Jon DeNunzio's blog about soccer, which started as Italo-centric ramblings on the 2010 World Cup.


Greece vs. Poland in Euro 2012 on your DVR — no spoilers

Let’s say you couldn’t watch the opening match of the Euro 2012 soccer tournament on Friday but wanted to view it as if it were live later. And let’s say you were pressed for time. This blog post is for you.

It’s an idea that’s been bouncing around in my head for a while. Every two years, American soccer fans with 9-to-5 jobs either take loads of vacation or miss out on key World Cup and Euro matches when they’re live because of work (not a current problem of mine). 

Many in this situation will avoid the score during the day and watch it as if it’s live when they get home (Chuck Klosterman says this sort of thing robs sports of its drama; I disagree). I’m thinking a media outlet that gave these folks a no-spoilers guide to the best parts might garner a few extra clicks. So I guess maybe this is a proof-of-concept.

I’ve highlighted 12 segments of the game below. Readers who wanted to use this would simply cue up the game on the DVR and jump to the segments I’ve listed below.

If you watch all of the segments, you’ll see about 46 minutes of the game. Four segments are marked as “optional” — if you’re really time-pressed, skip those, and your game will last just 34:25. 

This sort of “no-spoiler, watch later” game post could be more detailed — perhaps with links after each entry below you could click to reveal analysis, tweets, etc. about the segment you just watched. It seems like Storify or something similar might help with that. I may just try it later in the tournament. 

Your feedback is welcome. Especially if you try to watch the game this way. 

Poland vs. Greece

Friday, June 8 - Warsaw, Poland

Watch this:

- 2:00 - 5:00

- 10:00-14:15

- 15:20 - 18:30

- 24:30 - 29:30

- 32:30 - 36:50 (optional)

- 38:30 - 41:30 (optional)

- 43:15 - Halftime

- 47:00 - 51:15

- 61:15 - 63:00 (optional)

- 67:30 - 74:10

- 82:00 - 84:30 (optional)

- 89:40 - End

How I Learned to Like the Germans

We’re 45 minutes into the third-place game (it’s tied, 1-1), and I am disturbed by just how fond I have become of this German World Cup team.

(I am pretty sure that before today, I have never used the words “fond” and “German” together in a sentence that did not also contain “beer,” btw.)

One of my all-time best soccer memories was being in the stadium in Lyon in 1998 and watching Croatia dismantle Germany, 3-0, in a World Cup quarterfinal. The German fans surrounding us just kept shouting the players’ names angrily (“Didi!” “Thomas!” “Lothar!”). I admit it — I really enjoyed the German frustration and pain (quietly, of course).

Apparently that loss helped spark a comprehensive rethink of youth player development in Germany. This year’s mannschaft, with an average age of 24.7, is a result of that effort (and maybe a glimpse of what American soccer could be?). 

Personally, this young Germany team has provided a large share of the most enjoyable soccer I have watched in the last month. The fast breaks against England. The dismantling of Argentina. Even the 1-0 loss to Serbia, in which a 10-man Germany just kept hammering away.

So this onetime Germany-hater is enjoying the chance to watch Schweinsteiger and Mueller one more time. I am sad that Klose, Podolski, Lahm and the 16-year-old goalie aren’t playing. I am considering watching Bundesliga games this fall. 

Disorienting. But I guess that’s not the first time this World Cup has produced that feeling. 

Slovakia 3, Italy 2: How I’m Responding

I am already getting a few “I’m sorry” and “What happened?” comments. All very nice, mind you.

My response: Italy did me a favor — now I don’t have to watch this team the rest of the summer. 

Also: At least the last 10 minutes were entertaining, in an absurd way. 

Italy-Slovakia at the Half: Thoughts

It’s 1-0 Slovakia, and they deserve at least that much. The worst 45 minutes of thr tournament so far for Italy. 

I have little confidence this team can turn it around — even if Italy figures out how to get the ball back to the attacking third, who’s going to score? — but I’d think these are some steps to take:

- Get Gattuso out. Why did Lippi think he was the answer? 

