It's all in your World Cup

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Day the sixth

Spain - Ukraine 4-0

As Brazil discovered in 2002, being written off before the tournament can be excellent news for teams with a traditional fragility inspired by the weight of expectation. Spain have disappointed so many times, in so many tournaments that this time round it seemed that no one could even be bothered to dust off the traditional wisdom; I don't think I saw a single article in a newspaper or tv guide that referenced the legendary Spanish cocktail of supreme talent and utter failure. What degree of the excellent Spanish performance today was inspired by a very young team full of quick, technical players, and what was enabled by the lack of haunting expectation is impossible to gauge. Still, they looked fast, skillful and more potent than any other side I've seen in this first round of matches.

It was definitely worth running the gauntlet of sitting in the canteen at work after lunch for 2 hours with my laptop, waiting for someone to question whether it's actually legitimate to make the sofa in front of the tv my office...

Tunisia - Saudi Arabia 2-2

Due to my exploits braving the Spain game in full view, I decided to skip this one until 10 minutes from the end. Couple of decent finishes, again (seems to be a trend with the games I'm forced by employment to miss).

Germany - Poland 1-0

Even with the inclusion of Ballack in the starting line up, Germany failed to recapture the energy of their game against Costa Rica. They looked devoid of ideas, and neither Klose or Podolski did much to suggest that they would be capable of propelling this team much further. Though it pains me to say it, I don't think England would have much to fear from Germany if they met in the next phase, even with the home advantage (how much advantage this can be when your strikers are only capable of hitting the ball with their shoulder blades is a question I might attempt to answer in this blog sometime). The introduction of Odonkor injected some much needed pace, and it's easy to see why despite his lack of experience he was included in a largely old and one-paced squad. However, premature though it might be, I'm going to sound the German death knell right here, right now. The Poles were occasionally interesting to watch, but ultimately failed to do anything like enough to deserve to win the game, and will be rightly packing their bags in anticipation of a woefully earned exit.

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