Been so lazy since the end of the World Cup should have had this on sooner but where would a football blog be without picking my World Cup XI, nowhere, so to fall into line, and probably the umpteenth list you’ve read here’s my team, just a note I have picked this team as an actual team that I would hope has a balance that would work well together, so not England then.

FORMATION 4-2-3-1

For the English media this is been a revelation for anyone who watches football outside of the British Isles it’s a formation you will be well aware of, very successful throughout the tournament and dominating any team that tried to go 4-4-2 against it, I’m sure you’ll see more and more teams adapt to this system throughout the season.

 

“Too inexperience” “They’ll miss Ballack” “Not as good as past German teams” all these things were said about Low’s side before they had even kicked a ball, that all stopped once they played Australia, Low had picked a side with pace, athleticism, a really good team and work ethic, and on top of that he got his tactics spot on for the knockout stages until they came up against Spain, and even having the bravado to come out after the games and explain how he had beaten England and Argentina, I think this shows the confidence in the man, that’s the attitude I want in a leader of men.

Mentions: Oscar Tabarez (Uru) Bob Bradley (USA) Diego Maradona (Arg)

I found this a hard choice, quite a few keepers impressed in the Group Stage, and a few shown in the knockout stages, You have to pick someone that really turns up when it counts, Iker saved Paraguays penalty and Santa Cruz’s chance in the Quarters, then in the Final with Robben through on goal on his left foot, Casillas had the presence of mind to left his leg and provide the vital touch, keeping the game at 0-0 and of course Spain went on to win the trophy surely a pivotal moment and that’s what you want in a Goalkeeper, Stekenlenberg probably had a better final than Casillas, however when he was most needed he produced the good, Saint Iker indeed.

Mentions: Vincent Enyeama (Nig) Maarten Stekelenber (Ned) Eduardo (Por)

I will confess that Jorge is a player that wasn’t on my radar before the World Cup, with every game that I watched he just grew and grew, great performances against France and South Africa, Solid against Korea, he was unlucky to miss out against Holland in the Semi-Final and they really missed him, having to re think the whole system to nullify Robben, If Fucile had been there It would have been a different game I think, came back into the side against Germany and he didn’t miss a beat, Muller didn’t have an easy game, making him come inside more often, Fucile never looked out of position very often, the Porto full back has a good future ahead of him.

Mentions: Fabio Coentrao (Por) Gio Van Bronckhorst (Ned) Carlos Salcido (Mex)

Many sites and pundits I’ve read or listened to have mentioned Gerald Pique quite a few times, for me the rock in Spain’s defence has been Captain Fantastic himself, showing that he can play with the same passion and intensity as he can for Barcelona, he may not have the pace he once had, however his positioning and awareness is top notch, a few seasons ago questions had been asked of Puyol but under Guardiola he has blossomed again and looks like a defender on top of his game.

Mentions: Joris Mathijsen (Ned) Jonathan Mensah (Gha)

At 31 this was probably his last World Cup, with a disappointing season behind him (relegated with Hertha) he came to the tournament with question marks over his ability, I thought he answered all those critics, up against some young forwards Gyan, Defoe, Messi he never looked worried, dealt with all the youthful exuberance with a calmness and typical German efficiency, a nice way to finish his International career with his first goal for his country, and a derserved place in my team.

Mentions: Diego Godin (Uru) Antolin Alcaraz (Par)

High hopes were had for this Ajax youngster, picked him out in my 32 players to watch piece, and he didn’t let me down, look wise past his years, showing good positioning a willingness to get forward, maybe didn’t reach the byline as often as I would have likes but played well front to back, had a very solid final for such a young player, made some great challenges on Pedro and Iniesta and didn’t seem overawed by the occasion, a target now for some big teams, not surprising to be honest.

Mentions: Phillip Lahm (Ger) Sergio Ramos (Esp) Maicon (Bra)

I must confess I had not seen much of Bayern Munich this year, only the 2nd half of the later stages of the Champions League so I was unaware of how good Bastian had performed in his newly found position for his club, so seeing him play there for his country was new to me, and boy did he impress, always making sure he had time on the ball, the ability to beat a man to find more space, his passing was deliberate, some of the runs were superb exemplified by the run for Friedrich’s goal against Argentina, a joy to watch in the middle of the park, so commanding for what is still a young player.

Mentions: Mark Van Bommel (Ned) Michael Bradley (USA)

The heart of the Spanish engine room, I would call him the Leonardo Da Vinci of the Tiki-Taka masterpiece, so eloquent on the ball, made more passes than any other player in the tournament, I don’t remember a bad one, doesn’t break forward as often as he used to, he does find space better than most players in the world, just a joy to watch.

Mentions: Gilberto Silva (Bra) Raul Meireles (Por)

Big decision to make with this pick, could have easily been Wesley Sneijder but I think everyone got a little carried away with his performances, Mesut however took the World by storm, not a name everyone knew before the tournament his name is on the lips of the world now, great movement, vision, pace to beat a man, a youthful exuberance and naievity which makes him so dangerous.
Mesut has the world at his feet, I hope he can go on to delight us in future World Cups and seeing him develop more this season in the Bundesliga for Bremen (hopefully!)

Mentions: Wesley Sneijder (Hol)

This was a very hard decision, not whether Andres deserved to be in the team, but where to play him, I could have chosen him to play in Xavi’s role, Oezil’s role, which would have given space to Thomas Mueller, I think however, this decision for me brings balance to the side if it was an actual team, like he did for Spain Iniesta starts on the left but he has a license to roam into the midfield and provide support but is very active at breaking forward into the box and down the channels, lovely passer of the ball, finds space with ease, the awareness to know where and when to make runs is incredible, and compliments this with his goalscoring abilty, they say playing with great players makes the game easier, Andres must make it very easy.

Mentions: Robinho (Bra), Carlos Tevez (Arg), Jean Beausejour (Cho)

If the interest in the Spanish forward wasn’t already sky-high his move to Barcelona brought even more attention, after the first game when Spain failed to score and no one on the Spainish team impressed, it was Villa who announced the team to the tournament with his goal against Honduras, collecting the ball from the left, beat 2 men and his shot found the top corner, a quality goal that just summed up Villa’s excellence, he went on to score 5 goals in the tournament and was so important to the Spain team, without him they would not have reached the final.

Mentions: Luis Suarez (Uru), Asamoah Gyan (Gha), Luis Fabiano (Bra)

Voted player of the whole tournament and a very worthy winner, not only an excellent footballer but comes across as a really nice guy also, dangerous on both feet so I have no trouble playing him on the right, has the ability to come in off either flank, find space and if you give him space outside the box he will score goals, specialist from Free Kicks as he showed, the one person in the tournament that tamed the Jabulani ball, Captain and Cheerleader for his Country, a tremendous players, finally getting the Worldwide recognition for all his hard work, 2 Golden boots for his goals in La Liga and now a Golden Ball for his performances in South Africa.

