The world cup has come alive! Or not. Controversy reigned for the whole of the past week and, frankly, I am not sure if it is really that good for football's reputation. Here's a look back at the good, the bad and the ugly for those of you who have missed it all (and shame on you).
Says the man who thought NZ would be rubbish
RG has been proven very wrong, as they lead the underdogs contingent by not only coming back on the last minute of stoppage time to draw with Slovakia, but also holding title holders Italy to a draw. Never thought I would say this, but come on all whites!
Other than Oceania, Asia has also been making an impact. Their greatest hope may have been with Australia (but I'll save talk on them for later), but it was the East Asians who really showed their mettle. South Korea's light has since faded with a resounding 4-1 loss to Argentina. But Japan and North Korea still cling on, going down to narrow 1-0 and 2-1 defeats to tournament favourites Netherlands and Brazil. Japan still has a large chance of qualifying for the next round, with only Denmark standing in their way. North Korea however, will have to prove themselves worthy today, by hopefully drawing or even beating the thus far lacklustre Portugal.
Finally, European minnows have fought to outshine their more lavish counterparts. Slovenia tops Group C, with qualification for England hanging by a thread. Over in Group H, Switzerland beat European champions Spain in a match where the Spanish never got into gear.
Is this African world cup a tournament for giant slaying? The signs are positive so far.
This is still total football - totally boring football
The best Spanish squad in recent history. The best German squad the captain has ever played with.
The best Paraguayan squad ever. (Well, at least they have proved themselves.)
This was supposed to be a world cup when the best teams showcased the best football in a continent that has long wished for a chance to prove themselves to the world. South Africa has done a terrific job as hosts, but the beautiful game failed to show up as promised. Here is a rundown of the culprits:
- France. Despite Thierry Henry's best efforts, they never looked like they wanted to be in South Africa. The stars did not align and all that. Which is good for them since they are bound to be leaving soon. And thankfully, it'll be the last we see of the soon-to-be-sacked mad astrologer.
- England. The team that always manages to snatch defeat (or draws) from the cusp of victory has a lot to prove. But first, they should start playing football instead of just talking it.
- Netherlands. Yes, they won both their matches. Yes, they lead their group on maximum points. But did you watch their match? Total football has disintegrated into totally boring football. Robin van Persie and company ought to be ashamed.
- Italy. The reigning world champions drew with a country ranked 78th in the world. Near the end of the match, New Zealand even had an opportunity to seal the win. Enough said.
- Spain. This is the one let down team that I cannot critisize for not playing beautiful football. Too bad their pretty passing game could not work pass the Switzerland defense. When your team is down 1-0 in the dying embers of the game, you clobber their goal. Instead, the Spanish passed the ball around.
Most of them only have one match to prove their worth the kitchen sink better be ready. Either for throwing at the opponents, or for ducking behind when the fans throw rubbish at them.
But none of them think 3 yellows make a red
And that is the referees' only saving grace. The tournament's referee quality has dropped even further from when I last posted, which was something I had imagined impossible.
Firstly, neither of Miroslav Klose's offences merited a yellow card. The fact that he was given two and consequently a send off is incredible. Germany's spirits when down after that. Many point to Lukas Podolski's missed penalty for the defeat. But the fact is, he should not have been the one taking it in the first place.
Next, one handball is bad enough to cancel out a goal. That the referee missed the two handballs that led to Luis Fabiano's goal is simply amazing. Either that, or he decided he wanted to be on the front page of sports headlines the next day.
Too bad that Kaka managed to snatch it away from him then. The usually calm and collected player was yellow-carded for an obvious shove just minutes before another push caused him to be sent off. Kader Keita may have dived, but he was always going to make it theatric with Brazil's best player on a yellow card. Instead, a player of Kaka's quality should have known better. As Beckham once proved, you only let the cheater win if you let them get the better of you.
I'll be watching his twitter on any updates he has for us. Hopefully he will come out and apologize for not being more careful when already on a yellow card.
