10 June 2006

England/Paraguay


Well, that was fun. Get an early goal, try for the rest of the half, sort of, to get another one. About an hour in, replace a striker with a midfielder, then replace your best attacking midfielder with Owen Hargreaves. For the last ten minutes, keep the ball in your own half, just to make sure all your fans traumatized by the memories of Euro 2004 suffer flashbacks. Hang on for dear life, and then pretend there's nothing wrong with that. Bah.

I'm still not convinced by the Gerrard/Lampard midfield partnership. It just looked to me like the best they could do was have Lampard try to hit those shots from about 40 yards out, while Steven sat back and defended the best he could. I don't think he did all that badly, but I'll argue all day that Steven's way more effective going forward -- they were about even on goals scored this season, and if you don't count the one of Lampard's that were penalties or free kicks, then it changes the ratio. Also, which one of them scored the goal of the season? Steven was brilliant at the end of the regular season, so I'd give him the attacking role in a heartbeat. If either of England's strikers did at all well alone, I'd be evangelizing 4-5-1 right now. As it is, though, I think this is the best we've got. They just need to lock the two of them in a room until they figure it out.

I'm a little bit disappointed in Sven, though. I got all excited when he called up Theo Walcott, thinking he had gone crazy and decided to take some risks in his last tournament ever. But with the way the game went today, apparently not. I really really hate the whole sit-back-and-defend school, and I especially hate it when that lead is just one goal. I'm a Liverpool fan -- after the Champions League final in 2005 and the FA Cup final this year, I've pretty much learned that no lead is insurmountable. (And do I really need to mention Euro 2004 again?) It didn't cost England this time, since Santa Cruz was off form, but it'll come back to bite them in the ass if they make it to the knockout stages.

Quick things about the other games today:
1. God, how awesome is Shaka Hislop? Even taking away how great a name "Shaka" is, that was an incredible performance. I mean, Sweden wasn't exactly on fire, but still. All the credit in the world to him.
2. So I started off watching Argentina/Ivory Coast as a neutral. I wasn't thrilled with Argentina's goals, but I wasn't disappointed either. And then Argentina started diving, and they kept showing Maradona in the crowd, and yeah. I'm completely cheering for the Ivory Coast now, Drogba and all.

2 comments:

jen said...

I've been wandering around the house ranting for 26 hours straight about how Sven should have given Stevie the attacking midfielder/second striker role. Since my husband agrees with me wholeheartedly, he'd very much like me to shut up, but I'm not quite ready yet.

You make some excellent points comparing Gerrard and Lampard, all of which would convince me if I wasn't already convinced. :)

Re: Shaka - NO KIDDING!! Wasn't he awesome? He had to save so many shots and some of those saves were Jerzy-in-Istanbul-against-Sheva good!

footie girl said...

I'm still perplexed by England's centre midfield. I think that Gerrard and Lampard are both better attacking than they are defending; the problem is that Gerrard is better defensively than Lampard (I saw Frankie get left on his ass a couple times in the friendlies, and it wasn't pretty). Collective wisdom -- up until, maybe, the FA Cup final -- used to be that Lampard was better going forward than Gerrard, but now I don't think that's true. Which, if that's the case, then why is he still in the starting XI instead of a proper defensive midfielder who would let Steven get forward? (The answer, sadly, is: Owen Hargreaves.)

Shaka was fantastic! You have to wonder about that, since he apparently wasn't even supposed to start until their regular keeper got hurt in the warmup.