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Soccer World Cup 2010

I thought a thread about the next World Cup would be a great thing, even if Americans feel less concerned about that sport (but the USA are qualified, guys !).

First thing I want to say is that I don't feel comfortable at all with France qualifying after such a game. I've never seen them play so bad, and Thierry's "hand of God" is not something I'm really proud of.

So, Beans, I heard your government is calling for a replay, and I wish you good luck although the chances of a third game are all but slim. I mean it's the rules that prevailed BEFORE the match that have to be changed in the future.

I want to tell the Irish they should be proud of their team and of their coach.

Trappatoni gave Raymond f%^°* Domenech a great coaching lesson yesterday. During the second half I almost wished the Irish scored again so we could get rid of Domenech, he's got no strategy, he didn't create any team spirit, he makes choices that nobody understands and I don't think we will go very far in South Africa.

We didn't beat any great team since september 2006 (a 3-1 win against Italy).

Of course I feel good that our team goes to SA but in such a way ? Come on, I feel like I've got a big hangover this morning...

Anyway, what are your guesses for next world Champion ? Mine is not very original : Brazil...

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Thanks Nicolas, thats very gracious of you.
It was interesting to watch Henry sitting on the pitch next to the Irish captain Richard Dunne after the game. He had the look of a man who new he had just created one almighty storm and perhaps done irreparable damage to his good name.

I cannot see a replay happening much as I would like to.

As for the french team; Domenech is most definitely the problem. I cannot understand why he did not get the bullet after the european championships. Everything you say about him is correct, tactically inept and removed all team spirit from the squad.
And why oh why does he leave Benzema sitting on the bench?

One final point on the subject, it seems just a little bit unfair that we had to play both 2006 world cup finalist twice simply in order to qualify and the decision to seed the playoffs was unjust.

My tip is Spain. All those wonderful midfielders, Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas... Fernando Torres up front, simply irresistible.

It will be intersting to see how the african nations do. All the big guns are there. The weather may have a part to play as well. It is essentially a winter world cup after all.

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I don't know much about the play, but bad calls happen all the time in sports. That the govt. is calling for a replay is kind of ridiculous in my opinion. Ireland might have had a call go the wrong way, but if they would have put another ball behind the keeper it wouldn't have mattered, I didn't see the game but I would bet they had their own mistakes and missed opportunites. Bad calls happen- sometimes they go your way sometimes they don't. I'm pretty sure Ireland wouldn't be calling for a replay or agree to one if it happened to them. I'm all for replay in every sport... recall the play, but don't replay the game.

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John, you really need to see the incident to understand the outrage. He didn't handle the ball once, he handled it twice. The first touch might have been excused for being an instinctive reaction, strikers do it all the time, but the second touch, which more of a scoop was completely deliberate.

It is almost on a par at an international level with the Diego Maradonna's "Hand of God" goal in the 1986 world cup, and has rightly been met with absolute disgust all over the footballing world.

I dont thing anyone really expects a replay to happen, although a precedent was set in a similar situation in a game involving Uzbekistan back in 2006.

The Irish government getting involved is both a genuine reflection of their outrage (we are a sports mad nation) and also an opportunity on their part to be seen to do something right in the eyes of the voting public. This country is in the midst of a particularly deep recession and they are wildy unpopular.


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As a Spurs fan, I am loathe to ever support Thierry Henry, and certainly wish that Robbie Keane was now the captain of a World Cup qualified side.

That said I don't blame Henry for the incident. I think there are exceedingly few players in that situation (qualification on the line in extra time) who would have forcefully argued to the ref: "I handled. You have to disallow the goal." Henry claimed he told the ref that he handled. I'm not sure I believe him, but, again very few players would have gone beyond that. In addition, while it was a blatant hand ball, it was less of a sinister one than Maradona's famous "Hand of God." (I think the 2d touch was also instinctual, rather than intentional... although I can see how others may disagree.)

It was shameful that not one member of the crew didn't see the hand ball... but similarly blatant occurrances are missed by refs all the time. It's a part of football... of all sports really.

No... mostly I blame FIFA. They are the ones who have been content to let football's reputation get sullied by their cynical actions and haughty inaction.

Cynical action: The decision to seed the playoffs. (I'm still not clear if the decision was UEFA's or FIFA's... but if it was UEFA's it was certainly at the behest of FIFA.) Every 2d place team in the playoffs should have been on equal footing during the draw. The groups that they came through were already seeded. At that point they should have been on equal ground. But once they discovered that Portugal, France, and (at the time) possibly Germany might wind up in the playoffs, they stacked the system to make it more likely that the bigger markets would qualify. Ireland spoke out forcefully about this when the decision was made, and no one listened. And I agree with whichever player who today said that that decision provided a little extra pressure on the officiating crew, who were well aware who FIFA wanted in the Cup.

