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

The first round of games has been marked by fear and the results of giving into that fear.

If one moment summed up the opening sixteen games it was New Zealander Winston Reid heading home in the last minute against a Slovakia side who feared adding to the one goal they had and were punished as a result.

Solvakia were not the only side who gave in to this fear. France could have gone at Uruguay but worried about conceding and drew as did Italy who needed a Paraguay mistake to level things up. Cameroon’s caution saw them beaten by a goal by Japan while Portugal and Ivory Coast both seemed more concerned with not losing.

Such thinking came to a head in two days when Brazil – not massively defensive but with caution – were dragged to a 0-0 half time by an organised North Korea and the Spanish were incapable of breaking down an organised Swiss team who nicked a scrambled goal and caused the shock of the sixteen games.

Attacking football is a battle of flair and talent, defensive games are tests of organisation. It is no surprise that a North Korean, a Japan, a New Zealand can put together a good defensive line-up nor that the teams who play them are worried that should the they not be able to make attacking prowess pay to win matches then they defeat would be a distinct possibility.

No player has more than a single goal and nine of the sixteen first halves have been goalless. No team has been behind and come back to win and the only teams to have a two goal advantage are the four goal Germans who stand apart in the competition’s scoring, South Korea and Holland who beat opponents 2-0 and the Brazilians who lead by a couple of goals before North Korea pulled one back.

It is the World Cup where every team is organised and any lack of belief is not with the smaller nations but rather stalks the more fancied teams eating away at the idea that pressure will be turned into goals. The second round starts and only Spain and Cameroon of the more fancied teams risk back to back elimination but every side will be considering how they can best breakdown a sturdy defence.

Best Results

  1. An avalanche of Spanish pressure is not enough to break Swiss resistance and Eren Derdiyok’s scrappy goal beats the champions of Europe 1-0.
  2. Germany put four past Australia.
  3. New Zealand sneak a late goal to draw 1-1 with Slovakia.

The Moments

  1. Winston Reid rises to head home an equaliser for New Zealand to give the amateur side a well battled for draw.
  2. The deft build up and fierce strike by Siphiwe Tshabalala that gave South Africa the opening goal of the World Cup.
  3. Ji Yun-Nam surges into the Brazil box and fires home for North Korea in a 2-1 defeat against Brazil which saw the highest ranked team in the world shaken by the lowest rank team in the tournament.

The Great Performances

  1. Japan’s Yuji Nakazawa showed size mattered not commanding his defensive side to shut out the Cameron forward line for a worthy win.
  2. Chile’s Alexis Sánchez mixed fine ball control and blistering pace on the ball. Real Madrid want him, it is not hard to see why.
  3. Germany’s Mesut Özil put in the best play-making display of the tournament’s first round.

The Worst Moments

  1. Algeria’s Abdelkader Ghezzal comes off the bench and quickly picks up two bookings – the last one for a foolish hand ball – and two minutes after he leaves the field he sees Solvenia’s Robert Koren’s weak shot bounce past Faouzi Chaouchi.
  2. The greatest stage deserves better from so called great players than Cristiano Ronaldo cheating and diving to try get Didier Zakora sent off.
  3. A long range shot Clint Dempsey should be easily fielded by Rob Green. It wasn’t.

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