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World Cup 2006 – First round summary

Group A

Germany had a very solid first round winning all three games. Ecuador, after having great performances against Poland and Costa Rica played a regular game against Germany.

Group B

England finished at the top of its group but they didn’t looked unbeatable after the game with Sweden. Sweden improved some from its first game and it’s going to be a tough rival for the Germans.

Group C

Argentina and Netherlands had very solid performances. They both have great chances of winning their respective 2nd round games. Ivory Coast was unlucky to be in this group. I think they could have made it in another group.

Group D

This group that seemed really easy for Mexico and Portugal, showed that neither Angola nor Iran were weak teams. Mexico was chosen by FIFA as the top seed of this group, but clearly Portugal was much superior. Both teams have it very difficult in 2nd round against Argentina and Netherlands.

Group E

This was the most exiting group on the first round. The Czech Republic started with a solid performance and stabilshed themselves as favorites to win the World Cup. But they couldn’t beat either Ghana nor Italy and now they are out of the competition. Ghana on the other hand surprised everyone passing to the next round. They are going to be the only African team left in the competition. Italy made it to the next round but I don’t like their style.

Group F

Brasil had a slow start beating Croatia 1-0 but they picked up the pace against Australia and Japan winning 2-0 and 4-1 respectively. They have a very difficult game against Ghana in second round. Australia had good games and made it to the second round for the first time in their history. The last game against Croatia was very even but Croatia is out because they couldn’t beat the weakest team in the group Japan.

Group G

France made it to the second round and had a good game against Togo, but the french squad most likely will loose against Spain. Switzerland was very solid and gave good performances. Now they will be facing Ukraine and this game can go either way.
Group H

Spain has a great team full of young talent. I mentioned them as strong candidates to win the World Cup and I think they still are. Ukraine which was big dissapointment after the first match with Spain, was able to recover but against the two other teams in the group (Saudia Arabia and Tunisia) which are not strong teams. They could make it to quarter finals if they beat Switzerland but I don’t think they will go any further.

CONMEBOL VS CONCACAF

In the 2002 World Cup teams from CONCACAF had a great performance while teams from CONMEBOL were a dissapointment.

Mexico finished at the top of its group and lost in second round against the USA. The USA made it to quarter finals but lost against Germany. Costa Rica didn’t made it to second round but they finished in third possition in the group with the same number of points (4) as Turkey lossing the second place because of goal difference.

As far as CONMEBOL goes Uruguay, Argentina and Ecuador failed to advance to the second round and Paraguay lost against Germany in second round. Brazil obviously was the great exception and won the World Cup. Here are the numbers of that WC. I even remove Brazil to show how bad CONMEBOL did if Brazil wasn’t part of it.
CONCACAF: P:12 W:3 D:4 L:6 Pts:34 (1.50 points per game)

CONMEBOL: P:20 W:10 D:4 L:6 Pts:18 (1.70 ppg)

CONMEBOL*: P:13 W:3 D:4 L:6 Pts:13 (1.00 ppg)

* Without Brazil

I was really dissapointed that Colombia didn’t make it to the 2006 World Cup and I thought that it was unfair that CONCACAF had 3.5 places for its associated nations in the WC and CONMEBOL only had 4.5. I think CONMEBOL should have at least 50% more places than CONCACAF for all its World Cup history (9 World Cup championships).
Not only that but the 4th best team from CONCACAF (Trinidad & Tobago) had to play for the half place against the 5th best country in Asia (Baharein), while the 5th best country from CONMEBOL (Uruguay) had to play against the best team in Oceania (Australia).

But everytime I brought the subject with my Mexican friends for the past 4 years, they would remind me of how bad CONMEBOL did in the 2002 World Cup and how well CONCACAF is doing. They would argue that the 2 WCs Uruguay won in 1930 and 1950 mean nothing today. They would say that Mexico and the USA have been in the FIFA top 10 ranking for the last few years.

But today is payback time. Let me introduce you the 2006 World Cup comparisson between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL after the first round is over:

CONCACAF: P:12 W:1 D:3 L:8 Pts:6 (0.50 points per game)

CONMEBOL: P:12 W:8 D:1 L:3 Pts:25 (2.08 ppg)

I hope the FIFA follows the same logic to decide the number of places for the 2010 World Cup and takes a place from CONCACAF (2.5) and gives it to CONMEBOL (5.5).

Dedicated with love to all my Mexican friends.

World Cup 2006 – Now that we’ve seen all the teams…

This is how I would classify the different teams

Candidates to win the WC: Brazil, Spain, Czech Republic and Germany.

Brazil obviously is everyone’s favorite, although they didn’t have a great game against Croatia. Spain smashed Ukraine and has a very strong team, with very young players on the attack. The Czechs are not a surprise: they’ve been playing really well in the past few years and they are ranked #2 by the FIFA. Germany is a candidate because they are playing home. I think that under different conditions, Germany wouldn’t be a favorite.

