Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Semifinals

The first all-European semifinal since 1982 did not disappoint. I've been known to bitch about Europe getting 16 of the 32 World Cup spots and I traditionally cheer for ABE (Anyone But Europe), but the obvious reality is that they deserve to have that many selections. And they've produced some likeable squads this year. The matches:



Germany vs. Italy
- I went into this match thinking that I was going to root for Germany. That lasted until the opening kick, at which point I found myself rooting for Il Azzuri. Just couldn't do it, Deutschland. Italy, who have only conceded one goal so far in the Cup (and that was an own-goal), defended well again, neutralizing the potent German frontline of Klose and Podolski. When they went the first 90 without scoring, I was pretty sure we were going to PKs again and Jens "Cheat Sheet" Lehmann would put the home team into the Final. But the Italians came out like gangbusters and there were plenty of scoring chances in the OT. Still when minute 119 rolled around, PKs seemed inevitable. Then the Italians scored an otherworldly matrixesque bender goal. The Germans were forced to push recklessly forward to try to equalize and Italy got another brilliant goal on a counterattack about a minute later. 119 scoreless minutes followed by 2 goals in 2 minutes to absolutely devastate Deutschland. On a side note, why the hell is Lehmann the only keeper doing his homework on PK shooters? Is Germany the only country intelligent enough to scout the other players exhaustively? And how much would the US have to pay to get Bill Belichick to coach their next team?






France vs. Portugal
- At the beginning of the Cup, a friend alerted me to the odds on each of the 32 teams winning it all. Two stuck out as good risk/reward bets: Spain at 16 to 1 and France at 10 to 1. I didn't think either would win, but the odds were high enough that they were worth throwing a fiver down on each. After the first 2 matches by each team, I was starting to get very excited about the Spain bet and not at all excited about the France bet. Then, France started to remember that they were a great team. And now, 4 wins later, they're 90 minutes away from banking me up! The aging Zidane notched the only score of this match by putting a PK past the sublimely unconscious Ricardo, who guessed correctly again, but was bested by a perfectly placed shot just out of his reach. Allez Les Bleus! And please for the love of fifty bucks, catch the damn ball, Barthez.



Updated Power Rankings:

1. Italy
2. France
3. Germany
3. Argentina
5. Brasil
6. Portugal
6. England
8. Holland
9. Spain
9. Mexico



France beat Spain, Brazil, and Portugal, back to back to back. They've earned the VTKPR 2 spot. Italy was all the way down at the 8 spot, mostly because they narrowly defeated the Socceroos and got into the Semi's easy with a win over Ukraine, but outscoring Ghana, Czech Republic, and Germany 6 to 0, and conceding only a single own-goal in 6 World Cup matches gets you the 1 spot. by a hair. The hairless Barthez will let in a goal off a rebound, giving the Azzuri their 4th and denying me my 50.

18 comments:

Dewy24 said...

I'd like to remind you that you have yet to pay me for your France and Spain bet so in light of your repeated and unfair bashing of Portugal you are running the risk of seizure of said wager. How you have Portugal at #6 with England is unexplainable. Why don't you look at team records against each other in your own top 10? At the top of that list in wins is Portugal and France with 3. No other team even has 2 and England has 0!! yet you say they are equal to Portugal? And what is the signature game for your mighty Argentina at #3? A 2-1 "win" against Mexico where they were outplayed? A lackluster draw to the Netherlands or a hard fought yet ultimately unsuccessful shootout loss to Germany due their far superior keeper? You are falling prey to image over substance and it may prove costly. And yes, I'm still quite bitter over Portugal's loss yesterday. At least they didn't disgrace themselves with a kicking and crying fit after the final whistle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcFAP2AX6XM

Dan said...

talk about disgracing yourself! Jesus Christ, man. Get yourself together. What's your rationale for Argentina bashing again? Because I like them? I went out of my way to not bash Portugal. Don't make me break out the photoshop. Go hop on a flight and cry with 'ian-Ron. pathetic.

Dan said...

