Saturday, June 14, 2014

World Cup: Group C and D preview

Clearly, I'm feeling pretty full of myself with the way that I predicted that Holland collapse. (In my defense, I had no idea Iker Casillas was capable of playing that shittily. He personally gave away 3 of the 5 goals that Holland scored on Spain. Of course, Spain only scored one, but that's what they are good at, in theory. Score once and win 1-0.)

So, just to be slightly ahead of the games tomorrow, here's the rigmarole, and then some quick thoughts.

It is possible to overthink the World Cup. In fact, it is really easy to do so. You can get into tactics, or managerial skills, or possible talismans. Simple point of fact - since the World Cup began, only 8 teams have won. You can pick a Dark Horse if you want, but the odds are not with you.

Group A here
Group B here

Group C consists of:
Cote d'Ivorie

What Group C is is the Group of No Fucking Clue. Colombia is probably the strongest top to bottom. The Elephants of the Ivory Coast have the most talent, but they are all on the wrong side of 30. Can they get it together for one more push? I WOULD LOVE THAT SHIT. Greece is boring as shit. Japan plays a very high energy, frenetic passing game, modeled on Spain. Which means in their own way, they are also boring as shit.

If I were picking, I would Colombia gets out of the group (but not guaranteeing that they finish 1st in it) and that the second team could be anyone. But I really, really want it to be the Ivory Coast. I want Didier Drogba to have one last great run.

Group D consists of
Costa Rica

If people thought just a little more of England, or a little less of Ghana, this might have been the group considered to be the Group of Death. This is a mean, tough group.

Italy and Uruguay have to be considered the favorites. Both are going to be playing to their strengths, which is attacking football. I happen to LOVE Uruguay. The combination of Suarez and Cavani up top is a better attacking duo than just about anyone in this tournament. They have old man Forlan, who was one of the best players in 2010. He doesn't have to be that good this time around, because the youngsters have come into their own. Though they do have to contend with the Sports Illustrated curse. Their midfield is full of hard men, whilst their backline is shaky. They are like a mini-Argentina.

Italy, I would think, can contend with the loss of Montolivo.  Italy has almost too many options. Their success is predicated on which combination of players will be on the pitch. For some teams, their Top 11 is pretty easy to suss out. Italy? Who knows. Hell, going into the Cup, Italy has deployed a wealth of formations that have left much closer observers than I wondering what the hell they will look like on the pitch tomorrow (bear in mind, they are playing on the worst pitch to start their World Cup).

England is caught between generations. The previous generation, so full of bad red cards and shitty penalty kicks and really questionable goalie play? That generation is still around. But they are also counting on a bunch of near-teenagers. If it all comes together, it will be a miracle. Miracles happen, via hard work or belief or some such intangible bullshit. The truth of the matter is that if someone asked me to pick between England advancing and England not scoring a goal, I'm not sure which one I'd pick. I am pretty damn sure they will concede a decent number, though.

Costa Rica is not advancing, but they are going to make sure as shit that the team they are playing doesn't advance because of them. Costa Rica is going to play physical, borderline dirty, and if the other three squads aren't careful, they aren't going to lose to a Costa Rica team that scores 1 goal and gets 9 yellow cards. If nothing else, Joel Campbell is a Master Diver, first class. If Costa Rica should draw a referee as easily duped as the ref in the Brazil/Croatia game, anything can happen! (But again, The Ticos are not advancing).

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