March Madness is like Christmas come early. I get goose bumps with the build up of the conference tournaments. March is a special month. The 65-team single elimination format is one of the most exciting things in sports. However, I side with the rest of the world when it comes to the World Cup... one of the most fantastic and celebrated events in sports. This event is only once every four years, which makes it so much more meaningful and special. It really is what the Olympics wished it were.
The wait is over!
I know most of the United States disagrees with me. Indeed, most of the sports commentary has been relegated to how much the rest of the world revels in the Cup compared to relatively paltry following locally. I grew up playing soccer, so it really is my sport of choice. I didn't really "discover" basketball until I arrived at Duke. However, I also understand why soccer is tough to follow and enjoy if you haven't grown up with it. 0-0 ties and 1-0 wins are a long 90 minutes. But think of it this way... A good pitcher's duel in baseball might be 1-0 and we find that exciting (its also more like 3 hours...) Or even worse really, American football. Lets focus on the fact that its really an inflated score to cultivate more excitement. Really a 21-14 football game is fundamentally 3-2. Americans like points.
In other installments I'll continue to pontificate on this =) -- And since Sim demanded more prompt posting, I'll try to make the updates more frequent for Round 2 - Part 2 =)
Germany 4 - Costa Rica 2
What a way to open up the quest for the Cup. The home team looked very good in front of their home crowd. Their offense showed their potential, with their defense leaving a few questions. Electing to play a flat back 4, Costa Rica's two goals came when they managed to get behind the German defense. It will be interesting to see if they make some adjustments going forward. With the definite home field advantage throughout, Germany will be tough to beat. Despite the loss, Costa Rica looks like it has a good chance of moving out of the first round.
Poland 0 - Ecuador 2
First of all, there is nothing quite like an Irishman and an Englishman calling a soccer match. I forget the names of the two announcers, but when they opened up the broadcast it brought a smile to my face. That is the way you need to listen to soccer. Not to put down our American commentators, but they can't hold a candle to that.
England 1 - Paraguay 0
I'll guarantee you the English fans are not quite happy with this performance (though they'll definitely be happy to take three points with them). They have serious talent, but definitely looked out of sync. This could have easily ended in a 0-0 tie. Too many stupid fouls and not enough control in the mid-field
Argentina 2 - Ivory Coast 1
Argentina looked good! Like the Argentina of old! Unfortunately they would only meet the Brazilians in the finals I think... Oh that would be a fantastic game!
Serbia & Montenegro 0 - Netherlands 1
If you missed this game you really missed text book soccer. The Netherland team is so disiplined! Incredibly crisp passes. They dominated the time of possession easily. They aren't flashy, but they know how to control the game and are really fun to watch (from a soccer lover's perspective).
United States 0 - Czech Republic 3
Ouch! Damn! Fuck! That really, really hurt. There could be posts written on this one, but I think the media has bludgeoned it to death. We'll see how Saturday goes before passing final judgement.
Australia 3 - Japan 1
Aussi Aussi Aussi!!! What a blast Down Under must be having. Three goals in the last 10 minutes! And the first three goals for Australia ever in a World Cup! You have to love it!
Brazil 1 - Croatia 0
The perennial favorites. While not a great game per se, you definitely saw flashes of Brazilian Brilliance. They are definitely beatable. They might loose one in this first round, but I'd be hard pressed to take someone else. Argentina perhaps... Germany maybe... but the safe money is on still on Brazil at the moment.