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The usual suspects – a post mortem July 12, 2006

Posted by ramanand in Football WC, Ramanand.
16 comments

Now that drama has butted in and left, and also that it is just less than a week after, perhaps it is a good time to quickly revisit Arnold’s question on the not so glorious certainties of the WC i.e. why are most of the football WCs dominated by the same set of superpowers.

This world cup, more than any in recent times, has seen a lack of its fair share of huge upsets. Portugal, the only semi-finalist, without a WC crown cannot be compared to Croatia or South Korea in past years. So why do the same teams strut about every 4 years?

Take a look at the Czech Republic. After a stunning opening, they faltered rapidly (much to my dismay) once they had their chief strikers on the injury list. OTOH, Germany and Italy could stave off cards and crashes by sheer depth in their squad. Most of our usual suspects had great depth, perhaps not so much in world-class talent but in a decent standard and ability to replace players with ease.

Mental strength and a sense of confidence in certain situations like the penalty shootouts saw the likes of Portugal, Italy and Germany succeed. Contrast this with Switzerland. Italy is a new addition to this list after years of failing from the spot as a team. But ever since Totti’s glorious corner slot against the Aussies, they haven’t looked back.

As for the French, well, sheer memory, both muscle and mental, seemed to have pulled them through.

So go on: tell us the reasons why Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Portugal and France (now legitimate usual suspects?), and to a small extent England – a veritable Rogue’s Gallery of World Cup aspirants – were incriminating themselves again this quadrennial.

Gauls Versus the Romans July 7, 2006

Posted by samratsengupta in Football WC, Samrat, Uncategorized.
6 comments

So a World Cup final straight out of Asterix Comics. Though the French team composition reflects more of the motley collection in  the “pirate ship” of Asterix (which by the way perpetually gets sunk) rather than the Gauls. I hope I am not being racist here as Monsieur Le Pen, who commented about the French team being uncomfortably polychromatic for his eyes. 

Italians and French are culturally close, both people are supposed to be argumentative,not workaholics( being politically correct here 🙂 ), expressive in love,  they have fashion twins in Milan and Paris. France also ruled over Italy for much of the 18th and 19th century, Napoleon even designed the Italian Flag. French team is a good ad for United Colours of Benetton. The team colors and nicknames are also Blue. Azzuri( from Azure) and Les Blues. Surprisingly even Uderzo (Goscinny and Uderzo creators of Asterix) is of Italian descent, still he surprisingly champions French chauvinism in the Asterix series.

French seem to have taken a swig of Getafix potion after their tepid group display. It also lulled the other teams into a false sense of complacency.  The French attacking midfield has been a revelation, they have a perfect trio in Ribery, Zidane and Veira. Operating at a dual level with the pacy Ribery and the languid and composed Zidane, with Viera adding the robustness. Opponents cannot gauge at what speed the French will attack, this multi-dimensional capability gives them the edge. For Zidane time slows down, he has so much time at his disposal( similar to Federer), though he is past his peak still he is one of the best midfield operators in business The only bad egg in the french basket is the egg-head Barthez, his blunders may sink the French ship.

The Romans are also well-organized as ever. The Italian team has the right blend of youth and experience. The icons Totti and Del Piero would also be as determined as Zidane as it is their “Last Supper” also. The hit men Luca Brasi(Toni) and Gilardino are sharp. Pirlo and Camoranesi add to the flair. Defence is impregnable with Cannavaro being the marshal, Nesta’s return would bolster it further. Gattuso is the wild cannon in the middle to thwart attacks. But most reassuring is the imposing figure of Buffon in goal.

Italians have the twelve year cycle in WC 70 (RU),82 (W),94(RU),06(W?) . But the French coach Domenech with Linda Goodman and MM Joshi as advisors, would have something in store to counter this.

Overall I expect a thrilling WC final, the best since 1986.  

Spiku July 4, 2006

Posted by Abhishek in Abhishek, Football WC.
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Here’s my attempt at Sports haiku or spiku. Yes, yes it does not exist, I know, but hell, even Spamku did not exist at one time.

And then the four saw
Sternly eye to eye,
Leaving just twenty-two.

Advantage Paes-Mirza? July 2, 2006

Posted by Arnold in Arnold, Tennis.
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How many of you’ll think that Leander Paes (or maybe Mahesh Bhutpathi) and Sania Mirza should pair up in the Mixed Doubles?

And how many of you’ll think they will?