Total Football!!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Italian football hit hard!!

Breaking news!! Heart breaking for Juve.

Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina have been relegated to Serie B following the outcome of the Italian match-fixing scandal, but Milan will stay in the top flight.

Turin giants Juventus have also been stripped of the last two Serie A titles the team have won, been fined €80,000 (£50,000) and have also been handed a 30-point deduction for next season.

Joining the Old Lady in Serie B are Lazio, who have been docked seven points for next season, and Fiorentina, who have been hit with a 12-point penalty.

Milan have avoided demotion to the second tier of Italian football, although they have been penalised 15 points for next term.

In addition, the Rossoneri will not take part in the coming campaign's UEFA Champions League after being docked 44 points from last season's total.

The punishments mean that Italy will need to find three new entrants for Champions League participation due to the sanctions against Fiorentina, Juventus and Milan.

Several officials have also been hit hard following the verdict in the match-fixing scandal which arose after allegations that Juventus tried to arrange the appointment of referees.

Former Juve general manager Luciano Moggi has been banned from the game for five years - the same penalty meted out to Antonio Giraudo.

Ex-Italian Football Federation president Franco Carraro has been suspended for four years and six months - the same length of time which referee Massimo De Sanctis has been banned for.

Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has been banned for 12 months, Fiorentina president Andrea Della Valle for four years and Lazio supremo Claudio Lotito for three years.

The scandal has rocked Italian football and has taken the gloss off the national team's recent World Cup victory, with some having called for leniency.

But Italian Federation Commission judge Cesare Ruperto has come down hard on the clubs involved, with the punishments possibly seeing a mass exodus from those concerned.

Juventus could lose the likes of Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluca Zambrotta, David Trezeguet and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with the 30-point penalty making an immediate return to Serie A a tough ask.

Fiorentina will face a fight to hang on to the likes of Luca Toni, while Lazio full back Massimo Oddo is expected to be in demand.

The lack of European football at Milan could also witness Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo, among others, move on to pastures new.

All four clubs are expected to appeal against the verdicts, but as things stand Internazionale and Roma would qualify automatically for next term's Champions League.

Chievo Verona and Palermo would enter at the preliminary stage, while Livorno, Empoli and Parma would go into the Uefa Cup.

There will also be a reprieve for Messina, Lecce and Treviso, who had initially been relegated last season, although there is a new inquiry relating to the former-named club.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Henry is NO SAINT!!

My comp has been out of sorts for quite a while now, despite my best efforts and so I have not been able to blog about the World Cup. I sincerely apologize to all those football fans who have been reading blog regularly (quite a few though). Now this is not why I am sitting in my friend’s place desperate to get a blog in.

This world cup has been unlucky and cruel for me. More cruel than the last edition.

Many people suppose that I am a biased England fan. I am an England fan alright. But I am not all that biased. I have supported England and Argentina since I started watching football in the early 90’s (even before I started watching cricket). But watching them go out on penalties, yet again, was too much for me to take.

First, Argentina. Argentina held back for most of the game and even though Germany equalized I had confidence that Argentina will score the winner before the old argentinian fear of penalty shootouts can strike. My man Juan Roman was taken off and Messi dint come in. I realized it might be a costly error by Pekerman. And painfully costly it was. Franco was no match for Lehmann. Lehmann justified his selection ahead of Kahn and made himself the hero for Germany. End of the World cup for Argentina and my heart broke. Once again. Silent agony for me while Germany celebrated on screen. In the heat of the moment, I blamed Lady luck in the heat of the moment, but it was Pekerman’s strange substitutions that did us in.

Before the start of the world cup, I really believed in England and was sure that it will go atleast till the semis. My confidence started wearing off after England’s Wc begun. Instead of waiting confidently for an awesome English goal, I was waiting in dread. In each of England’s 5 games, I was desperately hoping that England shoudnt lose, instead of being sure of a thumping England win.

And in the quarterfinal, What shouldn’t hav happened , happened. Rooney was sent off for pushing Ronaldo, angered by Ronaldo’s attempts at trying to send him off. I seethed in rage when Rooney saw red. I accept Rooney was wrong to push Ronaldo, but a straight red was too much. After that incident, my hopes of an English win began diminishing at am alarming rate. The familiar foreboding began to grasp hold of me. England has a woeful record in penalties and they proved it once again. Lamps, Carra and Gerrard lost it and Ricardo was the hero. My whole world came crashing down. Last night was cruel. Tonight…. I really translate my pain into words. Two successive heart breaks for me.

Lets leave it at that.

But this is not why I am blogging now. I want to talk about cheating. I want to talk about France.

Italy’s undeserved win over Australia was disgraceful enough. But for Henry to indulge in such lowly behaviour was truly pathetic.

I was really instigated when I heard people blasting Ronaldo and dint utter a word about Henry. I wholeheartedly agree Ronaldo’s a cheater. He deserves much of the criticism leveled at him. But people are ignoring Henry’s cheap antics. Strangely.

I realized most were Arsenal or French fans, ManU haters and Ronaldo haters.

Ronaldo is a cheat obviously. But why nobody's talking bout Henry? Henry's playacting is more serious, simply because he won a penalty in the WC semis, while Ronaldo has been unsuccessful in his attempts (well.. trying to send Rooney off qualifies to a certain extent as morally wrong behavior). But HENRY!! He may be the greatest forward, but he is not the saint that biased Arsenal and French fans claim to be. He dint show much of this playacting attitude for Arsenal and I almost believed he was a saint. I am a big fan of his ball skills and pace. The only thing I dint like about him was that he was a gunner. But I really dint expect such unpardonable tactics from him. I guess he is desperate to advance in this WC (even though his contribution to his team’s progress has been a bare minimum) as the stakes are high. Getting a penalty, in the World cup semis, a match where France dint dominate and had very few shots on goal, is a total disgrace to football. And it is not the first time and certainly not an isolated incident. In the Spain match, when Puyol spanked him in the chest, Henry went down clutching his head. Henry clutched his head once again in the Brazil match, when there was absolutely NO CONTACT!!! And it was a matter of time before his playacting attempts fetched him an Oscar, in the form of a Penalty. And his efforts paid off yesterday against Portugal.

Being Zizou’s team mate and a famous ambassador of the stylish French game, Henry should not indulge in such lowly behaviour. Many “experts” say that it was a penalty. It is most certainly not!!

