World Cup Review #3: 6/17-6/19

Welcome Back. After a slow first set of matches, the games have really opened up and we are now seeing class, style, and surprises. The other theme of these second games has been confusing tactics, the play of Lionel Messi, the downfall of France (and maybe England), and the awful calls in the US-Slovenia game.

No goals, no problem

Group A

France v. Mexico: The first half was beyond dull with the French only working through Ribery and the Mexicans missing every chance they had. The second half began in much the same fashion until Javier Martinez finally made good on some solid work by El Tri, scoring a nice little goal on an assist by Rafa Marquez, and the rout was on. France had no reaction, they were knocked to the mat and down. Blanco scored a penalty on a foul committed by Eric Abidal. Although it looked somewhat soft, it is going to be called that way every game. France are now done and dusted for the games unless they can beat South Africa by at least 5 and Mexico beat Uruguay without allowing them to score. Euler is exactly right: Laurent Blanc is going to come in to a team with a ton of talent and will know how to use it, he is going to be loved. France 0, Mexico 2

Uruguay: 4 pts, GP 2, GS 3, GD 3
Mexico: 3 pts, GP 2, GS 3, GD 2
France: 1 pt, GP 2, GS 0, GD -2
South Africa: 1 pt, GP 2, GS 1, GD -3

Group B

Argentina v. South Korea: Any commentator who had questions about Messi’s ability to work for the Albiceleste should just watch this game. Lionel drew back deeper into the midfield without Veron, making him something of a Xavi-type, doling out passes and generally setting everything up. He was tremendous as Higuain took advantage of 2 defensive lapses and 3 excellent Argentinean moves in order to put in a hat trick. South Korea did not have their usual pep but did draw one back just before the half on an awful play by Dimechilis. Jonas Gutierrez will miss Argentina’s final group stage game for accumulation and Walter Samuel had to be taken off early with a knock. Argentina 4, South Korea 1

Greece v. Nigeria: Greece met their millennial allotment of goals in this game, scoring their first ever goals in the World Cup and rightly beat Nigeria. Uche scored on a first half free kick and the Super Eagles were looking good until Kaita is sent off for kicking at an opposing player after the fact, a textbook red, and some great Ronaldo’ing from the Greek player to “sell” it. After this, Greece were rampant, taking two goals, and they should have scored more if not for Enyeama, again. An exciting game after the red, with both teams piling on chances, it could have ended with a much bigger score line if either side weren’t garbage in front of the net. Nigeria are pretty much done, they may have some mathematical chance, but it looks bad. Greece 2, Nigeria 1

Argentina: 6 pts, GP 2, GS 5, GD 4
South Korea: 3 pts, GP 2, GS 3, GD -1
Greece: 3 pts, GP 2, GS 2, GD -1
Nigeria: 0 pt, GP 2, GS 1, GD -2

Group C

Dancing on Onyewu's footballing grave
United States v. Slovenia: There were only about 15 minutes of this game where the US even deserved to be on the field, much less draw. Slovenia were better trained, had better tactics, and took advantage of the Americans’ biggest flaw: fielding a defense. Two goals in the first half for the Charlie Browns were all the fault of US failure to close down and Onyewu. In the second half Donovan scored an absolute screamer and Michael Bradley drew it level with 10 minutes left in what was fast becoming the most fun game to watch in the Cup. 4 minutes later, Maurice Edu knocked in a Donovan free kick and the Americans looked to complete the biggest comeback in World Cup history, until a phantom call by the referee took it away. A 2-2 win for the Americans means they still have a lot of life left in the group. United States 2, England 2

England v. Algeria: For whatever reason, England have looked flat except for Gerrard’s goal 4 minutes into the US match. Since then, the weight has come down on England and against Algeria, they had nothing. Algeria controlled the game for much of it through their back line with Bougherra serving as MOTM via solid play. England on the other hand were anonymous and only had 1 real chance on goal. Capello waited too long to try and change tactics with Rooney languishing in a 2-forward set and Heskey doing nothing and doing it well. England’s midfielders were roundly bad, providing little, and Capello is going back to the drawing board for this one. England 0, Algeria 0

Standings (Tiebreakers available here):
Slovenia: 4 pts, GP 2, GS 3, GD 1
United States: 2 pts, GP 2, GS 3, GD 0
England: 2 pts, GP 2, GS 1, GD 0
Algeria: 1 pt, GP 2, GS 0, GD -1

