Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Thoughts on the World Cup 2010 Semis

The FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa, which opened last June 11, 2010, is now on its last stages of the tournament. Only 4 teams remain. Some teams had already left the tournament, including the favorites France, Italy, England, Brazil and Argentina.

Who would have thought that Italy and France, both football powerhouses in Europe and finalists in the 2006 edition, were eliminated in the first round? Their awful performance was jeered by fans, and they went home in humiliation. France had a star player sent home because of some verbal tussle with the coach. The other players went on strike. The Prime Minister wanted to intervene and demanded some explanation.

In Italy, it was just a shame for the defending champ. They don’t have the glitter and the legs to perform at the top level anymore.

So, how about England? They are very strong on paper. They have one of the best coaches in the world named Fabio Capello. But their stars brought no ammunition in the actual battle at the football field. Wayne Rooney, despite being dubbed as one of the best soccer players in the world, was a major disappointment. He even had some ugly confrontation with a few of the English fans. Lampard, Gerrard and Terry were no shows. Even against teams like USA and Algeria, they failed to win. Their early and embarrassing exit at the hands of a young German team was not a surprise anymore.

At the quarters, there were 4 teams from South Africa, 3 from Europe and one from Africa. Brazil, the current no. 1 team in the world and the favorite to win the Cup, was also favored to win against Netherlands. They looked lethal on paper and they easily beat their opponents. But even great teams crumble. After the unfortunate own goal from Felipe Melo, Brazil never recovered and lost 1-2 to the Oranges. The coach was immediately sacked. 4 years of preparation, and winning every game along the way, was all for naught because they failed to win the greatest prize of them all – the World Cup. That could have been their sixth. But they will have a chance against as they will host the 2014 edition in Sao Paulo.

Cry for Argentina this time. They were badly humiliated by the Germans, despite having one of the most solid and experienced squad in the tournament. 0-4 is such an embarrassing defeat that it need a National Day of mourning. I cried for Messi and for Diego. The latter will no longer have to run naked in Buenos Aires, as he promised if his team wins the Cup.

Who are the teams left? It is such an unlikely group. Netherlands, Uruguay, Germany and Spain remained standing after the other fell along the way. Spain is the next favorite to win, but their performance in South Africa is suspect. They lost their first game again Switzerland. No team that lost its first game ever won the Cup. Can they break that jinx? Germany, on the other hand, is riding high on its trashing of Argentina. The young Germans are lethal on the attack and yet solid on defense. Spain has to be lucky to win against the mighty Germans.

In the other semis match, it is Netherlands vs Uruguay. The South American came off with a controversial win against Ghana. The ‘hand of Suarez’ rescued them. And luck was not on the Africans side as they missed the ensuing penalty. Uruguay will be without their main striker. But Netherlands, the team that dismantled Brazil, has all the chances to win the Cup now. They’ve never won the tournament before, despite being in the finals twice. Maybe, this is their chance to surpass the greatness of Johan Cruyff’s team of ’74.

The semis matches are both good to watch. All four are known not to play boring football. Expect more goals. But I like to see a finals of Netherlands vs Germany. That would be a remake of their 1974 encounter.

See also - Netherlands vs Uruguay: World Cup 2010 Semis Preview and Results Prediction

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