
Everyone who read this and this will know that I absofuckinglutely hate this player, but my opinion of him is getting better with every passing game he played. After the Argentina match, I had almost forgiven him. I once had a dream which I never told anyone about, maybe it's time to share it. It was perhaps in 2004 during the Euros, I dreamt of Lehmann. He came over to my house, asked for me, and I greeted him at the door. I was standing like right in front of him, not more than 30cm apart and he looked damn shuai. But of course, I tried to tell myself at that time that perhaps the person I dreamt of was not him at all (but of course it was). His eyes were red and he was sniffing a bit, not too much, just a little bit to show he was crying. He apologised to me, but I didn't accept his apology. Anyway, my opinion of him now is not that bad anymore.
I don't know if Lehmann would continue to play in the Euros or not. He's not very young already. He's the same age as Kahn, actually about 5-6 months younger only, but he's borned in the same year as Kahn. Now that Kahn has announced retirement, Lehmann should go. But if Lehmann were to go, Germany will have no world class goalkeepers at all, but if he still doesn't go, then Germany will have one really old goalkeeper in 2008. Problematic...
I thought he looked damn shuai.
He's really an impressive young player although he missed out on the criteria for a young player by half a year. He has the determination to do well and to really make up disappointments, for that alone, he's a stronger player.
I'd say he's one of the disappointing class of players along with Lampard, Gerrard, Ronaldinho and Shevchenko. Together they were said before the tournament to be the spark of their national team just as they held their club teams together, but collectively, they just weren't as good working with their national team as they had with their club teams. And Ballack, needing to impress his new employers and new fans didn't really achieve that. Not only that, the German team also played just as well without him, so whether he's really the soul of the team leaves much room for contestation.
He's damn shuai. Damn damn shuai. I've noticed him playing for Werder Bremen and snce then I've already known that he's damn shuai, but seeing him in the world cup matches, I must reiterate my point over and over and over again that he is really damn damn shuai. He's tall, strong and handsome, with those old school floppy golden hair and wide boyish grin. Oh man... Even when he wasn't playing and was just sitting on the bench, he still looked so damn cute man.
I never really liked him, until I saw him in that tight blue shirt with his sandy blond hair and cute expressions on the touchline of all the Germany matches. Then I noticed that that guy is really damn cute too. Maybe not as cute as Borowski, but still cute nonetheless. I ike his reactions to goals and misses~ hehehe...
Fourth place winner, and Yahoo! Poll's Most Entertaining Team:
Entertaining would be a good word to describe Portugal. After all the entertainment I got from watching ridiculous players hitting opponents and getting hit by opponents in the Battle of Nuremburg, then watching brillant dives by the greatest actor in the world, a more credible actor than any Oscar winning actors, Portugal is indeed a very entertaining team to watch.
If you say Italy is the team of diving and getting penalty kicks, then you have not seen Portugal play. They not only blatantly dive, they also blatantly kick and beat and whack opponents. Statistically, Portugal is the team to beat in the number of cards they have altogether received in the whole tournament.
Usually if you notice, I'd start with the goalkeeper and then defenders then midfielders then strikers, but this player is so so notable that I must talk about him first. He stands as the Most Entertaining Player in the Tournament. In the group stages, watching him play is so entertaining as he selfishly keeps the ball to himself only to lose it to the defender, then in the knock out matches, we see him getting kicked and knocked and beaten up so badly that he even bled. And when he was taken down from the pitch, the tears came out, like any Oscar winning actor, how entertaining.
But that's not all, straight after, he bounced back from injury (which I bet was faked anyway) to send his club team mate off in the England match. To top that all, in his final two matches we see no less than three notable dives all of which you can get them off youtube, just type Ronaldo dive worldcup2006 or something like that. Alternatively, there's the ihateronaldo site.
Those penalties he saved against England weren't really his credit as they were England's, but he's still a good goalkeeper.
Another entertaining player, if not violent. Twice suspended, he can still accumulate the most number of cards in the tournament.
Another player with many cards, but I don't thin Deco is of as much fault as his team mates. He's pretty much unlucky to be with such pathetic team mates that his fouls were mistaken for carded fouls.
I don't know what's his tactics. I don't believe that he's the one instructing his team to dive and play act to win the world cup, but who can forget four years ago when a certain Rivaldo play acted to get another player sent off (or was it a yellow card)? At least after Ronaldo's second dive against Italy, he gave up protesting, and at least he didn't protested when playing against Germany. but then if he were halfway decent, he'd just have got that asshat of a diver off the pitch immediately.
A very strong team, but they were really unlucky to meet germany in the quarterfinals. I can't remember which match it was, but there was one match which Henize should have been ejected but didn't. Think that's the only grumble I have.
So many big names, so high expectations, so pathetic a team. Before the tournament, people were talking that this would be the theatre for Ronaldinho to shine, but I hardly ever saw him playing. Match reports would say he was on the pitch, but I don't really remember watching him play at all. And he yielded a grand total of zero goals in total, so much for a much lauded player. His grand total of 1 assist, 4 shots on goal and 7 shots neligible too, especially for a playmaker. Kaka was not bad, but pity the team on the whole was a flop. Ronaldo with his 3 goals is still fat.
