Well, coming off of getting the Australia-Japan match right (see last post), I also hit the final two matches of the day.
USA 0-3 Czech Republic
I was wrong about it being close, but I did get the winner.
I found myself strangely torn over this game. I wanted my adoptive home to do well, I want them to move on to the next round (unlikely, now they've really got to get at least a draw against Italy to even stand a ghost of a chance), and I really wanted the USA to recapture the excitement of Korea/Japan 2002 when they made it to the quarterfinals, but on the other hand, I wanted those smug bastards at ESPN2 to be shut up in no uncertain terms.
Seriously, after talking over most of the Australia-Japan game with their endless speculation over who would play, how they would play, and just how many goals the US would win by, they spent the buildup to the USA-Czech Republic game taking it to extremes. First, they showed the playing of the US national anthem, and then cut to commercial before the Czech anthem could be played. Yeah, I know that the US is kinda new to this, but the point behind the playing of both team's national anthems is that both sides start the game honouring and respecting their opponents. Teams are supposed to remain respectfully silent during their opponent's anthem, and this extends as an unwritten rule to the commentors who are, also, supposed to shut the hell up.
Then, one commentator went on and on about European teams not respecting the USA. As evidence he sited the fact that one bookie in England has the USA at 80-1 to win the tournament.
Okay, wake-up call. Trinidad & Tobago are the real outside bets, at 1,000-1 against taking the trophy. And you think you have something to complain about with 80-1?
As the game progressed, the slightest trace of skill had praise heaped upon it - if it was the USA. A desperate toe-to-the-ball stretch which sent the ball flying off for a corner was described as "brilliant defending", but Czech talent was ignored. Okay, it's home team commentating, so bias is expected, but this circle-jerk got grating.
The Czech Republic's first goal was pretty much dismissed, and constant whining about every refereeing decision - even when the replay showed the ref was 100% right - eventually soured the game for me and I switched off in disgust.
I'm sorry to say I was sneakingly pleased when I later found out the final score.
I just wish there was some way the smug bastards could have been silenced without having the USA loose so badly.
On a positive note:
Italy 2-0 Ghana
I predicted Italy, but I expected it to be worse than this. Italy almost seemed at times to be struggling a little against the African players. But, of course, eventually they came through.
Still, the way they were playing, I wouldn't write off the USA just yet. If the Americans can recover from today, dust themselves off and come at the next game in the right frame of mind, anything could happen.
Tomorrow brings Brazil vs Croatia, France vs Switzerland, and Korea Republic vs Togo.
One would have to have one's head firmly up one's arse not to pick Brazil, but I believe that, whilst they will loose, Croatia will put in an impressive performance, and this will be tighter than it looks on paper. France over Switzerland seems a foregone conclusion. I'm calling on Togo to pull the upset over Korea.
Edit: Yeah, it's Germany 2006, not Germany 2004.