Showing posts with label England. Show all posts
Showing posts with label England. Show all posts

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).

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Half-Assed Euro Cup 2012 Quarterfinal Predictions Pt 2

First, a quick look at Part 1 of the half-assed predictions, and one thing you will notice is that it was clear I was using my whole ass. Both games with the winner predicted correctly, and the margin of victory dead-on. The actual score? Not so much. But still--I predicted a Portugal 1 goal victory, and it came to pass. I predicted a German 2 goal victory, with domination that suggested a larger margin of victory, and it came to pass. Thanks in no small part to Khedira's flying smash. Which you should probably see.

Now, an honest handicapper of Euro Cup matches would say something like, "Hey--to be fair, these matches, based on what happened in the Group play were pretty open-and-shut picks. Portugal beating the Czechs was hardly going against the grain, and everyone who can identify a particular ball as a soccer ball could tell you that Germany would beat Greece." But I'm not an honest handicapper, and I'm going to bask in my imaginary kudos. In my imagination, those kudos rain from the ceiling like the rose petals from Mena Suvari's breasts in American Beauty.

I'm sure there was some asshole out there who was arguing that Greece had a chance. In fact, I know an asshole who argued exactly that. But who cares about assholes who argue stupid shit? Let's get to the predicting!

Saturday: Spain vs. France

I will not lie to you, dear reader. I'm having trouble handicapping this match, at least in part because of my incredibly small stakes gambling efforts, in which I have France advancing. Many of you may take one look at France losing to Sweden 2-0 in their last game of qualifying play and say, "Nope--a team that can't handle Sweden certainly can't handle Spain." And I am sympathetic to that argument.

But has Spain really been that impressive? Maybe they have been. They certainly beat the fuck out of Ireland. (Which led to one of those moments in Euro Cup that makes American sports writers go, "Why the fuck don't we do that?--specifically, the Irish fans singing a heartfelt ballad called "The Fields of Athenry", even when their team was down 4-0.)

Spain hasn't beaten anyone in their Finals group--let's be clear. They went 2-0-1, and scored 6 goals. That sounds impressive, if you know how group play works in the Euro, but do consider this: take out that drubbing of that poor old, sad Irish team, and you are left with a record of 1-0-1 and two goals. It isn't Spain's fault that Ireland was in their group. But it is up to Spain that they have so little confidence in Fernando Torres that they actually attempted to play a game with no strikers at all. It is up to them that they defeated a strictly OK Croatia squad 1-0. Can Spain be gotten?

Yes they can. France doesn't have a striker dicking around in the MLS, like Ireland had in Robbie Keane. They have Benzema. They have Malouda. They have Ribery and Nasri on the flanks. They also have a questionable defense, made all the more questionable by the fact that starting defender Phillipe Mexes is sitting out due to too many Yellow Cards.

France hasn't played anyone of import, either, you could argue. They tied England (though they were clearly the better squad there), beat a lackluster Ukraine, and against Sweden, barely looked interested whilst folding 2-0.

I'm going to look at the history of the Euro Cup and World Cup and note that no team has ever won 3 of those championships in a row, and Spain is currently in possession of the 2010 World Cup and 2008 Euro Cup. Statistics say that they lose at some point. I think most folks looking for a loss for Spain see Germany in the Final, but why not France? Dangerous offense, a solid keeper. Spain is running a system that seems to have been figured, and they don't have the alternative scoring threats that Germany has. I think and want to believe Spain loses this game. But it will be close. One goal margin. Maybe even PK's

Players to watch:  For Spain, Sergio Ramos. An excellent wing defender, with excellent overlapping skills that Spain has neutered by moving him to central defense. He needs to be involved. Fernando Torres needs to make the defense sweat, a proposition that is a coinflip the last few years. For France--Lloris, the goalkeeper will probably need to stop shots from distance; Benzema will need to keep the Spanish defensive line high and tight and allow speedsters like Malouda and Ribery to overlap. The defensive back 4 will need to come up big.

Prediction: France advances by a whisker, and we get our first upset of the Quarters.

Sunday: England vs. Italy

I don't have a gambling dog in this fight, and I can apply my clear eyes to this match-up and say that it will probably be low-scoring, as between England's Hart and Italy's Buffon, it will take great strikes/massive fuck-ups in the defense to score goals.

After decades of ungrounded high expectations of England, the lack of expectations seem to be working wonders for them. The same thing could apply to Italy.

