FIFA World Cup 2010 Journal: Day 4 Recap

Peter LomuscioCorrespondent IJune 15, 2010


Day four of the 2010 FIFA World Cup was sure to bring one of the most entertaining days of the start of the tournament, with two world class football powerhouses getting into the action in The Netherlands and defending World Champions Italy.



NETHERLANDS (Agger (own goal) 46, Kuyt 85) 2-0 DENMARK


Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg was site for the first clash of the tournament between two European nations. The Netherlands and Denmark are only separated by 250 miles on the map, but they are even closer when it comes to the familiarity of each other’s style of play.


The Danes did well to neutralize the highly reputable Dutch attack early on, while both squads started very patiently. Denmark was comfortable for the first 20 minutes to soak in the Holland attack allowing possession with both squads simply feeling each other out while easing into the action.


The Dutch kept the majority of the battle in the Danes end throughout the first half, but at the same time Denmark showed the ability to launch an attack or two of their own against the run of play to keep The Netherlands honest.


Despite Holland’s noticeable domination in possession, Denmark was the side that put more shots on goal, warming Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg up from some tough angles.


Remarkably the first true noteworthy action in the area of the match came in shocking fashion. The second half had just begun when Dutch striker Robin Van Persie was able to race to a long ball on the end-line and send a cross into the area, where Denmark defender Simon Poulsen did a poor job in his attempt to head clear, as he headed sideways and it came off of fellow defender Daniel Agger’s back and hit the post and went in for an own goal that gave Holland a 1-0 lead. That was the first dreaded own goal of the tournament.


Holland was fortunate again in the 61st minute when an already booked Robin Van Persie was ruled offside yet continued to play and finish by looping the ball into the net. Van Persie smartly claimed ignorance do to the vuvuzelas, but the strict by the book issuing of yellows in the previous days definitely made this harmless moment a scary one for Dutch supporters. Thankfully the referee used reasonable judgment and kept the card in his pocket.


The Dutch tried to tack on a second in the 73rd minute when Mark Van Bommel smoked an effort from an extremely tough angle, but it was parried away by the Danish keeper Thomas Sorenson. Van Persie followed that threat by botching a running header attempt on the ensuing corner.


Agger was almost involved in another unfortunate blow in the 82nd minute when Wesley Sneijder ripped a left footed effort from just outside the area that deflected off Agger and almost beat the keeper, as it hit the top of the crossbar and went over.


The Dutch clinched the match in the 85th minute when Sneijder played a useful ball through and sent the speedy substitute Eljero Elia through on net, who carefully sidefooted a rolling effort off the far-post only for a hustling Dirk Kuyt to follow up nicely and bang the rebound into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.


Holland almost added a third moments later when Ibrahim Afellay beat the keeper, but an alert Poulsen did well to clear the ball off the line and attempt to redeem himself for his earlier own goal.


The final whistle blew and Holland came away victorious 2-0 over Denmark.


Holland will leave the match satisfied knowing they didn’t play to their full potential, yet they still got three points and a clean sheet against a tough Denmark squad. The attack never really came together like it expected to, but with an Arjen Robben still to be unleashed and a Japan and Cameroon on the schedule it can only get better for the Dutch.


Denmark did extremely well to keep their organized shape in defence early on while waiting for the right moment to counterattack when the Dutch defence looked thin, but the costly own goal mistake completely turned the match into their opponent’s hands. From that point on Holland took control of the Danes and eventually added another, as Denmark weakened as the match wore on. A positive for Denmark is that they still control their fate and with obtainable results against Japan and Cameroon advancing can still be in the cards.


Men of the Match:

Netherlands: Gregory Van der Wiel

Denmark: Dennis Rommedahl




JAPAN (Honda39) 1-0 CAMEROON


This African-Asian duel took place at Free State Stadium with both sides attempting to make a bold move to the top of the group to a join a victorious Holland side.


The match lacked any real chances in the initial 30 minutes of play. The midfield look crowded and condensed and the squads failed to spread or open up their oppoenent’s defences effectively.


In the 39th minute, Japan broke the deadlock when Daisuke Matsui swung in a cross to the backpost after faking his defender and Keisuke Honda calmly settled and poked over the sliding keeper to put Japan up 1-0. It was clearly a blown coverage by the Cameroon defence, as Honda was all alone with time so close to the goal, but still a composed settle and score by the Japanese attacker did the job.


Cameroon almost equalized in the 49th minute when Samuel Eto’o did well to split two defenders and charge up the endline before cutting a perfect ball back to Maxim Chopou-Moting whose effort just sailed high and wide of the farpost. Chopou-Moting should have done better with this rare great scoring opportunity.


Cameroon looked to be the better side, but they were still lacking in the attack. And with Eto’o not playing at the top of the formation, the Lions couldn’t fulfill their full potential.


With just over 15 minutes to play Japan looked completely devoted to the defence and guarding the 1-0 lead with ten men behind the ball.


It almost cost Japan in the 86th minute though, when Cameroon defender Stephane M’Bia unleashed a thunderbolt of a shot from 25 yards out that left the keeper with no chance but blasted the crossbar to add to the frustrations of Cameroon and their supporters.


