This world cup is well and truly alight after Germany's comprehensive trashing of Australia. Too bad for me that the same did not occur on the Montreal track. In any case, those who wrote Die Mannschaft off can bite their tongues, while those betting on Australia making the knockout rounds will be slightly more than apprehensive. In fact, the only thing the Aussies can celebrate is the fact that not all of their sportsmen were decimated and Lleyton Hewitt recorded a rare victory over Roger Federer.
That was yesterday. Today promises more slick passing, more Total Football and hopefully, even more goals. But first, let us consider how England's precarious situation has just become even more unnerving.
You know you're in trouble when...
Slovenia, ranked 25th in the world, tops your group. The repercussions from Green's gaffe have been snowballing - a win became a draw, tied in 2nd place instead of being 1st, qualification for the knockout rounds is far from being confirmed. But the most worrying sign is the in-form Germans. Qualifying 1st in their group, and consequently beating both Slovenia and Algeria, has just become an imperative for the English.
Either that, or they can once again say goodbye to their world cup dream. And I suspect that this time Germany wouldn't need penalties to finish them off.
Talking about finishing...
If there is someone who is not delivering the goods, it would be the visitors and not hosts South Africa. We were given quality stadiums and quality (and noisy) crowds, but only a few of the visiting countries produced performances worthy of the grass they were on. And most disappointingly is the severe lack of goals. With 9 goals in 7 seven games (before the Germany-Australia clash), it was almost a 50% drop as compared to the 2006 edition (with 17 goals over the same amount of games). We have yet to come to free scoring Netherlands, silky Brazil or the European champions Spain, but the signs are worrying.
The red fury...
Another disappointing trend is the number of red cards that have been given out already. 4 in 8 matches, with one of them being a straight red for Tim Cahill, it might seem that this world cup is about to break records for the number of players seeing red. Amazingly, Wayne Rooney isn't one of the 'privileged' few, but it may just be a matter of time.
Someone deserving of a red card but who didn't receive one is Argentinian Hector Baldassi. No, he is not the heir of Maradona. Instead he was the man-in-the-middle for the Serbia-Ghana match, and endeavored to make the match less of a bore by making faulty decisions and giving out hasty cards. Even the FIFA linesmen wanted a part of the action as Algeria was on the wrong end of unfair offside decisions and a very obvious corner is called to be a throw-in. The rule for an equal number of referees to come from each confederation may be a fair decision, but doesn't seem to be a good one as many lack big-match experience and fumbled at the job.
Amazingly, the most controversial red card decision was spot on. Marco Rodriguez gave Tim Cahill a straight red card for a bad tackle on Bastian Schweinsteiger which almost immediately led to protests here on sidpodcast. But according to FIFA regulations:
A player is sent off if he commits any of the following offences
(cf. Law 12 of the Laws of the Game and art. 18 of this code):
h) serious foul play;
And that sliding tackle from behind was definitely a dangerous tackle, whether it made complete contact or not. So that was a definite sending off (in FIFA and my humble opinion), despite Tim's expression of remorse. Much like the Schumi-saga earlier this year, if it is against the rules, it is against the rules.
But enough complaining. What lies ahead? Great football, that's what. Here are the teams in action today:
- Netherlands v Denmark - 12:30 (GMT +1)
- Japan v Cameroon - 15:00 (GMT +1)
- Italy v Paraguay - 19:30 (GMT +1)
So Spyker (Oranje), Kamui Kamikaze and the ever domineering
and cheating Ferrari. Well, that ought to be good. ;)