Friday – June 18th, 2010
Germany vs. Serbia review
Germany and Serbia (if you count Serbia & Montenegro and Yugoslavia) are old rivals. They know each other very well and dislike each other. So if you are afraid of physical contact, then this is probably not the game to watch. And so, as scripted, the first half was a physical match, each play challenged, little space given and few scoring chances. The best chances for each came with German Podolski’s volley just wide at the 7th minute and a dangerous free kick by Kolarov at the 33rd. The half seemed destined for a tie until Klose, who was booked earlier, committed an unecessary foul from behind and earned his second yellow (5 total given in the first half alone). One minute later, Serbia capitalized with a Jovanovic strike off a Zigic header. At the 45th minute Germany still got a chance to reply with a shot by Khedira exploding off the crossbar. The game took a very interesting turn and the second half promised. Despite being a man down, Germany came back determined to attack and tie this game up.
At the 57th minute, Podolski had a chance when his shot crossed the goal and went just wide. At the 59th minute, Podolski had another chancewhen his strike hit the side of the net. At the 60th minute, yes, him again, Podolski, had one more chance, this time it was a penalty off Serbia’s Vidic hand-ball; the penalty shot was saved by keeper Stojkovic. After that sequence of missed chances, Serbia woke up with a Jovanovic shot off the post at the 68th minute and a Zidic header off the crossbar at the 74th. Germany continued to go forward and even made a couple of offensive substitutions, but to no avail, Serbia held on to the lead and this group just got a whole lot more interesting. Score: 0-1.
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USA vs. Slovenia review
USA came into this game in a must-win situation, but more than that, they should win. They are, after all, the superior side; but how accustomed they are to playing that role, we shall see. Ugh, where do I begin?
For the majority of the first half USA was nowhere to be seen. They didn’t have one shot on goal, there was no connection to the attack, bad lob passes, bad defending, no individual plays; it was an apathetic, lethargic, boring, embarrassing, lame, ugly, deflating, depressing, horrible display. Meanwhile, Slovenia wasn’t all that great either, but they did have a couple of chances, and they took advantage. At the 13th minute, Birsa, with open space in front of the area hit a beautiful and well-hit shot. For a couple of minutes near the end, USA came alive: Torres’ free kick shot at the 36th, Demerit’s header at the 37th and a 41st minute ball that was nearly put in by Donovan, but deflected by Brecko. When the US failed to score, Slovenia didn’t, and on a counter-attack, Ljubijankic scored to end the half. Honestly, I could’ve been in the toilet for 45 minutes and produced the same as what USA did. And yet, there was still hope, after all we still had an entire half to go. And what a difference it made! USA came backdetermined, with hustle and heart, and right at the 48th minute Donovan sent a close ranged strike that nearly ripped the net.
The high tempo continued for the US as they now pressured to tie the game up, meanwhile Slovenia couldn’t get anything going. USA’s next great chance came at the 70th minute with an Altidore shot after a loose ball. And at the 82nd minute, after much persistence, Bradley scored off an Altidore header pass. Who would’ve thought after how the first half went! With the game now tied, things leveled off just a bit, though USA had another chance at the 86th minute with a cross and an Edu goal, the referee however, Mr. Koman Coulibaly from Mali, called a phantom foul against the US and invalidated the goal.
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The match ended a draw, and whatever the first half was, the second was the complete opposite. Inspiring, magical, dominating, determined, majestic performance for US, and they’re still alive. We should invade Mali just the same though. Score: 2-2.
England vs. Algeria review
The first half had a good pace and rhythm to it and it was amazingly even. Algeria surprised me a bit, after their game with Slovenia, with good ball movement and were able to apply pressure to England’s defense, the English meanwhile, though they did create some chances, seemed to not be at full speed.
The Algerians had the first good chance of the game with a dangerous cross into the box at the 13th minute and another chance with Matmour and Yebda at the 22nd. England replied with Garrard shots at the 30th and 31st minute. England seemed to wake up a bit and were able to create better chances at second part of the half with Garrard, Barry and Rooney but the teams stayed tied. Algeria started the second half with a little more difficulty getting things going on the offensive side, the same could be said with England, who had their first real chance at the 72nd minute with a Heskey shot and a Garrard header. At the 75th minute, Rooney tried a shot from out of the box but it went well wide. Nearing the end, England got one last chance with a Defoe kick but it went over the bar and the game ended a tie. Great result for Algeria who are still alive, while the English are on the edge of a full blown disaster if they don’t beat Slovenia. Score: 0-0.
Saturday – June 19th, 2010 Preview
Netherlands vs. Japan (7:30 AM EST.)
Both teams are coming off of good wins, but make no mistake, the Dutch are the superior side. However, in a World Cup full of upsets, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Japanese can create some havoc. Prediction: Netherlands win.
Ghana vs. Australia (10 AM EST.)
With Germany losing, the field is wide open for Ghana to take the lead, however the Australians are also hopeful and could tie the group up in points. Cahill’s absence for Australia is a huge blow though and I think Ghana is too strong of a team to contain. Prediction: Ghana win.
Cameroon vs Denmark (2:30 PM EST.)
I’m calling a tie here. Just because. Prediction: Tie.