And now for some football
Spain and Portugal have opportunities to redeem themselves, while North Korea and Switzerland will be on giant-slaying duties once again. Join us here at the following times:
- Portugal vs. Korea DPR (12:30 GMT+1)
- Chile vs. Switzerland (15:00 GMT+1)
- Spain vs. Honduras (19:30 GMT+1)
Heading quotes by: RubberGoat, Lukeh, Steven Roy and again Lukeh. Thanks!
The Vuvuzuela Concerto in B-Flat: http://danielmaier.posterous.com/so-you-can-play-along-at-home
Woooo, looks like its pouring down in Cape Town
Robust singing by Portugal there.
Portugal kick off!
Sky ball! That was dangerous for n. Korea though.
hmm, bbc struggling for me. i blames those tennis fans eating up all the bandwidth...
I'm just glad I can watch it on the actual tv with itv's incompetence.
Portugal just went wayyyy close, but hit the post.
Where on earth was the goal keeper?
I don't think he understood the 'Superman'
Bloomin heck, that would have been one goal and a half for Korea.
Nice shot. Off though. :(
Okay, got to go off for dinner. See you guys in a while (and hopefully someone scores!)
So so cute. He looked so happy that he'd even got a shot in. There was a little celebration :P
He did look quite excited
Korea are playing some rather lovely attacking football here.
Has portugal decided not to bother with defense?
They're quite good. Better than a lot of others I've seen. I like them. They just try so hard.
I don't have a lot of confidence in that goal keeper....
5 years ago Pedro Mendes did this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-8dOjeVC80 Still havent got over it.
It is seriously coming down.
How's that his fault? I'm confused.
here is a video going around NZ twitterland with the caption "this is now a documentary" :D
post fail. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRO626ImQek
They're all falling over a lot today. It's really funny.
Niiiiiice. That keeper would do much better if he'd stay near the goal though.... :S
i had predicted a 3-1 win for portugal; i'll probably be wrong though
Nope, he tried to close the ball down which is what he should have done.
Still haven't got over... the referring decision.
Mark Clattenburg, stupid geord...oh
BBC seem to have got Brian Blessed in just for Lukeh
Oooooh, beautiful football. 2-0
ahh, but was it liquid football?
Yes...yes it was
3-0, its going to be a riot now.
4-0, one way traffic.
And this is the team that made Brazil work for it? I've not been following, what happened to them?
I think they've just totally tired, they played well for the first 30 minutes and then have been all over the place.
Ah I see, I wondered if they could sustain it.
Ronaldo hits the bar...
5-0, Liedson. Pretty easy.
6-0, Ronaldo eventually scores.
Blimey, 7-0, yes, 7-0. Tiago scores.
so much for my prediction of 3-1...
I don't think this will be shown in North Korea...
Full time, Portugal 7-0 North Korea. One sided I think
ESPN with the most obvious piece of commentary ever: North Korea have been utterly routed in the second half.
anyone know what the biggest world cup win ever is?
I remember Germany winning 8-0 against Saudi Arabia in 2002, I'll have a look though
Wikipedia says: Hungary 9-0 South Korea (1954), Yugoslavia 9-0 Zaire (1974), Hungary 10-1 El Salvador (1982)
What a crazy score!
Portugal are more or less through by the way, unless they lose to Brazil and Ivory Coast beat North Korea, oooh, 10-0. And thats not an exageration
I predicted that! :D
Wait, I predicted that for Germany. :(
Hi guys. Come back to realize not only did Portugal score as I hoped, they scored so many that I regret going out in the 1st place. Damn.
Boo. Least you have the amazing Chile up next
Me thinks the favourites may be re-establishing themselves this week after last weeks disaster.
Except for maybe France and England. :P
Chile v Switzerland so we'll let the Hondurans deal with Spain.
Chile are attackingly awesome and I love em for it.