However, I have watched both of these teams play, and I know how England has scored, and I know how Italy has scored. And I can say with some confidence that the goals England scored against Sweden and Ukraine won't be available against Italy. The goals Italy has scored have been about pace and spacing and talent.

I think this one is a bit of a surprise in the gambling world, only because there are so many English gambling firms, and they've convinced themselves, yet again, that this team is good. It isn't that good.

Players to watch: Ashley Cole. He's looked old in this tournament, and I can't help wondering if the Italian offense is going flow to his wing and test his mettle. Joe Hart needs a big game. Wayne Rooney scored a gift, but he wasn't impressive. England needs him to be impressive, along with Ashley Young. For Italy, we're looking the oddest combo up top in the Euros--Balotelli has yet to leave his mark, due to some questionable shit that Marco Balotelli is all about. Cassano has been brilliant at times. Those two, combined with sneaky veteran Pirlo suggest to me that if Italy cracks the first goal, it may lead to 2 and 3 shortly thereafter. Let's see if England's other wing back, Glen Johnson, doesn't wander too far from his spot on an ill-advised run. I feel like he's got at least one of those a game.

Free kicks could determine this game--that's a Gerrard vs. Pirlo contest, essentially.

Prediction: Italy 2, England 0

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Is John Terry Worth It? (answer: Nope!)

alternative title: John Terry is a Fookin' Cancer.

Maybe you've seen the news--Fabio Capello, arguably the best manager England has had in quite awhile, is out.

Apologies if some of this old news to some of you. Some of it is rather old news. But the background is worth it.

Two years ago, in the lead up to England's rather unimpressive 2010 World Cup run, a story broke that totally shattered John Terry's already pretty sketchy reputation among people in the know. In late January, with rumors flying, and carefully worded reports being written, John Terry lost a legal battle (he was using the Human Rights Act to shield himself from harmful reporting, which is more ridiculous than it sounds) and the stories started flying:  womanizing, drinking, gambling, and long-forgotten incidents came back to the fore.

(My favorite? "In 2001, Terry and three team-mates were fined two weeks’ wages in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when the players were accused of drunkenly mocking American tourists at Heathrow." Think about that shit for a second. The immediate aftermath.)  But pick your own--here's The Mirror's Top 10 Scandals.

Terry's whispered personal issues became a public AND team issue when it was revealed that he had slept with potential England teammate Wayne Bridge's ex-girlfriend. All reports called her Bridge's "ex-girlfriend", but it wasn't entirely clear that Wayne Bridge knew that until he found she had slept with John Terry (married father of two at the time).

On February 5th, 2010 there was some hope that the gulf between the two could be resolved when then (and until today, current) coach Fabio Capello stripped Terry of the captaincy he had given him two years previous. The captain title means a lot at the top levels of soccer (you tell by the heated editorials about the incident), and it was hoped that this punishment would be enough to bring back Wayne Bridge. That turned out to not be the case.

On February 25th, Wayne Bridge, at that point the only healthy, national quality left back the England side had planned to take to South Africa announced he would not play for England. And he made his reason quite clear: "I have thought long and hard about my position in the England football team in the light of the reporting and events over the last few weeks. It has always been an honour to play for England. However, after careful thought I believe my position in the squad is now untenable and potentially divisive. Sadly therefore, I feel for the sake of the team and in order to avoid what will be inevitable distractions, I have decided not to put myself forward for selection."

Later that week, Bridge made his point a bit more emphatically:

And so, England wandered to South Africa, with Ashley Cole at left back (coming off a broken ankle) and one could assume, not the best locker room. Had it not been for France's total implosion, the England situation might have been the most talked about during that World Cup. And let's not forget--England tied the USA on a horrible mistake from England's keeper, drew scoreless against Algeria, beat Slovenia in an unimpressive 1-0, only to get Germany in the next round to get absolutely thumped 4-1 (and it wasn't as close as that lopsided score suggests). In four games, England scored three goals, and gave up five.

Fast-forward to March, 2011. Fabio Capello, looking over his roster, decided that the best man for the Captaincy was still John Terry, and gave it back to him. Said Capello at the time, "Sometimes the leader can make mistakes - not only him but I, you, all the people. It is not a risk making Terry captain again. He understood the mistake and he learnt from his mistakes." [emphasis mine]  And hey, let's be clear--we all make mistakes, sure. But Christ, John Terry has made enough mistakes for two or three of my lifetimes. I'll go to my grave comfortable that I never slept with a best friend's girlfriend, or mocked people in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 (or any other tragedy, for that matter!)

