Friday, June 25, 2010

Rooney ready to explode

After the best season of his career at Manchester United, Wayne Rooney was expected to take this World Cup by storm. The plan was for England to top their group with nine points, saunter on through the last 16, see off possibly France and Holland in the quarter and semi finals.

All this before England met the Germans in the final, in which Rooney would bang four goals in and England would claim the title.

Now, when it comes to World Cup Betting England haven’t exactly stuck to this plan. In England’s three group games, Rooney has looked off the pace, culminating in him having a go at booing England fans. With some calling for him to be dropped from the team, it would be the perfect time for some Rooney magic to make an appearance at this World Cup.

A little known fact is that England won the World Cup in 1966, since then it’s been slim pickings from the old success tree. The pressure heaped on Rooney before the tournament, was more than even his stocky shoulders should have been asked to carry. It may have been a reason for his below par performances so far. When Rooney plays badly, England usually follow suit. The stage is set now for Rooney to hit form at the perfect time,

If Rooney finds the form that he had this season in the EPL, then England will beat Germany. The Germans don’t have a player who can match an on fire Rooney. Looking at World Cup betting Spain don’t even have a player as forceful as our Wayne.

The two squads are fairly equal, England has Rooney though. Simply, Rooney performs, England go though. If not, Geoff Hurst and Bobby Charlton will be wheeled out again in four years time, advertising Strongbow for Aldi, to success starved England fans, screaming ‘This is the year, this is our time’ just so they can numb the hurt.

Rooney ready to explode

After the best season of his career at Manchester United, Wayne Rooney was expected to take this World Cup by storm. The plan was for England to top their group with nine points, saunter on through the last 16, see off possibly France and Holland in the quarter and semi finals.

All this before England met the Germans in the final, in which Rooney would bang four goals in and England would claim the title.

Now, when it comes to World Cup Betting England haven’t exactly stuck to this plan. In England’s three group games, Rooney has looked off the pace, culminating in him having a go at booing England fans. With some calling for him to be dropped from the team, it would be the perfect time for some Rooney magic to make an appearance at this World Cup.

A little known fact is that England won the World Cup in 1966, since then it’s been slim pickings from the old success tree. The pressure heaped on Rooney before the tournament, was more than even his stocky shoulders should have been asked to carry. It may have been a reason for his below par performances so far. When Rooney plays badly, England usually follow suit. The stage is set now for Rooney to hit form at the perfect time,

If Rooney finds the form that he had this season in the EPL, then England will beat Germany. The Germans don’t have a player who can match an on fire Rooney. Looking at World Cup betting Spain don’t even have a player as forceful as our Wayne.

The two squads are fairly equal, England has Rooney though. Simply, Rooney performs, England go though. If not, Geoff Hurst and Bobby Charlton will be wheeled out again in four years time, advertising Strongbow for Aldi, to success starved England fans, screaming ‘This is the year, this is our time’ just so they can numb the hurt.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Brazil v Cote d'Ivoire preview

This crucial Group G clash presents Brazil with the chance to take this World Cup by the scruff of the neck. Surprise defeats for Spain, Germany and France and scrappy draws for Italy and England means no one has stepped forward to stake a claim for the trophy.

Brazil were nearly as unimpressive in beating North Korea 2-1 in their opener, but their task against Cote d’Ivoire is not simply to signal their intent to go all the way; the three-way battle to reach the second round is a tight one according to World cup 2010 betting odds and the Samba Kings must go all out for three points.

Dunga’s men have been derided in many quarters as too functional and unexciting and it is certainly true that they need to find a spark against the Elephants, who gave as good as they got in sharing a goalless stalemate with Portugal.

Betting world cup 2010 pundits have noted that talisman Kaká looked off the pace against North Korea, unsurprisingly so considering he barely completed a game for Real Madrid after Christmas. He was not alone in looking pedestrian, reflecting a collective arrogance against under-estimated opposition.

The forward men will get another chance to impress, despite the claims of Nilmar and Grafite. Sven Goran Eriksson will make a change in attack, as the recovering Didier Drogba is ready to lead the line after coming on as a substitute against Portugal.
These teams have never previously met and the West Africans are unlikely to be overawed. The tournament has exploded into life with a burst of goals and the wealth of attacking talent on show in this one might maintain the trend.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chile thankful Suazo is fit

Chile will have their eyes firmly fixed on second place in World cup Group H betting as they look to progress to the second round from a section that looks wide open after strong favourites Spain.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side is one that has plenty of talent, and he will hope that star striker Humberto Suazo recovers from a thigh injury in time to feature in their opening clash with outsiders Honduras on Wednesday.