Group D

Germany v. Serbia: While the referee in the US-Slovenia game will get more looks, this game was poorly called as well. So many cards in the first half gave way to too few in the second and Klose was sent off in the first for two yellows although the first was dubious and the second was right. Almost immediately after, Serbia moved forward and Jovanovic took his goal well. The rest of the game was a grind, as you might expect from these two sides, with Serbia’s defense holding well until Vidic’s confusing handball, reaching on his arm and visibly touching the ball away. He was given a yellow but he should have been sent off with a red. Podolski stepped up and nailed it since the Germans haven’t missed a penalty since Espana 1982 had his effort saved on a good move by the keeper. After that, it was a little back and forth but Serbia looked the better side after the card. Germany 0, Serbia 1

Ghana v. Australia: Hmm. Ghana was off all day, missing numerous open chances while their back was exposed time and again. Australia’s goal may be seen as an issue with the ball, but that was an elementary save on a dig any keeper should make. As for Kewell, that is a textbook red card. No matter if he “handled” the ball or just had his arm hit, it does not matter, he was on the line, the ball hit his arm, midway down, and stopped it from going in. Red card. Penalty. After that, the Black Stars were weak coming forward and Australia should have scored as well. Either way, this draw means only one thing: Serbia wins. Ghana 1, Australia 1

Ghana: 3 pts, GP 2, GS 2, GD 1
Germany: 3 pts, GP 2, GS 4, GD 3
Serbia: 3 pts, GP 2, GS 1, GD 0
Australia: 0 pt, GP 2, GS 1, GD -4

Group E

Netherlands v. Japan: Another game, another victory, another so-so showing by the Dutch. However, a win is a win and due to later results, the Dutch are the first squad guaranteed of a spot in the Round of 16. Japan was able to muster very little and an absolute rocket job by Sneijder that the Blue Samurai keeper could do little about sealed the deal in the second half. The Dutch did not look great and should have scored 2 more toward the end when Elia came on to takeover for VDV, something he may do from the get-go next week. Netherlands are through for sure, Japan will play Denmark to determine the rest. Netherlands 1, Japan 0

Cameroon v. Denmark: It all started so promisingly for Cameroon with the Danish defense falling apart and Eto’o finally looking the part. But missed opportunities derailed any chances of a win and the Danes were quick on the counter, leading to two goals. However, the outcome was always in doubt as Denmark missed two wide open chances and Cameroon his the post as well as failing to capitalize on terrible action at the back for the Danes. But in the end it was not to be for Eto’o and his boys as they fell, becoming the first side officially eliminated from competition. Cameroon 1, Denmark 2

Netherlands: 6 pts, GP 2, GS 3, GD 3
Japan: 3 pts, GP 2, GS 1, GD 0
Denmark: 3 pts, GP 2, GS 2, GD -1
Cameroon: 0 pt, GP 2, GS 1, GD 0

First Update
Second Update

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  1. Mast
    June 20, 2010

    Think you made a mistake in the beginning, you put netherlands – denmark instead of SA – Uruguay..

    Otherwise nicely written, as always!

  2. Ryan
    June 20, 2010

    I might be a bit biased, seeing as I’m living and working in Japan, but there were a few chances near the end where the Blue Samurai had a real chance of equalizing. If only they had decent finishers aside from Honda.

    Nice review by the way! I got an Onyewu jersey after his performance versus Spain in the Confed Cup; hopefully he can bring back some of that in the upcoming game (games).

    • June 20, 2010

      ryan from fast and furious?
      just kidding.

      yeah, i know. japan had many chances but their finishing were poor.
      i really liked matsui. i thought that he was their best player after honda. and there was one more guy who plays on the right midfield i think. he was pretty good too.

      btw what happened here with ribery?
      apparently he got pissed off at a reported and got out of the car.
      any french speaking blogger here?

    • Ryan
      June 20, 2010

      Yeah, and their Brazilian born defender, Tulio, is pretty decent too. Maybe they can find a striker in Brazil with Japanese roots to solve their problems up front, heh.

