Daily Cup Check: Day 19
Apparently we’re just going to get extra time every time now. If it happens to the US tomorrow, I’ll probably swallow my own tongue. Both favorites labored to get through in the end. I’m writing this during Stormpocalypse ’14 so if it cuts off in the middle you’ll know I blew away…
France 2 – Nigeria 0
Zzzzz. France was pretty labored against Ecuador as well but they didn’t need to be anything else, as that 0-0 draw easily saw them through as group winners.
I don’t know what the excuse was here. Nigeria certainly aren’t a tiger-ish defensive outfit, and we saw that with the winning goal. Maybe the pace on the counter had France spooked? After all, Nigeria created a few chances in the first half.
But France has one of the rare back lines with pace all the way through it, so I’m not sure what they were worried about.
The second half was even less lively than the first, when apparently Nigeria decided it wasn’t even going to bother. France finally turned it on with 15-20 minutes to go, got their goal, and never looked like they’d give up an equalizer.
Clearly the highlight was the Obelix doll cheering. If Nigeria had anyone who could provide a final ball or shot they may have got something out of this. Instead, they had Peter Odemwingie and Victor Moses and Ahmed Musa basically thrashing about. This was like watching 1st graders trying to eat sloppy joes.
Germany 2 – Algeria 1 (in extra-time)
Yet another heavy favorite that basically whiskey-dicked their way to a victory over an obstinate opponent. Once again, when Germany weren’t facing a Portuguese red carpet to the goal, they looked slow and out of ideas. Even in possession there was no spark or inventiveness.
Algeria were all too happy to let Mertesacker and Boateng pass the ball back and forth. Ozil and Goetze didn’t get space in between the lines, and didn’t much try to. They only looked threatening when Muller was moving about.
The worrying thing for The Hun is just how easily their defense was made to look shaky. It wasn’t like Algeria had some genius framework to attack Germany. It wasn’t much more complicated than hoof it behind the defense and laugh while watching Mertesacker attempt to run.
If Neuer hadn’t been just about the most alert keeper in football history, it could have been a lot harder for the Germans to get through. In no way are Griezmann, Benzema, and Valbuena looking at this one and foaming at the mouth.
But it’s the Germans after all, and they found a way, with Muller once again being the inspiration. I somehow doubt that Schurrle meant to do what he did, but it doesn’t matter now. By that point, the Algerians weren’t even running on fumes: they weren’t running. No chance for them to come back.
France-Germany should be a cagey one. The French have the same pace the Algerians do to get behind that high German line and create havoc. They also have a midfield that shouldn’t be completely overrun by Kroos-Schweinsteiger-Khedira, because Give-Me-Your-Jogi-Loew is going to have to put Lahm back there to have one portion of the defense that can actually run.
And if the Germans look this plodding, the French defense shouldn’t have too much trouble. Then Klose will come on and score on a header from five yards or a tap-in to a ball that was going in anyway. That’s how it goes with The Hun.
Awkward Analyst Moment of The Day
Angry Michael Ballack at halftime. I thought a hair might get out of place!
OTF Player Of The Day
I guess I have to make it Thomas Muller again, as he looked the only German to not be running in pudding. I don’t feel good about it.