So you know, folks: Togo is not out of this yet. You think you can count on Togo, but you can't: You just can't.
We've tried to come up with two countries more radically different than Switzerland and Togo, which is one of those things that make the World Cup great. It's going to be an absolutely crazy week in the World Cup, and we have to start somewhere. So we're starting here.
Your live-blogger today is Craig Barker, who has his own blog at TFTD, an acronym for something of which we are unawares. Email us with thoughts for him, play along in the comments and hey, you kids be safe out there.
Post Game: Togo will go home with nothing, Switzerland will move to the top of the group, and now it gets very interesting on Friday. The Swiss and Koreans have four points and sit atop the group G, they'll play. France will play Togo on Friday. So, hmmm, you could end up with three teams with five points...Hmmm.
Anyway, I'd like to thank all of you for waking up early with me. I'd like to thank all of my peeps who hooked me up with some of the random knowledge you got during the game, and we'll see you again tomorrow. Have a great day. —CDB
Stoppage Time: We'll have three minutes of stoppage time...The corner is punched out, and then the long shot tipped over the crossbar by Zuberbuehler, corner for Togo, and the header goes high...Swizzle goal kick...It's just sort of there now...throw in Togo....still pressing forward, but Switzerland's having none of it...And now a booking for Vogel...Free kick Togo...taken wide, but no, they'll redo the free kick. By the way, love the refs wearing the headset mikes like Garth Brooks. Zuberbuheler snags it and sends it a long punt...And we must be getting close now...And there's the final whistle and that's the ball game.
90th minute: Barnetta's first name is Tranquillo. I don't know why I like that, but I do. Abassa makes a long goal kick, and Togo, to their credit, is still fighting, but not much doing but a corner.
89th minute: And now it's all over but the shouting, a supersub makes a difference and we'll run out the clock here in Dortmund.
88th minute: Like Derek Bell, the Swiss have gone into Operation Shutdown. Unlike Derek Bell, I know where they are right now. The Swiss counter...a one timer, and Barnetta finds the far post for a 2-0 lead. Elegant, elegant play.
87th minute: Togo sends in a lazy cross, easily defended. The Swiss make their last sub...Frei steps off and Lustrinelli comes in.
86th minute: Togo's staring elimination in the face, and it's like a bucket of truth to them....Togo sends in wide, and again, the Swiss mark amazingly well. Now we'll have a Togolese corner, just their second of the match.
85th minute: The Swiss are ready to sub again. A free kick high for Barnetta. Shouldn't Barnetta be wearing 9mm as his jersey number?
84th minute: You know, I have no other chance to say it. I envy Drew Carey (I also have been told I look like him.) He basically has made enough money that he can do whatever he wants with his life and he has chosen to become the U.S. soccer version of a Deadhead. I wonder if he and Lamar Hunt are hanging out in Germany.
83rd minute: Togo now setting up, and again, they were so close, and the Swiss swarm like the Brettano's security force on a shoplifter.
82nd minute: Possession is now about even, and again, well...Switzerland pushes forward and the pass hits their player in the back of the head. Sorry, it was just kind of funny.
81st minute:A long shot by Frei, and it's over...And off the goal kick, the Swiss go in off sides.
80th minute: The Swiss push up...and Togo resets... Like Admiral Stockdale, it feels like I'm watching a ping-pong match out here. And I am also out of ammo.
79th minute: The Swiss counter, and Togo resets...and Switzerland counters again
78th minute: And a Swiss sub as Cabanas gets somked out, he'll need a little THC from his team, and in comes Streller.
77th minute: You know this game is not very exciting, Dave and Marcelo are now talking about other African teams. And you thought I was riffing on nothing.
76th minute: Did you know Adebayor played for Arsenal? Zuberbuehler punts out and Togo collects it.
75th minute: Free kick nearside near the edge of the box for Togo. Switzerland burns time by not giving the ten yards. And the free kick, nothing, cleared by the Swiss with some nice defende, and now Togo resets. A lot of credit to the Swiss defense. Like a Cable Car, they are not in over their heads, in fact, they are very much in the Fray.
74th minute: Marcelo, I know that Togo needs to score, but as my friend Mike likes to remind me, the other team is trying to win the game too.
73rd minute: A nice bicycle effort, nope...Togo pushes across and attempts to reset. Again, pushing up into traffic, and the Swiss defend.
