Football Station


Bad Blood – Germany v. Argentina Preview

GERMANY – ARGENTINA

“BAD BLOOD”

Preview

July 3rd, 2010

When the ball drops Saturday in Cape Town and it will have nearly been a week since Germany and Argentina had secured their places in a mouthwatering quarterfinal fixture that has nothing less than a finals atmosphere.  Arguably the most anticipated quarterfinal matchup was created from two very similar second round matches as Germany sent home fellow European “rivals” England with their tails between their legs upon capitalizing on a Lampard goal-that-never-was that seemed to deflate any English momentum as the Germans went on to dismantle the absent English defense on second-half counter attacks.

The scuffle in Germany, 2006.

Argentina’s “Hand of God” sequel compliments of Italian referee Roberto Rosetti’s un raised arm seemed to take El Tri’s mind off of their game plan and more on exacting revenge by way of a half-time tunnel scuffle.  An early Tevez bullet after the break sent El Tri on a one-way ticket back to the beaches of Acapulco.  It’s fair to say that both teams arrived in the Quarterfinal on questionable circumstances.

Historical bad blood has sparked Germany’s captain-in-waiting Bastian Schweinsteiger to take the opening shot of what has developed into a war of words between the two heavily decorated sides. Schweinsteiger has recently accused the Argentineans of displaying a “lack of respect” during their second round tilt against Mexico. The German midfielder went on to cite that Diego Maradona’s squad are anything but reluctant to influence the referees in any way possible for their benefit. “It starts before the match. You see how they gesticulate, how they try to influence the referee. That is not part of the game. That is a lack of respect. They are like that. We should not be provoked by them.” Schweinsteiger continued to legitimize his claims by pointing out that this has been commonplace of the Argentinean mentality and character on the pitch.

It is clear that the Bayern workhorse has still not forgotten the post-game clash that erupted after Germany’s victory in penalties over Argentina that produce a clash between the players and coaching staff from both sides during the 2006 World Cup Quarterfinals. Schweinsteiger has come out and said that he has made it a point to remind his team-mates of their history and to not react to any Argentinean provocation come the start of Saturday’s showdown, which doesn’t seem to be quite a bad idea with the immense presence of the seemingly card-happy officiating thus far in the World Cup. (i.e. Kaka)

On the other hand, who was surprised to see the constantly outspoken Carlos Tevez presenting his rebuttal to the off-field German offensive? Not me.  Tevez combated Germany’s critiques of his side’s character by insisting that Mexico are a far more formable

The Manchester City man has been more than happy to have a spat with the Germans.

and fearsome squad than the one anchored by Schweinsteiger. “The Mexicans play better football. They took the ball from us in the first minutes of the first half and at the start of the second. We should have suffered more if we hadn’t struck at the right moments.”  Shortly after the Schweinsteiger comments, Tevez told Clarin that he was more afraid of Mexico than Germany despite an absolute showcase of pass and move counterattacking against the star-studded Three Lions.

It is clear that Tevez’s confidence may arise from the two sides’ last meeting during a Friendly match in Munich where Diego Maradona’s squad defeated the Germans 1-0 in a less than strenuous effort. When brought to his attention, Schweinsteiger seemed unmoved by this fact saying, “One, it was a friendly. Two, they did not create many chances either. Three, we have gained a lot of confidence by beating England and the good tactics we used in that game.” Those good tactics will undoubtedly need an encore against the South Americans who seem to be unstoppable at the moment, having not lost a single match yet during this year’s World Cup campaign.

The two sides look to be extremely well matched, which seems to be the reason for the sudden outburst of words from either camp as each team seems to be desperately looking for added ammunition to use as motivation in a quarterfinal match that looks to be as unpredictable as the Argentinean master and commander, Diego Maradona.

Liverpool hard man, Mascherano, will be key to stopping the young Mesut Ozil.

