fredag den 20. juni 2008

The quarterfinals are here

To follow up from the last entry, of course Germany DID rebound and put in a similar performance of fussball to what we saw when they hosted the World Cup.
Lots of pressure on the opponent. Especially in the beginning they overran Portugal and throughout the game it was evident just how much physically stronger Germany were on almost every position. Portugal came back though and are just too good a side to keep down.
From the back four to the flexible attack up front they had been best balanced team so far of the tournament.
Unfortunately their goalkeeper Ricardo can single handedly shift however good that balance is, to something resembling disaster.
He is horrible on set pieces and Germany, the strongest team in the air, took full advantage.
He just does not commit himself. Not to getting in position to make a save and not to getting in position to go for the kick.
He always ends up somewhere in between positioning himself where he is completely useless.
That meant two german goals and a mountain to climb for Portugal.
It was never impossible though or seemed very unlikely.
Germany continued to have their fullbacks going forward while at the same time Portugal had their wings going very little backwards.
That meant great acres of space and lots of open play with many scoring chances for both teams.

Germany will be tough to beat. Their pressure is so hard to resist.
During the World Cup it took a masterful Italian performance to do it and the question is if any team is capable of something similar this time around.
Holland would be my best guess but them going to the final is of course far from given.
In fact I think Russia will have a great chance of knocking them out. But more on that later.
Spain with their possesion football, unless it's taken to a new level by Fabregas, I think would be underdogs too, though because of the duo up front can never be counted out.
That's the difference of Spain this year and recent years.
A truly deadly duo that even when they're being shut down physically or tactically by another team, will still be dangerous, virtually on their own, giving them a realistic winning chance.

It just has to be noted though that Germany overcame, or resisted if you will, a team playing better possesion football than Spain are right now when they beat Argentina in the World Cup.
For Spain to reach Argentina level and really trouble Germany, Fabregas just has to play.
Xavi has been a great playmaker for many years and is still one of the best, there aren't that many anyway, but for almost a decade now he has had the chance to produce the magic for Spain and with absolutely nothing to show for it.
At this point in their respective careers, Fabregas does every single thing I can possibly think of a little better than Xavi.

If "old man Aragones" wants to break the curse, Fabregas needs to play.

Now as always I support Italy and I won't mind at all not seeing Fabregas in what will be an epic match but it does hurt a little to see a player who I think is probably top 5 in the world sitting on the bench.
If Italy goes out, it's Spain who I'll be rooting for, and seeing them reduce their chances of FINALLY winning a trophy is just heartbreaking.

With regards to the Croatia - Turkey match I don't really have much to add other than what I already touched upon in the previous entries.
I think Turkey have overachieved and even if Bilic puts in the midfield he did against Austria, I still think there is a chance Croatia can control them.
It will just be more difficult and give Turkey yet another chance of escaping jail.
However if Croatia play like they did against Germany, they SHOULD win. It's that simple.

The two other games are extremely interesting and I look immensely forward to both.

Spain vs Italy is just a classic rivalry and the atmosphere will resemble life and death.
I think it will be a close game and I doubt there will be more than a couple of goals scored.
0-0 1-0 1-1 or 2-0 with a late goal seems like the most likely scenarios.
I don't even know the point of predicting a winner. It's like 51-49 to either one of the sides.
It's different styles clashing and whoever can execute theirs the better will win.
Historically that's been Italy but with all the different intangibles for this one, who knows?
I just know I'll be watching and maybe write a more detailed preview in an upcoming entry.

The other match however I will write about for sure.
Probably in the next entry where I'll outline my bold prediction of a Russian victory.
Have I lost my mind? Some seem to think so but if Russia don't win I'll just have to pay since I've convinced myself so badly that a good bet on the Russian victory just could not be resisted.
It seems like such great value, for reasons coming up in the next entry, so all I can say is GO RUSSIA!!!!!!!!

In honour of probably my favorite Russian player of all time, Aleksandr Zavarov

revenge 1988 and win me some moneyz while you do it!

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