72nd minute: Sing along with the chorus, Togo counters, nothing. Switzerland counters and the cross in saved by Abassa.
71st minute: Now we'll have another corner, Switzerland's seventh of the game....Will it be lucky.............nope, cleared away by Togo. A shot back in, and a low save by Abassa.
70th minute: Derisive Whistles abound as Frei breaks into a million little pieces after a "hard" foul.
69th minute: Togolese sub...Out Dossevi, in Senaya, David Schwimmer, and iced mocha drinks. Togo's looking for a spark.
68th minute: Togo gets its first corner, but well, not so much. Oh, as a warning, Shep Messing is calling the Ukraine game. Ben Franklin once said that "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Shep Messing is proof that Bristol hates us and wants to be miserable.
67th minute: Now, the Swiss counter punch wide, but the cross is met with a save. Togo plays it in and is defended by Mueller.
66th minute: Togo is pushing, you can sense that the Swizzle sticks are happy to let the Sparrow Hawks take their shots, because it doesn't seem like anything will happen.
65th minute: Oh, I have been told my soccer grammar is wanting. Sorry about that. Togo pushes deep into the corner, resets, and nothing. Now Togo bats it out and we'll have a throwin.
64th minute: Togo offsides leads to a Swiss reset and now the ref...Oh, beautiful chance by Yakin, and again, Abassa up to the task. As the brother of a former All-American goal keeper, I can tell you, the goalie never gets enough credit when they keep their team in it. It's still 1-0 Switzerland.
63rd minute: A foul leads to another Togolese reset. They're trying the outside now. I think next they may try the upside, but like Soundgarden, I have heard they are down on it.
62nd minute: Togo reset, and a shot wide by Salifou. The Swiss are running a perfect movement.
61st minute: Give Togo credit, they are fighting the good fight, but there's nothing doing.
60th minute: The partisan Swiss crowd is making themselves heard. They're singing that song, you know, the one you always hear. But not ole. Meanwhile, the U.S. is still trying to develop its soccer anthem culture, but I think our use of Steam's Kiss Him Goodbye in World Cup 2002 was effective.
59th minute: Corner for the Swizzle, but they'll just chill til the next episode. Adebayor makes a run, but the ball goes out of bounds.
58th minute: A foul leads to a Togolese reset short of midfield, now the Swiss steal, counter, and Alexander Frei makes a great shot, if the goal were atop the summit of Mont Blanc.
57th minute: Togo's setting up in the midfield, but the Swiss are having none of it.
56th minute: Switzerland back forward, but a high cross is picked off by Abassa.
55th minute: Hmm, Marcelo, the heart of your team is also known as the middle. Thank you former USMNT captain obvious. Switzerland holds far side of the offensive end, and now a throw in. Nice thought, but Togo defends and counters.
54th minute: Shania Twain and Mutt Lange make their home in Switzerland. What is it with Canadian singers and Switzerland. Hmm, I now have a craving for some chicken. Believe me, this filler is important, because it's just back and forth again.
53rd minute: Off advantage, Yakin makes a great shot, but it's just wide.
52nd minute: It's a fact: Celine Dion represented Switzerland when she won the Eurovision Song Contest.
Shot in, but again, Zuberbuehler gets it. And another booking, this time it's Romao, and he gets his second, so he'll be out for the finale.
51st minute: Barnetta gets a nice shot off his left foot, but Agassa makes a lovely save. The corner is nothing to right how about, and now Togo counters, but earns a foul in the offensive box.
50th minute: Swiss with a free kick just over the midstripe, but Togo resets.
49th minute: The refs are being evaluated. I just want to know how Dick Bavetta ended up at the top of the sheet. Fouls are coming fast and furious now, and Togo has a free kick just over the midfield line. Zuberbuehler is right there, but gets hammered...no, wait, he gets a lovetap and drops like he's been shot by a sniper.
48th minute: Switzerland attacks, and Togo counters. Togo is really trying to reset, but nothing doing.
47th minute: I just heard Marcelo said Togo has nothing to lose here. Which is not really true, they could lose the game. Hmm, you know, that last sequence tells me that if this were a hockey game, we'd say it was getting chippy. Adebayor gets booked, for arguing afterward.
46th minute: OK, so I have grabbed some food. I've got some groceries, some peanut butter to last a couple of days, but I ain't got time for that now. Hey, where did you get a Cobb salad?
