Good Morning!  It is a beautiful sunny Saturday in the Northeast, and obviously I am indoors watching the World Cup.  Although this topic does not follow the theme of my Blog, I thought the World Cup is a big enough event to require feedback even from sales and marketing guys who stopped playing soccer after high school.  Enjoy!

Who is going to win?

Entering the tournament, Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Italy and Germany appeared to be the favorites and the expert’s selections.  I thought that Brazil and Spain would be unbeatable, Argentina’s talent would be compromised by their erratic coach Diego Maradona, and traditional powers Italy and Germany would not be able to compete with the aforementioned three.  England and Portugal were also mentioned but I did not believe either could advance deep in the tournament.

After a week and a day of play, we have seen many of these favorites disappoint.  Spain and Germany both have posted a loss, and Italy a weak draw – leaving Brazil and Argentina as the unbeaten powers who have delivered impressive wins.  Brazil controlled play and benefited from a tremendous shot/cross by Maicon against North Korea.  Meanwhile Argentina beat Nigeria and demolished South Korea on the strength of a Higuain hat trick and the usual creative brilliance of Lionel Messi.

Since these two are on opposite sides of the knockout round bracket, I would have to say the early indications are they are headed for an all South American final – which would provide an incredible match.  Even though I remained concerned about Maradona, I will predict a 3-1 Argentina win over the Brazilians.  I reserve the right to change that after next week, but it sounds good to me now.

Individual Performances Worth Noting

I will offer one pleasant surprise, and one notable disappointment.  First the good news:  Uruguay and Diego Forlan!  I thought Uruguay was unlikely to advance, but after two matches they appear to be in control of Group A and Diego Forlan has emerged as the tournament’s most impressive offensive weapon so far.  I realize Higuain posted a hat trick, but he benefited from Messi and Carlos Tevez creating opportunity.  Forlan was able to create two goals for himself, and one for his teammate in their dominating 3-0 win over the hosts South Africa.  They now appear poised to win the group and would likely face Greece of South Korea in the first knockout round – both beatable teams.  I know I did not hav Uruguay in the quarters, but they deserve to be there.

Now for the flop: Christiano Ronaldo.  Both literally and figuratively.  His talent is inarguable, but I am reaching a point where I am no longer enjoying watching him play.  He wears the Captain’s arm-band, but he does not lead his team.  He spends more of the match on the ground begging for weak fouls than he does trying to help his team win.  Portugal is ranked 3rd in the world, but they will not advance from group play if he plays against Brazil and North Korea the way he played against Ivory Coast.  His legions of fans deserve more effort and better play.  One big shot (that did not score) is not enough to overcome the dozen oppurtunities wasted by faking a foul when he should have shared the ball.

How back to games.  Have a great weekend!

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Posted in: Soccer, World Cup
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