Monday, June 26, 2006

Anglo-French entente

England and France finally have something in common. They currently share the title of "worst team still in the Tournament".

England actually seem to get worse with every game (I know it's hard to imagine them worse than they were against T&T, but trust me on this). Somehow, thanks to the vagaries of the draw, they progress due to their continually being paired against teams of even greater ineptitude. They might even progress to the semis, because Portugal will be without Costinha and Deco (red cards), and possibly Ronaldo (injury through blatant Dutch fouling). What they've done to deserve this luck is beyond me.

France, meanwhile, finally displayed something of a pulse against Togo. The merely observant will think it had something to do Domenech moving to a 4-4-2, thereby giving Henry somebody to play with. Part marks. The real story, though, is that Zidane wasn't in the team - with him gone, Vieira is no longer exiled to the right wing (where his performance is only marginally better than useless) and the team plays at a sufficient pace that Henry's talents are not wasted. Sadly, Zidane is nearly a lock to start against Spain tomorrow, which likely means a return to a 4-5-1 and a minimum two-goal loss to the brilliant Spanish.

The common thread, of course, is the cozy retirement home known as Real Madrid where both Zidane and Beckham played last season. In recent years, the Bernabeu has become a talent-sucking vortex, taking formerly great players and turning them into mediocre ones with inflated opinions of their own abilities. The only merengue having even a semblance of a decent World Cup so far is Sergio Ramos.



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