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The Final Game

Germany v. Argentina

If they haven’t forgotten how to play football in the last few days, this should be another German win. They have a solid team that knows how to play both offense and defense and it would really be rubbing salt in the wound if Argentina won Brazil’s World Cup.

Lionel Messi is a great player, but he can’t be expected to do everything. Teams need to stop depending on ‘stars’ and start building teams.

The German team add the fourth star to their patch:

Germany 1-0 Argentina

An Andre Schurrle cross to Mario Gotze who left-footed it into the lower right corner of the net ended the game. The Argentine keeper came out, probably expecting a header, and had no chance of stopping it. Argentina was unable to respond in the 7 minutes left in Extra Time. The game was a 0-0 tie at Full Time.

July 13, 2014   2 Comments

Le Tour 2014 – Stage 8

Tour de FranceTomblaine – Gérardmer La Mauselaine

Distance: 161 kilometers.

Now the climbing becomes serious as at the end of this stage are a pair of Category 2 climbs followed by a finish at the summit of a Category 3.

This is where the battle for the Yellow begins to take shape and climbing ability enters the calculus of the race.

Blel Kadri had a very good day – he won the stage, the Polka Jersey, and the Red Numbers. He broke away and led the race for the final 130 kilometers to finish comfortably ahead of Contador and Nibali. The top thirty riders have been significantly altered by the climbs.

Yellow Jersey Vincenzo Nibali ( Ita – AST – 041 ) [Yellow] 33h 48′ 52″
Green Jersey Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) [Green] 267 points
Polka Dot Jersey Blel Kadri ( Fra – ALM – 086 ) [Polka Dot] 17 points
White Jersey Michal Kwiatkowski ( Pol – OPQ – 074 ) 4 [White]

Team: Astana Pro ( AST - 041-049 ) [Yellow numbers]
Stage winner: Blel Kadri ( Fra – ALM – 086 )
Combative: Blel Kadri ( Fra – ALM - 086 ) [Red numbers]

Top Ten:

1 Vincenzo Nibali ( Ita – AST – 041 )
2 Jakob Fuglsang ( Den – AST – 042 ) + 01′ 44″
3 Richie Porte ( Aus – SKY – 007 ) + 01′ 58″
4 Michal Kwiatkowski ( Pol – OPQ – 074 ) + 02′ 26″
5 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte ( Esp – MOV – 011 ) + 02′ 27″
6 Alberto Contador ( Esp – TCS – 031 ) + 02′ 34″
7 Romain Bardet ( Fra – ALM – 082 ) + 02′ 39″
8 Alberto Costa Rui ( Por – LAM – 111 ) + 02′ 52″
9 Bauke Mollema ( Ned – BEL – 061 ) + 03′ 02″
10 Jurgen Van Den Broeck ( Bel – LTB – 131 ) + 03′ 02″

The Rest of the Top 30:
[Read more →]

July 12, 2014   No Comments

The Battle For Third?

Brazil v. Netherlands

I’m not sure that either Brazil or the Netherlands wants to play this match. The Dutch coach, van Gaal, feels put upon by having to hang around to play a game to decide third and fourth place. Brazil can’t be too thrilled to take to the field again after their last massacre.

Oh, well, I’ll report the results even though only a few statisticians will actually care.

Not much of a battle:

Brazil 0-3 Netherlands

All Brazil got for this World Cup were bills. Brazil manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari, will probably be replaced at a minimum. Brazil’s fans booed every time he appeared on the screen during the game.

July 12, 2014   No Comments

Friday Cat Blogging

Lazing In The Grass

Friday Cat Blogging

I’m watching you…

[Editor: Froggy has selected a spot in the yard from which to see my front door and the door to my Mother's house so she knows when food is coming.

Friday Ark

July 11, 2014   3 Comments

Le Tour 2014 – Stage 7

Tour de FranceÉpernay – Nancy

Distance: 234.5 kilometers.

The longest stage so far, crosses the Marne, the Meuse, and a branch of the Moselle with a pair of category 4s and a 15 kilometer downhill run into Nancy, which could get very interesting if there is rain.