Carvalho’s tackle was unintentional and his touch on Henry was ever so light. And Henry went down like a house of cards. The referee should have considered the seriousness of being in a World Cup semifinal, before pointing to the penalty spot. But it was not to be Portugal’s day. The penalty was converted by Zizou, obviously!!! Zizou is God, he is calm under pressure.

Portugal’s equalizing efforts were in vain after that. It was not Portugal’s day. I am not saying Portugal is unlucky because their shots dint go in. They lacked the cutting edge in front of goal. I am saying Portugal’s unlucky because it was NOT a penalty!!

The bottom-line of this blog is..

Henry is NO SAINT!!! This is for all you biased Arsenal and French fans.

Dive Henry Dive. But he has got competition in the final. Italians are a class act, literally, in playacting.

Coming to the final, I think I have decided on who I should be supporting. Better France than Italy is my line of thinking.

I want France to win it, despite my loathing of Henry’s diving and my general dislike of France. One Reason!!! Zizou!! I love him. I hoped he would have a bad tournament and France would be sent packing. But unfortunately, Zizou has reminded the world that he is still the KING. I would be glad if France wins it, only because of him. Zizou can bid adieu in style.

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Pyrrhic Victory for Portugal

I was pondering why the fuck should the draw be like this? Why the fuck should Portugal and Holland, two teams I like, meet each other in the 2nd round itself?? I was in a dilemma whether I should support Portugal or Holland. Holland is my third favorite but I like Portugal too because they play football with great technique. Well, the main reason is I love Figo, Deco and Ronaldo (with some reservation). I was still undecided when the match started.
I had a feeling that this match would go right down to the wire, sudden death. And it would involve a lot of bad blood. And I dint like that feeling at all. I hate sudden death. It is just not the right way to decide a football match. Ecstasy for one team. Agony for another. All decided by luck. I wouldn’t want even Arsenal or Chelsea to go down in sudden death. (Unless they are playing against ManU or Barca. of course). Such is my trepidation for a penalty shootout.

Coming to the lineups, I was pissed off that Van Basten dint find Ruud impressive. Come on, Ruud is one of the best poachers in the game!! I told myself, You are gonna rue the decision, Mr. Van Basten!! And he did!!

What a match!! Oops. It was not a mere football match. It was Battle Royale!! And Portugal won it, with some losses. A Pyrrhic victory.

The Dutch started brightly with Van bommel hit a shot jus wide of the target, after a good build-up play from Robben and Kuyt. Then Van bommel was at his fouling best, when he was booked for a wild tackle on Ronaldo, who was beginning to impress.
Robben and Van Bronkhorst then troubled the Holland backline with their own efforts.
After a pacy opening, the sides settled down, predictably.
The Dutch widemen, were the tormentors-in-chief for the Portuguese backline. Van Persie came inside the awesome Carvalho before lashing a shot just wide.
Portuguese almost paid for their slack passing when Robben burst in, went past two defenders only to provide a disappointing cross.
Holland looked menacing and the Portuguese weren’t creating chances. So it came as a surprise to me when Portugal went one up at 23 mins.
Ronaldo sent down Deco on the right who crossed the ball into the area. After a Pauleta layoff, Maniche sidestepped Boulahrouz and Ooijer before sending a rising shit past the diving Van Der Sar. 1-0 to Portugal.
A superb goal. Maniche was ecstatic. With some reason. He scored a goal against the same opposition in Euro 2004 semifinal. I guess Maniche doesn’t like Holland at all.

Awed by the goal, I was feeling happy for Portugal. At the same time, I wanted Holland to equalize. I hadn’t yet decided my no.1 team in this match. And looking at Van Basten, I decided that I really wanted Holland to equalize. I made up my mind that I will decide about my priorities after the equalizer.
Portugal were inspired by the goal and Maniche went close with another shot, this time from outside the box.
But things turned downhill for Portugal after that.
Ronaldo’s thigh was punctured by a studs-first high tackle from Boulahrouz. He got yellow carded while he should have seen red. The referee had done his first mistake.
It was quite obvious that Ronaldo was in unbearable pain but he tried to continue manfully. I saw the punctured thigh swell up and I was convinced that Rolando’s match was over. My heart went out when Ronaldo was subbed by Simao. The poor lad cried, thinking that his world cup was over. Come on, he had a good match till then.
Ronaldo’s injury took the sting out of Portugal’s attack and after that Van Persie showed why Wenger places such faith in him.
Van Persie called for the ball from the right and he got it. He moved into the box going past two. He twisted and turned and made nuno valente look like a joker. The ball just seemed to obey his commands, stating at his feet, while he turned left, right, left, right. After he got clear, he hit a shot with the outside of his left foot which just missed the target.
A piece of genius. Wenger would have smiled at this one!!
Portugal responded by going agonisingly close, as Pauleta controlled a Simao cross and hit a great shot on the turn that was saved superbly by Van Der Sar.
Then Costinha hit the self-destruct button by picking up a second yellow card for deliberate handball. Quite pathetic!!
Scolari was now pondering how best to maintain a one-goal lead with ten-men at the half time break.
What followed in the second half was beyond the wildest imagination. Hold!! It was not something like a stunning Liverpool comeback. It was stunning in a different sense. Ugly is the right word.
Big Phil brought off his lone striker Pauleta for the second period, with Armando Petit coming on to adopt a defensive role, and the move seemed to invite pressure as Holland started the second half in determined fashion.
Within four minutes of the restart Cocu had smacked a shot off the woodwork, as after van Bommel missed an overhead kick the ball bounced off Valente to fall at the feet of the midfielder and he hit a volley against the underside of the crossbar.
Van Bommel then saw his powerful drive unconvincingly tipped by Ricardo.
Van Basten introduced van der Vaart for defender Mathijsen to up the tempo. Where is Ruud, Mr. Van Basten? You are making a big mistake. Take off Kuyt you fool!! And bring on Ruud!! I guess my rants fell on deaf ears. Not on Van Basten’s ears.
A marauding run from Miguel resulted in Van Der Sar repelling the right-back's shot, and the Manchester United keeper saved again as he dived to his right to catch a Maniche effort.
As the pace quickened, so did the pulses of the players and Figo was lucky to escape a red card as he somehow only received a booking for head butting Van Bommel. Then Van Bommel fell down theatrically three seconds after the head butt, keeping his Oscar- nominee reputation intact. What a sucker!! I decided I wanted Portugal to go through!!!
Simao fired the resulting free kick over the bar. And the melee died down. Temporarily.
Figo was at the centre of the action again just three minutes later as he collapsed to the ground after Boulahrouz elbowed him (maybe unintentional), and the Dutch defender picked up his second yellow card for the use of the elbow to spark another unseemly brawl as the numbers were evened up to ten each.
Some superb passing play was witnessed by both teams, with Sneijder only being denied by a superb block from Carvalho, but the explosive nature of the tie meant conflict was never far from view, and the yellow cards continued to rain down as Deco was cautioned for a wild tackle on Ooijer before Sneijder found his name in the book for a push on Petit.
In an incredible passage of play Ricardo and Valente then took the total number of yellow cards to 14, and referee continued to brandish the book. And I was smiling evilly. Go England go!!! Muhahahahaha!!!
Deco then handed himself a harsh yellow for time wasting
. Things were hotting up!! And things were getting better and better for England!!!
The referee looked to have lost complete control of the tie, and amongst it all there was still a World Cup second round game to play as Kuyt sprung the offside trap to go one-on-one with Ricardo. The Portuguese goalkeeper pulled off a smart save but injured himself in the process. Ruud would not have missed this chance. He is a proven goal scorer. Damn you and your ego, Van Basten!!!
Van Basten summoned Vennegoor of Hesselink from the bench rather than Ruud, much to my chagrin and anger. Holland pushed forward they allowed gaps to appear and Simao almost added a second after a quick break led by Miguel.
Kuyt went close at the death as Ricardo saved his volley, with van der Vaart also flashing over, but van Basten's side could not find an equalizer.
Incredibly the referee still had time to issue a second yellow card to Van Bronkhorst, reducing both sides to nine men and writing his name into the World Cup record books in the process.
It was a funny sight, seeing the two Barca team mates Deco and Van Bronkhorst sitting side by side and arguing their case.
My heart went out to Van Basten seeing him stand shocked by his team’s exit. They paid for their lack of cutting edge in the box. But still I was angry with Van Basten cos he dint bring on Ruud. Ruud would have made the difference!!

