World Cup: five questions, open thread.

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My pick for Golden Boot: Mesut Özil.

Friend of the site and Liverpool Man, Tom_RR88, did one of his five questions in five minutes at his site.  Sadly, I didn’t get the call:

We’ve gathered a panel of soccer enthusiasts to talk about which games and players to keep an eye on, and try to figure out who will walk away with the sport’s ultimate prize.

kitoftheweekfmdleicestercity

Have to love a side sponsored by the local crisp maker.

Well, it’s true that I’m not a soccer enthusiast.  But if sport teaches us anything, it’s that you don’t EVEN have to be close to a competent enthusiast to have a hot take.

Now I have tried with soccer.  I tried to get into the Columbus Crew.  I am aware of — and in awe of — the electricity at Timbers-Sounders match.  I use the words “match” and “pitch” as appropriate.1 I adopted an EPL team — “Yay Leiceister!”  and then “Yay Everton!”  I watch UEFA Cup but it’s not the same.  I want to watch Champions League but I always miss the games.

I tried.  It just didn’t turn into a habit.

But World Cup is a whole other story and I am 100% locked in as I am every four years. So I want to weigh in on Tom’s five questions and give you all a chance to offer hot takes on World Cup too.  Here’s his questions.  Copy/paste these in the comments with your insights.

  1. Question: Which group stage game (or games) are you most looking forward to?
  2. Question: Which player will people be talking about after this summer’s tournament?
  3. Question: How will the national team you follow do?
  4. Question: Spain comes into the World Cup as the defending champion as well as the two-time European title holders. Do they have one more championship run in them this summer?
  5. Question: Who is going to lift the World Cup Trophy on July 13 in the Estadio do Maracanã?

And here’s what I said in Tom’s comment section:

costaricasoccerhunks

Do us a favor and take down Italy. k, thx, bai.

Dammit, I want in… although I am guessing Dr. Ralf has my proxy.

Question: Which group stage game (or games) are you most looking forward to?
Easier to say what group I’m least looking forward to.. that would be Group D I think. I find the Azurri fans on twitter to be soccer equivalents to Steeler fans. But even there, it’s gonna be awesome when Costa Rica wins that division outright. Gonna laugh..

Question: Which player will people be talking about after this summer’s tournament?
Mesut Özil.
On a team of solid players playing solid ball, he always stands out to this very casual fan. I say he explodes.

Question: How will the national team you follow do?
I can’t say I really follow USA but that’s probably the team I know best. (Just something douchey about American soccer fans.. kinda like men’s volleyball fans or lax types… and i can say that because i played men’s v-ball and son is all in for lacrosse. Maybe it’s just the #USMNT hashtag the feels pretentious.) Anyway, good on #USMNT for hiring Klinsmann. It’s a shame douchey #USMNT followers were unable to process his realistic comments about the team’s chances.  He’s just being honest and in all honesty, #USMNT is unlikely to win a game in their group.

diego-costa-spain_3095610

Diego Costa switching from Brazil to Spain has got to be like “The Decision x 1000,” no?

Question: Spain comes into the World Cup as the defending champion as well as the two-time European title holders. Do they have one more championship run in them this summer?
No.  But they’ll get out of their group and on top. I say that badly wanting Holland to win it.. or Chile.. or the Aussies. And it won’t be Iniesta or Xavi or Fabregas leading (and certainly not Torres). It’ll be old man David Villa and his Athletico bud Diego Costa. I’ve got Spain losing to Uruguay in the quarters.

Question: Who is going to lift the World Cup Trophy on July 13 in the Estadio do Maracanã?
Germany.  Germany over Uruguay in my final bracket.  Or Germany over Russia in my final final bracket.


So, who you got?

By the way:  Croatia to shock the world tonight.

  1. But I draw the line at nil.  “Nil” in the USA is “zero” and it’s pretentious to use it if you learned English here.  You don’t say “zed” for “Z” do you? [back]

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  • Fox Lechner

    One – Nil, huh!? I think the Germans controlled, but did not dominate the game. That’s how Mats Hummels put it after the game. I can agree with that. The German midfielders had 116 (Lahm), 112 (Kroos) and 85 (Schweinsteiger) passes with completion percentages ranging between 85 (Schweini) and 94.8 (Lahm) percent. To put things into perspective Bradley 49 passes were the most of the US players (85.7%).
    As I’ve written prior to the game: Tiki-Taka soccer. Other than Barca’s Tiki-Taka under Guaradiola or the game that won the Spanish team three titles, the German Tiki-Taka is a very uninspired one. Born from a certain degree of helplesness. The Germans lack the wit, the sudden tempo changes and vertical passes to play a successful Tiki-Taka. The US team played a very solid defensive game.The whole team shifted very well. Bradley ran 13 kilometres(!). That is a crazy good effort! Kudos to him – what a fighter! I don’t get the Bradley bashing. Unfortunately (or luckily for the Germans) the US team’s counter attacks were very poorly executed. None of the four shots of the US team were on target.
    I am afraid that a team like Algeria and definitively France will score on one or two counter attacks (like Ghana did). It will be tough for the Germans to advance further than the 1/4 final.

