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The Official 2010 World Cup Thread

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[color=#464646][font=verdana, helvetica, arial, sans-serif][size=2][size=2][b][font=Arial][size=2]
[b][size=5]World Cup 2010: Palacios brothers to create history[/size][/b]

[size=2][b]Honduras have become the first country in World Cup history to select three brothers in their squad after calling up Jerry Palacios on Tuesday.[/b][/size]

[size=2]He joins brothers Wilson and Johnny in South Africa after replacing injured Torino star Julio Cesar de Leon.[/size]

[size=2]Striker Jerry, 29, plays for Chinese club Hangzhou Greentown, Johnny, 24, for Olimpia in Honduras and Wilson, 26, for Tottenham Hotspur.[/size]

[size=2]Teams are allowed to replace players up to 24 hours before their opening match.[/size]

[size=2]Honduras, preparing for only their second appearance in a World Cup, play their first match against Chile in Group H on Wednesday.[/size]

[size=2]The Palacios brothers hail from the town of La Ceiba in Honduras.[/size]

[color=#464646][font=verdana, helvetica, arial, sans-serif][size=2]Wilson, the best known of the trio, has had injury problems of his own to deal with after straining a leg muscle in the run-up to Wednesday's match but is expected to be fit.[size=2]"He is pretty much 100% and right now it seems he will be fine," said Honduras assistant Carlos Velasco.[/size]

[size=2]The triple Palacios call-up will be a boost to the family three years after younger brother Edwin was kidnapped in the politically troubled Central American country.[/size]

[size=2]Although a $150,000 ransom was paid, Edwin's body was discovered in a remote rural area.[/size]

[/size][/font][/color][color=#464646][font=verdana, helvetica, arial, sans-serif][size=2]"Everything I do in football is for Edwin. He is watching over me," Jerry told Honduran reporters upon his arrival in South Africa.[/size][/font][/color] [/quote]

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[quote] [font=arial][size=2]
[b][size=5]Fabio Sticks To His Name Game[/size][/b]


[b]FABIO CAPELLO will continue to name the England team two hours before kick-off.[font=arial, sans-serif][size=2][/size][/font]


The steely Italian knows not all players are happy with his controversial policy.[font=arial, sans-serif][size=2][/size][/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif][size=2]But coach Capello is adamant it is a tried and tested method which has served him well throughout his managerial career and keeps his squad on their toes.[/size][/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif][size=2]Some players would prefer Capello to select the side the day before.[/size][/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif][size=2]It is believed the keepers and defence would like at least 24 hours notice so they can work on an understanding.[/size][/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif][size=2]There is a view it would be beneficial to work more on set-pieces as a unit because everyone would know their job when it comes to the game.[/size][/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif][size=2]However, Capello thinks the advantages of his methods outweigh any disadvantages - so it will be the same again when England play Algeria in Cape Town on Friday.[/size][/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif][size=2]Capello is still unhappy with the much-criticised Jabulani ball.[/size][/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif][size=2]He labelled it terrible last week and his opinion has not changed.[/size][/font]

[/size][/font] [/quote]

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Maradona gets points from me for this quote.

[color="#8E0223"][size="4"][b]What They're Saying[/b][/size][/color]
[font="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"]"Platini? I'm not surprised, I've always had a very distant relationship with him, it's always just hello and goodbye, nothing more than that. We all know how the French are, and Platini is French, and he believes he is better than rest."

-- Argentina's [b]Diego Maradona[/b] on reported negative comments from [b]Michel Platini [/b]about Maradona's coaching ability[/size][/font] [/quote]

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[color=#FF0000][color=#000000][size=5]The favorite falls in shocker

[/size][b][size=1]by [/size][url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/40/mike-woitalla/"][size=1]Mike Woitalla[/size][/url][size=1], June 16th, 2010 1:58PM[/size][/b][/color][/color]
[color=#FF0000][GROUP H][/color] Switzerland stifled Spain and beat the European champion and tournament favorite, 1-0. Chile won its first World Cup game in nearly half a century by downing Honduras. Here's what we liked and didn't like about the opening Group H games ...

[color=#FF0000]WHAT WE LIKED …[/color]

-- [b]Gelson Fernandes[/b], who immigrated to Switzerland at age 5 from Cape Verde, became a Swiss hero on Wednesday. He pounced on a loose ball following a goalmouth scramble, then pinged home a rebound from his own shot to give Switzerland a huge upset victory over Spain. The stunning win comes within two years of Switzerland suffering one of the most embarrassing upsets in European soccer history: a 2-1 loss to tiny Luxembourg in their first qualifier for this World Cup.

-- With a 1-0 win over Honduras, Chile won its first World Cup game since 1962, when it beat Yugoslavia on home soil in the third-place game. The Chileans ended their 13 game-winless streak (over four World Cups) thanks to a goal by [b]Jean Beausejour[/b]. Chile dominated the game, but had a bit of luck on the goal. [b]Sergio Mendoza[/b]’s attempted clearance on the slide deflected off the back of Beausejour’s thigh and into the goal.

-- Kansas City Wizard[b] Roger Espinoza[/b], who immigrated to the USA at age 12 and played youth ball for the Colorado Storm before starring at Yavapai College and Ohio State, started for Honduras and played the full 90.

[color=#FF0000]WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE …[/color]

-- So foul-happy were the Swiss, especially in the first half, defender [b]Phillipe Senderos[/b] even managed to down teammate [b]Stephan Lichtsteiner[/b] with a slide tackle. The Swiss ended the game with 21 fouls committed (Spain had 8) and four yellow cards (0 for Spain).

-- Spain failed to translate a 63 to 37 percent edge in possession. And what was Coach [b]Vicente Del Bosque[/b] thinking, bringing on [b]Fernando Torres[/b] in the 61st minute? Torres, recovering from knee surgery, showed his lack of fitness when he fumbled the chance for a breakaway late in the game.

-- With Chile downing Honduras, Concacaf teams are winless after their first group games -- the USA and Mexico having both started with ties. [/quote]

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[color=#FF0000][color=#000000][size=5]Howard responds to Slovenian boast

[/size][b][size=1]June 16th, 2010 2:13PM[/size][/b][/color][/color]
[color=#FF0000][USA-SLOVENIA] [/color][b]Andrej Komac [/b]boasted that Slovenia will beat the USA Friday in Johannesburg, but U.S. goalie [b]Tim Howard[/b], who returned to full training on Wednesday, says talk is cheap.

"He's got to stand toe to toe," Howard said. "And they've got to stand toe to toe with us for 90 minutes. And if he's still standing, then I'll take my hat off to him. But a lot of boxers talk, too, and they're looking up at the lights. And the next thing they know, they're trying to figure out how they got there."