Mentions: Thomas Mueller (Ger) - was so hard to leave him out, Arjen Robben (Ned), Lionel Messi (Arg)

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It is the greatest and biggest game in the World, two teams that have never lifted the trophy met in Johannesburg in the magnificent Soccer City stadium to battle for the privilege of being the 8th country to win the most coveted prize in football. The Spanish and the Dutch fans filled the stadium and watched around the world, knowing it would end in heartbreak for one and ecstasy for the other.

 

NETHERLANDS

0

 

SPAIN

1

      Andres INIESTA (116′)  
         
1.Maarten STEKELENBERG     1.Iker CASILLAS  
2.Gregory VAN DER WIEL – Y     3.Gerard PIQUE  
3.John HEITINGA – Y/R     5.Carles PUYOL – Y  
4.Joris MATHIJSEN – Y     6.Andres INIESTA – Y  
5.Giovanni VAN BRONCKHORST – Y OUT – 105   7.David VILLA OUT – 106
6.Mark VAN BOMMEL – Y     8.XAVI – Y  
7.Dirk KUYT OUT – 71   11.Joan CAPDEVILA – Y  
8.Nigel DE JONG – Y OUT – 99   14.Xavi ALONSO OUT – 87
9.Robin VAN PERSIE – Y     15.Sergio RAMOS – Y  
10.Wesley SNEIJDER     16.Sergio BUSQUETS  
11.Arjen ROBBEN – Y     18.PEDRO OUT – 60
         
Subs     Subs  
16.Michel VORM     2.Raul ALBOIL  
22.Sander BOSCHKER     4.Carlos MARCHENA  
12.Khalid BOULAHROUZ     9.Fernando TORRES IN – 106
13.Andre OOIJER     10.Cesc FABERGAS IN – 87
14.Demy DE ZEEUW     12.Victor VALDES  
15.Edson BRAAFHEID IN – 105   13.Juan MATA  
17.Eljero ELIA IN – 71   17.Alvaro ARBELOA  
18.Stijn SCHAARS     19.Fernando LLORENTE  
19.Ryan BABEL     20.Javi MARTINEZ  
20.Ibrahim AFELLAY     21.David SILVA  
21.Klass Jan HUNTELAAR     22.Jesus NAVAS IN – 60
23.Rafael VAN DER VAART     23.Pepe REINA  

Not the greatest game I have ever watched however not the worst final, 94 and 90 were worse in my opinion, most finals are always a very tight and cagey affair and I expected this game to be no different, it started off very promising though, Spain looked to attack, the Dutch pressed early and looked to break forward when they got the ball, using the pace of Robben down the right, It was Spain that took charge the “tiki taka” passing was in full flow and they should have taken the lead after 4 minutes Sergio Ramos met a cross with a thunderous header by Stekelenberg did very well to keep it out, shortly after on 3 occasions Pedro found David Villa with lovely through passes, twice he was offside, the third time he wasn’t but Stekelenberg was quickly out to collect the ball. Spain’s passing rhythm was then disrupted by the amount of fouls and yellow cards the referee gave out, in 28 minutes 5 yellow cards were awarded, Nigel de Jong was lucky to still be on the pitch after he planted his foot straight into Xabi Alonso’s chest, a shocking challenge and nowhere near going for the ball. For all the Spanish play the Dutch could have gone in at half time in the lead Arjen Robben his trademark move onto his left foot and his shot had to be beaten away by Casillas at his near post.

Spain started very brightly again in the second half, Joan Capdevila had a great chance the ball played to the back post by he couldn’t make contact with the ball, Holland nearly made them pay, de Jong played the ball forward and it split the Spanish defence and Robben was through on goal, with the ball on his favoured left foot but Casillas made a superb save lifting his right leg and getting a crucial touch on the ball to send it wide. The game was heating up and or the right reasons, Jesus Navas made a run down the right fired the ball across Heitinga made a mess of the clearance and the ball fell to David Villa 5 yards from goal however the Everton defender amazingly got a foot in the way and blocked the Spanish hit-man’s shot. From the subsequent corner Sergio Ramos had a clear cut chance, the corner swung in Ramos was unmarked but somehow managed to skew his header over the bar, and it looked harder to miss.

Back came the Dutch, van Persie’s flick on sent Robben through on goal, he beat Puyol for pace but seemed to do enough (maybe illegally) to slow the winger down and Pique and Casillas smothered the ball to safety, Robben was livid and chased down the referee screaming his injustice, all he got was a booking. The 90 minutes finished goalless both sides could have easily scored in winner in 90, but we would need another 30 minutes to decide the winner, and substitute Cesc Fabergas should have sealed it for Spain, Andres Iniesta played a lovely ball in behind the defence and Cesc ran onto the ball but could only find Stekelenberg’s legs with his left foot attempt, the Arsenal man should have done better, he had made a big impact though the Spanish looked more in control with Fabergas on the pitch. It was his midfield partners and possible teammates Xavi and Iniesta that strengthened Spain’s cause, Xavi playing a ball over the top to Iniesta he had got in front of Heitinga, he could only tug Iniesta’s shoulder, the Barca man went down, Heitinga was already on a yellow, he had to go, and go he did shown the red card and his team on the ropes and down to 10 men.

The extra man made the difference, Spain pilled forward and with 4 minutes to go to penalties it paid dividends, Iniesta broke forward and was unmarked, Torres tried to find him it was cleared, however Fabergas won the ball played it to Iniesta and he struck the ball beautifully past Stekelenberg into the Dutch goal and send the Spanish players and fans into dreamland, fantastic scenes of celebration, also a lovely moment from Iniesta as he lifted his shirt to reveal a message to Dani Jarque the former Espanyol captain who died a year ago of a heart attack while in pre-season training, he was booked for his sentiment I’m sure he wouldn’t care though, he had won the World Cup for his team and country and nothing was going to damped the moment. The Dutch has a brief flurry of action to try and level the game but it was in vain as Spain became the Champions of the World, the best team won on the day and that’s all you can ask for.

Over the past 4 years they have been the best and most consistent team, and although they haven’t set the world alight in this tournament actually scoring the least goals of any World Cup winner, but they played great at times, defended brilliantly and in my eyes deserved winners, Holland didn’t go out to win the World Cup they went out to stop Spain winning it, and to me that’s not the attitude I like for Champions.

MY THOUGHTS

Some great performances on both sides, Andres Iniesta has to be the man of the match, him and Xavi became more in control as long as the game went on, his surging runs and technique on the ball were a joy to watch, and it was very fitting he scored the winning goal, Substitutes Fabergas and Navas did very well when they came on, adding more attacking flair to the Spanish midfield, Puyol was a warrior in central midfield and no one deserves more to be a World Champion then the Barcelona centre half.

For the Dutch I thought Gregory van der Wiel had a superb game, I lost count of the amount of great tackles he put in, or just breaking up the Spanish play, impressive for the young Ajax player, his stock will have risen over the past 4 weeks and even more so tonight. Stekelenberg had a great game keeping his team in the match in more than 3 occasions, deserved to only lose one goal.

Robben was busy but spent most of the time complaining, van Bommel and de Jong did a good job disrupting the Spanish play be it illegally or not, Kuyt and van Persie were too quiet, Sneijder had a good game, chased back ran forward tried to make things happen maybe just didn’t have the options in front of him to make a difference.