Teams that will make it to quarter finals: England, Argentina, Netherlands and Italy.

Everyone knows these are four very strong teams but none had a spectacular first game. But if they improve for the next matches, they are definitely candidates to win the WC.

Teams that will have a very good WC: Ecuador, México, Cote d’Ivoire and Australia

If there is going to be a surprising team this year, it has to come out of this list. These are four very solid and great teams, but not as good as to win the WC.

Big disappointments: Ukraine, Paraguay, USA, France, Sweden

I had a lot of expectations about Ukraine. They were the first European team to qualify to the WC and they didn’t lose a single match during qualifying. And they have Shevchenko one of the best soccer players in the world. However they looked terrible against Spain. They have an easy group with Saudi Arabia and Tunes, so they might recover and make it to the next round.

With Sweden I also had high expectations, especially because of their strong attack with Larson and Ibrahimovic, but they couldn’t win the game against Trinidad & Tobago. I do recognize that T&T played an amazing game but I though that Sweden will be beating them easily.

Finally USA, Paraguay and France played a terrible first game. I don’t think USA has a chance to advance to the next round since they are in one of the toughest groups. Paraguay doesn’t seem to have strong team. They played horrible against England. I think France on the other hand can put it together and make it to the next round, since their group is not too difficult.

Dolor de hincha

Estoy emputado que el Atlético Nacional haya perdido por goleada anoche. Es que de unos años para acá, cualquiera golea a Nacional: San Lorenzo en la final de la sudamericana, Cienciano en cuartos de final y América de México en octavos. Tolima en la copa mustang 2006 y anoche Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito por la libertadores. Sabía que los ecuatorianos tenían un buen equipo y antes del partido le dije a un amigo que me contentaba con perder 1-0. Al final fueron 4 los que nos empacaron, y ya con ese resultado las esperanzas de pasar a cuartos de final se desvanecen. Al equipo le pido que tengan verguenza deportiva y este martes hagan respetar el Atanasio. No pido milagros, solo ganen. Pongan huevos porque con taquitos y florituras no se ganan partidos.

Atlético Nacional makes it to the 3rd round of Copa Libertadores

Copa Toyota Libertadores

Atlético Nacional VS Rosario Central

Reuters: The players celebrating Easter-style

Last night Atlético Nacional beated Rosario Central 2-1 playing in Argentina and classified to the 3rd round of Copa Libertadores being the best of its group. The goals for Nacional were scored by Victor Hugo Aristizabal and Vladimir Marín. Fox Sports didn’t broadcasted the game and broadcasted Palmeiras vs Cerro Porteño (2-3) instead, so I tried to watch it on NuestroFutbol, but the connection was very poor. Finally I listened to the game on Caracol Radio.
I watched the game with my friend Camilo who is fan of Independiente Santa Fé, also classified to the 3rd round.

Last international competition that Atlético Nacional played was last years Sudamericana cup. The team lost pretty badly agains América (México) and after that the team played a horrible season in the Colombian league. Because of that, they fired the manager Santiago Escobar and the argentinian midfielder Hugo Morales. The team now looks much solid, but I’m still not happy with some players who sometimes give pretty bad performances, specially in defense. Anyway, I hope this time Atlético Nacional can play a very good tournament and who knows, maybe we can win the cup again like in 1989!

Atlético Nacional Campeón Copa Libertadores 1989

World Cup: the dream is over

Colombia eliminada del mundial

For the second time in a row, Colombia has failed to qualify to the World Cup. In the last round Colombia beat Paraguay 1-0, but Uruguay won their game against Argentina 1-0 as well.

At the end Uruguay made 25 points and Colombia 24.

It is very sad that a very talented generation of Colombian soccer players will never go to a World Cup, because in 4 years they are going to be too old for it. They are Mario Alberto Yepes, Ivan Ramiro Córdoba, Juan Pablo Angel and Miguel Calero.

Luis Amaranto Perea is the only one that is still young enough, and has lots of talent to remain in the team.

The rest are mediocre players with lack of talent and gutts.

For the future I would suggest:

1. Hire a foreign coach.

Every time a Colombian coach is elected, someone is unhappy. They start talking about how a coach likes players from some regions better than others. Colombian coaches tend to use players that use to play for teams they coach in the past. I think it is logical that you use players that you know well enough, but coaches that do this fail to use other players that they might not know that well, but that maybe are in better shape. A foreign coach won’t know players that well, won’t prefer players from a particular region, won’t feel bad about not using a player that used to be very talented but that is going through a bad period. A foreign coach will make colder decisions, thinking with his head and not his heart.

2. Start with a base of young players

Colombia needs to start using a base of young players in every tournament they get chance to play. It doesn’t matter if Colombia sends an inexperienced team to the next Copa America (2007) and if they don’t do very well. The important thing is to build a good team for the next World Cup qualifiers. I would even consider keeping a couple of experienced players, as a role model for the young ones.

