Friday, June 16, 2006

spinachdip's guide to the 2006 World Cup: Matchday 9 - Over? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

Coldplay - Everthing's Not Lost
Master Killah f/Ghostface and Raekwon - It Is What It Is

Back by popular demand, it's spinachdip's (more or less) day-by-day guide to the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Let's recap what has transpired in the past few days:
  • Spain looks like it's well on its way to advancing after a 4-0 pounding of Ukraine and a thrilling 2-2 draw between Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. Of course, Spain being Spain, they just might find a way to fuck this up.

    Though the real big story is how great Spain looked without its posterboy Raul, starting Fernando Torres and David Villa up top. Also, Torres has a glorious mullet-mohawk.

  • You gotta feel for Poland. The Poles looked like they were going to escape with a 0-0 draw with a man down against Germany, after two German shots hit the crossbar in the waning minutes. And then Oliver Neuville ups and scores in stoppage time to win 1-0, sending the Germans to the next round and Poland out of the cup.

    Germans look shaky though, and Ecuador, ahead on goal differential, sits on top of Group A. Germany will have to beat Ecuador to avoid (presumably) England in the next round.

  • England comes up with another unimpressive win but put itself through to the next round. The Three Lions can win Group B with a draw against Sweden, but we're hoping for a win here, not just because they haven't beaten the Swedes in like 40 years, but also because a win would help Trinidad & Tobago's cause.

  • In Group C, Argentina looked scary good in dismantling Serbia & Montenegro 6-0 while the supremely talented but inconsistent Holland squeeked out another close win against the Ivory Coast. The Dutch are through to the next round, but it will be tested against Argentina in te next match.

    Tough luck to the Ivory Coasters though. They really could have come away with points in both matches, but are now eliminated. Here's hoping they get a win against S&M.

  • Now, the previews:
    Matchday 9 - Saturday June 17
    The day rounds off with USA in a must-win match against Italy, while Portugal tries to look a littl more interested than it did last Sunday, and Ghana also tries to fight elimination against the mighty Czechs.

    Portugal vs Iran (9 am ET ESPN2/Univision)
    Key player: Ali Karimi has to be the key if Iran wants to avoid elimination after a 3-1 defeat to Mexico. Portugal's giraffe boy Cristiano Ronaldo has to show more than he did against Angola.

    Reasons to watch this game: Both teams play attractive, entertaining soccer - if they want to.

    Reasons not to watch this game: Yeah, they're both talented teams, but they're also known for not living up to potential.

    Verdict: Despite their inconsistency, both teams want to make up for their performance from their last matches. If you're up at 9 am, I say watch it. Otherwise, you can stay in bed, but definitely get up for...

    Czech Republic vs Ghana (12 noon ET ABC/Univision)

    Key player: Tomas Rosicky. Seriously, did you see his goal against the US? And that other one? Yeah, Arsenal's pretty happy to have him for next season.

    Reasons to watch this game: As bad as the Yanks looked Monday, that had as much to do with the US team's cluelessness as it did with Czech brilliance. And Ghana looked quite credible, if somewhat naive, against Italy. Ghana needs this match to stay alive, Czechs want to win to stay on pace with Italy. Good times.

    Reasons not to watch this game: You can't decide if Pavel Nedved looks more like Patrick Swayze in Point Break, Owen Wilson in Zoolander or Heath Ledger in A Knight's Tale.

    Verdict: This match will partially decide if Group E is Group of Death of Group of Snooze. And you have two very good teams playing each other. Head to the pub for this, even if only to grab a seat for the next match, which is...

    Italy vs United States (ABC/Univision)

    For all the doom and gloom after the 3-0 beatdown by the Czech Republic, US isn't out of it, though publicly bitching hasn't helped matters much. USA can advance to the next round by winning the next two matches. They only have to beat the mighty Italians. But as the saying goes, the ball is round. Anything can, has, and will happen.

    Remember four years ago. Before I could even finish my cup of coffee, USA found itself up 3-0 against heavily favored Portugal and Jack Edwards's eyes saw the glory. Why? Because USA came out attacking, refusing to be intimidated by Luis Figo and company.

    Remember eight years ago. USA lost its opening match before a single goal was scored, because an early tackle by Jens Jeremies on Claudio Reyna took the Americans out of their game.

    Remember twelve years ago. With a little luck, a little grit, USA knocked out Colombia.

    Remember sixteen years ago. USA sent a team of amateurs and college students and held the host nation Italy to just one goal in a losing effort.

    But by all means, forget Monday. It's a new day, a new game. When you get knocked down, you get the fuck back up.

    Key player:

    Four years ago, USA had a rising star by the name of Clint Mathis, a country boy from Georgia. Cletus, as he was affectionately nicknamed, scored a key goal against South Korea which helped send the team to the second round. Mathis never fulfilled his promise though, and fattened himself off the national team.

    This time around, there's Clint Dempsey, another Southern boy. He didn't get any playing time against the Czech but I expect that to change for the Italy game. His dribbling and willingness to take on defenders is needed against Italy.

    Also, Eddie "Grown Ass Man" Johnson was about the only US player with a pulse out there against the Czechs. Expect him to start.

    Reasons to watch this game: As Eddie ever so tactfully put it, "we're here for war", and dammit, this is the most important game for American soccer, like, ever. At least since 2002 and until 2010. This isn't just one match, or even one tournament. We're watching, essentially, Alyssa Milano grow up on Who's The Boss, shedding the innocence, fighting the the pubescent awkwardness and trying, as impossible as it may be, to become a mature soccer nation overnight.

    Reasons not to watch this game: If the US loses, it'll get ugly, uglier than what happened Monday. There will be rioting in the streets of New York and kids everywhere will be burning their soccer cleats and deflating their balls.

    Verdict: Dude, this is as big as it gets. Park your ass in front of the TV and grab a pint. Win and live to see another day. Lose and go home. Draw, and you're not out, but you're hanging on by a thin thread. Don't be a commie, root for the US of A.

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