Eriksson has made some terrible substitutions in his time, but Carragher as pinch penalty taker gets my nomination as the stupidest. He had 9 players all completely exhausted but Sven saved it to the last moment to bring on a defender to take a penalty. He clearly has little faith in the rest of his squad - you can tell his order of preference of players very clearly. He’ll pick his top players and play them regardless whether it suits their positions or not. They have to play for a regular Champions League team (United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Munich or Madrid) to get a regular place - Robinson in goal got lucky as Tottenham seems to be the highest-placed team with an English keeper. The reason why Sven took so few forwards was because he didn’t trust any of the others. Walcott was a surprising choice, but then he plays for Arsenal - or he will when he’s good enough.
If Sven had to wait till the end to make a substitution, he should have gone for David James to replace Robinson. Nothing wrong with Robinson, although he didn’t get near any of the penalties and looked as nervous as the takers, but I think it would have surprised the Portuguese to see a GK sub come on. Even if he the new GK is hopeless at saving penalties, the Portuguese might not know that. But James likes the limelight, he is a good shot stopper and is an imposing figure. Not that it would have made a lot of difference in the end.
In contrast to Sven, kudos to Domenech who has stumbled across a better formation and has gone with it. I’d be surprised if Portugal progress any further, but don’t write off the Italians. I had a feeling coming into the World Cup, that this could be Totti’s tournament.
Same old problem. Sven cannot cope with a change in conditions like a sending off or a serious injury to one of his best players. There is no plan B. When Rooney went off - completing my double bet of him seeing red and Owen getting injured - I said it would be 0-0, because England were coping at the back but had no chance of scoring.
Sven’s body language indicated he had given up and didn’t know what to do.
I felt sorry for (amongst others) Peter Crouch, who won a lot of the ball, and held it up well, but to no avail, beacuse he had no help. The rest was tedium. Watching the Portuguese pass the ball back and forth across the area, then lose possession with an overhit cross (can Ronaldo actually cross a ball?) made me wish that neither team could go through. Argentina were more worthy semi-finalists.
The shootout result was predictable to say the least. Lampard would have been the last person I’d have let go first. Portugal were ready. Scolari’s preparation was more meticulous. He practices playing with 10 men and winning - do you think Sven does?
I assume Carragher was taking a kick because there were no actual strikers on the bench who could have a go…
Anyway, at least I still have money on one of the last 4, which will pay out if they finish in the 1st 3 (Italy), so there’s some interest.
I’ve enjoyed this game probably more than any other. Germany have been involved in some good games. Is that really Italy playing in blue? I hope they win otherwise they’ll tear up their new tactics and go back to catenaccio. I suppose they don’t want it to go to pens.
How disappointing. Unfortunately, the better team won.
Like I said above, Italy just look a different team when Camorano is on the field. So much more balanced. The match ebbed and flowed - Italy had a horrible period from about the 55th to the 75th minute - but ultimately they caused Germany all kinds of problems and they didn’t have answers. They really missed Frings - Kehl had a horrible game. And Borowski was anonymous - Schweinsteiger should have played. I don’t know why Borowski started the game instead of Schweinsteiger, but he could really have helped stop Germany getting overrun in midfield. It was easily their worst performance of the tournament, and it came at just the wrong time.
Portugal have no chance against France. I’m sorely tempted to put some money on France - evens to win in normal time, or 4/9 to win at any stage. Not good odds, but it’s so certain.