 

The First Half was not the most exciting but more of a tactical battle, the Second Half was a better sceptical and actually turned into an exciting and tight affair, the best team won in the end and are deserved Champions. The odds are 6/1 for them to become the first ever back to back World Champions and who would bet against them 4 years on in Brazil.

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The game that no one wants to play in, but seems the game that everyone scores in, averaging just under 4 goals in the 3rd/4th place playoff with the pressure off the players usually shack the shackles off and entertain the fans, Everyone was hoping for the same outcome tonight, the Underdogs Uruguay trying to finish off a wonderful World Cup with the bronze medal, and the Germans looking to emulate 2006 and pick up the 3rd place, I was just hoping for goals goals goals.

URUGUAY

2

 

GERMANY

3

Edison CAVANI (28′)     Thomas MULLER (18′)  
Diego FORLAN (51′)     Marcell JANSEN (56′)  
      Sami KHEDIRA (82′)  
         
1.Fernando MUSLERA     22.Hans Jorg BUTT  
2.Diego LUGANO     2.Marcell JANSEN OUT – 81
3.Diego GODIN     3.Arne FRIEDRICH- Y  
4.Jorge FUCILE     4.Dennis AOGO – Y  
7.Edinson CAVANI OUT – 88   6.Sami KHEDIRA  
9.Luis SUAREZ     7.Bastian SCHWEINSTEIGER  
10.Diego FORLAN     8.Mesut ÖZIL OUT – 91
15.Diego PEREZ – Y OUT – 77   13.Thomas MULLER  
16.Maximiliano PEREIRA     17.Per MERTESACKER  
17.Egidio AREVALO     19.CACAU – Y OUT – 73
22.Martin CACERES     20.Jerome BOATENG  
         
Subs     Subs  
5.Walter GARGANO IN – 77   1.Manuel NEUER  
6.Mauricio VICTORINO     12.Tim WIESE INJ
8.Sebastian EGUREN     5.Serdar TASCI IN – 91
11.Alvaro Pereira     9.Stefan KIEßLING IN – 73
12.Juan CASTILLO     10.Lucas PODOLSKI  
13.Sebastian ABREU IN – 88   11.Miroslav KLOSE  
14.Nicolas LODEIRO INJ   14.Holger BADSTUBER  
18.Ignacio GONZALEZ     15.Piotr TROCHOWSKI  
19.Andres SCOTTI     16.Philipp LAHM INJ
20.Alvaro FERNANDEZ     18.Toni KROOS IN – 81
21.Sebastian FERNANDEZ     21.Marko MARIN  
23.Martin SILVA     23.Mario GOMEZ  

A good match, I must say I had it on but fleeted in and out of total concentration, Germany took the early lead, Schweinsteiger’s shot saved by Muslera but fumbled and Muller was first to react and placed the ball into the net, 10 minutes later it was 1-1 my man of the tournament Diego Forlan fed in Edison Cavani and he finished calmly his first goal of the World Cup and very well deserved. All square at half-time and the game was not disappointing.

The second half started even better, Arevarlo Rios made an uncharacteristic run down the right picked out Forlan with his cut-back and Forlan lashed the volley with his right foot and Hans-Jorg Butt could only watch it sweep past him, superb goal from a superb player. The Germans equalised from an unlikely source, Jerome Boateng playing at right back swung in a very tempting cross and Marcell Jansen rose highest caught Muslera flapping and he got his head on the ball and it glided into the empty net.

As good as it is to see goals, I don’t think anyone wanted Extra-Time and the Germans duly obliged, Ozil’s corner wasn’t cleared and Khedira got a head on it and it floated over Muslera and into the net.

Now I said a second ago we didn’t want ET, that was until with the last kick of the ball Uruguay won a free kick on the edge of the area, Diego Forlan stood over it, a goal and we would have another 30 minutes, however Forlan would have his sixth goal and would stand on top of the Golden Boot standings, the World held their breathe, Diego stepped up and…..smashed the crossbar, so close, the game was over, an exciting night, if only the final is as good as this.

MY THOUGHTS

Not going to pick out players on this game as it’s more like a pre-season friendly but over the tournament I’ll pick out some players.

For me Uruguay’s best players have been Jorge Fucile, Maxi Pereira, Arevarlo Rios, Diego Perez, Adriano Pereira and Diego Forlan.

Fucile and M.Pereira have been fantastic at full back, Fucile’s tackling has been on point, never looked vulnerable, Maxi has gotten forward at all times, but defended well also, Rios and Perez have been the bouncers in front of the Uruguay backline, not letting many people pass, I can’t remember any goal against them that has come from a break through the middle of the Uruguay midfield, mostly crosses or Muslera fumbles.

And of course Diego Forlan has just been superb, he has tamed the Jabulani ball, scored spectacular goals, set up his team mates, and just seems an all-round top top guy, if you’re on twitter you should follow @DiegoForlan7  for a lovely insight into a great player. 

For Germany: Friedrich, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Khedira, Ozil, and Muller.

Friedrich at 31 probably playing his last World Cup Boateng and Aogo will be gunning for his spot, but he’s had a great tournament, not listened to the weak link thoughts of many pundits and just gone about his job, very solid.

Captain Lahm has been mercurial at right back, always calm on the ball, moving the game forward, maybe not as expansive as in previous years but just a quality defender.

Schweni and Khedira have impressed everyone, pressure on both of them with Ballack being ruled out and my have they rose to the occasion, both knowing when to sit and when to attack, Sami’s runs from deep have been impressive and Bastian’s reading of the game has looked World Class at times, having the skill and speed to escape danger, he’s still young and can only get better.

I had seen Mesut Ozil a few times before the World Cup for Weder and the German Under 21’s but he was still a relative unknown and at times he’s had a great tournament, disappeared against Spain which shows his youth, however I have nothing but high hopes for Mesut.

Surprise of the Tournament for me has been Thomas Muller, wasn’t convinced by him at Bayern, 20 years old and has announced himself to the World stage, 5 goals in 6 games, very athletic, powerful player, good on the ball, loves to break forward, can’t wait to see more of him for Bayern Munich.

Two teams that have surpassed pre-Tournament predictions, Germany at one point everyone’s favourite, my favourites for 2014 now, I’ve got high hopes for Uruguay too, Under 20 World finalists so there are players coming through I hope they can qualify for 2014 as they could shock everyone again.

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Now that there is some free time inbetween games, gonna get some videos made of the World Cup, but since FIFA block anyone making a harmless video and putting it on YouTube I guess I shall use my website as my outlet.

Here is the first video I made, the best goals from the first stage of games, enjoy!

World Cup 2010 – Goals of the Group Stage – Part One

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In this world everyone has a different opinion of everything and that’s what makes it a great place to be, if we all agreed about all issues then it would be pretty boring which brings me to today’s game, a game I really enjoyed I thought it was a great portrait of passing football from Spain, impressive defending and counter attacking from the Germans, yeah it didn’t have bags of goals, but it was proper interesting football, I totally understand if some people found it boring or dull, and that’s the right everyone has I respect that, however I would easily watch that game again.

