Tuesday, June 29, 2010
For the fans it feels like an all too familiar rollercoaster of built up hope and expectation ahead of plummeting, bitter disappointment.
The debate as to where this World Cup went wrong will now begin. But, as the wildly differing theories currently on offer show, there is no one reason why this year's bid for glory has failed. The football odds may have suggested the side would do well, but many factors mean they didn't.
Fabio Capello has to take some of the blame. It appears his stubborn and rigid use of 4-4-2 failed to get the best out of his squad, while his promise to only play fit and in-form players was broken with the selections of Ledley King, Gareth Barry and Emile Heskey.
It also seems that his strict disciplinarian approach, while useful in short bursts, began to grate on the players during their extended spell together in South Africa.
Though if I was paid thousands of pounds a week and then had the chance to play for my country at a World Cup, I think I could cope with a few strict rules for a couple of weeks.
The players need to take their share of the blame. Pampered to the extreme by their clubs, their arrogance and feelings of self importance permeated through their dismal performances as they sought to blame everyone else - including the fans - for their dismal showing. They were not good enough technically and didn't show the required mental and professional character in order to progress further.
But what has changed from qualifying when the players lost just one game and topped the group? Well it appears that the strain of a long and physical Premier League campaign left them drained and jaded.
There was no buzz or spring in the step of the England players. Wayne Rooney carried Manchester United this season but since being rushed back from an ankle injury in April he has not scored a goal and looked a shadow of his usual self in South Africa.
If we are to have a fit and fresh squad going into a major tournament then we need to introduce a winter break. If that can't be done with the present system then the Premier League should be reduced to 18 teams.
As it is, England is the only major league in Europe which doesn't have a winter break, and the World Cup 2010 betting suggests the likes of Germany and Holland are on track for World Cup success, when we're already back home.
The FA should wield the power to make these changes in English football but the Premier League, with all its financial muscle, holds all the aces.
Their number one aim is profit and while they continue to brutally chase the pound signs the England team will suffer.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
True, there were a few nervy moments during their 1-0 win over Slovenia, but the scoreline would have been much more comfortable had it not been for an excellent performance by Samir Handanovic in goal.
England played much better than in their opening two group games and delivered the victory needed. However, a late USA goal denied them top spot in Group C and ultimately set up a second round clash between Germany and the Three Lions. The World Cup odds suggest they two teams have roughly the same chance of winning the tournament, but clearly this is crunch time.
There's no doubt England will have to improve dramatically if they are to progress to the quarter-finals. Their slip against Serbia aside, Germany looked comfortable during the group stages, playing excellent football against Australia and then grinding out the required result against Ghana.
Once puzzle Fabio Capello will have to solve if his side are to stand a chance of getting beyond the next round is that of Wayne Rooney. Joachim Loew may say he fears the striker, but he's unlikely to cause anyone any problems if he plays like he did in the group stage. The fixed odds betting made him one of the pre-tournament favourites to be top scorer, but he is yet to find the net.
Rooney seemed to have an issue when it came to getting into the box - put simply, it seemed like he didn't want to. In the Slovenia game in particular he was constantly dropping back to interact with Steven Gerrard. As the Liverpool was on the left wing, Rooney often found himself working the channel as a consequence - this isn't where you want your biggest goal threat to be.
Rooney was almost a support striker and, if that's not how Capello wants him to play, something needs to be done. Dropping Lampard for Joe Cole and switching Gerrard into the middle would be a good first step.
Do that, and Rooney can concentrate on scoring goals rather than worrying about how much of the ball he's going to see.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Serbia had a stuttering start to their World Cup, but they will prove too strong for Australia in Group D on Wednesday.
Serbia had been many world cup round of 16 betting pundits’ tips to be the tournaments dark horses, but they looked anything but contenders in their opening 1-0 defeat to Ghana. They were awful against the Africans and weren’t helped by being reduced to 10 men.
However, they bounced back against 10-man Germany and grabbed a convincing 1-0 win. Their attacking play against the resilient Germans was impressive and Milan Jovanonic, Milos Krasic and Nikola Zigic will be a handful for the Socceroos.
Serbia are a stand-out 10/11 with Ladbrokes to win the game in Nelspruit and considering the fact they need a win to make certain of a place in the round of 16 they look a must.
