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  1. #41
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Quote Originally Posted by flyingdutchdevil View Post
    FDD Likability Meter: 2/10. I lived in France for 4 years. My wife is French. I secretly hate the French national team, although I cannot tell my wife this. Benzema is a scumbag, Pogba is just weird, and Mbappe is becoming a prima donna before our eyes (he's already attacking the French federation for lack of player involvement in sponsorship selection).
    Mbappe. My goodness: https://www.espn.com/soccer/soccer-t...h-club-sources

    Makes Kevin Durant look like a kitty cat.
    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. - Winston Churchill

    President of the "Nolan Smith Should Have His Jersey in The Rafters" Club

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Boston, MA

    Argentina

    The Skinny: Arguably the hottest team over the last 3 years, Argentina has not lost a game in 35 games. And they've played Brazil, Italy, Germany, and a bunch of solid South American teams in that span. Unlike Brazil, England, or France, this team isn't talented from soup-to-nuts (okay, from keeper to striker). Instead, they have some great talent (Messi, Lauturo Martinez, Lisandro Martinez), some good talent (Di Maria, Julian Alvarez), and a bunch of role players. But everyone buys into their role. There is no infighting. Messi doesn't scream at his teammates like other "over the hump" superstars. Most elite teams are more talented than Argentina; few can outperform them when it matters.

    Why They'll Win: Because Lautaro Martinez and Julian Alvarez are as good for their clubs as they are for Argentina. With all the attention put on Messi, the "back up dancers" need to perform. And Martinez is a great second striker and Alvarez a great opportunistic "right place/right time" kinda guy. If Argentina wins, expect Messi to get 99% of the credit and the other 1% going to the other forwards/attacking midfielders.

    Why They'll Lose: Their defense is suspect. Their back four is likely going to be Molina (Athletico Madrid), Lisandro Martinez (Man Utd), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica) and Nicolas Tagliafico (Lyon). The only one who is borderline elite is Martinez, and he's only been playing in a top 5 league for 2 months. But, much like the midfield, the defense is much better on the pitch than on paper.

    The Impact Player Who You Know: Lionel Messi. I've avoided putting a too obvious player here, but you really need to add Messi here. After his first down year last year, he's back to vintage Messi. In 13 games thus far (across Ligue 1 and CL), he has 7 goals and 8 assists. In June, he scored 5 goals against Estonia (the score has 5-0). He is the heart, soul, and talent of this Argentina team.

    The Impact Player Who You May Not Know: Lisandro Martinez. For thus who think center backs need to be tall to be effective, let me introduce you to 5'9" Lisandro Martinez. An Ajax product, he is the backbone of the improved Man Utd defense this year. He is a pitbull who disrupts plays before they happen. He plays like an angry Italian defender who doesn't care about your feelings nor your wellbeing. It wouldn't surprise me if he gets a red card in the first 10 minutes of the first game. I love watching him play.

    FDD Watchability Meter: 7/10. +7 for Messi. Okay, and more realistically, they have a team that punches above their weight with key players at key positions and role players who clearly understand their role. But for watchability, this team is all about Messi's last dance (he's 35; a 38-year old Messi isn't going to be pretty at the next World Cup)

    FDD Likability Meter: 2/10. Messi is wonderful, but I'm not a fan of Di Maria, Otamendi, or Tagliafico. And Argentina's history of unlikable players like Ortega, Maradona, and Simeone leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

    NCAA Comp: Michigan State. They have won a couple of titles, but their style is ugly and no one really likes them outside of their home state. I mean, Big 10 basketball is kinda like South America...
    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. - Winston Churchill

    President of the "Nolan Smith Should Have His Jersey in The Rafters" Club

  3. #43
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by flyingdutchdevil View Post
    FDD Likability Meter: 6/10. Automatic 2 point discount for being English. Jordan Pickford is annoying. The fact that Grealish, Saka, Rashford (if on the team), and Sancho (ditto) always underperform is frustrating.
    This bit just cracks me up. My son calls Pickford the World's Crabbiest Keeper. Whenever there is a shot on target, pretty much for any reason, Pickford starts yelling at his defense. As far as I can tell, he never says a positive word to anyone while he's between the sticks. He can stop shots, but "annoying" is putting it mildly.

