Monday – June 21st, 2010
Portugal vs. North Korea review
Amidst heavy rain, North Korea’s defense was much shakier in this game, at least in the beginning of the first half. Right at the start, Ronaldo had a shot saved by Myong Guk (3rd minute) and a Carvalho header off the post (7th minute). That’s not to say that North Korea stood back, they were more offensive as well with shots by Jong Hyok (11th minute) and Yong Jo (18thminute).
Despite the rain though, Portugal was not hampered with their quick touches/ passes style since the field held up well, and they still were able to create scoring chances (11 of them). In the 29th minute, the Portuguese were able to beat the Korean defense with a nice pass by Tiago to Meireles for the score (29th minute). After the first score, Portugal continued to dominate the midfield, get close to the area with relative ease and create scoring chances till the end of the first half. Portugal kicked off the second half with a superb Tiago shot at the 48th minute; North Korea replied with two tame shots by Yong Jo and Tae Se. At the 53rd minute, Portugal beat Korea’s defense once again through quick and beautiful passing by Almeida & Meireles which left Simao in front of the goal for the score. The floodgates soon opened afterwards, and I’m not talking about rain…
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At the 56th minute, Portugal unleashed another quick attack to score once again with an Almeida header. At the 60th, Tiago got in on the fun with one of his own. At the 81st, Liedson, the substitute, decided to join the bonanza. At the 87th minute, Ronaldo finally got his own, though it was a bit awkward. And just in case North Korea went on a 6 goal rampage in 4 minutes, Tiago scored one more as insurance at the 89th with another header. Lose count? So did I. Damn North Korea, you not only just got slapped, but you also got beat down with a pimp cane and sent to the hospital in a coma!!! Score: 7-0.
Chile vs. Switzerland review
It was a tense start between the two nations as a yellow card and five fouls were recorded in the first ten minutes. Chile had the first chance of the match when a Carmona shot required a good save by Benaglio at the 10th minute. With the first fifteen underway it was Chile that was taking the initiative. After more minutes of challenges and 3 more yellow cards, the Swiss finally got their first chance at the 26th minute with a Grichting header just wide.
The hard challenges finally took its toll when a red card was issued to Swiss Behrami (31st minute). Though he did make contact with his arm on a Chilean’s face, I thought it was a bit harsh, a yellow would’ve been sufficient. Chile, now a man up, found more scoring chances with Jara (33rd), Vidal (38th) and Sanchez (40th) though most were off target. The Swiss were left without choice and reverted back to mostly defending, except for a Nkufo shot at the 43rd that went well wide. Chile came back even more offensive with Valdivia and Gonzalez in the game.
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The Chileans continued to put pressure throughout the game, being able to reach the outside of the box, but having difficulty getting the ball and taking quality shots. Though they did get shots off (22 in total), they were mostly off target, much like their game against Honduras. At the 57th minute, Chilean Sanchez finally had a great chance to score but Benaglio saved and it was put out to a corner. Switzerland on the other hand stayed back on defense waiting for a good counter-attack opportunity. At the 69th minute, the Swiss set a new World Cup record of 551 consecutive minutes without conceding a goal dating back to 2006. But alas, at the 75th minute, the streak was finally broken when Paredes crossed to the back post and Gonzalez headed it home. The last ten minutes had an exhausting pace to it, when the Swiss opened up a bit to attempt an equalizer despite being a man down. At the 90th minute, Chile’s inability to put the game away almost cost them when Derdiyok had a magnificent chance to tie the game up but failed. Chile created numerous attacks and scoring chances, some off a magnificent counter attack, but the vast majority were off target and the game ended with minimal difference.
For Chile, it was another big win and it puts them in the driver’s seat in this group, meanwhile, for Switzerland, it could’ve been a lot worse and they should get a win versus Honduras in the last round. I’ll say this once again though, this group will come down to goal differential and Chile let another golden chance pass by. Score: 1-0.
Spain vs. Honduras review
22 shots to 9. 7 shots on target to 0. 57% possession to 43%. 12 corners to 2. 9 fouls committed to 18. Can you guess which is which and the score? Spain dominated this game in a pretty one-sided game.
Right from the start, we had a Torres shot (5th minute) and a Villa shot (7th minute) that went off the crossbar, signs of things to come. Spain dominated the midfield with smooth passing on both the left and right sides of the attack, sometimes switching over various times. At the 17th minute, in a fantastic individual play (dribble and shot) Villa got on the scoreboard. From then on, despite some few harmless and scattered Honduran chances, it was all “La Furia Roja”. Xavi almost connected with a header at the 25th, Torres had two good chances at the 33rd, and Navas’ deflected cross almost went in at the 40th. Though the minimal score held through the half, it was clearly Spain’s game to win. And on the 51st minute, they took a giant leap towards that with a deflected shot by Villa that went in. In an attempt to improve their goal differential, the attack continued, creating even more scoring chances. It was at the 62nd minute though, that they had their best opportunity when the referee called a penalty on Izaguirre, Honduras’ defender. Villa, on the cusp of a hat trick, missed the penalty shot barely wide right. The Spaniards didn’t quit and continued pressuring with a Fabregas shot in the 66th, Ramos at the 67th, Navas at the 68th and so on and so forth.
The game finished with just two scores for Spain, it was a good rebound and they could decide first place with Chile, but again, they missed way too many goal scoring chances, and it could come back to haunt them. Good performance by Honduras, all things considered, and at least they didn’t stink it up like North Korea. Score: 2-0.
Tuesday – June 22nd, 2010 Preview
Note: Below are the correct times. Third round group games are held simultaneously.
Uruguay vs. Mexico (10 AM EST.)
A tie gets both through to the next round, however I don’t think Mexico would be happy with that, especially since they’d face Argentina in the Round of 16. I think Uruguay will try to play a more defensive game but ultimately fail. Prediction: Mexico win.
France vs. South Africa (10 AM EST.)
In any other circumstance, I’d pick France, since they have the talent and a ability to win this game easily. Given the comedic chaos that they’re in though, I could see a tie happening. But I’ll be a homer this time and say the South Africans will put on a heroic performance and win, unfortunately they won’t get through to the next stage on goal differential. Prediction: South Africa win.
Argentina vs. Greece (2:30 PM EST.)
Argentina is in already and they will rest some players up. They could even lose the game and get by on goal differential, but they won’t. Their bench is more talented than Greece and they’ll have 11 players on the field. Prediction: Argentina win.
South Korea vs. Nigeria (2:30 PM EST.)
Both the Koreans and Nigerians will keep a close eye on the Argentina-Greece game. If Argentina is winning, a tie would benefit South Korea, or if it’s a tie game or Greece is winning, the Koreans will need a victory. The Nigerians on the other hand just flat out need to win. Nigeria is coming off a heart-breaking loss in a game where they had the lead and control of the game until the red card, while the Koreans got spanked by Argentina. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, however I’ll go with the Koreans who’ve displayed a better game till now. Prediction: South Korea win.