Saturday, July 05, 2014

Holland v Costa Rica

Everyone has to appreciate what Costa Rica has done in this tournament. They were amazing in the group stage and no one expected them to make it this far, let alone win the Group and make it past the first knock-out game. That being said, there is no way they can hang with the Oranje tonight. No way. It's been a phenomenal run for Costa Rica, and between them, Mexico, and the USA, any discussion of the possibility of removing a slot from CONCACAF has been silenced. But it ends here.

Argentina v Belgium is an interesting question. Belgium has the better team, but Argentina has Messi. Is that enough? I don't think so. Belgium also has one of the best central defenders in the world in Kompany; that's not enough to cancel out Messi, but it should be enough to slow him down. And while Messi has been brilliant at times, he simply hasn't taken control of the games the way some were expecting.

ARGENTINA 1 BELGIUM 0. A goal that is both lucky and well-struck in the eighth minute is the only one; a deflection bounces to Higuaín, who immediately buries a nice volley. Like France yesterday, Belgium never seemed to get in gear. Messi has the opportunity to put the game away in injury time, but can't beat the keeper on a one-on-one. He's very good, but he's no Maradona.



Anonymous Pat Hannagan July 05, 2014 11:57 AM  

May the Whitest team win on this 13th annual anti-discrimination day. Go Argentina!

What a dirty dog that Cavendish is for bringing down our man Gerrans. Allez Orica GreenEdge!

Anonymous castricv July 05, 2014 11:58 AM  

VD, your opinion on the Belgium game is spot on, however talent alone won't get this done for Belgium. 2-1 Argentina.

As for Costa Rica, again I have been saying for a while that they will make CONCACAF proud once more even if it is a close loss in extra time. Which is what I believe it will be. Unfortunately, the Dutch get one in ET and win it there or win the shoot-out. 1-1 normal time. 2-1 AET.

I now am firmly convinced that the ZE Germans are winning the BRAZIL. Neymar and Silva are too huge a loss for a team that looks like nothing special. I mean when David Luiz's high/low personae is your best player lately, there is just no way. Just ask Chelsea. The Dutch will either lose to Argentina or get pipped by Germany in the final.

Enjoy these last 6 games!!!

Anonymous Pat Hannagan July 05, 2014 12:08 PM  

You beauty! The White man reigns supreme!

Anonymous MendoScot July 05, 2014 12:08 PM  

7'. Goal Argentina!

Blogger Random July 05, 2014 12:09 PM  

Aren't there lots of Germans in Brazil anyway?


Anonymous Jabari July 05, 2014 12:09 PM  

Lucky deflection to come right to him, but that's a great, great finsh!

Anonymous zen0 July 05, 2014 12:09 PM  

That Di Maria is a Fùtbol Genius, the way he banked that pass off the Belgium player to the perfect spot for the strike.

Anonymous Pat Hannagan July 05, 2014 12:18 PM  

The black Belgians are trying to thug their way into the game.

Anonymous zen0 July 05, 2014 12:18 PM  

See what I mean? Di Maria fell down for no reason like a hapless dufus.

This is just a clever ruse. At the critical time he will strike like the poisonous snake in the grass that he is.

Anonymous dead horse beater July 05, 2014 12:39 PM  

Di Maria is wholly committed to his strategy. There is no way the Belgians will expect him to come through in the clutch now. They will not even bother marking him, playing directly into his hands.

Anonymous MendoScot July 05, 2014 12:54 PM  

Half time and 1-0. The Phlegmish attack was weak until the last 5'. Good wingers but the centre is letting them down. Their defense is porous and DiMi flubbbed two open goals before limping off the field.

I don't know why they continue to let Messi take the free kicks on goal. Yes he has a tremendous shot, but in his 90+, only two were from free kicks. Even if it was on target, the goalie was right there.

Anonymous Basileus July 05, 2014 1:03 PM  

With Kun out, Higuain at 60% capacity, and DiMaria off, Sabella will get to play the way he's always wanted. He was never convinced about playing the Fab Four together, and now he gets to play his style. Counterattcking, game-delaying, slow, etc. i would bring in Palacio for Lavezzi around minute 60, for fresh legs and another look.