Post Match Ramblings:

What to say?? There wasn’t much football in the 2nd half. A Pyrrhic victory for Portugal. Portugal deserved to win obviously, their spirit being the main reason. Holland deserved to lose because of their profligate finishing. We can say that the Dutch were unlucky. Agreed, but Ruud would have done a better job than Kuyt. Everyone tried to hit to slot the ball home, in vain. Ruud would have hit home once surely, considering how many chances the Dutch created.
Portugal with a man down for most of the 2nd half deserved to go through. They defended desperately and brilliantly too. Carvalho was the man of the match quite obviously. They reveled in their joy of having won a battle. But reality would strike and they will be nursing their wounds, dreading the England match.
Deco out. Ronaldo injured but he will play I guess. Figo (fortunately, FIFA decided that yellow was enough for him), Valente, Maniche, Ricardo all treading on thin ice. Constinha out too.
Can there be a better chance for England to avenge their Euro 2004 QF defeat to Portugal in the World cup 2006 QF??
The funny fact is that Big Phil has England as his WC QF opponent for the second time.

Becks fires England into QF

I had not blogged for a while. The reason is quite obvious. I had my visa interview on June 23rd and I was running around Chennai (mainly CEG, for my pc) getting the documents ready for the big one. The hard work paid off and I got my visa. Piece of cake actually. (But the night before, I was totally pissed off that Czechs were out of the World cup)
While I was preparing docs for visa, I dint miss most of the matches but had no real time to blog about them.
But I am back now. Lets get things started. Again.
To the England vs Ecuador match.
I was pissed off with England’s performance in the 1st round. I was really hoping that the Three lions would relentlessly march to the 2nd round. It was not to be. The players, I love, admire and worship, dint perform to their potential and more importantly, dint perform as a team. Owen out too!! Things weren’t exactly rosy. They were far short of the frontrunners tag imposed on them.

So, it was with much apprehension, that I watched the preview. I expected the idiot Eriksson to go for a 4-5-1 and he did. But I was worried that Rooney might be under lotsa pressure, on his own upfront. And I don’t like Hargreaves at all. A versatile player, many say. I don’t agree. He has no presence and he neither attacks nor defends. He just runs around. A total waste!!!