The rain wasn’t necessary as people were wiping out all the way to the end, which was a photo finish between Matteo Trentin and Peter Sagan with Trentin getting the stage win in the end. Three riders were unable to finish and more may not start tomorrow from the look of several crashes.

The final ascent was a bit sharp for a category 4, so the sprinters were slowed significantly until they reached the top, then they took off to the finish in Nancy. With high speed and quick changes at the end of the longest stage yet the crashes were inevitable as sprinters went to the front in the final 15 kilometers. Riders were packed together, so any problem resulted in a chain reaction.

Yellow Jersey Vincenzo Nibali ( Ita – AST – 041 ) [Yellow] 29h 57′ 04″
Green Jersey Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) [Green] 259 points
Polka Dot Jersey Cyril Lemoine ( Fra – COF – 174 ) [Polka Dot] 6 points
White Jersey Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) 3 [White]

Team: Astana Pro ( AST - 041-049 ) [Yellow numbers]
Stage winner: Matteo Trentin ( Ita – OPQ – 079 )
Combative: Martin Elmiger ( Sui – IAM - 193 ) [Red numbers]

Top Ten:

1 Vincenzo Nibali ( Ita – AST – 041 )
2 Jakob Fuglsang ( Den – AST – 042 ) + 00′ 02″
3 Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) + 00′ 44″
4 Michal Kwiatkowski ( Pol – OPQ – 074 ) + 00′ 50″
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck ( Bel – LTB – 131 ) + 01′ 45″
6 Tony Gallopin ( Fra – LTB – 134 ) + 01′ 45″
7 Richie Porte ( Aus – SKY – 007 ) + 01′ 54″
8 Andrew Talansky ( US – GRS – 091 ) + 02′ 05″
9 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte ( Esp – MOV – 011 ) + 02′ 11″
10 Romain Bardet ( Fra – ALM – 082 ) + 02′ 11″

The Rest of the Top 30:
[Read more →]

July 11, 2014   No Comments

Le Tour 2014 – Stage 6

Tour de FranceArras – Reims

Distance: 194 kilometers.

Today’s stage has a couple of Category 4 climbs, but nothing too difficult for the sprinters. It crosses the Somme and the Marne rivers sites of some of the most deadly battles of World War I.

This stage wasn’t the Somme [58,000 British casualties on the first day] but one rider didn’t start and three more couldn’t finish this stage after accidents on the rain soaked roads.

Andre Greipel won the stage and Luis Mate took the Red Numbers, but the field was reordered when the peloton broke into smaller groups. In the last two stages Vincenzo Nibali’s hold on the Yellow Jersey became noticeably stronger as major contenders have lost a lot of time.

Yellow Jersey Vincenzo Nibali ( Ita – AST – 041 ) [Yellow] 24h 38′ 25″
Green Jersey Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) [Green] 217 points
Polka Dot Jersey Cyril Lemoine ( Fra – COF – 174 ) [Polka Dot] 6 points
White Jersey Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) 3 [White]

Team: Astana Pro ( AST - 041-049 ) [Yellow numbers]
Stage winner: André Greipel ( Ger – LTB – 135 )
Combative: Luis Angel Mate Mardones ( Esp – COF - 175 ) [Red numbers]

Top Ten:

1 Vincenzo Nibali ( Ita – AST – 041 )
2 Jakob Fuglsang ( Den – AST – 042 ) + 00′ 02″
3 Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) + 00′ 44″
4 Michal Kwiatkowski ( Pol – OPQ – 074 ) + 00′ 50″
5 Fabian Cancellara ( Sui – TFR – 163 ) + 01′ 17″
6 Jurgen Van Den Broeck ( Bel – LTB – 131 ) + 01′ 45″
7 Tony Gallopin ( Fra – LTB – 134 ) + 01′ 45″
8 Richie Porte ( Aus – SKY – 007 ) + 01′ 54″
9 Andrew Talansky ( US – GRS – 091 ) + 02′ 05″
10 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte ( Esp – MOV – 011 ) + 02′ 11″

The Rest of the Top 30:
[Read more →]

July 10, 2014   2 Comments

Le Tour 2014 – Stage 5

Tour de FranceYpres – Arenberg Porte du Hainaut

Distance: 155.5 kilometers.

