June 14, 2010

A Worldy opening weekend

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

With the first weekend down and four groups having played all of their openers, it’s time to gauge just who is destined to advance at the World Cup. So far, it looks like there is one team that’s on top, Germany, who could be even better than their 4-0 win showed. Then, there are certainly a lot of pretenders out there as well as perhaps a couple of teams that are playing above expectations. Then there are the downright disappointments as well. Of course, you also have some squads, like Algeria and Greece, who are right where they should be, sitting on zero points and not looking like they’ll gain more than one.

Cup contender
-Germany: I’ll be the first to admit that we shouldn’t be rushing out to hand the cup to Germany just yet, but, realistically, that victory could have been closer to 8-0 or 9-1. Their three-man central midfield played amazing and covered each other wonderfully. It was an astonishing demonstration of Total Football. Let’s just wait to see if this young side can perform that well against a tougher opponent.

Pretenders
-Argentina: Sure, they won 1-0, but realistically should have scored more than Gabriel Heinze’s early header. Lionel Messi dazzled with his possession, but struggled to even put the ball on net and work the keeper. Diego Maradona’s side should have done much better.
-Slovenia: Sure, they have three points, but they came against Algeria. I won’t be surprised if they can’t salvage points in their next tough games against tougher opponents. Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if they draw the Americans.
-Ghana: A fortunate penalty call gave them their win. If they continue playing like they did yesterday, I’m not sure they can win another game or even advance. Being outplayed and out-possessed by a shorthanded team isn’t encouraging.

Above expectations
-South Korea: Maybe it’s the fact that the Greeks stunk, or maybe the Koreans are that good. They surprised with their domination of Greece and now have a great shot at advancing with only the Nigerians possibly standing in their way.
-USA: You could argue that the Americans only drew that game because of the “Hands Of Clod,” but they played a great team game and showed some nice chemistry against a superior opponent.
-Nigeria: Goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama played the game of his life, stifling the Argentine attack. They may have lost the game, but showed a lot of prowess in it.
-South Africa: Bafana Bafana held off the Mexicans and showed they can be strong on the counterattack. Keeper Itumeleng Khune made a ton of great saves but he’ll have to keep up that form if the defence plays as weakly as it did.

Disappointments
-France: Playing in bad weather for a lame duck coach, the French were vastly underwhelming. Franck Ribery was noticeably off form and supposed future star Yoann Gourcuff was subbed out in the second half. This team needs to show some heart and better form or could be bounced early,
-England: If Robert Green were Colombian, this post might be about his murder by drug lords.
-Serbia: Sure, they played impressively when down a man, but still lost a game that they should have at least gotten a point out of. Now they’re down a starting centre back for their second game and will be hard pressed to advance out of the Group of Depth.
-Australia: This was supposed to be an underrated, feisty squad. Well, at least they got the feisty part right, fouling the Germans nearly whenever they could. They’ve also lost their best player, Tim Cahill, for their next game thanks to his red card. I’m not expecting much from the Aussies anymore.

Right where they should be
-Uruguay: Kept a draw against a highly talented, but uninspired, French side even after losing a man to a red card. A couple of breaks and this team could go through, but I wouldn’t count on it.
-Mexico: Overcame the emotion of the World Cup opener and a 1-0 lead to earn a draw against the hosts. The Mexicans showed a lot of talent in possession, but were poor with finishing. That’s hurt them in the warmup matches and needs to improve to move on.
-Greece: Looked like they were perhaps the least talented team to play thus far. Keep up that effort and they may not score a goal, or grab a point, in this tournament.
-Algeria: They had their chances against Slovenia and even conceded a weak goal when down to 10 men, but they have little chance at impressing against their other Group C opponents.

1 Comment

  1. Wow. I can’t understand how Nigeria lost. Could that have been quicker. I really assumed that they had a great chance to do well in this years world cup. Maybe in 4 years. Maybe its time to jump on the Argentina bandwagon. Looks like Demichelis has already scored. Go Argentina. To turn around my day that was ruined by Nigeria, I have been watching some funny jokes.. This one made me feel a little better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3j7uSbccSc

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