Sunday, June 13, 2010

The World Cup: 32 Teams is Far Too Many

Seven games in, the quality has been generally poor, with goals hard to come by.

The high-profile sides that have played so far- France, Argentina and England- all look flawed. France were toothless against Uruguay. If Gourcuff really is Wenger's preferred replacement for Fabregas, as has been suggested in places, Arsenal are in big, big trouble. For a supposed creative player, he does not seem hungry to get on the ball.

For Argentina, Messi provided a lot of the spark that many suggest he has lacked for his country, but his finishing failed him, and thus his side could not build on Heinze's early header. Nigeria were not much better than awful, but still troubled an Argentine rearguard that will surely be shown up later by a better team.

England's familiar flaws show no sign of disappearing. The return of the Lampard-Gerrard axis was predictably also the return of route one. The team lacks any kind of ethos of how to play the game constructively. John Giles reprised his on-the-money critique of both central midfielders- who are not really central midfielders. That England are relying on the return of Gareth Barry to provide some balance, after his underwhelming-at-best season for Man City, speaks of their problems. All that being said, they may well have emerged triumphant if not for Robert Green's hilariously bad mistake in fumbling Clint Dempsey's speculative effort.

That should not deflect attention from just how bad England are. The astounding thing about Gerrard and Lampard is that Giles' criticism of them is so simple, so plainly, undeniably true, and yet it is never mentioned on BBC, ITV, Sky Sports, or anywhere else. Gerrard was lauded in some places for his performance, which did include a well-taken goal and some MOMENTS of diligence, tracking back, tackling; but the glaring void in his game as a "central midfielder" is consistently ignored by English pundits and fans.

With the football so far uninspiring, one can rely on RTE's coverage for a bit of entertainment. The highlight so far, Graeme Souness today: "Vidic was raped... (awkward moment as he realises he shouldn't have said it) sorry, he was taken apart by Torres..."


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