Haughty inaction: FIFA have been dodging bullets for some time now where poor calls on the field that could have been overturned through some form of video review have wound up not affecting a major international result. At the Confederations Cup final last summer, Brazil had a clear goal disallowed against the U.S. Fortunately for all involved (and I say this as a fan, first and foremost, of the U.S. team), Brazil wound up scoring additional goals and became the clear champion. But if the U.S. had held on... would the pressure for video replay have finally built enough to get some action.

Unfortunately... I don't think FIFA cares too much about Ireland missing out on this incident. I'm sure they are just confident that this will all blow over. And it will... until the next incident. And what happens if it comes in the World Cup semifinal between, say, Italy and Brazil? I know that video replay is not an easy fix... but they really should have long ago experimented with how to integrate it into the games.

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As for my tip for the Cup... I'd love to see what happens in the African Cup of Nations. If Ivory Coast can put it together, they could be a difficult team to stop. It would be a lot of fun. I realize that all of the African teams have a bridge or two to cross before they can win the World Cup... but they'll be motivated like never before this time out.

It might have been the best hing that happened to Spain to lose last summer to the U.S. Maybe they will not be too overconfident. None of the other European teams look all that strong, although I keep hoping for the Netherlands (I'm half Dutch) to toughen up in those Round of 16/quarterfinal matches.

As for my U.S. team... I am pessimistic. Bad injuries heading in, key players not getting enough playing time with their clubs, and not a particularly deep squad.

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I'm with Beans - pound-for-pound Spain are the best team in the world, certainly the most talented, and they are on a roll right now. It's hard to say no to the level of skill they have a every position. I like England and Holland too. But my pick for the champions is Brazil. They're another excellent team, and I don't see the Spanish winning it, if only because they're not playing it in Europe this time around, because the teams are that close.

And I wouldn't get started on my Americans. I'd be amazed if they got out of the group stage.

I also wouldn't be surprised if an African nation made a deep run. Ivory Coast, Ghana, heck the South Africans didn't look half bad at the Confederations Cup.

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Agree with schwah about the FIFA.

If somebody has to take the blame, it is not only Henry, but the system that allowed this incident to happen.

The rules are clear : the ref is the boss, and that's why, on those grounds, the FIFA will not decide for a replay.

The Uzbekistan/Barhein incident was a little different : it was a technical mistake by the referee, who had not enforced the laws of the game in the right way.

About the Henry incident, the laws are clear (chap. 5)

"The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including
whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final.
The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or, at his
discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee or the fourth offi cial, provided
that he has not restarted play or terminated the match."

That's why there won't be any replay.

No, the only thing this very sad incident proves, is that the referee has to be helped, either by video (but is a camera objective ?) or by one or two extra assistants that stand behind the goals.

And the way the politicians and some media jumped on this incident in both countries was predictable.

But was is terrifying is not only Henry'hand, but the way France played. We owe our ticket in a great part to mere luck !

And to answer your questions about Domenech, Beans and why he wasn't fired after the 2008 disaster, it's still political. Everyone here will tell you that French federation was pathetic. They prefered to keep Domenech rather than appoint ex 1998 World champions like Laurent Blanc or Didier Deschamps, simply because these guys had been very critical against the federation.

And now Blanc's doing great as a coach with Bordeaux... Too bad !

And to why Domenech left Benzema on the bench is a mistery. Domenech blacklisted a lot of players (Pires, Malouda, Benzema) because they had criticized him.
Making a team with professionals who are the best in their field but don't get along together is the role of any good coach.

And most of all, he's terrible with the press, he never speaks his mind, never answer questions about tactics and strategy, and acts arrogant and disrespectful, always accusing the media of everything, playing the victim everytime things are not well for the team.

Domenech has to go, but that won't be before next july I'm afraid.

I really hope we won't be too humiliated in SA, but someday this inept federation will have to pay ...

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I,ve always thought Arsene Wenger would make a great french manager. He ha proven himself inn the most competitive league in the world, has coached or is familiar with practically all the french players and his teams always play great attacking football.

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I can understand the disappointment of the Irish, but I don't support a rematch. The match consisted of more than the one bad call made by the referee.

