Any other soccer fans, pick your final 16 here with their group finishing order 1-2 in each of the eight groups.
a) Little point in trying to pick the whole tournament like some due to way too many variables like cards and injuries let alone being able to see the teams actually play for real as opposed to in mere friendlies when they are still experimenting with their lineups.
b) Given the usual passions (FORZA AZZURRI! GO USA!) involved if you have comments on any picks, please at least show YOUR 16 instead of just firing away from the sidelines or just homering your team.
c) No firing away without sticking your neck out please -- you can do that in any one of perhaps 1000s of awful soccer blogs anyway. Here's the only good one I have found so far though if you are interested: www.tyduffy.com :thup:
I've highlighted the picks that I thought are the hardest for me to make too.
Awful that you would cheer for Mexico over Team USA geez, but hey Mexico are actually playing better than Team USA now. :roll: I guess you pull for all teams from nations speaking either Spanish or Portuguese for whatever reason.
The officiating in the first match is key, and I just pray it is fair no matter what. The ref is from as neutral a site as you could imagine -- Uzbekistan. Mexico is one of the most physical and dirty, if not the most in my opinion, of all the teams.
Good luck with that strategy by Mexico in the event of a 50/50 call for a booking or an expulsion when playing against the host nation, but certainly I hope for a fairly officiated match or we will end up with somewhat a sham of a tournament as in Korea/Japan 2002 with the following five games of note with awful and/or corrupt officiating:
USA-Mexico (Typical dirty Mexican butchering of US either unseen or allowed with too many "no calls")
Italy-Croatia (Inexistent offside called to disallow a goal)
Italy-South Korea (Definitely few calls against South Korea for fouls; the referee Byron Moreno later was reprimanded by FIFA and never refereed at the FIFA level again to my knowledge)
Spain-South Korea (2 goals by Spain disallowed for inexistent offsides)
Brazil-Turkey I (Multiple calls against Turkey including the acting job by Rivaldo, who disgraced himself as a person never mind the great player he was to the world forever; this match was won by Turkey in reality)
I'll leave my comments otherwise for the Koreans, South or North, off this forum for sake of their history when hosting international competitions of any kind, and I don't think in South Africa that the host country will resort to such corruption.
In Group A, the Group of Death, please note however that I would not be surprised to see some players sent off after a studs up challenge or reckless tackle from behind.
In my opinion, though not all referees will rule as such and definitely not Italians, English, and American ones at least, if a tackle from behind, so long as studs are not up, gets the ball first, it does not merit a booking and only a foul.
Let's see how such an episode gets called, and no way is any South African player going to be booked for that all the same.
I'm pulling for all Concacaf teams, even Mexico. The better this federation does the more slots we'll likely get next time and the better chance Canada will have of qualifying. Right now even if Canada somehow finishes in the 4th spot, having to beat out the 5th Conmebol team would be nearly impossible. We might be able to keep it close for the home leg but the lack of experience playing in the hostile South American environment would work against us. We need 4 full slots. Go Concacaf!
Continental federations (teams are part of and qualify from).
Concacaf - North America (US, Mexico and Honduras are representing this confederation in this world cup)
Conmebol - South America
UEFA - Europe
AFC - Asia
CAF - Africa
Oceania - Australia (edit: the Australian national team actually seceded from this confederation and joined AFC few years ago.)
Group A: France, Uruguay
Group B: Argentina, Greece
Group C: England, USA
Group D: Germany, Australia
Group E: Netherlands, Denmark
Group F: Italy, Slovakia
Group G: Brazil, Portugal
Group H: Spain, Switzerland
Looks to me like home cooking by the refs yet again akin to South Korea 2002.
The FIFA Laws Of The Game are very clear with regard to the play in question, and on ESPN but I don't think Univision they were rather glib and dismissive predictably but just as I type came around to state "no offsides" as was clear to most fans and all of Mexico.
Regardless of position, there is no offside offense if a player receives the ball directly from a goal kick, corner kick, or throw-in.
The ONLY way that was offside was IF another Mexican player deflected it to Vela who then sent it into goal, as then with the goalkeeper out Vela would have been in an offside position even with a South African defender on the goal line. But if so which player deflected it?
Now I am reminded of the South Korean jackbutts of 2002 again. :roll:
1.These vuvuzelas are as unbearably annoying as I thought they would be. It's making for one of the worst atmospheres I've seen in all 5 world cups I've watched since 1990. Not only the locals are not able to cheer/clap when they should be (having their hands and mouth full with those horns) but they're actually drowning out the few cheers from the visiting supporters with the constant buzzing noise.
I don't think I've ever seen a ball bounce as much and high as this one. So many overhits and seems hard to control. I can now see what the players were griping about earlier.
The opener was not bad and had its moments, including a spectacular goal, but the 2nd game (France-Uruguay) was a total snoozer to me. Hopefully things will pick up later but I'm afraid the atmosphere is a lost cause (thanks to FIFA for allowing these vuvuzelas :roll: ) in this world cup.
