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2010: Year of the World Cup underdog?

By Liz Clarke
If a theme has emerged from the early-going of the 2010 World Cup, it's that pedigree doesn't count for much.

Four-time World Cup champion Italy struggled to simply draw with New Zealand Sunday.

Two-time World Cup champion Germany, of course, was shut out by Serbia.

The handsomely compensated stars of England, the nation that invented the modern game, has scored as many goals through two draws as Vasilas Torosidis of Greece.

Who?

And France, victor in 1998, has failed to manage a single goal. Now comes an Associated Press report that Les Bleus have pitched a tantrum royale, refusing to train at all following a dispute between fitness coach Robert Duverne and lame-duck coach Raymond Domenech Sunday morning. That prompted team director Jean-Louis Valentin to quit on the spot and the entire squad to stalk off in a huff.

More.....

Meantime, Slovenia, the tiniest nation in the tournament, with a smaller population (2 million) than the city of Houston, leads Group C, ahead of England and the United States.

"It's been a crazy World Cup," U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard conceded Sunday. "It's hard to tell who's going to win."

Yet despite the topsy-turvy results, Howard said it's far too early to discount the usual suspects and cited the Netherlands (2-0-0) as a nation that may well advance to the final and possibly win its first World Cup.

As for the United States, Howard said he thinks the trend of fortune shining on the underdog in South Africa bodes well.

"I think it probably puts a team like ours in a good position to go further than we probably have," Howard said before Sunday's training session. "I'm probably talking out of turn there, because there's a long way to go, and we still have to get out of the group. But if we use the 2002 World Cup as our benchmark, then certainly we've shown that we're capable of playing to that level [quarterfinals]. ... It's just going to be hard. We still have to get out of the group. And for us to think past that is probably silly on our part."

By Liz Clarke  |  June 20, 2010; 11:41 AM ET
Categories:  2010 World Cup , England , France , Germany , Netherlands , U.S. men's national team  | Tags: 2010 World Cup, France, Tim Howard  
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Next: Brazil vs. Ivory Coast in World Cup 2010

Comments

Kiwi's win!!! New Zealand 1 - 1 Italy!! C'mon you Whites!!

Ryan Nelsen former DC United Captain, Man of the match!

Posted by: JkR- | June 20, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Don't forget that France also went without a goal in the 2002 World Cup - when they were defending world champions. My pick for the 2014 finals - Fiji vs. Andorra.

Posted by: hofbrauhausde | June 20, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget that France also went without a goal in the 2002 World Cup - when they were defending world champions. My pick for the 2014 finals - Fiji vs. Andorra.

Posted by: hofbrauhausde | June 20, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Oooooooooh. L'Equipe reporter said a bad word on TV. Oooooooooooh.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 20, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Nice interview with someone from L'Equipe -- Bob Ley was a little shaken by his...translation.

Posted by: Reignking | June 20, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

You have to think that the Irish are enjoying this immensely.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 20, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Indeed I am.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | June 20, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

**** France, and double-**** ITALY!!!!

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | June 20, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

It is the curse of the Hand Ball. The Banshee is coming for you Les Bleus.

Posted by: tcbannon | June 20, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Overly defensive tactics and a ball that is next to impossible to shoot from distance are to blame. The ball is also hard to chip, trap, and very difficult to pass in close quarters which means the defensive sides are having an easy time sitting back and just banging the ball away. Imagine playing with asupermarket ball at altitude.

I have yet to see a quality goal from distance. Even Wes Sneijder's—which was a great crack—was a total GK blunder.

All good goals are coming from well inside teh penalty area. This is much different than teh first round of 2006 in which the ball actually benefitted long range shots and increased scoring.

Epic ball fail.

Posted by: Palin-McCain2012 | June 20, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Ryan Nielsen was massive today! He is Captain Courage!
The French team is a disgrace, they are embarrassing themselves and the whole country. What a bunch of pricks!