Meanwhile, my comedic cruch, Daniel Gygax, rolled boxcars and is now out. Yakin is in, and Gygax will go sulk with his monster manual.
End of Halftime: OK, so let's reset here. Basically, there's been good flow, which I know from watching enough soccer growing up, is the polite way of saying "Not a whole lot is happening at either offensive end." Meanwhile, one of the questions is, can Switzerland hold on? Well, only time Will(iam) Tell. Can Togo level the score? Who knows, but we have 45 more minutes to find out.
Oh, a little Dortmund knowledge for you from Wikipedia: The Christmas market (Weihnachtsmarkt) is one of the largest in Germany, and is host to the largest "christmas tree" in the world, formed by stacking hundreds of trees into the shape of a pyramid.
Then again, anyone could have added that, so please verify your sources.
Halftime: To save you the googling, by the way, it's Jim Noir doing the song in the ubiquitous adidas commercials.
Hmm, Stockard Channing announcing Manchester United games...No, must stop having the crazy thoughts.
Stoppage time: One minute's worth of stoppage time. And it's one minute of my life that I am never getting back. There's the whistle for the Half. A 1-0 lead for Switzerland at the half. I am going to go get a breakfast Hot Pocket, I'll be back in five.
45th minute: A nice shot by Togo, and a diving header by the Swiss to clear. Kader tries to push forward, but nothing doing. Wow, Salifou gets booked after a very very dangerous Ty Cobb esque slide tackle
44th minute: Togo makes one final first half push. I hope they know their timeout situation, and it's a weak effort. Magestic punt by Zuberbuehler, and now it's just sort of back and forth across the midfield line. I like this, it's like the Swiss want to make you think they are working, when really, they aren't.
43rd minute: Throw in for Togo, but Kader sends it out for a goal kick for Switzerland. The implication from Marcelo is that FIFA, much like KAOS, are not an organization to be messed with. Quick, get me Shtarker.
42nd minute: The Swiss are already playing the Dean Smithesque four corners, stalling, but not so much that it's obvious. As annoying as it is, it is the right strategy, it's just annoying as a fan.
41st minute: It's a nice first half, it's a lot of let them play action, and again, Togo pushes hard and can't decide what to do, earning a goal kick for Switzerland.
40th minute: Long shot by Mamam, but easily handled by Zuberbuehler.
39th minute: The physicality of this game has definitely picked up, but the fouls are not always following. The Togolese push up and again, the Swiss counter. Punt by Agassa.
38th minute: Ooh, the Swiss push forward, and Gygax pushes upward but is just a bit late. And Gygax's magic armor didn't help as he pulls up lame. Punt by the Swiss.
37th minute:The Togolese once again quickly counter, but the Swiss get back on defense, and begins the counter rush, but nothing there, so now the Togolese push back but Kader was offsides. It was a nice coast to coast to coast rush there. Offsides even at 4 all.
36th minute: Goal kick for the Swiss. Wow, seriously, the Togolese got robbed there. Again, a lot of back and forth in the midfield,
35th minute: Oooh, Adebayor is moving up into the box and is tripped up clearly, but NO CALL. That's a huge issue. So, yeah, that's fascinating.
34th minute: They're telling the story about how Adebayor had his former coach canned. Since we're all telling stories since I am a hockey geek, I should mention that both Carolina and Edmonton have connections to Switzerland. Carolina's backup netminder is Martin Gerber, who minded the store for Switerland in the 2006 Olympics, shutting out Canada 2-0. Meanwhile back in 1998, Michel Riesen became the first Swiss-born player to sign an NHL contract when Edmonton locked him up. He played 12 games for the Oilers back in 2000-01 and recorded one assist and is now back with Davos in Switzerland. On the plus side, he did excel at enforcing the neutral-zone trap.
33rd minute: If you're wondering, I love soccer, but seriously, it is beginning to resemble the soccer scene in The Simpsons episode, "The Cartridge Family" Togo builds, but a turn over and then quickly back forward. Adebayor shoots, and Zuberbuehler makes the quick harmless save.
32nd minute: The Swiss push up, but Togo is there for the punt, which goes long. Throw in Togo, and they drop it back to mid to reset.
31st minute: Togo with a free kick and it hooks in, but it's too long and too wide, but you know, other than that, a great effort.