England went into the match as favorites, thou not as overwhelming favorites. And they did win, albeit unconvincingly (again). But their performance was much better than their 1st round’s.
It was stifling hot at Stuttgart. So, as expected, England started sluggishly. Lamps nearly created two chances for Rooney but the weight of the pass was too much for Roo.
Rather surprisingly, Ecuador had the first real chance of the game. Terry squandered a attempted headed clearance and C. Tenorio pounced on it but dwelled on the ball jus a wee bit long for Ashley Cole to come sprinting backwards and deflect his shot on to the crossbar. My heart nearly stopped for a moment. No, it really stopped. Big Jesus!! What if Cole hadn’t retreated.. What the fuck happened to Terry?? English defense looked shaky in the Sweden encounter. Oh pls. not again.
Lamps had a chance to get clear but Hurtado got an important touch on the ball.
Terry's rather uncertain afternoon continued as he received a caution on 18 minutes for an a rather ridiculous high lunge on Tenorio. What was happening to Terry?
From the resulting free kick Edison Mendez whipped in a dangerous set-piece which Ferdinand appeared to divert narrowly wide although the referee took the view it came off an Ecuadorian player. Rio was ok but Terry was no way near his best. We are talking about world class defenders here!!!
Shortly afterwards, Beckham opted against shooting at an inviting-looking free kick. He cleverly chipped the ball to Gerrard whose cross was just too high for Joe Cole to direct a header on target; Beckham's attempt from the rebound was blocked.
A neat interchange between Gerrard and Rooney created a shooting chance for Lamps on the edge of the box but the Chelsea man failed to catch the ball cleanly and Mora made a comfortable save, while on 35 minutes Beckham flashed a dipping 30-yard free kick just wide.
Lamps was continuing his woeful shooting form. Can someone just help him find that awesome Chelsea form???
Back to the game.
With England struggling to create, the South Americans almost presented their opponents with a chance to open the scoring when Hurtado lost the ball to Rooney in a dangerous area 30 yards from the goal. A last-ditch sliding tackle by the defender stopped the rampaging forward although there was a suggestion the ball caught the defender's hand.
Just before the interval Delgado (the only Ecuador player I like) thundered into Hargreaves and caught the makeshift right back with a painful boot on the knee which left a nasty gash and saw the Bayern Munich man forced off for extended treatment. That’s good news for England!!
He was back out for the second period, though, and a fine passing move five minutes in almost broke the deadlock as Gerrard's intelligent low cross from the left flashed across the six-yard box but just beyond the stretching Rooney.
Roo, increasingly frustrated, did his best to muscle his way on to a dinked pass by Lampard but found his way blocked by Hurtado and Espinoza.
However, the deadlock was broken moments later, although somewhat predictably it took a set-piece to do the damage.
Lampard was fortunately awarded a free kick just a couple of yards back from the angle of the penalty area. Stepped in, Becks, the free kick specialist who hadn’t scored a free kick in internationals for three years. He had been largely anonymous till now. But he ensured he was in the headlines in the papers next day with an exquisite curler.
He curled it beautifully and Mora had no chance really. Agreed, Mora should have stood a little to his right knowing Becks. But who cares?? Becks back!! And England are in the lead!! Muhahahahaha!!!
The goal seemed to lift England and Lamps drove a left-footed effort a foot wide of an upright shortly afterwards, while a lax pass from Hurtado presented the same player with what appeared a great chance to shoot. But Lamps passed it to Roo unselfishly who was caught on his heels.
Valencia reminded England they were still in a game when a rasping drive from 20 yards forced Paul Robinson to turn the ball behind for a corner at full-stretch.
Ecuador appeared to have lost the plot since England had taken the lead as a succession of sloppy passes and rather casual defending allowed England to fashion two decent chances. But Lamps’ demons came back to haunt him again. And Again.
His worst miss came following a wonderful piece of skill from Rooney who outfoxed Hurtado on the touchline before pulling back for Lamps. Lamps skied the shot even thou he had a clear view of goal.
Though I knew Lamps was not at his best, this miss was totally unpardonable. I felt both anger and pity seeing Lamps shake his head. Anger that Lamps is wasting chance after chance for England in the World cup!! And pity that such a great player is making a parody of himself in front of goal.
The final whistle blew and the England fans (including me) were happy. Just happy. Not ecstatic.

Post Match Ramblings:

England failed to impress once again. But they did just enough to see of Ecuador.
J Cole had a few moments to impress. But he was largely ineffective.
A Cole was the savior. Undoubtedly. England would have been in a hole if not for him. But who knows? England might have kicked into life if that shot had gone in and we might have seen an exceptional English comeback.
Becks was the match winner. His free kick was superb. He defended brilliantly after his goal. There was no lacking in his commitment. He made his critics eat their words. I should say.
Lamps was at his profligate best. I could only wallow in misery seeing Lamps shake his head after that woeful miss. He needs to clear his head and shake off his demons. Come on Lamps!!
Gerrard wasn’t that talismanic today surprisingly. But he did pull off exquisite crosses and his odd shots.
Roo dint get enough ammunition to fire. But he showed his genius foxing defenders and carving out ingenious passes.
Rio had a good match. Terry had a slightly shaky match.
Carrick did justice to his holding role. Carragher was good when he came on.
On the whole, England dint create that many chances. And even if they created chances, Lamps wasted them. The fact that the goal was a set piece is a subtle reminder that the Three Lions need to improve by leaps and bounds in order to match the Portuguese (who are the Brazilians of Europe with their subtle technique).
After watching Portugal-Holland Battle Royale, I was smiling evilly though. Reason?? England will play a largely second string Portuguese team. Muhahahahaha!!! Wait for the next blog!!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

What an upset!!

I dint have time to blog about the Netherlands vs Ivory Coast match. So I l make it short here as I have to talk about Czech-Ghana. It was a scrappy affair, with Ivory Coast going for it, while Netherlands tried to maintain their one-goal lead with some desperate defending.
Drogba missed a golden opportunity to equalize and it was all one-way traffic in the 2nd half with CIV creating chances but lacking composure in the final third, which cost them the game. The Dutch defended desperately but thanks to the first half strikes form Premiership rivals Van Persie and Van Nistelrooy, they scraped thru the affair.

I am elated for the Dutch but I pity the Elephants. If they had been put in the 4th group which involves Portugal, they would have surely qualified.

And I dint see much of the Portugal match, regrettably. (I was out with my college buddies). I saw the goals thou on the TV at Coffee World. It was a thunderbolt from the Barca Ace Deco, after some superb work from Figo. Ronaldo came up with a flawless penalty mins later to wrap up the three points for Portugal. Phew, I was relieved!! I was worried that they may not score at all against a lowly Iranian side.