Spain started very bright, and went about attacking the German defence, Pedro in for Torres couldn’t have asked for a better start, a great first touch, and he looked very much in the mood, Villa started in the middle and struggled to find space around the area, in the first half Pedro moved from right to left and always looked to get on the ball, the first chance came when Pedro slipped in Villa, his outstretched foot met the ball but Manuel Neuer was out fast to close them down and make the save. The only other chance to mention was from Andrea Iniesta’s cross when Puyol rose and headed the ball over the ball, a danger sign for the Germans, Podolski and Ozil nearly combined for a breakaway chance but Podolski’s pass was slightly behind Ozil, Ozil also had a penalty shout denied when Ramos collided with him on the stroke of half time, not a penalty for me as Ramos doesn’t actually tackle him, I think Ozil just fell over. An interesting 45 minutes “a chess game” if you will Germany trying to suck the Spanish in and counter, and the Spanish happy to control the tempo of the game but without getting in behind very often, frustrating at times because of the class that Spain have, but still nice to watch.

The second half saw Spain pile on the pressure again but this time they got a bit more joy and cause more problems, Villa and Ramos came close to converting low crosses to the back post, Xabi Alonso came very close with two efforts from outside the box, the Germans were pushed further and further back and found it hard to break out because they were so deep, it was getting inevitable that a Spain goal would come. And come it did, 17 minutes to go Xavi whipped in a corner and Puyol unmarked rose and powered a wonderful header passed the helpless Neuer, his 3 international goal, and I don’t think he’ll score another more important, unless it’s on Sunday.

The Germans tried their best to get back into the game, but it just wasn’t there day, Podolski and Klose never got a sniff at goal and Ozil was kept tightly marked by Busquets and Alonso, they will be back stronger in 2 years and they are my favourites to win Euro 2012.

GERMANY

0

 

SPAIN

1

      Carles PUYOL (73′)  
         
1.Manuel NEUER     1.Iker CASILLAS  
3.Arne FRIEDRICH     3.Gerard PIQUE  
6.Sami KHEDIRA OUT – 81   5.Carles PUYOL  
7.Bastian SCHWEINSTEIGER     6.Andres INIESTA  
8.Mesut ÖZIL     7.David VILLA OUT – 81
10.Lucas PODOLSKI     8.XAVI  
11.Miroslav KLOSE     11.Joan CAPDEVILA  
15.Piotr TROCHOWSKI OUT – 62   14.Xavi ALONSO OUT – 93
16.Philipp LAHM     15.Sergio RAMOS  
17.Per MERTESACKER     16.Sergio BUSQUETS  
20.Jerome BOATENG OUT – 52   18.PEDRO OUT – 86
         
Subs     Subs  
12.Tim WIESE     2.Raul ALBOIL  
22.Hans Jorg BUTT     4.Carlos MARCHENA IN – 93
2.Marcell JANSEN IN – 52   9.Fernando TORRES IN – 81
4.Dennis AOGO     10.Cesc FABERGAS  
5.Serdar TASCI     12.Victor VALDES  
9.Stefan KIEßLING     13.Juan MATA  
13.Thomas MULLER SUS   17.Alvaro ARBELOA  
14.Holger BADSTUBER     19.Fernando LLORENTE  
18.Toni KROOS IN – 62   20.Javi MARTINEZ  
19.CACAU     21.David SILVA IN – 86
21.Marko MARIN     22.Jesus NAVAS  
23.Mario GOMEZ IN – 81   23.Pepe REINA  

MY THOUGHTS

Pedro was the man of the match for me, always getting open, attacked the German defenders in a way Villa and Torres just don’t do getting them to turn and chase he was like a fly in the ear of the German defence, his passing was on point, had a couple of shots on goal and until the goal he looked like the only way Spain would get a goal, he should have set up a goal for Torres with the Germans pilling forward he was found wide open on the right a 2 on 1 with Torres and maybe youthful naivety got the best of him and he tried to go it alone when he should have squared it, I really hope he starts in the final, he deserves it, capping off a wonderful season for the young Spaniard.

Alonso, Xavi and Busquets were superb running out of words for these guys, Xavi hardly lost the ball all game kept the game flowing with the constant passing, Busquets also played very well closing down Ozil then not giving Schweinsteiger any time on the ball apart from the defensive side his passing was impressive too, usually underrated by most people he is an important part of the Spain side, not sure they always need Alonso and Busquets together.

A quiet night for Villa, he works so much better while operating on the left, but he sacrificed himself for the team, not sure where Del Bosque will play him in the final, he’ll need his star man to be at his best to win the biggest game of them all.

The Germans didn’t play anywhere near the way they did against England and Argentina, they missed Thomas Muller, as well as Trochowski played he just doesn’t have the power and physicality that the Bayern man brings and this slowed down the counter attacking prowess they had showed previously, Mertesacker and Friedrich played well for a duo that have been told they are not that good all tournament they didn’t show any of that and Spain found it hard to get past them.

Klose and Ozil were marked out the game, Podolski never once linked up with Klose which was disappointing. Schweinsteiger and Khedira played a good match, I really like Schweni in this central role, he needs to show a bit more of his attacking side at times however his passing and reading of the game has been second to none in this tournament.

I wanted the Germans to go all the way in this tournament as they had played the best football so far, however they got outplayed this evening by Spain, the best team went through in the end.

FINAL – NETHERLANDS v SPAIN

So we have the line-up of the final game, the “Total Football” of the Dutch and the “Tiki Taka” of the Spanish, I don’t want to jinx it, however it has the potential to be a fantastic final, both teams don’t like sitting back, they have creativity all over the pitch, it will either be end to end, or cancel each other out.

Either way after the game is done we will be looking at the 8th country to win the World Cup trophy and surely that is as special as it gets for the first African World Cup.

I am going to back Holland to win; this however could be their downfall.

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Well we’re down to 4 teams, 3 Europeans, 1 South American, 2 teams that have won it before, 2 that are European Champions but never won the main prize, 1 team with a star striker suspended another with a star striker not playing at his best and his place being questioned, 4 countries with fans that will be on the end of their seat in the next 48 hours, unfortunately only two of them can make the final, no disgrace for the loser, but the World Cup Final is surely still the pinnacle that all players would love to play in, isn’t it?