Australia, who could still make the knock-out phase and a chance to progress to world cup quarter finals betting with a win, were battered 4-0 by Germany, but did earn a 1-1 draw with Ghana next up.
However, in both games they have been reduced to 10 men and that has raised suggestions Pim Verbeek’s men could be jaded. And if that has taken it’s toll on Verbeek’s workman-like side then Serbia are more than capable of giving Australia the run around. They have players who can keep the ball, while defensively they have looked assured.
Australia will be without Harry Kewell, but they will be boosted by the return of Tim Cahill, but Nemanja Vidic and Branislav Ivanovic should have the measure of the Everton man and Serbia should wrap up a place in the last 16.
Friday, June 18, 2010
The safe world cup free bet money would appear to be on Ghana to be those opponents, as the Black Stars beat a disappointing Serbian outfit 1-0 in their opener on the same day the Socceroos were humbled 4-0 by the Germans.
However, world cup round of 16 betting odds are tight because the three rivals for second place in Group D are still closely-matched, despite those opening results. The FIFA world rankings are not always the best guide to teams’ relative strength, but Serbia and Australia’s respective positions of 15th and 20th suggest a recovery to oust 32nd placed Ghana is not beyond them.
Pim Verbeek’s team nonetheless need a drastic improvement. They were utterly outplayed by Germany, failing to get close enough to their opponents and exhibiting a shaky back line that was regularly pulled out of position.
They must also cope without best player and talisman Tim Cahill, suspended after his controversial red card against Germany. Little was seen of them as an attacking force in that opener and Verbeek might turn to Harry Kewell or Josh Kennedy in the absence of Cahill.
Ghana will also be without their star player. Michael Essien was ruled out of the tournament with injury and the Black Stars’ hopes of progress to the knockout stages were thought to disappear with him.
However, they coped admirably against Serbia, with Asamoah Gyan and Kwadwo Asamoah to the fore. A tight encounter beckons in this one, with a narrow Australian win the result that would help make the group competitive in the final round of matches.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The one constant in World Cup finals history has been the thrilling presence of the South Americans who consistently offer thrilling, creative, forward thinking football. The World Cup betting odds make them second favourites for the tournament.
Add to that the fact they were playing the lowest ranked country in the competition and predictions of a cricket score were not too unrealistic.
But no one counted on a spirited performance from the mysterious North Korean side.
Why mysterious? Well, with their secretive communist regime a constant influence on all they do information on their preparations have been hard to come by.
They have spent much of their time hidden away in training camps in their own country or, after touching down in Africa, their isolated training camp in Zimbabwe - they are the only team not to be based in South Africa itself.
There's also talk of the match being censored back home by leader Kim Jong Il if they should lose, while it was reported Chinese nationals had been hired to support the team in South Africa.
Most fans were fascinated to see how the North Koreans would play they were, after all, massive outsides in the 2010 World Cup odds.
And credit must go to them as they defied all pre-match expectations by pushing Brazil all the way. They were extremely organised at the back, deliberately choosing to stand up to their opponents and not sliding in with reckless tackles. Although their attacks were limited they did show desire to go forward, meaning it was not the procession most people expected.
In the end though, the class of Brazil told, with Maicon's brilliant shot and Elano's cool finish from a defence splitting Robinho pass putting Brazil 2-0 up.
But Ji Yun-nam's excellent control and finish late on gave the Koreans a deserved goal.
It wasn’t the goal fest many expected but the brave fight of the plucky underdog gave the competition its biggest boost to date and won the North Koreans many admirers, showing once again how football in 90 minutes can break down political barriers.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
There is a team playing at this World Cup with so much talent on hand you would expect them to be odds-on favourites, but they go into the tournament with Argentina World cup betting odds struggling to push for a semi-final berth.
That team is Argentina, a team graced by the likes of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Diego Milito and Angel di Maria to name but a few, but also coached by a man whose credentials appear to be, well let’s be honest, lacking.
Diego Armando Maradona; the man with the Hand of God, the man who has more drug busts against his name than the rest of the tournament combined and the man charged with taking Argentina to a fifth World Cup final.
Maradona’s coaching resume is nothing short of confused, as he took over running La Albiceleste back in 2008 with little in the way of experience and went very close to missing out on the trip to South Africa completely.
