Sure, France is now almost eight years removed from winning the World Cup, but wouldn't you say it's disturbing that Les Bleus haven't managed a single goal in the past four World Cup games? Well, Thierry Henry is lashing out at Franck Ribery for cocking up their best chance to earn a goal.
"Franck placed the ball behind me instead of placing it in front of me. If he had placed it in front me I could have pushed it inside an empty goal without controlling it and that would have been a goal."
Gosh, Thierry. Sorry for the awful inconvenience. Of course, that doesn't explain why your side couldn't manage a point against Senegal in 2002--a nation France gave running water for Christ's sake.
If the United States doesn't manage a goal against Italy, nobody will be able to kick around DaMarcus Beasley the way Henry is Ribery. All signs seem to indicate that Beasley will not be playing--or at the very least starting--when the United States takes the field this Saturday. In addition, don't be surprised if Landon Donovan is back in the midfield with Eddie Johnson starting in his place. All of this is just as we'd have drawn it up ourselves. But line-up changes alone won't save USA's bacon. They are going to have to step to the ball more often on defense and get back to playing the ball to feet when they are in possession--as opposed to the sloppy "play the ball into the general area" tactics they used against the Czech Republic.
In other news, Brazil got into a bit of an unexpected dogfight with Croatia before managing a 1-0 win. There are some who say that Brazil just traditionally starts off Cup competition slow. Others insist that the Croat side is vastly underrated. I think Brazil's meh result, however, comes from the fact that they go out to play the "beautiful" game of soccer--and really, how is that possible when the Croatian kits are all but sponsored by Go Fug Yourself.
With one round over, here's how we rank the field.
- Germany: The mission was to make a Benz out of this Datsun. Now, with their ticket to the next round punched, the host nation is just humming along.
- Argentina: Hmmm. The 'Tines played soccer without any outward sign of ponciness. Javier Saviola's looking like the next big thing.
- Czech Republic: Played like a team that doesn't doubt it belongs in the semis. Rosicky's just ridiculous. Can they get by without Koller?
- Brazil: Not the greatest result, but no one wants to play them in the next round, all the same.
- Spain: Historically speaking, nobody asses up their World Cup chances better then Spain, but after their pasting of the Ukraine, you gotta recognize.
- Netherlands: Arjen Robben put together the best individual performance of the first set of games, hands down. Anyone else want to play?
- Italy: Steady as they go. They still look beatable if you ask me, but, then, isn't looking beatable the biggest part of Italy's historical success?
- Mexico: Note well: Mexico got it together after Borghetti left the field. The larger question, can La Volpe coach without his cigarettes?
- England: Looking good to advance right now, but it's got more to do with Chaka Hislop than anything they were able to do themselves.
- Ecuador: A dark horse emerges?
- Portugal: For the first five minutes, these guys looked like world-beaters. For the next eighty-five, they didn't even rise to the level of egg beater.
- Korea: Partisans were ordered to dress in team colors after their "epic struggle against Togo," proving once again that this side's strength is their pure Jack Bauerian angst.
- Sweden: Oy. Why do they have to do this to me?
- France: Ou sont les Bleus d'antan?
- Australia: The way the Socceroos came back on Japan, the way they are making the most of their Cup appearance...it ought to make the U.S. team sick.
- Trinidad and Tobago: If the quality of play from England and Sweden doesn't improve beyond game one, TnT actually looks like they could end up in the mix for the next round.
- Ivory Coast: Things might be different if the refs hadn't let Drogba get repeatedly mugged in the box. Of course, things might be different if Drogba had some teammates.
- Serbia and Montenegro: If you were playing them, wouldn't you pay off the team's two Montenegrins to, you know, casually undermine their teammates confidence? "Hey, Predrag? Is that way you're planning on playing tomorrow? Really? No, no. That's really adorable...different, you know?"
- Paraguay: At the very least, Paraguay appeared in their non-fug road uniforms.
- Croatia: Which is more than we can say for Croatia.
- Switzerland: I like to think that after the group stage, Swiss footballers return to angry wives. "Where the hell have you been for the past two weeks?!" "Darling, I was playing in the World Cup!" [Pause] "Seriously. Where the fuck were you!"
- Togo: You think I'm overrating them? Well, I hear they were part of some sort of "epic struggle."
- Tunisia: Ties, ties, ties!!
- Saudi Arabia: Ties...ties...ties...
- Japan: That was just an epic collapse against Australia.
- Angola: Battling their former colonial masters, passion and fervor was supposed to emerge. Instead, bad soccer did.
- Iran: Just when they need a hug the most, they learn--you can't hug a soccer team with nuclear arms.
- Ghana: Boy, they sure could've used Freddy Adu out there...
- USA: I'm beginning to wonder if the US will solve the problem of winning in Europe in my lifetime.
- Costa Rica: Cheer up, Costa Rica. You guys have a model Central American Democracy!
- Poland: All that talk about Poland being poised to make the leap. They leapt right off the cliff.
- Ukraine: From all of us here in America, thank you for sucking harder, Ukraine. We really appreciate it.