Today’s stage starts at Ypres, Belguim, a major battle site of World War I, and then heads back into France where 9 sections of pavé [cobblestones] await the field. Cobblestones and bicycles are not a good match.

Chris Froome didn’t even make it to the cobblestones. He withdrew after his second accident on the rain-slicked road, apparently the wrist he injured in an accident yesterday finally was too bad to continue.

The organizers removed two of the pavé sections because they were under water. The other sections were covered with slick green slime.

That didn’t bother Lars Boom of the Netherlands who won the stage 19 seconds ahead of the next rider. Astana unseated Sky in the team competion.

Yellow Jersey Vincenzo Nibali ( Ita – AST – 041 ) [Yellow] 20h 26′ 46″
Green Jersey Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) [Green] 185 points
Polka Dot Jersey Cyril Lemoine ( Fra – COF – 174 ) [Polka Dot] 6 points
White Jersey Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) 3 [White]

Team: Astana Pro ( AST - 041-049 ) [Yellow numbers]
Stage winner: Lars Boom ( Ned – BEL – 062 )
Combative: Lieuwe Westra ( Ned – AST - 049 ) [Red numbers]

Top Ten:

1 Vincenzo Nibali ( Ita – AST – 041 )
2 Jakob Fuglsang ( Den – AST – 042 ) + 00′ 02″
3 Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) + 00′ 44″
4 Michal Kwiatkowski ( Pol – OPQ – 074 ) + 00′ 50″
5 Fabian Cancellara ( Sui – TFR – 163 ) + 01′ 17″
6 Jurgen Van Den Broeck ( Bel – LTB – 131 ) + 01′ 45″
7 Tony Gallopin ( Fra – LTB – 134 ) + 01′ 45″
8 Richie Porte ( Aus – SKY – 007 ) + 01′ 54″
9 Andrew Talansky ( US – GRS – 091 ) + 02′ 05″
10 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte ( Esp – MOV – 011 ) + 02′ 11″

The Rest of the Top 30:
[Read more →]

July 9, 2014   No Comments

Semifinal Game 2

Netherlands v. Argentina

No predictions from me beyond neither of these teams will get beaten as badly as Brazil did yesterday because they both have defenses.

And the defenses ruled for 120 minutes which produced:

Netherlands 0(2)-0(4) Argentina

The Netherlands will face Brazil on Saturday to determine third place, while Argentina faces Germany on Sunday for the World Cup.

I’m sure that scoring opportunities were not exactly enhanced by the fact that it was pouring rain in Sao Paulo for the second half and extra time.

Netherlands had used up their substitution opportunities, so they couldn’t bring in Tim Krul, the goalkeeper who stymied Costa Rica and is something of a penalty kick specialist.

July 9, 2014   No Comments

Le Tour 2014 – Stage 4

Tour de FranceLe Touquet-Paris-Plage – Lille Métropole

Distance: 163.5 kilometers.

Marcel Kittel has now won three of the four stages, but still trails the Yellow Jersey by almost 20 minutes. In the battle for Yellow Froome and Contador have swapped places in the standings – Froome down to 7 and Contador up to 5.

Today’s stage was another for sprinters as the Tour honors the centennial of World War I by running through many of the battlefields of that war. Today was across ‘Flanders fields’.

Yellow Jersey Vincenzo Nibali ( Ita – AST – 041 ) [Yellow] 17h 07′ 52″
Green Jersey Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) [Green] 158 points
Polka Dot Jersey Cyril Lemoine ( Fra – COF – 174 ) [Polka Dot] 6 points
White Jersey Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) 2 [White]

Team: Sky ( SKY - 001-009 ) [Yellow numbers]
Stage winner: Marcel Kittel ( Ger – GIA – 101 )
Combative: Thomas Voeckler ( Fra – EUC - 159 ) [Red numbers]

Top Ten:

