Match Day 13- ...and it won't be over till its over over there!
If I can just add some more words to the already well described shambles that is the French situation, I'd like to talk about heart. South Africa showed heart. Nigeria showed heart. France showed that a presumption of greatness gets you jack squat. I am a fan of French football. I have a retro Adidas 10 jersey hanging in my closet as a tribute to Platini and Zidane. This performance made me want to light it on fire and hurl it out the window. A couple of things I saw in the last day only deepened the satisfaction of knowing the French went home empty handed.
The first was the Argentina teams behavior throughout their match last night. Since the first game, they have looked relaxed and happy. I think you can peg some of that on the enthusiasm of Diego Maradona. Whether or not he has the skills to guide this team through hardship remains to be seen. What cannot be ignored is the vitality and spirit he has imbued his team with. They smile and laugh and look like they are having the time of their lives. They play with a true team spirit that France was sorely lacking.
The second was a brief piece on Jorge Burruchaga, the player who scored the winning goal for Argentina in the 1986 World Cup. When he was a child, his mother set aside money so that he could train to play football. He never forgot her sacrifice and used that as a driving motivation throughout Argentina's World Cup run. He truly appreciated what it meant to even play in a World Cup, let alone score a goal on the grandest stage.
In both these cases, we see that heart has won out over all the other petty concerns that ultimately doomed France. So few of the French Players exhibited the kind of joy or sense of wonder needed to be a World Cup champion. I know, platitudes like that are all well and good, but they don't win you tournaments. That is true enough. I can stand on a soapbox all I like, but what I am trying to indicate is that the same is true in any sport. Those who embrace the moment and acknowledge the true gift that playing a sport at the highest level is, create the greatest moments in that sports history.
We go back at it with both Groups C and D to be decided and the fate of yet another entitled team hangs in the balance.
1. Slovenia 4 points +1 GD
2. USA 2 points 0 GD +3 goals scored
3. England 2 points 0 GD +1 goals scored
4. Algeria 1 point -1 GD
So once again, Ryan's blinders go on and I cannot focus on reasonable analysis. Ok, ok, I can see the truth of the matter, but I really don't want to.The US and England win and they advance, it is as simple as that. For what it's worth I don't have the same sense of foreboding dread like I did before the last game. Who knows what that means. What gets lost in all the discussion is that Slovenia is still in first and can control the tempo of their game against England. They need a draw and they advance. England need to press the action but Slovenia has a great counter attack. The USA has a similar circumstance in that they need to be the ones pressing the attack, but the difference is that Algeria needs to gain momentum on the wings to make an impact. They aren't really a counter attacking side.
Slovenia to advance- Win or draw vs. England. Loss + USA and Algeria draw.
USA to advance- Win v. Algeria. Draw vs. Algeria + England loss, or England drawing and failing to make up goal differential or goals scored differential.
England to advance- Win vs. Slovenia. Draw vs. Slovenia with US loss or US draw and overcoming goal differential.
Algeria to advance- Win vs. USA with England loss or Slovenia loss. Win vs. USA and England draw while overcoming goals differential.
England 1-0 Slovenia.
England get it together?
USA 2-0 Algeria.
USA get it together? Honestly the USA have had it together, the trouble is minding the door. Waking up halfway through the game isn't going to do it this time. Algeria's defense is competent and so is it's offense. I know the US won't take them lightly, and I expect team America to move onto the 2nd round. F*&$ yeah.
The fact that Germany could go home tonight after that amazing first game blows my mind. Ghana represents Africa's best shot to stay in this competition. Serbia has to shift it's perspective a tad tonight if they want to take the group, and Australia has to play like they are Brazil.
1. Ghana 4 points +1 GD
2. Germany 3 points +3 GD
3. Serbia 3 points 0 GD
4. Australia 1 points -4 GD
Ghana to advance- Win or draw vs. Germany. loss and loss by Serbia with Australia failing to make up GD.
Germany to advance- Win vs. Ghana. Draw vs. Ghana with Serbia loss or draw and failure to make up GD.
Serbia to advance- Win vs. Australia. Draw vs. Australia with Germany loss or Ghana loss with large goal defecit.
Australia to advance- Australia must fly down the Death Star's trench avoiding tower fire and Tie-Fighters. Then firing a single torpedo down the exhaust shaft striking the Death Star's reactor core should cause a chain reaction that will destroy the Death Star. Sorry? Oh, wrong...uh, nevermind. Win v. Serbia and a minimum 7 goal swing with Germany loss and a minimum 5 goal swing with Ghana loss.
Germany 2-0 Ghana.
Germany won't be caught out this time, nor will they have a referee shoving a card in their face every time they sneeze.
Serbia 1-1 Australia.
I'd love for Australia to win and win big, but I think maybe their run ends tonight. Serbia will control just enough of the pace to score one of their own but allow the Soccer Roos a glimmer of hope.
I think the USA wins out and guarantees themselves 1st place and a date with Ghana who makes through on head to head record with Serbia. England make it through and wind up in a great head to head with Germany.