World Cup Diary Pt.1: An international view on the start of the tournament
We continue our coverage of World-Cup 2010 with the first edition of our World-Cup diary. We asked four football experts and BVB-Supporters from four countries to sum up their impressions of the first round of the group stage. Four different perspectives and four opinions on the most important football competition in the world. We are still interested in our reader´s comments on the tournament in South Africa, so keep sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org. But without further ado let´s kick off our World-Cup diary.
Kenny from Scotland:
Well, another World Cup is here and the absence of Scotland, ensures that the only real interest for us bitter Scots, is too see in what manner England manage to fail. After only one game, they manage to surpass all expectations in the first game, with Robert Green joining that elite group of dodgy English keepers, with one of the most funniest and inept pieces of goalkeeping since Paul Robinson's fresh air swipe against Croatia.
I watched the game in my friends back garden with some mates from work. My friend John, has a lovely American wife and they had arranged to have a barbeque. So we set off with our cowboy hats, stars and stripes and sheriff badges. The day consisted of watching the 2 games, prior to the England one, eating lots of fantastically overcooked burgers and drinking bucketfuls of beer. I had made the wise move of stocking up with plenty of DAB's, which my non german beer drinking friends, took an instant taste to. They were all gone rather quickly, so it was off to the nearest oddbins (off licence) to stock up again.
By the time the game came round, everyone was in a great mood, with plenty of versions of Yankee Doodle Dandy being sung at increasingly louder volumes. The game had barely started when England scored. Much nashing of teeth and plenty of moans and groans, but we all felt that England were not that superior to the Americans. Both teams huffed and puffed, until THAT moment. A hopeful shot from Dempsey, straight at the keeper, was somehow thrown into his own net by Green. The roar from the Scots/Americans in John's backgarden was so loud that, half the neighbourhood thought there had been a fly over from the red arrows.
We all waited to see the replay, unsure what our eyes had just wintessed, but there it was again, a sclaff off glorious preportions. Another roar, this time full laughs and back slaps. The game ends 1-1. Well done America.
The only team, so far, that has really impressed has been Germany. They outplayed Australia and scored some great goals. Özil, in particular, was immense. Of course the media (BBC + ITV) are putting it down to Australia making Germany look good, which is a lot of nonsense. The running of the ball by Klose was tremendous. He seems to really shine in World Cups.
Nearly a week down the road and the majority of games have been pretty poor. Maybe it will improve with the teams getting used to the light ball, and we will see some exciting games as it gets closer to the knockout stage.
One last thing, see those trumpets. My god, what a racket. We have a saying over here in Scotland that goes "Gonna no dae that, just gonna no" Think that applies to those god awful Vuvuzela's
Matty from England:
There was plenty of doom and gloom in England after their opening game of the World Cup, Robert Green did not do much for the reputation of the current crop of English goalkeepers after a mistake that even a Scottish goalkeeper would fail to beat but the lack of quality seen in a tournament since, seems to have lifted the English spirit as we are just as bad as the rest of the nations who have failed to set the world a light. Green who has been linked with a move to Scheisse would further become enemy number 1 if he joined that lot or maybe not if a long shot from a Schwatz-Gelb player squirmed under those butter fingered hands.
The English press have been very much doom and gloom after the draw with the USA and even Fabio Capello who seemed untouchable previously has been given short shrift over his selections but a win against Algeria tomorrow and the verses of football coming home after 44 years will be very much back in vogue.
The German performance has been met with the expected as you would expect from the Germans after they destroyed a terrible Australian side who like their cricketing counterparts are all growing old together, I was of course supporting Jogi Low’s side (apart from the hated number 1 who I desperately wanted to throw a Green) though many English supporters did not know where to turn against our country’s oldest sporting rivals. Paraguay’s match saw the Dortmund brothers of Valdez and Barrios in action, they both I thought did well with the former his usual effervescent itself with tireless running (admittedly at times going nowhere), while Super Lucas not having any clear cut chances gave the Italians food for thought with his movement and I am sure given a chance he will find the back of the net in the tournament. Valdez has been linked in the English press with an £8 million move to Sunderland, good money if we can get it and if he needs a lift up there we can collect him from Dover!
The English press has also got a bee in its bonnet about the ball saying that it has ruined the tournament and because the Bundesliga clubs have used since January they are the country that has adapted to it better they have had a unfair advantage, so that is why I was quite shocked that Poldi was so good on Sunday night as he must have been blaming the ball for his performances for Koln this season.
Enjoy the second round of matches and soon we will know if our two nations will meet in the second round and then the World Cup really does start.
Derek from the U.S.A.:
Greetings again from America -- at submission time, the Americans sit tied with England in second place in their group, after a surprising 1-1 result with the group C titans.
More on that in a bit. Nearly lost in the hubbub about Robert Green, Tim Howard, and the USA's gutsy draw, however, is the fact that with Slovenia beating Algeria, the draw didn't really change the equation for our passage beyond the group stages. We have to expect England to get all three points against Algeria. A loss to Slovenia would then essentially eliminate the US from the tournament, as we would have to hope for a significant win over Algeria coupled with a loss by England to a weaker team that already has gone through. A draw would make for a frantic scramble in the third game, while a win would make the US breathe much easier.
Unfortunately, Slovenia will prove an extremely tough opponent -- just the type that could give the US fits. They are confident, they possess the ball with skill, they are organized, they are defensively oriented, and, significantly, they are underdogs. It will be a tense match, but a good one, I think. (One pre-game annoyance has been the media's typical attempt to goad players from both teams into taking shots at each other. One Slovenian player has "guaranteed" victory, and the press dutifully went to the US team for juicy quotes in response. Thankfully, the response was measured. This kind of journalism is tiresome.)