Suazo, who plays in Mexico for Monterrey, was the top scorer in the South American qualifying group but became one of the countless star players in the tournament whose short-term future was placed in doubt because of a training ground injury.

Thankfully for Chile fans, he returned to light work a couple of days later, but the injury was not what they needed as they closed their preparations for the clash in Nelspruit – a game they would see as their banker in the race for second, which most likely involves them and a very limited Switzerland side.

Group H has a very similar look about it to Group F Betting 2010 World Cup wise, with there being one team standing out from the rest who are all capable of claiming 2nd spot.

As for Suazo, he has only had a brief spell in European football so far in his lengthy career, and that only came in the second half of last season when he made the move over to Spain on loan and scored six goals in 17 outings for Real Zaragoza.

But his scoring record in South and Central America is as good as any player you could possibly find – how about these figures…40 goals in 40 games for San Luis, 40 in 62 for Audax Italiano, 52 in 54 for Colo-Colo and then 44 in 85 for Monterrey.

Add in another 18 goals in his 42 games for Chile and Suazo is a striker you would love to have on your side in a group where goals for teams not named Spain might be tough to come by.

He scored 10 of those in qualification for South Africa, two ahead of Brazil’s leading scorer Luis Fabiano, including a couple against Brazil and one more against fellow World Cup qualifiers Paraguay, just in case you were thinking he might be getting his goals against the smaller South American nations.

So it is understandable that there was a collective sigh of relief when Suazo returned to training and passed himself fit to face Honduras – no disrespect to possible replacement Esteban Paredes, but he doesn’t have the record Suazo brings to the party.

Friday, June 11, 2010

0 Days To Go: Enjoy!


ENJOY!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

1 Day To Go: Who's Winning the 2010 World Cup?


Less than 24 hours to go ...

All the hype and hoopla ends tomorrow when Mexico kicks off against host nation South Africa in the first match of the 2010 World Cup ... (check out some INCREDIBLE photos of South Africa in the run-up to tomorrow's opening match, courtesy of boston.com)

Once the ball starts rolling, it doesn't stop until someone lifts the FIFA World Cup Trophy on July 11th.

So who wins it? Let's find out!

First, the groups. The teams in bold are in the order I think they'll finish.

Group A - France, Mexico, Uruguay, South Africa.
Group B - Nigeria, Argentina, South Korea, Greece.
Group C - England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia.
Group D - Germany, Australia, Ghana, Serbia.
Group E - Holland, Cameroon, Denmark, Japan.
Group F - Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia.
Group G - Brazil, Ivory Coast, Portugal, North Korea.
Group H - Spain, Chile, Switzerland, Honduras.

So, that gives us these matchups in the round of 16.
First team listed is my winner.

Argentina-France
England-Australia
Holland-Paraguay
Brazil-Chile
Nigeria-Mexico
Germany-USA
Italy-Cameroon
Spain-Ivory Coast

That gives us these quarterfinal matchups. Same as before. Winner goes first.

England-Argentina
Brazil-Holland
Germany-Nigeria
Spain-Italy

Ok, semifinals. Same rules as before.

Brazil-England
Spain-Germany

The Final pits Spain against Brazil.

Wow ... imagine that matchup. The two favorites fighting it out for the championship of the world!!!

The winner?

SPAIN


I can't wait! Let's get this started!!
See you soon!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Where to Watch the 2010 World Cup in New York City


So you're in New York and you're looking for your World Cup fix ... where do you go?

If you can't make it to South Africa, New York City isn't a bad place to be.

Just about every country in the world is represented in the city's five boroughs. The city will certainly be bustling during the world's greatest sporting event.

So where do you go?

First on the list is the bar 'Where Football is Religion' - the great Nevada Smith's in the East Village.

Bar manager/football minister Jack Keane will graciously take care of you, showing the matches on 15 high-definition TV screens that line the bar's walls and a 12-foot projection screen in the rear.

This is my local and I love it. Make sure to see me there.

But let's say you're craving something different ... where to?

Some suggestions abound ...

