2018 World Cup

Discussion in 'Soccer' started by Shadowlight, Dec 1, 2017.

  1. Shadowlight

    Shadowlight Mentor

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  2. Thrashen

    Thrashen Hall of Famer

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    Here are the groups. It’s nice to see that there are no groups containing more than two European nations (France not included), keeping white-on-white cannibalizm to a minimum...

    Group A: Russia, Uruguay, Egypt, Saudi Arabia

    Group B: Portugal, Spain, Iran, Morocco)

    Group C: France, Peru, Denmark, Australia

    Group D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria

    Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

    Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea

    Group G: Belgium, England, Tunisia, Panama

    Group H: Poland, Colombia, Senegal, Japan
     
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  3. Rebajlo

    Rebajlo Mentor

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    As my answer to a post from the “2018 World Cup Qualifying” thread (http://castefootball.us/index.php?threads/2018-world-cup-qualifying.36005/page-3#post-712147) is also relevant to this discussion, I’ll consolidate things by replying here, thereby providing a bit of information about the state of the Australian national team and its World Cup “potential”. I hope you may deem it both interesting and illuminating.

    The Socceroos have already “shined” on the world stage back in 2014, when their collective “wattage” couldn’t power a tiny keyring torch. Three games, three losses, goal difference of -6. The stuff of national epics. Going back to the 2014 qualifiers, the mighty Socceroos lost away to Jordan, scraped two draws with Oman, and scraped past Iraq 1-0 at home in the final match. Talk about a catalogue of embarrassments. But not according to Australian media “experts”, who possess the unique, supernaturally incisive ability to deduce something nobody else has ever managed to perceive, namely: that the aforementioned sand Negro teams are all “tricky and difficult opponents”.

    As you can see, the path to the headline-grabbing “successes” of today has been carefully laid for years. This time, of course, the Socceroos miraculously managed to improve upon their last World Cup qualification campaign by failing to secure an automatic berth. Such a feat required multiple levels of stupefying incompetence. Thankfully, the FFA, the A-League, and its ten constituent clubs can serve up endless hogsheads of 190 proof incompetence. Wait a minute, wait a minute, I forgot: qualification for the Word Cup finals by way of the AFC and an intercontinental playoff against the fourth-placed CONCACAF team is a great - nay, “historic” - achievement because the brave Socceroos endured plenty of long haul flights and overcame an apparently endless succession of “tricky and difficult opponents”…

    That joke of an intercontinental playoff was contested by two appallingly substandard sides who would succumb without a whimper to virtually all of the European teams that finished second and third in the UEFA qualification groups. Australia and Honduras couldn’t dream of beating Chile, Paraguay, or Ecuador over two legs either. Yet Australia will “compete” (that’s a laugh…) at next year’s World Cup following an “arduous” campaign in which they “eliminated” Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Thailand and…Honduras. The latter had progressed to the playoff after winning a massive five out of sixteen matches against doubtlessly “tricky and dangerous” CONCACAF opposition.

    The Socceroos recorded a 3-1 second leg win in Sydney against a truly woeful, non-League level Honduras team which displayed an almost allergic aversion to attacking and whose players - in typical Central and South American fashion - spent more time rolling about on the ground theatrically clutching their faces in tiresome attempts to milk free kicks and yellow cards than on playing football. Even then, Australia couldn’t score from open play to save their lives and progressed courtesy of a fortuitously deflected free kick and two penalties. I literally spent the entire match shaking my fist, snarling, and hurling profanities at the TV and made sure to leave the room at half time to avoid hearing the usual reality-free bullsh!t artistry from a “panel of experts”…

    Just when one might think that things couldn’t conceivably get any “better”…

    (a) national team manager Ange Postecoglou resigns exactly one week after World Cup qualification was “achieved” and,

    (b) the FFA is still embroiled in a messy, protracted administrative dispute with the A-League, the PFA (Professional Players’ Union), the state member federations, and the idiotically-named National Premier Leagues (the various state-based second tier competitions) over the composition of the FFA Congress. This may ultimately result in FIFA sacking the current FFA board. Just out of interest, the FFA Chairman is a Jew by the name of Steven Lowy. Who was the previous chairman? Why, that would be Steven Lowy’s father, Frank Lowy. Blatant Jewish nepotism? Um, er, nothing of the sort, you “racist”, “anti-Semite”, and “fascist”…

    Speculation about Postecoglou’s future as Socceroos coach had abounded since the extra time win over Syria in the AFC playoff back in October but he carefully avoided confirming or denying whether he would remain in the manager’s position if Australia qualified for the finals. During the press conference in which he announced his resignation, Postecoglou cited the personal and professional toll national team management had taken upon both him and his family. In my opinion, Postecoglou simply wished to avoid the humiliation of another potential (or - more accurately - highly likely) three-loss first round finals exit like the one he oversaw during the previous World Cup.

    I don’t really blame the bloke for bailing out well before the rickety, spluttering Socceroo ultralight enters the World Cup storm and is smashed into atoms. Sure, Postecoglou isn’t anywhere near a top class manager - or even an average mid-level European league manager - by any stretch of the imagination but the players at his disposal are utter rubbish and the “upcoming” generation of “stars” will be even worse. He saw a bleak June on the horizon and an even bleaker future beyond. In this context, a decision to cut his losses and hand the rusted, leaky chalice to some other unfortunate glutton for punishment is entirely understandable.

    The names bandied about as Postecoglou’s successor are less than inspiring. The advocates for an Australian manager suggest Graham Arnold or Kevin Muscat. Both of these tactical illiterates would be even worse than Postecoglou. The “deep thinking” Arnold already has a botched tenure as Socceroos manager on his pencil-written resume. Back in 2006-2007, he steered Australia to three wins, one draw, and five losses.