I have no doubts that either team will come out at their strongest to live up to either country’s immense expectations. Argentina has more than an adequate supply of attacking power with a laundry list of world class finishers (Higuain, Messi, Tevez, Milito, Aguero) but their defensive play has long been suspect. As if the England game doesn’t provide enough evidence, the Germans have a reputation of capitalizing on such weaknesses by utilizing the speed and width play of their youth movement. Look to Germany to continue their balanced and control-based passing game with calculated and organized counterattacks, which will test the nerve of Argentina’s back line.  Even more so than any other game, the capitalization of chances will be crucial for either side in a match where the sheer presence of world-class talent will be on full display.  I see Germany putting away at least one or two of these chances against a possibly more vulnerable back line than previously presented to them by England, where Argentina’s strike happy hit men will see fewer opportunities against a veteran German back line.  Ozil may play less a part in this game as he sizes up against Captain Javier Mascherano.  The latter is certainly capable of neutralizing any offensive threat in the world, and the German youngster is no different.  Still…

Prediction:

Germany 3 – 2 Argentina

– Eric Fortin



Hat Trick Hero

A nervy second half saw Argentina come out victors and top Group B despite South Korea pressing into their area.  After the departure of Walter Samuel through injury early in the first half, the Argentine back line hasn’t looked the same.  Newcastle’s Jonas Gutierrez picked up a pointless yellow card to rule him out of the next match against Greece, so Maradona will have to find a few boys to deputize for said starters.

An own goal from Chu Yong (17′) and a headed goal from Gonzalo Higuain (33′) gave the Argentines a great start to the match that they were fancied to win from the get-go.  Much of the first half played to the South American’s fancy, however, immediately before the break, South Korea got theirs.

Higuain celebrtes his hat trick.

A terrible mistake by Demichelis allowed Bolton’s Chung-Yong Lee to cooly net past the onrushing keeper while the Bayern Munich man was caught napping on the ball.  After the goal, the Koreans experienced a new lease of life after the half, constantly foraging into the South American’s third of the pitch.

However, Higuain struck again in the 77th minute after Messi did some fancy footwork, forced a save out of the Korean keeper before Messi shot again off the inside of the post.  The rebound landed kindly for the Higuain as the Real Madrid man was left with the simplest of tap ins.

But Argentina weren’t done.  Just a few minutes later, Messi skipped around the edge of the box, chipped Sergio Aguero into the area, who played a lofted ball to the back post where Higuain got his hat trick.  A very impressive play, worked with precision.

Despite the match being all but won for Diego Maradon’s men, the Koreans still put in a valiant effort of their own.  Venturing forward through goal scorer Chung-Yong Lee and Park Ji Sung, they did not look toothless in attack.

Overall, it’s good to see teams scoring goals as freely as Argentina, especially given the fact that after the first round of games, this is the lowest scoring World Cup ever.  Now, the South Americans have to be taken seriously, and to most peoples’ surprise, so does Maradona,



Maradon’t
May 27, 2010, 12:33 AM
Filed under: International | Tags: ,

“If we win the Cup then I will run naked to the Obelisk in Buenos Aires.”

– Diego Maradona

….please don’t.  I think I speak for all of us when I say, that the statement alone will project the appropriate amount of excitement you would feel.

Only 50% naked, and I'm 100% sure I don't want to see any more.

And if that doesn’t get your blood going, maybe this will.  Maradona’s omission of World Player of the Year, Lionel Messi, in their friendly against Canada was explained to the player by saying,

“If something had happened to you in that match, I’d have been shot – you know where.”

Not sure how necessary the last little bit is.  If he had just said, “I’d be shot,” you think that would get the point across.

Thankfully, Argentina aren’t exactly odds on favorites to take home the Cup in South Africa.  Barring some upsets, Diego should stay fully clothed.



