After Germany’s 4-0 demolition of Australia, we thought the floodgates would open. Well, wrong. Five goals in three matches that were mostly, well, lets say, tactical, continue the trend of this world cup, of tight, un-creative play by most teams, boasting 10 men who defend while the favorites usually find it hard to create chances. It’s great watching four and a half hours of footy each day, but we want more goals. It seems our hope of destroying the world’s inventory of Vuvuzela’s prayers won’t be answered, so at least some more goals. The bad goalkeeping in this world cup so far keeps us optimistic.
They did need a lucky own goal by Simon Poulsen to get the lead, but there was no doubt who was the better team throughout the match, excluding a couple of Denmark chances. The Dutch lacked speed upfront, with Kuyt and Van der Vaart placed as wingers. Kuyt is a hard working player, a “coaches player”, but zero flair. Rafa? He’s not a winger, and I don’t like his pairing with Sneijder. Van der Vaart kept cutting to the middle, leaving the flank empty and over crowding the midfield. When Elia came in, things became much better. Denmark, despite needing the equalizer, just don’t have the tools to create chances against a team like the Dutch, and the 2-0 result in the end was deserved.
*For the Goals – Go here
Eastern Asia continues to rock, while Africa’s records stands at 2 losses, 1 draw and one win. Cameroon came in as favorites against a John Doe type Japan, but pulled out a horrible performance out of Paul Le Guen’s hat, while Japan, like South Korea two days ago, played fast, organized and effective.
Daisuke Matsui was excellent for Japan and Tanaka did very well to lead the defense, while Cameroon seemed to only wake up in the final 15 minutes. Samuel Eto’o was hardly involved and Cameroon seem to have a big problem with their keeper, Hamidou, who just can’t hang on to a ball even if his life depended on it.
Is this good for Italy or bad? In my gambling pool, this game worked out perfectly: a 1-1 draw, with Paraguay taking the lead – a full 10 points. Maybe a bad start for Italy means things can only improve. It seemed Lippi was learning throughout the match, about having no players on the wings in his 4-3-3 which has no players to create chances, at least with the lineup that came out. Camoranesi didn’t do much, but he did opened things up for the Italians, giving Montolivo and De Rossi more space. The defense isn’t 2006 – And Buffon isn’t 2006, replaced at half time after reportedly suffering a back injury.
Antolin Alcaraz, 39th minute
Paraguay will be pleased, playing something similar to the way Uruguay played against France on Friday – no midfield, nine men behind the ball, but with a stronger aerial prowess, and weren’t far from grabbing a stunning win.
Daniele De Rossi, 63rd minute
1. Netherlands, 3 points (2-0)
2. Japan, 3 points (1-0)
3. Cameroon, 0 points (0-1)
4. Denmark, 0 points (0-2)
1. Italy, 1 point (1-1)
2. Paraguay, 1 point (1-1)
Slovakia and New Zealand haven’t played yet.
17 Players with one goal, 1 own goal.
Picture of the Day – Love, Love, Love
FanS of the Day – Netherlands Win This Battle Too
What We’ve Learned
Netherlands – The way the Dutch play, the need speed. Robben isn’t healthy, but still, they can do better. Either start Elia and leave Van der Vaart off or put Van Persie on the wing and Kuyt in the middle. We expect more from the Dutch offense.
Denmark – Actually, this is what the Danes have to offer. Maybe Tomasson healthy would have made a change, but the side is limited, but still, if it wasn’t for that un lucky shave off Agger’s back, who knows. I still believe Denmark can get 4 points or more in the next two games.
Japan – See South Korea, and do copy paste, just replace Park with Honda and Matsui, not from Baseball. They’re going to be very difficult, even for the Dutch. Still, goals are going to be hard to come by.
Cameroon – Eto’o as a winger – didn’t work. Song on the bench? Didn’t work. Le Guen needs to put life into his team, that had a very hard time creating chances and just lacked passion and purpose the entire match.
Italy – The warm up games, Euro 2008, Confed Cup 2009, you can’t create magic after almost four years of playing bad. 4-3-3 Works, but if you play with wingers. Having Iaquinta on the wing doesn’t do anything, and from the looks of things, Gilardino should start on the bench, with Di Natale and Pepe on the flanks, or drop Pepe and start with Camoranesi, allowing more freedom for Montolivo and De Rossi, otherwise things just don’t look good for Lippi’s men.
Paraguay – Strong and aggressive, no creativity in the midfield, dangerous strikers in the air. Don’t expect them to change, but don’t be surprised if they chew up Japan and Cameroon.
New Zealand – Slovakia – Potential of being worst than France Uruguay or Slovenia Algeria, but I expect Hamsik to show why he’s such a sought after player. Anything but a Slovakia win, in their first World Cup, would be surprising.
Ivory Coast – Portugal
Great potential, but it depends how or even if Drogba plays. The Ivory Coast are still good, but without their leader, heart and soul, Portugal, despite being Ronaldo and ten more, should be good enough to get a win.
Brazil – North Korea 5? 6? The pressure from home is huge, and anything less than a 3-0 win will create more question marks for Dunga and his men.
* Goal Count – 18 Goals, 11 matches – 1.63 per game. We need about 10 goals tomorrow to start feeling happier about this tournament.