Friday, July 07, 2006


Since it's that time of the tourney (and FIFA's is pretty good as well, aside from the inclusion of both Totti and Toni and the omission of Torres, Miguel, and perhaps Essien or Appiah. Good spot to name Ze Roberto as the pick of the ultimately disappointing Brazillians.)

Here's mine, going with the en vogue 4-5-1:

GK: Buffon. Splendid, all tourney. No real question. Lehman and Ricardo runners up.

LB: Phillip Lahm - From the first game, Germany's best player. Somewhat quieter in the semi, but he and Zambrotta largely cancelled each other out. (Runner up J.P. Sorin)

CB: Fabio Cannavaro, Rafael Marquez. Cannavaro has been transcendant, and will command a huge fee if Juventus is forced to sell him if they are relegated in the match-fixing scandal. Marquez was solid in defense, good on the ball, and very dangerous when moving into a more advanced position. (Backups: Rio Ferdinand, Lilian Thuram.)

RB: Close one here, but Gianlucca Zambrotta is my pick. Energetic, and skillful. For me, he was the best player on the field in the Australia game and hasn't really looked back. Went a long way to muting Lahm in the semi. Close second is Portugal's Miguel.

LM: Cristiano Ronaldo: Yes he's a diver, but was there a more terrifying player with the ball at his feet all tourney? Plus, was anyone cooler from the penalty spot? (Runner up: Joe Cole)

DM: Gattuso. Dead f'ing hard. I tend to like guys who are willing to both dish it out, and take it, and Reno is one. I hope this is a non-denial denial sort of thing.

CM: Zidane. Duh. Just, duh. #2 is Riquelme, the closest thing out there. (Midfield runners up: Hargreaves, Viera, either Essien or Appiah.)

RM: Maxi Rodriguez. Even aside from the goal of the tourney to beat Mexico, driving, physical, menacing force for the Argentines throughout. (Backup: Ribbery)

CF: Miroslav Klose. The model of the modern centerforward. Strong, fast, good in the air, good at holding the ball, good vision and passing, predatory finishing. Not a great tournament for centerforward play all around, but Torres and Henry were the pick of the rest.

PS: I agree with Al, the announcers, Balboa aside haven't been that bad. Tommy Smyth was even bordering on acceptable. And this is spot on:
Back to the Americans: I will not defend O'Brien's partner Marcelo Balboa, except tonsorially. He's a classic example of what Howard Cosell called the "jockocracy"—hired because he played the sport and can (occasionally) form complete sentences. Unless he wears his shin guards while calling the game, his experience as a player is worthless. John Harkes, though, has stood out. The former U.S. National Team stalwart has a discerning eye for the players, knows where they ply their club trade, and has been properly aggrieved at the relentless diving and thuggery on display. Harkes and JP Dellacamera, a veteran of ESPN soccercasts who knows the game and doesn't feel the need to talk for the sake of talking, probably should have been the lead team. The network's studio work has also been surprisingly strong. Eric Wynalda, who's never been afraid to voice strong opinions, is staging a breakout performance. If only there was somewhere for him to break to, post-Germany.
It would be nice if international soccer was to become more accesible to the American fan. Fox Sports World Soccer Channel is still something of a backwater, lacking in any consistent analysis aside from the excellent Bobby McMahon and the amusing Fox Football Friday. Maybe someday we'll see the equivalent of NFL primetime with a fun studio host and a suitably English/Scottish analyst. A guy can dream right?

1 comment:

Jake said...

Now what do you think about Zidane?

I'm excited for your read on that fiasco.