Beauty & the Beast in Group B

Group B –

Argentina

Nigeria

Korea Republic

Greece

Group B looks, off the cuff, a tame group.  Who would say otherwise?  Argentina should have a fairly easy task with all three teams, but, I suppose, the second spot is up for grabs.  The stingy Greeks will be defensively stout, as they always are.  Korea won’t have the home field advantage they had in 2002, but will still have a few tricks up their sleeve.  And Nigeria will probably be tipped to take the second spot, but funny things happen at the World Cup and this one should be no exception.

Greece – Probably the most boring team to watch it football.  How they won Euro 2004 is remarkable, but their defensiveKyrgiakos will test the resolve of attacking play resolve and their grinding out of wins got them the trophy.  The Greeks will look towards Theofanis Gekas for goals, Liverpool’s Sotirios Kyrgiakos for defensive leadership and Giorgos Karagounis for everything in the middle of the park as the Captain is also the most capped at 32 years old.  It’s hard to doubt Greece’s ability after their historic upset of the Euro 2004 tournament.  Still though, it’s hard to look past the attacking threats of Argentina and Nigeria.  They will probably watch footage from that 2o04 for inspiration and ideas…seriously.

Korea Republic

Like Greece, the Tigers will be looking to draw on experience and their 2002 World Cup run as the driving force behind this campaign.  Their oldest player and most capped at a whopping 129 games is goalkeeper Woon-Jae Lee and their most experienced at an elite level is without question Manchester United midfielder and captain Ji-Sung Park.  Park will float in right behind Dong-Gook Lee in attack with Chung-Yong Lee looking to press forward on the left as well.  They will have to rely heavily on their work rate to get them through as they are quick but not as quick as Nigeria and not as technically gifted as Argentina.  If they progress it will be because of their hard work and a little luck.

Nigeria – Do not underestimate the Super Eagles in Group B, as they have terrific pace and a lot of experience in the squad.

Obafemi Martins will lead the line against Group B

Three members (Joseph Yobo, Yakubu, Victor Anichebe) of it ply their trade at Goodison Park of Everton in England.  Portsmouth (Kanu, John Utaka), Fulham (Dickson Etuhu), Bolton Wanderers (Danny Shittu) and notably Chelsea (John Obi Mikel) boast Nigerian players.  Obafemi Martins is another player I’m expecting to make things happen in South Africa.  Martins once played for Newcastle and now plays for Wolfsburg in Germany.  His pace paired with the pace of Victor Obinna will give the physical Greeks something think twice about as well as the rest of Group B.  The captain, Kanu, stands the most capped, and his creative play will allow Martins to perform well, however his age has looked more noticeable as of late.  In qualifying they conceded only one goal in six matches and had a perfect run.  With John Obi Mikel steadying the ship in the middle of the park, breaking down attacks, and starting moves forward, the Nigerians are well equipped in all areas.

Argentina – How do you solve a problem like Argentina?  Maradona’s rag-tag group of players look unbeatable on paper, but have failed to impress as Maradona has come under intense scrutiny back in Argentina.  Obvious stand outs for the team are Lionel Messi, who has more individual honors than you can count on both hands, Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano and up and comer Angel Di Maria.  Their attack is probably the best in the world with Higuain, Aguero, Tevez, Messi and Milito all big time names.  Their midfield is commanded by the hard tackling Javier Mascherno and their defense steadied by Martín Demichelis.  The only question mark over La Albiceleste is the team chemistry.  For some reason, they have not been able to click into full gear and many are hoping they find their feet soon.  Maradona is taking the majority of the blame as he rotates more players in and out than anybody ever has.  His style is almost similar to Rafael Benitez’s bizarre rotation policy at Liverpool.  Still though, they’re not the best at the tournament, but they are too good to not advance out of their group and past a few more games.