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Boston, MA

    Spain

    The Skinny: No team has been more important to the modern game of soccer than Spain. Their "tiki taka" - or short passes and off-ball movement to advance the ball - helped to showcase the importance of passing in the game of soccer rather than dribbling. They embraced "Total Football", where every player on the team is good with the ball at their feet. Anyone on the team - center backs included - can advance the ball into the box. Offense is much more important to this team than defense. They are basically the anti-Italy: great offense, suspect defense, and average goalkeeping.
    It's been 12 years since Spain won the World Cup, and nearly everyone is gone/retired (Sergio Busquets is the only player who will be on the team, Pique may be a last minute entry but likely not). And in those last 12 years, they had this other group of talented players come through (Jordi Alba, Morata, Busquets, Diego Llorente, Marcos Llorente, Koke, Marcos Alonso, Azpilicueta) but never were able to replicate the success of their predecessors. A lot of these players are still on the national team. But what makes it very complicated is there is a group of highly talented youngsters who are demanding playing time...and they are a lot more talented than the players in their 30s. You have the Barca contingency (Gavi, Pedri, Ansu Fati, Ferran Torres - average age of 19), the "other" La Liga youngsters (Pau Torres, Marco Ascensio, Yeremy Pino, Nico Williams), and the ex-La Liga youngsters (basically just Soler). And this World Cup is seen as the changing of the guards for the old vs the young. The question is...who plays during the World Cup? Do you go with the established, stronger, slower, more conservative old foggies or the hungry, quick, petit, immature teenagers who represent the future of Spanish soccer. Tough choice...

    Why They'll Win: Because they will overwhelm the opposing team with attacking options. If you want true goal scorers, you have them in Morata, Ansu Fati, Sarabia. If you want wingers, you got Asensio, Ferran, Nico Williams, Pino. If you want attacking midfielders, you got Koke, Gavi, Pedri, Soler, Busquets. Basically, Spain has a lot of options in 5 of the 6 midfielder-winger-forward positions. They will get the ball into the box. That is a certainty. Whether the scorers can actually score is another question, but you are more likely to score if you have a lot of opportunities. And Spain will have opportunities galore.

    Why They'll Lose: Teams will bully the defense and score through the middle or cross into the box. The defense is more finesse and intelligence rather than strength and athleticism. And that's not good for Spain. There is no Pique to bang with the forwards or a Puyol to clean up mistakes. The center backs aren't frightening and the full backs aren't proven. It will put a ton of pressure on the midfield to help out, but the midfield is filled with a lot more offense than defense. Which is why the player listed below is so important to the success of this team.

    The Impact Player Who You Know: Rodri. In fairness, you probably don't know Rodri as well as some of the other "Impact Players". Rodri plays for Man City as their primary defensive midfielder. He can defend, he can do some playmaking, and he can score (surprising for a defensive midfielder). He's enormous for a midfielder (6'3") and has great body control. For a team composed of attacking midfielders and wingers, you need someone like Rodri.

    The Impact Player Who You May Not Know: Pau Torres. If Spain is going far, they need to defend instead of just controlling the midfield, shooting 15 times a game, and hoping 1-2 go in. And their defense is overly reliant on Pau Torres, a 25 year old center back who plays for Villareal. He is tall (6'3"), intelligent, and extremely good with the ball at his feet (a highly coveted skillset in center backs these days). He isn't strong or an enforcer, but that's okay; he needs to control the defense, get the ball back, and initiate the offense.

    FDD Watchability Meter: 5/10. If you love passing, this the team for you. If you love long balls to the wings, this is the team for you. If you look incredible footwork and passes into the box, this is the team for you. If you adore wasted chances, incompetence in the box, and "how did he not score that!" moments, this is the team for you. Spain is all about beautiful soccer in the midfield and...[checking notes]...frustrating the hell out of their fanbase by not being able to score.

    FDD Likability Meter: 4/10. Spain beat Holland in the 2010. Yes, I'm still bitter about that (despite Spain clearly being the better team). But putting that aside, this "old guard" vs "shiny new toy" dynamics makes this Spain team interesting and kinda novel. Some of the older players have been likable for a while; new players are still TBD. Wait, Spain beat Holland in 2010. I still don't like them...

    NCAA Comp: Duke. While historically relevant, Duke really became a force in the modern era of basketball. And in the last ~10 years, they play an attractive form of basketball that is offense first, defense second. Given their success, they are a polarizing program.
    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. - Winston Churchill

    President of the "Nolan Smith Should Have His Jersey in The Rafters" Club

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Undisclosed
    These continue to be impressive and invaluable, thanks!