Does that mean I have to support Switzerland because they are defensively awesome? ;)
Swiss dinosaur! :D
Valon Behrami is playing today! :D
So will Alexander Frei, my player to watch...from last week.
heehee. But you're still supporting the Chileans?
Swiss keeper makes a good double save.
Swiss defense not being as awesome as I remembered...
bad challenge. Carmona misses next match.
This referee is annoying.
Swiss chance! oooh.
What sort of free kick was that? Pass to your opponent?
WHAT? Behrami gets a red card?
He's all over him to be fair... red card.
You mean the Chileans were all over Behrami. Yellow card for me. AT MOST. :(
Reminds me of the Kaka thing. He got only a yellow card for that.
His hands were up to the Chilean player, he knows he is there, reckless stuff I'm sorry but that is a red card.
I'm foreseeing a digital punch-up here
Nah. I'm just saying if Kaka got a yellow, I don't see why Behrami gets a red. But different referees so I get the different standards.
Nothing against RG. He ain't the referee after all. ;)
Maybe he is.......
Kaka was already on a yellow card so... hard to call.
I might be in the future....
heehee. Then I sure hope he referees the next Italian match. ;)
I can imagine myself being a card happy atteniton seeking referee...
Some refs just wanna be stars....
:D i can imagine reality competitions just for them. Who wants to be the next FIFA world cup star?
Half time: Switzerland 0 Chile 0
oooooh. They are adding grass to the pitch?
Chile kicks off! Can they win this?
Commentary: "referee very keen to impose his authority on the game - as Behrami will testify."
I (heart) whoever is doing the commenting right now!
Oh wait. Off side. :P
Wayyyyy off there. And 3 of them some more.
One downside of Chile, they get offside and awful lot
How did he not manage to bury that?
This efficent Swiss defence is annoying me
I should be scouting their players for my team then. ;)
wooot Drop ball! This referee really likes the attention. :D
He'll be going home at the end of the group stages
Haha a yellow card each.
It should be a red there! A slap definitely deserves a red. :(
This is getting way out of hand, the ref can't control them
He's lost it, the ref has totally lost it.
Maybe because he tried too hard to control them in the 1st place?
He raised his hand, the Chile player, should have been red, agree with you there.
No problem. At least this ref should have been consistent with himself. Even if he is not consistent with everyone else. ;)
Close by the Swiss. really close.
Switzerland have gone the longest of any team in World Cup history without conceding a goal
congrats the swiss
Not yet. Wait till this match is over.
Chile goal! Finally.
Roger the football expert just said "wait until the last 20 minutes, then we score"
The Chileans are a selfish bunch. Going for goals at impossible angles when team mates are only a pass away.
eeek. Reply shows that it may have been offside too. Why can't Chile play better?
I go downstairs and miss the Chile goal
Wide! Again. SIGH.
Miss of the century there by the Swiss.
What a chance to have blown
Booked for simulation. :D
The referee in good decision shock?
Full time: Chile 1 Switzerland 0
Woo, super Chile
so are chile through then?
If Spain lose tonight, yes. Doubt it'll happen though
You mean lucky Chile. A bad game from them today. Ought to have done better against a 10 men Switzerland. They were better against Honduras.
Or if Spain draws. Which is only a slight bit more likely.
wow 45 fouls, 9 yellows, 1 red. Has it bettered the previous record?
Be tough to beat 14 yellows, 4 reds of Netherlands Portugal
Yeah that one. Really got out of hand there. :(
Nice to see such summery weather for the Portugal game today ;)
Oh, that small boy looks so excited to be talking to and holding Fernando Torres' hand! :D
Fabio Capello: "John Terry made a big mistake"
*hits head off desk several hundred times
Capello stating the obvious.
Is this about the press conference thing?
Come on Spain! Be beautifully good this time! :D
Come on Honduras, especially you Wilson.
And his siblings. ;)
many, many siblings.
Most in the World Cup ever innit?
Sometimes, Capello doesn't seem nearly that smart.
