Friday, June 23, 2006

Oufffff



France 2 - Togo 0:

Thanks to the former and current Gunner captain...

France passes to the second round of the world cup. After watching the French against the Swiss and the Koreans, this is actually a relief that they made it through. Something that this team could not do 4 years ago. First, lets be clear, the French made this much harder than it had to be. They should have beaten either Switzerland or Korea rather than drawing. The first half of the Togo match did not give me much confidence either. As hard as France pushed Togo was up for the challenge. However, the essential is done, they are through. Now comes the hard part - Espana.

Spain is looking like one of the in form teams (the other being Argentina, Holland also receiving votes). Here are the slivers of hope I have for playing Spain:

  • An extra day of rest for the team, in addition to having Zidane and Abidal not play today. At this point of the tournament I think an extra day pays off.
  • Pressure is on the Spanish - after having scored 8 goals and only conceded 1, the Spanish are the overwhelming favorites. Also, they have not lost a game in 2 years. The French were under the microscope the first round, due in large part to what happened in 2002 and their struggles in qualifying. Spain has always dazzled, but at times folded when the pressure built up.
  • Trezeguet - Henry combo, unless Domenech has a brain fart (not out of the realm of possibility) and decides to put Trezeguet back on the bench this combo should cause some concern for the defensive line for Spain.
  • Vieira - both the Korea and Togo game, Vieira stepped up and played like the old Vieira. Tackling, passing, playing defense, even scoring a goal (Actually 2). If he plays like the Pat we know, that could determine who controls the midfield, easing the pressure on Zidane.
I still think France will be an underdog and will have to play much better to beat a strong Spanish team. But I at least have hope...much more than I had 24 hours ago.

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