Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Betting on Brazil

This makes the second time I've picked Brazil to win a major tourney. I did it during the World Cup of 2007. We know how well that turned out.

Honestly, I'm not picking against the U.S. because Abby Wambach isn't there. I'm picking Brazil because I think they're that good and they're finally ready to own that and win the big one.

I actually think the U.S. has more of a chance without Wambach. Abby's absence means that Brazil doesn't really have a complete understanding of the U.S. With Wambach in the picture, the U.S. was a bit Germanlike, despite Pia Sundhage's attempts to instill more variety. We all saw what happened to Germany in the semifinals. Now the U.S. is a bit more of a wildcard, which gives the team a greater chance, in my view.

I still think Brazil will take it, though. More than anything, though, I'm looking forward to seeing good soccer from both teams. I want to watch a great game.


Anonymous said...

Watch for lots of fouls from Brazil. To me the key to the game is how the US holds up to Brazil's physical punishing style.

Anonymous said...


Prove the naysayers WRONG!

There is so much to be positive about!

The motivation for the USWNT vs Brazil is HUGE!

I will be shocked if the USWNT comes out flat & doesn't play the game of their lives!

In the WC, Brazil peaked in the semi's against the USA & lost to Germany in the Final - this time they have peaked in the semi's vs Germany & WILL lose in the Final against the U.S.A.!

Bring home GOLD USWNT!!


Anonymous said...

Ghost, apparently it's not the Swiss Miss that will be reffing the Match of all Matches!

I concur with you - she certainly does appear to have a hate on for the U.S.! At the very least, she certainly does "see things differently" then the rest of us! lol

The question is - why do the powers that be allow her to continue reffing U.S. games when it's so readily apparent?


Anonymous said...

You know, I've been reading a few articles about that game and noticed that some American fans sure like to whine. There's always someone complaining about the red card to Boxx (never mind that Brazil was already winning by 2 goals and the ref ignored the elbows thrown by some American players). However, nobody mentions that in the Athens final, with the game tied, the ref didn't call a clear pk after an American defender grabbed the ball inside the box. That convenient amnesia is quite amusing...

Anonymous said...

Respectfully dissenting...

The US team minus Wambach would have had a much better chance against Germany than it will have against Brazil.

Given the likelihood of a Wambach-led US attack foundering upon the shoals of Teutonic organization in the back, the game would have devolved into ninety minutes of Abby banging her head against a German wall.

But against Brazil, Wambach would have a decent chance of winning the physical battles, would draw more fouls from Brazil's less-disciplined defenders, and, at the very least, would keep the Brazilian defense occupied -- not only keeping them from contributing to their team's attack, but also opening up space behind her for the US midfield to exploit.

Without Wambach, the US team doesn't have anyone who has a clear overall advantage over her Brazilian opposite number; these Brazilian players are just as strong, just as fast, just as resilient, and, well, a lot more skillful.

Perhaps American determination will be enough to compensate (it was in 2004), and perhaps the US can cause the Brazilians to lose their composure. But considering that this Brazilian team has just sent a previously imperturbable German team into total meltdown, is that really a potentially successful strategy?

A.C. said...

I guess I just don't see Wambach as that effective against Brazil, because in the two games before the Olympics, she wasn't.

But that's all speculation. She's not there, so we'll never know. Your guess is as good as mine, though, and I'm basically guessing.

(course, my guesses have been on since the quarters ;)

Anonymous said...

Btazil plays dirty, period. I hope they choke and we brat the hell out of them. Does anyone know when the game is on television? If it's on MSNBC I can't watch it.

Anonymous said...

How do you think Hucles plays up front compared to say Kai? Just wondering. I haven't been able to see any games and it's been driving me crazy. Hucles seems to be at the peak of her prime right now, so I think that's a good thing for us. You can only do so much with match tracker.

ghostwriter said...


The way Angela Hucles has stepped up to the plate in this tournament, starting from scratch where she didn't even know what role she would play, until she's become one of the main cogs in the current US system is one of the great stories, probably not just of this Olympic Games, but of USWNT history. She's playing almost a hybrid role. She's playing forward but in behind the speedy A-Rod. It's not really a 4-5-1, but it sure isn't exactly a 4-4-2 either.

She's proven herself to be a very versatile player, able to check back pretty deep into the formation to get the ball and then see enough of the field to distribute well to the wings or her compatriot up front or to run at defenders or find space herself as a target for crosses and offensive plays. Her finishing has been a bit shaky at times, but she's not played forward since her college days (when she was UVA's leading scorer) and she seems to be picking her touch back up as the games have progressed.

Kai is faster, but much smaller and slighter. Hucles is sturdier and harder to get off the ball. Kai brings great energy, but not as much discipline and durability as Angela. When Kai's come into the games of late it's been for one of the midfielders with Hucles herself stepping back to a pure midfield role. With Kai and A-Rod or Kai and Cheney you'd play with two all the way forward and it'd be harder to get the ball to them. Hucles has provided an intermediate connection I doubt anyone else on the team could have done anywhere near as well. I don't think they'd be were they are without her.

BTW, game is on USA Network at 9 AM and nbcolympics.com streaming video if you can get to a broadband connection.

As for the rest of this, I think, like AC, that this lineup for the US have a better chance. More options, more speed, still physical and still strong. Call it predictability (or lack thereof) or creativity, or whatever, this lineup uses it's speed as a constant weapon and that could present some difficulty for the Brasil side, 'cause if they are as fast and strong as the US, the converse is also true and something new for the Brazilians in this event. And the US have speed everywhere. The Brazilians have occasionally shown a little vulnerability on D. If the US can manage to press them, especially early against a keeper playing in her first major International final and if Hope Solo is at the tip top of her game (which is perhaps the best in the world)...they have a shot. But the side that dismissed the defending World Champions with consummate ease was scarry good. If they can play or are allowed to play that same way...Katie bar the door.

As always, though, I have no true prediction. My fondest hope is the same as AC's: let's see a great soccer game between two of the best women's sides in the world and let it be decided by great plays, not some fluke or some controvercial officiating decision. Let it be the kind of game people remember for years, this time for all the right reasons...

Anonymous said...


Where is Sunil Gulati at the moment - in China, making Pia's life miserable, or in Guatemala, making Bob Bradley's life miserable?

Just kidding, well, half-kidding.


Anonymous said...

Germany had a bad second half more then Brazil was really good - they truly seemed dis-interested - which is a very strange thing to see happen in an Olympic semi-final! They simply appeared to give up on a couple of those goals!

My Crystal Ball says:

U.S.A. by one or a W in P.K.'s - let's be really bold & say 2-1 USA!

A.Ruiz said...

This is why I switched over to the spanish network when I realized there were commercials airing during the game.

Bush League, total Bush League. This from someone who thinks the term is as tired as "thrown under the bus".

Anonymous said...

ghostwriter, thanks for that assessment. It put everything in perfect perspective for me. I just wish I'd been able to watch some games. Tomorrow at work I hope we have the USA Network, if not I do have broadband. GO USA!

A. Ruiz, are they not showing the commercials around the side of the screen while the game is going on? Please tell me they aren't breaking for commercials during the game. I hope we have univision at work, but I'm thinking we don't.