  3. poipoi
    June 20, 2010

    what two games today people!!!

    barcelona athletic vs sant andreu (6:00 pm in Spain)

    brazil vs ivory coast (20:30)

    its footy day and tomorrow I can get to watch don andres iniestaaa

    • poipoi
      June 20, 2010

      well, better st andreu vs barcelona ath. A very hard away game, a derby, and the score home was 1-0. I am so pumped up for our youngsters:(

    • Luke
      June 20, 2010


    • poipoi
      June 20, 2010

      I have no idea, it is on barçaTV 😀

      spanish viewers: (I don’t know if you can watch this from outside spain)

      not in spain viewers: rojadirecta has some more streams for it.

      it’s on yihaaa

  4. June 20, 2010

    hahahaha italy is 1-0 down to NZ.
    i would love to see france, italy and england going down

  5. Bebop
    June 20, 2010

    Imagine the knockout rounds w/o France, Italy, England, Germany.. and god forbid Spain..
    World Player of The Year 06 done it again..

    • poipoi
      June 20, 2010

      is that oliver aton??? ozora tsubasa???

  6. Bebop
    June 20, 2010

    Imagine the knockout rounds w/o France, Italy, England, Germany.. and god forbid Spain..
    World Player of The Year 06 has done it again..

  7. Jim
    June 20, 2010

    On ITV just now they’re reporting on another bust up in the French camp with the squad refusing to train after an argument between Evra and one of the physios / trainers. Anyone know anything about it?

    • vicsoc8
      June 20, 2010

      Got the same information from ESPN. No other news, but it seems to be true.

    • Jnice
      June 20, 2010


    • Eklavya
      June 20, 2010

      Yeah, I just got the same info at half time.

  8. vicsoc8
    June 20, 2010

    Danielle De Rossi’s second dive in two days is the only reason Italy is even. Just terrible.

  9. vicsoc8
    June 20, 2010

    New Zealand! Go Kiwis!

  10. poipoi
    June 20, 2010

    france, italy and england are a such disgrace… no wonder I was worried about Europe’s role this WC. GO ROJA!!!

    • Eklavya
      June 20, 2010

      Well Spain LOST. At least Italy and England drew 😉

    • poipoi
      June 20, 2010


  11. DontPanic
    June 20, 2010

    Stream to Sant Andreu – Barca Atletic game. Thou it a bad quality


  12. Kxevin
    June 20, 2010

    Italy is detestable. Everybody is whining about how the U.S. was hard done by, but there’s zero love for the hard-working Kiwis. No way in hell that should have been a PK. What did the guy do, breathe on him too hard? That kind of partisan crap is loathsome. If New Zealand win that match, as they should have, Italy is almost certainly done, gone from our presence.

    France is imploding. Actually, has imploded. Anelka was sent home without consulting any of the players, or the team captain. Evra had a blowup with a trainer and after the players signed a few autographs, public practice was canceled. Jean-Louis Valentin, deputy director of the France Football Federation, has resigned. Here is a statement from the players (translated):

    “With this release, all players of the team from France, without exception, want to assert their opposition to the decision taken by the French Football Federation to exclude Nicolas Anelka from the group. If we regret the incident that occurred at halftime of the match between France and Mexico, we regret even more the disclosure of an event that belongs to our group and which is inherent in the life of a high level team. At the request of the group, the player in question has committed an attempt at dialogue, but his approach has remained voluntarily ignored. For its part, the French Football Federation has at no time tried to protect the group. It has made a decision without consulting all the players, only on the basis of the facts reported by the press. Accordingly, and to mark its opposition to the highest levels of French football, all players decided not to participate in the workout. Out of respect for the public who came to attend this meeting, we decided to go to meet them, who by their presence, bring us full support. For our part, we are aware of our responsibilities, those wearing the colors of our country, but also those that we have towards our fans, their officers, educators, volunteers and countless children who keep the Blues as models. For our part, we forget nothing of our duties. We will do everything individually, of course, but also in a collective spirit that France, Tuesday evening, found his honor by a positive performance last.”

    –The players of the team of France


    • Eklavya
      June 20, 2010

      There’s more…

  13. poipoi
    June 20, 2010

    barça athletic 0=0 in half time… my nails are unexisting already 🙁

  14. ooga aga
    June 20, 2010

    barca atletic tied 0-0 so they are in segunda A right?

  15. inNYC
    June 20, 2010

    The France situation is just sad at this point. However, this moment from ESPN’s broadcast this morning is pretty much my top World Cup moment so far…


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