URUGUAY

2

 

NETHERLANDS

3

Diego FORLAN (41′)     Giovanni VAN BRONCKHORST (18′)  
Maxi PEREIRA (90+2′)     Wesley SNEIJDER (70′)  
      Arjen ROBBEN (73′)  
         
1.Fernando MUSLERA     1.Maarten STEKELENBERG  
3.Diego GODIN     3.John HEITINGA  
5.Walter GARGANO     4.Joris MATHIJSEN  
6.Mauricio VICTORINO     5.Giovanni VAN BRONCKHORST – C  
7.Edinson CAVANI     6.Mark VAN BOMMEL – Y  
10.Diego FORLAN – C OUT – 84   7.Dirk KUYT  
11.Alvaro Pereira OUT – 78   9.Robin VAN PERSIE  
15.Diego PEREZ     10.Wesley SNEIJDER – Y  
16.Maximiliano PEREIRA – Y     11.Arjen ROBBEN OUT – 89
17.Egidio AREVALO     12.Khalid BOULAHROUZ – Y  
22.Martin CACERES – Y     14.Demy DE ZEEUW OUT – 46
         
Subs     Subs  
2.Diego LUGANO     16.Michel VORM  
4.Jorge FUCILE  SUS   22.Sander BOSCHKER  
8.Sebastian EGUREN     2.Gregory VAN DER WIEL  SUS
9.Luis SUAREZ  SUS   8.Nigel DE JONG  SUS
12.Juan CASTILLO     13.Andre OOIJER  
13.Sebastian ABREU IN – 78   15.Edson BRAAFHEID  
14.Nicolas LODEIRO  INJ   17.Eljero ELIA IN – 89
18.Ignacio GONZALEZ     18.Stijn SCHAARS  
19.Andres SCOTTI     19.Ryan BABEL  
20.Alvaro FERNANDEZ     20.Ibrahim AFELLAY  
21.Sebastian FERNANDEZ IN – 84   21.Klass Jan HUNTELAAR  
23.Martin SILVA     23.Rafael VAN DER VAART IN – 46

What a really good game, it probably only had about 15-20 minutes that it went a bit stale, when it got going it really got going. Some more superb goals, some questionable decisions and a grand stand finish. The Oranje took the lead on 18 minutes, a nice passing move led Sneijder to lay the ball of to van Bronckhorst he had a look up and tried his luck, and what a try it was an absolute missile into the top corner Muslera got a finger to it but it wasn’t enough, a great goal to kick off the game. Uruguay had possibly been the better team before the goal looking the more comfortable on the ball, the goal settled the Dutch down and they went about trying to find a second. The game looked to be staying the same towards the break, that was until Diego Forlan decided to grace us with another World Cup beauty, putting the ball onto his unfancied left foot, he let rip and the swerve caught Stekelenberg off guard and he could only get a hand onto it and watch it ripple the net.

For 15 minutes the second half was a very cagey affair both teams seeming to know what was up for grabs and the tension stalled the game a little, then in a bit of a strange moment Sneijder found some space on the edge of the box, he tried to curl an effort it came off a defender just missed van Persie’s foot and beat Muslera to the near post, the goal seemed to stun everyone, Uruguay fans couldn’t see how the ball had beat their goalie and the Dutch were shocked to be in the lead again. Then came what would be the killer blow, Kuyt free on the left got the ball onto his right and crossed a teasing ball in, Robben had found a great position and a lovely header back towards the near post had Muslera beaten all ends up and it sent the Dutch fans delirious with delight, surely they were going to their first World Cup final since 1974.

Uruguay had 17 minutes to save their tournament but it came all little too little, they won a free kick on the 90th minute it was put wide to Maxi Pereira he cut inside onto his left foot and curled a lovely shot past Stekelenberg a great goal but not enough to save the boys from Montevideo, the next three minutes saw Uruguay set siege upon the Dutch goal and in the last seconds Gargano nearly found some space to craft a shot but he was smothered and couldn’t get the shot off, the ball was then cleared and to every Dutch fans relief the referee blew his whistle and sent their team in the Final, the favourites had staved off the underdogs fight a most enjoyable game, much better than semi-finals usually produce.

MY THOUGHTS

Players of the game for me were Robben and Sneijder for the Dutch, and Forlan, Cavani and Adriano Pereira for Uruguay, Robben had an excellent game, started on the right, drifted to the left at times, and he was a constant threat his pace means you have to respect the distance you keep from him, but his skill means you don’t want to give him time on the ball, I thought Caceres and Pereira did well to contain him at times but you are never going to keep him quiet for 90 minutes, scoring an unchareteristic header, he had a couple of other half chances, but when your Arjen Robben just being on the pitch causes teams problems.

Sneijder again was the architect of the Dutch attacks, always open for a pass, great sense of where the space is on the field, another goals that makes it 5 for the tournament, maybe another own goals, but you don’t get the luck unless you have a go and he is going to get shots off and create chances, he has been one of the players of the tournament and it was evidentaly clear why by tonights performance.

Forlan spearheaded the uruguay attack and probably by his standards he had a quiet night, but his goal was superb and he is just a quality footballer, he missed Suarez, Suarez being in the middle allows Diego to drift, and Cavani and Forlan are quite similar in that way which doesn’t always work upfront, at times Cavani made some superb runs without the ball I was screaming at the TV for Pereira and Forlan to try and find him but it’s easy to see these passes when your not there on the pitch, he impressed me with his movement.

Adriano Pereira ran a tireless shift tonight given the job to help Careces on the left back spot when needed but then asked to bomb forward and protect the front two, a thankless task but he did it without complaint for the 78 minutes he was on the pitch.

Uruguay played very well and should be proud, maybe 2 quality players away from being a superb team, if they had a midfielder was great ability I would back them to go all the way, with Forlan they have a World Class forward, look forward to seeing how they progress for the Copa America, The Dutch again won the game without playing superb football but it was good enough to win the game and that’s what matters, they seem to be hotting up at the right time, I think they would prefer the grudge match with the Germans, but both Opponents will test their defence.

You can’t ask for more than 5 goals in a Semi-Final and I really hope tomorrow’s game lives up to the expectation, but usually they don’t.

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Two of football’s heavyweights met in the Quarter Finals yesterday, 2 team playing great football, a shame they both couldn’t go through. In the other match it was underdogs vs favourites, Paraguay trying to shock the world by eliminating the Spanish.

ARGENTINA

0

 

GERMANY

4

      Thomas MULLER (3′)  
      Miroslav KLOSE (67′, 89′)  
      Arne FRIEDRICH (74′)  
         
         
22.Sergio ROMERO     1.Manuel NEUER  
2.Martin DEMICHELIS     3.Arne FRIEDRICH  
4.Nicolas BURDISSO     6.Sami KHEDIRA OUT – 77
6.Gabriel HEINZE     7.Bastian SCHWEINSTEIGER  
7.Angel DI MARIA OUT – 75   8.Mesut ÖZIL  
9.Gonzalo HIGUAIN     10.Lucas PODOLSKI  
10.Lionel MESSI     11.Miroslav KLOSE  
11.Carlos TEVEZ     13.Thomas MULLER – Y OUT – 84
14.Javier MASCHERANO – C – Y     16.Philipp LAHM  
15.Nicolas OTAMENDI – Y OUT – 70   17.Per MERTESACKER  
20.Maxi RODRIGUEZ     20.Jerome BOATENG OUT – 72
         
Subs     Subs  
16.Sergio AGUERO IN – 75   2.Marcell JANSEN IN – 72
23.Javier PASTORE IN – 70   15.Piotr TROCHOWSKI IN – 84
      18.Toni KROOS IN – 77

MY THOUGHTS

From start to finish the Germans dominated the match, a great start to the match Thomas Muller flicking in Schweinsteiger’s free kick, the German machine just rolled on, Argentina never looked like causing any problems, 1-0 at half time the germans looked comfortable, and extended the lead in the second half when Podolski got three on the left and he found Klose alone in the box and he wasn’t gonna miss from there.