    • agreed. germany spent a lot of time down low but every cross was well defended. the goal was a clutch heroic goal from the likely consecutive golden boot winner. if they don’t get that goal, it was shaping up like one of those games when one time holds the ball 75% and then loses on a long ball in extra time. (really glad that didnt happen.) (yes i was pulling for germany.)

      that said — i do think klose would have gotten one or two of those first half crosses into the net because he’s innately gifted to be in the right spot to do so. don’t care that he’s 36.. i think i’d rather see him starting versus coming in late.

      onto algeria. if they play like they did against korea it’ll be a very tough game. if they play germany like they did russia it will be no prob.

      as far as the usa, if they play as well vs belgium as they did germany, i think they will albeit in extra time.

      • Fox Lechner

        I am the biggest Miro Klose Fußballgott homer there is (the guy started playing for my club), but I don’t know if I would start him. He is not in the best shape coming from an injury and the only player on the team (aside from Müller) that can I would like to rely on in crunshtime, i.e. when the game is on the line with just a few minutes to go (or in overtime for that matter). But, Jogi should think outside the box and start him anyways. Play Miro let him score that 16, 17 WC goal (this is such a crazy good stat, btw: 20 years of dominating on the best level there is!!), get the lead and take him out after 60 minutes, or so. Man, Miro winning it all would be too sweet.

  • Fox Lechner

    Although I think that the Germans will win against the US. Jogi will find a way to screw things up in the KO round (as always). Klinsi, my childhood hero, would have found a way to win at least one title in the last 8 years. Germany has one of the best teams in the WC. They have the best goalkeeper, a very deep midfeeld (with a very deep bench) and with Müller and Klose two of the most dominating strikers of the last WCs. But in a year when the whole world understands that tici-taca without a real striker is over (Barca; Spain anyone!?), the Germans take the tempo out of the game and try to win the possession-game. It’s just like the German charts. Summer 2015 we will be jammin’ to Pharell’s “happy”. Old news.
    Although the Germans are more of a run and gun team. Attack, attack, attack – put the opponent under pressure and take the ball fast to the box. Jogi is a narcisstic peacock (a disgusting one, btw. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIvXyu1N5Yw) and not the smart tactician the whole world (and especially the German press) wants to make us believe. He wants to outsmart everyone, although soccer is such a simple beautiful game.

    With a team like Klinsi/Vogts the Germans could win it all this year. Our alleged “Angstgegner” Italy is gone. Brazil is meh (I would have never imagined that the German squad could have better skill players than a brazilian team) and Argentina is all Messi. France and Holland are good, but would not scare me (van Gaal will rip Jogi in half, though).

    I hope the US goes on a deep run. With all the concussion issues maybe 2018 super athletes of the Josh Gordon type will play for the US team. That would be sary. Imagine two strikers with the size and speed of Gordin. Whoaa. Crazy good.

    • that low video.. has been noted.

      i’m all over germany in a couple minutes but keeping a low profile because i’d be rightfully flagged for trolling. i’d also like ghana to get through. but i will say this for the US.. they’re better without their ‘names’ or ‘stars.’ obv theyre doing ok without donovan, bradley has been not great.. but they actually seem to have improved losing altidore. makes me think he’s a little over-hyped.

      great to see the akron player get in the game. akron’s ncaa men’s soccer win was and is way underappreciated.

      expecting a 3-1 german win and a convincing one. would not be surprised to see portugal lose by four and the US fail to move forward.

  • mgbode

    I follow soccer extremely sparingly, but always root for the teams who have yet to make the 2nd round. This may be Ivory Coast’s last chance for awhile, so they are the team I most want to win (and a good start over Japan). Greece is another (and, of course, in the same group and a much worse start for them).

    Other teams that have seemed like underdogs with a fighting chance to make it to the knockout round:
    Costa Rica, Switzerland, Chile (only underdog due to group), South Korea, Croatia (why does everyone assume Mexico will get 2nd?), and a long-shot could be Nigeria (a gimmee 3pts from Iran helps things a bit).

    and Ghana (if they weren’t in the US group – I won’t cheer for them)

  • actovegin1armstrong

    I have been using the magical interweb to study this futbol game and I love it. One has to embrace the fan based implications, I want to be a hooligan. When I was just a puppy I was heckling Orenthal at a pre-season game, a San Francisco fan told me to shut up or he was going to kick me somewhere. My beloved brother in law made me stop as I started to move in for a more intimate conversation and mentioned to the other party that it would be embarrassing to get soundly beaten by a fourteen year old gorilla/kid.
    If we had been at a futbol game it would have been perfectly acceptable to heckle OJ and then beat the crap out of the guy who threatened me. I want to be a Browns’ hooligan!

