Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sportszilla's World Cup Review - June 20, 2006
By Imtiaz Mussa

Today is the start of the end of group play in the World Cup. We will find out if Trinidad and Tobago can shock the world and make it to the second round. How does Wayne Rooney feel after coming back from a broken metatarsal? Can Germany make it three out of three in group play?

Group A: Germany vs. Ecuador
Ecuador's leading World Cup scorer Agustin Delgado is one of five players rested as the South Americans keep one eye on round two, while Germany are almost at full strength. Knee injury victim Christoph Metzelde is the only absentee for the Germans, replaced by Robert Huth. Skipper Michael Ballack is risked, but if he picks up a yellow card he is out of the next round.

Germany took an early lead when Ecuador hopelessly failed to clear their lines and Bastian Schweinsteiger cleverly pulled the ball back for Klose to arrow into the corner from eight yards. Just before half-time, Ballack's chip cut out two defenders and Klose, albeit clumsily, rounded Cristian Mora and slotted home to double the advantage.

In the second half, Germany repelled an Ecuador attack and broke quickly on the counter, Schweinsteiger sending Schneider away down the right from where the midfielder crossed superbly for a sliding Podolski to guide the ball home. They cantered home after that, coach Jurgen Klinsmann using his substitutions to give Klose, Torsten Frings and Schneider a rest ahead of their last 16 tie on Saturday. The German faithful were chanting Klinsmann’s name as their team gears up for the knockout stages.

Man of the Match: Miroslav Klose (Germany)
He put the Germans at ease by scoring a pair of goals. He has been the main beneficiary of Klinsmann’s attacking style that gives him plenty of opportunities to score goals.

General Thoughts: Germany
People knew they would win the group but no one believed that they would be this convincing. The questions about Klinsmann and his choice to live in California while managing the national team are dead. He has done a tremendous job. No one wants to face Germany right now. They are clicking on all cylinders and will have a full squad to choose from on Saturday.

General Thoughts: Ecuador
With five changes to the lineup, they were interested in looking to play another day with a full squad. No one expected them to get this far so it’s already mission accomplished and now the rest of the tournament is icing on the cake.

Ecuador: Mora, De la Cruz, Espinoza, Ambrossi, Guagua, Valencia (Lara 63), Edwin Tenorio, Ayovi (Urrutia 68), Mendez, Borja (Benitez 45), Kaviedes.
Subs Not Used: Castillo, Delgado, Hurtado, Lanza, Perlaza, Reasco, Saritama, Carlos Tenorio, Villafuerte.

Booked: Valencia

Germany: Lehmann, Friedrich, Mertesacker, Huth, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Frings (Borowski 66), Ballack, Schneider (Asamoah 72), Klose (Neuville 66), Podolski.
Subs Not Used: Hanke, Hildebrand, Hitzlsperger, Jansen, Kahn, Kehl, Metzelder, Nowotny, Odonkor.

Booked: Borowski

Goals: Klose 4, 44, Podolski 57

Att: 72,000

Ref: Valentin Ivanov (Russia)

Group A: Poland vs. Costa Rica
They may not be moving on but both teams are playing for pride. Poland will be considered one of the biggest disappointments of the tournament. Costa Rica will take the memory of scoring two goals on Germany in the opening match with them.

After 24 minutes the match sprung to life when the Poles fell behind to Gomez's low free-kick, allowed to squirm through his own legs by keeper Boruc. Suddenly, both sides offered more purpose and the match developed into an open contest. Ireneusz Jelen's fine break down the right flank caused Costa Rica problems before it was eventually cleared, while Wanchope should have done better when he failed to generate any power from Gomez's square-ball into the box. But it was left to Bosacki to net the game's second, and Poland's equaliser, when he volleyed in Maciej Zurawski's corner for his first international goal on his 13th appearance. Just like the opener, the goal owed much to a keeping error, this time Jose Porras failing to collect the cross amid muted cries for a foul by Ebi Smolarek.