A win would put Slovenia, the smallest country at the World Cup, through to the second round for the first time

Howard said the bruised ribs he suffered against England were getting better.

"It's just going to be sensitive," he said, "but as you know, if you play at the highest level, I think you have to play through injuries. It's sore. I believe in, as I said before, in adrenaline being the great equalizer. You can't account for that. You get on the field and your mind is focused on the game. It takes away from the pain and listen, we've got plenty of pain meds and injections and all that type of stuff, which will help keep my mind of it, as well." [/quote]

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[color=#FF0000][color=#000000][size=5]What tricks does Maradona have for South Korea?

[/size][b][size=1]by [/size][url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/50/sa-editorial/"][size=1]SA Editorial[/size][/url][size=1], June 16th, 2010 1:21PM[/size][/b][/color][/color]
[color=#FF0000][PREDICTIONS][/color] Argentina players are crediting Coach [b]Diego Maradona[/b]with coming up with the play that produced the winning goal against Nigeria. He'll need to come up with a plan to stop South Korea, so impressive in its win over Greece. For a look at Thursday's three games and Soccer America's predictions ...

[color=#FF0000]ARGENTINA (3 pts., 1-0) vs. SOUTH KOREA (3 pts. 2-0)[/color]
[color=#FF0000]June 17 in Johannesburg[/color][color=#FF0000]
[/color][b]Kickoff: [/b]7:30 a.m. ET.[b] [/b][b]Television:[/b] ESPN/Univision.[b]
[/b][b]Referee: [/b]Frank De Bleeckrere (Belgium).
[b]Past World Cup Meetings: [/b]1986 -- Argentina 3-1.

[b]Paul Kennedy:[/b] Argentina 2-1
[b]Ridge Mahoney: [/b]Tie 1-1
[b]Mike Woitalla: [/b]Argentina 3-0

[color=#FF0000]THE LOWDOWN: [/color]Argentina players are crediting Coach [b]Diego Maradona[/b] with coming up with the play that produced the lone goal in the 1-0 win over Nigeria -- a corner kick to the top of the penalty area, where defender [b]Gabriel Heinze[/b] scored with a powerful header. The key to beating South Korea will be stopping Manchester United star[b] Park Ji-Sung[/b]. Right back [b]Jonas Gutierrez[/b] looked suspect against Nigeria.
[/color][color=#FF0000]GREECE (0 pt., 0-2) vs. NIGERIA (0 pt., 0-1)[/color]
[color=#FF0000]June 17 in Bloemfontein[/color][color=#FF0000]
[/color][b]Kickoff: [/b]10 a.m. ET.[b] [/b][b]Television:[/b] ESPN/Univision.[b]
[/b][b]Referee: [/b]Oscar Diaz (Colombia).
[b]Previous World Cup Meetings:[/b] 1994 -- Nigeria 2-0.
[b]Paul Kennedy:[/b] Nigeria 1-0
[b]Ridge Mahoney: [/b]Greece 1-0
[b]Mike Woitalla: [/b]Nigeria 3-0

[color=#FF0000]THE LOWDOWN: [/color]Nigeria was only poor, but Greece was terrible in their opening losses. The Eagles had their chances against Argentina in the second half and will be favored. All of their four wins in four World Cups have come against European opponents.
[/color][color=#FF0000]FRANCE (1 pt., 1-1) vs. MEXICO (1 pt., 1-1)[/color]
[color=#FF0000]June 17 in Polokwane[/color][color=#FF0000]
[/color][b]Kickoff: [/b]2:30 p.m. ET.[b] [/b][b]Television:[/b] ESPN/Univision.
[b]Referee: [/b]Oscar Diaz (Colombia).
[b]Past World Cup Meetings: [/b]1966 -- Tie 1-1, 1954 -- France 3-2, 1930 -- France 4-1.
[b]Paul Kennedy:[/b] Tie 1-1
[b]Ridge Mahoney: [/b]Tie 1-1
[b]Mike Woitalla:[/b] Mexico 2-0

[color=#FF0000]THE LOWDOWN: [/color]Look for Mexico to attack France just like it did South Africa. Mexico coach [b]Javier Aguirre[/b] plans to stick with his 4-3-3 that features [b]Carlos Vela, [/b][b]Guillermo Franco[/b] and [b]Giovani dos Santos[/b] in attack. “It’s what has brought us here and we’re not going to change,” Aguirre said. “Yes, we do leave a lot of space at the back, but we’re going to continue this way.” [/quote]

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[color=#FF0000][color=#000000][size=5]Beware of the 'Green Dragon'

[/size][b][size=1]by [/size][url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/45/paul-kennedy/"][size=1]Paul Kennedy[/size][/url][size=1], June 16th, 2010 1:44PM[/size][/b][/color][/color]
[color=#FF0000][PORTRAIT] [/color]South Korea's 2-0 dismantling of Greece in its opening game was no fluke. It features one of the most exciting young wingers in the tournament in 21-year-old [b]Lee Chung-Yong[/b].

Lee, whose nickname is the "Green Dragon," should have been awarded with a penalty in the first half and came close to scoring in the second half against Greece.

Lee is coming off a sensational first season at English club Bolton Wanderers, where was named its Player of the Year.

Like [b]Ki Sung-Yong[/b], who signed with Celtic in January, Lee is a product of FC Seoul. He usually lines up on the right wing but can attack from anywhere on the field.

Lee credits the success Koreans have had in adapting quickly to European soccer in boosting the national team's chances in South Africa.

“Our ability has grown dramatically because we have a lot of European-based players now," he said. "Many more than we have had in the past." [/quote]

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[color=#FF0000][color=#000000][size=5]Slovenia will be tricky foe

[/size][b][size=1]by [/size][url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/49/ridge-mahoney/"][size=1]Ridge Mahoney[/size][/url][size=1], June 17th, 2010 2:07AM[/size][/b][/color][/color]
[color=#FF0000][USA-SLOVENIA] [/color]Slovenia crashed out of its first World Cup appearance in 2002 with three losses and a team torn apart by the departure of its star player. Eight years later, it has a tighter defense, a more cohesive persona -- and three points in the bag after beating Algeria, 1-0.

If Slovenia, as [b]Landon Donovan[/b] proclaimed to the world a few days ago, is indeed a team the U.S. should -- and must -- beat on Friday in Johannesburg (TV: ESPN/Univision, 10 a.m. ET), therein lies a problem.

In World Cup qualifying, in the Gold Cup and occasionally in friendlies, the Americans struggle when the opponent sits back and dares them to make the game, which Slovenia can do as group leader.

And despite Donovan’s assertion, there’s not much grounding for confidence when the opposition is from Europe.

