Much better day, despite England not beating the US (call me nonobjective… gambling reasons too). I wasn’t really sure about watching the South Korea – Greece Match, based on the fact the the Greeks destroy each match they play in, but the 31,000 fans in Nelson Mandela Bay got a hell of a show from the Asians, who leaped on their slow and old prey from the start, never letting go of their bite.
An excellent game by the two Parks, Chu-Yong and Ji-Sung (scored the second goal), capped off an impressive display by the team someone on this site gambled would finish last. They're fast, they're disciplined, and the only downside I see right now is that their style of play gets them exhausted after 70 minutes. If Greece weren’t crap and Rehhagel had actual strikers and attacking midfielders on his side, the Greeks could have gotten something. After it was all said and done, South Korea deserved their first World Cup win that’s not on home soil, and their 2-0 win was also the first win in this World Cup.
On to the next game – Argentina closed Group B’s turn with a 1-0 win over Nigeria. They had a bright opening, but couldn’t create chances if Messi wasn’t involved, who just couldn’t beat Nigeria’s fantastic keeper Vincent Enyeama, who’s Israel club days are probably over after that performance.
Gabriel Heinze did score a nice header off a corner, but the Argentinians didn’t impressed, with a stagnant midfield (Where is Cambiasso, Diego?) and a very weak right side of defense (Jonas and Demichelis). Nigeria weren’t far from finding the equalizer. They focused on counter attacking, as expected, with Obi Mikel not playing. Odemwingie coming on for Obasi really made them look more dangerous, but Romero was there when the Albiceleste needed him.
Group C’s opener faced England and the United States, with the Americans proving a hard nut to crack and enjoyed an awful mistake from Robert Green to erase Steven Gerrard’s early lead-giver, leaving the English tabloids to rip Green and probably Capello a new one for choosing him.
England were the better side, but again, when facing pressure of not winning, turned back to their known tactics of sending futile long balls to Heskey, Rooney and Crouch later on. Lampard and Gerrard were good defensively, but didn’t take over the game and weren’t creative enough offensively. The way both Milner and Wright-Phillips looked, maybe Joe Cole deserves a shot. Walcott too, but he wasn’t called. Oops.
What We’ve Learned
South Korea – Fast and deadly, the South Koreans did a few firsts today, including their historic first World Cup win away from home soil. The two Parks are deadly, and if not marked more carefully, both Ji-Sung and Chu-Young are going to wreck havoc and score against the tad fragile Argentina and Nigeria defense.
Greece – “King Otto” is the oldest coach in World Cup history, and his team looks that way – old and slow. Problem is, he doesn’t really have anything better to bring his team to life waiting on the bench. Maybe Sotiris Ninis, but that probably won’t be enough. The way they look now, 0 points again.
Argentina – Messi is wonderful, and if it wasn’t for Nigeria’s keeper he would have finished the game with at least two, but Veron needs to step up, along with Di Maria. Argentina need a midfield to go far in this tournament, and can’t have Tevez, Messi and Higuain fall back each time and start the attack minus a striker up front. Jonas as a full back isn’t exactly a bullseye as well. Otamendi should start.
Nigeria – Wild, fast, strong, naive. Nigeria are an enjoyable team to watch, but I’m not sure it’ll bring them wins. Maybe against Greece. They’ve got a fab keeper in Enyeama, but Obinna needs to do better, and think he’s in Malaga. Odeimwinge should be a starter as well.
England – Capello started with Milner but didn’t hesitate about burning him after he wasn’t pleased early on. Make the right choice – either start with a DM to free up either Gerrard or Lampard, with Gerrard probably going to the left, or just start Joe Cole. Shaun Wright-Phillips isn’t the right man. And get Joe Hart in between the posts, Green, mistake-prone, proved he’s not the man to help England get their win.
United States – Should feel good. Howard and the defense worked well, Donovan played well and Altidore, Dempsey and Findley didn’t give England’s defense too much rest. Things are looking good for Bradley’s men.
Algeria – Slovenia – The match that will close Group C’s turn, featuring the two weaker teams, at least on paper. Algeria has been looking bad for a long time, and history tells us they have never kept a clean sheet in a World Cup match. Slovenia conceded only four goals during the European qualifiers. They don’t have an explosive offense, but they look like the favorites.
Serbia – Ghana – A lot is expected of the Serbs, and with Ghana missing Essien, I expect the Serbs to produce a very impressive performance against the Black Stars. Ghana has raw talent, too raw probably.
Germany – Australia – Low’s team are clear favorites, and especially with Australia not exactly knowing how they’re going to score goals. They’ll be hard to break, but I’ll be very surprised if anything but Germany winning comes up in the cards.
One last request- More goals. Seven goals in five matches is a bit dissapointing. There. Time to sleep, and dream of more soccer.