As for the winner, I'll go with Brazil or Argentina. European teams don't win outside of Europe.

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yeah Arsene would be great when he retires from Arsenal

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But Arsene Wenger is meant for Arsenal, just like Wolfgang Wolf is meant for Wolfsburg.

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But Arsene Wenger is meant for Arsenal, just like Wolfgang Wolf is meant for Wolfsburg.

And Satan is made for hell.


//(I actually have a lot of respect for Wenger, but I'll never admit it.)

///(Please ignore the last comment.)

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Schwah's bang on about FIFA. It's pretty obvious they had a wish list of teams they wanted to be in the finals next year, and introduced the play off seedings in order to facilitate this.
The question of technology in football seems destined to rumble on forever, which is insane. A fourth official with a monitor could have ruled out Henry's goal without slowing the game down at all.

I've also gotta say I'm really disappointed in Henry. As a lifelong football fan, Henry's one of my all time sporting heroes, the best player ever to grace the English Premiership and a great sportsman to boot...until now.
I'm getting sick of people putting the incident down to instinct-perhaps the initial handball was involuntary, but the subsequent touch, wild goal celebration and later post match confession of impropriety all smack of 20/20 cynicism. If he'd blatantly dived to get an extra time penalty, the subsequent penalty would have stood, but at least he would have faced some disciplinay backlash from FIFA. In this instance, a lot of people seem to take the view that the player has no duty to play fair, and if the referee misses the incident then that's his fault

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I haven´t watched the France-Ireland game, but in my opinion one of the charms of soccer is, is that the decisions are made by humans, not by video cameras or computers. Yes, a referee can make a stupid mistake, but that´s all part of the game. And let´s be fair, a World Cup without France (or one of the other big names) is simply less exciting.
Being of Dutch origin, I hope of course that Holland wins, but I wouldn´t bet my money on it (quarter-finals probably, as usual). I´d like to see a country win however, that never did before. Spain maybe, I´m always fond of the English as well. But then there´s the problem that the tournament is held outside of Europe, which means that traditionally a non-European nation gets the best bets.
Living in Brazil for quite some years now, the expectations for the national team over here are very high, with all the successes of recent World Cups in mind (three finals, two wins). But I think Brazil is somewhat over the hill. It still has great players, but it misses a super talent of the calibre of a Ronaldo or Romario to lift them to the very highest level. The Argentinians, on the other hand, are loaded with talent. If only they could get rid of Maradona. Being the greatest player of the last 30 years doesn´t make you automatically a fantastic coach (particularly not in Maradona´s (nut)case). But the coolest thing, of course, would be if an African team wins the Cup.

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I don't really follow soccer, but I got really into it in 2006, so hopefully I can get really into it again next year.

My feelings on instant replays and such in sports: I think sports are better when the better team has a higher odds of winning. For the popular American sports, I'd rank them as such in terms of odds of the best team ending up champion:

American Football
(Large gap)

For soccer, I'd probably put it between baseball and hockey, for two reasons. First, in any low scoring sport, there's going to be more statistical randomness. Second, with the tournament decided on so few games, a single fluke result can make a big difference. If that one fluke result is based on a bad call, as a fan of sports, that's not going to sit right with me.

Rules in sports were established at a time before instant replay technology was available. Now that it is available, we should make use of it.

For those of you from the British Isles attached to tradition, I say: Admit it! Wimbledon is better with a roof over center court!

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For soccer, I'd probably put it between baseball and hockey, for two reasons. First, in any low scoring sport, there's going to be more statistical randomness. Second, with the tournament decided on so few games, a single fluke result can make a big difference. If that one fluke result is based on a bad call, as a fan of sports, that's not going to sit right with me.

Bill - You just hit one one of the features that attracted me to club soccer. I love the World CUp and other short national tournaments. And a surprising amount of the time the best or nearly best team does prevail (Spain in Euro '08, Brazil at last year's Confed Cup). But very often a short, fluky run from a disciplined but less skilled team can make it through (prime example - Greece in Euro '04).

But in club soccer in Europe, the league champion is always the best team. It is the fairest way to decide a champion. Your team plays every other team twice, home and away. At the end of the 38 game marathon, the team with the most points (or "best record" in American parlance) is the champion and has proved they are the best team that year. No playing teams from your half of the country more often than those on the other half. No division and conference champions. No pennants for being the NL Central champions. No getting into the playoffs with an 8-8 record because you are in a division with the 49ers, Seahawks, and Rams.

