Wild American Gooner

When Sports Are More Than Just Sports

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Can the Swiss Hold On? Today’s Picks

Well good morning, everyone. Let’s hope we can have the World Cup storylines be about the soccer itself today. After I ranted about Luis Suarez last night, I found myself some extended highlights of the Colombia game. They are a delight to watch right now. I hope they have their way with Uruguay, and I don’t see why they won’t. James Rodriguez is on fire. His goal yesterday is my pick thus far for goal of the tournament – an absolute beauty. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to watch any games at all today though, as I’ve got a particularly busy day. But I’ll do my best to have some more content, so check back later.

Now for my predictions.

Bosnia & Herzegovina 2 Iran 0

Bosnia has played too well to leave Brazil without a win. It’ll come against Iran, who will fall short of reaching the knockout stage. Edin Džeko will score a brace, giving the disappointed Bosnians some consolation after some unlucky results. Iran will be threatening in the first half, but chances will be scarce as the game goes on. They’ll be disappointed to leave without a goal. Asmir Begović will prevent them from scoring, showing why he should be considered among the world’s very best. I think Bosnia will cruise.

Argentina 2 Nigeria 1

Nigeria will somehow manage to get out of the group with only four points, losing this one to Argentina, who will not be particularly convincing once again. Lionel Messi will provide the opener, setting up a Sergio Agüero goal midway through the first half. From there, Nigeria will control much of the game, tying it on a Emmanuel Emenike goal. He will be impressive today, finally getting his World Cup goal. Argentina will arrive at their winner on a Lionel Messi penalty late on. Argentina will be lucky to leave with all three points.

France 3 Ecuador 1

France’s new lineup will romp once again, crushing Ecuador’s hopes of advancing. Karim Benzema will add to his impressive tally with a thunderous strike within ten minutes. Raphael Varane will score France’s second off of a corner a few minutes later, and within twenty minutes, the game will be all be locked up. Loic Remy will add one of the bench to ensure France’s finish atop Group E late on. Enner Valencia will get his goal in stoppage time to give Ecuador one last chance to celebrate their accomplishment of getting to Brazil. Christian Benitez can be proud looking down on these guys.

Switzerland 2 Honduras 2

A nervy finish to this game will see Switzerland flirt with dropping out of the knockout stages, but they will ultimately hold on to the group’s final spot. A Granit Xhaka goal will give the Swiss the ideal start, offering a morale boost following the embarrassment against France. Xherdan Shaqiri will double the lead shortly after, and it will appear that Switzerland will be well on their way. But Honduras will claw back into the game in the second half, getting one back through Roger Espinoza. A goal from Jerry Bengtson will have the Swiss fearing the worst, but a late Diego Benaglio save will give Switzerland the necessary point.

Please share your thoughts below and have a great day.



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Why Are So Few Arsenal Stars Shining in Brazil?

Well I was very wrong about that game. I knew France was the better side, but I didn’t expect them to be quite that clinical. I think it might have been closer had veteran Swiss defender Steve von Bergen not left with an injury in the opening minutes, but that isn’t excuse enough for the Switzerland’s atrocious defensive display. France has now put themselves in an excellent position and has to be tipped to make a trip to the quarterfinals, where they would likely run into Germany. If both France and Germany continue their impressive goalscoring form, that might be the game of the tournament.

It was good to see Olivier Giroud produce a great display in his slightly unexpected start. With him atop the field, and Benzema on the left, France looked dangerous every time they had the ball in Switzerland’s half. This might be a useful lineup going forward too, as I felt they looked more dynamic today than when Antoine Griezmann was on Benzema’s left. Paul Pogba will likely come back in for Moussa Sissoko, but this particular side obviously was quite impressive. Don’t sleep on the French as a potential title threat.

