FIFA World Cup 2010: Week in Review
The World Cup is now officially a week old. We take a look back at the biggest stories so for to come out of South Africa.
"By the seventh day, God had finished the work"—so goes the quote from the Bible. One may not be able to say the same thing about the World Cup, but we have a fair pulse of how this African adventure might turn out.
Until Spain lost to Switzerland on Day Six, the only major talking point of the tournament was the annoyance caused by the vuvuzelas—and for the English fans, Robert Green's howler.
A relatively quiet tournament, however, burst to life on the seventh day like the earth, and we were treated to some exquisite Argentine footwork, a maiden win for the Greeks, and France displaying just why they do not deserve to be here.
South Africa were already put down by many to enter the ignominy books for becoming the first host country to fail to make it out of the group stages, and they are well on their way to doing that.
So here in no particular order have been the major conclusions one can reach after a week's worth of action in the grandest tournament of them all.
African teams struggling
With the exception of Ghana, the other four African nations have been disappointing to watch. The hosts had their tails up after the opening day draw with Mexico, but Uruguay quieted the party atmosphere to a large extent with their 3-0 thrashing.
Nigeria were also left on the brink after losses to Argentina and Greece. While the defeat to Diego Maradona's men was understandable, their self-inflicted capitulation against Greece has dented their hopes of progressing further.
Algeria were up against fellow minnows Slovenia, and if not for Abdelkader Gezzal's madness, they might have actually sneaked in a draw. Ivory Coast on the other hand, despite not being outplayed, seemed short of ideas against Portugal.
Europe's hopes rest on Germany
We all know that no European nation has won the the World Cup outside of its own continent, and there is only one team that can change that this time—Germany. All the other major European powers have been disappointing so far.
World champions Italy have shown nothing to convince even the optimists that they are good enough to beat the rest of the world again. France are already thinking about flying RyanAir back home after a disastrous performance, and England are well, England.
It would be wrong to write off Spain after their loss to Switzerland, but one thing is clear, they are no longer the favourites—especially as they may come up against Brazil in the Round of 16.
Germany, who have been runners-up for the most times in the history of the World Cup, remain Europe's best bet of keeping the trophy on the continent. Their demolition of a poor Australian side was ruthless, and they look dangerous as always.
South American nations to prosper
All the South American nations look extremely potent this year. Argentina may be led by the most eccentric coach of them all, but the talent in the team is undeniable. The Albiceleste strike force is the best in the tournament, and they will be difficult for any defence to contain.
Brazil may have had their moments of frustration against North Korea, but that was a testament to the strength of Pyongyang's team rather than the Samba King's weakness. The Yellow Canaries have the most balanced team, and they are capable of turning on the style when needed.
Paraguay and Uruguay both look like excellent bets to make it to the second stage of the tournament and may even go beyond. Uruguay in particular have an impressive team that is capable of going on a deep run if they finish first in Group A.
Chile are the final South American nation, and they enjoyed a good outing against Honduras. La Roja have a lot of attacking talent, and one must not forget that they finished only one point behind Brazil in their qualifying campaign.
While there is surely plenty more action to come in this World Cup, this hasn't been a particularly memorable first week in South Africa. We hope that Week Two gets a lot better, and we hope to see many more goals hitting the net.
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