Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A MONTH OF MAYHEM day 1: Group A Stalemates Rule the Day

Everybody keeps asking the same question…how can France have that much talent and still not win every single game that they play?

It’s pretty simple…they lack cohesion and grit and every team that plays them is going to sit back and counter attack and France had better figure out a way to break them down. Uruguay did a tremendous job of frustrating the French All-Stars throughout the game. For all of you Ribéry lovers who think that he is one of the best players in the world….think again. He’s not even close.

Anelka was useless and should give his start away to Henry in the next game. Uruguay’s Diego Forlan was a bright spot in their offense and worked relentlessly to get the ball all game long. Uruguay was able to hold off France is the waning moments after a red card forced them to play short-handed…but until then it was the same old under-achieving French squad that will not go very far in this tournament.


Photo from fOTOGLIF (Siphiwe Tshabalala)

In other Group A action…the hosts kept that long-lasting streak alive of host nations not losing the opening match by sharing points with Mexico 1-1. South Africa opened the tournament’s scoring with a beautifully laced shot from Siphiwe Tshabalala in the 55th minute. Rafael Marquez evened things up in the 75th minute and if it wasn’t for a bad miss late the game by the hosts…they would have sent Mexico reeling with a 2-1 defeat. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Mexico dominated the first half but could not convert the many opportunities that they created and South Africa continued to pressure Mexico with long counterattacking balls that caused the Mexican defense fits throughout the second half.

This group couldn’t be tighter going into the next slate of games and it doesn’t look like anybody is willing to give in. Should be interesting to see what happens next. Can the two surprise squads (South Africa and Uruguay) send home both group favorites?

TOMORROW is the most anticipated group match of this World Cup…England vs USA. History will repeat itself over 50 years later as I predict that the U.S. will sit back and counterattack its way to a 1-0 victory.

Unless Coach Bob Bradley comes out and does something unimaginably stupid, like starting Jonathan Bornstein at left back, the U.S. does have the defensive discipline to absorb the pressure the England will certainly present. If Rooney and Co. can’t get on the scoreboard early, they’ll get frustrated and look much like the French did today. Landon will play the invisible man like he always does in big matches and it will Fulham’s Clint Dempsey who will score the game winner.

The saving grace for England might be that Coach Bob Bradley will probably do something stupid with his lineup and that he doesn’t really have any experience making adjustments in big-time games that mean something. Tactically, the gift England will get is that Coach Bob will most likely do something to expose to England’s ever-explosive offense.

Watch for Michael Bradley (yes, Bob’s son) to lose his cool and draw a red card for over-aggressive (i.e. mindless) play and watch for him to complete over 75% of his passes to the other team. Despite all this, the U.S. will prevail and leave England reeling.

PREDICTIONS – Saturday’s Matches

South Korea 1    Greece 0

Argentina 2    Nigeria 1

United States 1   England 0!

Mark Vincent Lincir is blogging daily at www.90soccer.com during the entire World Cup. You can reach him at editor@90soccer.com

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