The Power Rankings stand as is:

1. Italy
2. France
3. Germany
3. Argentina
5. Brasil
6. Portugal
6. England
8. Holland
9. Spain
9. Mexico

I explained why Italy and France catapulted to the top 2 spots, I also explained that PK shootouts don't impress in the Power Rankings. Portugal couldn't score on England (or play substantially better than them) for 60 minutes and then failed to score on them for 60 minutes while a man up. Sorry, Captain Portugal. That makes them even in my book. Germany and Argentina played to a 1-1 draw for 120 minutes on Germany's home soil. That makes them even in my book. Argentina beat a great Ivory Coast team, destroyed a team that only gave up one goal in qualifying, drew Holland in a meaningless match, beat Mexico (bullshit they were outplayed), and drew Germany on their home soil, with their star keeper on the bench. Yes. I think they're better than Portugal. I think Holland's better than Portugal, but Portugal beat Holland, so I gave them the courtesy of the higher ranking in the Power Rankings.

Dewy24 said...

So the fact that Portugal was 5-1-0 and England went 2-1-1 in the Cup is meaningless to you? Or that England beat Trinidad/Tobago, Paraguay, Ecuador and Portugal beat Angola, Iran, Mexico, Netherland, and England is meaningless because they couldn't manage to get a goal being a man up for 60 minutes in a game that they were missing their best defender Costinha and best playmaking midfielder Deco? Hey, it's your blog. I'm just registering my dissent.

I actually liked Argentina alot, especially Tevez and Messi. I just think that you are overrating their performance which, given the talent on their squad was pretty disappointing, and ignoring their poor sportsmanship while underrating Portugal's play and overhyping their diving. Just promise me that if I come to Thursday night trivia with you and we lose that we will immediately run over to the winning team and kick them in the groin.

Dan said...

I want to start by quoting you: "[Portugal] being in what most consider the easiest group (Portugal/Mexico/Angola/Iran)." I'll forward that email to you so that you have a copy for your records. That Portugal had 2 players suspended for their match against England is their own fault, is a reflective of their quality of play over the last 4 matches, and is not an excuse for being unable to score on Ingerland for 120 minutes (60 of which they were up a man). I have them ranked higher than Holland, Spain, Mexico, and the Ivory Coast - 4 very good teams. I don't think I'm giving them the shaft. Sorry but I think in 10 matches between each of the 5 teams ranked ahead of Portugal, the 5 teams each win at least one more. Sorry. No. I'm not sorry. You're incredibly biased. You have Portugal ranked # 1 in the world, don't you?

as for overrating the performance of Argentina, you have to admit that it was bad fortune to have to face Germany at home in the Quarterfinals, and they still played them to a draw for 120 minutes. The Power Rankings are not based solely on wins, losses, and advancement in this World Cup (Ivory Coast is # 11); they're based on who I think are the best teams, in what order. And I think Argentina are a better team than Brazil and Portugal right now. Biased? maybe, but as you said, it's my blog. please feel free to post your Power Rankings here because for all your criticism you haven't put up your rankings.

again, I don't give a shit about the brawl after the match. I think Argentina played with pretty good sportsmanship and pretty clean for a team that is often labeled a dirty team - in the matches themselves.

Dewy24 said...

Portugal's group was the easiest in the tournament and they did what they had to do, beat everyone in the group. You can't do any more than that. They went on to beat a very good Holland and a good England then lost 1-0 to who I think will be the eventual winner, France. I'm just looking at quality wins, which Portugal had more of than Argentina or England and you refuse to recognize that in the VTK Power Rankings. Why I care so much about the VTK Power Rankings is another question. But the tone of you comments has forced me to give all of your winnings (should France win) in the name of Dan Nolan to Curt Schilling's "Curt's Pitch for ALS". Congratulations! You are now a funder of Curt's PR machine! Actually maybe I'll split it between that and Shonda Schilling's "Shade Foundation". With that shaved head you need to be concerned with proper UV protection.

Dan said...

you care about the VTK Power Rankings because you respect them as the most legitimate unbiased measure of a team's greatness. it's ok. you can admit it.

my tone? I still consider myself to be holding back on my criticism of Portugal, out of respect for your wife, who may or may not be reading this.

If you give a dime of my money to anything related to Curt Schilling or his floozy wife, I will steal your car.

Dewy24 said...

Sorry but it's out of my hands. It's Curt's money now.