Ok, I rushed home after a truly wretched evening. Only to arrive 10 mins late and I was shocked to the score line as 1-0 to Ghana!! What the fuck happened? Was it a freak goal or something?? I guess it wasn’t when I saw the replay. The Czechs were woeful in defense.
Appiah had crossed from the left flank and Gyan had controlled the ball well on his chest before slotting expertly past Cech. 1-0. A good goal from Ghana,with some help from the Czechs’ poor defending.
The Czech defending looked edgy, and Appiah was allowed to travel a long way before he sliced his shot wide.
Ghana was going for the second goal and they dint seem to tire at all!!! They dint sit back all the time on their one goal lead.
Amoah, who was fed into the box, struck the ball well over the bar.
The lively Gyan broke through again but this time his finish was less convincing and he hit it right at Cech who had gone down early. Cech was starting to show his stuff.
Cech was frozen to the spot when Appiah fired in shot from outside the box minutes later, and the Chelsea man was relieved to see the ball sneak barely a foot wide of the post.
The Czechs were second best for most of the first half and the first real move of quality came two minutes before the break but Rosicky could not convert Poborsky's clever pull back under pressure from Essien.
Ghana countered with a great move of their own down the right flank, but Essien's shot was blocked.
I was very disappointed with the Czechs’ performance. Where was that style which was so prevalent in the USA match?? While Nedved and Poborsky tried to create something whenever they got the chance, the Czechs lacked the edge in the final third (With Koller and Baros out). But full marks to Ghana for their performance. Essien and Appiah were brilliant as usual.
I was very worried. Kalyan too. We were praying for a Czech brace.
The second half started.
I whooped in delight when Nedved headed the ball past Kingston within a minute of the restart, but the goal was ruled out for offside. L .
Gyan had a powerful shot well turned aside by Cech after a strong run, while Plasil's effort was tipped over by Kingston at the other end.
The Czechs were looking completely at sea. Ghanaians were gaining control of the game. And I was positively fretting now. Me and Kalyan now downgraded our hopes to a single goal now. If Czech could at least equalize and grab a point, things would easier in the decider against Italy.
The game tipped even further in Ghana's favour in the 65th minute when Ujfalusi tripped Amoah inside the box, handing the African's a penalty. And the referee made a fool of himself, handling the situation like an amateur in which he took an age to produce the red to Ujfalusi. Gyan smashed the penalty past Cech when the referee wasn’t ready and he received an yellow for that.
Finally, Gyan was ready to take the penalty again. I was holding my breath and my hands together, desperately hoping for a miss or a Cech save. And Gyan dint disappoint me as he hit the post.
With Czechs reduced to 10 now, Ghana started to pile on the pressure and went searching for a second goal, only to be thwarted a host of times by Cech. Cech was BRILLIANT!!
Come on Czechs, you need to hit a goal at least for Cech’s efforts!!But, they had no real chances. Ghana was clearly marauding the Czech box by now.
Amoah's shot was first beaten away, while Muntari's effort just a minute later was stopped by the big keeper's legs. And Essien tried too btu couldn’t beat hims Chelsea team mate Cech.
Amoah fed Gyan on the edge of the box in yet another lightening break by Ghana, but yet again Cech was there to save his weak effort.
Ghana finally put the game to bed eight minutes before time and, as ever, Gyan was involved as he made his way into the box before supplying Muntari, who this time made no mistake in rifling high into the roof of the net. 2-0 to Ghana.
All my hopes were extinguished by now. Me and Kalyan was brooding bout the Czechs’ performance and already thinking ahead to the USA-Italy match and hoping for a Italy win so that Czechs could have a chance.
Meanwhile, Pimpong danced through the Czech backline in the final minute before setting up Muntari for his second, but he had strayed offside and the goal was disallowed. Stupid of Pimpong I should say. He dintknow the offside rule for Christ sake!!
Kingston was called into late action in stoppage time and he produced two fine saves from Plasil and substitute Polak to preserve the clean sheet Ghana had fully deserved. Ghana has pulled off an upset win over the favourite Czechs and has in the process, has upset me!

Post Match Ramblings:

What can I say?? It was a good performance by Ghana, much better their show against Italy. An inspired win.
It was a woeful performance from the Czechs, bordering on complacency. True, they had deficiencies in the striker department, but that cannot explain their poor defense.
They could have salvaged a point at least, if they had defended well, with Nedved and Rosicky some how trying to put in an equalizer.
I really doubt if they can score against the resolute Italian defense in the next match. With Italy salvaging a undeserved point from their draw against the valiant Americans, Czechs have their task cut out. I hope they do it. Come on Czech Rep, pull up your socks!!

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Sizzling Sixer!!!

Argentina has sounded a warning to the likes of Brazil, Czech Rep, Holland, Spain, Germany and England who are hoping to win the world cup. This is what everyone says. I say what the fuck?? Warning? They have almost given out the death sentence to these teams.
Argentina contains superstars like Riquelme, Messi, Tevez, Crespo, Ayala. But they have shown they are a TEAM!! Well done, Jose Pekerman!! Let’s see if Brazil, with their global superstars, can perform as a team. I doubt it. Even if they manage to do it, they cant match this Argentine performance. The highlight of the match was the stunning 2nd goal by Cambiasso, after a spectacular 24-pass move.

How can I stop raving about it??

Pekerman chose to replace Cambiasso with Luiz Gonzalez for this match. Anyway, Luis’s hamstring problem got worse and he had to limp off paving the way for Cambiasso.

It all started when Sorin (After Rodriguez crossed the ball to him) back-heeled the ball to the impressive Saviola. Saviola sprinted to the box and picked out Rodriguez (who had followed up) with a cross. The Athelectico Madrid midfielder struck home. 1-0 to Argentina.
It was the jus the starting..Goals galore. One-way traffic thou!! I expected more goals from my 2nd favorite team but I had no idea that they will humiliate a Serbian defense which had let in jus 1 GOAL in their qualifying.

Jose Pekerman's side extended their lead in the 31st minute and this goal was fashioned out of nothing.

After a superb 24 pass move full of delicious one-touch passing and involving some 8 outfield players, Riquelme deliciously short-lobbed to Saviola, who cross-lobbed to Cambiasso. Cambiasso moved the ball to Crespo, before surging in anticipating a short cross from Crespo. Crespo showed exceptional quality in back-heeling the ball in a tight area and Cambiasso provided the finish. 2-0. Serbia were stunned, which is an understatement.

What a Move!!! One of the most spectacular team goals I have ever seen. WOW!! This Class of 2006 is gonna go places. If they continue to sizzle like this, The Cup is theirs!!

Then, Crespo picked out a short ball from Ayala splitting the Serbian defence, and hit the target, running forward. Only to be flagged offside and handed a yellow card. It was ONSIDE!! It dint matter anyway, cos the it was a matter of time before they scored their 3rd.

Rodriguez scored his second goal, at the far post in the 41st minute after Saviola, coming from the right bamboozling two defenders on the way, had supplied the cross. 3-0.

First half was jus “turn on the style” by Argentina. Serbia were simply outclassed in the 1st half. Well, they were pulverized and made to look like amateurish idiots in the 2nd half.

Argentina went close to a fourth goal after the break as Crespo and Saviola both went close.

Serbia & Montenegro's misery was compounded when that idiot Kezman (I hate him cos he sux big time. And he played for Chelsea) got a straight red for his sliding tackle on Mascherano.

Entered Tevez and Messi one after the other.
Tevez, who impressed in the Confederations Cup, was raring to go. And so was Messi, the boy wonder from Nou Camp. Maradona had said that Messi was his successor. Well, from what I have seen him do at Barca, He is not a long way from matching Maradona. But till that, media people!! please do stop hounding him. The media places a big burden in the name of expectations on boy wonders like Messi and Rooney. That maybe harmful to these wonders kids. They may not fulfill their potential then, falling prey to all the hype and underachieving in the process!!
Coming back to the match, Argentina did grab a fourth goal in the 78th min as Messi got round the back of the defence and crossed low for Crespo to tap home. 4-0.
I have to talk about the Serbian defense here. The famous “Fab Four” who let in only 1 goal in the entire qualifying campaign was in total chaos today. Vidic, ManU defender, is the mainstay of the Fab Four, but he is out of the WC with an injury. But this cross from Messi could have been put out. But he jus looked on and turned to see Crespo slot it home. Sloppy Defending!!
It was 5-0 six minutes from time. Tevez produced a bit of magic on the left. He foxed one defender and went past the other and shot it clinically. WOW!! What a goal!!
Messi added the sixth two minutes from time, sliding home a shot after picking up a superb Tevez pass. 6-0.

