Sunday, July 13, 2014

World Cup 2014…über todos

Germany over Argentina - Bokolis will be rooting the other way.  Argentina can definitely win.  But, I think that the Argentines won't have enough firepower to cope with the Germans.  I've imagined more scenarios where Germany wins than Argentina.  Argentina have to hold the Germans, which they can do, and will have to find a way to run at the German back line so as to make it look stodgy.  Germany will just do what they do and hope that Argentina don't get lucky.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

World Cup 2014...The King of Soccer

After sweeping through the semifinals, Bokolis is now 12-2 in the knockout stages of the 2014 World Cup, retaining my position- as an old bookmaker dubbed me- as the the King of Soccer.

I call my winners, I call my losers ahead of time, I call it when it's going penalties.  It IS kind of scary how good I am at, it's not.  What is scary is the amount of China traffic I have been getting during the World Cup.  I figure their government will be firewalling, so as not to put the people in People's Republic.  Who knows, as the traffic may be government officials that Bokolis is making rich.

Despite Bokolis telling y'all that Brazil were inadequate, we all still had to see that steamrolling to believe it.  I thought they would lose 3-0.  After watching about six minutes, I texted some friends that, if Germany doesn't score at least three goals on these impostors they should be embarrassed.  Nonetheless, I still let out a fire-yell when the Germans unpicked the lock.  At some point, the Germans must have felt like George Foreman did during his six-knockdown victory over Joe Frazier- that they had better keep battering them before Brazil get up and kill them.

Of course, the Germans zipped right past three.  On the half-hour, Bokolis gets a call from, of all people, me mum, toiling away somewhere, in inhuman conditions, having gotten wind of something far-flung...Hello.  Is it true?  Yes, Germany have 5. {click}.  The overseers on her plantation don't allow phone use by the minions, but she has a rose card to play.  That she would play it for football, for two non-affiliated nations, so close to quitting time, is all I needed to understand about the shock.

The Dutch played 330 minutes of knockout tournament football.  For about 325 of them, they had no output, as their two goals game in a 3-minute span late on against Mexico.  When Bokolis saw that they would open in a 5-3-2 against Argentina, with de Jong suddenly fit, I thought, uh-oh.  So, it didn't overly bother me that Argentina wasn't scoring because they didn't suffer much pressure from the Dutch.

The bottom line is that the Dutch didn't want that game badly enough to take it.  They were closer to relieved- that they wouldn't have to play any more and that they at least won a PK shootout- than distraught that they lost.  They figured they did well enough.

Bokolis was impressed with van Gaal and is unsettled that he is now off to the theatre of pisspots to run manchester united.  I take solace that he is very likely three-years-and-out (and bored as a nun in his third year) and that they still aren't going to win with the talent they have.

What to do about the final?  Before the tournament, Bokolis had picked Argentina to defeat Germany in the final.  However, I am now leaning the other way.  While I am a clear leader in my pool- and the only one to have correctly picked the final matchup- because of the weight placed on picking the champion, there are two jokers who picked Germany that can still flag me down.  Who fucking makes these pools What to do, what to do...

Monday, July 7, 2014

World Cup stop: the semis

Could we have gotten a more uninspiring quarterfinal round than that?  I guess it was a bad idea for all these sides to consult with Bokolis on how to play knockout tournament football.  It's like they set back football 24 years.  Even that 1990 World Cup had relentless hacking and chopping, first to the Swamp Rat, then extending to everyone capable of getting past a defender.

This one didn't even have that, as Neymar's injury wasn't even worth the bit he took.  Bokolis found it telling that his reaction to being legitimately injured was indistinguishable from his myriad other embellishments.

I call it karma for the home cooking the received all match long- not to mention the penalty in the opening match vs Croatia- from the Spanish referee.  This errand boy booked James for far less than the Brazilians had been doing to him all night, when he hadn't even gotten around to really clipping the man on the ball.

That is not to say Brazil didn't deserve to win; Colombia made fatal errors on Brazil's two goals, and Brazil did not.  So, ultimately, it wasn't as bad as the multiple screwjobs in 2002, but it was another case of FIFA engineering a semi-final run for an inadequate home team.  We can only hope that it stops there.

Columbia was worth the 4-1.

We saw Argentina revert to what approached park-the-bus tactics after Higuain snagged an early opportunistic goal.  While Bokolis isn't too keen on their keeper, their back line was underestimated by the pundits.

Similarly, the Germans grabbed an early goal and undertook a guarded position to see it out.

Costa Rica caught a few breaks, but the Dutch should be embarrassed that they didn't score in 120 minutes.

Germany over Brazil - As was mentioned above, even before they lost Neymar, Brazil are inadequate.  If that is the way they have to score, they cannot stand up to the Germans without some sort of chicanery, whether that be a favorable FIFA ruling on Thiago Silva's suspension- hey, how else are Brazil going to score without their defenders- or another dosage of the drugs they were on for last year's Confederations Cup.  This is far from a sure thing, however, and the Germans will have to keep their collective foot on the gas so as to break the opponent's spirit, as Brazil figure to have plenty of it.  If they let the Brazilians hang around, as they did with the French, there's no telling what freakishness will happen.