And if you want the excitement of single elimination, playoff-style competition, you have the concurrent domestic cup competition. No seeding... you could be drawn against Petersborough in the first round, or you could be drawn against Manchester United. Like the World Cup, the best team does not always win the domestic cup (or the Champions League for that matter), but it gives teams that have no shot of winning the title a chance to shoot for glory, like Portsmouth two years ago.

That's not even to mention the best thing about European club soccer... relegation and promotion. Imagine if the Pittsburgh Pirates were forced to play in AAA next year, and they were replaced in the majors by the Durham Bulls. This keeps the games meaning ful al lthe way through for all teams. There is nothing better than the last day of the league season when there may be 3-5 teams still in danger of being relegated to the lower division next year, and another 2 who are fighting for the last Champions' League qualification spot. Even if the league champion has already been decided, the competition remains exciting until the last day even without a year-end playoff.

In hockey, it always struck me that there should be more prestige associated with winning the Presidents' Trophy. But in hockey, and almost to the same extent basketball, there are two seasons... the less intense regular season and the incredibly intense playoffs. Now no team could keep up that level of intensity for the regular season, but there is no reason why the bulk of the competition (the regular sesaon) should be so dull.

I realize this could never happen, but why not split the NBA into three ten-team leagues. The Premier Division will have the Celtics, Lakers, Magic, Cavs, Spurs, Nuggets, Hawks, Rockets, Mavs, and Hornets. They all play each other 4 times at home and 4 times away. Best record at the end of the season wins the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy. The worst four teams at the end of the season get relegated to the Second Division for next year, repalced by the best four from this year's Second Division.

Then at the end of the season have all 30 teams in a best of 5 or 7 game playoff bracket. Invite the NCAA champion and the Euroleague champion to take part and you've got a 32 team tourney. Winner gets the Bill Russell Trophy, and plays the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy winner in a final 7 game series to decide who wins the David Stern Cup.

It's a pipe dream, but I think that would be the most exciting structure for a league competition.

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Then at the end of the season have all 30 teams in a best of 5 or 7 game playoff bracket. Invite the NCAA champion and the Euroleague champion to take part and you've got a 32 team tourney. Winner gets the Bill Russell Trophy, and plays the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy winner in a final 7 game series to decide who wins the David Stern Cup.

You are nuts. Of the major sports leagues' playoff systems, I think the NBA has the fairest system by far, because only the best teams can survive 3 best-of-7 series. It's unfortunately also the dullest system, because it takes forever. You have a point, though, about relegation systems and the league system in European soccer. I think the next step for MLS over here is to get a second division going so they can make it more like the European leagues. They keep making the game more gimmicky over here, and I wish they would realize that most people just want to see the best players/teams in the world on the pitch (but that's another story).

Side note: I have always thought the NBA could make a ton of money though if the NBA champs played the Euroleague champs. They could start the season with it in Europe, and they would make a killing off it. Same with MLB and the Japan Series winners.

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Relegation and promotion is the coolest aspect about soccer, but it would never work in American leagues because of how popular college athletics are. Teams in the lower divisions in Europe are mostly developmental teams who take their shot when the opportunity arises or else just sell their rising stars to the top teams to afford to keep fielding a team. The only sport I could see making relegation work is hockey, but even that is far fetched.

The NBA season might be long but I don't think it needs to be changed. It's still very fun to watch. I love that because of the mostly fair salary structure and small team size, a well managed team can go from bottom to top in 3-4 years and one player can turn an entire franchise around. It's also a sport where personality is allowed to shine, which keeps the regular season entertaining for me. It's the only sport in America right now that doesn't seem like it's just a business. I love baseball, but it's lost a lot of it's charm in the past 10 years. Basketball did for awhile, but it's back.

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No top seeding for France. Not sure what they based it on. I,m actually suprised, I always thought performances in recent world cups and world rankings had something to do with it, in which case France would definitely be top seeds.

I dont know how you feel about it Nicolas, but it could make for a very difficult group. Any of the top seeds, apart from the hosts will be difficult, and the pot containing the other african and south american teams has upset written all over it.

Out of the remaining pot, containing the asian, north american and oceania teams, I think the Aussies would be the ones to avoid.

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The American league whose rules bug me the most right now is the NHL. I hate getting a point for losing in overtime.

Here's the story of how that happened. Overtimes used to be boring because no teams took any risks. So, to make teams more aggressive in overtime they made it 4 vs 4 and made it so losing was the same as tying. Then, they decided to add shootouts, eliminating ties. But *they didn't eliminate the 1 point if you lose in overtime*.