Posted by: charlie015 | June 20, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

How much are the Cows dropping on Henri again? Should fit right in. (and hey, think Pep saw this coming when he relegated him to the pine for the season? This is your elderstatesman? Your supposed leader? Where?)

Posted by: joshuaostevens | June 20, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Underdogs rule! After all--in a Southern Hemisphere World Cup, the world's already upside down.

Posted by: Socrates2 | June 20, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

1) Can someone who follows the Euro teams more closely explain to more casual folks like myself why France left Benzema and Nasri at home?

2) Aren't you glad Benzema and Nasri chose to play for France rather than Algeria? Otherwise Wednesday would be looking a good deal more daunting...

Posted by: edgeonyou | June 20, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

It's like an NCAA tournament. you will have the upsets early but in the end , soccer royalty will make 3 of the final four. Look for Argentina, Holland and Spain and possibl Uruguay or Paraguay. A lot of the upsets happen for the same reason, it happens in the NCAA men's tournament. Big teams come in thinking they can play on second gear and get through while the little teams play with the intensity of war.

Posted by: vjohn72 | June 20, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Benzema and Nasri were left off because Domench thought Benzema did not play enough at Real Madrid and Nasri's playmaker role was given the Bordeaux man Gourcuff. Both foolish decisions that has cost France with super head case Anelka getting thrown out, 'what a surprise'. At lease Zidane won't be playing for Algeria on Wednesday.

Posted by: vjohn72 | June 20, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Liz, I'm pretty sure Germany has won the world cup three times, not two.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | June 20, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Lets just hope the action and the entertainment on the pitch soon gets as good as it's been off the pitch!

Posted by: harkes4ever | June 20, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

G of G, if you're not right then Germany should be taken to task for those three stars they have above their crest.

Posted by: seahawkdad | June 20, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

You have to think that the Irish are enjoying this immensely.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 20, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Indeed I am.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | June 20, 2010 12:45 PM
________________________________________

And the proper stance for persons of French and Irish heritage is...?

Posted by: universityandpark | June 20, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

With another match involving Honduras coming up tomorrow, will there be expressions of support for the Hondurèños among USA fans?

Posted by: universityandpark | June 20, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Shock teams making it out of the 1st round is not surprising as it happens ALL THE TIME

What would be different is if the majority of them make it through into the 3rd round

Until then, no....not really different than past years

Posted by: Bious | June 20, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

And the proper stance for persons of French and Irish heritage is...?

Posted by: universityandpark | June 20, 2010 3:38 PM
============================

Drink a watery beer.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | June 20, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

... and Budweiser is the official beer of the World Cup.

Of course, I'd rather look at Dutch babes in orange mini-dresses, whatever beer they're ambush marketing.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 20, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

You heard it here first:
Henry with a second half hat trick (as a sub) and France still loses to SA....

Posted by: GoCrew | June 20, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Of course, I'd rather look at Dutch babes in orange mini-dresses, whatever beer they're ambush marketing.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 20, 2010 5:27 PM
__________________________________________

That makes me think back to the discussion of vuvuzelas on this blog several days ago, at about the same time as the story of the ambush marketing broke, in which one poster said they should ban the vulvas [sic]:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/soccerinsider/2010/06/vuvuzelas_sound_pollution_or_a.html#comments

Posted by: universityandpark | June 20, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

"Two-time World Cup champion Germany, of course, was shut out by Serbia."

First off, Germany has won the World Cup THREE times not two.

Secondly, playing a very decent team with 10 men for 60 minutes had something to do with that loss. Yes, they should have come away with at least a tie (missed penalty shot) or a win (as they dominated the second half) but I would not count them out yet...

Posted by: lightgrw | June 20, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Ryan Nielsen was massive today!

--------------------------------------------------

So was Ryan Nelsen. Based on his performance, he might get some offers from bigger clubs. On the other hand, with his American wife giving birth here, perhaps he's interested in a return to DCU?

Posted by: fischy | June 21, 2010 1:09 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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