Monday, June 14, 2010

World Cup Days Four and Five: results, Kim Jong-Il, and predictions for tomorrow

Day Four Results
Netherlands 2-0 Denmark
me: Netherlands 2-0 Denmark. Right result, right score. In our early game, the Dutch needed an own goal to get into the match before a late Kuyt goal settled things. Robben is injured and didn't make an appearance, the Danes were well organized and threatened at times though they never really tested Stekelenburg in the Dutch goal. It wasn't a convincing performance from the Dutch, and they'll have to kick it up a notch before the knock-out rounds.

Japan 1-0 Cameroon
me: Japan 0-1 Cameroon. Wrong result, wrong score. Full credit to the hard-working Japanese. They played the Cameroon forwards off the pitch. Star striker Samuel Eto'o barely saw the ball, though I would argue he was played out of position on the right. At times it looked like there was only one player in the Cameroon midfield, probably a function of a poorly organized 4-3-3. This result means Denmark have to step it up against both these teams if they want to go through.

Italy 1-1 Paraguay
me: Italy 1-0 Paraguay. Wrong result, half-wrong score. Paraguay defended well and except for one goalkeeper error may have won this. They looked a threat going forward at times (though only had the one shot on net) and will be happy with the point. Italy, again, disappointed. They always look like they think they shouldn't have to work very hard to win. Their squad lacks creativity, and it showed as they struggled to break Paraguay down. Di Natale should start (he was the leading scorer in Italy's Serie A this season), and they really need Pirlo in the midfield directing traffic. Newcomer Riccardo Montolivo did well and De Rossi was as impressive as usual, but they missed some creativity.

Day Five predictions

Slovakia beat New Zealand 2-0.
No one is getting up for this early match. Slovakia may surprise if neither Italy nor Paraguay take control of Group F.

Portugal beat Cote d'Ivoire 1-0.
Cote d'Ivoire are no pushovers, and this could easily be a draw or a win for them, but Portugal have too much quality, and a stellar defensive record, to not get out of this group.

Brazil beat North Korea 3-0.
Will this be the easiest result to call the whole tournament? NK are such an unknown entity that it would almost be fun to predict a result for them. Sorry, Kim, not this time. Better luck at the ol' nuclear intimidation thing.

Did you know...

that North Korea featured at World Cup 1966, and made it to the quarter-finals? The World Cup finals only had 16 teams then; they were drawn in a tough group with the Soviets, Italy and Chile. They beat Italy 1-0 to make it through the group stage, Italy having lost to the Soviets earlier. They lost 5-3 to Eusebio's Portugal in the first knock-out, with Eusebio scoring 4 to bring Portugal back from 3-0 down. Nothing to be ashamed of. So, underestimate this Korean team at your peril, Brazil.

Feel like showing your support with a vintage 1966 North Korea shirt? Look no further than The Old Fashioned Football Shirt company, or TOFFS.*

Italy are old. Or bored with the group stage already.

That's the rumour heading into the tourney. And they showed it today, for the first half anyway. That or they're so cocky they don't think they should have to run. This, of course, is an overstatement. Simone Pepe was everywhere today, De Rossi cleaned up in the middle, Montolivo roamed the midfield, and Iaquinta switched flanks seemingly for fun.

But at times they stood around, happy to let someone else do the running. Against a fast attacking side they could be exposed.

*Thanks to Chris LaRoche, Korean expert, for the tip.

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