In their last five games against European foes, the Americans are 1-4-0, with only a 2-1 defeat of Turkey May 29 in their final send-off match on the win side of the ledger. Otherwise, it’s a grim record: 1-0 loss at Slovakia and a 3-1 thumping by Denmark last November, a 2-1 loss to the Netherlands in March, and a 4-2 defeat by Czech Republic four days prior to the Turkey match.

Those were friendlies, yet the U.S. record against Europe in the World Cup since 1990 is 1-9-3, including the 1-1 tie with England last Saturday.

And while Slovenia has the smallest population – just over two million people -- of the 32 World Cup nations, it qualified by fending off a bear of an opponent.

Against Algeria, the Slovenians started the same 11 players they used in both legs of a two-match playoff last November with Russia, which they won with an away goal after a 2-1 loss in Moscow and 1-0 victory in Maribor.

The triumph denied Russia’s temporary head coach [b]Guus Hiddink[/b] a chance to coach in four consecutive World Cups with four different teams – the Netherlands (1998), South Korea (2002) and Australia (2006) – and surprised observers who gave the Slovenians no hope against [b]Andrei Arshavin[/b],[b]Dinyar Bilyaledinov[/b], [b]Roman Pavyluchenko,[/b] et al.

Instead, the Americans are getting reacquainted with players they’ve seen at club level. Midfield catalyst [b]Robert Koren[/b] plays in England for West Bromwich Albion, strikers [b]Zlatko Dedic[/b] (Bochum) and [b]Milivoje Novakovic[/b] (Cologne) ply their trade in Germany, and the French League employs [b]Valter Birsa[/b] (Auxerre) and [b]Bojan Jokic[/b] (Sochaux).

“They look like they’re strikers that work for the team,” said U.S. defender [b]Oguchi Onyewu[/b] of Dedic and Novakovic, a classic pairing of quick, smaller forward, and taller (6-foot-3) teammate, respectively. “They’re hard workers, they run all across the field, they’re going to do the dirty work in order for their team to come out on top. We’re ready for that, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. We just have to go out there on Friday and play the way we know how to play.”

The 4-4-2 usually utilized by Coach [b]Matjev Kek[/b] utilizes Koren and Birsa as center mids; they are not nearly as famous as their English counterparts [b]Steven Gerrard[/b] and [b]Frank Lampard[/b], yet they aren’t easily stifled, either. Thus, assuming that a swap of [b]Ricardo Clark[/b] for [b]Jose Francisco Torres [/b]would reap plentiful benefits isn’t necessarily the case.

Slovenia conceded just four goals in its 10 qualifiers prior to the playoffs, in which it trailed the Russians, 2-0, on aggregate before substitute [b]Nejc Pecnik[/b] headed home the rebound of a parried Koren missile with only two minutes left. That away goal decided the series after Slovenia took the home leg with a goal by Dedic just before halftime, and two Russians were sent off in the second half.

The first leg of the playoffs, a 2-1 loss in Moscow, should have a been a bigger margin for the Russians, but Slovenian keeper [b]Samir Handanovic [/b]stopped two blistering free kicks and thwarted a close-range chance with a kick save.

He showed that same prowess against Algeria early in the match by acrobatically turning a free kick over the bar. How good he is is yet to be proven -- he's only 25 -- but he's no [b]Robert Green[/b].

Midfielder [b]Araz Kirm[/b] played on the right against Algeria but can also line up on the left, as he did in the series with Russia. Like [b]Clint Dempsey,[/b] he’s primarily right-footed and is adept at working combinations with the two forwards as well as Koren and Birsa.

Kirm will also take corners and free kicks from the left side; on set plays, Novakovic will peel to the back post, looking for a ball he can nod back across the goalmouth. Birsa is the left-footed dead ball specialist, and left back Jokic can serve a good ball from that flank as well.

“He’s a good player, a good finisher, obviously can score some good goals,” says U.S. defender[b]Clarence Goodson[/b] of Novakovic, who scored his 15th and 16th international goals (in 39 appearances) in a pre-World Cup friendly against New Zealand June 5. “For being a big guy, he certainly likes the ball at his feet a bit. So that’ll be something we’ll try to close down and try to deny him space and time.”

Like the Americans, a goalkeeper gaffe gifted them their World Cup goal; Algeria’s [b]Faouzi Chaouchi[/b]fumbled a tame shot from Koren in the 79th minute. Like his father, U.S. midfielder [b]Michael Bradley[/b]knows the opposition pretty well.

“Up front, guys like Novakovic and Dedic both play in the Bundesliga,” says Bradley, a member of rival club Borussia Moenchengladbach. “Both have certainly gotten their goals in Germany [they combined for 11 this past season]. Robert Koren’s a good player, the defenders are all strong and solid players and the goalie plays at Udinese. He’s got a presence and is a good shot-blocker.”

While the Slovenians could play it cagey with a tie in mind, they have the firepower to sting the USA, plus the knowledge that a victory assures them a spot in the round of 16, no matter what happens in the other group games.

A repeat of 2002 -- when star[b] Zlatko Zahovic [/b]feuded with coach [b]Srecko Katanec[/b] for being substituted in the first game and was sent home -- isn't likely.

[b]Goalkeepers:[/b] 1 Samir Handanovic (Udinese), 12 Jasmin Handanovic (Mantova), 16 Aleksander Seliga (Sparta Rotterdam).
[b]Defenders:[/b] 13 Bojan Jokic (Chievo), 4 Marko Suler (Gent), 5 Bostjan Cesar (Grenoble), 6 Branko Ilic (Moscow Lokomotiv), 22 Matej Mavric-Rozic (Koblenz), 3 Elvedin Dzinic (Maribor), 2 Miso Brecko (FC Cologne), 19 Suad Filekovic (Maribor).
[b]Midfielders:[/b] 17 Andraz Kirm (Wisla Krakow), 20 Andrej Komac (Maccabi Tel-Aviv), 15 Rene Krhin (Inter Milan), 21 Dalibor Stevanovic (Vitesse), 8 Robert Koren (-), 18 Aleksander Radosavljevic (Larissa), 10 Valter Birsa (Auxerre).
[b]Forwards:[/b] 11 Milivoje Novakovic (FC Cologne), 14 Zlatko Dedic (Bochum), 9 Zlatan Ljubijankic (Gent), 7 Nejc Pecnik (Nacional), 23 Tim Matavz (FC Groningen).
[b]Coach:[/b] Matjaz Kek [/quote]

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[color=#FF0000][color=#000000][size=5]Rating the big seven

[/size][b][size=1]by [/size][url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/45/paul-kennedy/"][size=1]Paul Kennedy[/size][/url][size=1], June 16th, 2010 9:58PM[/size][/b][/color][/color]
[color=#FF0000][MY VIEW][/color] The seven seeds other than host South Africa were considered the favorites to win the World Cup. How did they do in their openers? They ranged from Germany, magnificent in its 4-0 win over Australia, to Spain, upset by Switzerland, and Italy and England, both lackluster at best in opening ties. Here's how we rate the big seven, taking into account their form in their opening game and how they project out throughout the rest of the tournament ...

