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

The final second round game is the most mouthwatering with the Iberian derby arriving at the World Cup as Spain – the European Champions – against Portugal who have suggested much over the last decade but never taken a major trophy.

The names involved are a list of the some of the best players in the game. David Villa, Fernando Torres, Xavi, Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol, Andrés Iniesta, Raul Meireles, Tiago, Simão and Christiano Ronaldo are names to conjure with but one could add Wayne Rooney, Fabio Canavarro and Theirry Henry to that list and the presence of those players did not guarantee success.

The Spainish seem more of a team that the Portuguese who – even when playing well – look like ten blokes and Ronaldo doing his own thing. Ronaldo’s poor sportsmanship has not bubbled to the surface as yet but he would do well to eclipse the German keeper Manuel Neuer who’s admission told all that he knew the ball was in against England, but cheated to carry on. Diego Maradona has done the same in the past – knowingly cheated – and rather than talk about video replays banning players who cheat in this manner would be a better – although impossible – aim.

The game starts as tense and the half ends as a stalemate with few chances. Iniesta enjoys the best for the Spanish forcing Eduardo to a low save while Hugo Almeida misses a nicely floated in headed chance but aside from that there is little in the of note. The Spanish are heavy legged for sure but it is the fact that the two teams both employ the 4231 which has the two side cancel each other out.

The Spanish take the initiative in the second half combining better and moving the ball forward with more purpose. Torres struggles to make an impact and is replaced by the more muscular Fernando Llorente who troubles Ricardo Carvalho no end. It is the rapid play across the back line which sees the ball end up at the feet of David Villa who hits a shot at goal and then tucks in the rebound via the bar.

The Portuguese need a response but struggle to muster one. Sergio Ramos rampages down the right and cutting onto his left foot stings a shot well saved by the keeper. David Villa does similar from long range and despite these teams being placed second and third in the word there seems an acre between the sides.

Portugal want the ball but Spain will not left them have it – the tikitac football of the European Champions frustrating the pretenders who – when they do have the ball – are left looking for the isolated Ronaldo. Ronaldo started his World Cup with a dive and a blazing shot which hit the post but it would seem that he will end with with something approaching a whimper. He is found with a pass but under the slightest challenge from Joan Capdevila he is prone. The Referee is unimpressed and – one suspects – so are the footballing public.

Rooney and Ronaldo were at the centre of a winking storm at the last World Cup, four years later neither has been able to make even the smallest dent in the competition. Ronaldo is booed after a week shot wide and limps apologetically.

Llorente heads wide after a cross from David Villa and a drifting, mazy run but the Portuguese and a lash at goal is blocked by by Capdevila who a minute later is left in a heap with Ricardo Costa standing over him. There is a red card and a long look at replays to find any evidence of contact.

Bruno Alves goes face to face with Capdevila – his thoughts on the sending off obvious – and it is worth noting for all those who talk of instant justice from video replay that as the game finishes and Spain progress to the quarter final no conclusive image has been shown of Capdevila and Ricardo Costa.

Portugal are out and seemed to accept their fate almost before kick off. Perhaps they are happy that they have not been spanked by their rivals as England were but neither did they look like overturning the slender lead the Spanish had. It is a pitiful end and one which brings no pride.

The Spanish have questions to answer about Capdevila reaction which saw Ricardo Costa sent off but they advance to play Paraguay and eye a place in the final four.

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