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A few thoughts about the Soccer World Cup
So, four years are gone and, like always, they passed in the blink of
an eye.

The only difference it’s that, the ones that were 6 years old during the
last World Cup, surely will be very happy to be 10! But If you were 58
like me, I’m also sure that you won’t be very enthusiastic to be,
suddenly, 62 !!!!!

It seems like yesterday that, with my beautiful American wife Jessica,
we were holding an immense Italian flag on Columbus Street in San
Francisco among other thousands of Italians, who were singing the
Italian National anthem !!!!

What unforgettable memories.

And in Italy, people went crazy !!!!

* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNJ_RtlWZmQ
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x75XNoE_qk0
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3WiWbQQ9rM
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90is9j2we28

I sincerely wish that your National Team, whatever Nation that is, will
give you the joy that the Italian team has given to us in the past
decades. As a fan, I’m very lucky that my National Team gave me
that joy already 2 times in my life, but I will not complain if they give
me that joy one more time.

I hope, like everyone else and………… that’s it!

I’m just hoping, because the World Cup is a tournament and, as in
every tournament, the top 4 teams will not necessarily get to the semi-
finals and, consequently, the Final !!!

But, even though the above is true, the best team will go from beginning
to end!!!!!

This team will pass the first stage of 8 groups composed of 4 teams
each, pass the round of 16, pass the quarter-final, the semi-final and
win the Final.

The mechanism in which the World Cup works is very cruel. In
particular for Americans that are used to a much ‘softer’ mechanism.

If you just check the NBA play-off Finals, the teams play 7 games
among themselves to approach the semi-finals and final. And, after that,
they play 9 games to win the champions title. (let’s forget that you
guys call that team World Champion ! That is really something !!! J)

So, the soccer/football World Cup is different. After the first stage,
those who lose 1 game will…………….go home !!! And, often, by loosing
1 game in 3, even at the first stage !!!!

Players, who have a chance in a life time of being there, lose 1 game
and that’s it! Good bye and good luck. The majority of them, will never
have this chance again for the rest of their professional life !!!!

That is heart breaking, but also it’s what makes the World Cup a
special occasion. Something unique that, by definition, will not come
again!

One chance.

Take it or…………… probably, good bye…………… FOREVER !!!!!!

So, 8 groups of 4 teams. They will play each other in their groups
and the first 2 teams of every group will go to the next stage of
the group of 16. From that moment, direct elimination.

The other 2 teams of each group, good bye and, maybe, see you
in 4 years in Brazil !!!!
_____________________________________________________

Dates of the games at the first stage:

http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/matches/index.html

Stage Two and to the end:

http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/matches/kostage.html

__________________________________________________

I’m not crazy…………… enough………… to come out with some
predictions!

Who will pass the first stage, who will play with who, who will go
to the Final and who will win it !!!!!

It would be too easy to predict that Spain will win but, as I said, in
a tournament IN or OUT at almost every game, you never know!

What we have to consider is that players from top soccer nations,
playing in other nations (Clubs) are coming together really
sporadically for International games.

But because, in this moment, Spain has the richest Clubs in the
world, of course the top Spanish players play in Spain. And not only
that. The core of the National team, already plays together everyday
for Barcelona or Real Madrid so, besides the fact that they are
unbelievably good, always playing together is an enormous
advantage.

England is in a similar situation, but players, even if they play in
England, are spread throughout many different Clubs but, at least,
Coach Fabio Capello, went to see them play, on rotation, every
weekend so, he has fresh impressions.

For France it’s different because their players are spread throughout
all of Europe. And it’s worse for Argentina and Brazil. Almost all of the
top players play in Europe so, for Coach Maradona and Coach Dunga,
it’s not easy to have a constant survey of their performances.

And to give you an idea of how Brazil is a mile above every other
country, do you know how many Brazilian players play abroad?

More than 1 thousand and 500 hundred !!!! So, they can put together
20 very competitive National teams, that would have a good chance of
doing great at the World Cup !

