Thursday, June 29, 2006

The last 8

If there was one word to describe the WC so far, for me it'd be underperformance. The big names have generally been doing just enough to win. There's also been far too much cheating going on and FIFA's attempt to stamp it out has rebounded: as more cards have been flourished there have been more attempts to get opponents carded.
Down to the last 8 and in all honesty, if I were a betting man, I wouldn't know where to put the life savings.
  • Germany, started out poorly (bear in mind Ballack's pre-tournament remarks) but definitely improved. Also have the home advantage.
  • Argentina. Best side in the groups stage by a country mile but were nearly knocked out by perennial non-achievers, Mexico, making it look as though the trick is to take the battle to them.
  • Italy. Negative and defensive with some very unpleasant attitudes. Side I'd most like to see go out.
  • Ukraine. Way out their league, but I'd love 'em to provide an upset.
  • England. Scraped through against weak opponents. Everyone seems to be playing way below their best, apart from Ashley Cole.
  • Portugal. Mix of brilliant football and appalling cheating; will be missing 2 or 3 key players against England.
  • France. Initially seemed past it but showed all the old strength and flair against Spain.
  • Brazil. Half the squad seem asleep. Apart from the 2nd half against Japan when they turned it on a bit, only Ronaldinho and Cafu are making much effort.
Stakes are getting much higher now; who can raise their game to take the lead?


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