- Get Camoranesi and Pirlo in. Camoranesi may have been the best Italian player in the first two games — I had to check Google news to see if he was hurt when I saw he was not out there. Pirlo, who knows if he is healthy? But can it hurt?

- I’d say get Iaquinta out, too — that shot he took from the left side of the box was awful — but I’m not sure that’s as important as the steps listed above.

I’m gonna go somewhere quiet and watch the second half by myself now. I think by the end, I might just be glad not to have to watch another Italy game this summer.

It’s time for the Italians to start showing their quality and class [editor’s note: wait for it] if they have it at this FIFA World Cup.

ESPN play-by-play man Ian Darke in the 17th minute of today’s impending disaster vs. Slovakia.

The World Cup is occasion for a dwindling number of doofus luddites — the collective vestigial tail of the American media — to proudly trumpet their dislike, or ignorance, of the game.

Stefan Fatsis in his Slate piece on “How the 2010 World Cup could push the United States into the international soccer elite.” He starts off with a line that’s appealing to me: “The quadrennial story of whether soccer will ever ‘make it’ in the United States is, as far as I’m concerned, dead. “

No group in the World Cup is easy. But if Group G, which we’ll tackle next week, is the Group of Death, Group F might be as well be the Group of Life. Indeed, as far as [ESPN’s Soccer Power Index] is concerned, this is about the weakest possible permutation of teams that might have been drawn into competition together.

Pre-tournament analysis of Group F by Sigh.

Italy 1, New Zealand 1: One-Sentence Summaries

Since all Italy apparently can do in recent World Cup matches is score one goal and earn one point, here are several different thoughts today’s game, all in one sentence (or less). 

1. At least Italy is not France.

2. My final tally of balls played into the penalty area (from the 23rd minute on, when I started counting) was Italy 47, New Zealand 9

3. I said in my earlier post that balls played into the box is just a crude measuring stick, and Italy Coach Marcelo Lippi explained why afterward:

It wasn’t wise to continue putting in crosses when the New Zealand defenders were 2m tall.  

4. Fluke, or really bad sign: Italy has barely had to defend over 180 minutes so far, yet has allowed two goals.

5. Sports Illustrated’s kick-butt Grant Wahl said “Wood torched Cannavaro" when he just missed wide right near the end, but I say Cannavaro gifted that chance to Wood on another frightening error.

6. Sad that Simone Pepe did not turn into a star as I hoped after the opener vs. Paraguay; instead he was pulled after 45 minutes. 

7. Here’s backing for my previously stated view that the (inexcusable) deflection off Cannavaro was not enough to cancel out the offsides on goal-scorer Shane Smeltz: Ask a Referee.

8. Yeah, you could also say Italy barely deserved the penalty earned later in the first half.

9. Advice, though: Don’t grab an opponent’s jersey in the penalty area if you don’t want to concede a penalty.

10. Italy has to hope that Andrea Pirlo returns Thursday vs. sleep-inducing Slovakia and infuses the team with a bit more creativity.

11. This may not fit the format, but here’s a Twitter exchange (edited for clarity) from Scott “Mr.” Butterworth and me after the match:

Scott: Ruh-roh, Jon. @fivethirtyeight says “If Italy go on, they’ll almost certainly face the Netherlands. We have them at 90:1 against winning the Cup.”

Jon: Already plotted all that out. Have moved on to worrying about qualifying for Euro 2012.

This was fun … Next, I’m going to try to post one-sentence thoughts on the tournament so far.

Italy-New Zealand: Halftime Thoughts

1. I’m going to have to check, but I think a deflection off a defender does *not* negate offsides. If I’m right, that New Zealand goal should not have counted. 

2. What I said in 1 above does not excuse whatever Cannavaro was trying to do there.

3. In the 22nd minute, I decided to keep track of every time each team played the ball into the opposing penalty area. The count in 23 or so minutes? Italy 18, New Zealand 0. That stat is a crude measure, but wow. Italy needs to convert on this advantage — the Azzurri could win 4-1 if this keeps up in the second half (somehow, I don’t expect that).