Post Match Ramblings:

Well, there is only one thing to say!! WOW!! This is THE TEAM to beat. Not the much favored Brazil. Not the much liked England. But Argentina!! They were one of the favorites to win the title after Brazil pre-World Cup. I am jus totally in Cloud Nine over their performance, Argentina being my 2nd favorite team. I have no words really.
Riquelme was slightly quiet considering that fact almost everyone has scored and he, the king, wasn’t in the score sheet at the end of the day. But he played a big part in a few of the 6 goals. He provided exquisite passes and delicious long balls to Tevez and others.
Saviola was very impressive. He was constantly on the move and created 2 goals.
Crespo was superb with his poacher skills and ball skills. Tat back heel under pressure form defenders, was totally sexy.
Cambiasso and Rodriguez moved around the field and had a brilliant game, scoring 3 goals in between them.
Sorin came up with brilliant passes from the left flank.
The back four had very little to do today. Hehe!!
Need I talk about Messi and Tevez?? Tevez’s goal was testimony to his brilliance and Messi….You guys like me would have seen him play for Barca. (I am not all second fav is Barca!!!)

What I am doing here talking bout individuals? It was a stunning team performance and 2nd goal is a lasting memory of this fabulous performance. And everyone of the Albiceleste should be proud of what they did today.

At the end of the day, football fans rave about the players and tend to forget the man who made this possible.
I would like to commend Jose Pekerman, who has built this team. He has groomed the young players he had trained in the U21 side, into a formidable force that will rock the world. Managing a team of superstars isn’t easy which Roger Lemerre found out the hard way in 2002 (A team of superstars can’t win anything. Real Madrid and France are examples. Only a superstar team can win trophies!!!) But Jose Pekerman has managed to do it. (Argentinean players may not be global superstars but they are superstars nevertheless). He has played the right man in the right position, utilizing the abundant talent at his disposal in the right way.

Hats off to Jose Pekerman!!!

Argentina’s Class of 2006 is a superstar team. Not a disjointed team of superstars. And they have a very good chance of emulating the Class of 1986!!! And I will be DELIGHTED, if they manage to do it!!!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Disgruntled English Fan, I am

I was as disgruntled with my team’s performance as I used to be with ManU, whenever ManU produced a woeful performance.
As Steve said, Eriksson should be sacked. What the fuck did he do when his formation wasn’t working in the first half?? He jus sat there and looked completely dispassionate about the proceedings.
I was really appalled to see the first half display of the Three Lions. They won the match in the end, but they struggled to find a good rhythm and a good chance throughout the match. A Steven Gerrard screamer can’t disguise the poor performance of my team, the Three Lions.

First the replacement of the injured Neville with Carragher for the TT match was a mistake in itself. I am not against Carragher here. He is an awesome defender and is the rock of Liverpool. But what was the need to shore up the defense when we are playing T&T and need to go for 3 points?? Look, T&T doesn’t have enough quality or whatever in them to attack. They just put 8 to 10 men behind the ball and defended like hell. They can’t attack for Christ sake!! Eriksson made a tactical blunder here and thought Lampard and Joe Cole can feed Owen and Crouch. Ok, so he made the blunder. He could see that his formation wasn’t working and what did he do?? Jus sit and stare with concern (???) in his eyes.

This is just the first half story.
There wasn’t much to rave bout in the first half and some mins into the 2nd half for England. Anyway, I will just the highlight the key moments.
Jamie Carragher let out a low strike on goal from 30 yards, without venom as Hislop gathered comfortably.
Crouch’s pass from the right created England's first opening, as Frank Lampard lashed a drive on goal from 25 yards and although Hislop made a meal of the save, Michael Owen failed to make proper contact with the rebound and the ball went harmlessly wide.
Later, Lampard got close with a low drive on 35 minutes.
TT had a corner surprisingly. A Yorke corner exposed Robinson, but Carragher put Stern John under pressure as he headed wide of goal.
The scare sparked England into life and Lampard shot wastefully over following a scramble in the box. Beckham had a shot saved and the next chance was a dolly.
After a typical Beckham cross from the right flank, Crouch found himself in acres of space only to volley wide, when he could have controlled the ball with a first touch easily and slotted it home easily. What did he think of himself?? Rooney?? He cant hit a volley like Rooney for Christ sake!!
The final chance of the opening period went T&T's way, with Terry forced to make a stunning goal line clearance after Robinson had failed to gather a deep ball from Edwards. What commitment from Terry!!! Wow!! He kept England in the match and saved the blushes with that.
England were booed off the field by their fans including me. An appalling display indeed!! Crouch wasted a dolly. Owen wasn’t sharp enough. And so was Lampard wasting chances. Becks provided some passes but he wasn’t that good too. Joe Cole was the only one keen to move forward, sidestepping et all and creating chances. At this stage, Eriksson, however brainless he is, should have realized that he should bring on Rooney instead of Becks, and Lennon instead of Carragher. There was no need of Carragher. Terry, Rio and Cole can look after the defense easily.
But what did he do?? He did nothing and England wasted some 15 more mins in the 2nd half.
Finally, Rooney came on at the expense of OWEN!! Eriksson jus testified that he doesn’t hav brains once more. And Lennon for Carragher. Ronney received a rapturous welcome.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man!! Not exactly, but nevertheless, he was effective with his speed, crosses and his MERE PRESENCE!!. TT was scared and man marked him. Rooney, Lennon and Downing (Later) sparked life into England and they began attacking with more vigour. There was a magical moment in which Rooney carved out a exquisite pass for Crouch but Crouch as usual made a mess of it.
Lampard was England's most threatening player. But he was wasteful too. He squandered yet another decent chance 13 minutes from time when shooting straight at Hislop from inside the box. Things were heating up..
England appeared to have run out of ideas when Beckham tossed a deep cross into the box. For the first time in two matches, Sancho was caught napping and Crouch climbed high to head past Hislop. 1-0 to England.. And I heaved a sigh of relief. I was smashing my remote down on every wasted chance and now it was BLISS!! Phew, Crouch did it atlast. But ofcourse, it was Becks who provided that beautiful cross.
Gerrard, in a holding role for most of the time, finally came forward and promptly slammed home a stunner from 25 yards. Wow!! WOW!! WOOOWWW!! Typical Gerrard!! What a player!! I jus imagined Guruji’s smile at this moment. If Gerrard had an attacking role, he would have hit more goals like this. And England fans like me would rest in peace instead of biting nails for most of the match.
The relief was tangible. England won it 2-0, albeit unconvincingly.
Post Match Expletives:
Eriksson is a defense-loving bastard. He should be sacked right here right now.. Let Mclaren take the mantle. Maybe, I am going too far with this sacking thing. But I say this all the same. Eriksson is a brainless bastard.
England unable to prise open the TT defense satisfactorily and was woeful today except for that Beckham cross and the stunning Gerrard strike.
England should do the following.
1. Eriksson’s idiotic formation for TT. As I mentioned before, Carragher wasn’t needed. He was brilliant usual.
2. Gerrard should come front and Lamps should drop back. Lamps was profligate. He missed lotsa chances .Dunno wat got into him. He has won matches for Chelsea time and again. But he was out of sorts in this match.
3. Crouch should be dropped. Jus because he scored the goal and Jus because he ahs that height advantage, doesn’t mean he is to stay. He wasted dollies. He doesnt have enough quality for England first team. Rooney is almost match fit. Meanwhile, bring on Defoe!!
4. Give more time for Lennon and Downing in the coming matches.
5. Only if they do the above, can they get rid of this ridiculous long ball game which doesn’t favor Owen.
6. And Eriksson should be sacked!!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Injury time winner for Germany

