Reign In Spain?

June 16, 2010

Every team in the World Cup now has one game under their belts, and unsurprisingly, some teams are pleased with where they currently stand, while others are scratching their heads wondering what they’re going to have to do in order to move on. Let’s take a look at the first set of group play games, and what we might be able to expect from this point forward.

Team That Should Be Most Pleased With Their Performance
South Africa

Not very many people were giving the South Africans a chance in this group, but after their 1-1 draw with Mexico in the World Cup opener, the Bafana Bafana are right in the thick of things. If they can manage to pull off a shocker against Uruguay (which is being played currently), then South Africa may be able to extend their stay in this tournament. At any rate, still being in the hunt has given the home fans something to cheer about, which is good for the country as a whole.

Outlook: They still have a lot of work to do; a tie against Mexico was great for the morale of the team and country, but they will have to get a win against either Uruguay or France to feel good about their chances of moving on. Obviously, getting a win today against Uruguay seems like the easier route. I’d like to see it happen, but I wouldn’t put money on it.

Team That Should Be Least Pleased With Their Performance

They didn’t play a terrible game (nothing went their way today), but the co-favorites to win this tournament should be very disappointed with the result. Switzerland goalie Diego Benaglio played an excellent game, but Spain had a plethora of chances, and just didn’t capitalize on them. Apparently, the pressure of being the favorites did affect Spain a little bit.

Outlook: This probably won’t prevent Spain from moving on, but they no longer have the cushion that I’m sure they thought they’d have at this point. They should be able to take care of Honduras, so the game against Chile (who already has three points) will be the crucial game. The Spanish will definitely be rooting for a tie in the Switzerland vs. Chile game so that Spain will be able to gain some ground on the leaders. If Spain uses this as motivation, they should be fine.

Best Game So Far
Slovakia vs. New Zealand (ended in a 1-1 tie)

It’s a shame that many people were not even awake in the U.S. to watch this game, because it definitely defined the term “last minute drama”. Down 1-0 with two minutes in extra time already gone, New Zealand fullback (yes, fullback) Winston Reid saved the day for the Kiwis by heading in a goal in the 93rd minute. It’s the first point ever scored by New Zealand in a World Cup, and it could very well be their last for awhile. Regardless, it’s still great, and a must see if you haven’t seen it yet.

While much of ESPN’s (and this blog’s) attention has been focused on the World Cup, there has been a lot of other worthy sports stories to talk about. The biggest non-soccer headline today is that Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has decided not to take the Cleveland Cavaliers head coaching job. I think that this was a good decision on Izzo’s part. Sure, in the NBA he could have made more than twice the amount of money that he is currently making, but along with the extra money comes a whole new set of headaches that you don’t have as a college coach. One of those headaches is dealing with the players. In college, the coaches actually coach. In the NBA, coaches essentially babysit and make sure everyone plays nice with each other. Even if Lebron were to stay and Izzo were to take the Cavaliers coaching job, Lebron would still be the de facto coach of the team. Izzo is the kind of guy who wants to actually coach kids make them better. The NBA is not that kind of game, so I think it was a wise decision by Izzo to stay in East Lansing.

Tomorrow is the start of the U.S. Open, and for the first time in a very long time, Tiger Woods isn’t the overwhelming favorite to win. Golf needs Tiger back. I know that the World Cup is kind of overshadowing it, but the U.S. Open has been getting very little media attention. It’s being played at Pebble Beach, possibly the most revered golf course in the United States other than Augusta National, and even that isn’t getting as many people as usual excited. We’ve been through this before, and we’re going through it again; golf needs Tiger Woods on his game to get the casual fan interested. It’s not enough for Tiger to be in the tournament anymore; now he needs to be in the hunt for the win for people to tune in. For golf’s sake, I hope he does well this weekend.

For whatever reason, the polls don’t seem to be working. Maybe it’s just my computer, so if it’s also a problem for all you guys, please let me know so that I can try and get it fixed. Thanks everyone.

– K. Becks

2 Responses to Reign In Spain?

  1. Michael on June 17, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    completely agree about spain. however with south africa, I don't think they should be pleased. they got a tie because mexico was playing for a tie. other teams that should be pleased with their performance are Switzerland, South Korea, and Ghana, especially Ghana. Both the USA and Paraguay should be pleased with ties against powerhouses England and Italy, respectively.

    completely agree about Tiger. also i think more people should watch because the open is at Pebble Beach which is probably the greatest PGA course in America.

    Good stuff on Izzo. However, in addition to Izzo loving to actually coach as you said, I believe the main reason why he is staying is because Izzo is the basketball program at MSU, and more or less the face of the university. They named their student section the IZZONE after him, so he's kind of like Coach K at Duke.

  2. K. Becks on June 17, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    The main reason I said South Africa should have been pleased is because they gave the home fans something to cheer about with a tie; however, I agree with you that Mexico was playing for the tie. The fact that they put themselves in a position to move on (until they got smacked by Uruguay yesterday), gave them something to be pleased about. I do agree with you that Switzerland, Ghana, the United States, and Paraguay should also be pleased with their first game performance. I just felt that of any team, South Africa would be the most pleased with their result because of how they are as a team.

    I think you are correct in saying that Izzo is the face of MSU. Other than Indiana, they are the only school in the Big 10 whose basketball team means more to the fans then the football team.

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