However, the fact that Brazil lost almost (almost!) made up for England losing out (pre-emptive apologies to Aisha, Bengali Fob for the gloating to follow). Even an England supporter like me will agree that England is over-hyped and may lack a certain quality to make it a truly top side. I did not see them going past semis. Brazilian fans harbour no such confessions however. In their mind:
- Brazil is the best team. No one plays more attractive soccer than Brazil.
- Brazil never engages in dirty tactics like clutching shirts, diving or crying.
- Brazil's stars are the most artistic (such as Ronaldinho).
- All they need to do is turn up. The rest of us should just hand them the trophy and go home.
- Brazil deserves an automatic berth at the final.
- Football loses its lustre if Brazil is not in the game.
I wonder who 99% of Bangladesh is going to support, now that Argentina and Brazil is out of the cup.
Having gotten that gloating out of my system, the semi finals are now too close to call.
Germany vs. Italy
This German side lacks a certain quality. The team is playing well, boosted by home support and is the most prolific team left in terms of goal scoring. However, Italy has only allowed one goal in (that too an own goal). Their defence is much more organized (and better) than the Germans and they are a truly punch and counter-punch team.
The key I feel will be the German defence. If they can avoid getting rattled, stay organized even when Klose and Co. go forward, and prevent Italy in the final third, Germany will win the game. The advantage for Germany are obviously the home support, German efficiency and organization, as well as their attacking flair. If you are attacking (Germany) and the other team defending (Italy) you are more likely to score a goal if you defence can nullify counter attacks.
Winner: Germany (perhaps penalties).
France vs. Portugal
Boy, no one saw this semi final! And are these teams evenly matched. Portugal has a coach who has never lost a World Cup match in charge, their players are all in form and good on attack (and Deco is back) while France as a team are in the form of their life. I have said before that if France plays like they played against Spain, they will beat Brazil. The question is whether they can sustain it for a third match, as the pace is no doubt tiring.
I feel the French do not have to play in such an attacking manner anymore. Portugal struggles to break down a good defence. They could not get past a tight Greek defence in the Euro 2004 final. They struggled against Iran for the first half until the Persians slacked off. They could not get past a ten-man England. Therefore the French will have to shut down the flanks, concentrate on not giving up the ball (unlike England) and play a much more possessive game than usual. Can they do it? Yes.
Tags: FIFA World Cup