  6. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by OldPhiKap View Post
    These continue to be impressive and invaluable, thanks!
    And fun, and I agree with the Duke comp.

  7. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Nepos View Post
    And fun, and I agree with the Duke comp.
    Except this part (I hope)...

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingdutchdevil View Post

    FDD Likability Meter: 4/10.

  8. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluedog View Post
    Except this part (I hope)...
    I think on the likeability meter, Duke bball is more like the true soccer blue bloods, so probably something more like Germany and Brazil (I can't wait to see that team crush the mere mortals OR I can't wait to see that team get humiliated by Lehigh/US national team).

  9. #49
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Quote Originally Posted by Nepos View Post
    I think on the likeability meter, Duke bball is more like the true soccer blue bloods, so probably something more like Germany and Brazil (I can't wait to see that team crush the mere mortals OR I can't wait to see that team get humiliated by Lehigh/US national team).
    My counter to this is Germany and Brazil have been winning World Cups since the 50s. While Duke was good prior to the mid-1980s, Duke became elite in the 1990s. Duke's elite history is modern compared to a lot of other Blue Bloods. Hence, I think Spain, whose "elite-ness" is fairly modern as well, is a solid comp for Duke.
    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. - Winston Churchill

    President of the "Nolan Smith Should Have His Jersey in The Rafters" Club

  10. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by Nepos View Post
    I think on the likeability meter, Duke bball is more like the true soccer blue bloods, so probably something more like Germany and Brazil (I can't wait to see that team crush the mere mortals OR I can't wait to see that team get humiliated by Lehigh/US national team).
    To clarify, I was calling out the FDD likeability meter, which I took as personal opinion based on the love for the Dutch, not general likeability among the masses. But I could be misinterpreting that "metric." I hope FDD holds Duke in a higher regard than 4/10! 🙂

  11. #51
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluedog View Post
    To clarify, I was calling out the FDD likeability meter, which I took as personal opinion based on the love for the Dutch, not general likeability among the masses. But I could be misinterpreting that "metric." I hope FDD holds Duke in a higher regard than 4/10! 🙂
    Correct. Has nothing to do with the public's likability of Spain, just my own.

    Spain should be fairly likable to the common fan. Unlike the team that I will profile in a week or so...

    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. - Winston Churchill

    President of the "Nolan Smith Should Have His Jersey in The Rafters" Club

  12. #52
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluedog View Post
    To clarify, I was calling out the FDD likeability meter, which I took as personal opinion based on the love for the Dutch, not general likeability among the masses. But I could be misinterpreting that "metric." I hope FDD holds Duke in a higher regard than 4/10! 🙂
    I was the thinking the general likeability of Duke bball was more like the soccer blue bloods, not the overall comp of Duke to Spain in this WC, which I think was spot on. Duke bball is the most polarizing college bball program in the nation at the moment (meaning last couple of decades), so holds disproportionate standing on the likeability metric right now relative to its historic standing (in my opinion). On this board, and my heart, Duke bball is an 11 (bordering on 12, but the amp might explode like a drummer if set that high).

  13. #53
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lynchburg, VA
    FDD, I want to echo what others have already said. These previews are awesome. Wish I could spork.

    Bad and potentially very bad news for the USMNT. McKennie has a quad injury expected to keep him out 15 days. The US opens against Wales on the 21st so that leave very little time to get back in game shape and almost no margin for any setbacks in his recovery. Muscle injuries are unpredictable and McKennie is one of the players we can least afford to lose.

  14. #54
    Nothing is going right for US soccer. I was talking to another dad at our kids U8 game Saturday, and he was sharing his concerns and frustrations about their team (Mexico). He was a bit surprised how down I was about our outlook.

  15. #55
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Boston, MA

    Deutschland

    The Skinny: Bayern Munich is one of the best clubs in the world, year in/year out. Their model is "take the best players in Germany, put them in the starting 11, and then fill the other spots with other excellent Germans who play outside of Germany". As a result, every German on Bayern plays for Germany. And those Germans are damn good: Sane, Gnabry, Muller, Kimmich, Neuer, Goretzka, Musiala...these guys create a fantastic core. And then the other German stars are also talented and complementary: Havertz, Gundogen, Rudiger, Sule, Schlotterbeck. Solid core. One thing to note is Germany generally plays well in the World Cup, regardless of their talent level. They know their roles. They know their positions. They are familiar with one another (that Bayern connection runs deep!). The whole is often great than the sum of their parts. This World Cup is no exception, and I suspect Germany will go much further than folks think.