TFC you and others seem to be on track on complaints on the ball as we have heard no doubt from the players, as I am wary myself now having watched those games and given that it has dimples to aid its flight in that it seems to sail.
Nothing's more annoying to most any soccer player including myself than a ball that won't dip even when struck properly, and I know this from owning both good and bad balls currently and training with them on shots from 22+ yards out from the goal line and then 5 yards or so out from the nearest post.
A bit more feedback here that I have posted as the discussion on the offside call by Mexico has devolved online into the biggest campaign of misinformation and disinformation that I can recall with regard to any offside call of controversy in the World Cup.
Now I am trying to find some of the elusive tape on the matter to see for myself. In Italy and in other countries, they'll devote 10 minutes of a show or so to thorough analysis of the tape, but in the US oh no the idiots try to gloss over or act as the experts they are not!
Shamefully this seems to include even some former pro players sometimes who ought know better! :roll: Here goes for what it is worth:
What everyone seems to be ignoring conveniently, though I am still investigating the reports on ESPN that they had botched one after the other, is the OTHER exception to the offside rule with regard to DIRECT touches from corner kicks in addition in one’s own half, from throw-ins, or from goal kicks:
The only way that was offside was IF and ONLY IF the ball were deflected, and I am still trying to examine the elusive video to see if it were by either the keeper or another Mexican player. Otherwise we have home cooking akin to South Korea 2002 here again.
The number of players between Vela and the goal line does NOT apply to DIRECT touches on a corner kick on which most of these so-called “experts? all are focusing wrongly.
And mind you the rule explains clearly that it is the receiving player’s position no further than the end of the ball when the ball is last touched by another player, not where the player is when receiving the pass, that factors into the analysis all the same.
Even on that basis the keeper was not further afield of Vela at the time of the kick had it been merely a cross in open play.
As it was a corner kick that is a moot point anyway if Vela were the first player to touch the ball after the kick, but there you have clear exposure of the apparently common lack of understanding of the rules all the same.
Stay tuned on another edition for what is or what is not a handball for that matter.
The ref got it right with no call on Uruguay for example.
The basic rule is that a handball has to be deemed intentional, though in reality handballs are also called when said handballs give grievously undue advantage to the offending player’s team even if the intent is uncertain.
Finally, here's the best summary explanation that echoes my feedback below with the screen capture even though the author himself draws the incorrect conclusion to contradict his own post:
Now the only pertinent question is if any of the Mexican players deflected that corner kick to Vela. Only an examination at slow speed of the video will reveal that, and good luck finding it online but I have not stopped trying.
If so, the ruling by the linesman was correct though as of yet no one on TV has been able to point out the correct reason for the correct ruling if indeed the case.
If no deflection, the referee botched the call and home cooking again, and it's remarkable how even many otherwise informed analysts are screwing up the explanation to confuse everyone by not even getting their own explanation of the offside rule, which does not apply to that play, incorrect. :roll:
3. The opener was not bad and had its moments, including a spectacular goal, but the 2nd game (France-Uruguay) was a total snoozer to me. Hopefully things will pick up later but I'm afraid the atmosphere is a lost cause (thanks to FIFA for allowing these vuvuzelas ) in this world cup.
Though I enjoyed the build-up and anticipation at the opening of the tournament, I knew better than to have my hopes up for Group A, this World Cup's Group of Death, despite the fluid play overall by Mexico in especially the first half and with its 4-3-3.
No worries the action will get better for most of the other groups.
The second game matched basically a defencively heavy and competent Uruguay, lined up at the start in an odd and uncharacteristic 3-4-1-2, against France lined up in a dymanic 4-3-3 like Mexico.
Uruguay can win its remaining matches 1-0 each given the solid state of its defence.
France definitely have more worries, as though very talented, volatile, and dangerous for any team they have no solid chemistry as all of France and beyond have never had more hatred of Domenech who continues to tinker France's formations to no avail. Also note that defencively they are quite sloppy as well as indicated especially by the thuggish nature of all three of their bookings today.
Nevertheless though I don't have them advancing, only a foolish side would take France for granted with its top world class talent.
Here is a fine site for match breakdowns as you will find, even better than on the FIFA site, and don't worry about the Italian plus you can have the site translated into English too with some tinkering from its homepage:
And here at last is the definitive video to show the deflection from a Mexican player's head that almost everyone missed in making this explanation and was hard to see on the video replays all the same.
Great call by the linesman and awful explanation by all the analysts who assumed I suppose that everyone could see the deflection:
Well only when noteworthy for sake of the other few fans here, but FYB are you just mad now that your beloved Mexico only drew South Africa? Now their road is uphill though I think they can beat France.
Today was somewhat messy due to the bad and incomplete explanations of the offside call on Mexico to annul the first goal in the first game followed by a physical, ugly match in the second.
Furthermore it was the first day so I posted some handy links you can't find in North American media for that matter.
Of course more than likely England-USA will be noteworthy tomorrow.