BfB Goes To The World Cup 2010 (Without leaving the front room)

The final day of the first round of this World Cup sees two nations which are fancied by few – although Chile think that despite not having won a game at the finals since 1962 when they hosted believe they can get to the semi-finals – but unseen by many.

Chile finished runners up to Brazil in qualifying while Honduras squeezed in on goal difference over Costa Rica who lost in a play off.

With the Spanish in the group being healthy favourites these two teams will – it is said – battle Switzerland for second place and so the rewards for the winners are clear. Previous games in this tournament have seen a fear of losing overwhelming the desire to him but there is a tendency for the teams who play with fear to seemingly sink to the same level. Slovakia were scared to go at New Zealand for fear of conceding, and they did. France were reticent to attack Uruguay and ended up drawing.

Fortune might not have favoured the brave but the punishment for not pressing attacking abilities is to be drawn into a battle on more even ground.

South Americans Chile start off better than the Central American Honduras testing keeper Noel Valladares from range. A yellow card goes to Carlos Carmona for fouling Honduran Gary Medel as the pressing side shows a worry about being caught on the counter-attack.

Certainly Honduras seem to have the capabilities to do just that with Sergio Mendoza surging from the right back berth powerfully but misplacing a pass which could have freed striker Carlos Pavón behind the high Chile backline. Matías Fernández is booked for a similar offence and the pattern of the game – attack and counter – is set.

So Chile press with Arturo Vidal wasting the best chance heading a corner over while Honduras nearly free Edgar Álvarez on the right with Pavón’s touch just not reaching his strike partner who would have been though to run on goal.

It is end to end and exciting stuff when full back Mauricio Isla sprints in behind Maynor Figueroa and crosses low to Jean Beausejour who bundles in for an opening goal. A moment later Alexis Sánchez flicks a midfield pass with his back heel to Isla who springs on and returns to Sánchez who finds a defensive arm bouncing the the ball away as he strikes at goal – the Referee is unmoved. Sánchez is equally unlucky as he tries to field two on rushing team mates with Mendoza now pressed back into a firm right back role.

The call Sánchez “El Niño Maravilla” which translates as The Boy Wonder, like Robin in Bat-man.

The lesson of the World Cup – so far – is that Chile must make the best of this time rampant or face the consequences later. At half time one has to wonder if coach Marcelo Bielsa – he who had control of Argentina when Sweden and England knocked them out in the group stage of 2002 – demands acceleration of has his side stick with what they have.

The second half starts with Honduras enlivened and when Álvarez skips though to be brought down by Medel it is surprising to see Referee Eddy Maillet unmoved by appeals. The penalty appeal turns out to be a rare break for Honduras who face a second half battering from Sánchez that results in Fernández putting a brilliant cross from a free kick that Arturo Vidal heads back to Figueroa who diving heads at goal from point blank range eliciting a breathtaking save from Valladares.

Seriously, he can score from his own half but not from two yards.

Valladares comes from nowhere having covered the Vidal head back and pushes the ball away from goal. Chile are not sitting back on the lead, they will not come closer to scoring, but still they will worry that without a two goal lead they will suffer the sucker punch as the South Americans start to settle for the single goal..

Nevertheless Isla is fed by Sánchez who gets to the byline once more with his blistering pace and fine control but the full back as the ball whipped away by Figueroa. The ball does end up in the Honduran goal following a handball by Sánchez that the Referee kindly flags as offside rather than booking him. Late sub Mark González starts banging the ball from range at goal whenever he sees the sight.

The game ends after a fourth González strike sails high over the bar and Chile have put down a marker in that while they might have recorded a mighty result they have shown an attacking flair with enough defensive steel to suggest they have a balance in the side.

Should that balance enable a win over Switzerland in the next game then they will be a step closer to the semi-finals they are aiming for.

Comments are closed.