    Why They'll Win: A balanced, interested attacking line. With Havertz up front, you have an enormous 9 who doesn't make a ton of mistakes and is extremely opportunistic. On the wings, you have Sane, Gnabry, and Muller. In the attacking midfield, you have Gundogan and Musiala. Lots of options, and they aren't one-trick ponies (Havertz is definitely a one-trick pony). Most of them can dribble the call into the box, most can shoot from outside, most can play through balls, most can cross and receive crosses. Germany will look to overwhelm their opponents with constant attacks. And, as is true with stereotypes, the Germans are highly efficient.

    Why They'll Lose: Because there isn't a top team in the world that is more inconsistent than Germany. Over the last 6 months, they have beaten Italy and Israel, tied Italy and the Netherlands and England (twice), and lost to Hungary. Go back further, and Germany's inconsistencies are even more pronounced. The reason for the inconsistencies? Tough to put a finger on it, but I'd argue it's about their backline that isn't that strong. The centerbacks are Sule (Bayern reject), Schlotterbeck (young, unproven string bean), Kehrer (West Ham United), and Rudiger (Real Madrid. He's awesome but frequently injured and hasn't played lately for Germany). The full backs are Klostermann (RB Leipzig), Raum (RB Leipzig), Hofmann (Mönchengladbach), and Henrichs (RB Leipzig). If you're asking yourself, "who are these guys"? Don't worry. So is everyone else in Germany.

    The Impact Player Who You Know: Joshua Kimmich. Germany has great attacking midfielders, great wingers, great goalkeeper, and solid forwards. Where they lack is center backs and full backs. To offset this, you need great defensive midfielders, and Kimmich fills that role. Arguably the most important player on Bayern, Kimmich may be the best defensive midfielder in this World Cup given Kante has been ruled out. A master of both managing the mid-section of the pitch and getting the ball back, Germany is going to rely very heavily on Kimmich. It also helps he is the best spot kicker on this team.

    The Impact Player Who You May Not Know: Jamal Musiala. Guess what team Musiala plays for? If you guessed Bayern, congrats! If you guessed any other team, why? Germany = Bayern. You know that now. Anywho, Musiala is the German Jude Bellingham (see: England). Actually, I'd say Jude Bellingham is the English Jamal Musiala. Only 19, Musiala is the perfect midfielder: crafty, always makes the right move, gets back on D, advances the ball, has a great outside shot. Did I mention he's craft? On a team full of solid, talented, kinda boring players, Musiala brings the funk.

    FDD Watchability Meter: 6/10. The Germans are as far from Brazil as you can get: highly efficient, smart passing, play through both the middle and wings, tough midfield. It's simple, effective soccer. You can't go wrong, but it's not great sport if Germany is playing, say, Japan or Costa Rica. However, that Germany/Spain group match and all the knockout games? You're gonna wanna see those.

    FDD Likability Meter: 8/10. I am programmed to hate the Germans. It's what you do if you're Dutch (or French...or English...or Belgian): you hate Germans. Buuuuut...for the last decade or so, these Germans are pretty hard to dislike. Yes, you have Thomas Mueller and his enormous mouth (literally and figuratively), but that's really it. They keep low profiles. They aren't arrogant. They play efficient football that isn't flashy but not boring.

    NCAA Comp: Villanova. They play an efficient style of basketball without the flashiness nor the best players in the country. And despite having a mediocre team on paper, they are always a threat. Generally likeable, they demand respect without them saying so. No one hates Villanova yet no one really blocks their calendar to watch them play. Also, they have a winning history with a bunch of titles across multiple decades.
    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. - Winston Churchill

    President of the "Nolan Smith Should Have His Jersey in The Rafters" Club

  16. #56
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by flyingdutchdevil View Post
    NCAA Comp: Villanova. They play an efficient style of basketball without the flashiness nor the best players in the country. And despite having a mediocre team on paper, they are always a threat. Generally likeable, they demand respect without them saying so. No one hates Villanova yet no one really blocks their calendar to watch them play. Also, they have a winning history with a bunch of titles across multiple decades.
    Wow. This is the best NCAA comp yet. Nailed it!

  17. #57
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Boston, MA

    Portugal

    Disclaimer: all statements in this post are fact. The other country profiles are opinion, but this one has been vetted and is 100% truth.

