Friday, June 16, 2006

Sportszilla's World Cup Review - June 16, 2006
By Imtiaz Mussa

Group C is considered by many to be this World Cup’s Group of Death. Despite losing, Ivory Coast and Serbia and Montenegro kept their matches close and will be switching opponents for this batch of games. Mexico also takes to the pitch against Angola.

Group C: Argentina vs. Serbia and Montenegro
Argentina and Serbia and Montenegro will play their Group C match under a closed roof at the AufSchalke Arena in Gelsenkirchen on Friday. Officials have decided to shut the roof to prevent shadows on the pitch distracting television audiences. Argentina bring in midfielder Luis Gonzalez in place of Esteban Cambiasso while Lionel Messi starts on the bench. Serbia & Montenegro introduce midfielder Ognjen Koroman and drop Nenad Djordjevic to the bench. The celebrities at the AufSchalke Arena were German legend Franz Beckenbauer and shaggy Colombian Carlos Valderrama.

Argentina took an early lead with a beautifully constructed goal that typified their flowing style. Captain Juan Pablo Sorin's backheel opened Serbia up down the left, allowing Saviola to cut inside where he eased a perfect pass into the path of Rodriguez who stabbed a first-time shot past Dragoslav Jevric. Argentina gave a clinic on passing skills to double their lead with the sweetest of goals. They patiently strung together 21 passes before Juan Pablo Riquelme fed Saviola who slipped a pass inside for Cambiasso. Cambiasso knocked the ball into Crespo who backheeled a return pass into the Inter midfielder who thumped the ball home from 12 yards. Serbia had no answers today. Mladen Krstajic's attempts to shepherd the ball out for a corner ended in embarrassment as Saviola took the ball off him and cut inside where his shot was parried by keeper Jevric into the path of Rodriguez who scored from a tight angle via the post. Argentina went into halftime with an impressive 3-0 lead.

Savo Milosevic provided keeper Roberto Abbondanzieri with his first test in the opening minute of the second half and the striker was inches away as he lunged at Kezman's knock-back. Serbia & Montenegro became increasingly frustrated as Argentina strutted their stuff and Kezman boiled over with a wild lunge on Javier Mascherano which earned him a straight red card. There was even time for Messi to make a contribution as the substitute latched on to Riquelme's quickly taken free-kick and crossed for Crespo to tap in at the far post. Another substitute, Carlos Tevez, scored a fine individual fifth as he beat two defenders in drifting in from the left before rolling the ball in. Tevez then provided the pass for Messi to run on and beat Jevric at his near post to complete the rout with Argentina's sixth. It would end 6-0 as S&M disgracefully walked off the pitch.

Man of the Match: Maxi Rodriguez (Argentina)
There are so many players to choose from for this match. Maxi gets the nod for scoring a pair of goals including the opener. Argentina played such great team ball in this match.

General Thoughts: Argentina
This was the best performance by any team in the World Cup. The way in which they scored the six goals truly shows how the game should be played. It was selfless, one touch passing as players ran into open spaces consistently. It was great to see Tevez and Messi come off the bench and have such great performances. They will play key roles in Argentina’s run. It was just a brilliant game. Former Argentina star Diego Maradona was overjoyed watching from the stands.

General Thoughts: Serbia and Montenegro
Vidic may have been out but it still doesn’t make up for a disgraceful performance. S&M had nothing going for them today. The team that allowed only one goal during qualification has allowed seven through two games. Maybe S&M was overrated right from the start and we bought into it too much.

Argentina: Abbondanzieri, Burdisso, Ayala, Heinze, Sorin, Maxi (Messi 74), Mascherano, Gonzalez (Cambiasso 16), Riquelme, Saviola (Tevez 58), Crespo.
Subs Not Used: Coloccini, Aimar, Cruz, Cufre, Franco, Milito, Palacio, Scaloni, Ustari.

Booked: Crespo

Goals: Maxi 6, Cambiasso 31, Maxi 41, Crespo 78, Tevez 84, Messi 88.

Serbia & Montenegro: Jevric, Duljaj, Gavrancic, Krstajic, Dudic, Koroman (Ljuboja 49), Stankovic, Nadj (Ergic 45), Predrag Djordjevic, Kezman, Milosevic (Vukic 69).
Subs Not Used: Basta, Nenad Djordjevic, Dragutinovic, Ilic, Kovacevic, Stojkovic, Vidic, Zigic.

Sent Off: Kezman (65)

Booked: Koroman, Nadj, Krstajic.

Att: 52,000

Referee: Roberto Rosetti (Italy).

Group C: Holland vs. Ivory Coast
Stuttgart has turned orange, with supporters from both Holland and the Ivory Coast wearing their team's colors. Holland stick with the same team that secured a 1-0 win over Serbia and Montenegro in their opening game. Midfielder Rafael van der Vaart remains on the bench even though he has fully recovered from an ankle injury. Ivory Coast make three changes, with Ndri Romaric and Bakari Kone coming into the midfield. Meanwhile up front, Arouna Kone is in the side to partner Didier Drogba for a game the Ivorians need to win.