A lot of old-school English players popped off about how Terry should have never had to give up the armband in the first place, because, well, you know--his personal life is his personal life. As long as he's great on the pitch, who cares if is he driving people off the team with his philandering, his drunken gambling, and his mocking of 9/11 on the day of the event? He's good people, on the pitch! No way that other shit bleeds over on to the playing surface. Said former English Goalkeeper Peter Shilton, "I'm not condoning what John Terry's done on certain occasions but he hasn't broken any laws and I think maybe the manager should have kept continuity in the first place."

So as long as John Terry didn't break any laws, according to Peter Shilton, he was worthy of being the first representative of the English National Football team. That seems a little of a low bar to me, but what do I know?

Allegedly, it was a low enough bar for John Terry to trip over, however. In October of 2011, John Terry's massive favorites Chelsea were playing against (and losing to) the Queen's Park Rangers (QPR to fans and foes alike) and it sure does seem that a camera catches John Terry yelling at Anton Ferdinand, and maybe calling him a "fucking black cunt". That might be seen as racist, yeah? And there's a law in the books in England about that. Terry's defense as the time was [I paraphrase], "Yes, I yelled those words, but the context was, 'Oi, Anton, I never called you a fucking black cunt.'"

Terry denied it. Anton was silent on the matter, and continues to be. The case is in motion, slowly. But on February 3rd, Anton's brother, Rio Ferdinand, who has played with John Terry a lot whilst wearing the English kit, said this after hearing that the public hearing on the matter had been delayed (by Terry and his Chelsea club) until July 2012, "I feel insulted, woke up with a bad taste in my mouth, it's a god-damn joke!"

On the same day, the English Football Association took the totally reasonable move of removing the captain's armband from John Terry's arm. And hell broke lose all over again. "Innocent until proven guilty" as a phrase is a pretty simple one, but one that has been misused an awful lot in the wake of that decision.

Let's be clear here, England and various English writers--losing a Captain band is not convicting anyone of a crime. John Terry is not a man done wrong. He's a very good central defender whose literally dozens of actions that range from embarrassing to shocking should have been enough to remove the band (and they have been, before). He's been controversial in the past, and I haven't seen a lot of his black teammates flock to his defense. Hell, I don't need to insert race into it--go ahead and Google "Wayne Rooney defends John Terry" and see what you get.

But Fabio Capello did go to the mat for Terry. I suspect that was more about power than anything else, if I had to guess. Capello has, as detailed above, named Terry the captain of his team, stripped him of the title, reinstated and promised that Terry had "learned his lesson.' Imagine Capello's chagrin when his reinstated, rehabilitated captain was stripped of his armband without Capello's imprimatur? Capello spoke to Italian TV after he resigned, and he said this, "“I told [the chairman] that I don’t think someone can be punished until it becomes official...The court will decide. It’s going to be civil justice, not sports justice, to decide if John Terry committed that crime that he is accused of. And I thought it fair that John Terry keeps the captain’s armband.”

What John Terry has been on the pitch is a very, very good central defender. Maybe one of the greats, but not definitely. What he's definitely been off the pitch is an embarrassment, time and time again. The Captaincy of any national team is not some Civil Service job that once you get, you keep forever. England Football Association owes no one an apology. No one has denied John Terry his paycheck. No one has denied his spot on the English National Team, though based on the clubhouse cancer he might have become, no one could deny they would be outside their rights to do so.

Martin Rogers from Yahoo! Sports sums up the wrongheaded general opinion pretty well (just be clear, it is Rogers' opinion, too):  "What [The English Football Association] should have done was to realize a legal process had to be respected and carried on with Terry as captain, a role for which he has the appropriate credentials as a player."