First off, the Huffington Post has '25 Bars to Watch 25 Days of Soccer' in New York City. Make sure to check out places such as The Red Lion, which is also a great music venue in the evenings; Eight Mile Creek, an Australian restaurant/bar and Floyd's in Brooklyn, which also has a great bocce court. Addresses and pictures are provided on the link!

Next, the New York Daily News has suggestions on great places to watch the matches.
How about Madiba, a South African restaurant in Brooklyn? Or Zum Schneider, the German beer garden in the East Village?

Let's not forget Mr. Dennehy's in the West Village, home of the Real Madrid supporter's club and maker of great hamburgers!

Jeez, some great places already!!

But there's more!!



Time Out New York
is not to be outdone, with their list of places to watch the great tournament!

If you're a USA fan, how about heading to Dempsey's downtown?

As TONY says:

This convivial Irish pub has been slowly gaining a loyal following of East Village soccer fans, and it plans to make the World Cup its official coming-out party. Every game of the tourney will be shown live on eight HD screens, and the morning games (which begin at 7:30am) will be accompanied by full audio—no one needs U2 that early—and breakfast specials. The boozing comes cheap too: Cash in on $3 pints and $10 pitchers of Coors Light throughout the competition, as well as $3 shots to calm your nerves during the nail-biting moments.


Count me in!!

And if you want a virtual stadium experience? (Only in New York, people!) Check out PlayBeautiful.
This pop-up space is looking to re-create a stadium atmosphere, with 70 flip seats facing two projector screens. It’s free, but you need to book your tickets in advance through its website. Don’t worry if your team loses: World Cup cakes from How Sweet It Is bakery will cheer you up, as will copping a T-shirt from the retro FIFA Collection ($25–$70). PlayBeautiful is the only shop in the city to stock these designs from yesteryear’s World Cups; a gentler time when World Cup Willie didn’t have an alternative meaning.


You're in Brooklyn and don't want to hike to New York City?

Besides the places I've mentioned, how about Woodwork which just opened up in Prospect Heights? An awesome space.

Then there's the Black Horse Pub in Park Slope, one of my personal favorites. An official partner bar of the World Cup, the Black Horse is kicking off the Cup with an opening-day party at 6pm, offering $4 pints, fish and chips specials, and the chance to win signed English football jerseys and two tickets to an upcoming Red Bull-LA Galaxy game. The deals continue with $4 Radeberger pints throughout the Cup. And the bar will open early enough to show every game.

And that's without listing the great Brazilian and Portuguese restaurants in Newark, NJ and the wonderful African enclaves in Brooklyn and Harlem and the list goes on and on and on ...

Any other suggestions? Please let me know or post them in the comments section!! Let's share this tournament with the world!

The 1st Game: Mexico-South Africa Preview

It's almost here! Two days away!

First game of the 2010 World Cup?

Mexico vs. the host country South Africa!

A preview by Yahoo Sports by Nicolino Di Benedetto ...

Hosting the World Cup already has South Africa feeling proud, but translating those emotions into results on the field might be a problem.

Considered one of the worst teams to host the tournament, South Africa will try to avoid becoming the first home team to lose an opener when it faces Mexico in Johannesburg on Friday.

FIFA was determined to bring the World Cup to Africa for the first time, and South Africa was awarded the event with six years to prepare.

"We knew from that moment that South Africa would never be the same," President Jacob Zuma said. "It is clear that millions of our people have waited for years and look upon this tournament with hope, pride and a sense of belonging.

"Bringing the World Cup to South Africa is to trust South Africa, to trust Africa and to say, 'You are strong and you can do it.'"

Doubts over the country's ability to put on the World Cup have waned heading into the opener, but now the questions are about the team. South Africa is ranked 83rd by FIFA - the lowest for any host.

Host nations have never lost an opener and have reached at least the second round of each World Cup, with six winning it. Over the last three tournaments, the hosts have gone 10-0-2 in the group stage.

Reaching the second round would be a first for South Africa, which didn't qualify in 2006 after going 1-2-3 in the two previous World Cups.

The task of advancing at home is even tougher with Group A also consisting of former winners France and Uruguay. Bafana Bafana has won one of eight meetings with its group rivals - a 2-1 victory over Mexico in 2005.

"The mission of our boys is to make this country proud," said coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who guided Brazil to the 1994 World Cup title. "And the goal, the goal is to go as far as we can in the World Cup. That's it.

