Legend of El Diego – World Cup 2010

Haradona (a.k.a Avijit Das Patnaik) reflects on his diary notes made during the WC 2010 Round three matches (Group Stages)

Starters:

How good is this world cup? From 1.6 goals per game in Round 1, to 2.7goals per game in Round 2 – almost seems like a blue chip stock which rose overnight. Still, despite 75 goals from 32 matches, the world cup hasn’t yet got lighted up. One reason could be that a significant chunk of goals have come from goalkeeping & defensive blunders. Another could be controversial red cards, which are turning matches upside down. If two more European biggies join France to take early return flights, the WC would be in trouble.

Hype and Hoopla: There is a clear attempt by the media to go overboard on everything related to the world cup. Even before the start, each time a player got injured it was prematurely followed by a tag “out of the world cup”. There were several world XIs made of players not in the tournament. Reality was close by. Robben was fit to be a substitute in the 2nd match, Drogba played the 1st match and Nani is wondering why he was sent home in a hurry!

Soccer - 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa - Group E - Netherlands v Denmark - Soccer City Stadium
Netherlands fans in the stands enjoying a seven start performance in WC 2010

Continental Menu

Africa: Remains the continent which disappoints us the most. There is every likelihood (and dare say, high probability) that even Ghana and Ivory Coast will not make it to the knockout rounds. The other four teams representing the continent have garnered a sum total of 2 points only! Staging the tournament at Africa did no favors; FIFA rather have staged it in India or China and rode on the huge consumer base and their spending potential.

Asia Oceania: Good. Australia, New Zealand held onto brave draws. South Korea and Japan just need draws to progress to the next round.

Central and North America: Good. Mexico hit the first nail to the French coffin.USA battled to a come from behind draw and now need a win over Algeria to progress to the next round.

Europe: Poor and continues to give their fans and punters, a hair tearing experience. Italy, Spain, Germany and England need wins to avoid crashing out; the odds are low that all four teams will win – considering that last three mentioned will be playing their respective group toppers. So expect at least one to visit the travel agent early.

Anelka and teammates ensured they hammered all the balance nails into their coffin – you can find their bust up with Domenec and Duverne in youtube! The Dutch have progressed thanks to errors by opposition and not many believe in Portugal, despite a seven star performance. The silver linings have only come from the Swiss army.

Sud America: Excellent and Jolly Good. Argentina still look the team to beat and likely to stay the distance; Brazil have overtaken Spain as the bookies favourite; Uruguay and Chile have impressed, but the dark horse team to watch out for is Paraguay!

Critical Match Watch

Uruguay vs Mexico; Brazil vs Portugal: All four of them need a draw to progress and none need a loss, injuries or suspensions to again raise self doubts. Will they shake hands during the 90 minutes?

Ghana vs Germany; Chile vs Spain; Slovenia vs England: Each of the European biggies play the current group winner. Ghana, Slovenia and Chile just need draws to progress to next round and eliminate a top notch team. Chilling matches expected on chilly nights!

Coach Watch

Lippi Logic: With everyone having a view on Italy’s team composition, Marcello Lippi had sprung up to the defense saying he would have selected a different team if it was for a year long league. But for a handful of games, he has selected players fit enough to last the distance.

Cherries on the cake

Higuain: missed goals from six yards out, twice, in Argentina’s first encounter (the only two instances when Argentina’s World Cup campaign resembled their qualifiers). Came back to hit the net thrice, all of them from less than six yards out!! Leading the line for the golden boot.

Salcido: The left back was standout player for the Mexicans in their French demolition!

Forlan: He gave the tournament the first long range thunderbolt goal (we are yet to see any free kick goals)

Fabiano: Joins the Golden boot race with his double strike along with Villa.

Villa: has scored the goal of the tournament

w19_23998119
Diego Maradona has been absolute box office draw of WC 2010

El Diego: There is only one superstar coach, by a huge margin. Ok let me re-phrase. The biggest box office draw this world cup is Diego Armando Maradona; much bigger than Messi, Ronaldo or Rooney. Youtube even has clips of Argentina’s practice sessions, where he is demonstrating free kicks from outside penalty area. Along with hitting the target there, he has so far hit all the right and sly notes!
– He took a dig at “a certain No. 10” and more importantly praised South Africa in excess – about their facilities, hotels, grounds, hospitality and crowds. Its no secret, that Diego is a master at garnering crowd support, knowing very well that an African team is unlikely to make the distance. At Italia 90, Argentina got home support equivalent at every venue till they met the hosts in the semis.
– He gave a free hand to Messi and Tevez to delight us all. Messi’s performance so far has been far cry than what he displayed in the qualifiers.
– Cameras caught Juan Sebastian Veron (the unofficial captain!) going upto Diego and discussing strategy during the Nigeria match, twice.
– At end of the first half of same match, Diego had his arm around only one player – the worst on the pitch – Di Maria. The talented left winger has had a far better world cup post coming out of that halftime break.
– Martin Demichelis publicly admitted that Diego’s halftime talk took his mind away from the jaw dropping blunder he committed and allowed South Korea back into the match.
– It was a matter of time before English writers start writing about his managerial traits, having gone ‘over the top’ previously in the opposite direction. So they did. Richard Williams writes in Guardian “Argentina’s clever set-pieces were a feature of the game, suggesting that Maradona and his assistants are putting in effective work on the training ground. According to Verón, the corner-kick routine that led to Gabriel Heinze’s goal was the coach’s idea.”

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