With the sweltering 84 degree temperature taking its toll, the second half failed to produce much early urgency, though Costa Rica twice went close before the hour through Cristian Bolanos' looped effort and Wanchope's tame header. But, just as it did in the second half, proceedings livened up midway through the half and, after Jacek Krzynowek had forced a fine save from long range, Bosacki notched his second of the game with a towering header at the back post from the resulting corner. Costa Rica fought admirably thereafter, and even thought they had grabbed a late equalizer when Wanchope, hoping to mark his World Cup swansong with a goal, poked home. However, the effort was rightly ruled out for offside and the match petered out to draw a line under proceedings of what was an ultimately pointless encounter in Hanover.

Man of the Match: Bartosz Bosacki (Poland)
Thanks to Bosacki, Poland will not be heading back home without a goal or a win. He accomplished both of those things by netting a pair today. Better late than never.

General Thoughts: Poland
They say the win may have saved Janas’ job. This team had the ability to get out of this group and was unable to score until this game. However, they gave Germany a hard time and were unfortunate that the host team was finally able to score late. We found out that Boruc is a legit goalkeeper and will be locked into the top spot for a long time.

General Thoughts: Costa Rica
Paulo Wanchope tried to equalize to get Costa Rica a point in his last World Cup match but it wasn’t meant to be. This team just didn’t have the talent to get wins in this World Cup.

Costa Rica: Porras, Drummond (Wallace 70), Gonzalez, Umana, Marin, Bolanos (Saborio 78), Solis, Centeno, Badilla, Wanchope, Gomez (Hernandez 82).
Subs Not Used: Mesen, Fonseca, Bernard, Azofeifa, Sequeira, Nunez, Rodriguez, Alfaro, Martinez.

Booked: Umana, Marin, Gomez, Badilla, Gonzalez

Goals: Gomez 24

Poland: Boruc, Baszczynski, Bak, Bosacki, Zewlakow, Krzynowek, Szymkowiak, Smolarek (Rasiak 85), Radomski (Lewandowski 64), Jelen, Zurawski (Brozek 45).
Subs Not Used: Jop, Gancarczyk, Kosowski, Kuszczak, Mila, Dudka, Giza, Fabianski.

Booked: Radomski, Bak, Zewlakow, Baszczynski, Boruc.

Goals: Bosacki 33, 66

Att: 43,000

Ref: Shamsul Maidin (Singapore)

Best Group A Match
Germany vs. Poland

Best Group A Player
Miroslav Klose (Germany)

Group B: England vs. Sweden
Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen will start up front together for England against Sweden, as expected. Steven Gerrard, who is one booking away from a ban, is taken out of the team with Owen Hargreaves replacing him. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is out, again as expected, with Marcus Allback taking the star striker's place for Sweden. The Swedes need a point to ensure passage to the next round or hope for Paraguay to beat Trinidad.

With less than a minute on the clock, Owen picked the ball up on the left and as he tried to pass it, his right knee buckled underneath him. He immediately crawled to the touchline in agony and received treatment before being taken off, replaced by Peter Crouch. Owen's team-mates looked shell-shocked at such a cruel twist of fate and the contest took time to get going as a result. When it did get going it was England in the ascendancy, as Joe Cole fired over and Rooney went on a mazy dribble only to see Teddy Lucic block his goalbound shot. When they went ahead, it was thanks to a goal that announced Joe Cole on the world stage as one of the stars of this tournament. The Chelsea midfielder chested down a clearance 35 yards out, let the ball bounce and hit the most outrageous, dipping volley that Andreas Isaksson could only help into the top corner.

