Posted from The Citrus Report
So after the first 2 days of the World Cup, here are some quick observations about the 10 teams that have played so far.
South Africa: Totally surprised. No host team has ever failed to make the knockout round, and the tie with Mexico gives them more of a chance than anyone previously gave them to make it out of Group A. While they aren’t a great team, Group A is looking pretty weak right now (see below for Mexico, Uruguay, and France), although it’s just one match. But it’s one out of three, so who knows what’ll happen. For now, they get one word up for surprising almost everyone with their tie.
Mexico: Wow. That’s all that can be said about the lackluster play of Mexico. With so many more world class players than South Africa, Mexico should’ve beaten the host team. Instead, they looked like a team that has been fighting the past couple of months (look up the Dos Santos incident), and if they’re going to get out of Group A into the knockout round, they’ll need Javier Hernandez to step up and score some goals.
Uruguay: They definitely showed that they could at least compete with a sloppy French team. Great goalkeeping and defense, but Diego Forlan had two great goal scoring opportunities and missed on both (though one was a great save by Hugo Lloris). Uruguay showed it has the talent to win this group, but will need Forlan to connect on those goals to win.
France: The French didn’t look like former champions in their first match. The offense was pensive for the most part and had a few moments of beauty, and had it not been for great defense by Bacary Sagna and his defensive mates in the back, they could have easily lost this match. Sidney Govou and Franck Ribery will need to take some leadership in order for France to avoid tying every opponent they match up with, but for now, they can be thankful that a tie keeps them in the running to win this group.
South Korea: This is one of those teams that always surprises people when everyone else has written them off. Park Si-Jung showed with his beautiful left footed score why he’s one of the more underrated football players of the past decade (13 goals in World Cup Play), and the Korean team looked like it got in the groove after a somewhat nervous start. If South Korea can keep up this enthusiasm, we may see a repeat of their magical 2002 run to the semis.
Greece: What can be said about Greece. This is only their second trip to the Cup, and it looked like it as they got dominated by a much more experienced South Korea Team (7 straight Cup appearances). Gekas looked like the only player with any clue how to play in the world’s biggest tournament, while the rest of his team looked like they were already happy to just be there. If this kind of play keeps up, it’ll be shocking to see them even get out of Group play, let alone survive the last 2 games with their asses still attached to their tailbone.
Argentina: Diego Maradona’s coaching debut, and it was beautiful. Lionel Messi brought his play from the Champion’s Cup with him, and his talented team fed off Maradona’s crazy energy. Heinze’s header was beautiful, and the Argentina team showed why it’s a favorite to go to at least the semis. The score could’ve easily been 4-0 if not for some great saves by Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama, but either way, Argentina showed in their first match that the other teams should be very afraid – of Diego Maradona’s Saddam Hussein caught in a hole look.
Nigeria: Great offense, but as the corner that Heinze scored in the 6th minute, Nigeria will have to play hyper aware defense to stay in the Cup. Ogbuke showed some great play (the between the opposing players’ legs pass was ridiculous, even if he did miss his target), and Nigeria did hang tough and keep themselves in the game for the majority of the time. If they want to do more than stay in games, though, Nigeria will have to find it’s defense, and fast.
USA: What more can be said? People are calling the 1-1 tie with England a victory, but this is the same team that beat Spain and Brazil just a couple years ago, and while England is supposed to be a great team, this U.S. team has shown that it can be the best teams. Anyway, Jozy Altidore looked great on his near goal after coming off a harsh injury and doing virtually nothing for Hull City, and Tim Howard? Thank goodness he’s on our side. To put things in perspective, the US played well, but are lucky that Robert Green never played catch as a kid, because otherwise, we’d be looking at a whole ‘nother story. After that first goal was ceded, though, the US’s defense looked great, especially in how it handled striker Wayne Rooney.
England: Disappointing? Yes. But England’s actually lucky they didn’t lose this one. Wayne Rooney was pretty ineffective for most of the match, and the powerful English team looked like they were athletically overmatched by the even more powerful US team. Everyone knows that England’s supposed to be great, but if they don’t shore up the keeper situation, they might not be able to make history. In case you’re wondering what that means, no team has ever won the World Cup with a foreign coach, and England is paying Fabio Capello, a cool 9 mill (US) to bring the Cup back to England. Of course, that raises the question, what would happen if England gets out of group play and faces the Azzurri? The English better hope Capello is the first, because otherwise, that’s a lot of pounds to waste on a ugly body of work.
All comments written by Citrus World Cup correspondent, Jonathan Liu.
Image from the London Guardian.
Posted By The Citrus Report