A Cup Full of Upsets
The French team, the one that made it to the finals in the last World Cup, (now minus Zinedine Zidane, a huge loss) are on the verge of elimination. They are a top ten ranked team in the world, and should have easily passed the group stages of this tournament. They are plagued by internal controversy. Anelka has been kicked off the team for fighting with coach Domenech. Zidane has publicly criticized the French coach and said what many French fans have seen for themselves, this is a team of individual talents, and their coach hasn’t brough them together. They need a convincing win against South Africa to even hope of advancing.
The English team, which has been predicted to be a finalist by many “experts”, is also on the verge of elimination. They should have won the USA game, but thanks to the blunder by Robert Green (who was supposedly still thinking about his Torontonian model ex girlfriend) they only tied. They then looked lost against an underdog Algerian team. They haven’t been exposed defensively, but their attack, which features many of the top European talents in the top leagues of the world, hasn’t been able to do anything. Rooney looks slow, Lampard and Gerrard don’t co-exist well. Emile Heskey shouldn’t be starting, and now they’ve lost defenseman Jamie Carragher for their final group game. Fabio Capello isn’t earning his 6 million pound salary right now. He better come up with something spectacular and motivate his troops for the next game or England will do what they’ve NEVER done before – exit the tournament before the knockout round.
The World Champion Italians played a weak game against the Kiwis on fathers day. While the Kiwi’s goal appeared to be on a missed offside call, their potent offense was shut down by the New Zealanders and their great goaltending. Several times the Kiwi goalie robbed the Italians on rocket shots. Depending on what happens in the other group matches, the Italians could also be destined for an early exit.
Germany looked dominant against a 10 man Australian side, then stumbled to a loss against the Serbians. Spain lost to the Swiss, and the Brazillians were not as dominant as expected against the North Koreans. There are some teams doing their jobs (The Dutch and Argentianians are both 2 – 0) but some of the favorites have not lived up to expectations. The final games of the group stages will be important in determining who are the real contenders, and who are the pretenders.