Arne Friedrich added his first ever goal after Schweinsteiger’s fabulous solo run, and Ozil played a lovely pass over the top of the Argentine’s and found Klose and he levelled Gerd Muller’s 14 World Cup goals, and capped off a wonderful day for Germany. Argentina just weren’t at the races today, Messi and Tevez couldn’t find the space to create anything, and this is were Maradona lacks the tactical knowledge to change the system or adapt to what’s happening and in the end this cost his country a chance at World Cup glory.

Schweinsteiger and Khedira were superb for the whole game, The Bayern man never looked in any trouble on the ball, always finding a pass or when in trouble he has the ability to beat a man to create more space, and Khedira compliments his game so much, knows when to stay knows when to attack, and I’m sticking by my thought that Ballack would just have slowed this team down, Podolski and Muller then back up Klose, with Ozil combining the great play for midfield and attack, Ozil had a slighly quieter game but this gave more space to Schweinsteiger and Podolski and they played a great game.

I thought Jerome Boateng did well, supposidly the weakest link in the german team, however he did well against the threat of Messi and Di Maria, I don’t remember the ball getting inbehind the German defence many times, Mertesacker didn’t get turned like everyone thought they would they managed to keep the Argies in front of them and this condensed the space Messi & Co. had to work with.

Di Maria had has most involved game seeing lots of the ball, he needs to work on his final ball if he is to become a great player, he didn’t get much help from Higuian who’s movement was sparce at best, Otamendi at right back had an awful game, booked very early on he never recovered and if you look at all Germany’s goals they all came from the left side, where Nicolas was meant to be defending, the right back spot a real problem are for Maradona’s men, what difference would someone of Javier Zanetti class have made.

Lionel Messi will leave the tournament without scoring a goal, but at times he showed his World Class and could easily have had 3 or 4, Tevez played well overall, Higuain left a lot to be desired, yeah he got a hat-trick against Korea but never showed the real strengths of his game.

It looks like Diego will retire as Argentina’s coach and maybe it’s a good thing, he is a good cheerleader and gives the team passion and pride, but when i comes to knowing the game he lacks the same skill he had as a player, Argentina need a coach that can get the best of out Messi but also find a way to play the others, it’s not a bad bunch of players to be in charge of.

PARAGUAY

0

 

SPAIN

1

      David VILLA (83′)  
         
         
1.Justo VILLAR     1.Iker CASILLAS  
2.Dario VERON     3.Gerard PIQUE – Y  
3.Claudio MOREL – Y     5.Carles PUYOL OUT – 84
7.Oscar CARDOZO     6.Andres INIESTA  
8.Edgar BARRETO OUT – 64   7.David VILLA  
11.Jonathan SANTANA – Y     8.XAVI  
14.Paulo DA SILVA     9.Fernando TORRES OUT – 56
15.Victor CACERES – Y OUT – 84   11.Joan CAPDEVILA  
16.Cristian RIVEROS     14.Xavi ALONSO OUT – 75
18.Nelson VALDEZ OUT – 72   15.Sergio RAMOS  
21.Antolin ALCARAZ – Y     16.Sergio BUSQUETS – Y  
         
Subs     Subs  
19.Lucas BARRIOS IN – 84   4.Carlos MARCHENA IN – 84
13.Enrique VERA IN – 64   10.Cesc FABERGAS IN – 56
9.Roque SANTA CRUZ IN – 72   18.PEDRO IN – 75

MY THOUGHTS

For 45 minutes this match had nothing to write about, Spain’s passing was awful they couldn’t get their “tiki-taka” going, it was Paraguay that played the nicer football some lovely flowing moves, but just couldn’t find a way past the Spanish defence, it looked like their chances would come mostly from set-pieces.

The second half was so much better and there was a 10 minute period of complete drama, Paraguay had a corner and when the ball was swung in, Gerard Pique was blatantly pulling Cardozo’s arm, the referee spotted it and blew his whitle, Penalty to Paraguay, a chance to go ahead against the European Champions, Benfica’s Oscar Cardozo stepped up to take it, but it was a poor penalty and Iker Casillas made a comfortable save, the temperature rose again when Spain went on the attack and Villa was bundles off the ball by Alcaraz and again the referee had no choice to point to the spot, Xabi Alonso picked up the ball, placed it, took his penalty and put it into the top corner, the referee had spotted some encroachment and ordered the retake, always hard for the player to then either go the same way or do you change your mind, Alonso changed his mind, Villar read it though and got his hand to the ball, it looked like he fouled Fabergas on the rebound, and then Ramos fired the rebound towards goal and it was cleared off the line.

Spain pilled on the pressure and with 7 minutes to go it paid off, Iniesta made a great run towards the box, he slipped in Pedro, his shot came off the post and fell to David Villa and Spain’s top scorer had a chance, his shot came off the same post as Pedro’s went back across the goal and hit the opposite post but this time it bounced into the net and Spain had the lead, and except Santa Cruz’s chance in injury time Spain played out the last minutes knowing they had won.

For the first time in this tournament Pique looked nervous, the tug on Cardozo’s arm was unlike the big man, usually so calm under pressure, Paraguay played well as a team but struggled up front, Cardozo and Valdez no goals between them, Valdez worked very very hard chasing down lost causes and caused problems with his movement but they lacked that cutting edge in the final third, new Premier League boys Alcaraz and Riveros played pretty well and have impressed throughout the tournament looking forward to seeing more of them this season.

Torres again had a poor game, not sure how long Del Bosque can continue to pick the Liverpool man, Llorente did so well when he came on against Portugal he is knocking at the door for a starting spot, other options would be  Cesc Fabergas or Jesus Navas and play Villa down the middle, I would try Llorente as Villa has been findng more space from the left and it seems teams are struggling to pick him up from deeper, however it seems Del Bosque will be sticking with Torres hoping that every game makes him sharper, could be a big decision.

 

SEMI FINAL – GERMANY v SPAIN

Germany will be without striker Thomas Muller who is suspended, looks like Trochowski will replace him, I think there is the option of usin Cacau, Marin and Toni Kross instead that would give more attacking impetus, however Trochowski has been more often or not the first sub, so no surprise if he’s picked, apart from that both teams will have minumum changes.

Some really good matchups Lahm will be wary of Villa from the left wing position, probably the best defender Villa has come up against so far, Busquets will be given the job to mark Ozil, it will be interesting how Sergio Ramos defends against Podolski, Poldi’s presence could pin Ramos back, if he ventures forward there will be space to expolit, also a great test for Schweinsteiger and Khedira against the greatest midfield duo in football Xavi and Iniesta the winner of this battle could determin the team that gets to the final.

Spain will have to play a lot better if they are to beat the Germans, I’m sure Jogi Low will have a game plan to test Spain, really looking forward to this one, if I had to pick a winner, i would have to say Germany by a goal.

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Quarter Final time, and teams only 2 games from the final, some classic games lined up and the two games today did not let anyone down, Brazil and Holland played out a good match however the limelight was stolen by Uruguay and Ghana a tremendous match end to end action, great goals controversy, heroes, villians, it had everything.