Anonymous MendoScot July 05, 2014 1:18 PM  

That Kompany is a filthy player. That should havee been a yellow and given Messi another free kick to miss.

Anonymous zen0 July 05, 2014 1:31 PM  

Belgium has scored all its goals after 70'

Anonymous MendoScot July 05, 2014 1:55 PM  

I can't breathe, I can't breathe.

Lovely second half. Still we should have been 3-0.

Anonymous MendoScot July 05, 2014 1:58 PM  

All the rotten eggs in the stands are looking very depressed. As if they're not going to lose to the Krauts.

Anonymous Basileus July 05, 2014 2:24 PM  

Assuming Kun and DiMaria are fit, do they play them next game? Kun likely will remain a shell of his regular self. I would be tempted to go with the same lineup that started this game, and if DiMaria is out, to go with the same lineup they had after DiMaria was subbed. Regardless, after 24 years w/o an appearance in the semis, this already has to be considered a succesful WC for Arg.

Anonymous zen0 July 05, 2014 3:32 PM  

@ Mendo Scot

All the rotten eggs in the stands are looking very depressed

Why are Brazilians rotten eggs.........body ofor problem?

Anonymous Bobo July 05, 2014 3:33 PM  

All day I've been muttering to myself "Please don't let Vox pick Costa Rica, please oh please oh please..."

It would have been the kiss of death.

Vamos La Sele!!

Anonymous NateM July 05, 2014 3:42 PM  

After Robbens awful dive I'm still hoping for the Miracle on Grass to happen. With all favored teams going on its about the only way I'll care much going on

Blogger bearspaw July 05, 2014 3:47 PM  

The big boys are showing up right on time. Although I don't have much faith in Brazil to continue pat the next opponent. Die Mannshaft all the way.

Anonymous MendoScot July 05, 2014 3:51 PM  

In Spanish their nickname is azufre - sulphur - for their colours. I'm thinking hydrogen sulphide.

Anonymous Daniel July 05, 2014 4:34 PM  

To those who have played at a certain level: how much can the previous game affect your mindset or gears? I've noticed something in this Cup in general, but I'm not sure if it is just random and now confirmation bias now that I'm looking for it.

Anonymous MendoScot July 05, 2014 4:52 PM  

At this level, there is a huge psychological component. That's why I would prefer Costa Rica to win; we'll roll over them but will likely choke against the Dutch, because orange.

Robben still diving, Ruíz absent from the game so far. The Dikes clearly the more dangerous team, both on attack and defense.

Blogger Raggededge July 05, 2014 5:19 PM  

This has disaster written all over it for Oranje. They better score soon before CR puts one in on them.

Blogger Adam Lawson July 05, 2014 5:50 PM  

How did that stay out?!

Blogger Raggededge July 05, 2014 5:53 PM  

Good grief...

Anonymous MendoScot July 05, 2014 5:57 PM  

Well, well, well...

For me it's still open. The crowd is clearly behind the Ticos, but they have no one up front to take the goal. They are at the mercy of their keeper, who has made fantastic saves.

Now it's down to endurance.

Anonymous zen0 July 05, 2014 6:00 PM  

Historically, Orange sucks in overtime.

Blogger Raggededge July 05, 2014 6:04 PM  

Good grief...

Blogger buzzardist July 05, 2014 6:05 PM  

No chance for Costa Rica?

Holland has been making the chances, but...extra time. The curse of Vox's endorsement may well strike again.

Anonymous zen0 July 05, 2014 6:24 PM  

Van Perse is the Di Maria of Holland

Anonymous G.Veil July 05, 2014 6:35 PM  

Why are the Dutch changing out their goalkeepers this late in the game? Something I'm missing or is the new goalkeeper just a better choice for penalties?

Anonymous Tom S July 05, 2014 6:35 PM  

Penalties it is...

Blogger Raggededge July 05, 2014 6:36 PM  

Gut wrenching.

Anonymous MendoScot July 05, 2014 6:36 PM  

Well, well, well...

Maybe Brazil will beat Germany.

Anonymous zen0 July 05, 2014 6:43 PM  

Why are the Dutch changing out their goalkeepers

New keeper is s shootout specialist, plus psychological move against the Ticos.