So many big names, so high expectations, so pathetic a team. Before the tournament, people were talking that this owuld be the theatre for Lampard to shine, having missed out in the 2002 games. With only 5 games, he topped the charts for most numbers of shots, and came in fourth in the most shots on goal only to be beaten by one and two goals from players who played in 7 matches. But his total goal tally remains as high as that of Ronaldinho. Gerrard, another flop of the games, so much talk about him and so little results from him. And we shall not even talk about Owen who disappeared totally after breaking his leg again. Rooney still can't keep his temper. Beckham easily becomes the best player on the pitch even though he's aging, well, he's the best because we're comparing him with his team mates here. Surprise package of England, Owen Hargreaves, the other Owen, the more impressive Owen, the best player in the England team if he played in his best position. Chelsea should buy him and put him as Makalele's understudy, Maka is getting old already.
Ukraine is the only country out of 32 to choose their base in a former East Germany town. The team trainer was an ex Soviet player and politically supports the Socialists back at him. Shevchenko's also another Socialist. A suprise package of the tournament. After being drubbed 4-0 by Spain, they managed to bounce back and go further than Spain went. But Shevchenko wasn't really shining.
Round of 16:
Australia was robbed. Kewell was another player who cut his hair.
Ecuador, not much an impression.
Ghana was good. They were robbed by the refree.
Mexico was also a decent team, tough to play, but not that all consistent.
They were unlucky to meet Portugal. In my very honest opinion, the Dutch-Portugal match should have been abandoned with all the players save Ricardo and van der Sar ejected. Dutch diver Robben was fined for diving, but really, his dives weren't as impressive as Ronaldo's. Okay, I've nothing against diving since everyone does that, but really, sending your own team mate off is bad. Saying you want to leave your club is the worst. Go eat shit. Shouldn't be talking about Ronaldo in the Dutch column. yea... Van der Sar was impressive, and I didn't noticed before, quite cute too~ van Basten's cute too~ hehehe...
Spain. Pity to lose to France, pity I didn't watch that match, but the other Spanish games proved Spain to be not that bad leh... suay? hai... But I like my Casillas being handed the captain's armband in place of Raul. Just like Terry wearing it after Beckham leaves, but sucks that when Neville was playing, Neville wore it instead. Speaking of captains, in the last Germany match which Balack didn't play, usually Schneider would wear the armband, but in honour of Kahn, kahn wore it instead. His last match, his last match as captain, but he'll still play for Bayern Munich for perhaps one more season ba...
Sweden was quite forgetable.
Switzerland was lucky they were drawn to an easy group. It easy as much that it's difficult. Erratic French, Unlucky South Korea, hehehe...
Angola, Costa Rica, Croatia, Iran, Paraguay, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, and Tunisia were all forgetable.
Ivory Coast was unlucky. They were about one of the best African teams, but this year is not a year of upsets, so they remained in the group stages and allowed the Europeans to shine.
Czech was unlucky. If Jan Stam wasn't injured, I think Czech would have went far. Quite an upset in this circumstance. But then again, they were drawn to a tough group to beat, so unlucky again.
Japan showed promise but just not enough. Oddly, in the game which Japan mustered their only point, they didn't score any goals while in the games in which Japan scored, they lost the matches.
Korea also showed great promise but lost out on the last round of matches.
USA was by far the worst team in the top seeds of the FIFA rankings. So much so for wanting to use American victory to promote the sport back at home. But then again, it's good to know that there is something the Americans are bad at~ hehehehe...
adidas Golden Ball
It went to an adidas player, Zinedine Zidane.
He deserved it.
Even with the final headbutt. Theories are out there in the internet speculating about what was said to him. I strongly believe that Zidane was provoked. I'm also a person who cannot control my temper so I know how it feels to be provoked and if I were Zidane in that position, I'd do the same thing. No regrets. Granted, Zidane wasn't that impressive in the first two matches and got suspended for the next match, but in the end, he still shone and proved to the world that he isn't old despite what was said four years ago.
adidas Golden Shoe
Ever since seeing him play four years ago, I know this guy is destined for big things. Just after being the top scorer in the Bundesliga, he's now the top scorer of the World Cup. This should now plug the mouths of detractors who laughed when they hear that he's my favourite player, not counting Chelsea players. Okay, even among the Chelsea lad, I'd put Klose straight after Terry and Lamps.
Really, I think he should dump those black adidas boots he wore for the games and wear some more sparkling golden boots like Zidane. lol~ It'd nice watching the player showcase their shoes on the field. My favourite shoe is still Robben's bright orange ones in which you can see it clearer than anything else on the field.
With the end of the World Cup, I guess now there's only to wait for the Community Shield, then we can start the premiership round of friendly internationals and then the Euros 2008 qualifiers and Champions League. So much to watch~
3453 words. I should have written my term paper on this man...
I'm reading someone's blog and that said person has a word count for every single blog entry, but personally, I don't find that word count very impressive at all. So what's it about 400+ words blog entries, or 1200+ words?