Sunday, June 13, 2010

World Cup Day Four: predictions, and a new segment, Did you know?

The Italians are known for their style of play known as the catenaccio,
or door-bolt. You can guess what that implies.

My predictions

Netherlands 2-0 Denmark
The Dutch have all the attacking talent they could dream of (though apparently Robin van Persie is now hurt... again...). Robben will take shots from everywhere. Kuyt will work really hard. Babel will dribble into trouble and lose the ball. For the first time in years the Dutch don't have a solid keeper, though their defensive frailties are nothing new. The Danes will be organized and will be a threat on the counter and on set pieces.

Japan 0-1 Cameroon
Cameroon are the highest ranked African team at the tournament, with a good keeper, solid defence, a strong midfield and scoring talent. They haven't impressed much lately, struggling to qualify and losing to eventual winners Egypt in the quarters at the Africa Cup of Nations. Japan aren't as strong as they were in 2002, when they lost in the Round of 16 to Turkey. They've also lost their last four matches, all friendlies.

Italy 1-0 Paraguay
Italy don't have much in the way of creativity in their squad right now, and they're getting old, but they are talented, hardworking and organized, and have just enough to get through an easy group. Paraquay impressed in qualification, including wins over Brazil and Argentina. Star striker Roque Santa Cruz struggled with injury this year, and his striking partner Salavador Cabañas will miss the tournament after being shot in the head in a Mexican nightclub.

Did you know...

In this segment I'll bring to your attention an interesting or little-known fact about the World Cup, the teams, or the players. In today's segment, keeping to the theme of footballers and guns, we take a look at the unfortunate Andrés Escobar.

In the 1994 World Cup held in the US, in a group-stage match against the US, Colombian defender Escobar deflected a cross into his own net. Colombia lost the game 2-1 and were eliminated. Escobar was shot and killed ten days later in Colombia, purportedly because his own-goal led to huge gambling losses for some Colombian drug lords or gambling syndicates (the same thing?).

He was known as the Gentleman of Football and his funeral was attended by 120,000 people.

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