[color=#FF0000]1. Germany. [/color]Germany was the only emphatic winner of its opening game -- and the only team that really looked like it was enjoying itself. Well, if you go up two goals in the first half hour, you should be happy. Who needs [b]Michael Ballack [/b]when you have [b]Mesut Ozil[/b]? The 21-year-old Werder Bremen midfielder was excellent in Germany's 4-0 win over Australia, only one of several youngsters to have strong games. Bayern Munich's [b]Thomas Mueller[/b] was also superb. World Cup veterans [b]Miroslav Klose [/b]and [b]Lukas Podolski[/b] also played well against the Socceroos, but the key player for the Germans may be midfielder[b] Bastian Schweinsteiger[/b], still only 25. Germany was the best of the former World Cup champions on Day 1 but faces a tough bracket if it wins the group and form holds: the Group C runner-up (perhaps the USA or England?) in the second round and the Group B winner (Argentina?) in the quarterfinals.

[color=#FF0000]2. Argentina. [/color]How [b]Lionel Messi[/b] goes so goes Argentina. That was the conventional wisdom before the tournament started, yet the Albiceleste disposed of Nigeria, 1-0, without getting a goal from Messi. The Barcelona star played well but couldn't put away any of his chances. He was mortal, like all the other big stars who impressed even less: [b]Cristiano Ronaldo[/b] for Portugal, [b]Kaka[/b] for Brazil,[b] Wayne Rooney[/b] for England and [b]Didier Drogba[/b], albeit injured, for Ivory Coast. Argentina is deep enough that Coach [b]Diego Maradona[/b] could afford not to start [b]Diego Milito[/b], Inter Milan's UEFA Champions League, in the opener. Milito will probably need to come through if Argentina is to go far. What hurts is the loss of [b]Juan Sebastian Veron[/b], out for the Japan game with a calf injury.

[color=#FF0000]3. Brazil.[/color] Who would have figured it would take Brazil almost an hour to score against North Korea? Or that the Koreans would manage to score against Brazil? Kaka, coming off injury, had a subpar game against North Korea. Defender [b]Lucio[/b] looked ordinary on the goal scored by [b]Ji Yun Nam[/b] in the 89th minute. Still, Brazil is just too deep at too many positions to imagine it having trouble before the quarterfinals. What could change things is the possibility of a Brazil-Spain meeting in the second round. Both were expected to win their groups rather easily, but neither is assured of finishing first. If one finishes first and the other second, they meet in the second round.

[color=#FF0000]4. Netherlands. [/color]The Oranje was the only contender besides Germany to win its first game by more than one goal, so its 2-0 win over Denmark wasn't a bad start. But it was hardly like two years ago when the Dutch opened Euro 2008 with a 3-0 win over Italy. They clearly missed the injured [b]Arjen Robben[/b], though 23-year-old winger [b]Eljero Elia[/b] impressed when he came in late in the game against Denmark. With a fit Robben in the attack, the Dutch would be legitimate contenders but it's doubtful that Robben, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, will be 100 percent before the end of the tournament.
5. Spain.[/color] Switzerland learned a thing or two from the U.S. playbook and shut down the Spanish attacks down the middle. Just as [b]Ricardo Clark[/b] and [b]Michael Bradley[/b] had outstanding games in the USA's 2-0 win at the 2009 Confederations Cup, [b]Benjamin Huggel[/b] and [b]Gokhan Inler [/b]were excellent for the Swiss in their 1-0 victory on Wednesday. For all their possession, Spain simply was unable to break Switzerland down on the wings. Can Spain still the World Cup? History says no. No team has won the tournament after losing its opening game. Even if it gets out of the group, it faces the possibility of having to meet Brazil in the second round.

[color=#FF0000]6. Italy. [/color]Of the big seven, the Azzurri have declined the most from their form of four years ago when they won their fourth World Cup. Coach [b]Marcello Lippi[/b] insists he has the right mix of old and young players, but the Italians were average on Monday against Paraguay. Holdovers like captain[b] Fabio Cannavaro[/b] and fellow defender [b]Gianluca Zambrotta[/b] are past their prime, while goalie[b] Gianluigi Buffon[/b] is injured and probably lost for the rest of the tournament. Italy should still reach the knockout stage but it's unimaginable that it will advance more than a game or two.

[color=#FF0000]7. England. [/color]Of all the contenders, none promised so much and produced so little as did England, which had to settle for a 1-1 tie with the USA. No less an authority than [b]Franz Beckenbauer[/b], who won World Cup titles as the captain and coach of West Germany, blasted the English. "It looked to me as if the English have gone backward into the bad old days of kick and rush." Like Italy, England didn't show anything in its first game to make it a World Cup contender. [/quote]

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But, what will Bob do???

[color=#FF0000][color=#000000][size=5]SA POLL: Who should start in the U.S. midfield?

[/size][b][size=1]June 17th, 2010 2:13AM[/size][/b][/color][/color]
[color=#FF0000][USA-SLOVENIA] [/color]The USA faces Slovenia in a game it cannot afford to lose on Friday in Johannesburg. Who should Coach [b]Bob Bradley[/b] start in midfield?[left][left][b][left][url="http://www.twiigs.com/poll/Sports/Soccer/56917"]Who should start in the U.S. midfield?[/url][/left][/b][left][left][list][*]DaMarcus Beasley
[left][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_beg03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_mid03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_end03.png[/img] [/left][left]5%[/left][*]Michael Bradley
[left][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_beg03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_mid03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_end03.png[/img] [/left][left]82%[/left][*]Ricardo Clark
[left][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_beg03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_mid03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_end03.png[/img] [/left][left]9%[/left][*]Clint Dempsey
[left][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_beg03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_mid03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_end03.png[/img] [/left][left]80%[/left][*]Landon Donovan
[left][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_beg03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_mid03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_end03.png[/img] [/left][left]86%[/left][*]Maurice Edu
[left][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_beg03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_mid03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_end03.png[/img] [/left][left]11%[/left][*]Benny Feilhaber
[left][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_beg03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_mid03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_end03.png[/img] [/left][left]6%[/left][*]Stuart Holden
[left][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_beg03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_mid03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_end03.png[/img] [/left][left]11%[/left][*]Jose Torres
[left][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_beg03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_mid03.png[/img][img]http://www.twiigs.com/img/pb_reddark_end03.png[/img] [/left][left]75%[/left][/list][/left][/left][/left][/left] [/quote]

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[color=#FF0000][color=#000000][size=5]Handanovic stands tall in Slovenian goal

[/size][b][size=1]by [/size][url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/45/paul-kennedy/"][size=1]Paul Kennedy[/size][/url][size=1], June 17th, 2010 1:49AM[/size][/b][/color][/color]
[color=#FF0000][PORTRAIT] [/color]The USA is generally regarded as having the best goalie in[b]Tim Howard[/b] among the Group C teams at the World Cup, but you'll get quite an argument from Slovenia, whose first-choice goalie [b]Samir Handanovic[/b] is one of the top young keepers in Europe.

