09 June 2006

World Cup Underway!

Hi folks. We could have posted all kinds of World Cup previews and so forth... but work and life intruded. Frankly though, I think that's for the best. The World Cup is truly amazing and exciting, but the lead-in hype is completely crazy. And frankly I don't think we need to add to it.

But right now, that's all over. I have the day off, waiting on my sofa for the first match to start. Germany and Costa Rica are about to kick off the month-long soccer celebration. Aaaaand... HERE WE GO!

We'll see how things play out, but it would be no surprise to begin with a very cagey and cautious match. So I'll offer up a few initial thoughts as I'm watching the game. Germany are playing without Michael Ballack, which is going to make their job more difficult. Frankly I don't know the Bundesliga too well, so I'm not familiar with the players as much as I'd like.

And... SHOT! A nice effort by Torsten Frings is just over the bar. If Germany keeps this up, they could prove my prediction of a cagey match to be wrong.

Costa Rica are the clear #3 team out of CONCACAF. They're a big rival and I'm not interested in seeing them perform well. However I don't know that I'll have much to worry about. They've seemed a bit overmatched in the warmup matches, and it's possible that they will be one of the disappointments of the tournament.

GOAL FOR GERMANY! More pressure, but before the suspense can build, Philipp Lahm comes forward from his fullback position, cuts inside to the corner of the area, and fires an absolute rocket into the far corner, "where the spiders build their webs." It's only 6' and Germany lead, 1-0. The crowd is ecstatic and it's easy to see why -- Germany have started their World Cup in fine form.

So what about the group? Group A consists of Germany, Costa Rica, Poland, and Ecuador. Germany would be the clear favorites to win the group in any event, but as the host nation, anything else will be a huge disappointment. Any of the other three teams could go through as well, with Poland the most likely, followed by Ecuador and Costa Rica in that order. But all three have a reasonable chance to advance.

OMFG! GOAL for Costa Rica! Paolo Wanchope gets in behind the defense, played onside by the right back Per Mertesacker, and juuuust barely beats Jens Lehmann's right toe for the goal. 11' and it's 1-1. Holy cow! This match has really been end-to-end, not at all what I would expect. Costa Rica have had far fewer chances, but the German defense appears hugely suspect. This could be an amazing match. Germany now look to be nervous and tentative, with a much more conservative attack.

I'll keep up with the match, and post updates as events warrant. Tomorrow I'll take a look at the Group B teams and matches. For now... it's time to just sit back and watch.

UPDATE: 17' -- GOAL! Bastian Schweinsteiger cuts into the box, looks to shoot but instead puts a beautiful ball onto Miroslav Klose's boot for a clean shot on goal. Germany 2-1 Costa Rica. Wow, just... wow!

UPDATE: 60' -- GOAL! Germany continues to hold most of the posession, and it tells again. Lahm's cross is tipped, and (unlucky for the Ticos) it falls onto Klose's head. His near-post shot is saved by Porros, but he can only parry it straight out, and Klose follows it to punch home. It's now over for Costa Rica, unless the German defense falls completely asleep. Germany 3-1 Costa Rica.

UPDATE: 73' -- GOAL! Once again Germany gets burned by the offside trap, though this time it looks like the call was wrong. Germany's trap has been dangerous all day and once again Wanchope gets through, and calmly chips over Lehmann's legs to score again, bringing the Ticos to within a goal. Germany 3-2 Costa Rica.

UPDATE: 87' -- GOAL! Germany plays a free kick to Torsten Frings, central at almost 40 yards, and he fires an absolute howler, curving wickedly into the net. Porros can't get to it and Germany seal the game. Germany 4-2 Costa Rica.

And now the match ends, 4-2 to Germany. It's an exciting match, not at all what you expect from the World Cup. Germany should not get too excited about this, particularly as their defense has been suspect all day. Their offside trap was hideous. However, their attack looks very good, particularly from distance. Costa Rica have shown a solid threat, particularly through Wanchope, but their defensive effort has been abject, and unless something major changes they have no chance to advance.

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