Is it me or is this year's World Cup a little boring? I'll admit it's been awhile since I've sat down and watched international soccer and it's been a little longer since I've followed it much. Here's my observations so far.
It seems scoring is down this year from past Cups. I read an article over the weekend that blamed the lack of scoring on the high altitude of South Africa combined with a lighter ball from Adidas. Those two factors combined makes it harder for players to maintain control of the ball and reduces scoring chances. Adidas said their ball is fine and didn't come up with an alternate solution. I'm thinking it may have something to do with the 4-4-2 or the 4-5-1 formation, instead of a possible 4-3-3. The previous formations allow for more midfielders which stunts offenses as the opponent has more people on defense. If you have a defender that has decent ball handling skills and a decent shot, you can send him forward on occasion as long as a midfielder comes back to take his spot, or at least not go as far forward that will allow him to retreat to a defensive position.
There's too much standing around by the teams on the field. I was taught that offensively, you're constantly moving, creating space for either yourself or a teammate. When you move, you create running and passing lanes for your team. That turns into scoring chances and the more shots on goal, the more chances you have to score and ultimately win. In some of the games I've watched, I've seen guys standing around watching one guy attempt to make a pass or get a shot at a lousy angle. If you're going to stand and around and watch, go buy a ticket in the stands and watch from up there.
Defensively, there are players who don't seem to be communicating with the rest of their teammates. Maybe they can't hear from the constant drone of the vuvuzelas. Are those horns really louder than an English Premiere League crowd singing? Why don't teams utilize the offsides trap more? It's one of the most effective defensive tools you can utilize, especially against an aggresive offensive team. Granted, once you get inside the penalty area, it's hard to implement, but outside the area, it will frustrate the opponent to the point they begin to implode and fail to make the adjustments.
It seems the teams that possess the better defensive team is a team that has an aggressive goalkeepers. The keeper comes out and challenges the opposing attackers by either sliding at their feet and taking the ball away or by leaping through the air to punch out a high ball. This in turn leads to counter attacks that the opponent isn't ready for most of the time. The keepers really need to direct the entire team on their half of the field. That even includes offensively. They can see the whole field and they need to be involved in helping direct players and passes.
Finally officiating. I won't get into the US-Slovenia match as that has been adequately covered by multiple media outlets. I hate seeing players tug at others jersies or fake a fall hoping to get a foul called on their opponent. If you have to resort to that, than you don't need to take up a roster spot on your national team. The game earlier today between Chile and Switzerland was a classic example of that. In fact, that appeared to be the strategy. It didn't work for the most part as 11 cards were handed out, including one red card.
As we progress in the knockout rounds, we'll probably see more 1-0 or 2-1 games. This will tune the American fans as we'll become easily bored and go mow the grass rather than watch a World Cup match. I would be happy with some end to end action even though the score may not indicate that.