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Like Team USA, a futile effort to catch up..

Bonus Round for the 3rd Games...

Germany 3, Ecuador 0

Ecuador manager Luis Suarez is a filthy lying liar. He said his team would go for the win. My ass. He held out both his forwards, Agustin Delgado and Carlos Tenorio and their whole squad looked completely uninspired. Germany's midfield dominated the whole game and Miroslav Klose is God. His brace makes it four overall so far for him, and he retakes the WC scoring lead from Spain's Torres. Lukas Podolski also scored for them. Finally.
The Germans delight their crowd and are definitely one of the top four or five contenders for the trophy. Nobody's questioning Jurgen Klinsmann's coaching skills any longer. They face Sweden next and should slice through their plodding back four with ease.
Ecuador meanwhile get England, without Michael Owen, and they'll be looking for opportunistic counters or set pieces against the suddenly vulnerable back line of the Three Lions. England will prevail, but barely.

3 stars...

# 7 LM Bastian Schweinsteiger (Assist-backpass from end line to Klose)

# 13 CM Michael Ballack (Assist-chip through ball to Klose)

# 11 RF Miroslav Klose (2 Goals, a one touch for first, a long ball & deke for 2nd)

Poland 2, Costa Rica 1
The game meant nothing for either side so I paid it no mind. Maciej "Magic Man" Zurawski finally contributed something with an assist on a corner. Both managers will likely get the ax for their miserable performances in a group where 2nd place was certainly there for the taking. Costa Rican captain Paolo Wanchope announced his international retirement and went out with a whimper.

3 stars...

  1. # 8 LM Jacek Krzynowek (Assist-Corner)
  2. # 11 LF Ronald Gomez (Goal- Free kick)
  3. # 19 RB Bartosz Bosacki (2 Goals- Both corner kick headers from right side)
Paraguay 2, Trinidad & Tobago 0

NOW Paraguay decides to play attacking football. The fucking nerve of these guys! It'd be nice if for the future they could take a lesson from Ecuador and go on the offensive for the first two group games and pull it back in the third, when you've already clinched your spot. The cautious style of play doesn't work against patient European teams. T&T could never get anything going offensively (their best scoring chances came against England, of all things) and their place in this tournament cheated more competitive teams for sure. One of their guys did knock a header into the net, but it was defender Brent Sancho for an own-goal. Four is way too many for North America. Three may be too many.

3 stars...

  1. # 21 GK Kelvin Jack (5 saves. Why was he in instead of Shaka Hislop?)
  2. # 9 RF Roque Santa Cruz (Assist- One-Two with Cuevas; last game probably.)
  3. # 23 LF Nelson Cuevas (Goal- One-Two with Santa Cruz)
England 2, Sweden 2

And the other shoe finally drops for England. Michael Owen tears his ACL, completely untouched in the 2nd minute, so it will be Peter Crouch and Wayne Rooney up front the rest of the way. Frank Lampard in the middle is still missing his shots all over the place. And now the defense looks shaky all of a sudden, especially the keeper, Paul Robinson, who looks to have the yips back there. Sven Goran Eriksson's side STILL can't beat his home country.
Their set piece defense was in a word terrible against the Swedes. David Beckham couldn't keep track of Marcus Allback on midfielder Tobias Linderoth's corner for the first goal they up, and the entire backline let defender Erik Edman's 89th minute throw in BOUNCE inside the box untouched for Henrik Larsson to tip in past the hapless keeper. I think they have enough to get by Ecuador, I THINK they do, but they're surely underdogs for any match-up they get after that. They can't keep hoping for Steven Gerrard (header in the 84th from Joe Cole) to keep saving them every match, can they?
Sweden on the other hand looks to be improving on offense game by game and their efforts will only be bolstered if forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic can make a contribution. They'll need him for sure because the Germans aren't shy about scoring themselves. I'm really looking forward to this one, and I didn't think I would be when the WC started.

3 Stars...

  1. # 20 CF Marcus Allback (Goal- Header off Linderoth corner)
  2. # 11 RF Henrik Larsson (Goal- Toe poke off Edman throw in)
  3. # 11 LM Joe Cole (Goal, Assist- Amazing bending long range volley, chip pass on Gerrard's header)
Portugal 2, Mexico 1

It should say something about the talent gap between these two teams that Portugal can rest five starters and still knock around the ball comfortably in the second half. Both teams had a defender - Luis Miguel for Portugal, and Rafael Marquez for Mexico- called for a handball inside the box and conceded PKs. The difference is that Portugal converted, and Mexico, through Omar Bravo botched it. Although neither side gave its best effort, I'm convinced that the scoreline would be more lopsided in Portugal's favor if they did. While I would make the Portuguese the slight favorites against Holland, just because they'll have the best player on the pitch in Figo, I'm nowhere near as bubbly about Mexico's chances vs. Manuland. Actually, I think they'll struggle to keep it respectable.

