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Iskaral Putsch

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  1. Iskaral Putsch

    Match Day 4: Costa Rica v Serbia; Germany v Mexico; Brazil v Switzerland

    Huge congratulations to Mexico for a great win. Despite my allegiance, I have to acknowledge that El Tri had perfect tactics. Four years ago Germany were regularly stymied for long periods by a deep defense, and they would patiently continue short passes around the box and eventually a goal would come. It never really looked like coming today. Too many touches slowed down the attacks to a ponderous pace. Draxler was anonymous in the first half (but much improved in the second), Werner didn’t reach any crosses, Mueller’s darting runs never happened, Ozil was playing too deep. At the other end, Boateng and Hummels were lumbering about in isolation and over-run by explosive, nippy counter-attacks. Reus, Brandt and Gómez were good subs but this team has too many players who crowd into the same space, and lacks pace through the spine. Mexico, on the other hand, pressed well, defended resolutely in numbers and surged forward in lung-bursting runs to create counter-attacks. They managed subs well to keep energy high and they absolutely deserved their win. Serbia were worthy of their win. Tadic, SMS and Matic, plus that young ball-playing CB, give them a great platform to move the ball around well. Unfortunately Mitrovic doesn’t have the sharpness or skill to go with his endeavor. They could really struggle for goals. Costa Rica looked fine when they actually tried to play. They need to be more adventurous. And I was pleased for the Swiss. Usually I’m critical of negative tactics and fouling flair players, but Switzerland earned their point. Neymar was fouled, but not hacked to pieces, and he dived and exaggerated too. Brazil seemed complacent. Coutinho got his trademark goal as he picked up a poor clearance and otherwise the late Firmino header was their only really good chance. Several half chances were well defended and crowded out. The Swiss also look like they’ll struggle for goals though. So three of the four pre-tournament favorites failed to win their opening game, and France needed a late deflected goal to grab the solitary win. Sometimes top teams gain momentum as the tournament progresses, so far too early to count them out, but it would be great if this is the year for some usurpers.
  2. Yeah, Kante was excellent, despite the referee calling some fouls against him that definitely were not. I’m not sure there’s a need for both N’Zonzi and Kante unless against Brazil or Germany. Based on today, I’d drop Dembele, move Mbappe wide in Dembele’s spot, push Griezmann further forward to #9, bring in Giroud, replace Tolisso with Matuidi, have Pogba play ahead of Kante and Matuidi, and replace Pavard with a more attacking RB. There’s not much broken there but they need to fix the problem of Mbappe and Griezmann wanting the same space so they’ve pushed Griezmann into Pogba’s space. That hasn’t worked out. Better to give Pogba and Griezmann their preferred space and allow Mbappe to attack off the shoulder of the opposing full back.
  3. Croatia looked very solid today and controlled the tempo and flow very well. That defense, even with Dejan Lovren, didn’t concede much throughout qualifying. If they can fend off the misfiring Argie attack then they could top the group. Modric was great as a deep playmaker but when he stepped further forward they looked more dangerous. Perhaps Rakitic and Kovacic should play the deeper MF roles, then Mondric, Perisic and Rebic behind Mandzukic. They could have been a bit more clinical with their chances though. Nigeria looked all at sea. Mikel is a solid #8 but not really a #10. I’d prefer to see Iheanacho and Iwobi flanking Ighalo, then Mikel, Ebeto and Ndidi in a MF three. They have decent players, but not connecting enough.
  4. Iskaral Putsch

    Football: Jules Rimet Still Gleaming

    If Pogba looks over-hyped and over-priced, what can we say about Dembele? I know he’s still very young, but Barca went out on a limb there.
  5. The French were a bit fortunate, playing some decent football in passages but not connecting effectively to create good chances. Both goals were legit, but required some technology assistance. I don’t want to sound too negative but Pogba and Tolisso weren’t doing very much, and Pavard was defensively strong but didn’t contribute at all in good attacking opportunities. And Pogba’s winner seemed to be helped by a deflection. Fekir was confident on the ball when he came on but his final ball wasn’t great, either getting caught in possession or mis-playing a pass Dembele was fast and had good close control but his final cross was nothing great Improvement needed. They need something to knit them all together better. Australia are generally a likable team, working hard for each other to offset their technical deficiency. They’re a bit like the US team. But their fans today turned me right off when they were booing Hernandez — he had a good game and was on the receiving end of a series of legitimate fouls, and the only time he exaggerated was at th very end in injury time to run a few seconds off the clock. Australia are a dirty team and foul more skillful players. You don’t have much room to complain when that’s the core of your game. If you want to watch rugby then fuck off and watch rugby.
  6. Iskaral Putsch

    Match Day 2: Uruguay v Egypt; Morocco v Iran; Spain v Portugal

    Ronaldo was ice cold taking that free-kick. It was a soft penalty award, a soft free-kick award and an absolute gift from DeGea — lots of good fortune (and diving) all around — but that’s still a hat-trick in the WC (he only had 3 goals in 13 previous WC games) and a nerveless late equalizer. Costa’s first was quintessential: up front by himself for an outball, battling against two physical CBS, sneaky forearm to the face of one to get on the ball, force his way into the area and smash home a shot despite having no support. Portugal weren’t great, but they took their chances and scored at perfect times to take a point despite being outplayed. Spain need to be concerned about conceding three, plus DeGea’s other bizarre flap at a bouncing long pass into his area. Can he not see past his beard? Isco was great for them but Iniesta and Silva were less potent than usual. The MF seemed just a bit older and slower, and struggled against long direct passes. Now both teams have to race to rack up goal difference against Iran and Morocco. That will make the group more interesting. Iran especially may sit deep to play for a draw.
  7. Iskaral Putsch

    Schools where admission is based on a single test?

