World Cup Week 1: Spain Shocked, England Screwed (Brazil Still Win, Duh!)


 
2010

Fifa World Cup 2010

 

 Well, it’s the 17th of June and last night concluded the first week of World Cup 2010. And what a week it has been. It started off dull enough with two draws as South Africa faced Mexico and Uruguay took on France. However, it was soon set ablaze as England encountered the U.S.A. on the second day of the tournament. What ensued was a thrlling tie marred by one goal-keeping gaffe from Robert Green that cost England all three points against the States. The first week of this year’s World Cup has had its fair share of ups and downs, missed chances, shocks and surprises. One thing that it lacked however, was goals. With the first week over, let us look back at all the events of South Africa 2010 and see whether “The Contenders” performed as expected:     
  

Henry Ribery and Forlan

Henry and Ribery have a chat with Diego Forlan during their Group A encounter.

 

 The first “Contender” in action at the World Cup was France. They played Uruguay on the opening day of the World Cup. As predicted, the French failed to impress and lacked the neccessary fire power required to crack a defense. The Uruguayan defense was by no means unbreakable and the French really should have scored atleast once during the match. Even though France created a chance as early as the 6th minute, when Franck Ribery slipped the ball in across goal for Sidnei Govou, they failed to convert on innumerable occasions. Not only did France fail to create many chances but Uruguay also looked dangerous when they attained possession of the ball. At times it seemed Diego Forlan on his own was enough for the French defense to deal with. However, neither side provided enough spark in the final third of the field and as a result the match ended in a goal-less stalemate.   

Argentina made their World Cup debut next as they faced off against Nigeria. It was a thoroughly enjoyable match with both sides playing well and creating scoring opportunities. Messi and Co. continued to threaten the Nigerian backline throughout the game but it was Gabriel Heinze who broke the deadlock early on with a senstational header from a Sebastian Veron corner in the 6th minute. The Argentines came running out of the blocks and looked to get on the score sheet as early as possible. Even after scoring their first goal, they kept piling pressure onto the Nigerian defense. This time however, they were matched shot-for-shot by the excellent Nigerian goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, who persistently denied the Argentine attackers from geting onto the scoresheet. All in all, it was a good match and both teams played equally well. In the end however, it was that exceptional goal from Gabriel Heinze that proved the difference between the two sides.
 
 

Heinze Header 

 
England were up next as they took on the USA in a crunch group C encounter. All went well for England and they played exceptional football, eventually taking the lead on 5 minutes as Steven Gerrard rippled the back of the net, sliding the ball just past US keeper Tim Howard. His effort was soon cancelled out however, as the United States found a goal of their own on . Clint Dempsey fired a weak shot from outside the 18 yard box. His speculative effort however was clumsily fumbled by Robert Green and wound up in the back of the net. England 1 USA 1. Both teams played well after that gaffe from Green and Green himself pulled off some excellent saves after his error that cost England the lead. He was unable to fully redeem himself however as both sides failed to score hereafter and the match ended as a draw.  For those of you who still haven’t seen the howler (I doubt there are many) here is a clip I’ve added:
 
  
Even though I refused to include Germany in my original list of “Contenders”, their exceptional performance against Australia has forced me to revise my earlier predictions. The Germans romped to a massive 4-0 victory against Australia. Even with their star player and skipper, Michael Ballack out injured for the entire tournament, the efficient Germans seemed unfazed as they hit Australia for four with four different players, including Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose getting on the score sheet. The Germans with this huge win have, in my view at least, cemented their credentials as possible World Champions. But the World Cup has only begun as yet and whether this victory was nothing but a fluke against a hapless Australian side or just one out of many many more exceptional performances by the Germans is yet to be seen.

The Germans Practicing

 

 Then came Italy as they clashed with Paraguay in the Cape Town Stadium on the 14th of June. The Italians monopolized possession for most of the first half but conceded a goal against the run of play on 38 minutes. A freekick was curled into the box and Paraguayan defender Antolin Alcaraz rose above all challengers before heading the ball home into the bottom corner of the net. The Paraguayans led and the Italians were shell-shocked. Coach Marcelo Lippi then introduced a change on around the hour mark that galvanised the Italian team as they shifted into fifth gear. Mauo Camoranesi was brought on in place of Claudio Marchisio. The Azurri rose as if they’d been brought back from the undead and began to launch wave after wave of attacks on the Paraguayans. Their continuous pressure eventually paid off as a Pepe corner was turned into goal by Daniel De Rossi after Villar failed to clear it. Both teams then threw everything they had in an attempt to find the winning goal but the attempts were futile and the match ended all square.  

The Italian Team in training.

 

 Brazil and Portugal were also in action during the week as they came up against North Korea and the Ivory Coast respectively. Brazil were expected to dominate the North Koreans, possibly dispatching them for a 5 or maybe even a 6 goal win. But as soon as the match kicked off, the Korean side made it clear that they would be no push-overs. They played well overall and held Brazil at 0-0 till half-time, which in itself is an achievement. Brazil however soon took the lead through a Maicon shot that just slipped in between the goal-keeper and his near post. Elano soon doubled the Brazillian lead on 72 minutes as he slotted home after receiving a delightful through-ball from Robinho. However the North Koreans at least ensured that Brazil would have a nervy few final minutes as they grabbed a goal of their own, courtesy of midfielder Yun Nam. The Brazillians though, would hold on for the win. 

Maicon takes a shot on goal during the Brazil vs DPR Korea Match

 

Portugal and the Ivory Coast were the next two teams to lock horns as they squared off in their Group G match. The match remained a tight affair throughout and the performance of both teams was commendable, especially that of the Ivory Coast, considering they were without their talismanic striker, Didier Drogba, for much of the game. Portugal however were not as good as their African counterparts and were kept at bay for long periods of time, their only good chance in the first half coming from a Ronaldo strike that struck the post from quite a long way out. Both teams played well though and as the match ended in a draw, it will be interesting to see which of these two teams will advance to the Knockout Round. 

   

Ronaldo is frustrated as he hits the post.

 

The most shocking result of this World Cup however, came just yesterday on the 16th of June. Spain were to play Switzerland at Durban Stadium when they kicked-off their World Cup Campaign. Everyone, including the author of this post expected the Spanish to pull off a big win. The Swiss however, had their own ideas. After 50 minutes of stalemate, Eren Derdiyok slipped into the box and attempted to slide the ball across to the waiting Gelson Fernandes. He was tackled by Casillas and the ball shot straight into Gerard Pique, causing it to bounce in front of the mouth of goal. A goal-mouth tussle ensued and Gelson Fernandes came out on top as he poked the ball into the back of the net. The Swiss led 1-0 and never looked back. From then on they put the entire team behind the ball and Spain failed to break their jam-packed defense. The referee soon blew the full time whistle, completing the Swiss victory and the greatest upset of the World Cup so far. Needless to say, this is a massive victory for the Swiss and the Spanish cannot afford any more slip ups if they are to make it out of Group H and into the Round Of 16. Indeed, victory in both of their next matches against Algeria and Slovenia is all that can guarantee passage into the next round for the Spanish. What do you think? Will the Spanish make it into the Knockout phase of the World Cup? Or will they fail miserably and crash out?

   

Spain Concede

Spain Concede A Goal and Gerard Pique is left bloodied.

 

  Leave a comment or vote in the poll below.  

 -Zain R. Mian   

 

 

Advertisements
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: