Associate AD-Communications Kevin O'Connor checks in with some additional World Cup thoughts
Five more thoughts on the World Cup as we head into the final matches of the group stage …
Take Back Almost Everything I Offered A Week Ago … I knew I should have never complimented the officials, though to be fair I did note controversy would eventually come. And did it ever. That poor man from Mali looked outclassed within the first 90 seconds, and the Frenchman that oversaw the Brazil/Ivory Coast match certainly didn't help improve the overall thoughts of the French at the 2010 Cup. I was more comfortable with my feelings a week ago about South Africa, even though they appear on the verge of being eliminated. And Germany went from favorites to troubled in a short amount of time, yet I still see the Germans as a real threat to advance very deep.
Oh Those French … One overwhelming observation even a casual fan can take away from this World Cup is that almost everyone hates the French. Hard to say if that is a soccer thing or more like an all the time thing, but no one has turned away from the chance to pile on. You do have to admit, the video of the guy throwing his credential at the practice field is priceless. And, as someone who was heartbroken to see Ireland wrongly eliminated by France in the qualifying playoff, I’ll admit this meltdown stuff has been entertaining. Even with some dire predictions heading into the tournament – and a warmup loss to China - it is hard to believe the French have crashed and burned like this.
As For The U.S. … All of the consternation about the officiating aside, could the U.S. have asked for much more than to know that a win over Algeria sends them through to the second round, and quite possibly through as the top team in the group? Yes, the play of the Americans has been suspect at times, in particular the penchant for giving wandering attackers ample room to roam. But, for a country that has bombed out in three of the last five World Cups, U.S. fans should be quite happy with the positioning. Now if Wednesday’s result is something other than a win, U.S. fans will also be quite within their rights to be extremely unhappy. If things go well this week, though, all of a sudden the quarterfinals are not out of the question at all.
And Those Bloody English … The internet is a wonderful thing, because my first reaction to the 0-0 draw against Algeria was to read The Sun and The Daily Mirror to see what the quick reaction was. Just imagine what the reax will be if the English don’t right the ship and go through, after all to the English fans and media the group stage was a mere formality. But no one can have watched a moment of the English over the first 180 minutes and not admit they have problems, and problems well beyond who is in goal. The English look stressed, concerned, nervous and generally a mess. One early goal could change all of that Wednesday, but if it is 0-0 or worse at half, those fancy collars on the English kits might get oh so tight.
Plenty To Still Watch … Sometimes the final matches of the group stage can be a mere formality, with many teams either having advanced to been eliminated. But, with England, the U.S., Germany, Spain and Italy – among others – needing a win to move forward, the final few days of the opening round should be full of drama.