Only 25, Handanovic debuted for Slovenia at the age of 19 and already has 38 caps. He has size (almost 6-foot-5) and excellent reflexes,

Handanovic was quickly snapped by Italian club Udinese for which he has already made more than 100 appearances.

He was a key factor in Slovenia's success in World Cup qualifying when he allowed only six goals in 12 games -- the second best record of any goalie in Europe. He preserved Slovenia's edge over Russia in their playoff series with two late saves.

In the opening Group C game against Algeria, he didn't have a lot to do but made one critical save on [b]Nadir Belhadj'[/b]s free kick early in the game.

Bayern Munich is considered the favorite to sign Handanovic, whose cousin [b]Jasmin Handanovic[/b] is one of his backups in goal for Slovenia

"I think it's best for Samir that he leaves Udinese in the summer," his agent[b] Federico Pastorello[/b] said recently. [/quote]

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[color=#333333][font=arial, sans-serif]
[b][size=5]World Cup 2010: Fabio Capello hits back at Franz Beckenbauer's disdain[/size][/b]


[color=#333333][font=arial, sans-serif][size=4][url="http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/fabio-capello"]Fabio Capello[/url] has accused [url="http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/franz-beckenbauer"]Franz Beckenbauer[/url] of a lack of respect for claiming [url="http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/england"]England[/url] had regressed into a "kick and rush" style, with the German's comments intensifying the bitter football rivalry between the two countries.[font=arial, sans-serif]Beckenbauer, a World Cup winner with West [url="http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/germany"]Germany[/url] as captain in 1974 and coach in 1990, suggested this week that England had "gone backwards into the bad old times", a criticism that has prompted Wayne Rooney to hope for the chance to defeat Joachim Löw's side in South Africa. Capello was just as unimpressed with the 64-year-old's assessment of England's play during the opening Group C game against the USA.[/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif]"I was surprised to hear [the comments]," the Italian said. "Always, when you speak about someone, you have to respect their team. I respect his team and he needs to speak about them. But it's easy to speak about teams when you stay in the stands. You have to see the match [in the flesh]. My players could not play the style they like [against the USA] because the pressure was really strong.[/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif]"We had to play long balls to go forward to win. But in the second half we played very well. We didn't play long ball but a lot of passes and had a lot of possession. We created three clear chances to score. So I don't understand what Beckenbauer is saying. It was easier for Germany to play Australia, who played offside with the line of their back four, and it was too easy for them to get to goal. There was probably a penalty for Australia which would have made it 2-1 and they had a player sent off. So it could have been different."[/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif][/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif]Rooney's reaction to the comments was just as prickly. Asked whether he was keen to face Löw's side in the knockout phase of the competition – and potentially in the last 16 – the England striker nodded. When asked why, the striker replied without a hint of humour: "Because it would be nice to beat them.[/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif]"Beckenbauer can say what he wants and think what he wants – we're not listening. But we certainly don't play kick and run. And, with any tournament, it is how you finish, not how you start, that counts. If you look at the Italians, four years ago they won the tournament and, in the group stage, they had been on the brink of going out."[/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif]England, and Rooney, will take heart from that after their opening 1-1 draw in Rustenburg as they attempt to generate more momentum against Algeria in Cape Town on Friday. Rooney was prolific throughout the qualification campaign but has mustered only one international goal in the past year. Perhaps more pertinently, he has not scored at all since injuring his ankle in Manchester United's Champions League quarter-final first-leg defeat at Bayern Munich at the end of March.[/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif]That ligament damage interrupted his rhythm after his most prolific season in senior football. Though he arrived at the World Cup relatively fresh, there has been a rustiness to his recent displays. "I had a season with United, wasn't fit [after the initial ankle injury] and played when I probably shouldn't have," he admitted. "When you get injured, you lose your match sharpness. It was difficult to play as well as I wanted to but I'm feeling good now. I feel I have reached maximum fitness.[/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif]"I'm focused on England now. This is a great opportunity for this team, and for me to prove myself at world level. If I didn't do that, I'd be disappointed. There were moments when I did some good things against the USA, and moments when I would have liked to get on the ball more but I never. There were glimpses. But personally I know I can play better and I hope to put that right."[/font]

[/size][/font][/color][color=#333333][font=arial, sans-serif][size=4]England travel to Cape Town on Thursday intent upon sparking their challenge and imposing their qualities in Group C. "The team want to take the tournament by the scruff of the neck," added Rooney. "We've got a chance now to put things right and beat Algeria and I'm pretty confident we'll do that. I believe we will win on Friday and qualify from this group. We will be fine. If I am being honest, I think we will win our last two games and end up being top of the group. I don't think there will be any problems about that."[/size][/font][/color] [/quote]