Now, more on the US and England. The game itself showed the fitness and tenacity of the US players -- as well as their overall deficit in skill and organization relative to our English friends. Although his goal was a gift, Clint Dempsey, who is not without his detractors domestically, played an outstanding all-around game -- perhaps the most consistent among the field players. He was everywhere, and his cleverness and skill (unique on the squad) gave him the shot that Green let trickle past. A command performance. Landon Donovan was less visible (likely the focus of England's defense) but still had influence, and Oguchi Onyewu, a powerful Milan defender coming off of a severe knee injury and getting no time for his club, was sensational for the majority of the match -- his first 90 minutes in months. Of course, the bulk of the plaudits go to Tim Howard, and deservedly so.
It certainly isn't a shocking result for us, as we've made a habit of rising to the occasion against the world's powers in the World Cup. Because of the poor performance in our other two games in Germany 2006 (including a thrashing by Rosicky and Koller,) that we played Italy to a draw (the only points the Italians surrendered in the tournament) is often forgotten. The England result was a similar achievement. The difference now for our team is that the draw is not enough for most fans. We want more -- namely, to advance. Many expect more, rightfully or not.
And the Cup has been popular in the United States. The game against England received television ratings on par with our 1994 knockout stage game against Brazil -- when the World Cup was in the US. Although there are complaints about the vuvuzelas and consternation about a sport that willingly plays to draws without (gasp!) manufacturing a way to declare a winner, there is wide interest. Time will tell, however, if the interest can be maintained, or if, as with many sports in the Olympics, Americans tune in religiously during the competion. . . and then forget the sport for four years, drawn more to the pageantry of the occasion than the games themselves. What I foresee is a steady growth in the "core" fans -- not an explosion of soccer mania. While most of the casual viewers will remain casual, there will be a few "converts." These converts will maintain interest in MLS (and foreign soccer/football/futbol/fussball/calcio, etc.) and may eventually render MLS more fiscally sound, just in time for the nextWorld Cup, where the growth will (we hope) continue, and then (we hope) reach a critical mass.
A few words on the rest of the goings on: the USA's result is but one of many strong performances by clubs expected to lose. Indeed, the only example of a favorite exceeding expectations wasGermany's dissection of the hapless Socceroos. Otherwise, teams such as Brazil and Argentina put forth sound, but far from flawless performances, Spain, of course, suffered a nightmarish defeat, and France and Italy looked very shaky. While it may be an artifact of the uncertainty and unfamiliarity unique to the opening game, there does seem to be a measure of parity among the teams. Good for Germany.
The Asian teams, about whom we hear little in the US, also have stood out. Only the non-Asian "Asian" qualifier, Australia, was underwhelming. It will be interesting to see if Japan and South Korea can maintain their form.
Looking forward to the next slate of games!
And finally schwatzgelb.com´s Steph from Dortmund, Germany:
Getting ready for it on Friday, sporting my German Allstars Bangkok jersey. Funny looks all over the Westpark beergarden. “What is this? And who wears the #14 anyway?” “Maybe some kid that got shot recently, I reply. You never know” I reply with my Vuvuzela sticking out of my Army shorts. It’s the World Cup after all. Free to do whatever I want do. But anticipation turns into disbelieve after the first 180 minutes of WC 2010. Is this real? not only the kid in that youtube-classic asks. Aghast I wake up on Saturday. France? Should have known about them. And boy that Tshablalala kid would make a good chant for us. Will we sign him? I walk up to the Friedensplatz, home to so many Borussia celebrations and home to the “Dortmund Fanmeile”.
Some 40 folks join me watching Argentina being denied more than one goal by that wonderful Nigerian goalie. There is more security than fans and even the food stand people already feel let down by South Africa. “Not a lot of people showed up yesterday, and have a look around today”, the middle age woman behind the counter explains. “Good luck, we are on tomorrow. Things will change”. But some things never change. English goalies are shit. A fantastic Green blunder paves the way for a few more spectacular misjudgments by New Zealand’s, Algeria’s and sadly so Paraguay’s keeper.
Spectacular is no good word for the first round of this World Cup. Half filled stadiums, two holding midfielders in nearly every team (God Bless King Otto of Greece for fielding a sweeper!), teams moaning about being jabalunised and Refs doing whatever they want to do. “This is the worst game of the World Cup so far”, you’ll hear the commentators complain at nearly every match. ZDF pundit Oliver Kahn took it one step further yesterday when he accused the Brazilians of playing at 25%. “It is cold, damm cold, somebody tell them please, if they run they might warm up” was his advise during half time of the eagerly awaited match Brazil vs The People’s Republic Of Korea, where we witnessed the tears of the North Korean Wayne Rooney when the anthems where being played. Some weird stuff but you can never judge not living under this stoneage-communist regime.
What will be remembered from those first few matches?
The Vuvuzela noise but what did Sami Khedira say? "It makes no difference communicating under the influence of Vuvuzela noise or under the roar of some 70.000 fans in Bundesliga". I wonder which stadium he talks about
Jabulanised keepers and coaches complaining about the ball being too round.
Half empty stadiums which according to FIFA are 97% packed
A lack of goals
An outstanding performance by the German team, some good football by Argentina and two good moments for Brazil and most of all maybe the big upset for the hotly tipped favorites Spain. Ottmar is the new Otto!
That sums up our first edition of the World Cup Diary we will be back when the second round of the group stage will be completed. The guest authors express their own opinions, which must not necessarily represent the view of the editors of schwatzgelb.com.