The final whistle blew with the scoreboard reading 1-0 Japan, who earned what many would call the upset of the tournament thus far.


Japan may not have blown away spectators with attack or possession, but they overcame their physical disadvantage, hit the back of the net, and stayed organized in the back in keeping a clean sheet. The Japanese next mission is to salvage a point against the favored Dutch side.


Cameroon will be drained and distraught after this awful defeat. The indomitable Lions have a mighty challenge ahead now having to play the Dutch and the Danes with results mandatory if they want to progress to the knockout stages. The formation and positioning of Samuel Eto’o clearly is something that needs to be addressed if they want to improve the wasteful attack. Cameroon and Denmark meet up next in what is surely an elimination match.


Men of the Match:

Japan: Keisuke Honda

Cameroon: Joel Matip



ITALY (De Rossi 63) 1-1 PARAGUAY (Alcaraz 39)


A drenched Cape Town, South Africa was the site for this Group F opener that matched up South American side Paraguay with the defending World Cup Champions Italy.


The match began with some patchy play, with Paraguay playing rather guardedly, clearly sitting back and letting the Italians bring the action to them.


The Italians accepted the invitation and spent the first 30 minutes or so on the Paraguayan half of the pitch, but somehow managed not to test the Paraguay goalkeeper despite the positioning.


Despite barely crossing the midfield line in possession and only touching the ball twice in the Italian penalty area Paraguay were the first to change the scoreboard and it came in the 39th minute.


Paraguay shocked the crowd when they opened up the scoring on a brilliant header by defender Antolin Alcaraz, who charged into the center of the area and out jumped his defender and headed into the side-netting leaving a helpless Gianluigi Buffon frozen off of an undeserved set piece.


The foul that gave the free kick was an absolute phantom call, as Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini made no contact with a jumping Valdez, who flailed to the ground winning a call after a handball of his own.


Italy were shocked to be behind at the half after controlling the run of play, but the shocks didn’t stop there as Federico Marchetti was surprisingly subbed into the match for Gianluigi Buffon to start the 2nd half.


The Italians clearly picked up their pace and urgency in the 2nd half and it looked to be having an impact as they searched for an equalizer.


It was he 63rd minute when the Italian attack finally paid off and they broke through. Vincenzo Iaquinta won a cornerkick and Simone Pepe sent in the delivery that Paraguayan goalkeeper Justo Villar failed to punch, misjudging with his left fist and leaving his net unguarded for a charging Daniele De Rossi to capitalize on by left footing home the goal despite being marked extremely tightly.


The goal was well deserved for the Italian squad, and was a sigh of relief for their supporters worldwide.


Following De Rossi’s equalizer, the rest of the match was played in the midfield with neither side really testing one another’s keeper with the exception of an 83rd minute skipping effort on the slick surface by Italian midfielder Riccardo Montolivo, that was parried away by the Paraguayan goalie.


So the opening match for Group F finished 1-1 at the whistle, with both nations looking to build on their initial match.


Italy will feel they deserved more from a pretty dominant match in which they controlled the possession and were in the attacking side of the pitch the majority of the 90 minutes. Yes, they clearly struggled with the absence of the final pass in the final third of the field, but they will surely be confident that this will improve as the competition progresses and Pirlo returns. The slow start is nothing Italy isn’t familiar with and if any nation knows what it takes to recover and improve it is Italy.


Paraguay will be delighted to earn a point in their opening match against the defending World Cup champions. They only managed one shot on target and they made the most of it with a brilliant headed goal. They have shown they have the ability to contain a worthy opponent with a display of a tight defence and they will expect to put to display a much more attacking performance in an upcoming fixture with Slovakia that is likely to decide a berth in the 2nd round.


Men of the Match:

Italy: Daniele De Rossi

Paraguay: Antolin Alcaraz





GOAL OF THE DAY:  Antolin Alcaraz’s stunning header for Paraguay. The defender latched onto a sharp accurate free kick by leaping and beating class Italians in Cannavaro and De Rossi.


CELEBRATION OF THE DAY: The two sexy Italian young ladies sporting the face paint and stylish earmuffs in the crowd who seductively blew gentle kisses towards the camera after the De Rossi goal salvaged the Italians a draw.


MISTAKE OF THE DAY: The phantom foul call by Benito Archundia Tellez on Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, which gave Paraguay the free kick that directly lead to their goal and only shot on target and in the same match on the other goal, when Paraguayan goalkeeper Justo Villar whiffed on his fisting clearing attempt proceeding to the De Rossi equalizer.


CONCLUSION- Not much inspiring attack on the date, as much of the day’s play took place in the midfield, but nevertheless the score lines kept you on the edge of your seats with possible match-deciding goals still on the table in the dieing minutes of play. The Netherlands and Japan will be the happiest nations on the day and Cameroon clearly the most depressed.


Group E


Netherlands            3

Japan                      3

Cameroon               0

Denmark                 0


Group F


Italy                     1

Paraguay           1




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