Sunday – June 20th, 2010
Slovakia vs. Paraguay review
If you had any doubt as to who was the better team, well that was answered this half and it began right at the beginning (2nd minute) with a deflected shot by Paraguay’s Santa Cruz which keeper Mucha had to make a save on. From there, Paraguay just started piling on, finding it easy to get the ball in the box (Valdez at the 5th, Da Silva at the 18th, Riveros at the 19th and Lucas at the 23rd). The Slovakian defense couldn’t hold much longer and at the 27th minute, Vera got off a great shot past Mucha. Slovakia’s first chance came at the 37th with a header just off the mark, but it was the Paraguayans who almost scored again with a Santa Cruz touch (39th minute) that almost beat Mucha. Though the ball possession was fairly even, it was clear that Paraguay was more efficient with theirs while Slovakia just got one shot on goal. In the second half, Slovakia attempted to putpressure on Paraguay, but it was very weak and the Paraguayans were set on defense. In the 72nd minute, Paraguay’s Vera sent a header that barely didn’t hit the post.
The game then became extremely uneventful and boring and I proceeded to close my eyes to hear myself snore. Paraguay finally was able to put the game away at the 88th minute with a Riveros shot. In extra time (92nd minute) Slovakia finally had the chance they were looking for with a well-struck ball by Vittek but it was defended Villar and the game was over. Score: 0-2.
Italy vs. New Zealand review
If you had any doubt as to who was the better team, well, you’re a moron. Right at the 8th minute, New Zealand confirmed their favoritism and superiority with an expertly placed free kick cross that was met by a well-placed Smeltz who struck it home. New Zealand then proceeded to carry out their game plan to perfection, with ball possession efficiency (40%) and a choking “half court” coverage that impeded Italy from doing anything! Sure, Italy had their chances with Montolivo’s shot at the 9th, Pepe at the 10th, Chiellini at the 16th, Zambrotta at the 22nd and Montolivo hitting the post at the 27th, but other than that, it was all the Kiwis! At the 28th minute, New Zoolander’s Smith held De Rossi in the box and a penalty was given. Iaquinta scored the penalty, otherwise known as a cowards goal. Italy continued to attempt to put pressure on the powerhouse New Zealand (10 total shots) but they were unable as the obviously are inferior and the game was tied at the half. For the second half, I fully expected New Zealand to break through and score two goals on the minnows of the World Cup, Italy.
The second half started in a surprising fashion as Italy was actually being able to put pressure on New Zealaned, though most were ugly shots with no danger, but hey, there were trying! Meanwhile, I was thoroughly disappointed with New Zealand. Sure they had a magnificent scoring chance with Wood in the 83rd minute, sure they had one of the greatest goalies in the world (Paston) put on a memorable performance, sure theirdefense was focused, disciplined, alert, shut the Italians, covered all areas and saved a couple of goals, but I expected more from these world class players who play in the world’s best teams. Italy put on a valiant effort as the underdogs as they had 23 total shots on goal (New Zealand won the shots on goal percentage though), they dominated ball possession and most of the game was played in New Zealand’s field. For Italy, it was a good solid point for they survived the mighty wrath of power that are the Kiwis, for New Zealand however, it was a complete embarrassment, a failure and a disappointment that will go down in their history as they were the heavy and unanimous favorites to win everything in the universe. Score: 1-1.
Brazil vs. Ivory Coast review
I could give you a recap of the first half, but I really don’t want to. Besides, nothing happened. There were no shots on goal by Ivory Coast and for Brazil only one. In a flash of brilliance Kaka gave a well placed touch to Luis Fabiano who let a bomb, much like Donovan’s, at the 25th minute. And that was it. Brazil’s defense was solid, one can’t complain about that, and so was Ivory Coast’s, but my biggest problem, as a Brazilian, but not as a homer was with Brazil, especially Dunga. Again, Brazil played a slow, crawling pace, which was a complete bore.
Their midfield missed a ton of passes and there again was no connection between the back midfield, wingers and attack. The only exception was when Maicon or Lucio attempted to carry the ball since Kaka wasn’t able to do it. Once again, Brazil was depending on brilliant individual moments from talented players to an otherwise damaging scheme that Dunga set in place. The frustrating thing is, Brazil has more talent to be playing that kind of game. I know, they won, and it’s not a matter of winning by playing pretty, it’s a matter of playing to your capacity, which is much more than they’ve displayed. The second half we saw a bit more action, some good and some bad. Again it was a brilliant individual play by Luis Fabiano in an otherwise standard dumped ball that led to the scorewhen he “hatted” two players and sent a strike past the keeper Barry at the 50th minute.
One of the best goals we’ve seen this World Cup, though a handball could’ve been called twice. In one of the very few Kaka runs, he went to the goal line, passed to a crossing Elano who put the ball into the net. After the third goal, the Ivorians started to panic a bit and get frustrated with more hard yellow card fouls on the Brazilians. In a defensive failure, Brazil let Drogba all alone for a head off a cross in the 79th minute to cut the lead a bit. Near the end (84th minute plus) the hard fouls started getting at Brazil’s nerves and a few scuffles erupted. Nothing too serious, no red cards for any fouls, just for Kaka (received two yellows in 5 minutes). His second yellow came off an elbow to Keita’s chest, who flopped for dramatic effect. The game soon ended. Brazil qualified for the second stage with another win, though I am still not impressed, while Ivory Coast’s road just got tougher. Score: 3-1.
Monday – June 21st, 2010 Preview
Portugal vs. North Korea (7:30 AM EST.)
If North Korea can put up the same defensive performance they did against Brazil, Portugal may have a tough time getting to the net at first. Eventually though, the Koreans will crack and Portugal will score. Prediction: Portugal win.
Chile vs. Switzerland (10 AM EST.)
Both are coming off wins, though Switzerland’s are obviously the most impressive. Still though, I think this game will be balanced and even. Prediction: Tie.
Spain vs. Honduras (2:30 PM EST.)
All the goals Spain didn’t score versus the Swiss, they will here. Prediction: Spain win.