But they were hit by a sucker-punch six minutes after the break, as Allback rose all-too-easily to glance home a Tobias Linderoth corner. Allback nearly made it two from another corner as England failed to learn their lesson, this time the ball ricocheting off Jamie Carragher's arm and Paul Robinson brilliantly reacting to tip it onto the bar. From being in total control, England was all of a sudden in disarray. Another corner, another free header - this time for Lucic - and Olof Mellberg volleyed against Robinson's crossbar. England still looked shaky at the back and substitute Gerrard had to hack the ball off the line after Kim Kallstrom fired goalwards, as yet again a corner caused chaos. Just as England looked like they were on the rack, Joe Cole crossed for Gerrard to nod in at the far post. But they were denied a first win over Sweden since May 22, 1968 when they failed to clear another ball pumped into their box and Larsson pounced to poke home. England wins the group but Sven knows there is some work to be done.

Man of the Match: Joe Cole (England)
His goal was a brilliant strike of the football and he had the perfect cross to set up Steven Gerrard’s goal. He has been England’s best player thus far in the World Cup. The offense runs through him.

General Thoughts: England
Peter Crouch had better be ready to combine with Wayne Rooney and play in pressure situations. Owen’s injury looked pretty bad and we’ll see what the MRI says. It was good to see Rooney get some action. It wasn’t his best performance but it was important for him to get 70 minutes under his belt. David Beckham was not involved today and for this team to be fully effective, he has to be consistently making crosses. That will have to especially be the case with Crouch in the lineup. Paul Robinson looked rusty in goal. He made a mistake on the equalizer.

General Thoughts: Sweden
They were not prepared to lose to England for the first time in 38 years. It looked like it was bound to happen until the 90th minute equalizer. With a second round match against Germany coming up next, it will be tough sailing.

Sweden: Isaksson, Lucic, Mellberg, Edman, Alexandersson, Linderoth (Andersson 90), Kallstrom, Ljungberg, Jonson (Wilhelmsson 54), Larsson, Allback (Elmander 74).
Subs Not Used: Alvbage, Hansson, Ibrahimovic, Nilsson, Rosenberg, Shaaban, Stenman, Anders Svensson, Karl Svensson.

Booked: Alexandersson, Ljungberg

Goals: Allback 51, Larsson 90.

England: Robinson, Carragher, Ferdinand (Campbell 56), Terry, Ashley Cole, Beckham, Lampard, Hargreaves, Joe Cole, Rooney (Gerrard 69), Owen (Crouch 4).
Subs Not Used: Bridge, Carrick, Carson, Downing, James, Jenas, Lennon, Neville, Walcott.

Booked: Hargreaves

Goals: Joe Cole 34, Gerrard 85

Att: 45,000

Ref: Massimo Busacca (Switzerland)

Group B: Trinidad and Tobago vs. Paraguay
Veteran skipper Carlos Gamarra, 35, will make his 110th and final appearance for Paraguay on Tuesday. But Carlos Bonet (hamstring) is out and will be replaced by Julio Dos Santos, while midfielder Jorge Nunez plays after passing a late fitness test. Shaka Hislop makes way for Kelvin Jack in the Trinidad and Tobago goal after Jack bounced back from injury. Defender Avery John is also back having served a ban and replaces Cyd Gray, who suffered a leg injury against England.

A busy opening saw Jack soon pressed into action with a diving left-handed save to deny Roque Santa Cruz's header from a probing Edgar Barreto free-kick. Trinidad hit back as Glen forced Aldo Bobadillo to parry and Aurtis Whitley fired a drive just over. As the sides traded blows, Werder Bremen striker Nelson Valdez caused a few scares for Trinidad, without seriously threatening. But then Paraguay dealt a huge blow to their opponents' slender qualification hopes with a fortunate opening goal. Sancho deflected into the net after Toro Acuna's free-kick was headed on by Julio dos Santos. Boosted by the lead, Paraguay began to dominate and Denis Caniza's shot under Jack ten minutes later appeared to have increased the lead before a late offside flag ruled out the goal.

Trinidad emerged for the second half with renewed vigor, and a Carlos Edwards cross just evaded the advancing Yorke and Chris Birchall. Urged on by a noisy band of supporters, they continued to push forward through the impressive midfielder Carlos Edwards and Yorke. The pair almost combined again, before the ball fell to substitute Evans Wise, on for Glen, who struck his shot into the side netting. Port Vale's Birchall fired over from distance and veteran midfielder Russell Latapy, capping a fine international career shot wide as a host of chances went begging. Paraguay made Trinidad pay as Cuevas combined for a neat one-two with Santa Cruz before stylishly slotting home to seal the victory and third place in the group.

