Thursday, June 17, 2010

At A Glance: World Cup

It is day six in South Africa and each of the 32 teams have played their initial match. There have been plenty of surprises thus far. One reoccurring theme throughout the first matches is tentativeness. Only a few sides really came out and asserted their strength against their opponent. Those top teams were Germany (4-0 win over Australia), Argentina (1-0 over Nigeria, 4-1 over South Korea today), South Korea (2-0 over Greece, a loss to Argentina today) and Netherlands (2-0 victory over Denmark). Otherwise, it has been sub-par performances from the tournament favorites. Struggles by France (lost 2-0 today to Mexico), Mexico (awesome win against France today), Italy, England, Portugal, Cameroon, Spain and Brasil (to an extent amid their 2-1 victory over 105th ranked North Korea). It appeared that these teams were playing for 1 point rather than risking going for 3 and falling flat.
Delving deeper into the first set of matches: USA has to be satisfied with their overall performance against rival England, although the Americans had a few good chances to take the lead and with it, the match. It must be nice to know that USA will not wind up facing England for a shot at the round of 16. They should be able to handle Slovenia and Algeria to get into the knockout stage.
Bafana Bafana, the boys from South Africa are in serious jeopardy of being the first host nation to fail to make the Round of 16. After an emotional opening match against stronger Mexico, Bafana Bafana were dissected by Uruguay in a 3-nil outing.
Heavy Cup favorite Spain went down in shocking fashion to the Swiss. What actually happened here? Did the Swiss win the match, or did Spain loose it? One tends to think Spain will move on to the next round. This group (Group H, which includes Chile and Honduras) has added incentive to finish strongly due to the draw in the Round of 16 and a looming match up against the runner-up of the Group of Death.
Japan pulled the 2nd biggest stunner (next to Switzerland) by beating the most talented African side, Cameroon, 1-0. Cameroonian and Euro Treble winning-Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto'o was bottled up for the entire match. He will need to break out if they plan to advance.

Other noteworthy items: Style is
certainly front and center in South Africa. Case and point: Argentine head man and rookie coach Maradona. Take a look at this classy gent as he patrols the touch lines. That's like a $6,000 dollar suit. Com'on! And those rocks in his ear? Could explain why he is so short!
On the opposite end of the style spectrum, look at Slovenia's kits. Are you kidding me? Looks like something Charlie Brown would wear. But being honest, if I saw that at the store, I might be tempted to purchase one. Just sayin'.

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