NETHERLANDS

2

 

BRAZIL

1

Wesley SNEIJDER (53′ 68′)     ROBINHO (10′)  
         
1.Maarten STEKELENBERG     1.Julio CESAR  
2.Gregory VAN DER WIEL – Y     2.MAICON  
3.John HEITINGA – Y     3.LUCIO – C  
5.Giovanni VAN BRONCKHORST     4.JUAN  
6.Mark VAN BOMMEL     5.Felipe MELO – R  
7.Dirk KUYT     6.Michel BASTOS – Y OUT – 62
8.Nigel DE JONG – Y     7.ELANO  
9.Robin VAN PERSIE OUT – 85   8.Gilberto SILVA  
10.Wesley SNEIJDER     9.Luis FABIANO OUT – 77
11.Arjen ROBBEN     10.KAKA  
13.Andre OOIJER     11.ROBINHO  
         
Subs     Subs  
21.Klass Jan HUNTELAAR IN – 85   16.GILBERTO IN – 62
      21.NILMAR IN – 77

MY THOUGHTS
Brazil could not have hoped for a better start, Melo’s great pass found Robinho 1 on 1 and he finished neatly and Brazil looked in cruise control some lovely football, passing and moving off the ball, Holland looked lost of ideas and the best thing that happened for them was the half time whistle.

I don’t think anyone could see a way back for the Dutch or how the Brazilians could not find a way to extend their lead, Sneijder found a way though swinging a free kick in from the left, Melo jumped to head the ball away but he only got a slight contact and Cesar was unable to punch it away, an equaliser that shocked everyone, the Brazilians were the most effected the passing stopped flowing and movement wasn’t the same, from that point I could only see one winner, and I wasn’t wrong, Holland won a corner, it was whipped into the near post Kuyt flicked it on and Sneijder was left alone to head the ball past Cesar a shock lead, the Oranje delighted and Brazil had no way back Kaka’, Robinho, and Luis Fabiano couldn’t combine to any effect and the Netherlands booked their place in the semi-finals.

It really was a game of two halves, no Dutch players to mention from the first half and no Brazilians to mention from the second half, Robinho started very brightly, the touch and passing was superb, causing endless problems for van der Wiel on the right of Hollands defence.

Also the Brazilian defending overall in the first half was fantastic, everytime the Dutch got near the Brazilian box, 3 or 4 players swarmed round them, Lucio and Juan did a great job of slowing the attack down so the midfield could close in, a great display of defending.

In the second half I thought Sneijder was the best player on the pitch started getting on the ball controlling the game, Robben was quiet second half, apart from that no Dutch players stood out for me, just the fact the Brazilians stopped playing and allowed the pressure to build on them.

Overall I think it has to go down as a bad Brazilian performance, Melo has to take the blame, cause the first goal, lost his man for the second and sent off for a horrible stamp, Brazil were the favourites to win the whole thing but this performance really let them down, Holland move on and have a great chance to make the final and could win the tournament playing in a not typically Dutch style.

URUGUAY

1

 

GHANA

1

Diego FORLAN (55′)     Sulley MUNTARI (45+2′)  
         
Penalties        
Diego FORLAN Goal   Asamoah GYAN Goal
Mauricio VICTORINO Goal   Stephen APPIAH Goal
Andres SCOTTI Goal   John MENSAH Miss
Maxi PEREIRA Miss   Dominic ADIYIAH Miss
Sebastian ABREU Goal      
         
         
1.Fernando MUSLERA     22.Richard KINGSON  
2.Diego LUGANO OUT – 38   2.Hans SARPEI – Y  
4.Jorge FUCILE     3.Asamoah GYAN  
6.Mauricio VICTORINO     4.John PANTSIL – Y  
7.Edinson CAVANI  OUT – 76   5.John MENSAH – C – Y  
9.Luis SUAREZ     6.Anthony ANNAN  
10.Diego FORLAN     7.Samuel INKOOM  OUT – 74
15.Diego PEREZ     11.Sulley MUNTARI  OUT – 88
16.Maximiliano PEREIRA     15.Issac VORSAH  
17.Egidio AREVALO     21.Kwadwo ASAMOAH  
20.Alvaro FERNANDEZ  OUT – 46   23.Kevin Prince BOATENG  
         
Subs        
13.Sebastian ABREU IN – 76   10.Stephen APPIAH IN – 74
14.Nicolas LODEIRO IN – 46   18.Dominic ADIYIAH IN – 88
19.Andres SCOTTI IN – 38      

MY THOUGHTS

Game of the tournament  I think, it had everything you can ask for in a football match, a great goal (Muntari) great set-piece (Forlan) drama, a player making a sacrifice for his team (Suarez), pressure (Gyan), and them the ultimate drama in a penalty shootout, the bravery of Gyan to score his 2nd penalty, I could go on all day.

Uruguay started the better of the two teams then just before Half-Time Ghana settled down and began attacking, could have scored a couple but it was Sulley Muntari who opened the deadlock with a wonder strike.

Diego Forlan got his team back in the game with a quite tremendous free kick, it seemed to swere from left to right and Kingson’s movement let him down taking a step to the left before watching the ball fire past him and into the top corner.

The game went to Extra-Time and seemed to be heading to penalties in injury time Ghana won a corner and a scamble ensued in the box Appaih had his shot blocked, the ball came to Adiyah’s head surely he must score….but Luis Suarez was there, but this time blocking with his hands, the linesman spotted it, and the referee pointed to the spot, with the last kick of the ball, Asamoah Gyan would either send his team to the World Cup semi-finals or take the game to penalties. The width of the crossbar decided Ghana’s fate, Gyan went for power and not accuracy and the latter failed him, Uruguay and Ghana would decide the game on the lottery of a penalty shoot out.

In all penalty shootouts there are heroes and villains, unfortunately for Ghana they had the villains on their side Captain John Mensah and young Dominic Adiyah missing the spot kicks and it was Sebastien Abreu who stepped up and cooly chipped the ball past the diving Kingson, Suarez the Uruguayan hero, the continent of Africa in disbelief, so close but yet so far.

Kingson the goalkeeper had a good game, making some quality saves one even striking his face, didn’t have a chance with any of the penalties, Boateng and Annan were fantastic in the Ghana midfield, Boateng came to life when asked to play behind Gyan, Annan enhanced his reputation with a solid performance, very likely he’ll be moving from Rosenborg very soon. Not much else I can add to previous reviews of Asamoah Gyan’s performances at this World Cup, he showed he has considerable mental strength, after missing a penalty to win the game for his team he stepped up in the shootout and struck a beautiful penalty into the top corner.

Uruguay will miss Suarez in the semi-final he was always dangerous, looked dead on his feet in extra time (probably why he used his hands) Forlan had a great game, always looking to break forward, scored a great goal, pretty much lead his team forward, a captain’s performance.When Lugano came off injured his replacement Scotti did well hard to come in and play at centre back but he looked assured and never got caught out, also scored his penalty.

A great game to watch, outshone the Netherlands v Brazil game by a mile and Uruguay back in the semi-finals for the first time since 1970 still no African team made it past the Quarter-Finals, they’re getting closer.

