June 05, 2002

Now every team at the World Cup has played. Thoughts so far?: Senegal beating the holders & USA beating Portugal will rank as the shocks but what about the refs, star players, donkeys, fustrations, surprises and so on?

posted by i_cola to soccer at 12:12 PM - 26 comments

It's been a great first set of matches: the group stage is going to be much more competitive this time round than in 98, as you've got a couple of big teams who definitely need a win to stay alive. (If France don't win tomorrow: wow.) Monday was a bit dull, and the morning matches have been consistently crap -- which is good, because I've managed to sleep through a few 7.30am kickoffs -- but yesterday's performances by Japan and S. Korea really added a shot of adrenaline. (Reffing: generally good, a few dodgy decisions, same old same old. Has Pierluigi Collina done one yet, or are they saving him for the cauldron that is England-Argentina on Friday?)

posted by etagloh at 12:22 PM on June 05, 2002

An average of 5.33 goals per game is pretty amazing for starters...even if you take out Germany v Saudis it's 5 Refs - generally excellent but the ref for Brazil v Turkey was so bad. Simple things like keeping players 10 yds back at free-kicks & then the whole penalty & Rivaldo incidents... And the balls. They're like sodding baloons!

posted by i_cola at 12:24 PM on June 05, 2002

The average is surely nowhere near 5.33, i_cola! It's a little above 3 right now, which is on course to beat France 98. So far: the matches have been generally pretty good. Teams are showing much more positivity than I expected. There have been very few poor games. The referees have been generally good, although the players have made things easier for them by behaving themselves. Highlights so far for me are the upset victories of Senegal and USA. First ever points for Japan and win for Korea. Uruguay's cracking goal against Denmark. South Africa' s gutsy fightback from 2 goals down.

posted by salmacis at 12:31 PM on June 05, 2002

Ah yes...you have the ability to count the number of games & not groups, which I have not yet mastered ;-)

posted by i_cola at 12:49 PM on June 05, 2002

What I like best is that almost all of the next round of matches are now set up to be interesting. England/Argentina would have been good no matter what-- now, with the tie against Sweden, the Spice Boys need the win, for example. Looks like Brazil is starting to turn it on, even if that call at the end was bogus. There have been a lot of underdog type wins, and that should make for some exciting football.

posted by outside counsel at 12:55 PM on June 05, 2002

Great World Cup so far, but I think that every World Cup because I look forward to it so much. Korea and Japan are the highlights to me. Korea looked very good pre-tournament beating Scotland and drawing with England and have proved that was no flash in the pan by destroying Poland. Japan looked excellent in their first game against Belgium who always qualify only to disappoint it seems. Junichi Inamoto who plays for Arsenal (though it's difficult to tell as he never makes the team) was the star of the tournament so far for me. What has been pleasing is the enthusiasm of the fans in both host nations. The Korea fans in particular looked and sounded awesome. Just as an aside, that's one thing Uncle Sam's Army or whatever they're called need. A few songs. Having said that, very impressed by the USA performance in both halves. On the positive side again, the crowds have been fairly good in most games despite some cock-ups over ticketing arrangements. The idea to let kids in free to take up empty seats strikes me as a good one. Low points so far for me have been the Rivaldo incident and the awful referee in that match. Hope he won't be reffing any more games. Oh and of course England failing to hold on to their lead against Sweden. The Mick McCarthy/Roy Keane incident left a sour taste in the mouth too. Altogether far more positives than negatives and I'm just sorry I have to go back to work next week.

posted by squealy at 01:50 PM on June 05, 2002

Ireland's goal in the last minute was definitely something! I'm kind of disappointed with the play of Poland, but I will remember that nice little football to the groin incident that happened in that game. It was a definite 'ooof' moment, like in that Canadian Club commercial.

posted by mkn at 01:50 PM on June 05, 2002

It has been much better than I expected, the first games in the group stage are usually pretty cagey, but this has sparked into life very quickly. The performances of Japan and Korea have astonished me. The fact that they seem to be enjoying themselves is pretty amazing. Has no one told them winners are supposed to snap and snarl? Brazil v Turkey provided high and low spots. The overall quality of that game was just beautiful and the Turkish goal was taken superbly. The guy did have something of the demeanour of someone who thinks "oh shit! we are in for it now" afterwards. Rivaldo obviously was a downpoint but so was the reaction of Big Phil. As was the spinelessness of FIFA in dealing with it. The comments of the Turkish coach were pretty appalling too, although they made me laugh. Unlike Squealy I have found the seemingly endless rounds of squabbling hilarious and they have added greatly to the drama. Is it 2 coaches who have resigned already, now the Slovenia coach has decided to get on his bike? Three donkeys stand out. The Portugese keeper for one, and Jancker, who really did play like one. I usually have sympathy for incompetent players but his performance today was nothing short of laughable. Third and by no means least, Paul Gascoigne for his television punditry. Has anyone understood a single word? If this is what he does to the language sober, what was he liked pissed? (apologies to non Brits). It can only get better from here and there will be more upsets, including England stuffing Argentina. I hope we do not have teams playing for duplicitous draws in the final group matches, as has happened before. Germany has a bit of previous in this regard. The outcome of them v Cameroon will be intertesting. Oh, another donkey, the phrase "soccer" I suppose I can learn to live with, but "self score"? Come on guys you just cannot mess with the lingua franca of the game like that!

