The 2010 World Cup So Far — Group Breakdown: A & B … and some commentary

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa has been well under way for a while now. Just going to break it down a bit.

Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France

For my ESPN bracket I seeded Uruguay first and Mexico second. I reasoned that South Africa simply doesn’t have enough talent to continue the tradition of the host nation progressing out of the group stage. That has proven to be the case after 2 games. I also reasoned that France had waaaay too much turmoil ongoing to have a successful tournament. And, so, let’s see…hmmm…internal strife among players and media rumors leading up to the tournament, then an awful display and tie in the first group game, then going behind 1-0 at halftime during the second game, a player telling off the coach at halftime, the player being replaced for the second half, then the loss, then another tirade after the game, then being told to apologize, then a refusal to apologize, then a player dismissal by the French Football Federation, then a bust-up between the team captain and a team trainer, then the trainer’s resignation while storming off the field and literally THROWING his team credential card onto the field, then the players refusing to practice and getting back on the bus, then a players’ statement read to the media by the under-fire manager for the reason not to practice (in support of the dismissed player), and then the resignation of the team director. Read and hear it here and see it here.

OH…and add to it a reported sex scandal involving the team captain right before the start of the tournament and also criticism from the French Sports Minister about the French team’s luxurious accomodations and setup while in South Africa while Europe struggles with a credit and solvency crisis. HA! I mean, really, what else can you say? They’re French. They love drama. FROGS OUT!!! FROGS OUT!!! FROGS OUT!!! FROGS OUT!!!

So, with South Africa and France out of it, that leaves the teams I picked to advance as being the ones still in it. Uruguay and Mexico both are talented teams. Uruguay has not performed well historically at the WC, however, this team has talent. It had to shine. The thing that I believed would be crucial was Diego Forlan. He has been improving as a scorer for the past several years after his transfer from Manchester Utd to Atletico Madrid. He was clinical for Atletico during the UEFA Cup this past season, and he scored the goals in the final game to win the UEFA Cup. He’s been fantastic, and I believed he would carry that form into the WC. I thought that he would be one of those players on an underdog team that could inspire his teammates to achieve a higher level. With his play in the first game and his goals in the second, I think Uruguay are doing well. I actually picked Uruguay to top the group, and with a predictable draw in the last game between with Mexico — neither team should really go for broke as they look to avoid injuries knowing both teams are through with a draw — then Uruguay will top the group based on goal difference.

Mexico have one of the best teams in a long time of their history talent-wise on an individual basis. Two of their young strikers are members of two of the Big 4 of the English Premier League. Another player belongs to Barcelona FC. It’s a young-ish team, but there is enough old head to guide them along. Mexico has found stability in Javier Aguirre after their federation disposed of Sven Goran Ericsson. Maybe nerves and South Africa’s energy for hosting and opening the tournament’s games are what caused Mexico to fall behind in their first game, but they fought back to tie the game. They were BY FAR the better team in the second game against France and won 2-0. They really looked classy on the field. I believed that Mexico’s usually strong performance on the WC stage with their talent and their decent preparation would set them well to progress. I thought Mexico would beat South Africa, tie France and tie Uruguay when I looked at the game schedule. I figured that schedule and that it was simply a stage for Uruguay to shine were reasons for their second seed.

Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece

I picked Argentina #1 and South Korea #2. Argentina…there’s just waaay too much talent there not to top this relatively easy group. I mean, c’mon, this squad is stacked. As I should write about in a later post, I don’t know why I picked them to be upset by Mexico in the first elimination round other than the fact that there has to be upsets somewhere along the line and why not with Mexico? Could be a BIG BIG mistake in my bracketology. Anyhow, the Nigerian “Super Eagles” had an OK 2010 African Nations Cup with a 3rd place showing. Ghana and Ivory Coast have supplanted Nigeria as Africa’s soccer powerhouse. I picked them to be a flop as one the African continent’s teams. So far, yes.

