Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sportszilla's World Cup Review - July 1, 2006
By Imtiaz Mussa

The last two quarterfinal matches will take place today. In 2002, England was eliminated in this round by Brazil and Luis Felipe Scolari. In Euro 2004, England was eliminated by Portugal and Luis Felipe Scolari. Will the pattern continue in 2006? Then it’s a rematch of the 1998 World Cup final as Brazil plays France.

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England vs. Portugal
For England, Gary Neville comes in at right-back, Owen Hargreaves moves forward to the holding midfield role and Michael Carrick drops to the bench. Frank Lampard starts despite recent concern over an ankle injury. Portugal is forced to make changes with Deco and Costinha suspended. Tiago and Petit step into midfield in their place and Cristiano Ronaldo has been passed fit to play.

Portugal was far from their best but they at least caused some worrying moments at the back for England in a tense first half. A deep Luis Figo free-kick was not dealt with by Gary Neville or Lampard and there was huge relief for England to see Tiago slip with the goal at his mercy. Tiago almost caused further problems when he was given a free header in the box that Paul Robinson clambered across to save.

Eriksson was forced to change things round six minutes into the second half with Beckham struggling with an ankle problem. He was replaced by Aaron Lennon and was seen on the sidelines looking anguished as treatment was performed on his ankle. Lampard, who endured another miserable time in front of goal, mistimed a volley after finding himself unmarked from a Gerrard corner. Lennon's introduction gave England brief hope as his pace took him past two players, but when the ball fell for Rooney he almost completely missed and Joe Cole's effort was just too high. But then came Rooney's premature exit, with Joe Cole sacrificed for Peter Crouch. England's best hope of a goal was a set-piece and Lampard fired in a free-kick that Ricardo did well to keep out, with Lennon scuffing his attempt to put in the rebound. A deflected John Terry shot just looped over the bar after some brilliant work from an outstanding Owen Hargreaves, but Helder Postiga also blazed over in a nerve-jangling injury time. The drama continued through to extra-time with England showing remarkable energy to match their opponents. Crouch almost got on the end of a Gerrard cross but at the other end it needed some desperate last-ditch defending and some solid keeping from Robinson.

The game seemed destined to be decided by a penalty shoot-out, just like when the sides met at the same stage of Euro 2004. And unfortunately for England it ended in the same result with Portugal getting the better of England. Only Owen Hargreaves, who had easily his best game in an England shirt was successful from the spot. Lampard, Gerrard and Carragher, who scored at the first attempt but had to retake, all saw their efforts saved by Ricardo, who became the first player in World Cup shoot-out history to save three penalties. Hugo Viana and Armando Petit had missed to give Eriksson's side brief hope, but when Helder Postiga and Cristiano Ronaldo scored England's dream of being crowned world champions was over for another four years.

Man of the Match: Ricardo (Portugal)
Just like Jens Lehmann a day before, he stepped up to make some huge saves to send Portugal through to the semis.

General Thoughts: Portugal
They didn’t have Deco or Costinha but were able to get the win in penalties. They were fortunate to move on because it was fairly obvious that they were missing Deco. He controls the midfield and allows Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo to fly down the wings. It also helped that they were able to get the man advantage after Rooney was sent off. They weren’t able to utilize it in normal time but all of that extra running took a toll on Gerrard and Lampard as their penalties were not good. However, there is some reason to worry. Aaron Lennon’s speed proved to be too much for the defense to handle and England was unfortunate to score because of it. So if there is a point of vulnerability on this team, it would be the speed of the backline. Scolari notches another win over England.

General Thoughts: England
It’s yet another disappointing exit for England. This time around, the blame can be put on Sven Goran Eriksson and Wayne Rooney. It was poor squad selection that did Sven in. He knew that Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney were question marks heading into this World Cup and instead of taking another proven striker like Jermain Defoe, he opted for Theo Walcott who hasn’t played since January. The last memory the England faithful will have of Sven is that idiotic move. In regards to Wayne Rooney, it’s 1998 all over again for England fans. In 1998, David Beckham got sent off for an unnecessary action and England would lose that second round match against Argentina. This time around, Rooney’s stomp on Ricardo Carvalho led to his teammates having to play a significant amount of time a man down before they lost in penalties. Beckham was vilified all over England with the exception of the Manchester United faithful. Rooney will be in the exact same spot. But there is a twist. One of the first Portuguese players who appealed to the referee to give the red card was Rooney’s Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo. His reception in England for appealing to the ref and also scoring the PK that sent England home will be interesting. May the Steve McClaren era begin.

England: Robinson, Neville, Terry, Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Hargreaves, Beckham (Lennon 51), Gerrard, Lampard, Joe Cole (Crouch 65), Rooney, Lennon (Carragher 118).
Subs Not Used: Campbell, James, Bridge, Jenas, Carrick, Downing, Carson, Walcott.