Colombia has done very well in recent tournaments for young players. We need to start using those players to build the national team.

3. Barranquilla is not “la casa de la selección” anymore

Only 25.000 people went to see the game Colombia vs Chile. That is pathetic. The national team needs to play in cities where you can get 50.000 people supporting the team. I think only Bogotá, Medellín or Cali are up for the challenge. They said that Barranquilla’s hot weather is an advantage for us. I think it is only an advantage for players that are use to play in the heat. But 90% of the national team is not used to this weather, so what’s the point?

Why instead of playing under difficult conditions of weather (Barranquilla) or altitude (Bogotá), not play under pleasant conditions like in Medellín?

4. Learn from other teams

Ecuador is going to its second World Cup in a row. They have talented players but I still think that Colombian players are better. However Ecuatorian players truly “sweat their jersey”. They put their hearts and souls in the soccer field. They play like warriors.

Just like Panama did in the last Gold Cup when they beat Colombia two times.

5. Desperate measures

Well, if none of the above work, we can always let Panama conquest back Colombia. That way we’ll make part of CONCACAF… although I’m not even sure if we could qualify playing there!

Or we could reunite “Gran Colombia” (Panama, Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia).

Just a little bit of humor in this sad day for Colombian soccer fans.

Any comments?

World Cup: second last chance!

Things didn’t improved for us much this saturday since Colombia and Chile tied 1-1 and Uruguay and Ecuador tied 0-0. These results leave Uruguay in 5th position with 22 points and Colombia and Chile with 21.

This wednesday is the last chance. The games are going to be:
Paraguay vs Colombia
Chile vs Ecuador
Uruguay vs Argentina

Colombia can still qualify if:

1. Colombia wins and Uruguay ties. It doesn’t matter if Chile also wins, unless they can improve their goal difference by 12 or more goals.
2. Colombia ties, Uruguay looses and Chile ties.

Things look very difficult, but I guess we can keep the hope alive.

We couldn’t beat Chile on saturday and that pretty much eliminated us from the World Cup…

See you in South Africa in 2010!

World Cup: last chance!

Eliminatorias Sudamericanas

This weekend the south american qualifiers for the World Cup Germany 2006 are going to be pretty much defined. Argentina (31 points) and Brasil (30) are already qualified. Ecuador (26) and Paraguay (25) are almost there.

And then the real battle is between Uruguay (21 points, -6 goal difference), Colombia (20 p, +7 gd) and Chile (20p, -4 gd).

The good thing is that Colombia is playing Chile this saturday in Barranquilla at 4:00 pm. The last 2 games that Colombia has played locally have been awesome (3-0 Ecuador and 5-0 Peru). Both teams are direct rivals and if there is a loosing team in this match, it can say ‘bye’ to the World Cup. A tie will be terrible for both teams. The chileans have been training all this week in Barranquilla and they have been complaining a lot about the heat (around 35oC).

At the same time Ecuador and Uruguay will be playing in Quito. Ecuador will be motivated to win and ensure its qualification. Besides they are the local team and the coach is the colombian Luis Fernando Suarez, so I believe that Ecuador will play hard to win the game. But Uruguay is also motivated to win and they will play very hard too. This game is going to be very exciting as well.

And then on Wednesday, the last matches for the qualifiers will be played.

The games that matter will be:

Paraguay vs Colombia
Chile vs Ecuador
Uruguay vs Argentina

I’m sure that Ecuador and Paraguay will be already qualified for the last game (and of course Argentina) so I’m assuming that none of those three teams will be playing very hard. This situation has me very worried: four years ago, the calendar for the qualifiers was exactly like this one. And the team’s situation was almost the same: Argentina, Brasil, Ecuador and Paraguay already qualified with Uruguay and Colombia fighting for the 5th position to play against Australia.

To qualify Colombia had to beat Paraguay 5-0 and hope for Uruguay to loose. Everyone thought impossible for Colombia to achieve that result but people agreed that Argentina could easily beat Uruguay since they had a very strong team. Magically Colombia did managed to beat Paraguay 4-0. I do believe that the result sounds very weird. I didn’t watched this game, so I cannot give you my opinion. But I never heard anyone implying that Colombia bought that game, or that Paraguay let us win. Conmebol even had european referees for these two matches to ensure fair play. The ugly part is that the Argentineans found out about the score in Paraguay and decided that they liked their ‘brothers’ from ‘El Rio de la Plata’ better than the Colombians, and they didn’t played hard against the Uruguayans. At the end that game finished 1-1 and Uruguay got to play Australia. Also this game was delayed about 10 minutes, so it gave a small advantage to the Uruguayans. The Argentineans during press releases admitted that they didn’t played hard against Uruguay to let them qualify…

I definitely don’t want to go through this situation again. I hope that Colombia beats Chile and Ecuador beats Uruguay and then in the last game, everyone should tie to keep things fair.