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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

WC2006: Day 12

Ah, England still can't beat the Swedes, can they? This time it took a freak goal, but let's face it, the two shots off the crossbar and Gerrard's clear were just as freaky. The result was fair.

And it makes TDH wonder. When teams like Germany slice through defences with such ease, why is it so hard for England to score? It just seems like always they need a wonderstrike like Young Joe's, or Stevie G's patented Last Minute Special. Are England really playing such great teams, or are they just shite?

Well, the Swedes are a much better team than Ecuador. But the diamond didn't seem to be working any better than the 4-4-2. Mr. Mr. Men was often at fault - he just didn't have the presence to hold up the midfield. And what was Crouch doing, hanging around the center of the pitch most of the second half? He won a couple of balls, but when it was time to defend, the Swedes just ran past him.

It was all very, very bizarre. Wine Hrooney seemed rather nonplussed to be substituted, but Sven was probably wise to play it safe. Then again, he probably should have explained his plan (ideally with pictures and hand puppets) beforehand.

Going back to Germany, the pairing of Ballack and Schweinsteiger is creating a ton of chances. Even if their defense is suspect, they'll almost certainly pick up enough goals to make it past the Swedes.

5 Comments:

Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

TDH, I thought Hargreaves was the best English player after (naturally) Cole. Watch a replay and count the number of Swedish attacks he broke up, especially in the first half (where his only bum note was a bad pass near the England area). In the second half, he had a much more difficult time, given how often his team-mates gave the ball away, but still, a strong performance. Honestly, in the first half alone, he made about fifteen tackles.

I'd be tempted to dispense with Crouch and play Stevie Me up front, as Lampard put in his best performance knowing he could chunter forward with Hargreaves at the back.

7:56 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

There's no question Hargreaves was active, but I still think - through a deductive argument - that he came up short. How else do you explain the defensive weakness? It wasn't just on set pieces. The holding midfielder is supposed to protect the defense, but too many times the cutters got through. Terry and Ferdinand often had to move forward, in fact, to help out in midfield, leaving Ashley to make tackles in front of the goal. That was shameful!

It's such a cruel irony that Crouch is so rubbish in the air....

3:56 PM  
Anonymous jonathan said...

You know I have to agree with Maradona on the Hargreaves question. After months of following most supporters in comprehensively deriding the fresh-faced midfield scamp (I think I went as far on these very pages as suggesting the whole Bayern Munich thing was an elaborate hoax and the floppy-haired youngster was in reality Sven's neigbour's fifteen-year-old son, who was being given ten-minute run-outs with the England national team as reward for mowing the coach's lawn on Saturday mornings) I underwent last night what I think is known as a Damascene conversion.

I felt young Hargreaves was one of the few encouraging pointers to emerge from another ultimately calamitous England display- his first-half performance amounted to an object lesson in the art of defensive midfield play. In the second-half his influence faded, for sure- but by then the Bundesliga man was cast in the role of King Canute, charged singlehandedly with resisting constant waves of Swedish pressure that resulted, in the main, from the carelessness in posession of more exalted team-mates.

So- keep Hargreaves in for Ecuador, I say. Who I would play in front of him is another question. I'm not sure I can agree with Maradona about the extend to which Lampard was able to take advantage of the freedom afforded him by the deployment of a holding man in place of the gung-ho Gerrard.

The Chelsea man's touch just seemed so often to let him down. The British TV commentators at one point quoted statistics showing Lampard as having had more shots on goal than any other player in the tournament. What they didn't mention was the worrying proportion of those shots that have been scuffed into the goalie's arms, sliced wide, or ballooned high into the stands to be fielded by the outstretched arms of fans in England kits (fans who seemed strangely unconcerned by their team's wayward finishing by the way, reacting instead with undisguised glee at the chance to have their sunburnt features flit momentarily across global TV screens. Can these people really have paid for their tickets, do you think??).

1:57 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

I'll agree with jonathan on the Lamps question. The guy has not exactly been lighting it up. In fact, I'd go so far as to say his trademark pile-drivers from the edge of the box have been absent for much of the past several months. He's scored five times in the 22 competitive games since February 1. By comparison, he scored 12 times in the first 22 competitive games of the 2005-06 season.

Sven could definitely try the hotter Stevie G on the tip of the diamond, with Crouch and Rooney up front. We may just get a glimpse of Walcott, too, once Crouch shoots his bolt.

Say what you will - I'm not convinced by Hargreaves. Lots of effort, yes, I've already given you that, but I don't see him bossing the game.

4:19 AM  
Anonymous Palms said...

I just have to address jonathan's point about the arms outstreched cheering that greets another spooned Lampard effort. I too suffer from an unfortunate form of tourettes that consists of me enthusiastically shouting 'Wahey!' whenever a shot is ballooned over the bar. Even when watching at home by myself. I thought it was part of the footballing fan's genetic make up. Like the cheering that erupts when a referee falls on his arse. It's not our fault honestly, we can't help it. Although I do contend that a great many of England's followers in Germany are part-time fans who half-heartedly follow Man U or Chelsea and don't know their Arsenal from their Elland Road. Cockneys usually.

10:24 AM  

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