116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Monday, July 10, 2006

The 116street World Cup Wrap-Up

Congratulations to Italy, champions of the world, masters of stifling defense and headbutt-worthy trash talk. That they won a World Cup while displaying zero imagination or flair along the way is (almost) praiseworthy. Now for 2010, can we get some creativity back in the mix? Maybe the occasional striking pair? So while this year's WC will probably be ultimately known for cards of all varieties, poor sportsmanship and long-range goals, the widespread use of the single striker may ultimately be the Cup's most ill effect. Miroslav Klose, of all people, won the Golden Shoe, which would ordinarily cause many a striker to hang his head in shame, but with Henry, Rooney, Pauleta, Ronaldo, van Nistelrooy and Toni all flying solo at one point or another, there weren't many scraps to go around in the first place. So please, everyone in all the world, can you bring back attacking play, and leave the single-striker, counterattacking business to the Americans? It's a simple request.

Nevertheless, there were some golden goals scored in this World Cup (not to be confused with "Golden Goals," which should make a comeback, seriously), and this is why we here on 116th Street are pleased to give you the top five goals of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, all in embedded YouTube goodness (although not in any kind of hierarchical order).

England vs. Sweden: Joe Cole figures that since no one else on England is gonna shoot it (oh wait, there's Lampard again, can't give it to him), he might as well give it a go:

Argentina vs. Serbia & Montenegro: Argentina plays ultimate keep away, making 24 passes (24 passes!) before Hernan Crespo gives the ill back-heel to Esteban Cambiasso. Serbia (and the two Montenegrans on the team, for that matter) shouldn't have even bothered to show up (not like it really mattered... 24 passes!).

Spain vs. Ukraine: Carles Puyol with the ridiculous spin move, followed by some nifty one-touch passing, resulting in a fine finish from Fernando Torres:

Italy vs. Ukraine: Gianluca Zambrotta makes the run up from the back, executes the give-and-go, gets into space and blasts low with his left, in a stunner:

Argentina vs. Mexico: Maxi Rodriguez's extra-time shocker:

The 116street World Cup Best XI
Everyone is doing this kind of thing at the moment, so I'm going to dispense with the fanfare and captions and just name the squad. In honor of the hideous counterattacking tactics that took hold in Germany, my squad will be in the 4-5-1:

GK: Gianluigi Buffon, Italy

RB: Miguel, Portugal

CB: Lilian Thuram, France

CB: Fabio Cannavaro, Italy

LB: Fabio Grosso, Italy

CM: Claude Makelele, France

CM: Andrea Pirlo, Italy

RW: Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal

LW: Joe Cole, England

AM: Zinedine Zidane, France

ST: Miroslav Klose, Germany

Absolute Letdowns
Let's just take a little time to discuss Cristiano Ronaldo, a player of prodigious talent who displayed quite a bit of skill during the Copa Mundial. Too bad he was the most loathsome player I've ever seen. His theatrics, whining and unjustifiable diving cost him the chance to stake his claim as one of the fan favorites of the World Cup, and having his tantrum extend to his club may end up ruining his professional reputation. What an @$$clown.

But as bad as it was for C. Ronaldo, it couldn't get much worse than Frank Lampard, possibly the worst player in the tournament. When you take his unwillingness to pass, and combine that with his steadfast insistence on blasting the ball from 35 yards out every single time, and combine that with his neverending inaccuracy, you end up with a player who should have been benched eons ago. But Sven Goran Eriksson, tactical genius that he is, stuck with Lampard throughout, no matter how poorly developed the English attack was. Jose Mourinho, on the other hand, may not do the same, not with Michael Ballack joining Chelsea this season. Will Lampard get pushed out with Ballack and Michael Essien in the fold? Time will tell.

Next Gen
The World Cup can often have a sort of cleansing effect on the state of the game, introducing young talent to the biggest stage, while bringing storied careers to a necessary close. Let's welcome with open arms the new generation with stars (or begrudgingly, in the case of Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney): Lukas Podolski, Tranquillo Barnetta, Robinho, Lionel Messi, Andres Guardado, Phillippe Senderos, Cesc Fabregas, and yes, even Clint Dempsey represent the new generation players that we will be cheering for (or against) for the forseeable future. And while we're at it, let's bid adieu to Ronaldo, Raul, Luis Figo, Lilian Thuram, Patrick Vieira, Claude Makelele, Pauleta, Claudio Reyna and Brian McBride, all of whom have probably played their last World Cup matches.

And Finally...
Thanks to Zinedine Zidane, who gave us a last look at his full repertoire, and then some, during the knockout stages. Undoubtedly, he will be remembered for all of his greatest moments, although that temper of his is something fierce. His performance against Brazil was the best individual game of the tournament, and although he ultimately probably wasn't the best player in the entire World Cup (that honor should have gone to Fabio Cannavaro), his winning of the Golden Ball isn't quite a travesty, either.

Now that the World Cup has ended, we here on 116th Street can turn our attention to transfer season! Excited yet?


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