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One More World Cup Post

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So, America can remove the World Cup season pass from their Tivo and not worry about recording another soccer match for 4 years. But, the last month has been truly fantastic and a welcome break. I won’t reiterate my plea for changes to the game, as this post will focus on some of my favorites from the Cup.

Best Goal of the Tournament: For sheer team brilliance and a textbook example of how soccer is a game of triangles, no goal compares to Argentina’s 2nd goal against Serbia-Montenegro.

Best Shot of the Tournament: There were a ton of great outside shots, some helped by the new ball. Rosicky’s blast, Frings shot, Maxi Rodriguez volley and more. But I still can’t believe the power of Robin van Persie’s free kick from just outside the box. In slo-mo, it is fast.
Best Young Player: Soccer has a plethora of young stars, more than I can remember coming out of the last few Cups. Certainly Tevez and Messi are a force to be reckoned with from Argentina. Valencia from Ecuador is another. I thoroughly enjoyed German’s young talent, Podalski. Playing up front with Klose, he had the grit, determination and skill that made the German squad a pleasure to watch. My best young player vote goes to Cristiano Ronaldo. On a semi-final team, he seemed to be the one that was creating havoc game in and game out for the defense. As my brother pointed out, he’ll need to work on his final touch, but his relentless attacking, footwork and presence make him a superstar.

Biggest Disappointment: I think the entire US team (and manager) deserve strong consideration for this category, but I’m going to go with Ronaldihno and the Brazil team. A few moments of brilliance was all this team could muster. Ronaldihno, probably the most gifted player in the game, was taken out of his game for the majority of the matches.

Best Player: While Zidane was a master in a few games, Fabio Cannavaro was my player of the tournament. The Azzurri captain started stepping it up with game 3 in the first-round and never looked back. Their lone goals allowed were an own-goal against the US and a dubious penalty kick against France. The French had the better of the play, but could hardly get quality chances because of Cannavaro and the Italian defense.

Best Goalie: There were only 2 real candidates, Ricardo from Portugal and Buffon from Italy. Ricardo let in a softie against Germany, so the vote goes to Buffon.

Most Entertaining Team: I couldn’t understand the voting from that gave this award to Portugal. Too much diving and too little offensive imagination after the second round. It’s a no-brainer for me. The most entertaining team for me goes to Germany, which I never thought I would ever say. While not the most artistic team, they constantly move forward, great in the air, play hard, don’t complain, don’t dive, etc. It’s everything the US team could be if they had the skill.

Best Single Game: Zidane’s play against Brazil was simply beautiful. He controlled everything that was happening on the field. They speed of the game is so fast, but not for Zidane. He sees things that others don’t, has the ball control of the best in the world and the competitive spirit that makes opponents fear him.

Best Headbutt: :-)

(ps. don’t tell Dave, but it probably won’t be my last on the World Cup)

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Written by Noah Eisner

07/10/06 3:34 PM at 3:34 pm

Posted in Opinion

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