What I would have done to make overtime more exciting is copy soccer. 3 points for a win, 1 point for a tie. Teams would be more aggressive because they'd have two points to gain and one to lose.

The NBA is the league where the best team is most likely to win. Because, next to the NFL, the best team is most likely to win any individual game. But where NFL has single elimination, the NBA has a best of seven series. I don't think any change needs to be made there. But I might have a chat with the refs about consistency of foul enforcement. Having a separate division for the best teams is interesting, but it doesn't work as well in the era of the free agent, when a team can go from the worst to the best team in the league in one off-season. Maybe it'd work better in baseball, where they could separate the league by salary.

Back to instant replays: If tennis can incorporate instant replays, so can soccer. The only obstacle in soccer is the fact that they don't stop the clock during play stoppages. Otherwise it's easy. The only thing that needs to be reviewable is goals, and only let them challenge one goal per game so they don't just fish for a loophole on every goal.

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The drawing is for tomorrow ...

Well, I was surprised too that France is not among the top seeds. All the papers said that they would chose the same system as in 2006 (e.g. FIFA ranking AND performances in past competitions).

They finally chose to stick to the FIFA ranking of october 2009. Taking the november ranking wouldn't have been fair because that would have advantaged the nations who passed the play-offs while the others didn't play officials games.
Of course not being a top seed nation is annoying, but in a way we deserve it given our pool level.

So now we'll have to wait and see...
And of course Domenech stays, although more and more people want him out. Even fellow coaches like Aimé Jacquet who won the 1998 WC publicly declared he had to go after the 2008 fiasco..

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and we might be lucky

I did a drawing just for fun, respecting the FIFA rules and France was with South Africa, New Zealand and Uruguay ! ! (easy in football, but very tough in rugby )

And I too think the Aussies are the ones to avoid (along with the USA).

I don't know about African nations. They have great players but lack of top competitions and they often proved erratic in their WC results. THey're capable of the best AND the worst. The USA are like that too.

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Nice idea a topic about the World Cup! Brasil all the way! During the cup everybody is together, watching the games together. Soccer is like religion over here, meybe that's why we won it 5 times, and possibly the 6th next year! =]

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I am offically supporting the hosts, Mexico and Uruguay

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and we might be lucky

I did a drawing just for fun, respecting the FIFA rules and France was with South Africa, New Zealand and Uruguay ! ! (easy in football, but very tough in rugby )

2 out of 3 of my draw were right !

We're lucky once again...

And there's a death group with Brazil, Portugal, Cote d'Ivoire and North Korea !

You'll find the groups here

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out of 3 of my draw were right!


We're lucky once again...

oh, did domenech resign today? congrats! (anyone from italy or england present, btw?)

whatever, nj vs moonbeam... can't wait for that one! great draw... (all along with ghana and serbia... seems like the blatter pack somehow sorted out how many of my friends could get involved in a funny little group stage monster battle... here's to dragan and nana..)

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Domenech will never resign... It's not his nature. Domenech's obsessed by his job. Domenech wants the World Cup. Domenech's not a bad guy (I like some of his interviews), but is he a good coach ? I'm not sure;

You know it's like when a DVD freezes or a Cd fucks up. You've gotta try an other cd or another reader to see which one goes wrong. And sometimes both work wrong, or don't get along together.

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I did a drawing just for fun, respecting the FIFA rules and France was with South Africa, New Zealand and Uruguay !

My God, you hit 3 out of 4 in group A! Since you had guessed the champion would be Brazil, now I'm a bit more confident even after we getting Portugal and Cote D'Ivore in our group!

Hey guys, you were discussing the fact that France wasn't top seeding... This was decided as a punishment after that Henry incident against Ireland, especially since Irish confederation asked FIFA to accept them as a 33rd country in the cup.

Luckily for them they got exactly the SA group. Here in Brazil much people are saying that is the death group, cause all the other countries have good chances on getting the 2nd place.

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We got a tough draw. Then again,for us almost any draw would be tough...

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Go Ghana!

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I think Spain are going to be the biggest shots in Europe, they have the mix of flair and solidness, and the best striker in the world - Torres. I'm English and yet again there's massive hype that we're going to win, but we're not.

Yes, we won 9 games out of 10 in our qualifying group, yes there won't be WAGs to ruin spoil the players' concentrations, but I still think we look weak in the midfield - the Gerrard/Lampard midfield just doesn't work.

I would LOVE Holland to win, but i just don't think it'll happen