30th minute: The Swiss botch it and Togo try to capitalize but shoot wide. The Swiss counter and seem content to hold possession at midfield. I may have to make that phrase a macro, it's going to come up a lot.
29th minute: The Swiss hold at midfield
28th minute: Gygax rolls an 11 and takes a tumble. Free kick at midfield for Switzerland. And like Dominican ball players, apparently Togo's birth certificates are age whatever you want them to be.
27th minute: Kader with a shot for Togo, and it's a lot of pretty moves but poor choice of shot, as it's again right on on Zuberbuehler, which is I think a sponsor of Plymouth Whalers' hockey. Oh no, wait, that's Zuber Buick, my bad.
26th minute: Togo's Adebayor pushes in a beautiful cross, but no one is home. Get the man some help! Apparently, by the way, my Closed Captioning wants Togo to get some more men in the Biloxi.
25th minute: And we get our first sub of the game as Agboh goes off and Salifou goes in for Togo. Salifou had started against Korea, so we'll see if this can provide a little more punch for the Sparrow Hawks.
24th minute: The Swiss again push up, but it's very Oakland soccer, there's not a whole lot of there there. Togo resets, but the Swiss defense counters quickly.
23rd minute: Togo with another shot right on.
22nd minute: Togo is looking confused, and the Swiss look like they want to make them pay, which, of course, would go into a private numbered account in Zurich.
21st minute: Gygax rolls a six and it's an offsides. Marcelo just made the point and I am glad I am not the only one, in pushing up so much, the Swiss are opening themselves up to a quick counter attack, but Togo is not able to do anything yet. It's like the Swiss are leaving holes.
20th minute: By the way, for all of you Swiss fans out there, I'd like to apologize that this entry is not written in Helvetica. Offside by the Swiss and Togo will counter. A long ball, out of bounds and a throw in for the Swiss, who play it back.
19th minuteA rare foul and Togo pushes forward, and, nope, offsides. There genuinely is a good flow in this match.
18th minute: Like Roger McDowell, we learn that Alexander Frei is the second spitter. Corner for the Swiss. It's a modified short corner and cleared out by Togo.
17th minute: And Switzerland finds the back of the net as Alexander Frei, their striker, gets a beautiful set up and puts Switzerland up 1-0. So much for my theory on possession meaning very little.
16th minute: Switzerland's running an almost 2:1 possession edge, but as we have seen, that means very little. Togo gets a quick shot, but the keeper is more than up to the task.
15th minute: Our Pittsburgh bureau checks in: "You know, Craig, I hesitate to call it a conspiracy theory, but Togo was believed to be behind the death of Princess Diana. They had released a Princess Diana stamp the week before her death, and the sudden upswing in sentimental purchasing filled the coffers of the Gnassingbé Eyadéma regime. I hesitate to call it a conspiracy theory because I only know one person who thought it, he didn't really believe it, really all they would need is one Togolese driver, so it kind of fails the whole conspiracy definition, so it's more like a lone guy hypothesis."
My friends are insane, but that is why they are my friends.
Oh, and in game action...Togo pushes it forward, but the Swiss defense are sounding the clarion call of the alpenhorn, rallying the troops and push back towards center.
14th minute: Gygax's shot earns Switerland a corner, and the long service is well defended, but the Swiss hold on.
13th minute: Now Togo will reset and push forward. The Swiss steal and counter attack, but nothing comes of it.
12th minute: A Swiss throw-in, and we're back to more possession by the Swiss at midfield.
11th minute:Now, a corner kick chance for the Swiss. It's a short corner, well defended by the Togo defenders.
10th minute: The Swiss are just holding it in midfield, no attack, but they are Swiss, so it sort of figures.
9th minute: In the interests of equal time, I see that Switzerland's coach Jakob "Kobi" Kuhn lead his nation to a pair of World Cups in the 1960s. The Togolese are pushing in hard, crossing it across the six, and a header that misses just wide.
8th minute: The Swiss give it up at midfield, but Togo takes it in off sides.
7th minute: A word about Togo's coach Otto "Price" Pfister. What exactly does your career trajectory look like when you have gone from coaching Rwanda to Burkina Faso to Senegal to Côte d'Ivoire to Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) to Ghana to Bangladesh to Togo? Goal kick by Togo, nothing major.
6th minute: Togo gets a quick transition shot, but it's right at Bueller.
