Daily Cup Check: Day 10
Got perhaps the game of the tournament, or maybe just the half, along with a couple of surprising results. Also looked like the conditions finally made a difference. Let’s peel back and see.
Argentina 1 – Iran 0
That’s some trump card you’ve got there, Argentina. This was another flat performance from the Albiceleste, possibly because their 2-2-6 formation kind of causes them to crash upon the rocks of a stout defensive team. It also left them pretty vulnerable to counters, and Iran nearly cashed in on two or three of them to cause the shock of the tournament.
The problem for Argentina is that the pieces up front just aren’t lining up right now. Messi behind Aguero and Higuain basically means he’s trying to run into the spaces they’re already in.
At Barca, Messi is the center forward but that doesn’t stop him from dropping deep and allowing the outside forwards to come in or midfielders to run beyond. Well, Gago and Mascherano aren’t running beyond, and Messi dropping deep is not going to drag defenders with him as they have Higuain and Aguero to deal with. There just seems to be a flat wall of four with Di Maria, Higuain, Messi, and Aguero and there isn’t anyone behind them to pull the strings, nor anyone to run in between the lines.
But that doesn’t matter when Messi is always going to be able to pull a rabbit out of his hat, which he has so far this tournament. The answer probably is to sit Higuain and play Messi up top between Aguero and Di Maria, if they can find a midfielder to play at the top of a triangle in front of Gago and Mascherano. Di Maria could conceivably play there too. But with rumors that the players are already running the asylum, I wouldn’t expect too many changes.
Ghana 2 – Germany 2
Well this was a joy, wasn’t it? At least the second half, which was as breathless as could be, explaining why every player after the final whistle couldn’t find any oxygen anywhere.
The first half was cagey as all get out. The Ghanians were pretty clearly not going to give the Germans any space and pick their spots on the counter. And the pace of Ghana everywhere saw them rarely caught out by the Germans movement in tight spaces.
And then it went loopy in the second half. In his one moment of coherence, Mesut Ozil picked out Goetze who proceeded to get luckier than a frat boy with a roll of hundreds and a bag of coke in a brothel when the header he totally biffed went in off his knee.
Then Ghana noticed the German defense has exactly no speed. They harried them into mistakes, got into space, and both goals resulted from that. For the second, Mertesacker couldn’t catch Gyan if they ran around the world, and the US should take note. You can score on this German team. You might give up six, but you’ll score.
Of course, the problem is Germany can bring off the quality of Schweinsteiger and Klose off the bench, if you consider Klose quality and not just the recipient of brilliant work around him that he can tap in from eight inches. Though I guess he’s done that 70 times for his country so what do I know? You gotta get to those spots, right?
The Germans were blunted a little by Ozil being pretty horrific and lazy today, though he may have been sapped by the heat. All the German forwards seemed to lose their zest after the 75th minute or so. There are holes there, they’re just hard to find.
As for Ghana, their athleticism all over the field is really breathtaking, but they’re still uncomfortable when not on the front foot. Give them space off a turnover or a mistake in midfield and they’ll crush you. Force them to string together intricate moves and they’ll eventually overhit a cross.
Still, they should have enough to see off a Portugal side that won’t have anything to play for after Sunday.
Nigeria 1 – Bosnia and Herzegovina 0
Ok raise your hand if you thought Nigeria would have two clean sheets at this point? Put your fucking hand down! They’re only one of two with that claim, the other being Mexico. This is infuriating.
We were told that Bosnia were the great entertainers in qualifying and would bring that to Brazil. If they do, it’ll be too late to save them from heading home on Wednesday night. After putting together a lovely move that resulted in a goal that shouldn’t have been flagged offside, it felt like Bosnia decided that was the only move they had in them and were basically out of ideas.
They tried cross after cross that didn’t work, and couldn’t break down a Nigerian defense that still contains Joseph Yobo. What does that say? It says that Eden Dzeko is complete shit when Aguero, Toure, Nasri, Nava, or Silva aren’t pinging it off of him into the net. I’ve tried to warn you.
Nigeria might still have to get something off of Argentina, because Iran can probably keep out a disinterested Bosnia and then nick a goal. Or Bosnia will finally show some of the gumption we were promised. Remains to be seen.
Awkward Analysts Today
Someone needs to make sure Ruud Van Nistelrooy wakes up from his nap at least 10 minutes before halftime, just so we can’t tell, y’know?
OTF Players Of The Day
I think we’ll have to go with Andre Ayew, who was a terror on the left for Ghana. He got a goal as well on a pretty classic header. Though maybe it goes to everyone who was in on the dance…