    Yes, without tracking within schools, parents start clustering to achieve tracking via school selection, which makes students more segregated and, arguably, even leads to neighborhoods becoming more segregated. DeBlasio might now create an incentive for some good students to parachute into bad middle schools to game the system to win an easy spot into a selective school, but only so long as the student body remains weak. Funny how people keep evading attempts to control their behavior. I’m kind of shocked that UofC (my alma mater for post grad) would no longer require the SAT/ACT. They make such an issue of academic standards, plus they’ve resisted other recent politically correct pressure like safe spaces and trigger warnings.
  8. Iskaral Putsch

    WC2018: which game to watch? (No spoilers!)

    OK, the scouting report is in, Spain v Portugal it is. Thanks all. Fox are broadcasting it at 7pm here, to get the prime time audience. I’ve avoided the score and result all day.
  9. Iskaral Putsch

    Exercise and Fitness: Keep On Keepin' On

    A LOT of work lately, and lots of social commitments, especially weddings and weekend trips to visit friends outside the city. I'm so exhausted that I've had ~6 hours of uninterrupted sleep lately rather than the usual four hours followed by 2 hours of frustration that I can't sleep through the night followed by another hour of actual sleep just in time to be rudely awakened by the alarm clock. There seems to be a sweet spot where if I get really exhausted then I can actually sleep. But I can't get this sleep until I'm truly exhausted. Plus, when I get really exhausted then junk food happens. I'm still getting to the gym for my two usual upper body sessions, one of each weekly. Going well but a bit rushed for want of time. My legs sessions are still on hold while I wait for this hamstring strain to recover. Despite four weeks of rest, it still bothers me and seems to flare up some days for no reason. I wonder if my sleep position at night is a contributor. Thanks @aceluby for posting those links.
  10. Iskaral Putsch

    WC2018: which game to watch? (No spoilers!)

    OK everyone, time to switch from prognostication to actual informed recommendations. This is your big moment. This is your opening fixture of the WC. Thursday was a gimme and the expectations start now. I’m doing my level best to avoid hearing any results or spoilers today, aided by nine straight hours of conference calls and meetings (don’t you wish you had my job?). News alerts are off and colleagues have been warned about appropriate WC protocol when DVRs are in play. A couple of past transgressors received an additional steely glare. And then, finally, this evening I will get to choose which game to watch first. Help me make it count. If Sergio Ramos should suffer a personal humiliation, grievous bodily harm or any form of divine retribution, that should definitely sway you to recommend Spain vs Portugal. But otherwise it’s all about the quality of the football and the joy of the spectator experience. Sure there’s a bias to the big teams but it’s still fundamentally meritocratic, taking delight in surprise showings, big upsets and deserved schadenfreude (Ronaldo *cough*, Ramos *cough*). More than a century ago, America told the world “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”. And, boy, did you. Now we just ask: give me your recs.
  11. Iskaral Putsch

    WC2018 - Match Day 1: In Putin Russia, World Cup Watch You!

    I just saw the highlights. I thought it was in slow motion, but then realized that was just the Saudi keeper. I can’t decide if his efforts were pathetic or apathetic. Not that his defenders were much better. They made Cheryshev look like Luis Suarez.
  12. Iskaral Putsch

    WC2018 - Match Day 1: In Putin Russia, World Cup Watch You!

    No surprise that the Saudis were ineffectual. 1994 was their only decent showing ever, and they've otherwise been whipping boys each time when they even managed to qualify. Giving up 5-0 is worse than expected because Russia are no great shakes lately, but are at least pretty motivated as hosts. And a couple of those goals were in garbage time. The uncertain result today is what level of oil production was agreed during half time.
  13. Iskaral Putsch

    Football: Jules Rimet Still Gleaming

    Not yet confirmed. Japan and S. Korea got the benefit of that, and the tournament is expanding. So if US, Mexico and Canada will all host games, I was guessing they’d all get waved in. Imagine getting drawn in a group with Canada as the #1 seed.
  14. Iskaral Putsch

    Football: Jules Rimet Still Gleaming

    How many qualifying spots will CONCACAF get if three teams already qualify as hosts? It could be a one-off opportunity for some of those small teams.
  15. Iskaral Putsch

    Football: Jules Rimet Still Gleaming

    And Lopetegui fired by Spain because he announced the RM job before the WC. I understand the principle but I’m not sure that it was worth firing the manager and throwing their team into chaos on the eve of the tournament.