Daily Cup Check: Day 15
Lost the battle but win the war? Yeah that sounds about right, but the US are full value for their last 16 berth. Let’s dive into that one and the rest of the last day of group play. Jesus, what the fuck are we supposed to do on Friday?
Germany 1 – US 0
We’ll start with the big one. It was a strange match, and I can’t tell whether the conditions helped the Yanks or hurt them.
While Germany had much more of the ball, they were always going to, and they fired in a few crosses that were tasty, I don’t feel like Tim Howard had to channel Memo Ochoa against Brazil to keep The Hun at bay in the 1st half.
The Germans mostly played across the US’s face, and when they did break in Omar Gonzalez was there to clean up. I can’t believe I wrote that last sentence, because when Gonzalez was announced in the lineup my left eye started twitching and my tongue went numb.
It seems harsh on Geoff Cameron, though I suppose he’s at least mostly responsible for both of Portugal’s goals. The one thing that Germany don’t have up front is a lot of pace (though they make up for it with the constant movement, especially from Muller), and that’s more Gonzalez’s game. You wouldn’t want that next up, when Belgium most certainly do have pace. Run that kitten over when we get to it, though.
When the US did get the ball, they were let down by rough touches from Bradley or Davis or Zusi or the isolated Dempsey. And it didn’t take long for the Germans to figure out the US has real trouble playing when pressured, especially their backline. Only Beasley was comfortable in his distribution.
The 2nd half basically came to an end with Muller’s superb strike, which at least eight times out of 10 threatens a satellite in orbit. He got all of this one. From there, the Germans could easily see it out without much threat from a pretty leggy US team. Wasn’t much Jurgen could do, even with his subs.
But I won’t hear of “backing in” or “falling upwards.” The US fully deserve to get out of this group, and considering how panicked everyone was when they drew this I don’t see where they can complain about how the US got out of it.
They beat a very good Ghana side–admittedly luckily but before Ghana disintegrated internally– and should have beaten Portugal. It’s not the US’s fault that Ghana couldn’t find a way past a Portugal side there for the taking, or that the Portugese couldn’t keep the Germans from running riot, which the US did.
And they did it with mostly their most influential player, Bradley, being complete pants. Jermaine Jones didn’t even get suspended! There are no apologies needed.
Portugal 2 – Ghana 1
Obviously hard to keep an eye on this game with the US going on. Portugal actually came to play in the first half and created a fair few chances, which Ronaldo missed, weirdly.
But this game may have been decided when Ghana’s players thought that it was ok to assault their bosses and got two of their players sent home. They just looked disjointed, at least for the first half.
A genius piece of goalkeeping let Ronaldo tee up from inside the penalty spot to decide it, and even in his injured, disinterested, can’t-wait-to-hit-the-beach-with-my-Russian-model state he wasn’t going to miss from there. Ronaldo probably ran his race with Madrid this season.
Belgium 1 – South Korea 0
The Red Devils have specialized in just enough so far this tournament. They’ve hardly shown the offensive flair that we know they’re capable of, and have labored through most of their matches.
But they haven’t given up a goal in open play, and they’ve found the goals they need right at the end in three straight matches. This one wasn’t as dramatic as the other two as the Koreans basically knew they were done and the Belgians knew they were going to win the group. But they still got it to seal it.
At some point, Mertens, Mirallas, Hazard, De Bruyne, and Origi are going to click into gear. We can only hope it’s not Tuesday. And even if it isn’t, Kompany and Van Buyten at the back have been impenetrable. Then again, Russia and South Korea are pretty limited sides and Algeria didn’t go for it. We know the US will. But it’s a stiff, stiff test.
Algeria 1 – Russia 1
Um, maybe Fabio Capello isn’t cut out for international management? Russia looked as blunt and unimaginative as possible, and no matter how many millions they get their oligarchs to throw at the problem it hasn’t helped.
I’m not sure Algeria is any good but they’ve been ruthless, and sometimes that’s all that matters. They’ll work the narrative of making up for 1982 against the Germans from here until Monday, but it isn’t going to matter in the least.
Awkward Analyst Of The Day
Steve McManaman is so much more stylish than Gilberto Silva and Roberto Martinez it’s not even funny. Better analyst too. Can he go to Fox? Or NBC? And no, I’m not saying all of this because he’s the reason I got into the sport in the first place. Not at all.
OTF Player Of The Day
Thomas Muller: I guess because I have to? Certainly the strike of the day.