Wednesday – June 16th, 2010
Honduras vs. Chile Review
This game had a good, fast pace to it, much to the style of both teams and good for the viewers. Chile owned the outside with 62% ball possession and had numerous chances in the box. Right from the start (3rd minute), Chile’s Fernandez curled a free kick just over the goal. Chile had another good chance at minute 23 with a good play involving Sanchez, Ponce and Valdivia, whose shot was deflected just wide.
Even though Chile was controlling the game and Honduras was mostly on defense, it still wasn’t a locked down game like yesterday’s Brazil vs. North Korea, it was very much open, since the defense is not Honduras’ strong point. At the 33rd minute, it showed, with a nice pass by Valdivia and Isla, the ball was put to the back of the net by Beausejour (though it was deflected by a Honduran defender). After the goal, Chile continued to dominate and create other scoring chances, Honduras on the other hand had just a couple of shots, but both went high. In the second half, Chile continued that same pace; quick touches, fast breakaways and constant “full court” pressure on Honduras to turnover the ball. While Chile continued to inch closer to the second goal, Honduras wasn’t able to get anything going.
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Chile’s best chance came at minute 64, off a cross by Vidal, and all by himself, Ponce hit a low header but Honduran GK Valladares dived in front just in time; huge save! This game could’ve easily been a two, three goal win for Chile and Honduras escaped embarrassment, for now. Score: 0-1.
Spain vs. Switzerland Review
Spain comes in with one of the most dangerous attacks in the world while the Swiss have not allowed a World Cup goal in 394 minutes. The first half was a lot like the previous game; Spain dominated the midfield, controlled ball possession, pressured the Swiss defense while Switzerland practically didn’t threaten. The Swiss defense is a bit better than Honduras’ so they held the scoreless tie through the first, though Spain did have a couple of close calls.
Spain’s best chances were at the end of the half when Iniesta’s shot went just over the crossbar at the 43rd minute and a David Villa chip over the goalkeeper just wide at the 44th. You got the feeling though, that the goal would come soon for Spain; unless the Swiss could set up some decent scheme for the attack, or see if their defense could hold up 90 minutes. In the second half “La Furia” came with more, well, fury. They had two corner kicks and three shots with just 5 minutes into the half. But it was the Swiss (surprise!!), that scored a goal. On a quick counter attack by Derdiyok, and after 10 stumbles and 13 deflections, the Swiss Fernandes put the loose ball in the net.
Spain and the majority of the world were stunned, and they proceeded into a frantic and rabid attack: Torres had a great chance at equalizing at the 63rd minute with a shot that narrowly missed and Alonso sent a missile that hit the crossbar at the 70th. Switzerland replied with their own, with a Derdiyok touch that passed by Casillas and hit the post. The last ten minutes were as hectic as ever, with the crowd excited and Spain doing everything humanly possible to score, except hit the target, but the Swiss held on. Fantastic win for Swizterland, they kept their historic scoreless streak alive with outstanding defense and were efficient in the offensive chances they were given. For Spain, on the other hand, it was a huge blow to them.
They’ll bounce back, but the group now is wide open, with everyone knowing that if you finish second, you’ll probably face Brazil. Score: 0-1.
South Africa vs. Uruguay Review
Uruguay is the better team, but so was Mexico, and South Africa had momentum and hype on their side, so this match was very interesting for both nations and the group. And at least for the first 15 minutes, the match was very much even, with the first shot on goal coming only at the 23rd minute, by Uruguay’s Suarez. A few minutes later though (26th), Uruguay’s Forlan sent a strike from 30 yards away and it deflected just a bit on a South African defender, but just enough to go over the goalie and just under the bar to give Uruguay the lead.
South Africa was now forced to open up the game even more and allowed another shot by Suarez (33rd minute) that hit the side netting. South Africa would get their chance as well with a 41st minute header by Mphela just wide. In the second half, Uruguay continued to be superior and had a better grip on the game, with Lugano’s mistimed header (55th minute) being another close call for South Africa, though they still attacked (67th minute header by Mphela again) looking for the tie. But then came the key play of the game which ultimately sealed the victory for Uruguay: a 76th minute foul by goalkeeper Khune on Suarez, which earned him the red card. The penalty was taken by Forlan, who won’t miss any of those, and the lead was doubled.
After that, the South African players, along with most of the crowd, seemed shocked and they never really rebounded, while Uruguay looked for a third, though not with as much urgency. At the 95th minute, off a Suarez’ cross and a Pereira header, they got their third however and the game was over. Score: 0-3.
Thursday – June 17th, 2010 Preview
Argentina vs. South Korea ( 7:30 AM EST.)
Now this is a 7 AM match worth waking up to! Both teams are coming off of nice wins. South Korea impressed by easily handling Greece and Argentina came off a good win against Nigeria, where it really could’ve been more than just one goal scored. Argentina are the favorites here and whoever wins takes another big step in qualifying. Still, keep an eye on the Koreans, they are both fast and pass well so it should be a good game. Prediction: Argentina win.
Greece vs. Nigeria (10 AM EST.)
Pretty much a must win situation for both sides. The Greek are coming off a weak performance (one of the worst in Round 1), while Nigeria battled against the Argentinians. I don’t know if Greece can have a good game, it will be better since it can’t be worse, but I don’t know if their good game is good enough to beat Nigeria. I think the Nigerians come more motivated, more prepared, use their physicality to their advantage and take the win. Prediction: Nigeria win.
Mexico vs. France (2:30 PM EST.)
With Uruguay beating the South Africans handedly, you start to question, even more, how good the Mexicans really are? And are they good enough to defeat France? Mexico’s urgency for a win here is bigger since they’ll face Uruguay next, who’ve been playing well, while the French face South Africa. It should be a tense match either way and I think it’ll be either a tie or a heartbreaking loss by Mexico. Prediction: France win.