World Cup Check-In: Group Stages

A mixed bag, to be sure. In terms of the teams I was really pulling for, the USA did exactly as I predicted in its first two matches…but it was heartbreaking. Even though I expected those results, the USMNT truly deserved a win against Portugal. There are a million tactical analyses by experts that know way more than I do, so I won’t digress too much. But Michael Bradley, who improved on his awful performance against Ghana, got greedy and made a massive mistake. There were other factors there, from the clock having gone over 5 minutes of injury time for no apparent reason to an (unfortunately) slow-to-react defense. Ronaldo made a killer cross for Eden’s amazing header…but it could and should have been prevented by a million things. There are a lot of ways the US can go through…let’s just hope the stars align.

England had literally the worst possible World Cup. Many, including myself, expected this to be the best England team in years. Hell, they started the first two matches with 5 Liverpool players! But Hodgson, as expected, got his tactics wrong in the first two matches against opponents that shouldn’t have been too much better than England on paper. I feel bad for Steven Gerrard more than anything. A guy who always plays with his heart, for Liverpool or England, and he deserved more.

Uruguay…well it is what it is. Could be my only team in the next round. Suarez’s performance was incredible against England. But his actions against Italy were insanely stupid. I don’t agree with the witch hunt being performed on him, but he shouldn’t put himself in those situations. In the end, I hope he A. stays at Liverpool, B. gets some help, C. takes responsibility and recognizes the idiocy. Either way, hope Uruguay do well with or without him.

Other notes: Costa Rica, WOW. A bunch of has-beens and no-names have taken the Cup by storm. Gonna be the neutrals favorite for the next round, but I think the honeymoon will end soon. Colombia has done so well without Falcao, which I can’t believe! Very impressed by what they’ve done too. They could be the real dark horses. Belgium have looked shaky in their matches so far, their draw will determine how far they go. I can’t believe Spain bombed so dramatically, gotta be the surprise of the tournament. France, Brazil, Germany (sorta), Netherlands, and Chile have to be the favorites at this point. We’ll see!

Last WC note: check out the New Republic’s excellent page of “moment of the match” hand-drawn illustrations. Very cool. Their World Cup coverage in general has been quality.

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