Monday, June 12, 2006

Mexico looks good. Will the US follow?

Daniel writes: I see that Quico has started posting using lots of trivia. I am no match as the only trivia I used to know was on sailing and tennis, long, long ago. Well, you can still ask me about the America's cup some, as snobbish sport if any and one I have even less of a chance to ever participate in than fussbal. However aesthetically there is nothing more impressive than two sail boats racing, no sport where team work is as crucial as in the America's Cup.

But back on track.

The surprise yesterday was Mexico who showed that it might have been quite the underestimated team. Besides trashing up nasty nuke friendly Iran (did anyone notice that Iranian players were all clean cut in contrast to all these mullah and naughty unkempt pols coming from over there? Coincidence?) Mexico showed that it can do dazzling scores as the greatest ones. I bet a few people are sorry they cannot correct their "quinielas" (bets). But in all fairness I must also say that Iran was not as weak as I would have thought which makes Mexico performance not a fluke.

On the other hand Portugal was the ghost of its European Cup show. That was a painful win. You know that Portugal is in trouble when you look at the face of their supporters in Venezuela: they were not happy, they were relieved.

And so we look on today. I agree with Quico that the "chequia" as the Spanish TV calls the Czech Republic team (with perturbing connotations of cheka for those of us old enough for Cold War memories) is the mystery team, either on its road to greatness if it gets back its top players or on its way to the dustbin of football history.

Where I disagree more is that I have great hopes for the US team. I have to admit that it is irrational up to a point. That is it perhaps based on all these "soccer" camps I saw when I lived in the US (Venezuela soccer effort is nil compared to the US one, all proportions considered). But I know that the US will one day conquer soccer the way it has conquered almost every single other sport. Already, no small feat, the US has managed to make soccer a favorite among women in the US, and not only as a psecttor sport. The woman's soccer team is top ranked in the world.

By the way, will we ever see an Iran-US female soccer game? Food for thought, certainly.

As for my predictions (Quico is forcing me to make some)

Italy should win. Italy has to win. It cannot afford anymore its traditional strategy of a tie in each game (the feared "cattenacio"). And it must beat the allegedly weakest team in its group, Ghana to ensure its passage to the next round. But Ghana players do not have their legs insured at the Italian price and they are hungry as hell! Still, Italy should make it by 1.

I pick the US. Perhaps a tie with the Czechs, but if they are without their two main stars, I pick the US, by even 2!

As for Japan Australia. Australia kicked out the Uruguayans out of the Cup (they should have done so last time but barely missed). But then again Uruguay was not too hot this time around. Japan is a slowly but steadily improving team. Its time has not come yet but what do I know.... whichever wins is fine with me as both are underdogs and I really would like to have one of them go to the second round, it will be good for football. Anyway, I do not why but I will pick Australia by 1.


Blogger Francisco said...

Daniel: If Nedved plays, forgeddaboutit...the US are toast.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Quico, if Nedved plays. But the Czech probably do nto want to waste him on the US, for which they might be sorry. Expect Nedved in the second half if they are down.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous torres said...

I love watching USA play. They are amongst the ones to show the most "playbook" strategies --heck, if it works for them in american football...

1:28 PM  

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