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[b][size=5]Complicated Tango for Argentina’s Coach and Star[/size][/b]
[font=georgia,]JOHANNESBURG — Please, his daughters implored, no more tracksuits on the day of a match. So [url="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/diego_maradona/index.html?inline=nyt-per"]Diego Maradona[/url] put on [url="http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2010/06/13/sports/Y-ARGENTINAGAME2/Y-ARGENTINAGAME2-articleInline.jpg"]a coat and tie[/url] to coach Argentina’s World Cup opener. At first, he seemed stiff and uncomfortable, a man appearing before a judge to be sentenced.[/font]
[font=georgia,][color=#000000][size=2]Quickly, though, Maradona began smiling like the father of the bride. He kissed the Nigerian opponents on the cheek. He kissed his own players in [url="http://goal.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/12/live-soon-argentina-vs-nigeria/"]a 1-0 victory[/url] on Saturday. He grabbed his star forward [url="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/lionel_messi/index.html?inline=nyt-per"]Lionel Messi[/url] in a bearhug and lifted him off the ground.[/size][/color][color=#000000][size=2]They will remain bound through the rest of the World Cup: Maradona, 49, and Messi, soon to be 23. One perhaps the greatest soccer star ever, the other the best of his generation. One volatile, the other quiet. Both gripped in a complicated relationship with Argentina and with each other, dancing a mesmerizing soccer tango as Argentina seeks its first title since Maradona hoisted the trophy in 1986 with help from the so-called[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0zjx4MAHzk&feature=related"] Hand of God[/url].[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]“There is a very strong emotional link between Maradona and Argentine society,” said Fortunato Mallimaci, a sociologist at the University of Buenos Aires. “He is an idol. But in this World Cup, there is a second idol: Messi. And there is a clash of two gods, the old and the new. But Messi still hasn’t fully won over Argentine society. If he plays well, there will be an explosion of sympathy for him and the team. But if Argentina doesn’t play well, they’ll both be in the mud and the idols will lose a lot of followers.”[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]Argentina will play Thursday against relentless South Korea. So far, so good. Messi was brilliant against Nigeria, yo-yoing through defenders as if the ball were being released and yanked back on a string. He was free and spellbinding, the way he has played so often for Barcelona, his club team, and not often enough for Argentina, his national team.[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]Why the disparity? The theories are as tangled as the beard that Maradona wears to camouflage bite marks from his pet dog.[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]Some believe Maradona is jealous of Messi, who came of age in a globalized world, every match on television, every goal on YouTube. Others believe Messi is not dedicated enough to the national team, and not sufficiently Argentine, having moved to Barcelona to receive underwritten treatments of growth hormone as an undersize boy who still bears the nickname Flea.[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]Perhaps, some fans believe, Messi feels the pressure of being compared to Maradona. And the comparisons are inevitable: the left-footedness, low center of gravity, ball control, acceleration, change of direction, instinctive passing, luminous virtuosity.[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]“The jersey is heavy,” said Cristian Scarpetta, 33, an Argentine fan attending the World Cup. His view, not uncommon, is that the heart of Argentina’s team is not Messi, but another forward, Carlos Tévez, a populist favorite born to poor circumstances like Maradona.[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]“Messi is good,” Scarpetta said, “but it will take the spirit of Tévez to bring the group to glory.”[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]Still others watch from afar and believe the real reason for the inequity in Messi’s play is housekeeping, not allegiance. Barcelona has Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta catering to his needs as willing and unsurpassed midfield valets.[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]“Barcelona has players who feed the needs of Messi; in Argentina they don’t have that yet,” said Jorge Severini, an Argentine who played in the North American Soccer League in the 1970s and is a longtime high school coach in suburban Philadelphia. “But in the World Cup there is more concern for fair play. A player can liberate himself. Maybe this can be the World Cup of Messi.”[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]Much has been made about a solicitous meeting in April, when Maradona visited Messi, asking how he thought the lineup should look. He has since said that he built Argentina as a Rolls-Royce with Messi as the driver. On Saturday, Messi eagerly wore the chauffeur’s hat, skillfully navigating the traffic of Nigeria’s defense.[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]“I want him to be always on the ball,” an elated Maradona said. “Football would not be so beautiful if you couldn’t see Messi doing crazy things.”[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]For his part, Messi has pleaded embarrassment in being compared to Maradona, calling it an affront to his coach. “To be the best player in the world, I have to prove it at the World Cup,” Messi said before the tournament.[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]In 1986, Maradona did just that, scoring two of soccer’s most famous goals in the quarterfinals against England. The first came on a hand ball that escaped the referee’s rebuke, as Maradona put it, by divine intervention. The second came on a long slalom run that is widely considered [url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rW-lK9F6TU"]the best goal of the 20th century[/url].[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]While unpredictability served him as a player, erratic behavior has made Maradona’s life problematic off the field. His moods have swung up and down like his weight. He has battled dependencies to cocaine and alcohol. He was ejected from the 1994 World Cup after testing positive for the stimulant ephedrine. He has shot at reporters with an air rifle and recently [url="http://goal.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/20/maradona-runs-over-cameraman-berates-him-announces-world-cup-roster-in-that-order/"]he ran over a journalist’s foot[/url] with his car, then cursed at him.[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]“He has multiple personalities; he’s 100 people in one,” said Matias Fuse, 35, an Argentine fan here.[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]In a way, Maradona’s volatility reflects the broader political and economic upheaval in Argentina during his lifetime, said Sebastian M. Saiegh, an Argentine who is a political scientist at the [url="http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/organizations/u/university_of_california/index.html?inline=nyt-org"]University of California, San Diego[/url].[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]“You can see other Argentines who are iconic figures — [url="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/p/eva_duarte_de_peron/index.html?inline=nyt-per"]Eva Perón[/url] and [url="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/ernesto_guevara/index.html?inline=nyt-per"]Che Guevara[/url] — and they, too, had a polarizing effect,” Saiegh said in a telephone interview. “You can’t be indifferent about him. He likes to have that unpredictability. As a player, when it looked like he was turning left, he turned right. The other day he wore a suit. You don’t know what’s going to happen. He likes that.”[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]Unpredictability, though, can be maddening in a coach. Argentina struggled to qualify for the World Cup. When it did, Maradona left such sturdy defensive players as Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti off the roster, days after they helped [url="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/sports/soccer/serie-a/inter_milan/index.html?inline=nyt-org"]Inter Milan[/url] win the European Champions League title.[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]“Maradona is not a coach,” a fan named Pablo Lavesari, 48, said in Buenos Aires. “He doesn’t have the technical or tactical skills. But what he does have is the persona to motivate his players.”[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]And yet, it was Maradona’s tactical adjustment — moving Gabriel Heinze farther out in the penalty area before a corner kick — that left Heinze unmarked for a header on the winning goal against Nigeria.[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]“Diego prepared us and we practiced for a couple of hours,” said midfielder Juan Sebastián Verón, who took the kick.[/size][/color]

[color=#000000][size=2]All of Argentina is waiting to see what happens next. If he wins the World Cup, Maradona has vowed to ditch his suit and run naked through the streets of Buenos Aires.[/size][/color]

[/font][font=georgia,]“Who knows, he might do it,” Saiegh, the political scientist, said. “If he does, a lot of people will follow. I don’t think anybody will try to stop them.”[/font] [/quote]

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[font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]
[b][size=5]Tabarez laughs at CAP's rant[/size][/b]
[font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]
[font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez found Carlos Alberto Parreira's criticism of the match officials laughable after Uruguay's 3-0 victory over South Africa.South Africa's manager blasted referee Massimo Busacca following his side's defeat in Pretoria, which leaves the World Cup hosts in danger of elimination at the group stages.