  • actovegin1armstrong

    I stayed home to watch every game and I love it. Arjen Robben is amazing! Van Persie is terrific too.
    Jorge Valdivia bugged me, I would have received a red card if he came anywhere near me. (Red Card, decapitation.)
    When do the Browns play?

  • nj0

    Man, I tried. I really tried. Watched a whole match and everything. I came away thinking it’s everything that it is parodied to be. I won’t hate. To each their own. But I’m not watching any more of that.

    • If you can, watch Spain vs. Netherlands tomorrow, or Portugal vs. Germany and/or USA vs. Ghana on Monday. You just might change your mind. Today’s game was not necessarily a good ambassador for the game.

      • nj0

        no dice… fool me once every four years, shame on you… fool me twice every four years, shame on me.

      • actovegin1armstrong

        Wow! Loved the Spain, Netherregions game. That was a rather spirited match.

  • nj0

    Over/under on “futbol as religion” mentions by ESPN?

  • thebearchoo

    Another fan of the Reds here…it’s terribly predictable but disappointing nonetheless to see that ol’ Roy is planning on playing Welbeck over Sterling. Raheem’s the most non-English styled player to emerge for them in some time (at least in my somewhat limited knowledge), and that’s what England need. Welbeck’s just meh for me and always has been. Either way, I have them getting past Italy……..and wait for it, Brazil too (Sterling would come in extra handy there with the counter). Picking the favorite is boring anyways.

    Now onto USA, USA, USA…I know it’s been beaten to a pulp but I still can’t forgive Klinnsy for leaving Donovan off the roster. And I’ve been a pretty big Lando-hater at times. I don’t care if it’s Fat Landon, one-legged Landon, “His heart isn’t in it” Landon, or a combo of those three, he’d still have more to offer than Wondo, Brad Davis, and especially Julian Green at the least. The whole “long-term plan” notion of prepping for 2018 is absurd. You still have to qualify for that one; groom anyone in need of grooming then! My theory is either that he promised Green a spot for his commitment, or he just plain dislikes Landon. Think about it; Jurgen was a foreign player in England before the Prem became the global powerhouse it is today, as well as a international star for a WC winner, so the dude probably saw a fair bit of stress and adversity in his day. What do you think he thinks of a guy who didn’t want to challenge himself abroad and needed a sabbatical from the MLS? Just two different types of guys.
    TL;DR leaving Landon out was stupid.

    As for my Ricardo Clark Award, given to the player who has absolutely no business seeing the field in such a tournament, but is also a guarantee to see the field, screw something up at a key moment, and piss me off to no end, I’m going for Brad Davis. I still hate Ricardo Clark.

    As much as I hope we do well, I can’t get past this bad feeling that Ghana is going to ruin everything for us. Hope I’m wrong. And I’ve got Germany winning it too.

    Edit: sorry for the length, it’s just not too often I get to spout soccer opinions on a Browns-centric site

    • still sick over this.
      how has gyan done for his pro team in the four years since?

      http://youtu.be/IBDK-HEbIZs

      • thebearchoo

        Phew had to look that up, didn’t realize he went off to UAE to play? Surprising for someone not in his 30s but whatever. Their midfield is what scares me…Essien, Boateng, Asamoah and Ayew are all solid players and they’re still pretty set behind that. JJ and Bradley will have their hands full.

        • saggy

          he’s actually on loan. what a tumble.

    • I think Donovan’s heart just wasn’t in it anymore, no matter how much he or Bruce Arena try to spin it. He took the sabbatical when the team needed him the most and then came to camp with what could possibly have been a sense of entitlement, thinking he was a lock to have a place on the team. I may be reading too much into it, but the fact that guys like Dempsey and Howard, who may be playing in their last World Cup and don’t have anything to lose, didn’t exactly run to Donovan’s defense after the decision.

  • Now I feel guilty. I have you in my silo for all things Browns related, and didn’t think to pull you into the futbol silo.

    Mesut Özil is not a bad pick, especially now that he has a bug up his ass with some German fans: http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/jun/11/mesut-ozil-germany-criticism-low-wenger.

    I think for many people the World Cup is like the Olympics: it gives you a reason every four years to pay attention to a sport that you may not have time for in your everyday life. And don’t feel bad about not getting into the MLS; that’s like saying you tried to get into the Toledo Mud Hens but just couldn’t sustain it. If you are going to invest the time, may as well do it with one of the top leagues, not a Triple A level one.

    • hey not for nothing but you didn’t take a whack at your own five q’s. what say you?