"Once the ball moves, anything can happen. Everyone knows our group is a tough one. But we are ready."

Katlego Mphela might be Bafana Bafana's best hope for creating goals. The forward has 15 goals in 31 games for South Africa with the last 11 coming on home soil, including two in a 3-2 loss to Spain in last summer's Confederations Cup.

Mexico's lineup is unsettled with coach Javier Aguirre deciding if veteran Guillermo Franco or rising star Javier Hernandez will start at forward. Goalkeepers Guillermo Ochoa and Oscar Perez are also waiting to find out who will start.

"These are decisions for the coach," Ochoa said. "One never knows who is going to play. You don't know until the lineups come out that day."

Hernandez scored three goals in Mexico's last three friendlies, while Franco has been hampered by a foot injury.

Mexico, ranked 17th, was eliminated in the round of 16 in the last four World Cups.

2 Days To Go: How to Stay Safe in South Africa


2 days to go! Can we just fast forward to Friday?

Today, some scary news out of the host country South Africa as three foreign World Cup journalists were robbed at gunpoint early on Wednesday morning.

According to ESPN Soccernet, the three journalists escaped the ordeal unhurt, although they were a bit shaken.

Portuguese photographer Antonio Simoes was woken early in the morning by two men entering his room at the Nutbush Boma Lodge outside of Magaliesburg and two other reporters were also robbed at the same hotel.

"One of the guys pointed a hand gun at my head, and then they took all my gear - cameras, lenses, laptop," Simoes said. "Then they told me to lie on the bed and they covered me with a blanket, pressed the gun against my head and told me to sleep.

"The whole thing took one or two minutes, but it felt like hours."

There's fear that crime will run rampant in South Africa while the World Cup ensues.

So how does one stay safe should they be traveling there to watch the world's greatest sporting event?

Here, some tips from the Christian Science Monitor, provided by Johan Burger of the Institute for Security Studies and from the South African Police Service.

1. Don’t advertise that you are a stranger in town. Criminals look for those who may seem fearful or unfamiliar with an area, or who may not know to take certain precautions, such as putting your wallet in your front pocket, rather than in the back pocket. Try to get directions from people you can trust, such as hotel staff, police officers, or store personnel. If someone is pestering you, politely refuse to take their help, and keep moving toward your destination or to a place of safety.

2. Hide the bling. You may have beautiful taste in watches or jewelry, but South Africans know to wear costume jewelry, if they wear any at all. Keep most of your valuables (including passport, cameras, etc.), locked away either in a hotel safe or locked in your bags at the hotel room. If you are withdrawing money from a bank, stand close to the automatic teller machine to obscure the view of others on how much you are taking out.

3. Travel in groups. There are areas that are safer than others in South Africa, as in any major city of the world. But you can still pay visits to historic monuments in South Africa – many of which are in older, urban areas – or to poorer townships such as Soweto and Alexandra, if you travel in a group organized by a tour operator recommended by your hotel.

4. Listen to locals. Ask the concierge or manager of your hotel or guesthouse for recommendations of what to see and when it is safe to travel. Many restaurants and nightclubs are clustered in areas that are generally safe, but it is always good to take the advice of local people on where to visit and when it is safest to return home.

5. Stay alert for carjackers. In most cases, it is the car that is the target and not the drivers or passengers. If you find yourself facing a gunman, simply get out of your car and hand over the keys without argument or delay. If you are being followed by someone who appears to be acting suspiciously, try to drive to the nearest police station, or to a public place like a shopping mall where there may be more protection and visibility.

6. Watch for “smash and grab” robberies. Try to keep valuables such as cellphones, purses, computer laptops, or other valuables out of sight, or better yet, locked away in the trunk of the car. Again, if you are the victim of a smash and grab, do not add to your risk by resisting the robber.

For more tips, check out the South African Police Service’s website.

Jones loss saddens Socceroos

While the excitement of the World Cup and Online Football Betting continues to ramp up in South Africa, it would be remiss to forget some of the players who can’t be there, most upsettingly the sad story of Australia’s reserve keeper Brad Jones.

Jones, who plays in the English Premier League for Middlesbrough, has returned to Europe and might not return to the squad after learning that his four-year-old son Luca had been diagnosed with leukaemia.

Jones has not yet confirmed whether he will return to the squad, but online betting seem certain that Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek will call up standby keeper Eugene Galekovic to his 23-man squad – he is already training with the team at their base.