Argentina over Netherlands - Penalties, anyone?  Having pulled it out of the fire against Mexico and needing penalties against Costa Rica, the Dutch now get the Latino mothership in Argentina.  You have to figure that the Dutch would like to relentlessly hack down Messi every chance they get.  Unlike the last outfit with de Jong and van Bommel, this side may not have the size (or a benign referee) to do it.  That should expose them enough for Messi & Co. to strike.

Friday, July 4, 2014

World Cup 2014...U-S hey? The QF go on

As in 2010, Bokolis went 7-1 in the round of 16, with the USA again spoiling running the table.  At least this time around, I tried to advertise that it was a pick of  blind patriotism, that I really didn't think they would win.  It would've been one of the all-time smash-and-grab jobs, too.  But, Wondolowski missed the sitter.  Aside- several people- typically ignorant American soccer fans- came up to me, knowing that I play, live and breathe football, and said, paraphrasing, you'd've scored that, right, bro?  I responded with, I'd've been the one making the pass.  It's for the best, as it wasn't meant that America should be hailing someone named Wondolowski.

Further, if we apply the Ali G method of rating footballers, we'd've known beforehand that this dude didn't have the goods.  Bokolis knew, without seeing the bird.  It's because I also knew that Klinsmann has not been given a full deck with which to work; he's done the best that can be done with a bunch of not-so-good footballers.  This team certainly wasn't as good as the 2010 squad, and it had nothing to do with Donovan.  Tim Howard, never a Bokolis favorite, was fantastic.  Jermaine Jones may alternate between a poor man's Gullit and a poor man's Rijkaard.  But Bradley, solid in 2006 and 2010, was largely poor.  Neither one of their fullbacks could cross worth shyte, which, when you use them to get forward as much as the USA did, is a massive hassle.  And, of course, if you don't have a striker, which the USA has not had since McBride, you're going to be pissing in the wind.

Nonetheless, we have that uniquely American trait to function at a very high level given far less than ideal circumstances.  But, the flip-side of that is that USA seemed to be waiting for it to turn into a Rocky movie before turning up the effort.

The good news is, all the bananas can go now home and leave the football to the rest of us 24/7/365ers.  We've seen some tense affairs, likely because of parity, but also because of very little enterprise.  Let's hope that changes.

Germany over France - I suppose there is a crack in here about the French ever beating the Germans.  It's a pretty even game.  This French edition is decent- Bokolis has underestimated them and, while I don't think Pogba is as good as his hype, Sakho means business back there- and has as good a chance of picking off the Germans as they'll ever have.  But, getting to the QF seems just about right for them, which is code for saying that I'm married to my SF picks.  Nonetheless, France is another side that's had an easy ride.  They will need something special to oust the Germans, for whom the SF is almost a birthright, otherwise they'll have to wait for those u-20 champs to ripen.

Colombia over Brazil - I had picked Brazil to beat Colombia in this matchup before the tournament.  However, if they both play to prevailing form, Colombia wins.  Hey, Bokolis is getting 4/1 here.  This is some serious reputation pricing.

I've been playing football with Colombians all my life, so I know this style of play all too well and knew ahead of time that the '94 team was shyte.  I've never seen Colombians that play like this.  This is at least a semi-final team.  They've had the benefit of flying under the radar because of diminished expectations with Falcao shelved and having rather impotent opposition.  Brazil with Fred and Jo are even more impotent than the set Brazil had to run out there in the '98 final because of Ronaldo's coke binge. Just to hedge a bit, the draw is 3/1, as nothing shits more than being right and still not getting to the window.

Argentina over Belgium - Lost in the world's frenzy to suck Tim Howard's dick was that the Belgian finishing wasn't much good.  He wasn't as good as Ochoa against the Brazilians, as Ochoa made four superhuman saves, while Howard made one.  All the rest were saves he had to make.

Belgium, despite being well-balanced and stocked in all positions and, even with the soft opposition haven't looked particularly good.  As noted above, they were a missed sitter away from getting bounced.  Further, I suspect that they will look a bit creaky at the back when Argentina eventually figures out how to support Messi in attack.

Netherlands over Costa Rica - We'll just do this one on the papers…sounds good?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

World Cup 2014...Round of 16 Day 4

Argentina over Switzerland - Uhh, what was Bokolis saying- when I talked about the wrong game- about finding out whether Messi & co. are serious about winning this tournament?  Switzerland isn't potent or brave enough to overcome Argentina.  I would like to see this go to penalties, as Tranquillo Barnetta would have the chance- if he gets on the pitch- to be the first person to miss in the PK shootout in multiple world cups.

USA over Belgium - Is this blind patriotism, believing in the American self-confidence, or thinking that Belgium has had a soft ride?  It's probably a combination of all three.  Last go around, Bokolis was 7-1 in the round of 16 (as were the Group winners), with the only blemish being the USA.  It certainly is shaping up for the same, including the mudfight for the US.  Bokolis will bank on Belgium not having its shit together, which will give the US enough time and opportunity to sort out how to get two goals.