Holland dominated the early exchanges and created the first real chance after five minutes when Mark van Bommel's teasing cross from the right flashed across the goal and just eluded Manchester United striker van Nistelrooy. But they survived a penalty appeal after 12 minutes when Arsenal's Emmanuel Eboue looked to be hauled down by Giovanni van Bronckhorst although the Ivorians' frantic appeals were ignored by Colombian referee Oscar Ruiz. But Ivory Coast was suddenly stopped in their tracks when the Dutch eventually made the vital breakthrough. Van Persie was hacked down by his Arsenal team-mate Kolo Toure on the edge of the box and stepped up to curl home a sublime left-footed free-kick which had goalkeeper Jean-Jacques Tizie clutching thin air. And the Dutch tightened their grip on the game with a clinical second goal after 27 minutes. Arjen Robben, Serbia and Montenegro's tormentor in Holland's 1-0 victory on Sunday, surged forward on the left flank and played in Mark van Bommel. Van Bommel worked it back to the Chelsea man, who cleverly threaded it through for Van Nistelroooy to lash home his first goal of the tournament. Yet, just when it seemed Holland would start walking away with the match, the Ivorians struck back in dramatic fashion on 38 minutes. Kone waltzed past two Dutch defenders before unleashing a stunning drive that flew into Edwin van der Sar's top corner; incredibly the first goal in competitive internationals the Manchester United stopper has conceded since October 2004.

The Dutch took the initiative after the break and Van Nisteltooy had a firm shot parried by the Ivory Coast goalkeeper after being set up by half-time substitute Khalid Boulahrouz (49). But with Dider Zokora pulling the strings for the Ivorians, Holland was never comfortable. The matched swayed from end to end with Robben always threatening to work an opening for the Dutch. In the 77th minute Philip Cocu was forced to chest off his own line when Didier Drogba's header found its way through a packed Holland goalmouth. And in desperation, Kolo Toure tried his luck from 25 yards in injury time but his effort was deflected behind for a wasted corner. Holland manage to hold on 2-1.

Man of the Match: Robin Van Persie (Holland)
This time around, it is the other Dutch winger grabbing man of the match honors. The Arsenal man was causing plenty of problems for the Ivory Coast defense and scored the opening goal of the match with a brilliantly struck free kick. He also saved the win by clearing the ball of the line for a beaten Van Der Sar.

General Thoughts: Holland
It certainly wasn’t pretty at the end but the Dutch got the three points. Their wide open play in the first half was fun to watch. Van Persie, Van Nistelrooy, and Robben were working well together up front. There was nothing Van Der Sar could have done with that goal, the ball was hit too well. Wesley Sneijder struggled again in midfield today. Rafael van der Vaart should get the start in their next match.

General Thoughts: Ivory Coast
They are the best team to not have a point in the tournament. They easily could have had points in both matches but fell just short. Calling a yellow card against Drogba was a terrible call. That mean’s the striker’s World Cup is over. Ivory Coast should hold their heads high. They may be going home early but they will get a hero’s welcome in the war torn nation.

Holland: Van der Sar, Heitinga (Boulahrouz 45), Ooijer, Mathijsen, Van Bronckhorst, Sneijder (Van der Vaart 50), Van Bommel, Cocu, Van Persie, Robben, van Nistelrooy (Landzaat 73).
Subs Not Used: Babel, De Cler, Jaliens, Kromkamp, Kuyt, Maduro, Stekelenburg, Timmer, Vennegoor of Hesselink.

Booked: Robben, Mathijsen, Van Bommel, Boulahrouz.

Goals: Van Persie 23, van Nistelrooy 26.

Ivory Coast: Tizie, Eboue, Kolo Toure, Meite, Boka, Zokora, Gneri Yaya Toure, Romaric (Yapi Yapo 61), Arouna Kone (Akale 73), Bakari Kone (Dindane 62), Drogba.
Subs Not Used: Barry, Demel, Domoraud, Fae, Gnanhouan, Kalou, Keita, Kouassi, Zoro.

Booked: Zokora, Drogba, Boka.

Goals: Bakari Kone 38.

Att: 52,000

Ref: Julian Oscar Ruiz Acosta (Colombia)

Group C Update
Argentina and Holland are through to the next round with six points each. They will play each other in the final group game. Argentina currently has a superior goal differential so Holland will need a win to take the group. Serbia and Montenegro and Ivory Coast will play each other in the other match.

Group D: Mexico vs. Angola
The Mexicans received an emotional boost from goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez whose father passed away just a few days prior to their opening match to beat Iran 2-1. Waiting for them is Angola who lost to Portugal 1-0.

Mexico, who are ranked fourth in the world and won their opening game against Iran 3-1, went into the match as hot favorites. And they started confidently, with defender Carlos Salcido setting the tone after just a minute by curling a shot narrowly over the crossbar from 30 yards. Mexico's cultured captain Marquez then rattled the woodwork with a rasping 30-yard free-kick. But Angola, prompted by the experienced Figueiredo, became more of a force as the half progressed. The World Cup debutants had impressed in their opening match, despite losing 1-0 to Portugal, and they again started to play some good football. After half an hour Figueiredo curled a spectacular free-kick onto the head of Akwa, but Angola's captain headed wastefully over the crossbar from nine yards out. Mexico was still impressive in possession, but most of their moves broke down as soon as the ball reached their Argentine-born striker Guillermo Franco.

