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Eye of Siva

Ars longa, vita brevis

First weekend of the World Cup


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A brilliant start to the World Cup in Brazil so far. A goal fest, with goals scored in each game, no matches drawn, a couple of upsets, there has been something for everyone.

480px-WC-2014-Brasil.svg

Brazil – Croatia (3-1)

Brazil clearly looked out of sorts, while Croatia looked like a real team. In the end the result went Brazil’s way, but that was with the aid of a questionable penalty awarded on Fred’s dive in the area. Neymar played well, but it was Oscar who was the best player on the pitch. The game also saw four goals – all struck by Brazillians, including an own goal by Marcelo. Own goals have been a feature of the finals so far with three in the first eleven games.

Mexico – Cameroon (1-0)

Two Mexican goals disallowed for off-side in terrible refereeing decisions. Mexico was clearly the superior side and deserved to win. They deserved to win 3-0. Dos Santos will have to wait for another match to open score in this tournament.

Spain – Netherlands (1-5)

The Spanish defeat was understandable. The starting eleven are clearly over the hill. With over 1400 caps between them (compared to under 700 for the Dutch), this was an elder’s team. Much like England in the last outing.┬áThe change from the 2010 final was stark: Spain had only four new faces, while the Dutch only retained three from that face-off. Span was no match for the Dutch in speed, creativity or anything else for that matter. With a poorly awarded penalty, Spain went ahead, but then were thrashed by the Dutch. For much of the second half it looked like Spain was just standing around while the Dutch ran around them. Van Persie’s first header will go down as one of the iconic moments of the game.

Chile – Australia (3-1)

Despite a Tim Cahill header that put the Australians ahead initially it was Chile who really dominated the match. Not that the Aussies were weak, they were just outplayed.

Colombia – Greece (3-0)

Greece was not in the game.

Uruguay – Costa Rica (1-3)

The only real upset of the tournament so far. You could count the Dutch spanking of Spain, but in that case it was the number of goals that was surprising, not the result. In this case the result was completely unexpected. Once again the favoured team did not play like a team, while the underdog played well together. Only here the result went in favour of the underdog.

England – Italy (1-2)

England played much better than I expected with a young squad. This was a much needed improvement and in hindsight they needed to take more risks. Rooney and Gerard were not as effective as senior players should be while Pirlo was brilliant on the Italian side. England need a mid-field playmaker. Gerard (with Lampard the last time around) is not good enough at this level. The England forward four (Rooney, Welbeck, Sterling and Sturridge) were really good. And Barkley when he came on as a sub was too. Still they need someone to feed them the ball. In the end the result was really close and it was an unfortunate loss for the better team.

Ivory Coast – Japan (2-1)

When Honda put Japan ahead it looked like the making of a great upset at the end of the first half. Drogba coming on as a substitute seemed to energise Ivory Coast and two goals in under two minutes ensured their win.

Switzerland – Ecuador (2-1)

Too often the team scoring first in this Cup tournament seem to go on to lose. Ecuador was up at half time, but the Swiss went on to win – with one goal coming in the third minute of stoppage time. Once again poor refereeing was in evidence as a Swiss goal was disallowed on off-side grounds, when the player was clearly on-side.

France – Honduras (3-0)

Benzema was everywhere in this game. First a penalty just before half time, then he struck the upright which got the goalie Valladares to push in an own goal, and a last one well struck coming off a set piece. Honduras have a reputation of playing a very aggressively physical game. They lived up to their reputation picking up a red card (leading to the penalty).

Argentina – Bosnia (2-1)

Despite being led by Lionel Messi up front, Argentina never appear to play as a team. That was in evidence in this match too. Bosnia played very well and it was just bad luck that they lost this one. Firstly they had an own goal off the feet of Kolasinac, who was just standing there when a deflected corner went off his shins into the goal. Later Messi managed to get away from his markers (at times he had three Bosnian players boxing him in) to get the lead doubled. A late goal from Ibisevic six minutes from full time did not close the gap. The favourite won, but the better team lost.

At the end of 11 games, this tournament has seen:

  • 37 goals in total
  • 21 out of 22 halves seeing goals
  • Each match having a result – no draws
  • Four players have scored twice each

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