Friday, June 30, 2006

Eight Remain.

This week, with an ahead-of-holiday workload to plow through along with the demands of a week of final rehearsals for The Memorandum, I was kept largely at bay from Cup Watching (outside of GameCast) and blogging. Me so tired. But, it's all coming together now.

Germany and Argentina really should have been a game we got to see much later in the tournament. These are pretty much the two best teams around, and it's too bad one of them, in this case Argentina, had to go home so soon. Really, I understand the way the tournament is set up and everything, but it seems to me that when things come to the round of sixteen, Fee-Fah ought to be able to see how they've got Switzerland matched up against the Ukraine and, you know, put a STOP to that nonsense.

As it is, Germany prevails in penalties, which, for my money, is always a little unsatisfying--even though, while it's happening, it's as intense as hell. Someone once told me that way back in the day, they used to just send the teams home after the end of overtime and tell them to come back tomorrow.

That said, I am totally glad that Fee-Fah has done away with with sudden-death scenarios in the extra-period. Mind you, I've nothing against sudden-death. But what I could never abide was the asinine name they gave the sudden-death periods: the Golden Goal. First of all, this is soccer--not Quidditch. Second of all, "Golden Goal" just smacks of American marketing department desperation. Some dipshitty nickname that'll roll off the tongue of the stuffed turds they have doing the television coverage. Hated it. Glad it's gone.

But I am sorry we don't have Argentina around anymore. They struggled against Mexico from time to time in the last round but really played exquisite soccer--most of the time quite lovely soccer. I'm not given to rooting on the Argentines, but there's something about this team that won me over. Mainly, they left most of the suckers from the last Cup team at home. But really I think that they did a lot less pretty-boy, wannabe-Italia posturing and just played. Riquelme was awesome, and their youth movement--all those dudes named Messi and Maxi--has put a lot of life back into their game.

Speaking of Italy, they are destroying Ukraine right now. Sigh. I'm sorry, but this Italy team is living on vapor. After beating Ghana, they've basically needed some referee help to get through and advance, from the multiple send-offs of the US game and the Czecha Republica match, to the absolute highway robbery that transpired at the end of the Australia game. Poor Socceroos! Guus Huddink hadn't even made a substitution! He was keeping them in check for extra time. Now, they get to play Ukraine. Oy. This means, at least, that Germany gets to wallop them.

Right now, Brazil, who totally beat Ghana down, to PK's credit, is the only team remaining who can prevent an all-Euro set of semifinals. Their opponent is France, who were staggering along as some winsome, ersatz version of the team they were eight years ago when they suddenly blossomed into recrudescence, beating the short pants off of Spain, who were looking for their new version of themselves to play the latest version of France and not vice versa. As it is, the predictable World Cup devolution from Spaniard to spaniel took place on a day where Zisou and Vieira finally woke up and Ribery got his game in gear. But I don't think they beat Brazil.

As for the England-Portugal game--don't ask me. I personally feel like Portugal should win it going away, but the English defense--they'd wrongly call it "defence"--played out of their heads against Ecuador (sorry to see them go, too).

I just hope I can SEE some of it.


PK said...

Opinions/predictions/shit I should really put in my own blog but who's got the time:

- Italy is not all that bad. The foul against Australia (my new favorite team!) was (sadly) legit. Ukraine, however, was not.

- If you were watching ESPN's coverage of the early game today, you were "treated" to Marcelo Balboa's "analysis" of the game. This included: explaining how a fucking penalty kick shootout works every 30 seconds for the entire extra period; responding to the cameras showing Angela Merkel (Germany's PM) a half-dozen times with befuddled silence, although my brother confirms that the same confusion was found over on Univision; and constant harping on the Argentine coach's decision to pull Riquelme, even though the usually-sublime midfielder was playing like dogshit. If I didn't know Balboa was actually a US team veteran, I'd say he knew nothing about soccer. I think I may say that anyway. At the very least, he seems to feel the need to dumb it down a lot.

- Germany is very very very good. Do not be fooled.

- England is very very very charmed. I have a feeling they'll get by Portugal, even though I think it'd be fun to see a Portugal v Brazil Scolari-fest - 22 players with only like 26 names! Ronaldo v Ronaldo! Balboa trying to pronounce words like "Joao"! What's not to love?

- That said, I also have mixed feelings about France 2.0. It's like France 1.0 but with just a few minor bug fixes, and still so much better than the disastrous France Millennium Edition. I think they could give Brazil a game; on the other hand, Brazil has managed to look out of sorts while still easily dominating their competition. They're due for a game where they actually play well. So I'll take the safe route and go with Brazil.

My picks:
Semis: Germany over Italy and Brazil over England
Final: Germany over Brazil

The home team is a team of destiny. How do I know this? Simple: In the PKs today, Lehmann guessed right every single time (even though he couldn't get to them all); Argentina's backup goalie didn't guess right once. That's just uncanny. There's some sort of intervention going on here.

Also, the Univision guy is loving the alliteration of "Aleman Lehmann!" and the less convincing "Jens Yes! Jens Yes!" That has to count for something...

PK said...

OK, so maybe it's not that much of a mystery - today's game commentators are talking about Jen Lehmann pulling a cheat sheet out of his SOCK yesterday... so it wasn't divine intervention after all. Just Cliff's Notes.

Ed said...

I'm mostly pissed that we no longer have the possibility of an Axis/Allies semifinal.

Magnus said...

Bye bye Brazil :)

A. L. Deviant said...

If the commentators mention that this could be "Zidane's last game" one more time, I am going to... well, I don't know, but its pissing me off.


Like, if you don't have something to say, don't repeat the same old bullshit. Just do the play by play. We get it. Zidane is retiring from futbol outright. Now shut the fuck up about it already. And someone must take out Musburger, please.

After this futbolgasm of a weekend, I pick Germany over Italy 3-1. France over Portugal 2-0. Portugal over Italy 2-1 for third place. France to win it all 1-0. The only thing that irks me about that pick is that they will rail on about fucking Zidane.

DDiamond said...

On Ed's comment, I note that in Germany/Italy you at least have an Axis/Axis semifinal.

And the winner of a Germany/France final would get to keep Alsace-Lorraine!