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

Wins the the opening games for these two nations have put them in the position of being able to qualify with a game that both might expect to win.

Chile are a better team than the Swiss – second place in the South American qualifying is good – but the Europeans are not far behind. Both make the most of what they have the South Americans attacking as a religion, the Swiss defending as a code.

With the Swiss win over the Spanish the feeling in the neutral-lands is that three point will come against Honduras so a draw with Chile would see them top the group. Chile have the Spanish to face and by that time it is expected that the Iberians will need a win to go through so this game represents the best chance to get to the second round.

Honduras no one gives a prayer to. Business time at the World Cup is no place for minnows as North Korea found out. Honduras would hope to emulate New Zealand.

The game starts as expected with the mercuiral Alexis Sánchez showing his intentions getting on the ball early but it is Arturo Vidal who takes the first pop at goal forcing Diego Benaglio into a save the rebound of which is powered with some force back at goal from outside the box by Carlos Carmona but once again Benaglio saves.

Referee Khalid Al Ghamdi is keen to tamp his authority on the game booking Chilean players Waldo Ponce and Carmona early in the match as well as cautioning Blaise Nkufo. The game slows down with frequent break and much of the flow ebbs away.

How much Al Ghamdi can be blamed for this is debatable. The game is scruffy and tetchy and boils over as Valon Behrami twice pushes behind him with his left arm casually pushing his forearm into the face of Vidal. The Referee is in a position where Behrami is either twice given allowance to resist tackles with high arms or he takes action.

His duty to the safety of the Chilean players means that Behrami is sent off for violent conduct. The Swiss complains bitterly and will not leave the field for some minutes – Vidal’s fall and reaction were dramatic and designed to elicit the sending off – but perhaps Al Ghamdi decided that rather than wait until a player’s jaw is broken he would call the second high arm not accidental and send off accordingly.

To elbow one player is a misfortune, to elbow two smack of carelessness and the Referee’s job includes a duty of care.

After the red card it seems that the Swiss are set to try defend against the free moving Chile side who attack with more pace than any other side in the tournament. The Swiss show their intentions taking off forward Alexander Frei for midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta.

Argentine Marcelo Bielsa’s side have high hopes – hopes that are strengthened by the position they find themselves in – but without a win today one wonders how much the game with Spain will hamper their progress. Certainly as half time looms one feels that this game represents the best chance.

The Chilean crunch comes now.

At the start of the second half Sánchez thinks he has a break through lashing a long range effort in but three of his team mates are offside. Minutes later same player gets onto a ball and is close to popping his side into a lead but his first touch allows the ball to run away. Minutes later again and Sánchez picks up the ball from a Steve von Bergen mistake and hammers down on goal Benaglio saving well.

Patterns of play though as the Swiss litter the game with minor infringements spoiling play by fair mean and foul. The Swiss set a new record for minutes without conceding in the World Cup. One is reminded about a Jose Mourinho comment: “They bring the bus and they park the bus in front of the goal.”

In South America teams are either good at attacking or poor and Chile are clearly not used to playing against this kind of blanket defending. They seem to understand the mechanics of the way the Swiss approach the game but are surprised by the practice. They push forward leaving holes the Swiss could drive a bus through at the back, except the bus is parked in front of the other goal.

Even a bus can be beaten. Mark González is the man on the far post when Esteban Paredes spins off his defender to beat the offside line of the Swiss and keeps his head as he rounds Benaglio cutting back to his left to cross rather than try hit with his right. González’s header on the end of Paredes’s cross is down to the grass and then up to the bar before rippling the netting.

The explosion of Chilean delight is palpable and one spares a thought for the South Americans who – should they win – will need only a draw to top the group and avoid the prospect of a game with Brazil. The Swiss come forward but do so with reduced numbers attacking with ten being so much harder than defending with the same number.

Parades gets the chance to double the lead when González repays the favour with a centre but he puts the ball over badly. The Swiss come forward in some numbers leaving space at the back.

Spare a thought though for the Swiss. The defending they employed agianst Spain was the toast of the World Cup when they snuck the goal but against Chile – with one fewer men – they have put in a similar rugged display but are judged as being tiresome. The play Honduras next and a win will give them a chance of qualifying but this group could bet set to end with three teams ending on six points every time the Swiss do not concede their position is strengthen.

The Spanish game with Honduras is the last of the second set of games but assuming Spain return to form and win then the ten man defence in this match could see the Europeans go through. Had Eren Derdiyok put a glorious chance in on ninety minutes then the calculations would have been better.

Paredes misses a glorious chance at the end of the game, Jorge Valdivia dives rather than take a pass on to goal. When they look at the goal difference after a Spanish win over Honduras (lets assume 2-0) Chile will see in they have six points and a plus two goal difference which would be lessened by one at least if Spain beat them meaning that should the Swiss beat Honduras by two goals then the South Americans will be out.

Chile may go through if Honduras win, they could get a draw against the Spanish but they missed a half dozen chances to add to the goal tally and failing to convert them might see them go home.

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