Drawn and quartered
96 of 380 games in the English Premiership ended in a draw this past season. That’s a shade over 25%. 24 of 96 Champions League group play games also ended in a draw (also 25%) and LaLiga is virtually the same. Heading into today, we had 6 draws from the 14 games (42%). The three results today are swinging us back towards the average but the high number of draws confirms the prevailing sentiment that teams are desperate to not lose their first game and many are content to settle for draws when they are there for the taking.
No ideas how Fabiano can have 25 goals in 38 appearances for Brazil. First touch was woeful and shooting was worse.
Spain v Switzerland
Expect the Spain v Switzerland autopsies to rival anything that came out of Area 51 in terms of scrutiny. Spain are my pick to win the whole thing but as fantastic as their passing game is to watch, if you have no able to change things up and insist on only scoring highlight reel goals, you will occasionally end up on the wrong end of results like today. There are not separate scoreboards for beautiful goals and ugly goals like Fernandes’ winning strike for the Swiss today.Villa was dreadful when he’s usually deadly. Torres offered no respite from poor Spanish touches in the box. Iniesta was suberb but I can’t see how you can afford to play Xavi and Alonso together when you already have a holding mid in Busquets. Alonso sits too deep and Xavi dominates the ball in that region of the field leaving a marginal role for Alonso. The only time Alonso had an impact was when he rushed forward on the short corner and rattled one of the bar. The Spanish midfield would benefit from a midfielder like Fabregas who sits higher up the field and interacts at closer quarters with the strikers than the back four.
Adidas relationship with FIFA
All the talk about the Jabulani, from what I can see, is missing the bigger point. Adidas is a sponsor of FIFA. They pay money to have an association with the World Cup and part of their deal is that they provide the most important piece of equipment that the players can’t choose themselves. So while Nike has somehow persuaded a massive percentage of the players to wear their new orange and silver boots, the players had the opportunity to make that choice.
Why has FIFA given adidas the ability, tacit or otherwise, to come up with a ball that intentionally behaves differently than any other ball. What gives any company the right to decide that they are going to manufacture (literally) the ability to radically alter what happens when players contact the ball and keepers try to stop it. Giving sponsors license to fundamentally alter what the game looks like is troubling. Where does that stop? Suppose next World Cup adidas decide to work in conjunction with the makers of the goalposts and add a thin, hyper-magnetic metallic layer embedded in the ball that is drawn to a metal on the underside of the crossbar, or woven into the netting, that has the intended consequence of drawing balls that would normally go over the bar…under it and into the goal?
Adidas are a sponsor. Who at FIFA gave them a green light to create a ball that tries to alter the normal characteristics of a ball struck by a boot? If no such permission was given, FIFA should get rid of them as a sponsor.
CBC World Cup commentary getting better; approaching relevant
Jason DeVos and Jon Collins best point so far was at half time in the Uruguay v South Africa game regarding SA picking up Forlan when he drops deep to pick up the ball. Well illustrated. Showed that when they put pressure on and force him to play with his back to goal he’s not dangerous but when they neglected to pick him up once he closed the gap on the back four and got a shot away that deflected off a defender and went in. Dick Howard also make the salient point that possession isn’t really that valuable (he was talking about Spain v Switzerland) if you’re not using it to draw defenders out to win the ball. If defenders can stay compact within striking distance of their goal you need other weapons other than just passing. There weren’t enough penetrating runs into the Swiss box and there weren’t enough Spanish players willing and able to take players on 1v1 in the attacking third. That unbalances defenders and forces them to make quick adjustments that leave gaps that can be exploited.
Penalty call and red card for Khune very harsh; warped the game
The penalty call against Khune in the South Africa v Uruguay game was awful. Games that turn on a dubious penalty and ejection are sickening. As I said here, there has to be zero doubt about penalty calls and doubts must go to the defenders. Give the attacking teams the marginal offside calls but Suarez’s embarrassing flop on the slightest contact with Khune prematurely ended South Africa’s World Cup. When the standard for granting a penalty is the slightest of contact you give so much impetus for players to dive. The risk/reward ratio is warped. So few cautions are given for diving compared to the chances you’ll get a penalty and perhaps a red card for the keeper make it an impossible proposition for most strikers to resist.