Sent Off: Rooney (62)

Booked: Terry, Hargreaves

Portugal: Ricardo, Miguel, Meira, Ricardo Carvalho, Nuno Valente, Figo (Postiga 86), Maniche, Petit, Tiago (Viana 74), Ronaldo, Pauleta (Simao 63).
Subs Not Used: Paulo Ferreira, Caneira, Ricardo Costa, Quim, Boa Morte, Nuno Gomes, Paulo Santos.

Booked: Petit, Ricardo Carvalho.

Att: 52,000

Ref: Horacio Marcelo Elizondo (Argentina)

Brazil vs. France
France named the same side that beat Spain 3-1. Brazil named their team. Juninho has been promoted to the starting line-up as Brazil put an extra man in midfield, leaving Ronaldo on his own up front. There's no Adriano or Robinho, but Kaka has recovered from injury and plays. Gilberto Silva replaces the injured Emerson.

As early as the first minute Brazil were given a glimpse of what they were to experience for the remaining 89 minutes as Zidane glided away from a succession of Brazilian tackles as he executed a quick turn and that trademark stepover. A Zidane flick that deceived Cafu was equally breathaking, while he held off and teased Kaka by juggling the ball. Not to be outdone, Brazil's Ronaldinho skillfully touched the ball into Ronaldo's path before the Brazilian striker was closed down by the French defense. A Zidane free-kick set up France's best chance in the first half but Florent Malouda headed over. A minute before the interval another piece of Zidane wizardry released Patrick Vieira, who was taken down by Juan, who was booked.

Within a minute of the second half starting Vieira went close with a glancing header from a Zidane free-kick. As the second half developed Henry began to come to the forefront, first sprinting past Cafu, and then troubling Lucio, before the Frenchman's backheel nearly released Vieira. So often in their careers with France, Henry and Zidane have failed to click, but on 57 minutes they combined to devastating effect. Zidane whipped in a free-kick to the far past that Henry spectacularly volleyed past Dida into the roof of the net. Soon after, Ribery nearly created a second goal for France when his penetrative cross was almost inadvertently turned into the Brazilian goal by defender Juan. Ribery then almost latched on to a Henry pass, but Dida just got to the ball before the Marseille winger. Brazil had no answers as France shocked the favorites 1-0.

Man of the Match: Zinedine Zidane (France)
I could have sworn that we were watching the Zidane that led France to the 1998 World Cup title. He certainly did not look like a 34 year old who had a miserable year at Real Madrid. He ruled the midfield like a king. He laid the perfect ball on the free kick into the path of Thierry Henry for the lone goal. France goes as far as Zidane takes them.

General Thoughts: France
They controlled the match the entire time. They did not allow Ronaldinho, Kaka, or Ronaldo any room to do anything. Zidane was brilliant controlling the midfield and he had some help in the form of his apprentice Franck Ribery who made some real nice runs at the Brazilian defense. The French defense did not give Barthez a chance to screw it up. They will need to continue that if they want to win this thing.

General Thoughts: Brazil
Ronaldinho couldn’t break out. He was getting double and triple teamed and frankly, the man looked tired. We only saw flashes of the great chemistry. Too many passes went incomplete and they turned it over too many times without a shot on goal. That all came out today against France. Henry was unmarked as he scored the goal off the free kick. How is Henry left unmarked? The defense was extremely vulnerable today. It’s time for Cafu and Roberto Carlos to hang it up. They were great players but they looked a step slow this time around. The worst part about this exit means the best fans in the world have to go home.

Brazil: Dida, Cafu (Cicinho 76), Lucio, Juan, Carlos, Juninho (Adriano 63), Silva, Ze Roberto, Kaka (Robinho 79), Ronaldinho, Ronaldo.
Subs Not Used: Cris, Emerson, Fred, Gilberto, Julio Cesar, Luisao, Mineiro, Ricardinho, Rogerio.

Booked: Cafu, Juan, Ronaldo, Lucio.

France: Barthez, Sagnol, Thuram, Gallas, Abidal, Ribery (Govou 76), Makelele, Vieira, Zidane, Malouda (Wiltord 81), Henry (Saha 85).
Subs Not Used: Boumsong, Chimbonda, Coupet, Dhorasoo, Diarra, Givet, Landreau, Silvestre, Trezeguet.

Booked: Sagnol, Saha, Thuram.

Goals: Henry 57.

Att: 48,000.

Ref: Luis Medina Cantalejo (Spain)


Blogger Zachary Geballe said...

I've been a big fan of Zidane ever since the 1998 Cup, and yesterday he played the best match I've granted, I don't watch much soccer outside the WC, but the way he managed to dominate the play was outstanding. Unlike Ronaldo, who only gave you occasional glimpses of his former brilliance, Zidane turned back the clock, at least for one match, and it was a joy to watch.

12:10 PM  

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