SEMI FINALS – NETHERLANDS v URUGUAY

Suarez, van der Wiel and de Jong all missing through suspension, Diego Lugano will miss out through injury, some big decisions to make for both coaches, should be a good game, Netherlands will start as favourites but I don’t think Uruguay are that far away from causing an upset, the loss of Suarez is a huge blow after all the goals he’s scored in Holland, but maybe a more unfarmilar player to them like Cavani and Abreu will cause them more problems, a change to the Netherlands defence and central midfield could cause disruption to the Oranje machine but they have quality players to come in, looking forward to this one, so much at stake for both teams.

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Just a quick post really.

First of all thanks to everyone that’s listened to the Podcast so far, really enjoyed doing it, will hope to get better at them, but it’s a start, if you liked post the link somewhere spread the love.

Wanted to also say thanks to everyone that’s visited the site last month, I got 3103 hits not all of them unique but to me it sounds like a decent amount of traffic coming through, averages out at 103 hits a day, pretty happy with that.

I suppose you get what you put in, posting reports everyday I hope keeps people coming back, hoping to stay motivated after the world cup, with more thoughts on the football going on, and longer posts on specific subjects.

This is just a hobby for me, love watching football, love sharing my thoughts, so please set a bookmark on http://www.gibfootballshow.co.uk add me on your twitter http://www.twitter.com/gibfootballshow also just created a facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/gibfootballshow/139658259384300 have a look join up, give me some advice, anything at all.

Cheers guys!!!

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The final two Last 16 games were played today and it was inevitable that at least one of them would go to penalties, after todays games we would know the lineup for the 4 Quarter Final matches, and potentially 4 South American teams in the Last 8.

PARAGUAY

0

 

JAPAN

0

         

PENALTIES

5

   

3

         
E.BARRETO GOAL   ENDO GOAL
BARRIOS GOAL   HASEBE GOAL
RIVEROS GOAL   KOMANO MISS
VALDEZ GOAL   HONDA GOAL
CARDOZO GOAL      
         
1.Justo VILLAR     1.Eiji KAWASHIMA  
3.Claudio MOREL     2.Yuki ABE OUT – 81
6.Carlos BONET     3.Yuichi KOMANO  
9.Roque SANTA CRUZ OUT – 94   4.Marcus Tulio TANAKA  
10.Edgar BENITEZ OUT – 60   5.Yuto NAGATOMO – Y  
13.Enrique VERA     7.Yasuhito ENDO – Y  
14.Paulo DA SILVA     8.Daisuke MATSUI – Y OUT – 65
16.Cristian RIVEROS – Y     16.Yoshito OKUBO OUT – 106
19.Lucas BARRIOS     17.Makoto HASEBE ©  
20.Nestor ORTIGOZA OUT – 75   18.Keisuke HONDA – Y  
21.Antolin ALCARAZ     22.Yuji NAKAZAWA  
         
Subs     Subs  
7.Oscar CARDOZO IN – 94   9.Shinji OKAZAKI IN – 65
8.Edgar BARRETO IN – 75   11.Keiji TAMADA IN – 106
18.Nelson VALDEZ IN – 60   14.Kengo NAKAMURA IN – 81

MY THOUGHTS

One of the worst games of the tournament, and I’m not surprised both teams with so much to play for, either team with a win would move to the Quarter Finals for the first time in their history.

Not lots to talk about in the 120 minutes, in the first half Barrios made an excellent turn in Japan’s box but took it with his right foot instead of his left and it was a weak shot, then the other moment to mention was the impressive Matsui had a long curling effort crash off the crossbar.

Sunderland bound Cristian Riveros looks a good player, neat and tidy on the ball, not outstanding skill but a good footballer.

From the start of the second half it did look a forgone conclusion that this match was going to penalties, and after 120 minutes penalties it was.

Paraguay dispatched their penalties with accuracy and Kawashima maybe should have done better with Barrios’s attempt, but there always has to be a fall guy and this time it was Komano of Japan that will have nightmares tonight, crashing his attempt off the crossbar.

Okada’s men bowed their heads and will leave the tournament, I think if they had shown the same attacking spirit they showed against Denmark they could have been in the Quarters, they didn’t and it is Gerardo Martino’s men that will face Spain in the Quarter Finals, they will need to play 200 times better to have any chance.

SPAIN

1

 

PORTUGAL

0

David VILLA (63′)        
         
1.Iker CASILLAS     1.EDUARDO  
3.Gerard PIQUE     2.Bruno ALVES  
5.Carles PUYOL     6.Ricardo CARVALHO  
6.Andres INIESTA     7.Cristiano RONALDO  
7.David VILLA OUT – 88   11.SIMAO OUT – 72
8.XAVI     15.PEPE OUT – 72
9.Fernando TORRES OUT – 58   16.Raul MEIRELES  
11.Joan CAPDEVILA     18.HUGO ALMEIDA OUT – 58
14.Xavi ALONSO – Y OUT – 93   19.TIAGO – Y  
15.Sergio RAMOS     21.Ricardo COSTA – R  
16.Sergio BUSQUETS     23.Fabio COENTRAO  
         
Subs     Subs  
4.Carlos MARCHENA IN – 93   8.Pedro MENDES IN – 72
18.PEDRO IN – 88   9.LIEDSON IN – 72
19.Fernando LLORENTE IN – 58   10.DANNY IN – 58

MY THOUGHTS

A decent game not the end to end battle everyone was hoping for, but both teams at times showed signs of great football it was Spain in the end that had the most quality and advance to the Last 8, the first half I thought Portugal had some of the better of the play and looked most likely to score, the second half however was all Spain, controlled the play, Portugal were chasing shadows going after the ball and never troubled Spanish defence.

Fabio Coentrao again was very impressive I would be very surprised if he is still playing for Benfica at the start of the season, I hope for their sake he will be as his stock is only going to rise, showed that he can defend, then always looking to burst forward, still has a lot to learn but is is still young.

Ronaldo did very little to note of, can’t remember any points to bring up, he seemed to disapeer the more the game went on, he looked a very frustrated figure, and this has been confirmed with his post match interviews.

Spain played relatively well, I’m going to put my neck out now and say I am starting to dislike Spain’s tiki-taka football, I just reminds me of Arsenal on those days when they frustrate the hell out of you.

It’s all too pedestraian for me, no penetration, unlike Brazil, Germany and Argentina, all Spain’s play is outside the box, condensed in the middle, for me they need to get wide and spread the defence, very frustrating to watch, I prefer to see teams with a purpose and Spain for me just don’t do that.

Torres still isn’t looking himself, I am not sure why Del Bosque continues to pick him, Llorente came on and did more in 30 minutes than Torres has done in 4 matches.

Spain are a really good team, I don’t see them as favourites though, I would actually love Paraguay to cause a shock.

QUARTER FINAL – SPAIN v PARAGUAY

Spain will be heavy favourites and Paraguay haven’t scared anyone with their brand of football, I would expect Spain to win this, however Paraguay have the defenders to frustrate the Spanish and have some quality upfront to maybe cause 1 or 2 problems.

I’m hoping for a great game, and a little part of me wants a shock.

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