Anonymous zen0 July 05, 2014 6:47 PM  

Shootout specialist guessed right every time.

Blogger Raggededge July 05, 2014 6:49 PM  

Oranje boven!

Anonymous NateM July 05, 2014 6:50 PM  


Guess it would a helped if CR saved at all

Anonymous MendoScot July 05, 2014 6:53 PM  

Ticos went down in style.

Substitute goalkeeper? Fuck you, Dykes.

Anonymous The Book Dame July 05, 2014 6:57 PM  

That was quite the game! My family is in the midst of a cross-country move, so I've been spending a lot of time in hotel rooms the last week and a half. I've been watching a lot of these World Cup games and--I hope I don't lose my American card for saying this-- but I'm really starting to like soccer. I love watching the goalies especially. The game does have a...grace to it. I think grace is the word I want. Anyway, the games have been enjoyable. Now that the USMNT IS out of it, I'm pulling for a European team, I don't think I care which one, to win it all.

Anonymous MK July 05, 2014 7:15 PM  

Holland substitute the goalie in the last minute, for the penalties kicks. I think putting an specialist goalie is the right decision, but hearing comments from ex-players, there seems to be a certain taboo. They think it is like robbing the outgoing goalie his great moment in the match.

Anonymous Ridip July 05, 2014 7:16 PM  


Here's hoping you get Di Maria back and you demolish the freaking Dykes next week!

Anonymous zen0 July 05, 2014 7:19 PM  

Here's hoping you get Di Maria back and you demolish the freaking Dykes next week!

Between he and Van Perse they can use up all the hapless doofus mojo so the rest of the players can sort it out.

Blogger rcocean July 05, 2014 7:20 PM  

Holland is one dull dog. Is there any Euro team that is any fun to watch. Will be rooting for Brazil or Argentina - at least they have Messi.

Blogger rcocean July 05, 2014 7:21 PM  

And who knew Holland was so Multi-cultural? Too bad their blacks play like Dutchman instead of Brazilians.

Anonymous MendoScot July 05, 2014 8:18 PM  

They think it is like robbing the outgoing goalie his great moment in the match.

There you have it. Ruíz fucked up, while Navas was man of the match, despite his injury.

Anonymous MendoScot July 05, 2014 8:26 PM  

And for penalties, watch Robben's. No keeper could beat that.

Anonymous zen0 July 05, 2014 8:28 PM  

They think it is like robbing the outgoing goalie his great moment in the match.

Yah, I hear ya. Who WOULDN'T want to be the keeper that let in 5 straight goals to seal the doom of his team. If you notice, the Holland goalie was the first guy off the sidelines to celebrate. He was so relieved he did not have to be the goat he almost pissed himself.

Anonymous zen0 July 05, 2014 8:35 PM  

> Will be rooting for Brazil or Argentina - at least they have Messi.

And Brazil has...........Fred?....and .......Hulk?

The term "flair" no longer comes to mind.

2 Teams in a row have used a similar strategy to stifle Messi, whereas no one has had an answer for that annoying little troll, Robben.

He may not score, but he is a constant pain in the ass.

Anonymous wg July 06, 2014 12:21 AM  

Germany is the only team left that has not been underwhelming. In fact, with the exceptions of Germany and Spain (yeah, I know, I saw what happened to them this World Cup), the major soccer powers are relatively less talented than they used to be. At the same time, a lot of the decent soccer countries are better than usual. Taken together, it means that there are more good teams than is typical, but fewer great ones.

Here are how the soccer powers now compare to how good they were about ten years ago:

Brazil--much worse now than a decade ago.

Germany--clearly better now.

Italy--certainly worse now.

Argentina--about the same. They have Messi now, but less depth than before.

France--despite a decent showing at the World Cup, nowhere near as talented as when it had the likes of Zidane, Henry, Vieira, and Thuram.

Spain--the golden generation is past its prime and was destroyed in this World Cup, but there is still plenty of talent waiting in the wings.

England--as everyone knows, they're in a rut right now.

Netherlands--not particularly talented, but doing well thanks to Van Gaal's coaching IMO. True, the attack is stacked, but the rest of the squad is mediocre. Within the past 40 years alone, the Cruyff, Van Basten, and Bergkamp eras had more talent than today's Netherlands team.