But the affect of Jones’ departure on the squad has already been massive, with some of their players admitting they had been left numb when they learned of the severity of the problem that had forced him to fly to be with his former wife in France.

It was reported that some of his closest friends had broken down in tears, especially those who know him well from his time in England, where he used to be back-up to current international keeper Mark Schwarzer at ‘Boro.

“It puts football as completely irrelevant, even a World Cup, for everybody," his team-mate Lucas Neill told reporters at a Socceroos press conference. “We consider ourselves a family, and the news we heard ... it was devastating. It hit all the boys for six.”

The reports out of the Australia camp also go a long way to explain a below-par performance in their pre-tournament friendly with the United States on Saturday, a game they lost 3-1 and seemed visibly shaken for long spells of.
Now is the time for them to regroup and remember what they are in South Africa for – to go as far as possible in the world’s greatest football tournament – perhaps with the thoughts of their departed team-mate and his stricken son to inspire them to even greater heights.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Vuvuzela Will Deafen Us!


According to the wonderful football blog Off The Post, experts have warned that the vuvuzela could leave World Cup spectators with permanently damaged hearing, after tests showed that the South African trumpet is actually louder (127 decibels!) than a chainsaw.

UGGH! I could have told you that just by watching last year's Confederations Cup on television. The vuvuzela is awful!

The Hear the World Foundation - formed by Swiss hearing products group Phonak to raise awareness about hearing loss - found the trumpets were louder than a chainsaw in tests conducted in a sound-proof studio.

The vuvuzela was crowned the noisiest instrument at 127 decibels, beating the air horn at 123.5 decibels, with the samba drum and cow bells trailing in third and fourth.

Audiologist Robert Beiny said: “My advice to fans would be to enjoy the atmosphere that the World Cup creates, but also to consider their hearing. Why not give their ears a break from the noisy atmosphere at half time, or if they are one of the lucky ones heading to South Africa, remember to pack some earplugs - once the damage is done, it is irreversible, so prevention is key.”


Don't believe the news? Listen to this ...



Turn it off. Turn it off NOW!

The Ultimate Fan’s Guide to World Cup 2010 on the Web


This is a cool guide to the 2010 World Cup on the web, courtesy of First and Goal.

You'll find links to relevant news sites, wikis, games, phone apps, video sites and Twitter accounts!

Is that enough for you?!?

Make sure to check out the link and bookmark it. It's one you'll be going back to often during the World Cup.

3 Days To Go: All-Injury Team


3 days to go and can Friday come any sooner?
I'm tired of waiting! Let's start the 2010 World Cup already!

No idea where I'm watching the first match between South Africa and Mexico.
I'll have more on that tomorrow.

For now, 3 posts today. So make sure to come back and check out the other material after reading this entertaining, enlightening post.

Today's big news concerns Portugal winger Nani, who's been ruled out of the 2010 World Cup with a collar bone injury.

Nani, who plays for English side Manchester United, suffered the injury in a training session with his national side in Portugal, before leaving for the tournament.

Bad news all around, as Nani is a wonderful talent.

But this tidbit got me to thinking: How many star players are going to miss the World Cup?

Take a look at this list of the injured and the doubtful ... You could field a nice team with all these guys. Also, lots of Germans and Chelsea players on this list, eh?

MICHAEL BALLACK, Germany

The German captain was ruled out of the Cup with an ankle injury after a late challenge during Chelsea's FA Cup final win over Portsmouth in May.

RIO FERDINAND, England

The England captain will miss the finals after injuring his knee in his country's first major training session in South Africa on Friday.

MICHAEL ESSIEN, Ghana

The Ghana midfielder suffered a knee injury at the African Cup of Nations in January and has failed to recover in time.

JOHN OBI MIKEL, Nigeria

The midfielder was forced out of the tournament with a badly bruised ankle suffered in Nigeria's first full contact training session in South Africa on Friday.

LASSANA DIARRA, France

The holding midfielder will not play in South Africa after being told he needed an extended rest because of persistent stomach pains which began during France's week-long training camp in the French Alps last month.

DAVID BECKHAM, England

England's most capped player ruptured his Achilles tendon playing for AC Milan in March.

RENE ADLER, Germany

Germany's first-choice goalkeeper underwent surgery on a rib injury in May and will play no part in the finals.

