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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Another chapter in the England saga

It all started out so promisingly, England showing more action in one half than it had in the entire World Cup. But really, it all came down to the same old story: forwards can't convert, overreliance on Becks, dodgy keeper.

Becks was far from his best, hitting virtually every ball too low - a sure sign of fatigue, or perhaps jetlag. He still manages to give himself plenty of time on the ball, but without enough gas in the tank it's not worth a damn.

Owen is still a few extra Y chromosomes short of being the stone-cold killer that Sven used to eulogize, but he's heading in the right direction. Dyer should have scored... oh, too bad. Micah Richards was quite right to demand the ball with more regularity, as he, SWP and Young Joe seemed to be the only ones posing a regular threat. And as the Tees Mouth says, with some humor, it's time for Robinson to go.

Still, TDH shouldn't complain too much. It was the most entertaining England performance in many moons.

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If there's a team whose psychology is as screwed up as England's, and is thus equally vulnerable to bloodless Northern European efficiency, it's Argentina. Such was the case in Oslo yesterday evening.

Now, TDH would like to point out that Norway may offer the best value for money of any FIFA member. For a country with fewer than 5 million inhabitants (fewer than Scotland, half that of Portugal), it produces some outstanding footballers and a decent number of trips to the major championships. With Carew, Riise, Braaten and the Gamster, it posed a mostly England-based threat that Argentina woefully underestimated.

Carew basically did whatever he wanted for an hour, and that was enough. With Messi playing as enganche, Lucho supposedly commanding the midfield with Mascherano at sea in the back, and Milito looking woeful up front, something had to change. Saviola came on and lit up the front line, and after Maxi's goal the team suddenly decided to show up. In came 10 minutes of the fastest, most sparkling football TDH had seen since, well, Argentina in the first round of the World Cup. But 10 minutes isn't enough. TDH's friends in Buenos Aires were left shaking their heads.

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TDH made it back to La Bombonera on Sunday, incidentally. Diego was there, despite the cold and some light rain. The match against recently promoted San Martin de San Juan - their fans traveled over 1,000 kilometers for the match - had plenty of action but little football. Really could have gone either way. After selling more than $100 million worth of players in the off-season, Argentine football is looking a bit anemic - and it's no surprise. Still, TDH won't mind if Independiente, with Captain Rolfi perhaps now the best player in the league, takes advantage by winning the Apertura....

2 Comments:

Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

I only saw about fifteen minutes of it, after all the goals had been scored, but Germany impressed me with their movement. I think England may fail to make Euro 2008. This would probably be a good thing. Too many of these players are way over-rated and need a reality check.

Argentina are a funny one. they're clearly so talented, but I won't bet on them winning anythng anymore. Not after the shambles of the Copa America final. These guys have no steel, no balls. They need a Simeone in their midfield.

10:41 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

You call it steel or balls, I call it fire or garra. The Argentines need someone who can inspire the team through his shouts and visage as well as his play. Simeone could do that, and people around here are complaining of the lack of a Simeone as well. Ayala was the closest they had, but what could he do after that own goal in the Copa America final? Right now they're a bunch of talented sheep.

If England miss out on Euro 2008, I don't think it'll make much difference. If you sacked Stevie Mac, you'd need a Dunga-like figure to drop Lampard etc. while they're still in their prime. I'm not sure England has one. And I'm not sure the results would improve! Could you come up with a winning alternative England XI?

3:13 PM  

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