Wild American Gooner

When Sports Are More Than Just Sports

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Cameroon’s Embarrassment, John Lackey and Today’s Picks

Good morning, all. Strange one last night between Cameroon and Croatia. After the Indomitable Lions’ bright start, it was surprising to see them implode as they did. Benoit Assou-Ekotto should be ashamed of what he did. Never, and I mean never, should you show up a teammate on the field, much less headbutt him. If he isn’t suspended by the Cameroon soccer federation, it will be a crime. There is simply no place for that anywhere. And on another note, I guess Alex Song doesn’t read my blog. His action was rather childish as well, and cost his team dearly. As I said before, he needs to be better.

The Red Sox had a big win yesterday. It seems like the kind of stuff that could turn the season around. Nine shutout innings from John Lackey and then some tenth inning heroics from David Ortiz and Mike Napoli. In my eyes, Lackey deserves to be an All-Star this year. When the Red Sox have needed a stopper, he has been the guy, even if he isn’t piling up the wins. He and Koji Uehara should be the only Boston representatives in Minnesota this summer.

Now, to my picks. They’ve been going better lately.

Colombia 2 Ivory Coast 2

I expect this game between the two top teams in Group C to be an exciting one. Coming off of a strong performance against Greece, James Rodriguez will impress once again, setting up Teo Gutierrez for Colombia’s first. The Ivorians will strike next via Yaya Toure. With a match under his belt to regain some fitness, Toure should be better today. Colombia will score their second shortly after half through Victor Ibarbo, whose excellent play will be rewarded with a fine goal. But the scoring won’t be done, as a late penalty will see Didier Drogba tie the game from the spot.

Uruguay 2 England 1

The outcome of this game will depend completely on Luis Suarez. Initially, it looked like he was going to play. But recent reports suggest he won’t. If he does play, I think he scores a brace against many of his Liverpool teammates. Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka won’t be able to contain both him and Edinson Cavani. If Suarez plays, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Uruguay score three. But if he doesn’t, England will dominate. Whether or not that will manifest itself in a win is another matter, but Daniel Sturridge should have his way with the shaky Uruguay defense that will be without Pereira and Lugano. I’ll settle for in between my two predictions. Cavani will score first, and Suarez will add one off the bench for the winner. Sturridge will have set up one for Sterling earlier to get England on the board. This game should be fascinating.

Japan 2 Greece 0

I’m still disappointed in Japan’s performance against the Ivory Coast last weekend. But I expect them to be less intimated by Greece’s frontline. As a couple of my friends pointed out recently, there aren’t too many strikers like Greece’s Georgios Samaras – ones who specialize in not scoring. He certainly shouldn’t cause the same degree of fear that Drogba did. If Greece starts Konstantinos Mitroglou, this might be a match. But should he be on the bench, the Greeks won’t have much going. On the other side, Shinji Kagawa will have his way in midfield. He will set up Shinji Okazaki nicely for Japan’s opener, before scoring the second himself. He will put the Japanese back in the Group C race.

As always, thanks for reading. Check back later for more World Cup coverage. Please share any thoughts or suggestions for content, and have a great day.


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The Enigmatic Alex Song

Despite the best efforts of the assistant referee, Mexico was able to earn all three points in their opener today against Cameroon. But while Mexico looked to be creating the chances and dominating the game, Cameroon’s negative tactics allowed this to happen. It was unfortunate really that they held back so much, allowing Mexico time and space on the ball, and only sending one or two men forward to the box when attacking.

Alex Song’s performance in this match needs to be looked a closely. A former favorite of mine at Arsenal, capable both of breaking up attacks with cracking tackles and of sending the perfect pass, was noticeably tentative going forward against Mexico. Song is neither a true holding midfielder,  nor a #10. And he doesn’t make enough runs into the box to be considered a box-to-box type. He is a player that needs to do a little bit of both to be at his best. Cast as Cameroon’s lone holding midfielder, he seemed lost, afraid to venture forward without cover. Devoid of his creativity on the ball, Cameroon struggled to create chances for Samuel Eto’o.

It was particularly notable that when Cameroon went a goal down, and needed to bring on an extra attacker, Song was withdrawn to make way for Webo. Not unexpectedly, they failed to create many more opportunities. For a team that lacks playmakers, Cameroon needs Song further forward if they hope to win any games.

Song is now at an important part of his career, both internationally and at the club level. He can either change his game to become a complete defensive midfielder, or he can remain an enigma on the pitch, a player so tantalizing talented that Barcelona had to take a chance on him, but one whose lack of a true position keeps him off the field there. A Move away from Barca might be necessary for Song to discover who he really is on the field. Cameroon’s World Cup dream might be a lost cause, but at only 26 years old, Alex Song and his slowly vanishing career are not.

On the Mexican side, Miguel Herrera’s decision to leave out Javier Hernandez looks the smart one, with Giovanni dos Santos impressing all game. The sprite attacker looked comfortable with all the space given to him, and was extremely unlucky not to get on the scoresheet. I’m not ready to anoint Mexico ready to take down Brazil, but Cameroon played right into their hands in the rain. The confidence taken from this match cannot be underestimated though, as Mexico now look more of a threat to take the second spot in Group A.

Now to the match we’ve been waiting for.