Appropriate Credentials! "Well, he's never been convicted of anything." Good Lord, England. Get your heads out of your asses. Whether or not these charges stick on John Terry, he already blew up your 2010 World Cup team, and is well on his way to blowing up your 2012 Euro Cup team. Get out before he blows up your 2014 World Cup team. Or, you know, just keep making excuses for the most embarrassing man on your team, and keep explaining why he should be Captain. Though for me, drunkenly mocking Americans stuck at Heathrow on 9/11 would be reason enough for him to never wear the band. The captain's band is a privilege, not a right. John Terry thinks it is his by right, and too many folks in the English media are thinking the way John Terry thinks. If John Terry valued the captain's armband, he wouldn't be trying so hard to give it away. Just let him give it away, England.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas, Bitches Part 2

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Take That, English Teenagers

And that's why you never not pressure the ball.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Get to Know England

The team that finished behind the Mighty, Mighty United States, England had some bad luck.  That's why they scored all of 2 goals in 3 games.  They had a bunch of goals wrongfully taken away from them.  Oh, wait, NO THEY DIDN'T.  That was the US.  No wonder John Oliver seems so high strung.  Fun facts underneath the funny angry Brit.  More fun facts here.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
World Cup 2010: Into Africa - US Beats Algeria
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

1.  England has had some of the most entertaining Civil Wars in history.  Whether it is the mostly power struggle of the War of the Roses, or the philosophical underpinnings of The English Civil War (Cavaliers vs. Roundheads--seriously, the best match-up ever), or the religious based simmering Cold War between Catholics and Protestants that emerged after Henry VIII's death,  there are few countries that can compete with the cast of characters that rose through violent struggle in England.  Of course, it helps when you've got Shakespeare covering your shit, and the Irish writing nasty songs about Oliver Cromwell.  

2.  Home to one of the coolest and strangest guys writing anything anywhere, Alan Moore. Have you read From Hell?  Why the fuck not?

3.  Obviously, a home for great rock and roll since the first British Invasion.  I would like to just mention very quickly that The Kinks, in America, are too easily reduced to a couple of early British Invasion songs, "Lola", and for a brief moment of time in the early days of MTV, "Come Dancing".  All are fine songs, but if you don't know about the The Kink's late 60's, early 70's output, holy cow are you missing out on some of the finest records made in any era.  Starting in 1967, with Something Else, they had a run of great classic albums that combined produced maybe one hit in the US:  The Village Green Preservation Society (1968), Arthur (1969), Lola Vs. Powerman and The Money Go Round Pt 1 (1970), Muswell Hillbillies (1971).  I'll put that set of records up against any band, ever; and yes, I'd include the Beatles with that.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

England is a Pussy Country That Has To Simulate Height

Hear me, ya pussy-ass Limeys?

American soccer players don't need special nighty-night time bed tents that simulate high altitude. Because we have fucking mountains, bitches!

As of today, I'm demanding that all US Soccer players get sent to Colorado, then sunk into a deep pool and fed oxygen poor air for the next 4 weeks.  We'll come out of that with super lungs, and muscles used to increased resistance.  Running in thin air will feel like nothing at all after that!

To summarize:  British soccer players are pussies.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Gurning Champion

From Wikipedia:

"Gurning contests are a rural English tradition and were once common at travelling sideshows, fairs and freak shows. They are still held regularly in some villages, and the contestants traditionally frame their faces through a horse collar - known as 'gurnin' through a braffin'. The World Gurning Championship is held annually in Egremont, Cumbria as one part of the Egremont Crab Apple Fair. Those with the greatest gurn capabilities are often those with no teeth, as this provides greater room to move the jaw further up. In some cases the elderly or otherwise toothless can be capable of spectacular gurns covering the entire nose."

And yes, here is the Queen of friggen England with the 2008 World Gurning Champion:

God save the Queen.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Steve McClaren Won Something

As many of you know, the English National Soccer Team has had some issues of late, and quite a few commentators and fans placed the Three Lion's share of the blame on the now former skipper of the squad, Steve McClaren.

But just yesterday, McClaren took home a prize of his very own: "The Foot in the Mouth" award from the Plain English campaign. He beat out our own President Bush. Amazing.

McClaren's winning effort was this comment on one of England's biggest drunks stars, Wayne Rooney: "He is inexperienced but he's experienced in terms of what he's been through."

Steve fail English? That's unpossible!

via Neatorama

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Are You Serious? Eat it, Anglia. Australia Rules!

It was the first Ashes Whitewash in over 80 years! I have no clue what that means, but I'm still excited by it!

Congrats, Australia. Way to destroy the nation most famed for their athletics prowess--England.
Given that the default mode for most Australians is drunken celebrating, do you think that when their team wins an "important" Game/Match/Test that they celebrate by enjoying a nice cup of tea and settling down with a good book?

Can Harry Kewell settle down with a good book without spraining his groin?

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