The second set of matches has started.
Oliver Neuville scored an injury-time winner as Jurgen Klinsmann's side virtually secured their place in the World Cup knockout stages by beating 10-man Poland 1-0 in Dortmund.
It looked as though Germany were going to be denied all three points in this Group A clash after Celtic goalkeeper Boruc pulled off a string of magnificent saves.
The hosts started brightly but it was Poland who had the first shot when Zurawski's 20-yard effort was easily saved by Jens Lehmann.
Germany almost broke the deadlock in the 21st minute when Lahm's cross picked out Klose, but he somehow flicked his header just wide with the goal at his mercy.
In-form youngster Lahm then delivered another clever flick to the danger area in the 36th minute and Podolski controlled the ball well but could not steer the ball past Boruc.
Lahm was looking more and more brilliant with his crosses and his defending too..
And He was once again the provider on the stroke of half-time when Podolski took the ball in his stride but somehow hit wide of the far post as he lost his balance with just Boruc to beat.
Though it was goalless at 0-0, the match was exciting. As Jerry said, it was like watching an EPL game.
Germany had more of possession but dint take their chances before the goalmouth with Klose and Podolski missing easy ones. And Schweinsteiger was looking wayward with his crosses and shots.
Germany made a bright start to the second half with Klose drawing a fine save from Boruc after Frings' free-kick had fallen to him in the area. Ballack was providing exquisite passes up front. Yet he is not fully upto his mark. Hope he improves.
Poland were finding themselves more and more stretched, Sobolewski got a red for his second caution of the evening.
The German faction in the stadium was getting restless while the Polskar faction was praying for a point.
Later, Boruc was on hand to deny Lahm with a great save from close range, but with the danger not cleared he then denied Neuville from 10 yards.
Young Borowski then blasted wide two minutes from time. But there was more drama to come as first Neuville with a header and then Ballack with a shot struck the underside of the crossbar, before Odonkor fired the rebound home only for the grounded Ballack to be flagged offside. Odonkor, who can run 100m in a mere 10.8 secs, was awesome with his sprint an crosses from the right flank.
But Neuville ensured justice was done when he slid in to fire home Odonkor's cross with virtually the last kick of the game. A morale-boosting victory for Germany who are almost assured of a place in the 2nd round and Poland is almost out of the tournament.

Post Match Ramblings:

Germany looked more disciplined in defense this time. Lahm was superb. Hope Fergie takes notice of him. He will be a good sub for Heinze. I think he is better than Heinze anyway. Ballack was good with his crosses and long balls. As I said, he is not upto his mark yet. He can only improve. Schneider had a good game too.
Friedrich sux. In Offense too. His crosses always went past the goal into the crowd. He cant attack for Christ sake. He should be more concerned with his defensive skills. Schneider can take care of the right wing attack.
Klose and Podolski missed dollies. They can’t afford to waste chances from the 2nd round onwards. Or they are gonna pay for that.
Neuville was the right place at the right time. Schweinsteiger wasn’t that good today.
On the whole, Germany is marching in the right direction!!

Order of Favorites

After the first set of matches, the scenario is quite interesting. Some teams lived upto the expectations. Some teams did not but showed a promise to improve. Some teams dint even show promise.

I am gonna order the favorites, considering their quality, current form and bench strength. Guys, I have ordered them relying on what my mind says. Not what my heart says. If you ppl hav any disagreements with the order I have come up with, please do comment!!

But before I talk about that, I will have to rave about Spain.
It was all one-way traffic in the Spain-Ukraine encounter. Spain, with its dazzling display, has done away with the tag of perennial underachievers and has sounded a warning to the favorites for the WC.

Xabi Alonso, the midfield engine of Liverpool (after Gerrard of course), and prodigy Fernando Torres scored either side of a David Villa brace. I saw the first half and hence first two goals and went out to play carrom, slightly disappointed. Thought I was heartened by Spain’s display, I was disappointed to see Shevchenko starved of service. And hence no goals to Ukraine. I hoped that Sheva will score goals in the WC cos I really like him. With Xavi, Alonso and Senna controlling the midfield, Ukraine had no chance really. Their defense looks good with Puyol and Sergio Ramos impressing. A well balanced team. And look at their bench. Fabregas, Raul and Albelda. Wow!! I want to see Fabregas to start. He is too good.
Asif told me about the next two goals. Well done, Spain.

Not to my tentative list of favorites to win the title.