1 Vincenzo Nibali ( Ita – AST – 041 ) 17h 07′ 52″
2 Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) + 00′ 02″
3 Michael Albasini ( Sui – OGE – 182 ) + 00′ 02″
4 Greg Van Avermaet ( Bel – BMC – 148 ) + 00′ 02″
5 Alberto Contador ( Esp – TCS – 031 ) + 00′ 02″
6 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte ( Esp – MOV – 011 ) + 00′ 02″
7 Christopher Froome ( GB – SKY – 001 ) + 00′ 02″
8 Jurgen Van Den Broeck ( Bel – LTB – 131 ) + 00′ 02″
9 Bauke Mollema ( Ned – BEL – 061 ) + 00′ 02″
10 Jakob Fuglsang ( Den – AST – 042 ) + 00′ 02″

The Rest of the Top 30:
[Read more →]

July 8, 2014   No Comments

Semifinal Game 1

Brazil v. Germany

Brazil is not only without the services of their captain, Silva, for his second yellow card, their head of PR has been banned for 4 games and fined 10k Swiss francs for roughing up a Chile player during halftime of an earlier game. The team has racked up 96 fouls and 10 yellow cards so far, more than any other side in the tournament and then have the gall to ask FIFA for leniency in Silva’s case.

This is not good for football, especially Latin American football. I would feel a lot better if I didn’t get the feeling that some of those involved think that games are won by the casualty count instead of the goal count.

The game starts at 3PM CDT, so I’ll be updating with more later…

Wow! It happened but none of the ‘experts’ saw it coming. No one would suggest this as a probable outcome at this level.

In hindsight the Germans must have been testing their assumptions during the first ten minutes. Then Muller drew first blood at 11 minutes, followed by the final tweaking and the blitzkrieg was launched. Miroslav Klose entered the record books at 23 minutes, scoring for the 16th time in a World Cup finals round. Kroos scored a minute later, and then again at 26 minutes. Khedira waited three minutes before he scored the fourth goal in 6 minutes. The first half ended Brazil 0-5 Germany.

After a half like that you would expect Germany to play defense to win, but they played defense the entire game, and Schürrle [a sub for Klose at 59 minutes] felt he needed to do his part so he added goals at 69 and 79 minutes.

Brazil finally responded at 90 minutes when Oscar snuck one in, so the game ended: Brazil 1-7 Germany. Just wow…

July 8, 2014   2 Comments

Le Tour 2014 – Stage 3

Tour de FranceCambridge-London

Distance: 155 kilometers.

Marcel Kittel won his second stage on the Mall in London but still trails Peter Sagan in Green Jersey points and Vincenzo Nibali in overall time. Kittel will concentrate on stage wins.

It was an easy, short stage with a bit of rain at the end to add some excitement and the final stage in Britain as the Tour returns to France for the next stage … well, for the start of the stage as the finish is in Belgium.

Yellow Jersey Vincenzo Nibali ( Ita – AST – 041 ) [Yellow] 13h 31′ 13″
Green Jersey Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) [Green] 117 points
Polka Dot Jersey Cyril Lemoine ( Fra – COF – 174 ) [Polka Dot] 6 points
White Jersey Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) 2 [White]

Team: Sky ( SKY - 001-009 ) [Yellow numbers]
Stage winner: Marcel Kittel ( Ger – GIA – 101 )
Combative: Jan Barta ( Cze – TNE - 202 ) [Red numbers]

Top Ten:

1 Vincenzo Nibali ( Ita – AST – 041 ) 13h 31′ 13″
2 Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) + 00′ 02″
3 Michael Albasini ( Sui – OGE – 182 ) + 00′ 02″
4 Greg Van Avermaet ( Bel – BMC – 148 ) + 00′ 02″
5 Christopher Froome ( GB – SKY – 001 ) + 00′ 02″
6 Bauke Mollema ( Ned – BEL – 061 ) + 00′ 02″
7 Alberto Contador ( Esp – TCS – 031 ) + 00′ 02″
8 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte ( Esp – MOV – 011 ) + 00′ 02″
9 Jurgen Van Den Broeck ( Bel – LTB – 131 ) + 00′ 02″
10 Romain Bardet ( Fra – ALM – 082 ) + 00′ 02″

The Rest of the Top 30:
[Read more →]

July 7, 2014   No Comments

Le Tour 2014 – Stage 2

Tour de FranceYork – Sheffield

Distance: 201 kilometers.