In the second half, coach Ricardo La Volpe responded by bringing on striker Jesus Arellano for Antonio Zinha after 53 minutes. The substitution paid off almost immediately, when Arellano headed the ball into the path of Franco, whose attempted lob was palmed away by the athletic Joao Ricardo. Perhaps inevitably considering Portugal's profligacy, it was an Angolan mistake that almost broke the deadlock. Jamba's clearance hit the back of his own team-mate and the ball rebounded into the path of Bravo, but the Mexican's weak finish was comfortably gathered by Joao Ricardo. Angola's cause became even more difficult when Andre was shown a second yellow card for handling the ball and became the sixth player to be sent off at this World Cup. Mexico piled forward in search of the goal that would have put them on course for a place in the last 16. Marquez hit a rasping 30-yard shot that Joao Ricardo tipped round the bar and then Bravo again spurned a wonderful opportunity by hitting the post from just a yard out. There were wild celebrations from the Angola fans at the final whistle as their side claimed their first ever World Cup point.

Man of the Match: João Ricardo
The Angolan goalkeeper made some big saves to give his team a vital point. Thus far, he has had a very good World Cup for Angola.

General Thoughts: Mexico
This was a tough draw for Mexico. They lacked the fire up front that they had in their win against Iran. Much of that can be put on the loss of Borgetti. With four points and a match coming up against Portugal, Mexico will have to bear down and hope for a point.

General Thoughts: Angola
This was a great moment for the Angolans as they managed to get a point against the seeded team in this group. They played tremendous defense and had the ability to steal a win on the counter attack. There is hope for them to continue to the next round if they can beat Iran and get some help from Portugal.

Mexico: Sanchez, Salcido, Marquez, Osorio, Pineda (Morales 78), Torrado, Zinha (Arellano 52), Pardo, Mendez, Franco (Fonseca 74), Bravo.
Subs Not Used: Borgetti, Castro, Corona, Garcia, Guardado, Ochoa, Perez, Rodriguez, Suarez.

Booked: Pineda

Angola: Joao Ricardo, Jamba, Kali, Delgado, Loco, Figueiredo (Rui Marques 72), Macanga, Mateus (Mantorras 68), Mendonca, Ze Kalanga (Miloy 83), Akwa.
Subs Not Used: Airosa, Buengo, Edson, Flavio, Lama, Lebo-Lebo, Love, Marco, Mario.

Sent Off: Macanga (80)

Booked: Delgado, Macanga, Ze Kalanga, Joao Ricardo.

Att: 43,000

Ref: Shamsul Maidin (Singapore)

Tomorrow’s Fixtures
Portugal vs. Angola – 9:00am EST – ESPN2
Ghana vs. Czech Republic – Noon EST – ABC
United States vs. Italy – 3:00pm EST - ABC


Blogger fifa2006 said...

Chinese World Cup blogger racks up 10 million hits
from Yahoo News 16 June,2006
BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing blogger and podcaster Dong Lu registered his 10 millionth hit on Friday morning, racing to the landmark on the back of China's obsession with the World Cup.
The 36-year-old's irreverent take on soccer's showpiece, produced with the help of three friends in the living room of his apartment on the northeast outskirts of Beijing, has proved hugely popular with China's on-line audience.
Sporting a multi-coloured Afro wig and a fake moustache, Dong presents
a podcast every other day featuring caricatures of leading players, parodies of the many soccer-themed adverts on Chinese television and the occasional song.
"We do it for fun, out of passion for football," Dong, looking suitably bleary-eyed after another all-night session in front the TV watching the action from Germany, told Reuters.
"The World Cup is a great event for everybody whether from small countries or large ones, rich or poor."
Dong is no media outsider, however. He covered the 2002 World Cup as a journalist and still finds time for his day job as a columnist with a weekly sports paper.
Some have suggested the reason for the enormous popularity of sport and showbiz blogs in China is because they allow people to talk freely.
"In sports journalism there is relative freedom of expression and we can give our opinions about a match and other sporting issues," said Dong.
"In other fields such as the social and political arenas, there are regulations. I've spent 10 years working in the media and I understand the line that can never be crossed.
"There are many other interesting things in life for me to talk about. It's about fun, not trouble."
Dong started his blog last November to air his views on life, music and his love of soccer.
"At first I wasn't sure if anyone would be interested," he said. "But it took off after a month and the start of World Cup finals has brought an extra 100,000 hits a day."
Like many China, whose team failed to qualify for the finals, Dong is backing Brazil and his yellow number nine shirt signed by Ronaldo is never far from view.
"Someone offered to give me a car for it," he said. "But I turned them down."
Asked what his wife thought of him turning their apartment into a television studio, Dong laughed: "She's very supportive of what I do. I'm her superstar."
Dr Han (Super football fans)

7:52 PM  

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