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Thursday, June 22, 2006

WC2006: Day 13

Midway through today's early matches, it seemed like there just might be a chance for Angola to make it out of the group stage. And TDH was cheering them on (silently) - if Ghana were fighting to be the only African team to advance, surely they'd fight a bit harder. Moreover, Mexico is to US what Brazil is to Argentina, what Germany is to England, what Japan is to Korea, etc etc.

Now, of course, it will fall to the US not just to assure our own progress but, alas, to eliminate the last vestige of the exciting, hard-fought West African football that we've all been enjoying. (It would be difficult to generalize with Tunisia....) Italy are strongly favored to beat the Czechs, which is also a prerequisite, but Ghana has tickled the oddsmakers' fancy. That's okay, though - despite our powerful position in the world, Americans love to be the underdog. Don't ask TDH why.


Mexico were far from convincing against Portugal, and the locals here in Buenos Aires are pleased as punch to be facing them instead of Portugal. Not that they had quite as much to boast about as in the previous match, though. The 4-2-2-2 with four midfielders didn't click quite as well as the 4-2-1-3. TDH would venture to guess that Crespo's inclusion works to draw defenders away from Messi and Tevez, making the entire unit more dangerous.

Tevez is rapidly becoming TDH's favorite foreign player in this tournament, though. Such hunger, such concentration, such dispassionate efficiency... he and Wine Hrooney could probably repel an invading army of aliens all by themselves.

Meanwhile, the Dutch played some tidy football - when they had the football - but were hardly impressive. Their squad or, more likely, Portugal will probably face England and then Spain or Brazil. It's hard to see either team making it past both opponents. Then again, it's hard not to think of both of them as sort of "boutique" teams rather than true contenders.


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