Argentina’s run to the finals was a shambles, including a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Bolivia, which equalled the country’s worst margin of defeat, but victories in their final two pressure-packed games secured a place.
Maradona’s reaction to qualification, belly-flopping through a deluge, will go down as one of the moments to remember in his glittering career, but the post-match reaction showed the temper of a man who will be taking charge at his first major World tournament.
And it is his strange way of selecting a team that could well be Argentina’s downfall as the tournament progresses and the opponents get tougher. England Football world cup 2010 expectations are high, but those of Argentina will be even higher. So there is much pressure.
Maradona seems to have no idea what his best line-up is, what tactic to use and whether he can fit all the players he wants on the pitch at the same time. Just recently he said he would be happy to play with a back-four of four centre-backs, and has also said that he could see a time when all of his six main attacking options are on the field at the same time. The words of a madman, quite clearly!
Not getting to the quarter-finals would be disaster for Argentina, and quite possibly mark the end of Maradona’s days in charge – then again, for all the fans back in his homeland, that might just be a good thing for the future of a team with so many assets.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
It started fairly early when David Beckham, admittedly something of a doubt for the final squad anyway, snapped his achilles tendon while playing for Milan. However, if England fans thought that would be the end of their worries they were sadly mistaken.
Concerns about the fitness of talismanic striker Wayne Rooney dogged the end of his season, while Gareth Barry did his ankle and is still facing a race against time to be fit for the opening group game against USA.
However, the worst was saved until after manager Fabio Capello had selected his final 23 and they had all flown out to South Africa. In their first training session after stepping off the plane, Emile Heskey tussled for the ball with Rio Ferdinand and the England captain ended up in hospital.
Although the rest isn't quite history, it is y entirely predictable. Scans indicated Ferdinand had suffered ligament damage and would be unable to take part in the tournament. Michael Dawson was called up to replace him and Capello was left to lament the curse of the England Captain. Indeed, England's World Cup odds lengthened after the news broke.
If there is indeed a curse, Steven Gerrard could be forgiven for covering himself in as many lucky charms as he can lay his hands on, as he is the man who will take on the armband from the Manchester United man.
England are many people's football tips for this year's tournament, but anymore injuries and they may struggle to give a good account of themselves.
However, despite the latest setback, the England camp still seem upbeat and the side came through their last friendly - played against South African side Platinum Stars - without injury.
For now though, England fans should perhaps consider praying for no fresh scares, just in case.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
With the dust settling on the news that Theo Walcott missed out on the England World Cup squad, it is now time for the Arsenal winger to look ahead.
He is only 21-years-old and even though he won’t be involved in World Cup 2010 betting, he should still take part in least two World Cups.
There is certainly no way people can write Walcott off at this stage. He has a lot of learning to do and there is no better manager to do that under than Arsene Wenger.
Looking back, it might be the case that Walcott is still paying the price for being selected for the 2006 World Cup. Because he was involved in the squad at 17, people automatically assumed he would be involved again this time around.
The fact is that he still isn’t quite ready to be an established international footballer. He doesn’t even appear to have the belief to make an impact on World Cup betting Odds from the bench at the moment either.
With this in mind, it was probably a good decision to leave him out. Had he gone to South Africa and performed below par, it would have set him back even further. Two World Cups would have then affected his career in a potentially negative way.
Now though, he can look ahead to the 2014 World Cup – when he is 25 years old – and aim to be a fully established member of the England team. He would be near the near the prime of his career and could have a major impact on World football.
England captain Rio Ferdinand has backed up claims for Walcott to remain positive. The Manchester United defender said that the youngster should ‘hit the manager between the eyes’ with his performances for Arsenal and get himself back in the England squad.
Ferdinand himself had a similar experience at Walcott’s age, being selected for the 1998 World Cup, not playing a single game and then being overlooked for European Championships two years later.
As we all know, Ferdinand bounced back from this disappointment and is now one of the best central defenders around and captain of his Country. Walcott should look at this and use it as motivation.
After all, if we are being brutally honest, the 21-year-old probably has more talent and more potential than even Ferdinand had at a similar age. So just imagine what he could achieve in the next 10 years if he reacts to this week’s news in a positive manner.