posted by Fat Buddha at 02:42 PM on June 05, 2002

Fat Buddha: Did you see Lineker before he went on his acting course a couple of years back? He was almost as bad. I'm pciking Gazza to be the new El Tel in 20 years time. It's a brave call but it might just pay off.

posted by nedrichards at 04:12 PM on June 05, 2002

Talking about the lingua franca of the game. For the benefit of our American friends, "Big" Ron Atkinson is a football pundit on British television with his own unique language of football.

posted by squealy at 04:24 PM on June 05, 2002

What term is self-score a butchering of? I admit it sounds pretty stupid.

posted by mblandi at 04:46 PM on June 05, 2002

"own goal" right?

posted by mblandi at 05:18 PM on June 05, 2002

Gazza is great - after 16 years in this country, I can finally understand most of what he says - great stuff. His analysis is quite enjoyable too, he's like a lil kid crossed with a football commentator :) I've seen every match so far, and have only been disappointed by a handful (England vs Sweden, bleurgh..) - not a boring 0-0 in sight, yay. I see some big scores and great matches in the weeks to come, the knockout stages are shaping up to some interesting matches too.. God bless the World Cup. I now simultaneously support Japan, South Korea, England and Ireland - who would have thought that the Koreans/Japs would pull it off so well? And indeed mblandi, a self score would indeed be an own goal..

posted by Mossy at 05:35 PM on June 05, 2002

One thing I forgot - the Uraguayan national anthem. Jaunty horse riding dictator music, goes on for ages & you think it's going to end 3 times before heading off at a tangent. A classic of the genre!

posted by i_cola at 06:35 AM on June 06, 2002

Have a listen here...

posted by i_cola at 06:45 AM on June 06, 2002

Thanks for jinxing the World Cup, Mossy. Uruguay 0 France 0 Zzzzzzz...

posted by grum@work at 09:24 AM on June 06, 2002

Oops. My bad.. Whats with the Zzzs? At least it was an.. eventful 0 - 0 :)

posted by Mossy at 12:04 PM on June 06, 2002

If you think France-Uruguay was a bore-draw, then you weren't watching it. Another match that challenges the standard clichés of US sports writers: yes, there were no goals, but there were plenty of chances. That it ended scoreless proved the resilience of the French defence after Henry marched, and the erratic quality of Uruguay's front line.

posted by etagloh at 12:11 PM on June 06, 2002

Senegal look like bloody ringers for the cup. Did you see that equalizer against Denmark? They picked their opponents apart in one flowing end-to-end move. Defender solidly tackles and steals the ball from top right of his penalty box, pushes ball straight up to right midfielder (sorry, no names). Right midfielder immediately does a touch and go, knocking the ball left while he spins to the right and takes a winger's run up. Central midfielder immediately dispatches ball to central striker, who's already running at Denmark's top semicircle. Central striker holds on to ball and almost impudently rolls it into the path of Diao, who has cut in from behind him on the left, leaving a defender trailing. Three strides to the penalty spot, face to face with the keeper, he fashions a cheeky little squeaker with the outside of his right foot that eludes the keeper and so casually spins into goal. This whole move was done with the ball barely leaving the ground. Genius. That's the kind of speed, power, finesse (and swagger) that champions need.

posted by worldcup2002 at 03:20 PM on June 06, 2002

On the other hand, champions need to be able to beat the likes of Denmark!

posted by salmacis at 05:09 PM on June 06, 2002

Hahaha - yes. And the likes of Senegal and Uruguay, too. heh.

posted by worldcup2002 at 06:08 PM on June 06, 2002

worldcup2002: That was a spot on description of one of the most beautiful goals I have seen thus far in this world cup. Nobody should be underestimating the Senegalese.

posted by vacapinta at 06:13 PM on June 06, 2002

I was impressed with all of the African teams, especially Nigeria, who could have beat Argentina with a little luck.

posted by catatonic at 10:49 PM on June 06, 2002

wc2002, that was a great goal. What counter-attacking! We're getting the ITV commentary, I beleive, and in the Uruguay-France game, the commentator said "and Barthez pulls a Barthez!" as the Uruguayan (sorry, forgot the name) goes around him. Fabien Barthez is quickly becoming my favourite player in the world. Nothing but excitement there. And he pulled off a couple of great saves as well. That was an exciting game, even if no one scored. I'm getting up at 5am to watch the England-Argentina game tomorrow. Only to watch as England gets creamed. I'm such a sucker for punishment. I'm almost looking forward to the preliminaries ending so I can see the sun again.

posted by sauril at 12:31 AM on June 07, 2002

Sauril: I'm waking up at 4am for this. Thank God it's going to be Friday. I don't think I'd make it thru otherwise. Must ... get ... caffe mocha ... IV drip ... stat ...

posted by worldcup2002 at 01:17 AM on June 07, 2002

Well I was wrong. Woohoo! Although 2.5 hours of sleep last night will do nothing to my productivity today (I just had to watch the end of Nigeria-Sweden)

posted by sauril at 11:24 AM on June 07, 2002

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