Only 2. :P
Ops. missed the kick off.
3? Wilson, Johnny and Jerry.
If Spain make a good start this could be the highest scoring day in world cup history
Hey Steven, whats the previous record?
Here's to hoping. :D
DAVID! Sooo close that.
Not a clue but I don't remember many games with 7 goals. The highest score I remember in one game was in Scotland's groupin1974 when Yugoslavia beat Zaire 9-0
Shove that. What was Wilson doing?
The commentator is blind. The Honduran player shoved the Spaniard into another Honduran and they want a penalty for that
Doing what he usually does by being the person who puts the tackles in.
Spain looks more fluent as an attacking force already. Fernando being on the pitch, fit or no, helps a great deal.
Landing face first on someone's knee is not clever
That was an optimistic shot
Well done Iker
What.a.goal. 1-0 Spain
Or rather - VEEEEEYYYYYYAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!
The vuvu's seem to come in waves tonight?
Oh. Little guy jumping but can't reach. :D
How have Valencia held onto him when they are flat broke?
Usually selling players like David Villa to, I say, Barcelona helps with the finances.
Because, despite his cool exterior, he is really a loyal softie inside. :D
Is it official yet?
Well I remember him being presented at Barcelona so I hope so.
they seem to have a tune going on.
Wikipedia thinks he is a Barcelona player
MIssed that one.
Goodness me Fernando! Definitely not match fit.
David. What was that? very naughty there. :(
Half time: Spain 1 Honduras 0
David better keep his temper there. :(
Welcome coming on.
Honduras kicks off! Tries a shot too.
Villa Brace!!! :D
Goooaalllla Espania. 2-0.
Now it is just a case of how many
Help from the deflection
Raul's record coming under fire here. :D
I love the long passes Spain play
OMG Gerard! Spitting blood. :
Nice receipt of a kick in the head there - will Piquet get another on the left eye to complete the set?
Not funny. I have nightmares of the whole Arsenal squad getting their legs broken.
Yeah that's not good either. He seems to be a bit of a boot magnet right now...
I remember at the 2002 World Cup we had a spate of head clashes...
Like Xabi Alonso in the EPL. Most number of send offs due to a tackle on him in a season.
Clear peno there.
Hmm. I guess the skilful players always get targeted,,,
David hat trick I hope. ;)
Since he shoulda been sent off, hope he misses....
And he does! WOW.
what did I miss? Why should he have been sent off?
Smacked a Honduras player in the face.
Cesc on! Xavi off.
Excellent defending, off the line
Goodness! Off the line there. CESC! :D
oooh. Torres off, Juan mata on.
Dangerous sub there, David has shown he can't hold the forward line on his own. :(
Someone going for the video game goal
Square then Circle!
Bye bye Sergio. On Arbeloa.
Someone needs to explain arithmetic to these comentators. Spain's goa difference is one worse than Chile's. Spain have to beat Chile to qualify. If they beat Chile their goal difference will improve and Chile's will get worse meaning Spain will be at least one goal better than Chile.
In short so long as Spain don't lose a goal here there goal difference is irrelevant
Brother of Wilson comes on. ;)
With the other one stuck on the bench, that must be annoying.
Nice explanation. I wonder if Christine is reading?
I am sure she has a better grasp of it than the commentators who seem to think Spain scoring 7 will somehow help them
I'm sure it would... if they were in the same group as Brazil and Portugal.
Or even Germany or Argentina.
Or Yugoslavia and Zaire in 1974. Best example I ever saw that you want to play the best team in the group first and the worst team last
Full time: Spain 2 Honduras 0
Good performance by Spain. Unlucky not to score a lot more.
I just realized there were no crazy celebrations by David Villa today. No worries of a broken finger then?
I think Spain held back a bit TBH...
oooohh. That was Iker's girlfriend I think?
I think they just wasted chances. Torres due to lack of match fitness, Villa due to a missed penalty.