Anonymous Viking July 06, 2014 7:06 AM  

The Netherlands play better than Brazil, true that Brazil might have better individual players but not a better playing team.

Blogger rcocean July 06, 2014 3:02 PM  

Is the UK ever going to field one team instead of 3? Or will petite nationalism continue to triumph over common sense?

Anonymous robwbright July 06, 2014 5:01 PM  

"He's very good, but he's no Maradona."

At this point, I'm not saying Messi's better than Maradona (or vice versa) - and I haven't seen much of Maradona other than youtube videos... but it seems a bit harsh to pick on Messi over that one saved shot. Messi has made about 100 of those one on ones the last 5 years - so what if a keeper guessed right for once. Maradona missed a few in his career, too - including a penalty in a World Cup quarter-final.

"In the [1990] quarter final, Argentina faced Yugoslavia, the match ending 0–0 after 120 minutes, and Argentina advancing on penalty kicks, despite Maradona missing one of the penalties in the shootout with a weak shot to the goalkeeper's right."

Video here:

There are several misses below - including one where Maradona acts like Arjen Robben (two of his teammates wide open and he shoots from the top of the box instead of passing - easy save for the keeper).

NOW I'm going to go on record as saying that Messi is, in fact, better than Maradona. The stats aren't even close (stats taken from Wiki).

Maradona has 259 goals in 491 senior club appearances and 34 goals in 91 appearances for Argentina. But note that 116 of those club goals were in 166 appearances for Argentinos Juniors. Unless things were WAY different in the late 70s, Argentinos Juniors was hardly in as good a league as La Liga. Subtract those goals for Juniors and Maradona only has 143 career club goals. As far as his top club seasons, Maradona had 22 goals in 36 appearances for Barca and 81 goals in 188 appearances for Napoli.

On the other hand, Messi has 243 goals in 277 appearances for Barca. Messi is considered to play well below his normal standard when he plays for Argentina, yet he still has 42 goals in 91 appearances for Argentina - 8 more than Maradona in the same number of appearances.

Nearly a goal per game vs. about 1/2 a goal per game in club play. 8 more goals in the same number of national team appearances. It's not even close. Or as the guys over at Nate Silver's 538 put it, "Messi is Impossible".

The conclusion: "...if Barca-Messi and Argentina-Messi were two different people, even based solely on the stats recorded since 2010, there’s a good chance they’d be the two best players in the world."

Now we can argue over the quality of the teams each has played for and the fact that Maradona won a World Cup. Then there's the possibility that Messi may well win a cup before he retires - maybe even this year - but the fact is that he has FAR exceeded Maradona already. He's just not as flamboyant about it.

Anonymous castricv July 07, 2014 2:13 PM  

rob - I think we can safely assume you've been watching football for about 5 years now? Maybe 7? You just love Barca cause they are oh so good and talented. Also, Manu is your first love in the Premier League as well?? Seriously, CR has almost as many goals as Messi over that span. It's the times and the league. Maradonna was literally unplayable in the 80s. Much like Luiz Suarez would have been if not for his mental issues. Messi is very good, but not an all time great. Now if Argentina wins this World Cup and he scored in both of the next games, that would certainly help.

Put Messi on Tottenham, Arsenal, or even City and he NEVER goes above 20 in a season...ever. I guarantee it. He is a beautiful dribbler and can take the occasional wonderful shot, but there are holes in his game. Only the modern culture's need to have two or three "it guys" is why he is so revered for more than the elite player he is at this particular time.

To be completely fair, I'd rather have CR or Suarez than Messi at club level. I'd rather have those two plus Robben and perhaps even the new Rodriguez guy at tournament level. In the pantheon of all time greats he therefore is right around top 75 material. If that. Would I take him over Thierry Henry from 15 years ago? Nope. Alan Shearer from 20 years ago. Maybe. King Kenny from 35 years ago? Nope. Pele from 50 years ago. Of course not. Heck I'd probably take George Best over him in the 70s. He has a style of play that works in the modern no-touch, limited defense (save Atletico), slow ball world of La Liga. Put him in a different league and he would be fine but not wow great. Put him in a different era and he would be tossed around like a rag doll. Hope this helps further your footballing experience.

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