Sunday, June 11, 2006

What a Boring Game

England got off their World Cup campaign to a perfect start with a win, and nothing else.
Despite it being a dull match, I have to admit that it is still 3 points in the bag and a very important win to considering England’s dismal opening game record at the World Cup.

The match was utterly boring, especially so in the second half and it did not help that the referee seemed intent on making sure his whistle was working as he awarded 27 fouls throughout the whole game. He kept stopping a game which already lacked momentum by calling fouls on little issues. On many occasions he left a bewildered Peter Crouch raising his arms thinking what he had done wrong.

In fact, the game was rather anti climatic as England started the game playing at a high tempo. It took a mere 3 minutes for England to score, with Carlos Gamarra heading the ball past his own keeper after an excellent free kick by David Beckham. Within the next few minutes, England suddenly seemed to pushing the Paraguayans in their own half. The English were even awarded a couple of corner kicks in quick succession.

But in the end, England started to fade in the sweltering heat just as fans were expecting more goals to come. After conceding the goal and withering the pressure, the Paraguayans first choice keeper, Justo Villar, was forced off after challenging Michael Owen. One goal down, first choice keeper out, it seemed as if Paraguay were about to concede more goals. But the opposite happened as they came out stronger with substitute keeper Aldo Bobadilla. Pulling off save after save to deny various players.

At the other end, Paraguay was beginning to play like the side that held Brazil and Argentina. Gamarra was organizing his defense properly and Roberto Acuna was orchestrating the midfield. Valdez also had a brilliant shot wide near the end of the match.

A boring game was nearly came alive with the introduction of Stewart Downing. He was really the one player I genuinely enjoyed watching on the dour night. But Eriksson revealed his defensive nature as he soon brought on Owen Hargreaves. Honestly, I do not care if he is based in Germany or Great Britain. What I wanted was some excitement and Hargreaves and excitement just do not go hand in hand. It was rather disappointing as I was looking forward to seeing youngsters such as Theo Walcott or Aaron Lennon come on. At least he did bring on Downing.

But I feel the three lions really only had 3 lions. The rest were rather meek pussy cats. The 3 lions were Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole and Stewart Downing. Only these 3 players provided excitement to the match. I feel all that Beckham did was just THAT free kick, and nothing else.

Gerrard played well enough to quell any fears of the back problem that seemed to be troubling him. He was the one doing all the running. In my view, it is he and not Beckham that should be made captain.

Joe Cole was one of the few players who dared to go on a dribble instead of choosing the easy, but less bold, option of passing the ball. It was a joy to watch his stopovers and shoulder drops.

But the player which most impressed me was Stewart Downing. Whenever he got the ball, I was on the edge of my seat anticipating what he would do next. Each time he got the ball he seemed to have only one thing on his mind. RUN. And that’s what he did. When in possession, Downing just sprinted down the left flank to try and put in a few crosses.

But other than that, I feel the game was rather mundane and boring with little else to talk about the match was really such a bore, that even Germany, for so long the team with the defensive style entertained us with a by far greater match.

Sven Eriksson has been talking about how England would win the World Cup. Well Sven, based on last nights performance, it is unlikely England can reach the final, let alone win the World Cup, with or without Rooney.


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