It's all in your World Cup

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Day the fourth

Australia - Japan 3-1

First missed game of the tournament. I had the Japanese down to win this one as I rate Nakamura and Nakata and thought they'd play their way around the apparently more brutish Australians. From the sound of it on the radio, Australia battered them from more or less beginning to end and deserved the late flourish encapsulated by Cahill's second goal.

Czech Republic - USA 3-0

The Czechs were easily my team of Euro 2004, and against an effortful but edge-lacking USA they managed to give the impression that there weren't an extra 2 years of wear on the already aged legs of Nedved et all. I've admired Rosicky ever since seeing him score in the Champions League for Prague in 2000, where he beat half the Arsenal team cutting in from the left, so it was a pleasure to see him dominating this game. For some reason the Czechs have been blessed with a generation of players who know how to score from distance, and they will certainly need Nedved and Rosicky to weigh in with goals, as with Koller and Baros injured, their striking options look limited.

I sort of envy the Czech fans, even though I don't think they have enough in their squad to win the tournament. Their team plays a truly impressive kind of football, intricate but powerful, with the entire team contributing to the building of attacks. In contrast to the frequently disjointed approach of the England team, they seem to be playing a different game - fluid and potent where England are static and predictable. They combine the athleticism and strength that English commentators seem to incomprehensibly relish, with nimble technique, both in striking and distributing the ball. Their match against Italy should be an interesting contrast of styles, and I hope the Czechs manage to score a couple to force the Italians to come out and play.

Italy - Ghana 2-0

Almost a clone of the Argentina Ivory coast game, though both participants seemed marginally inferior to the vintage of Saturday night. Essien and Appiah were excellent, but once again, the lack of a striker the equal of the chances being provided by a smart midfield put a limit on the ambitions of the underdog team. The Italians defended as well as cliche would dictate, and in Toni look like they might have a striker who wont disappoint quite as horrendously as Italian strikers have in tournaments past. I don't envy the Italian fans though...

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