Prediction –

1. Argentina

2. Nigeria

3. Greece

4. South Korea



Transfer News July 23rd

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July 23rd, 2009

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MIRROR

  • Xabi Alonso has raised the stakes in his tense battle of wills with Rafa Benitez over his move to Real Madrid.
  • John Terry has told his team-mates he will stay at Chelsea.
  • Eidur Gudjohnsen admits he s thinking over a move to West Ham and the chance to work with Zola again.
  • Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is ready to move in on Aston Villa’s bid for Pompey defender Sylvain Distin.
  • Burnley boss Owen Coyle wants to sign Ecuadorian winger Fernando Guerrero after his sensational debut on their American tour.
  • Portsmouth have made a £2million offer for Hull defender Sam Ricketts.
  • Phil Brown aims to end his frustrations in the transfer market with a £7million deal for Cardiff’s Joe Ledley and Ross McCormack.
  • Preston boss Alan Irvine is in talks with Didi Hamann about a shock move to the Championship after he was freed by Manchester City.
  • THE SUN
  • John Terry will be staying at Chelsea.
  • Jamie Carragher has led the call for Liverpool to keep Real Madrid target Xabi Alonso.

    David Villa - still linked with a move abroad to England now that his moves to Spain seem to have fallen through

    David Villa - still linked with a move abroad to England now that his moves to Spain seem to have fallen through

  • Manchester United have denied any transfer funds are being kept from Alex Ferguson.
  • Steve Bruce wants to seal a £10million deal for Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh.
  • Phil Brown will test Cardiff’s determination to hang on to Joe Ledley by tabling a £5million bis.
  • Tony Pulis is poised to make Dean Whitehead his first summer signing at Stoke.
  • DAILY STAR:
  • Diego Maradona is being lined up by Portsmouth for a sensational move to the Premier League.
  • Chelsea expect John Terry to make a public announcement that he is staying at the club by the end of the week.
  • Bordeaux’s Marouane Chamakh was last night on the verge of joining Sunderland.
  • Hull manager Phil Brown will test Cardiff’s resolve with a £5million bid for Joe Ledley.
  • DAILY EXPRESS:
  • AC Milan are poised to make a shock £10million bid for Nicklas Bendtner.
  • Sunderland are in pole position to sign Marouane Chamakh.
  • Sunderland have also made a new move to sign Spurs striker Darren Bent.
  • Burnely have reignited their attempts to sign Norwich midfielder Darel Russell.
  • Manchester United’s owners, the Glazer family, have denied claims they have bocked Sir Alex Ferguson from spending the rest of the £8om kitty from Cristiano Ronaldo’s sale.
  • DAILY MAIL:
  • Manchester City will make a sensational last-gasp bid to sign John Terry by offering the Chelsea captain £1m a month in wages.
  • Darren Bent’s move to Sunderland looked back on last night.
  • Rafael Benitez is facing a crucial stage in his tenure as Liverpool manager as he fends off renewed interest in his disgruntled midfielders Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano.
  • Blackburn defender Keith Andrews is a target for Fulham.
  • Aston Villa will return with an improved £3m offer for 31-year-old Sylvain Distin.
    Bendtner - a surprise target for AC Milan

    Bendtner - a surprise target for AC Milan

    DAILY RECORD:

  • Macedonian striker Ilco Naumoski has asked Hearts to improve their offer and bring him to the SPL.
  • Rumours -Pure, unadulterated rumours.  No facts.  Just rumours.

    • Manchester United and Liverpool are both teeing up large bids for David Villa, but are both wary that should the Spaniard choose the rival club, it would spell humiliation for the other.
    • If Arsenal want Klaas Jan-Huntelaar, Real Madrid are asking to have first option on Cesc Fabregas when he chooses to leave the Emirates in the future.
    • Luis Fabiano and fellow Brazilian and former Ballon D’or winner Ronaldinho are on their way to Stamford Bridge.
    • Tottenham have secured the services on Aston Villa’s Ashley Young.
    • Michael Essien is preparing his move to Manchester United
    • Jermain Defoe will move to Sunderland with Keiron Richardson moving in the opposite direction.