3 Stars

  1. # 18 CM Nuno Maniche (Goal- Roofer off Simao's pass)
  2. # 17 RF Francisco Fontana (Goal- Header off Pavel Pardo corner)
  3. # 11 RF Sabrosa Simao (Goal, Assist- Penalty shot and sidefoot pass to Maniche)
Iran 1, Angola 1

Um, whatever. I was wrong, apparently Angola can score. Flavio is a hero to his country, I'm sure. Poems and feasts and harems in his honor. My apologies to the Black Antelopes or Anteaters or Aardvarks or whatever they call themselves. COUGH Nigeria COUGH. Excuse me.

3 Stars

  1. # 1 GK Joao Ricardo (Somewhere in the neighborhood of eight saves)
  2. # 3 CB Sohrab Bakhtiarizadeh (Goal -Header from Mehdi Mahvadikia)
  3. # 16 CF Amado Flavio (Goal - Header cross from Jose Ze Kalanga)
Argentina 0, Netherlands 0

I've had more intense games of Sudoku. It was comical how easily Argentina kept the ball from the Dutch, but I'm not too sure that Netherlands wanted it that much anyway. The game seemed almost fishy in how docile and gentlemanly both sides played. They both look to be extremely confident about their 2nd round match-ups and saw no need to treat the game as anything other than a training exercise. Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez both got their first starts at forward for Argentina and didn't find nearly as much room to breathe against a defense that wasn't already sucking wind and going through the motions, as was the case when they came on in the 70th minute into what was then a 3-0 drubbing of S&M. Expect to see Saviola and Crespo against Mexico, and expect some tears from the citizenry of the BOK.
I'm not sure why Holland didn't press harder for a goal. Do they relish a date with Portugal that much? Maybe they want vengeance for their loss in the Euro '04 semis, but be careful what you wish for boys.

3 Stars

  1. # 7 LF Dirk Kuyt (Had the best game of anybody named Dirk)
  2. # 19 RF Lionel Messi (One shot and several thoughts of shooting)
  3. # 10 CM Juan Riquelme (Best player out there, by a mile. Trust me.)
Ivory Coast 3, Serbia & Montenegro 2
A thoroughly entertaining yet completely meaningless contest that I admit, made me rethink my position on The Elephants' worthiness of being in the WC. Once again they played keystone cops defense in the first half hour of the game and fell behind 2-0. And once again they didn't give a shit and stormed back, finally all the way this time. Could it be that their whole team functions on BPT? Buy a watch fellas. I'm going to miss seeing them play and I sort of regret their not being able to move on to the knockout stages. Anything was possible with them. They could've made a Cinderella run to the semifinals, or they could've lost the 2nd round game 8-1, repeatedly getting smoked on counters by Figo and the remorseless Christian Ronaldo.
Meanwhile, this WC so discombobulated the Serbs that they went from a grind it out defensive team hoping to have a series of excruciating Greece-like 1-0 slogs deep into the tournament to a carefree club that was out of it by their third game. I don't know what their soon to be ex-manager Ilija Petkovic would've found more unlikely going into the tournament that A) his guys would be leading a game 2-0 inside of twenty minutes, B) they'd blow said 2-0 lead and go on to lose, being peppered by 17 shots on net; or C) He'd be watching a bunch of Ivorians doing a supremely choreographed Elephant Dance at his expense. The Africans had beaten S&M so thoroughly at the end that they had a different guy, Bonaventure Kalou, take their winning penno, than the dude who scored the first one. I guess he thought it'd be a cheap hat trick or something. Imagine how bad it would've gotten if Didier Drogba got to play.
Hey don't blame me. I wanted Turkey in here. But one thing I'm curious about is now that S&M is being separated into two countries, does that mean half the players will play for Serbia and half for Montenegro? Probably for the best really. They have so much talent, splitting them up would only make it fair for the rest of the world. I mean, forward Nikola Zigic brilliantly scooped up a long ball by Dejan Stankovic and rounded the keeper with ease to make it 1-0, and midfielder Sasa Ilic stripped defender Cyril Domoraud and scored to make it 2-0. Skill like that...it's just more than people can handle.

3 Stars

  1. # 1 GK Dragoslav Jevric -This poor fucker saw more balls knuckle past him than Doug Mirabelli. I'm sure he's wondering to himself, "What happened to the defensive studs I had in front of me during qualification?" Believe it or not, he actually saved quite a few shots in this game.
  2. # 3 LB Arthur Boka - Not sure if he played well at all, but anytime a defender has the audacity to fire off seven shots, and it's not Roberto Carlos, I have to make a mention of it.
  3. # 15 LF Aruna Dindane - 2 Goals. PK because of Milan Dudic handball in the 37th, and a header from Kader Keita's cross in the 66th. Amazingly, Drogba didn't lead the team in goals.