Atletico Madrid striker Diego Forlan was the architect of Bafana Bafana's downfall as he opened the scoring in the first half before converting a late penalty prior to playing a role in the build-up to Alvaro Pereira's injury-time header.

Parreira was unimpressed with the award of the spot-kick and Busacca's decision to dismiss goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune for bringing down striker Luis Suarez, but Tabarez did not agree.

He said: "In an earlier press conference I said I never talk about the referees, I talk about the circumstances of the game.

"I think there were other instances of penalties that the referee didn't notice, but these are circumstances of the game.

"I certainly can't agree and I even laugh at the suggestion that Uruguay maybe won this game thanks to the referee, because I think we dominated the game throughout.

"But I didn't come to the press conference for that, I'm not here to talk about the referee or discuss my colleague's opinions, but in my view Uruguay won the game deservedly."

Forlan wanted to deflect attention away from his superb individual display against South Africa in order to credit Uruguay's team performance.

The South Americans are within touching distance of the knockout stages after a comprehensive victory ahead of their final game in Group A against Mexico next Tuesday.

He said: "Obviously, as a forward I like to score goals, but the important thing is to win,"

[/font][font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]"The team is good. We also played well against France. We're very solid."[/font] [/quote]

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[color=#333333][font=verdana, helvetica, arial, sans-serif][color=#000000][size=2]
[b][url="http://soccernet.espn.go.com/world-cup/blog?entryID=5292686&name=worldcup2010blog"][size=5]Defense wins championships, right?[/size][/url][/b]
[color=#333333][font=verdana, helvetica, arial, sans-serif]
[color=#333333][font=verdana, helvetica, arial, sans-serif]Blame the Jabulani, the tight defenses, the conservative strategies, the altitude, the cold weather, the lack of superstar strikers or the BP oil spill. Whatever your reason, we know this: Scoring is way down through the first round of group stage games. And it went down hard.[size=3][/size]


[size=3]A comparison of scoring totals through the first 16 games since 1998 (when the tournament expanded to 32 teams):[/size]


[size=3]• 2010: 25 goals -- 1.56 per game
• 2006: 39 goals -- 2.44 per game
• 2002: 46 goals -- 2.88 per game
• 1998: 37 goals -- 2.31 per game[/size]



[size=3]It's quite remarkable: Spain would have needed to score 21 goals against Switzerland to match the 2002 total (a year that admittedly included Germany's 8-0 rout of Saudi Arabia) -- instead, it couldn't find the back of the net once.[/size]



[size=3]You often hear that teams play more conservatively in their opening game and that scoring increases thereafter. Is that true?[/size]



Tournament total: 2.30 goals per game (scoring DECREASED from first 16 games)[/size]



Tournament total: 2.52 goals per game (scoring DECREASED from first 16 games)[/size]



Tournament total: 2.67 goals per game (scoring INCREASED from first 16 games)[/size]



[size=3]In 1998, 171 goals were scored in the 64 games of the tournament. That meant the final 48 games averaged 2.79 goals per game. For 2010 to equal 1998's final output, we'd need to see 146 scores over the final 48 games -- or 3.02 per game.[/size]



[/font][/color][color=#333333][font=verdana, helvetica, arial, sans-serif]That's nearly double the average we've seen so far. Ouch.[/font][/color] [/quote]

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[b][size=5]World-“Mother City” miffed at missing out on party[/size][/b]

CAPE TOWN, June 16 (Reuters) - With its stunning mountain backdrop, beaches, vineyards and even penguins, South Africa’s most visited city Cape Town has little cause to cast its sights elsewhere.

But with World Cup matches concentrated around Johannesburg, or within relatively easy reach of South Africa’s largest city, visitors are choosing to base themselves in the north of the country instead of in the “Mother City”.

Some of Cape Town’s hotels report they are only 50 percent full and local bars and restaurants are eyeing television footage of the Johannesburg crowds and parties with envy.

[font=arial, sans-serif][size=2]“There are more flags on the cars in Johannesburg, and the tournament vibe is stronger there,” said Casey Crafford, a 29-year-old photographer from Cape Town.“Maybe it is because no teams are based around here and Cape Town has notoriously bad weather in the winter season. But if Cape Town is less the centre of things then at least it gives other cities a chance to benefit I suppose.”

While locals turn out in force to the fan zone sites to support South Africa, the hoards of visiting fans the city was expecting simply have not materialised.

Cape Town’s Green Point stadium has so far hosted France and Uruguay, and Italy and Paraguay, but of the fans streaming to the stadium in blue Italy shirts most had South African accents.


“People are coming but not in the numbers we expected,” said Carola Koblitz, a spokeswoman for the city authorities, adding the type of person to be visiting was also a surprise.

“South Africa was initially expecting 450,000 fans but that estimate is now down to a conservative 200,000. We expected around 80 percent of visitors to be male, but now we are seeing more women and families here.”

Cape Town, which focuses on high-end accommodation, has seen its hotels far from fully occupied.

“This is a World Cup driven by the world economic situation, which shows in the numbers and where people are staying,” Koblitz said.

Some Italians fans visiting the city even arranged a free house swap with families from Cape Town, she said.

As a premier tourist destination Cape Town has a highly-developed marketing machine behind it. Brochures spell out the reasons to watch the World Cup from Cape Town stating it is the most beautiful host city of them all, and its water front is the most visited spot in all Africa.

The city has spent 8 billion rand on overhauling its transport system and creating attractive walkways to the stadium, including a 2.5 kilometre fanwalk—which even on match days has seemed a little deserted.

However with English and Dutch fans expected to descend on the city for games, Koblitz is confident that will bring an influx visitors to Cape town.

England play Algeria at the Green Point stadium on Friday while thousands of orange-clad Dutch fans are expected when Netherlands play Cameroon on June 24. The city will also host matches at all stages until the semi-final.

Those who have already arrived are glad they made the trip.

[/size][/font][font=arial, sans-serif][size=2]“Actually we like it here. Everything is much smaller and we feel safer here,” said Houssain Ferradi, a 34-year-old fan from Algeria who had just arrived from Johannesburg.[/size][/font] [/quote]

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[color=#FF0000][color=#000000][size=5]Donovan warns against letdown

[/size][b][size=1]June 17th, 2010 2:23PM[/size][/b][/color][/color]

[color=#FF0000][USA-SLOVENIA][/color] The tie the USA earned against England will probably be meaningless if it loses to Slovenia on Friday at Ellis Park.

U.S. national team star [b]Landon Donovan[/b] warned about a letdown after the drama of Saturday's match.