SIMON ROLFES, Germany

The midfielder ruled himself out of the World Cup after saying he was short of match fitness following knee surgery in January.

CHRISTIAN TRAESCH, Germany

The midfielder, who was considered a possible replacement for captain Michael Ballack, is out after injuring his ankle in a friendly at the squad's training camp in Italy.

HEIKO WESTERMANN, Germany

The defender will miss the tournament after fracturing a bone in his foot during a warm-up win over Hungary last week.

MIROSLAV KARHAN, Slovakia

Slovakia's most capped player has a hamstring injury and will miss his country's first World Cup appearance.

Doubtful


DIDIER DROGBA, Ivory Coast

The Ivory Coast's fearsome striker underwent successful surgery on an injured elbow on Saturday but remains a doubt for the finals. Drogba picked up the injury in a World Cup warm-up against Japan on Friday.

ARJEN ROBBEN, Netherlands

The Dutch winger needs a scan to determine the extent of a hamstring injury he suffered in a 6-1 friendly thrashing of Hungary on Saturday.

ANDREA PIRLO, Italy

The Italian midfielder will miss the defending champions' opening game of the tournament against Paraguay, and possibly the whole tournament, after injuring his calf in Thursday's 2-1 friendly defeat by Mexico.

HARRY KEWELL, Australia

The Australian winger has hardly played since December because of a troublesome groin injury.

TIM BROWN, New Zealand

It is unknown if the New Zealand vice-captain will recover in time from surgery on a fractured shoulder suffered in the friendly defeat to Australia last month.

HUMBERTO SUAZO, Chile

Chile's leading striker will reportedly miss their opening World Cup match against Honduras and possibly the second game with Switzerland because of a hamstring injury.

LEE DONG-GUK, South Korea

The South Korean striker was named in the final 23-man squad despite concerns over a thigh problem which is expected to keep him out of their opening game against Greece on June 12.

Monday, June 7, 2010

4 Days To Go: The 5 Best Games of the First Round


4 days left and the 2010 World Cup gets underway!

There's SO much news on the internet, magazines, newspapers, television, etc.
I'm but a lowly blogger trying to carve his niche in the big, bad soccer media world.

Having said that, I'm BEYOND excited for the Cup, even if I can't make it to South Africa.
I'm making lemonade out of lemons, looking forward to enjoying the Cup in New York City!

So what are the 5 biggest matches of the first round?

1 - USA vs. England (June 12, 2:30pm)

Call this the teacher vs. the student, if you wish. It's the colonial power against the formerly subjugated. The football powerhouse against the budding superstars.

USA-England has all the drama of a Spanish soap opera.

Most prognosticators give USA little chance against the magic of Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard.

Having said that, USA's not as bad as many pundits think. They're scrappy, they're quick and with Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley, they have pace and vision.

Expect a tough one before the USA succumbs to the English brawn and power.

2 - South Africa vs. Mexico (June 11, 10 a.m.)

Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg will be rocking for the opening match of the 2010 Cup. South Africa's not a strong team, but Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has provided the squad with much needed structure.

Mexico is consistently one of the quickest, most offensive sides in the world, so this should be a show stopper and a fancy way to open the Cup.

3 - Argentina vs. Nigeria (June 12, 10 a.m.)

The unstable Diego Maradona guides the likes of world player of the year Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain into a match against one of Africa's powerhouses. Who knows what'll happen here?

Expect a raucous atmosphere. It's one of Africa's best hopes of advancing out of the first round against a perennial power, coached by the greatest player of all time.

Must See TV, anyone?

4 - Brazil vs. Portugal (June 25, 10 a.m)

Brazil is the co-favorite to win it all. Portugal boasts the world's most expensive player in Cristiano Ronaldo and a fast, loose style.

Both teams will be looking to finish first in the group, as the second-place side settles into a likely match with co-favorite Spain. So expect a knockout, drag-out fight by these two Portuguese-speaking nations

5 - Ghana vs. Germany (June 23, 2:30 p.m)

Who will feel the injury bug the most: Ghana, who is missing Michael Essien? Or Germany, who is missing Michael Ballack?

The Ghanaians will be hard pressed against the efficient Germans, but their freewheeling style may cause fits of anxiety for the former World Champions.

The pro-African crowd may play a part in this.