    Muscat’s claim to fame is his reputation as one of the dirtiest players the sport has ever seen. As a manager, his “tactics” are about as predictable as they come…

    Then there’s talk of re-appointing ex-Socceroos manager Gus Hiddink. The fat-faced Dutchman is still viewed as some kind of genius for getting the Socceroos into the second round of the 2006 World Cup.

    Disturbingly enough, Jurgen Klinsmann is also reportedly under consideration…

    Can Australia get out of Group C? I don’t think so. The impotent Socceroos struggled to score against amateurish Asian opposition. We don’t have any strikers capable of delivering the goods at World Cup finals level, where defences are infinitely tighter than those of Tajikistan, Jordan, Thailand, Iraq, or the United Arab Emirates. Then again, we don't have anyone who can pass the ball to the "strikers" either. Australia’s chances of scoring against Denmark, France, and Peru are - to be generous - minimal. Half-Samoan “Socceroos legend” Tim Cahill turns thirty eight in two days time - yet is still regarded as Australia’s most dangerous weapon. Quod erat demonstrandum…

    The finals are still six months away so it’s quite early to proffer opinions and predictions. A lot can happen in six months. Key players of various participating teams may be injured, lose form, or receive minimal game time at their clubs for any number of reasons. Such factors can drastically alter a team’s potential, particularly that of nations which lack depth on the bench.

    For example, if Robert Lewandowski happened to suffer an injury serious enough to either rule him out of the finals or prevent him from playing for several weeks prior to the beginning of the tournament, Poland would be - how can I put it politely - f***d. You may recall that Lewandowski was disconcertingly out of form during Euro 2016 and only managed a single goal in five games. Consequently, Poland scored a paltry four goals during the entire tournament…

    Groups A and G look remarkably easy. Barring disasters, Russia, Uruguay, England, and Belgium should all move though to the knockout stage.

    In Group A, hosts Russia have almost suspiciously been handed an all but guaranteed passage to the second round. Their track record in major competitions, however, is miserable. With the exception of EURO 2008 (in which they reached the semifinals - but were twice belted by Spain, to the tune of 4-1 in the first round and 3-0 in the semifinal), post-USSR Russia has either failed to qualify for the World Cup and European Championship or has been eliminated in the first round. But I cannot see them losing at home to either Egypt or Saudi Arabia. Anyway, if things aren’t going well against the sand Negroes, expect the opposition to “concede” a penalty or receive a red card, while Vladimir Putin applauds and looks on approvingly from his “complimentary” free seat…

    Speaking of the ever-popular, quasi-revered Russia…

    Russian squads are almost never all-White, and usually feature at least a couple of players who are either Tatars, part-Tatars, Azeris, Ingush, Ossetians or some other inbred Asiatic denizens of the Caucasus.

    England’s Group B is just as weak and there are no excuses for failing to progress to the second round. World Cup debutant Panama’s population is half that of Greater London. The Panamanians are in the finals after winning a whopping six of their sixteen qualification matches. Who did these Negro-Amerindian-mestizo pricks record victories against? That would be Jamaica, Haiti, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, and Costa Rica. Tunisia are Arab lightweights. Significantly, they are coached by an Arab (at least for the time being…) so shall probably be quite disorganised, cynical, and unambitious in their matches against England and Belgium. Don’t be surprised if the Tunisians try to waste plenty of time squirming about feigning injury.

    Right, that’s enough for now. I’ll offer my thoughts about the remaining groups later in the week…
     
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  4. Matra2

    Matra2 Master

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    First of all, thanks for the comprehensive analysis of Australian soccer. Though given how it sounds to follow Australian football - a lot more :mad: than :icon_popcorn: - it's probably not good for your state of mind, and perhaps overall health.

    Anyway...you mentioned Hiddink. Recently whilst watching the EPL I was struck by how many of the managers are the same old people - Roy Hodgson, Sam Allardyce, David Moyes. Well, at least Harry Redknapp seems to be finally done, but who really knows as these guys are available for more bad sequels than Sylvester Stallone. In the international game you've got Dick Advocaat, who just stepped down after failing to get the Netherlands to Russia. Before him it was Hiddink, Capello, and long ago Sven-Goran Eriksson, now coaching a club team in China! It's like the owners and Football Associations just recycle the same old guys year after year until it becomes impossible even for time-serving bureaucrats working for Third World national associations to notice that these guys are never going to accomplish anything beyond filling their own bank accounts. The Australian FA can't have that much money to throw away on some fly-by 'brand name' manager who is starting from scratch. In countries that don't have much of a history in the sport their FAs often lack confidence in their own coaches - maybe with good reason! - but at the very least maybe they should consider some one under 40, whether Australian or foreign, as they are more likely to be in touch with the modern game.
     
  5. Matra2

    Matra2 Master

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    The Russians got as good a draw as they could've hoped for. Even better, the weakest team in the group, Saudi Arabia, is their first opponent, so they've a chance to get a win under their belt early on and build some confidence. I've read that the Egyptian team is actually quite good. I didn't see any of their games and all those North African teams seem generic to me but Algeria did well in 2014 and the so-called experts say these Egyptians are better so we'll see. I wouldn't be surprised if Russia joined South Africa in being the only hosts in history to be eliminated in the group stage. (They had a sports hosting disaster three years ago in Sochi when their hockey team, with a politically appointed out of touch coach, was eliminated early on in front of Putin. The next day Kiev blew up. It was not a happy week for Russia. They threw tens of billions away. Next year could be another embarrassment for them).
     

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