Friday, June 25, 2010
History Repeating... and Not Repeating
USA vs. Ghana
The US have had a good tournament, just. If they hadn't scored that last-gasp winner against Algeria I wouldn't be writing that but they did, and now they're playing Ghana for a place in the World Cup quarter-finals. The real reason I think they've had a good tournament is because they've been playing well and deserved to top Group C ahead of England. No doubt many Americans will feel that they shouldn't find it too difficult to get past Ghana. However, they'd be forgetting that in the last World Cup Ghana beat them in the group stage and kicked them out in shame. Ghana are a strong, fast side which the US will find difficult to beat.
History repeats itself as Ghana again kicks the US out of the World Cup! By doing so, Ghana will become only the third African team to reach the World Cup quarter-finals following in the footsteps of Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002. This will go some way towards restoring some pride for the African teams which were expected to do better in this African World Cup.
England v. Germany
This is the big one, the biggest tie of the round, and it's going to be very, very close. With the way things have gone so far you'd have to think that Germany will take it. But England have been improving (they had to), and should give a good account of themselves. A lot of English fans are dreading this one because Germany always come out on top versus the English in major competitions. It's quite phenomenal really. But this is a one-off, and teams have to actually go out and win games if they want to go through. Winning on paper doesn't mean jack, just look at England in the group stage.
There are a number of factors which will play a part in deciding who eventually goes through. One of those is that bloody stupid ball, the Jabulani. The Germans have been playing with it in the Bundesliga, and so have a slight edge over the English who didn't see it until the World Cup. However, I don't think this will make a big difference as England have had plenty of time to get used to the ball now and should be able to control it at almost the same level as the Germans. It is not so inconceivable to see the English advancing when you look at this match in terms of the Bundesliga vs. the Premiership. German teams did better in Europe this year but on the whole, English teams do much better in Europe. If the English can bring the same verve and tenacity to this game that they did in their last match against Slovenia, then they should be able to take control of the game and win it.
England wins! This should happen in normal time but it might go to extra-time and penalties. Rooney's been negatively affected by the altitude so far, but he should be back to his best for this one. England play better in big games, and they don't get much bigger than this. It's the last World Cup for many English players and this will play a part in the passion, drive, and commitment that the English players will show to knock out the Germans. I'd rather England play well, and lose; than they play like crap, and go through. COMON ENGLAND!
PS: If it does go to penalties, the English have been talking about picking a side of the goal and not changing that decision when taking a penalty. If the Germans do their homework right, they should know what that side is. The goalie can then throw the penalty taker off by covering that side of the goal more than the other. Will the English penalty taker still choose to shoot in his original direction when he's at such a disadvantage?