Greece…the country is crumbling literally and figuratively. “King Otto” Rehagel would not reproduce the kind of 2004 European Cup magic for this WC. The Greeks don’t have enough to take them far. They’re old. I figured that South Korea were really the better team, and Greece wouldn’t be able to rise to the occasion in the first game. Defeat. I thought they would struggle against an African team, which they did, but they were fortunate to have Nigeria reduced to 10 men during the game. They won. However, I knew that they’d come up against it in their final game with Argentina. Argentina will go for the win. There’s a lot of pressure on that team’s players to perform, particularly Lionel Messi, who could go off for 2 goals and an assist in the last game. The Greeks had none and have no chance.

South Korea comes into this cup on the surge of their performance from hosting the last WC in 2006. It’s an Asian team. Certain things you can expect from that. Disciplined. Committed to a plan. Fairly speedy. Hard work making up for any lack of technical talent. They have some good players though. Park Ji-Sung is a figurehead in the Manchester Utd midfield. He’s scored some timely goals this year, and he’s a mature player. Plus South Korea had pretty good results in preparation and leading up to the WC. However, with Greece’s win over Nigeria, that leaves South Korea tied with Greece on 3 pts and the same goal difference. South Korea will play Nigeria going for the win. However, South Korea hold the tie breaker with Greece due to head-to-head result and assuming the goal difference doesn’t change.

So, for Groups A & B with the final group games to play, the outcomes are fairly predictable. This would give me two groups with the right picks in the correct positions. Can you say BONUS points? Yes, indeed. 🙂

Now, there’s been the topic of the vuvuzela noise at this World Cup. I really don’t know why people are complaining about it at home. “WHAT is that bee-buzzing sounds????” “It’s annoying.” “I can’t hear the crowd singing and cheering.” Blah blah blah. South African officials claim that the horn is a part of their culture.

Blow yer horn!

Now, I haven’t done much research to determine if the vuvuzela really is integral to South Africa’s culture and if it is routinely used at, say, a Kaiser Chiefs vs. Orlando Pirates, two professional soccer teams for South Africa’s top tier league. Is it blown at rugby matches? I don’t think I’ve heard it. I don’t really know. I searched once and read one article. It mentioned that the blowing of animal horns to call for something or maybe mark an occasion. So, really, I don’t know if it is a part of their sporting culture. However, if it truly is a part, then it should be respected. That can’t be denied. It would be a crime against humanity to impose a restriction on it. It would be hypocritical and elitist to do so. Those are not characteristics embodied in the spirit of FIFA, the cup or football itself.

You can’t hear the crowd singing? Really? Do you even know the songs that are being sung? If you’re English speaking, do you know any of England’s football chants? Do you know any of the chants for the USA? Yeah, maybe 15% of you, and I think that’s a REALLY generous estimate. So, you’re English speaking and from Brazil? You know the samba’s beat, and maybe you know some of Portugal’s songs too. Do you know any Danish sing-a-longs? How about a Slovakian chant? The answer is that if you’re North American viewer at home, where the media has latched onto complaints about the vuvuzela, then you probably don’t know shit about football songs and chants. You just know that’s what happens. You may notice the singing and part of the tune, but you have no fucking clue what’s being said. But, basically, you’d prefer to hear a bunch of inaudible verbal din instead of instrumental. Right. That makes a lot of sense. Fuck off. BESIDES, the supporters at the match more than likely don’t give a shit that they can’t be heard on the television. The supporters are definitely going to be heard when you’ve got a pub filled with Germans on one side and Dutch on the other. Between pints, they’ll take turns facing off at one another singing as loud and as emphatically as possible. That’s really where they want to be heard. It’s a spectacle. People watch. Vuvuzelas won’t upstage something like that.

It’s not really annoying. It’s really not. The level and sound changes. It’s not as if the frequency of the sound never changes. It’s just different. Get used to it. I like it, because it tells me as I watch at home that there’s a crowd there and they’re enjoying it and it’s a festive atmosphere. And, how is the noise that much different than general crowd noise you’d encounter at a game? When people cheer, is there a specific cheer or sound they should make? Should it be “YYYYYAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYY”? Should it be “AAAAAARRRRRRGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!” Should it be “OOOOOHHHHHHHH!!!” There’s no answer to it, because there’s no inherent answer and can’t be. That’s one reason why the vuvuzela has to be permitted.

~ by jerseyquaker on June 20, 2010.

One Response to “The 2010 World Cup So Far — Group Breakdown: A & B … and some commentary”

  1. mm

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