Coming to the core of the Tournament, I’ll give you some hints to
better understand what is really important to go forward in a contest
conceived this way.

Never, EVER, lose the first game !!! If you do that, you’re almost
home !!!

And, I’m really sorry for the USA because…………………………….you’ll play
the first game in your group against……………… England.

I really wish you guys to, at least, have a tie. Of course, if you win
I’ll be more than happy but, let’s be realistic so, just try to not
lose !!!!!

At this point, permit me to clarify a fundamental aspect that will help
you to understand why, sometimes, top teams struggle at the beginning
of the tournament.

At the World Cup, there are 3 clearly different groups of National
Teams.

1. the ones that are there with a good chance to win (8 teams)
2. the ones that could have a chance not to go home at the
beginning (12 teams)
3. the ones that know that being there is already great! (12 teams)

No player in the world, after an exhausting season in the leagues of
their countries, plus Champions League and the various national and
international tournaments, can reach the maximum of his
performance at the first game and, hope to reach the Final, keeping
that level until the end of the tournament.

So, the intensity of the fitness training, is deeply different for teams
that have a clear chance to go to the end as opposed to teams that
already know for 99% sure they will go home after the first 3 games.

The top teams will have a slow start and reach the apex at the end
of the tournament. The ones that will probably go home, will give
everything in the first game/s hoping to put a top team in difficulty.

These 2 opposite necessities, can lead to surprising games and,
sometimes, put a top team in an embarrassing situation.

So, check for these kind of games and, if your nation is not involved,
cheer for the under dogs !!!!!

Another topic that at every World Cup arouses expectations are the
African teams. Every time it seems that it will be the right time for
one of them to go to the end, even if there was a chance, at the
crucial moment they……….collapsed !!!!

It seems inexplicable. They do great, play fantastically, get to the
quarter finals and…………….boom, suddenly……………disappear !!!

So, one more time, South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Ghana, Cameroon
and Ivory Coast, have a good chance to go forward. In particular
Ghana and Ivory Coast.

The cruel thing is that, Egypt, who won the African Cup 3 consecutive
times (of the 7 times that they won !), missed qualifying for this W.C.!!!!
The mechanism that qualifies the teams for the World Cup, for sure
has a hole some place.

Anyway, go African Nations and at least play a semi-final. That would
be great considering that they play at home!

I would like to conclude by underlining a fact.
And, please don’t misunderstand me. It’s just an example. France has
a great soccer/football history and I wish them well.

We already saw the absurd and unacceptable elimination of Ireland,
caused by that incredible double hand ball from Henry that the
referee couldn’t spot because of having his vision obstructed by the
body of the player.

A simple TV-replay, in a few seconds, would have clarified that
shameful episode and, probably, we’d have a different team in the
32 present at the World Cup.

Just imagine if Ireland, would have scored a goal like that in Paris
and had kicked France out of the World Cup. Does someone really
think that Michel Platini, the French President of UEFA, would have
said :

“That’s O.K. That could happen, we’ll have better luck next World
Cup” ??? And let Ireland go to the World Cup after having kicked
France out with a basketball goal ?

I don’t really think so !!!!

I would really like to see if someone has the face to say that this
would have happened: France out of the World Cup after Ireland
stole the game!!!

So, I really hope that episodes like this, provoked by ANY TEAM will
not happen at the World Cup.

But, if it has to happen, I really hope that it will happen in the Final.

1. A goal scored on purpose with a hand
2. a goal in clearly off-side
3. a ball clearly on goal and not given or the opposite
4. an inexistent penalty given or a clear penalty denied and……

………………a country will win the World Cup thanks to that.

After that, the scandal will be so big (like France out of the World
Cup in the way I said above !!!) that Mr. Blatter, the FIFA President,
the one that keeps forbidding modern technology on the fields, will
be the first to ask for that!

Even if it will be a shame to see the World Cup Final ruined for
obtuseness, at least, finally, we’d bring a little good sense to
soccer/football, too !!!

gianni
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Posted on 10 Jun 2010 by coachgianni
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