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

The third round of games in a World Cup makes decisions.

It does it quick – sixteen games in four days – and it does it without pity. The wheat is separated from the chaff and before the first game in the second phase teams will be home, managers will have left and the World Cup 2010 will be a history.

A fine history for New Zealand who bowed out having added much to proceedings with three quality draws. They lacked the slice of luck that would have turned a draw into a win but they put in a professional, measured display and and Ricki Lambert can be proud of his side.

A piece of social history for South Africa who becomes a footnote in their own story. Twenty years after being as far in the International cold as possible the country staged the World Cup, that will be written and mentions of a poor African showing that saw Nigeria knocked out having blown a chance, Algeria out having not even tried to take a chance and Ivory Coast exit the Group of Death for the want of a chance.

History to learn from in Cameroon who broke the African on the world football stage in the nineties but looked as disjointed, as disharmonious, as disinterested as the most stereotypical European pretty boy outfit.

An interesting piece of history in North Korea. The heroics of 1966 were beyond them by some way but they rattled Brazil and made God bleed.

A history coming to an end for France who were wretched the squad having refused to train after Nicolas Anelka was sent home and lost to the host nation. By the time final of the third games was played Thierry Henry has already met with Nicolas Sarkozy to talk about what went wrong. Raymond Domenech is gone to be replaced by Laurent Blanc who has a massive job rebuilding the 1998 World Champions in time to make the next World Cup.

The history of Italy will struggle to write the story of this World Cup. The World Champions were beaten by a Slovakia side who who attacked with free flowing freedom and defended in all the positions which the Italians like to play in. Without a goalscorer of note the Italians were left looking for players dropping off the front line and while they pushed in two against the Eastern Europeans they seemed to lack a practised path to goal.

Marcello Lippi exits – although Italian managers are still represented by Capello of England – and Cesare Prandelli takes over to regroup a shell shocked nation. They won the World Cup when club football was in disarray, that league now contains the Champions League winners but the national side is already home.

For others history is still to be written. Sixteen teams only include six Europeans – a record low – and those all play each other leaving a last eight of three Europeans and five others. In France 98 it was seven and one.

South Americans have performed will with all their five of their sides progressing and North & Central America have USA and Mexico in the last sixteen. Asia send forth Japan and South Korea – heart their for South Africa with both the Asian following “their” World Cups with progression on the International stage.

Best Results

  1. The Danes were useful side made to look a long way second best by Japan who bested them 3-1 with a comprehensive mix of pass and move and closing down.
  2. Slovakia recorded a 3-2 win over Italy that shook the World Champions out of the World Cup.
  3. It went without mention but Australia – playing a game with eleven men for the first time – beat Serbia 2-1

The Moments

  1. Heading out of the World Cup going into injury time and Landon Donovan smashes in the ball from close range to put USA through
  2. This is how you hit a Jubilani – Yasuhito Endo hits a Beckhamesque from the edge of the box.
  3. “At ninety minutes Football will be the winner” said Carlos Queiroz before Portugal v Brazil. The teams were booed off after a wretched display of nothing football ended in a draw.

The Great Performances

  1. The Japanese loved the busy midfield work of Beckham but in Yasuhito Endo and Keisuke Honda they have two of their own as they took a game to the Danes and won it.
  2. The strength and finishing of Róbert Vittek knocked the Italians – who lacked that very sort of big front man who can put the ball in the net – out of the World Cup.
  3. That Slovenia went home was not the fault of keeper Samir Handanovic who made a string of superb saves from Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard to keep his side qualified at the final whistle until news of the USA’s goal came through.

The Worst Moments

  1. A goal will put your team into the next round of the World Cup. The cross is perfect, you are a yard from goal, you meet the ball. You are Yakubu Aiyegbeni and you have put the ball wide.
  2. The last minutes of Switzerland vs Honduras where a win would put the Europeans through but it seemed increasingly like they had no idea where the goal was and what to do with it.
  3. All of the Brazil 0 Portugal 0 game.

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