    The Skinny: Portugal is the best country in the world, pound for pound. For a country of only 10 million people, they have produced an insane amount of talent in the last 10 years. Just look at some of their top players: Bernardo Silva (Man City, jack of all trades), Ruben Dias (Man City, elite CB), Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd, one of the best attacking midfielders in the world), Joao Cancelo (Man City, a top 5 right back), Rafael Leao (AC Milan, arguably the most talented player on that team), Nuno Mendes (up and coming PSG full back), Joao Felix (Alt Madrid overrated secondary striker who is still pretty good), Vitinha (another PSG up and comer), Ruben Nuves (Wolves best player and heart of the team). You get the point.
    However, that talent doesn't always translate to success. And that's for a few reasons. The first is the team has a lot of attacking midfielders and players who love to attack. Not as many facilitators or defenders. The second is they play down to their opponents and rarely play up to the big dogs. And third, which is critical, is the focus on one player waaaaaaaay past his prime: Cristiano Ronaldo (more to come).

    Why They'll Win: Because the Qatari government arrested the whole rosters from the other 31 tournament teams. Just kidding!
    Portugal will win because of their talent who finally put it together. They will have Bruno Fernandes facilitating, Silva playing the wings and making smart passes, Cancelo defending and crossing at the high rate, Felix lurking in the box and scoring opportunistically, Mendes defending, and Dias holding the fort in the back. It can happen, but everything needs to go right.

    Why They'll Lose: Because Ronaldo will demand the ball and blame his teammates when he screws up. Not kidding
    More realistically, they will lose because the roles aren't well defined and the egos are just way too big. Despite the individual talent, they whole just isn't that strong. They are the anti-Germany.

    The Impact Player Who You Know: Cristiano Ronaldo. And not for the obvious reason. He is a top 5 player of all time. He is a legend. But he is nowhere near the player he used to be and, worse, nowhere near the player he thinks he is. And that's a huge issue because he is Portugal. He demands the ball. He shoots the ball. He misses the shot and blames it his teammates. He is an epic cancer on this team. Portugal will go as far as Ronaldo isn't on the pitch. He is Russell Westbrook, expect his aura is Lebron and the talent is Westbrook in 5 years.

    The Impact Player Who You May Not Know: Joao Cancelo. He's a full back for Man City. He is one of the first names placed on the starting sheet. He does three things absolutely elite: crossing/placing the ball, defending, scoring from the wing. This is a very rare blend for a full back. Full backs are usually good at attacking (like Trent Alexander Arnold), defending (like Kyle Walker), or scoring (like Trippier). To do all three quite well is impressive. On the flip side, he loves getting red cards.

    FDD Watchability Meter: 7/10. Should be great to watch the team implode. If that doesn't happen, Bruno Fernandez, Bernardo Silva, and Joao Cancelo, amongst a few others, are fun to watch.

    FDD Likability Meter: 1/10. -5 for Cristiano Ronaldo. -2 for being Portugal. -2 for always defeating the Dutch. Actually, scratch that. -9 for Ronaldo.

    NCAA Comp: UNC. If only because I want everyone else on DBR to hate Portugal.
    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. - Winston Churchill

    President of the "Nolan Smith Should Have His Jersey in The Rafters" Club

  18. #58
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lynchburg, VA
    Quote Originally Posted by flyingdutchdevil View Post
    Disclaimer: all statements in this post are fact. The other country profiles are opinion, but this one has been vetted and is 100% truth.

    NCAA Comp: UNC. If only because I want everyone else on DBR to hate Portugal.
    Hahaha. Well done.

    700kj2.jpg

  19. #59
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lynchburg, VA
    In a shocker, CBS Sports is reporting that Zach Steffen will be left off the USMNT’s final 26-man roster. Turner, Horvath, and Johnson are expected to be named the team’s goalkeepers.

    The complete roster will be announced later today at 5pm on ESPN2.

  20. #60
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lynchburg, VA
    Chris Richards is officially ruled out of the World Cup due to injury. It was unlikely he’s be fit in time for Wales and probably England, but it’s still a loss at a position with many question marks. Berhalter has to call in Tim Ream, doesn’t he? How do you leave off a guy captaining and playing 90/game for a mid-table Premier league team? Especially when he has built in chemistry with Antonee Robinson, who, absent injury, is guaranteed to play every minute of the World Cup as our left back?

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