All in all, five games that will entertain and excite. What do you think?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

5 Days To Go: Pressing Questions


Instead of inundate you with 2010 World Cup news a mere 5 days before the first game (South Africa-Mexico), let's ask the top 5 questions for the contenders before the start of the Cup (courtesy of Jesse Spector, New York Daily News although I added some too) ...

1 - Which big-name team is in the most danger of a first-round exit? Brazil? Italy? Portugal?

2 - Can a European team find success on another continent? Favorites Spain, England, Germany and Italy will all try to become the first to win a World Cup outside Europe.

3 - Was Brazil right to leave Ronaldhino out?

4 - Can Lionel Messi play for Argentina like he has for Barcelona?

5 - Which African team will go farthest in the 1st World Cup on the continent? Ivory Coast? Nigeria? Cameroon?

6 - Which team will feel the impact of a players injury the most? Ivory Coast and Didier Drogba? Germany and Michael Ballack? England and Rio Ferdinand?

Things that make you go HMMM ...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

6 Days To Go: Aggh!


6 days left and the stars are falling left and right!

Drogba, Ferdinand, Ballack ... who's next? Messi? (Did I just say that??)

Will we even know who's playing in the World Cup at this rate?

As we creep closer and closer to the big date, I'll list the 5 must-see matches of the 1st round, the 5 breakout stars of the Cup, the 5 countries who could win it all and ... well, any suggestions?

Today's Tidbits

1 - USA USA USA defeats Australia 3-1 off two goals by Edson Buddle. Next up? ENGLAND! Bring it!!

2 - So maybe Didier Drogba will play after all? Let's hope so ...

3 - Sven-Goran Eriksson: 'I like challenges, yes. Why not with the Ivory Coast?'

4 - Slovenia is the least populous nation playing in this month’s World Cup, but members of its national team are looking forward to making a name for themselves.

5 - The right way to use a vuvuzela? Hmm ... I'd say YES!

What I Think I Think

Soccer stories are in vogue here in the United States these days.

You'd think that soccer/football is now the most popular sport in the USA, with wall-to-wall coverage of the tournament on ESPN, the country's biggest network and stories in almost every newspaper/magazine.

Not only that, adverts are plastered around the country, people are walking the streets in their country's kits and talk is rampant about who'll win the big prize come July 11th.

It's exciting, to say the least. The country is abuzz over the World Cup.

Here's one particularly interesting story/photo essay about the Cup, courtesy of the New York Times.

It's the evolution of the World Cup ball. From Uruguay 1930 all the way to South Africa 2010, the ball used in the World Cup has changed dramatically.

Have a look. It's very entertaining, to say the least.

Friday, June 4, 2010

7 Days To Go: One Week!


One week to go!
7 days before the start of the 2010 World Cup and I can hardly believe it!
Lots of news today, so let's get to it ...

Today's Tidbits

1 - Since I started writing this site, one of the main protagonists has been the Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba. He's on magazine covers, won tons of accolades and is one of the faces of Africa's first World Cup.


According to reports, Drogba is set to miss the Cup with a suspected fractured elbow after he was forced off in a friendly against Japan. Drogba had put his country 1-0 ahead with a free-kick in the 15th minute before going down following a challenge from the Japan defender Tulio – off whom Drogba's goal had deflected in – and he left the pitch in visible distress.

Drogba was immediately taken to hospital in Sion, Switzerland, where the Ivorians have been undergoing altitude training. "Of course I am worried, he's our captain and one of the best players in the world," said the Ivory Coast manager, Sven-Goran Eriksson, who attached no blame to Tulio. "It was unlucky, he didn't want to hurt anyone. Football is a game of contact."

Just bad, bad news ... at the age of 32, will we ever see Drogba in a World Cup again?

This after injuring his left knee in training.

The England captain broke down after a tackle in the final few minutes of his team's first training session since landing in South Africa, and was taken to hospital for a scan.

The results of the scan are believed to indicate knee ligament damage and the 31-year-old will take no further part in the World Cup.

Michael Dawson, who was part of Fabio Capello's initial 30-man squad, is the likely replacement, while Steven Gerrard will be promoted to the captaincy.

UGGH!!

3 - Team USA plays one more friendly, against Australia, before the start of next week's Cup.

4 - Speaking of Team USA, is the opening match against England the Revenge of the Colonies??
Sounds like a Star Wars movie.

5 - Fears and frustration temper the pride many locals feel about hosting the World Cup, according to the Guardian's Anna Kessel.