Mark Cavendish will not capture sole possession of third place in overall stage wins this year as his crash during the sprint at the end of yesterday’s stage has sidelined him with at least a dislocated shoulder that may require surgery. Sacha Modolo ( Ita – LAM – 115 ) will also have to wait until next year as he didn’t finish the stage.

This was a rather hilly course starting with a Category 4, then the sprint, three Category 3s, a Category 2, and finishing with a 3-4-3-4 run into Sheffield.

Vincenzo Nibali won the Stage and the Yellow, while Peter Sagan picked up the Green and White with his second place finish. Peter will wear the Green and Romain Bardet gets to wear the White.

Yellow Jersey Vincenzo Nibali ( Ita – AST – 041 ) [Yellow] 09h 52′ 43″
Green Jersey Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) [Green] 69 points
Polka Dot Jersey Cyril Lemoine ( Fra – COF – 174 ) [Polka Dot] 6 points
White Jersey Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) 2 [White]

Team: Sky ( SKY - 001-009 ) [Yellow numbers]
Stage winner: Vincenzo Nibali ( Ita – AST – 041 )
Combative: Blel Kadri ( Fra – ALM – 086 ) [Red numbers]

Top Ten:

1 Vincenzo Nibali ( Ita – AST – 041 )
2 Peter Sagan ( Svk – CAN – 051 ) + 00′ 02″
3 Greg Van Avermaet ( Bel – BMC – 148 ) + 00′ 02″
4 Michael Albasini ( Sui – OGE – 182 ) + 00′ 02″
5 Christopher Froome ( GB – SKY – 001 ) + 00′ 02″
6 Bauke Mollema ( Ned – BEL – 061 ) + 00′ 02″
7 Jurgen Van Den Broeck ( Bel – LTB – 131 ) + 00′ 02″
8 Alberto Contador ( Esp – TCS – 031 ) + 00′ 02″
9 Tejay Van Garderen ( US – BMC – 141 ) + 00′ 02″
10 Jakob Fuglsang ( Den – AST – 042 ) + 00′ 02″

The Rest of the Top 30:
[Read more →]

July 6, 2014   No Comments

The Quarterfinals Are Over

World CupAnd they were uniformly pathetic.

Today’s results:

Argentina 1-0 Belgium

Netherlands 0(4)-0(3) Costa Rica

In the first game Belgium triple-teamed Lionel Messi which gave the rest of the Argentine offense the opportunity to mostly miss the goal. Fortunately Higuain managed to hit it at 8 minutes in so the game was over after 90 minutes.

Messi is a world class player, but you can’t use three defenders to mark him without opening up space for his team.

The second game was worse. The Netherlands controlled the ball two-thirds of the time, but simply couldn’t find the net. This does not bode well for the Orange against the White & Sky-Blue of Argentina.

The final will be between the teams that figure out that the purpose of the game is to put the ball into the net.

July 5, 2014   No Comments

Le Tour 2014

The Tour de France started today and will continue until the July 27th finish in Paris. This year the most iconic event in French cycling chose to begin with the Grand Depart in … Leeds … Yorkshire … England. The Jerseys after the first stage of competition were presented by … Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge with Princes William and Harry on the podium.

Yes, Le Tour is really starting in the Yorkshire Dales. Great Britain really supports cycling, and the Tour is a professional sports event with sponsors who want reach as many potential customers as possible.

As always, here are the Tour basics if you want to follow along, and no, I don’t think the French national team crashed out of the World Cup so they could watch the race, even if it does ease a major potential conflict for French media corporations.

Tour jerseys

The cartoon characters from my header are wearing the various colored jerseys that indicate the leader in the different classifications in the race.

The Maillot Jaune, Yellow Jersey is worn by the rider with the lowest time overall in the race. The eventual winner of the race may never have come in first in any stage, but was near the lead throughout the race and achieved the lowest time over the entire course of the event. The winner is normally an “all-arounder”, someone who is very good at the sprints and the hill climbing, even if they aren’t the best. Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, and Fabian Cancellara are “all-arounders”, showing up on the lists of the sprinters and the climbers, while staying in the top ten for overall time.

[Read more →]

July 5, 2014   No Comments