Man of the Match: Carlos Edwards (Trinidad and Tobago)
T&T’s best player during the World Cup had another impressive performance and nearly got his team back in this match. He might not be Luton property much longer after the World Cup is over.

General Thoughts: Trinidad and Tobago
It was a great debut for the Soca Warriors. They got a point from Sweden as Shaka Hislop had an amazing performance in goal and they played England tough. But thanks to Sancho’s own goal, they came back to Earth a bit as they lost this one. They will take the experience and try to build on it for South Africa 2010. They should start by trying to find a way to score a goal as they went scoreless in three matches. Dwight Yorke can now retire a happy man.

General Thoughts: Paraguay
Everything could have been different if they didn’t have an own goal against England. They played Sweden tough and nearly got away with a point in that match. So there are two points that Paraguay could have had and combine that with the three that they got today and that would have given them the points needed to get out of this group. They really had some tough luck this year.

Paraguay: Bobadilla, Nunez, Gamarra, Caceres (Manzur 78), Caniza (Da Silva 88), Barreto, Acuna, Paredes, Dos Santos, Santa Cruz, Valdez (Cuevas 66).
Subs Not Used: Bonet, Cabanas, Gavilan, Gomez, Lopez, Montiel, Riveros, Toledo, Villar.

Booked: Paredes, Dos Santos

Goals: Sancho 25 og, Cuevas 86.

Trinidad and Tobago: Jack, Avery John (Jones 31), Sancho, Lawrence, Birchall, Whitley (Latapy 66), Edwards, Theobald, Glen (Wise 41), Stern John, Yorke.
Subs Not Used: Andrews, Charles, Cox, Gray, Hislop, Ince, Samuel, Scotland, Wolfe.

Booked: Sancho, Whitley

Att: 46,000

Ref: Roberto Rosetti (Italy)

Best Group B Match
England vs. Sweden

Best Group B Player
Joe Cole (England)

Tomorrow’s Fixtures
Portugal vs. Mexico – 10:00am EST – ESPN
Angola vs. Iran – 10:00am EST – ESPN2
Holland vs. Argentina – 3:00pm EST – ESPN
Ivory Coast vs. Serbia and Montenegro – 3:00pm EST – ESPN2

Funny Stories
Gold mines in Ghana were told to temporarily cut their power usage when a World Cup-inspired surge in TV viewing threatened a blackout. (The Independent)

Spanish paper '20 Minutos' claims Nostradamus tipped Spain to win the World Cup. It quotes one of his prophecies as follows: "In the sixth month of 2006 the King of Spain will cross the Pyrenees with his troops. The legions of Beelzebub will battle him in central Europe and suffer doom and destruction. The Holy Grail will then come to Spain." (Press Association)


Blogger Ben Valentine said...

T-Bone; I expect you to really go into that Mexico/Portugal match; after all, it is to determine the greatest nation in the world. I want to know what Portugal is going to do to stop Ariaga and Ariaga II, and if Mexico can take Bariaga.

All kidding aside, thanks for giving props to Carlos Edwards. Glad to know I wasn't the only person to think he might have played himself onto a better team, especially with his performance today. Go Soca Warriors in 2010!

2:47 AM  
Blogger Tiah said...

I am in the UK but I missed last night's games so this was a nice re-cap. thanks :o)
(searched for World Cup re-cap blogs)

I've also come across this contest that you might be interested in:


you will probably have to copy and paste the adress into your browser, but it works.
I can't wint it because a family member works for them, oh well...
but anyway,
good luck, pass it on, enjoy. :o)

9:52 AM  
Blogger medvegonok said...

Nostradamus? And what Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code’s author) is going to say about such interpretation of The Holy Grail? :)

2:30 AM  

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