5th minute:The Swiss are holding deep, and there's a long shot by Cabanas, but no dice.
4th minute: Deep defensive end throw in by Togo, and the Swiss control in the middle of the field. It's very much in the feeling out stages right now.
3rd minute: It's worth noting that the last time the Swiss scored in the World Cup was actually a game that I attended, their 4-1 victory over Romania at the Pontiac Silverdome during the 1994 World Cup. It's a fact, do with it what you will.
Switzerland pushes play up, but again, nothing doing. Gygax rolls a natural 1, but it's a fumble. The Swiss push again, but its cleared out of the box.
2nd minute: Tchangai is wearing the captain's armband for Togo in place of Abalo. Togo's made several changes to their starting lineup for this game, so we'll have to see how well that pays off for them.
Togo takes an early oppurtunity, but nothing comes of it. Foul by Togo's Agboh.
1st minute: The Worldwide Leader smiles upon us, as its Dave O'Brien and Marcelo Balboa. Woo woo.
It's a wet pitch in Dortmund today, a cool afternoon with a light rain and roughly 66 degrees. That would be Fahrenheit. I would really be worried about global warming if that were Celsius.
An early goal kick for Togo
Check 1...2...3...4..."Thunder Road" baby, "Thunder Road".
Hello ladies and gentlemen, my name's Craig Barker, and I'll be taking you through the next ninety minutes of action from Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund, the Group G blood feud that is...Togo and Switzerland. It goes without saying that an important game for both sides. Of course, I just said it, so, anyway...
The Sparrow Hawks of Togo are trying to rebound from the team's 2-1 loss to the South Koreans, so keep your eye on them, as they will also do this without their captain Jean-Paul Abalo, who was booked in the 53rd minute of the Korea match. The other big news of the weekend is that Togo has been, to steal a line from Neko Case, Maybe Sparrows, as their participation in this game was thrown into doubt after still not having received the bonuses promised them for qualifying for their first World Cup. Reuters states that "Players from the tiny West African country have demanded 155,000 euros ($196,300) each to play and 30,000 euros for each win, half that for each draw. But officials from the country with an average per capita income of well below $1,000 have said those demands are too high." Aim high gentlemen, aim high!
Meanwhile, the Oath Comrades of neutral Switzerland are trying to earn three critical points after their goalless draw with France in the first game. With the 1-1 result in Leipzig yesterday between the French and Korean sides, this is still any team's group. Word out of Bern is that the Swiss consider this game of the utmost importance; I've been told that they've gone so far as to raise their defense condition to the highest level, a beige alert.
I've got my crack research staff (as opposed to my research staff on crack) covering my back and we're hoping to give you a glitch-free rundown of this action. I also realize I am stepping into the time slot that was held down all last week by the Mighty MJD, so that is some major shoes to fill.
Oh, and to start the discussion fodder in the comments, I need your help. I'm building the playlist for my tenth high school reunion, and the only restriction I placed on it was, that in order to capture the proper Zeitgeist, the songs had to be released between 1992 and 1996. So, if you have any suggestions, please throw them in the comments and I'll check them out later. Thank you for your support.
Meanwhile, to save the grousing, since Will didn't do it, here's a picture of female fan of Switzerland, a Swiss Miss if you will. And here is Togo's representative, Miss World Cup 2006, Edwige Madze Badakcu.
Oh, and TFTD is just the shortened form of the blog's original name, Thought for the Day. People looking for actual inspiration kept landing on my site, hence the shortform.
Referees: It's an all Paraguayan crew headed by Carlos Amarilla. An electrical engineer by trade, you may remember Carlos from his efforts in the U.S./Czech Republic game. Sadly, Spanish is not the official language of either nation, so expect a lot of gesturing to explain.
National Anthems: The Swiss national anthem is "Swiss Psalm" a piece written by Alberich Zwyssig which has lyrics in English as well as all four of Switzerland's national languages, French, German, Italian, and Romansch. It replaced the previous anthem because the Swiss were concerned that it was based on a British tune, namely "God Save the King". Wow, replacing your anthem because you're worried it sounds British. Well, I've heard worse reasons.
The Togolese anthem is "Salut à toi, pays de nos aïeux", or "Hail to thee, land of our forefathers" which has served as Togo's anthem from 1960-1979 and again from 1991 to the present. (One party rule led to a different, much peppier anthem during the interim.)