"If we draw the game we are still alive," Donovan said, "and if we lose the game it's highly unlikely we will advance, and we know if we win the game we are in a very good position, so this is as big a game as we will ever play. The guys are excited and ready for it." [/quote]

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[color=#FF0000][color=#000000][size=5]Casillas' girlfriend blamed for loss

[/size][b][size=1]June 17th, 2010 3:24AM[/size][/b][/color][/color]
[color=#FF0000][SPAIN] [/color]How angry are Spaniards about losing to Switzerland? Some are blaming sideline reporter [b]Sara Carbonero[/b] -- the girlfriend of [b]Iker Casillas[/b] -- for distracting the Spanish goalie on the Swiss goal. To make matters, it was Carbonero's job after the game to ask Casillas what went wrong ...

Carbonero, a sideline reporter for Telecinco, didn't pull her punches afterwards.

"How did you manage to mess it up?" she asked.

"I don't know what to say," Casillas responded. "I don't know if this defeat will have consequences. The locker room is fed up."

Carbonero, 25, was questioned on Telecinco about her possible destabilizing influence.

"Can I destabilize the team? I think it is nonsense," she said. [/quote]

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How can Spain actually blame it on Cassillas' girlfriend? I mean in the run of play, Cassillas couldn't really do anything else. Thats garbage.

El Tri looked good. That or France just really sucks.
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[quote name='JC' date='18 June 2010 - 01:37 PM' timestamp='1276839434' post='893641']
How can Spain actually blame it on Cassillas' girlfriend? I mean in the run of play, Cassillas couldn't really do anything else. Thats garbage.
El Tri looked good. That or France just really sucks.[/b]
They both looked like crap. If France could have made anything that resembled a decent free kick, or connected on a cross at any point during the match, Mexico gets stomped. Mexico got one GREAT ball on a GREAT run to score a lone goal. (I can't even comment on the dive/penalty. Terrible.)

Neither team is long for the tourney, imo. And that's just fine by me. :on_the_quiet:

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[color="#FF0000"][color="#000000"][size="5"]What will decide Friday's showdown

[/size][b][size="1"]by [/size][url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/49/ridge-mahoney/"][size="1"]Ridge Mahoney[/size][/url][size="1"], June 18th, 2010 2:37AM[/size][/b][/color][/color]

[color="#FF0000"][USA-SLOVENIA][/color] With the USA anticipating a more tactical match against Slovenia in Johannesburg than was the case with England, how might the pieces be moved around on the board?
Regardless of what personnel changes, if any, are taken by U.S. coach [b]Bob Bradley[/b], the Slovenians have shown strengths and weaknesses the Americans will be cognizant of. Here is a breakdown of those elements:

[color="#FF0000"]HEIGHT. [/color]Striker [b]Milijove Novakovic[/b] is 6-foot-3, yet midfielder [b]Andraz Kirm [/b]is rather tallish at 6-foot-1. If Kirm is matched up with right back Steve Cherundolo by playing left mid, balls aimed to the back post from the right flank could find Kirm towering over the 5-foot-6 Cherundolo. If so, the American will need to fight his way up the ladder to unbalance Kirm as much as possible before and during contact with the ball.

Balls hit square from the back post are a primary element in Slovenia's offensive set plays. [b]Oguchi Onyewu[/b], [b]Carlos Bocanegra[/b] and[b]Michael Bradley [/b]will need to win balls in the air, but just as vital will be the Americans' ability to get to knockdowns and second balls. Slovenia is also aggressive at following up its shots, so the battle to control or clear rebounds, blocks and deflections will be especially important.

[color="#FF0000"]CENTER MIX. [/color]In the two-leg playoff with Russia last November that Slovenia won on away goals (1-0) in a 2-2 tie on aggregate, Slovenian center backs [b]Marko Suler[/b] and [b]Bostjan Cesar [/b]were occasionally turned and exploited. Algeria also found slots in losing to the Slovenians, 1-0, while forcing a few good saves from keeper [b]Samir Handanovic[/b].

In addition to the usual diet of flank play and crosses, the Americans should probe for lanes and channels in the center of the field. There will be opportunities to shoot from distance as well as play balls forward if Suler and Cesar step up to challenge.

When defending, central midfielders[b] Valter Birsa[/b] and [b]Robert Koren [/b]are susceptible to combination play and dribbling runs; if both go up into the attack, [b]Aleksandar Radosavlijevic[/b], one of the outside mids, will provide cover. Thus the timing and angles of runs by[b] Jozy Altidore[/b] and his forward partner, as well as [b]Landon Donovan[/b] and [b]Clint Dempsey[/b] cutting inside from the flanks, are vital.

Yet the Americans cannot be sluggish or stupid in their transitions from attack to defense; like many European teams, the Slovenians are quick and crafty going forward when they win the ball, and they're not afraid to run the ball right up the middle rather than passing it wide.

[color="#FF0000"]ATTITUDE.[/color] In the aftermath of Slovenian defender [b]Andrej Komac[/b] being misquoted about predicting victory, U.S. coach [b]Bob Bradley [/b]and his players have said all the right, respectful things about their opponents' abilities and tactical acumen.

Five rest days separate the England and Slovenia games, so the Americans should have recovered psychologically and physically from Saturday's fierce game.

Several players in the final stages of recovering from injuries should be close to full fitness and sharpness, and getting a full competitive game against England is just what Onyewu may have needed to fine-tune his anticipation and decision-making. [/quote]

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[color=#FF0000][color=#000000][size=5]Mexico reduces shameful France to 'small soccer nation'

[/size][b][size=1]by [/size][url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/45/paul-kennedy/"][size=1]Paul Kennedy[/size][/url][size=1], June 17th, 2010 6:04PM[/size][/b][/color][/color]
[color=#FF0000][MEXICO-FRANCE REPORT CARD] [/color]Like his grandfather in 1954, [b]Javier Hernandez[/b] scored for Mexico against France at the World Cup.[b]Cuauhtemoc Blanco[/b], another sub, added a penalty kick as the Tri knocked off the Bleus, 2-0, leaving them on the verge of elimination.

As French captain [b]Patrice Evra[/b] put it, France has been reduced to being "a small soccer nation and it hurts."

Once again, Mexico was adventurous and played with conviction.

Moved into midfield in the Tri's 4-3-3 formation, [b]Javier Marquez[/b] fed Hernandez for the first goal scored after the Manchester United-bound striker was kept onside by French defender [b]Eric Abidal[/b], one of only four starters who played in the 2006 World Cup final, where France fell to Italy on penalties.

Abidal was also at fault on the second goal, scored by Blanco form the penalty spot after Abidal took down [b]Pablo Barrera[/b] -- the third sub -- with a late tackle in the area.

On the other hand, France lived up to its billing. The Bleus were apathetic, looking like they wanted to be thousands of miles away from freezing Polokwane. [/quote]

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