Argentina and Czech Republic are in pole position.
The Czech Rep. functions well as a team and with Nedved, Rosicky, Poborsky and Galasek, they are surely gonna go a long away on the road to Berlin. They hav problems up front thou. Koller injured and Baros recovering. But who knows? As I said, they may do a France 98. And I will be very happy if they do that, cos they are MY 3rd favorites along with Holland.
Argentina sizzled with their class and talent in the match against Ivory Coast. And they have not used Aimar, Messi and Tevez yet!!! Hehe!! They have the strongest bench. And there is Riquelme the magician. Go Argentina!! After all, they are MY second favorite team. No guesses on who’s MY 1st!!
Brazil are not far behind these lead two, quite simply because they have the talent to do it. They can turn on the style any time. Forget the match against Croatia. They will play better against better teams. It is just a matter of time before they get their samba soccer going. I don’t mind them winning the world cup cos I have always loved Brazil. But I want England or Argentina to win it this time. Next, Holland or Czech.

Here comes the second rung of teams.

Spain surprisingly leads the second rung of favorites for the ultimate prize. And deservedly so. They sparkled against Ukraine which is not a push over. And their bench strength is good too.
Next come Portugal and Netherlands. They looked good but not entirely convincing. But ye, things are jus starting. They will improve surely cos they have immense talent. I hope they improve.
Next come Germany and England. They played good attacking football. And Ballack is yet to play!!! Moreover, they have the home advantage which is a big factor in football. But their defense is weak which is why I have classified them here.

Next come England, one of the pre-favorites. I was disappointed with their performance against Paraguay. Heat was cited as the reason. It maybe a lame excuse. Rooney, when he returns, will do the magic. He will be the ONE to take England, on the road to glory. I just hope he is usual sizzling self, when he returns and the injury has not affected his game much. Surely they will improve. Go England!!! I have classified England here considering their current form.

France is the last. Obviously. They have all the talent and quality. But where’s the output??

And I need to mention about Ivory Coast. They played awesome attacking football. They were damn unlucky to be put in a group containing Argentina and Netherlands. I hope they have better luck next time in 2010.

The Woeful French..Again!!

The lasting image of the game was Zidane looking clearly frustrated with his woeful team and blasting Thuram and Gallas. Did you guys see that??
And the fact that France hasn’t scored a goal in WC since Petit’s goal in the final of 1998 is surely irrelevant for biased Arsenal and French fans.. Right??

The French superstars proved once again they are BIG ZEROES when it comes to playing for their county. Of course, I am not talking bout Zidane and Makelele here. I am talking bout Henry, Vieira and Co.

I raced back home after 3 games of carrom with my friends. It was 9.50 already. And seeing the scoreline as 0-0, I really had no feeling. Except that something told me that French might manage to do a 2002 repeat. But they are lucky to have an easy group this time. So I think they will manage to advance to the 2nd round.
To sum up the French performance in a few words. Woeful. Inept. Insipid. Forgetful. In fact, the underdogs Swiss played better football than the 98 winners.

Should I write a blow-by-blow account of the match?? There was hardly anything in the match except for some flashes of brilliance from Zidane, Makelele’s usual rock solid form and superb defending from the Swiss with Senderos being the hero.

I like many of the French players. But that doesn’t stop me from blasting them. Ok first things first. The expletives will come later.

Some key moments in the match, in which France could have scored.

Zidane showed glimpses of his skills as his superb long-range pass got Henry in down the left, but his roll across the face of goal was nowhere near Wiltord, who had never really tried to get into the box.

Henry had looked lost up front on his own, but his clever pass eventually found Ribery on the edge of the box, but he shot over.
Ribery, who was making his first international start, got clear of the Swiss defence, but he showed his inexperience when he opted to pull the ball back to Henry instead of shooting. And Henry's shot hit Muller's hand but no penalty was given by the referee.
Henry then rounded the first half with a weak finish, which may have even been an attempted pass to Vieira.
The second period was even worse. But the Swiss impressed with their defense.
Henry's pass to Wiltord was cut out by a superb tackle from Senderos. Senderos was brilliant during the whole game. At least one Gunner is living up to his reputation. You should be happy bout that asif.
Substitute Vikash Dhorasoo fired a shot inches wide in stoppage time.

I havnt mentioned the Swiss attacks, they very nearly scored a goal from a free kick and two other good chances as well, chances that looked surer of going in than the French chances.

Here come the expletives.

The only positives tat the French can take from this match was, Mekelele and Gallas looked good. Makelele hardly makes a mistake. Every time he plays, Real Madrid rues his departure. Hehe!! Zidane showed flashes of his brilliance with exquisite passes. But to what purpose?
Henry was inept in the 1st half and absent in the 2nd. Hardly surprising, considering the fact that he has never played well for France. If he had shown even half of his Arsenal form, France would have won the match. I wonder why Henry is so lifeless for France. His weak shots stand testimony for his lack of verve. And where was he in the 2nd half? I dint see him go for the ball for most of the 45 mins.

Next, Wiltord. Wiltord was so impressive for Lyon the last 2 seasons. And he was so unimpressive here. Only a burst or two in the 2nd half showed a glimpse of his quality. Memories of his Euro 2000 winner still linger.

Next, Vieira. I dint feel his presence at all. While Makelele looked good, Vieira was totally lethargic. He shouldn’t be made the scapegoat thou.

Thuram looked awful for quite some time in the 1st half, but put up a better show after that.

And Ex-Red Devil Barthez was showing his erratic form as usual.
Ribery impressed but showed inexperience when he attempted to pass to Henry when he could have scored with his favoured left foot.

Saha, who came on, could do nothing. Can’t complain about him. What can he do in 20 mins when the likes of Henry and Wiltord have failed to do in 70 mins??

The whole team was lethargic. Their football was Dull. Slow. The talented supertstars looked like a pack of jokers trying to fool around with the ball with the exception of some.

In 2002, the French gave an excuse that they were exhausted after a tiring season with their respective clubs. A lame one!! Are they gonna say the same?

Look, Zidane can only conjure up passes. He is old. Too much is being asked of him. He cant go barging in and score goals. That’s Henry’s job. He has failed to do it for France on many occasions. He has failed again.

I see 2002 repeating itself. Unless Henry plays well, France wont go past the 2nd round.

Is it a lack of nationalistic fervor that so de-motivates them when playing for France? How come the French superstars playing so well for their clubs, and paid so well too, come up with a woeful performance for their nation, time and again???
The French team should undergo a lot of introspection and sort out their priorities. Or they are gonna be humiliated. And that humiliation is deserved.