Dan said...

that steering wheel's about to be out of your hands.

trivmaster said...

guys, guys, chill out - save it for the 45-yard filed goal attempt or the penalty kicks or for God's sake the 16 meatball subs Dan is going to scarf down in 4 hours.

My power rankings:
1. Journey
2. Styx
3. Rush
4. Winger
5. Extreme

Duffless said...

Trivmaster - I think you are overlooking the European qualifiers: specifically Europe and Scorpions.

However, your ranking of Journey has my full support - your car, if you do have one, is safe. For now.

Do not be fooled by bands like Queensrÿche and Mötley Crüe, who while using Umlauts, are not in fact European, but rather dirty diving cheaters.

Dan said...

"Silent Lucidity" alone bumps Winger and Extreme and takes 4th place. I don't care if it's a song and not a band. I don't care if they're not European. AND I don't care if you don't have cars. I'll steal something from you. Even if it's just your dignity.

trivmaster said...

Silent Lucidity is the Achy Breaky Heart of its day.

Also I realized I forgot to include REO Speedwagon - I apologize to any of your readers in the greater Champagne IL area.

Dan said...

Hush now dont cry
Wipe away the teardrop from your eye
Youre lying safe in bed
It was all a bad dream
Spinning in your head
Your mind tricked you to feel the pain
Of someone close to you leaving the game of life
So here it is, another chance
Wide awake you face the day
Your dream is over...or has it just begun?

Theres a place I like to hide
A doorway that I run to in the night
Relax child, you were there
But only didnt realize it and you were scared
Its a place where you will learn
To face your fears, retrace the tears
And ride the whims of your mind
Commanding in another world
Suddenly, you hear and see
This magic new dimension

I-will be watching over you
I-am gonna help you see it through
I-will protect you in the night
I-am smiling next to you...in silent lucidity

If you open your mind for me
You wont rely on open eyes to see
The walls you built within
Come tumblng down, and a new world will begin
Living twice at once you learn
You7re safe froom pain in the dream domain
A soul set free to fly
A round trip journey in your head
Master of illusion, can you realize
Your dreams alive, you can be the guide but...

I-will be watching over you
I-am gonna help you see it through
I-will protect you in the night
I-am smiling next to you...in silent lucidity

trivmaster said...

You can tell the world you never was my girl
You can burn my clothes when I'm gone
Or you can tell your friends just what a fool I've been
And laugh and joke about me on the phone

You can tell my arms to go back onto the phone
You can tell my feet to hit the floor
Or you can tell my lilps to tell my fingertips
They won't be reaching out for you no more

But don't tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
I just don't think it'd understand
And if you tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
He might blow up and kill this man
Ooo

You can tell your ma I moved to Arkansas
Or you can tell your dog to bite my leg
Or tell your brother Cliff who's fist can tell my lips
He never really liked me anyway

Oh tell your Aunt Louise, tell anything you please
Myself already knows that I'm okay
Oh you can tell my eyes to watch out for my mind
It might be walking out on me today

But don't tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
I just don't think it'd understand
And if you tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
He might blow up and kill this man
Ooo

But don't tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
I just don't think it'd understand
And if you tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
He might blow up and kill this man
Ooo

Don't tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
He might blow up and kill this man
Ooo

Don't tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
He might blow up and kill this man
Ooo

Dan said...

my lilps are sealed.

brian said...

All I'm saying is "When the children break, Let them know we´re awake"...

Little child
Dry your crying eyes
How can I explain
The fear you feel inside
´cause you were born
Intothis evil world
Where man is killing man
and no one knows just why
What have we become
Just look what we have done
All that we destroyed
You must build again

When the children cry
Let them know we tried
´cause when the children sings
The new world begins

Little child
You must show the way
To a better day
For all the young
´cause you were born
For the world to see
That we all can live
In light and peace
No more presidents
And all the wars will end
One united world under god

When the children cry
Let them know we tried
´cause when the children sings
The new world begins

What have we become
Just look what we have done
All that we destroyed
You must build again
No more presidents
And all the wars will end
One united world under god

When the children cry
Let them know we tried
´cause when the children fight
Then we know it ain´t right

When the children break
Let them know we´re awake
´cause when the children sings
The new world begins

Dan said...

they were so ahead of their time.