What I Think I Think

A week away and just a question:

Who do you think will win the 2010 World Cup?

I'll write an analysis of my thoughts tomorrow.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

8 Days To Go: I Haven't Left!


I missed yesterday's post.
Please don't boo me out of the building.

I was sick but your friendly neighborhood blogger is back, ready to provide you with news regarding the 2010 World Cup.

8 days away and the news is ratcheted up. There's so much information out there regarding the tournament, it's quite literally information overload.

But that's why I'm here.

Today's Tidbits

1 - Goalkeepers dislike the official World Cup Adidas ball more than Diego Maradona dislikes reporters and photographers, according to the New York Times.
As reporter Jere Longman says, 'the ball is being criticized for being too light and too curvy, as if it were a fashion model obsessed with too little food and too much plastic surgery.'
I love that analogy ...

2 - Spain's sports daily MARCA has the best World Cup fixture calendar I've yet to see. It's in Spanish but I'm sure you can figure it out. It's brilliant.

3 - The BBC has a wicked 2010 World Cup site. It's obviously geared towards the English national team. But what's this? WHAT'S THIS?! Stop the presses ...

One of the blogs there, Piers Edward's football blog, has your friendly neighborhood blogger linked on the side!!!

Sorry, I had to gloat some. It's great to be linked to the BBC ...

4 - The 2010 World Cup is already lucrative to FIFA. You think?

5 - Nelson Mandela will attend the 2010 World Cup. The 91-year-old will attend the opening match between Bafana Bafana and Mexico as well as the Final scheduled for July 11 at Soccer City Stadium. Great news!

And because I wasn't here yesterday, one extra news tidbit:

6 - North Korea tried to pull a fast one on FIFA, listing one of their strikers as a goalkeeper. Tsk tsk ... Bad, bad Korea ...

What I Think I Think

Football's a global phenomenon but for fans, it's also a personal experience.
Let me delve inside my fandom for a bit and touch on a news story.


"It is very sad for me to announce that I will no longer be manager of Liverpool FC," Benítez said. "I would like to thank all of the staff and players for their efforts.

"I'll always keep in my heart the good times I've had here, the strong and loyal support of the fans in the tough times and the love from Liverpool. I have no words to thank you enough for all these years and I am very proud to say that I was your manager."

As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of Spanish club Valencia CF, where Benitez made his name. While managing Valencia, Rafa guided Los Che to their first Spanish title in 31 years and two years later, the double, winning the Spanish league and UEFA Cup.

Since Rafa's departure, Valencia's star has fallen.

But Benitez has been a star, capturing the 2005 UEFA Champions League in dramatic fashion over AC Milan in a match no one will ever forget. He also led 'Pool to the 2007 final against the same AC Milan team, losing 2-1.

Ultimately, Rafa's undoing was his failure to capture the English championship, which has eluded Liverpool since 1990.

Where does he go now? Inter Milan? Back to Spain?

Who knows ...

What I do know is that Rafa's provided me with some of my favorite football memories.

From Valencia winning 2 Spanish titles to the UEFA Cup against Marseille.

From the incredible 2005 Champions League final to some heart stopping matches against Chelsea in the CL semifinals, Rafa's teams have consistently provided entertainment and excitement.

Sure, one of Rafa's criticisms are that his teams play 'boring' football. But whatever. The guy's a winner and that's all that matters to the fans.

He didn't win the English Premier League and that cost him his job. But that doesn't mean Rafa doesn't deserve accolades.

Thanks for the memories, Rafa. We wish you the best in the future.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

10 Days To Go: Time Flies


Time sure does fly.

I feel like I started this blog a few months ago.
But it's been 3 years now and here we are, a mere 10 days away from the 2010 World Cup.

Time flies!!!

Today's Tidbits

1 - Brazil will win the World Cup! According to an executive producer of the BBC, at least.

2 - Theo Walcott fails to make the final England squad. Tough break for the young lad.

3 - A movie review of 'Looking for Eric.' The Eric in question is Man U legend Eric Cantona.

4 - Speaking of movies, if you're in the New York City area, check out the 2nd annual Kicking and Screening soccer film festival. Some great films here, folks.

5 - D.C. United midfielder Andy Najar is the first MLS academy product to make a major impact. Many could follow, altering the landscape of American soccer.

What I Think I Think

Now THIS is a soccer advert ... are we all ready for the USA-England match? Should be a classic!