Giroud will be pleased that he contributed in more ways than one in his hour on the pitch. In addition to heading in a corner, he was effective receiving the ball deep and he even showed off his pace on the counter, putting Mathieu Valbuena in on goal for France’s third. I think whoever arrives this summer at striker for Arsenal will have a tough job holding off Giroud for the starting spot. He gets a lot of undeserved flak for all he adds to a side. And while Arsenal certainly needs another star frontman to compete for more silverware, Giroud will be a valuable contributor going forward as well. I’m not totally opposed to pairing Giroud with the new signing, whoever that might be.

On the Swiss side, seeing Johan Djourou cheaply give away a penalty brought back memories of his rapid demise at Arsenal. It would be easy to forget that for a long period in 2011, Djourou was first choice for Arsene Wenger in the back. He was useful at times too, helping Wojciech Sczcesny keep some clean sheets in some of the young keeper’s earlier starts with the first-team. But somewhere, it all went wrong. And now, he is an afterthought for most Gooners, sent away to Germany to keep him away from the squad. It was interesting that Arsenal has been tweeting good luck messages to Djourou all World Cup, even though he no longer plays for the club. Maybe they are reminding us that it could be a lot worse.

One thing that has been worrying me is that it feels like there have been a lot more former Arsenal players on the field in Brazil than current ones. It’s been nice seeing some of our old favorites, but isn’t it slightly concerning that so few Arsenal players are first choice for their countries? Wouldn’t we all like to think Laurent Koscielny is a better defender than Mamadou Sakho for example? It’s odd that the player representing the club the best so far is Joel Campbell, someone who’s never played a minute for the club, even in pre-season. Maybe not having players on display will help the fitness-levels for the season, but Arsenal have remarkably few stars in Brazil right now. Really only Per Mertesacker is an automatic starter for his country, with Mesut Özil not even guaranteed a place. I hope that’s not cause for concern.

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What Would Your French Football Hairstyle Be?

I didn’t catch any of the Switzerland game this morning as I was out with my dad for Father’s Day. Looked to be a pretty decent game though. Terrific decision to let play go on by the referee at the end. I did manage to see the France game though, so I have a few observations.

There couldn’t have been a worse omen for France than having the national anthem fail to play. For a group of players that have been known to play for themselves rather than their country, the lack of a national anthem – a chance to feel some French pride – could have signaled the start of another failed campaign. However, this team proved stronger than the 2010 squad, quickly putting their egos aside to dominate play from the start. They looked rather impressive, albeit against ten men most of the time. They now look like a cohesive unit from Benzema up top to Lloris in goal. On a side note, it’s really quite pathetic that the anthems didn’t work. This is one of the first confirmations that Brazil didn’t have their act together on time that has directly impacted the event. Let’s hope there aren’t too many more moments like that.

It was great to see the goal-line technology come into play for the second goal in a situation that didn’t matter all that much. To the naked eye, it didn’t look like the ball had crossed the line, but that is why the technology has been installed in the first place, because it is more reliable than the naked eye. People now have to trust that this system will get the decisions correct, which will only happen through their seeing it in action. I’m not a fan of having it for offside decisions, but goal-line plays are definitive enough that a little technology makes sense for the game. As proven in tennis with the Hawk-Eye system, trustworthy technology that works instantly can enhance a sport, rather than diminish it.

Lastly, there are a lot of ridiculous hairstyles in professional soccer. Having watched Olivier Giroud for two seasons at Arsenal, I have seen that some players put an absurd amount of thought into how their mane looks. But this French team has a lot of hairstyles that are way out there. Antoine Griezmann and Mathieu Debuchy in particular have looks that would never be considered acceptable anywhere other than on a soccer field. Americans would never dare try something as bold as those two have, and while I admire them for it, I question their choice in style.

On that note, I have an idea. Thinking about how the “What would your Brazilian football name be?” website has taken off (For the record, I would be Ethildo – I should start going by that), I have decided the next big hit should be “What would your French football hairstyle be?” It would be a huge success. Who wouldn’t love to see what they looked like with those ridiculous cuts? You’ve heard this idea here first.